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June 2006 Archives

June 12, 2006

Blackboard updates

Friday night/Saturday morning I updated blackboard from
build .576 to build .593 (6.3 app pak 3 service pak 2 hot fix3)

Due to the extent of our customization, this was not as easy as seemed it world be. First the test system failed to update properly but this was easily corrected.
Then the production update failed in an entirly different way. The update completed but our custom
auth module would not install properly. Somehow, one of the configuration files got corrupted. The corruption was a single space which made it very hard to find.

All in all this part of the bb updates took ~4 hours to complete.

Other work completed:

All servers flashed to latest RAC firmware, latest ESM,
latest internal RAID drivers and firmware.
SQL SP4 patches
Log rotator work.

June 13, 2006

Webmail software (Squirrelmail) upgraded

This was a long time in coming...

Squirrelmail, the software which runs UMBC's Webmail email interface was sorely out of date and a recent upgrade (by necessity) of PHP brought to light some stinging incompatibilities between the old Squirrelmail version 1.4.3 and the new version of PHP, so the time was right to put an update in. We're now running Squrrelmail 1.4.6.

Among the problems, the major one users have been complaining about were the corrupted attachment downloads. The attachments on the email servers were always fine, but Squirrelmail parsed them wrong when serving a request from a user to download/view them, and junk always got added to the end of the file. Depending on the file format of the attachement, it was either inconsequential (eg: for images) or it made them unusable (PDF and MS Word documents). This is fixed with tonight's update.

Blackboard 7.1

Our bb 7.1 pilot server is now running the latest
version of blackboard... 7.1.324.14

I updated it 6/13 just after midnight.


Hotfix1 for Application Pack 1 fixes the following critical issues:

An HTTP 404 error appears when a user attempts to open a file that includes accented characters in the file name. This issue appears when a Course Builder adds a content item to a Course and creates a link to a file.
Users report problems with adding an image to a course and displaying it to users. The issue is the result of an authorization problem when accessing the image file.
Accented characters, such as umlauts or acute accents, do not appear properly in assessments if ugpraded or imported from Release 6.x.
The Exact Course Copy feature does not include the Gradebook or Assessments in the copy operation.
Users experience problems viewing multimedia files with multibyte characters in the file name from within the Discussion Board. This issue is resolved when using an Internet Explorer Web browser. Firefox users will still experience difficulty adding files, however, they may view files added through Internet Explorer without problems.


NOTE: Hotfix 1 does not repair reported issues with calculating weighted grades and standard deviations within the Gradebook. Blackboard is urgently working to address these issues in an upcoming patch release.

Disk failed and replaced in ff1-raid1

A drive in one of our AFS fibre channel RAID arrays crapped out recently, but due to the highly redundant hardware setup of our SAN and the individual AFS file servers, there was zero impact to users. In fact the drive in question, one of 14 400GB drives in the array, has been dead for a few weeks before we got a replacement in and did the swap this evening.

ff1-raid1 is in the PUP building, so I swung by there on my way home. It was a simple matter of pulling the bad drive, sticking in the new one, and walking back to my car. The RAID array automatically picked up on the new good drive and assimilated it without requiring any input from me.

June 14, 2006

Quick Wrap Up/Update

I've been silent on the blog ( a lot of us have ) for the past few weeks as we've been caught up in the Campus Card project and a lot of other work relating to the campus identity management system (IDMS) in support of these goings on.

The work that was done involved integrating CSGold system that is ran by Communications Services, the Identity Management sytem, and the two campus door access systems ran by Comm Services & Lenel. The Campus IDMS feeds identity information into the CSGold system, but also consumes ISO ID (Magstripe) and LIMS # assignments -- the Campus Card system assigns a new, unique ISO ID & LIMS ID whenever a new card is printed for an individual. It pushes identiy information and ISO ID changes out to the campus door access systems in near-real-time -- so, if you get a new card, you'll still be able to open all of the doors you were able to.

Since the campus IDMS is now the source of identity information for the ID Card production, some extensions had to be made to it's management tools so that various groups on campus could be extended the ability to assert affiliations, or, add identities to the system, for those individuals that need to receive these cards. We're currently in the process of documenting the procedures for the folks that administer these "affiliated programs" to manage their consituent's data in the IDMS. The goal is that when someone shows up at the Campus Card office, their data already exists in the system, and their card can just be printed.

June 15, 2006

blackboard down...

Worked on the log rotator again early this morning.
Blackboard was down from ~5:30 - ~7:00 while I tried
removing all traces of our custom auth to rule out that it is the problem.

June 19, 2006

Blackboard log rotation

After removing some unused building block compontents
the log rotator started working (really working) again.
Yet another example of a third parties building block
messing up blackboard.

June 20, 2006

Weblock (blackboard development server)

Weblock, our blackboard development/general hack server is now running Blackboard 7.1.324.14
Java 1.5.0_06
MSSQL SP4

BooBoo (Blackboard winter semester)

BooBoo, BBSS, or our Blackboard special session server is now running Blackboard 6.3.1.593
Java 1.5.0_06
MSSQL SP4

BBSS is mostly used for winter session but it would be crazy to add another alias like BBWS (Winter Session)
and BBMM (MiniMester) to DNS.

About June 2006

This page contains all entries posted to OIT SysCore in June 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2006 is the previous archive.

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