27 Mar 2006

Get this web site off my home page

Posted by dumpendebat

This humorous story is making the rounds of the Internet: A very unfortunate man, the city manager of Tuttle, OK, made a complete fool of himself over the course of a simple misunderstanding when the city’s website went down.

These two quotes, in combination, will haunt the poor fellow for the rest of his life:

One: Get this web site off my home page!!!!! It is blocking access to my website!!!!~!

Two: I am computer literate! I have 22 years in computer systems engineering and operation.

It seems the poor fellow discovered that, when someone tried to access the city’s website from any of the computer terminals in City Hall, they got a default test page instead of the website they expected to see. Rather than assuming something had gone awry with the website and/or the server it runs on, he took this to mean that the City Hall computers had been hacked and infected with some evil hacker software called “CentOS” (a Linux distribution), some software that was “blocking access to [his] website.” Rather than get in touch with the city’s web hosting provider, he freaked out, blew several gaskets, and then, wisps of smoke drifting out of his ears, sat down and wrote a series of nasty, accusatory emails to the CentOS development team, demanding to know why they had hacked his systems. Hilarity ensued. Internet comedy gold, readers. That poor city manager is now the laughingstock of every systems/network/software geek on the World Wide Web.

(As it turned out, of course, the server running the city’s website had crashed, the operating system (CentOS, of course) had been reinstalled, and the web pages hadn’t been restored yet; that’s why the default test page was showing up. A couple of phone calls could have cleared up the matter in a few minutes, and the poor city manager could have saved himself a lot of embarrassment.)

The man’s confusion and disquiet was understandable, but his tone of panicky, breathless truculence, with threats of FBI prosecution and accusations of “hacking” flying fast and furious, his adamant refusal to listen to reason, his predilection for multiple exclamation points, and (best of all) his arrogant, imperious invocation of his background in “computer systems engineering,” all really make it hard to feel too sorry for the guy. Sure, he was just trying to do his job as City Manager, and he didn’t understand why the city’s website suddenly seemed to be “blocked,” but when he played that “systems engineering” card, while simultaneously demonstrating he didn’t even know what an operating system is, he really crossed the line into assclownery.

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