Egg on Face—Technologically Speaking

Posted by Michael Simkins on September 30, 2008


The Sorcerer’s Apprentice has been at work in the TICAL newsletter room lately. For some still unknown and perplexing reason, our listserv software decided to commoditize our periodic New at TICAL message and send literally hundreds of copies to each subscriber—myself included. Mail servers were jammed. BlackBerries® were juiced. Loyal TICAL members understandably said, “No more; this is ridiculous!”

After the first incident, we spent hours trying to figure out what went wrong. Over the previous seven years, umpteen New at TICAL messages had gone out smoothly, one copy per customer, just as intended. So why now this spam-like deluge?

We examined settings. We looked at underlying code. We ran virus scans. Like the doctors on House, we all offered our ideas on why the patient was exhibiting such bizarre and self-destructive symptoms. No idea proved to explain the phenomenon. So, unlike the doctors on House, we decided the best course of action was to kill the patient (i.e. delete the original mailing list altogether) and start over with a new one.

Would you believe the insidious disease struck again? Yep. It did. Once again, our newsletter started replicating itself like some science fiction experiment gone awry. Egg on top of egg, stuck to face.

Fortunately, we were cautious the second time around. As a test, we only sent the newsletter to a small subset of our subscribers, so far fewer of you were frustrated with clogged mailboxes. Nonetheless, inconveniencing even a portion of our TICAL members is unacceptable.

Our best diagnosis (and it’s a guess!) is that our number of subscribers has grown so large that our current system couldn’t handle the volume.

What now? We’re abandoning the old server and software and seeking an entirely new solution for sending the latest news to our members. While we’re shopping, you won’t see any New at TICAL messages in your mailbox. Once we find the right product, you’ll be able to receive New at TICAL again—one copy at a time!


Published by

Michael Simkins

Michael Simkins is Consulting Director of TICAL — the Technology Information Center for Administrative Leadership. Prior to that he was director of the Challenge 2000 Multimedia Project and also served as COO of Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network. He was an elementary schoolteacher for 17 years and an elementary principal for 9 years. He grew up in Manhattan Beach, California, when it was still a “sleepy beach town.”

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