One click too many: hail to the sysadmin and the scrupolous commenter both!

Imagine the nightmare scenario: your blog is doing ok, but you know it needs a total refresh for many, many reasons. You decide to do it, and find the right team, but before they can begin, the machine, which happens to be a virtual machine sitting on some hardware, needs to be rebuilt, so that various pieces become rightly independent of others. While the machine is migrated, it is natural that some further pieces fall apart, and looka one of the world’s most prominent VCs decides that he likes one of your posts, and wants to comment on it. He can’t at this point, but he doesn’t disgustedly give up. No, he is kind enough to write you an email, alerting you of the problem. You panic, and send out all kinds of requests for the commenting system to be straightened out, and in the meantime try to hide your desperation with an upbeat email back to the guy, so that–you hope crossing your fingers–if he decides that it’s worth his time and comes back to comment, he can. And yes! He does come back, he does post the comment again. Hurray! In the meantime, you are prancing happily on the back-end of your blogging software, unaware of this. You are pruning some spam comments, and your brain registers after ONE CLICK TO MANY that the comment starting with “Great post” is actually from him. You stare in horror as the unstoppable processes start eating all what you checked, with no autonomous intelligence to second-guess you.

Image: pittsinger

Your retina is burned with the afterimage of the comment which says all kinds of witty, and now lost things, and has links to interesting stuff which you won’t be able to look up. As you scramble to select the text, to at least copy it, wondering fleetingly if it would be honest to repost it after the fact, since a bit is a bit is a bit anyway, your computer (hey, this is a Mac crashing and they were not supposed to do this EVAR) decides that this is the best moment to barf and crash badly enough that it needs a cold restart. (Yes, I know, music software, video encoding, a virtual machine, a couple of dozen tabs on a beta browser, a voip client or two, two dozens of IM windows, might, just might justify it. But still, oh stochastic forces, why now, why me?!) The comment gone, the clipboard gone. More panicky checks, with somewhat laconic answers: “no, when you *delete* a record, instead of junking it, it is gone”, “no the database is not a file system, and you can download a ‘RecoverMySQL’ utility to make you happy’, and ‘no, this is a virtual machine, with an automatically compacting virtual disk, so there is no magnetic trace that a military grade data recovery shop could discover there”…

And than, a miracle. It appears that your machine is backed up twice a day. And the comment in question has been posted six minutes (!) before the next backup. And your sysadmin recovers it, and puts it back to its place.


I don’t recommend it to anybody with a heart condition.

Well! As I am used to say, “what is the question that I should be asking?“:

  • How can I thank Marco properly? (I already kneeled in front of him…)
  • What are the impacts of progressive dematerialization of our IT infrastructure?
  • What guarantees that I work with Steve Jurvetson before I die?