Hooray, it’s Freshers’ Week! Today involves having to negotiate the swarms of scared looking freshers as they look in a confused manner at maps of campus. It’s also the day when ICT is watching the servers nervously, as 10,000 students all try to retrieve their (still not published, so don’t bother) newly published timetables. Here’s an important message: don’t panic. If you get lost or confused just grab a helpful looking person and 9 times out of 10 they’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

In the slower-paced world of Online Services R&D my task for today (in between the mind-numbing tedium of SU induction workshops) is to iron out the last few kinks in the printing implementation, more specifically those to do with user rights. Once that is done I can get cracking with test servers and get a functional SafeCom system working. Despite needing to dip in and out of the office this week to attend inductions, welcome backs and Freshers’ Fayre (come visit Drama Society, we’re awesome!) I realistically hope to have a workable solution in place by the start of term next Monday.

Using a test student account, I quickly run into a curious and non-reproducible bug – the PostScript processor churning out errors about being unable to find fonts. Trying the exact same document and user rights a few minutes later works exactly as expected, so I’m putting that into the “WTF?” folder and carrying on doing real work instead of wasting hours trying to replicate it. Whilst trying to solve some complex user rights issues the WiFi decides to abandon me in my hour of need, leading to me trying to work out why the server is busy when in fact the laptop I’m using just plain isn’t connected. I restart my connection, it works again for 10 minutes then packs in. Time to file a requisition order for a 5 port switch to hook up the PC, MacBook, iMac G4 and Dell laptop running Ubuntu which currently make up my test suite to the wired network so I can get some work done.

It turns out, quite unexpectedly, that due to Microsoft’s bass-ackwards implementation of the IPP protocol in IIS it’s actually more reliable and user friendly on all three platforms to resort to using SAMBA. A quick bit of Googling on security and a subtle change to some reports and we’re back in business. SAMBA now seems to be the preferred route, but IPP will remain as an unsupported ‘back door’ for people wanting to be hardcore, print from their phones, use that HP-UX mainframe they had kicking around or anything else similar.

The rest of today will probably involve getting the printing piped through to SafeCom.

Update: Due to some interesting quirks involving new students and SafeCom, I’ve had to postpone integration testing until the quirks have been exorcised from the servers and the guy responsible for printing can complete the test suite.

On to the mystery that is LDAP, and what “Operations error” means.