Help, dear reader, is described by dictionary.com thus:
–verb (used with object)
|1.||to give or provide what is necessary to accomplish a task or satisfy a need; contribute strength or means to; render assistance to; cooperate effectively with; aid; assist: He planned to help me with my work. Let me help you with those packages.|
|2.||to save; rescue; succor: Help me, I'm falling!|
|3.||to make easier or less difficult; contribute to; facilitate: The exercise of restraint is certain to help the achievement of peace.|
|4.||to be useful or profitable to: Her quick mind helped her career.|
So it was with a curious cocktail of mirth and chagrin that I received an email last evening from the mailbox 'firstname.lastname@example.org' - I imagine a good number of you did too.
For those that didn't, let me share with you its content:
We regret that many users have experienced difficulties logging into racingpost.com as well as performance issues using the website over the past couple of days. We would like to apologise for the inconvenience this will have caused you.
Our technicians are working very hard to overcome a number of serious problems associated with extremely high levels of demand and database overloading. We hope to solve these issues shortly. Our highest priority is to stabilise the site and ensure it is performing to your satisfaction.
We are very disappointed that our new website is not functioning as expected and can assure you that everyone at Racing Post is committed to resolving the problems as soon as possible.
We are very grateful for your feedback and can assure you that we will send you a more detailed response in the near future. In the meantime, we would like to thank you for your patience.
Please do not respond to this email which is from an unmonitored mailbox.
Now I don't know about you but, to this scribe's mind, that is something less than the help I'd expect were it to be brought to account at the court of Chambers, Collins, or Oxford English for that matter.
References to extremely high levels of demand are simply stupid: are we honestly expected to believe that - overnight, as a result of this fabulous swanky new site - thousands or millions of new users suddenly beat their way to the RP's virtual door, in a frenzied Tolkienian orcfest fashion?! Preposterous.
No, what actually happened was that the same number of people who normally go to Racing Post went there, and whatever performance testing had been done to assure that the site could cope with bandwidth, database connections and other fascinating stuff that needs done in such times (I used to manage these type of technology projects, don't you know!), had been done either shabbily or not at all.
RP might cry that they couldn't possibly replicate the volume of users in their testing. Which would be true, if it wasn't for long-established tools, such as Load Runner, designed for exactly such a task. In fact, even since the heady days of mainframe technology (yeah baby, cutting edge!), test 'harnesses' have been created to verify such things.
Put in layman's terms (and forgive my brief jargonistic self-indulgence previously), RP fckued up. No two ways about it. They skimped somewhere along the line, or their management were unable to get clear and / or honest communications from their development squad (who were, doubtless too busy trying to 'make pretty' an extremely useful text search function or other).
I'm starting to get angry at RP's complete lack of acceptance that they need to revert to what worked, and go away and do properly what has patently been done badly or not at all.
One final point on database issues, these are very serious usually, and often involve database redesign... Database redesign is a place you NEVER want to go in software development. Although I'd find it mildly amusing, I seriously hope that this is the not the gun barrel down which the IT executives are staring. If it is, they probably deserve both barrels. Metaphorically of course...
Last chance saloon alert: I'm shutting the doors on Laying System tomorrow morning. I'll not be reminding you again, so if you want to try it, do it today or get up early to do it tomorrow.
November was a typical month and, though we're showing a slight loss since official curtain rise last Friday, I remain confident that we'll be back in the black in a few short days. But I'm not clairvoyant, so time, equines and little men will be the final arbiters of that.
Have yourselves a happy Friday, and I'll catch you over the weekend.