Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Battle of the Auto-bots

My co-worker, a dutiful company employee and overall Good Girl, turned on her email auto-responder before we left for the conference.

Here's how much of a Good Girl she is: We had different flights heading home, and were both delayed by thunderstorms. I made it home by midnight and rewarded myself by taking the next day off. She got stuck at her layover point and didn't get in till the next morning.

She went in to work. I am scum.

So I finally dragged my lazy ass in to work the next day and was immediately apprised that she had not been able to access her email since she got back. The boss had checked out the server and even called the mail server software support but still couldn't fix it.

Now, my boss is a long-since-retired grizzled M'soft veteran. He can't fix the problem and I, Ms. Winging-it-faker-faker-2-by-4, am supposed to? No pressure there, eh?

I pushed up my sleeves and gingerly approached the server. Everything looked fine, except the folder containing her inbox would not load. In fact, the server dropped straight to its knees, gagging, trying to display that folder.


Now this particular server, our main portal to the interwebs, is something like 8 years old. Every day I come in and find it's not tits up in the mud is a good day. Yeah, it's old and slow (I know you are but what am I?) but the only time I've seen it balk like that is when I forget to empty the email log folder it ends up with a go-billion files in it.

Sure enough, I checked the little file count in the lower left corner of the Explorer window and it said there were 120,000+ files in her inbox.


What seemed like an eternity later, Windows finally swallowed its vomit long enough to show me that it was not lying; there were indeed one hundred twenty thousand some-odd emails in her inbox folder. It didn't take long to figure out why. As I so blatantly broadcast above, her poor auto-responder had been engaged in mortal combat with another auto-responder, to the tune of something like 1000 emails an hour. For five days.

Being Ms. Winging-it-faker-faker-2-by-4 (and old and lazy to boot), I no longer have any recollection of how to write a script to parse the emails and sort the wheat from the chaff in any sort of automated manner. So I spent the better part of Friday and a chunk of Monday dragging the emails, 10K at a time, into Outlook Express and filtering them pretty much by hand.

Final score?
Auto-bots: 120,000+

Liz: 0

I love my job.

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