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December 17th, 2015

The Dog Ate Our Poll Results

Or desparately seeking Schrödinger’s cat’s data

Right about now is the time we told you we’d be giving you the results of the poll we started last week detailing the methods our readers use to receive and send emails. Well, it ain’t going to happen. Nor are we going to tell you next Wednesday about the results of the poll we put up late Sunday night on how you feel about Microsoft as an open source company. Why? The best we can come up with is “the dog ate our homework.” Actually, none of us has a dog, so that’s out. We’ll just say the poll data ran away from home.

Schroedinger's cat filmWhat really happened is that our site hiccuped.

Late Tuesday morning as we were busy editing and writing and doing all of the websitey things we do, the back end of FOSS Force suddenly went wonky. The good news was that the front end of the site, the part you guys see, was working just fine, which was a relief since we were having a pretty high traffic day and we wanted you to be able to read our articles in comfort, even if we were in a panic. The back end of the site was truly scary, especially the editing screens, which is where most of the work gets done around here. Some articles began showing up twice on the menu list, and editing one edited the other.

Someone with much experience about these things told us to back away from our computers slowly, to not touch anything, and to especially not try to save anything. The last time we tried to save something when our editing screens went crazy we lost reams of data. Well, not reams actually, as we never write or edit on paper. Somebody said this looked like a job for Supergirl. One of the older guys suggested Calista Flockhart instead, but we don’t think he was on the same page, which wasn’t page 3.

To make a long story short, it took us about four hours to get the site’s back end functioning properly again. We’re still not sure what happened, but our best guess is that too many independently scheduled cron jobs fired at once and put WordPress into something of a panic. We do know that the mobile theme and polling application were involved, and very possibly our caching application. By the time the smoke settled, we’d completely lost our two active polls, as well as seven or eight of the most recent completed polls, but nothing else. Not bad. It could’ve been much worse.

Somebody made the ridiculous suggestion that we might have been hacked by Lex Luthor, because he probably owns stock in Microsoft or something. We doubted that, since historically he only attacks followers of Superman, not Supergirl, evidently because she’s a girl and not a worthy opponent or some such nonesense. But just to be on the safe side, we went ahead and scanned our system from the local server, then had it scanned again from off site. Getting both, we understand, is kind of the server version of getting both a CAT scan and an MRI. The doctors gave our server a clean bill of health. If we were hacked, it came from the Phantom Zone.

But we lost our active polls, so we’re not going to be able to tell you today about how you use email, because we don’t know. We can tell you from memory that about 500 of you took the poll and that you gave over 1,000 answers (this was a “choose all that apply” poll). We can also tell you that most of you said you access web based email online, which surprised us, and that more than expected of you use domain based email, accessed through a desktop client. A couple of you even said you don’t use email at all. But that’s about all we remember.

As for our Microsoft meets the Linux Foundation poll? For one thing, it was only up for about twelve hours before it was lost to deep space, but it took somewhere north of 100 votes before it went away, with most of you indicating that you still don’t trust Microsoft much, if at all. More than a few of you, however, were willing to take a “wait and see” approach. FOSS folks are nothing if not willing to forgive.

So that’s it — our in depth interpretation of our polls. As Kurt Vonnegut once wrote: No damn cat and no damn cradle.

We’ll have a new poll up sometime Thursday. We promise not to lose this one.

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