A Look Inside the Think Tank...

The French Way of Solving Problems

Created on . Categorized as France.
Written by Thomas Steiner.

The French Way of Solving Problems
My 'beloved' university, ENSIMAG Grenoble, France, has a slowly grown and old-established computer infrastructure. Three UNIX and four fat Windows application servers (AIX, Solaris, and Windows 2000 Server) multiplex their computing power to some 250 or 300 really stupid thin clients.

A funny side effect of this architecture is that when you are programming some kind of server software depending on a certain port in order to offer its service, the common 'random-no-matter-what' ports like 12345 are usually already occupied by someone else. A more annoying side effect is that Windows applications support exactly 256 colors. Welcome to the mid 90ies. In addition to that, the Windows servers do not save per user settings, so each time you need to teach Firefox which certificates it should trust, which extensions you want to use, and that you are really sure that you want to transfer your search query to Google, even if it is unencrypted.

Some days ago, when I logged into one of the Windows 2000 servers from a stupid client, I got a warning saying something like: Your licence of Windows 2000 Server Edition will be expired in some days. Today, when I logged in again, I noticed that the warning had gone away. However, when I saved a document to the desktop, I was kind of astonished that the modification date was in the past. Exactly one month in the past. Then I checked the server's time: November 6th, 2006. A very French solution for a particular problem. Reminds me of the old days, where I tried to use 30 day demos longer by turning the date back. It rarely worked.