Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Week from Hell

This week has been a week from hell for me. I was supposed to be on vacation for the first part of the week - a vacation that I was forced to cancel for a couple of reasons.

The Aborted Trip to Canada

I was supposed to be taking the family to Canada for a few days. So, we spent a few hours on Saturday packing suitcases, and on Sunday, we loaded the family into my wife's car and we started our drive towards Toronto.

The weather was extremely windy on Saturday.

About halfway between Albany and Syracuse, my wife (who was driving) asked me about a light flashing on the dashboard: the "overdrive off" light. Normally, this light would be on steady if overdrive is switched off, and off otherwise. This time, it was flashing. I checked the car's manual and it didn't say anything about what a flashing overdrive light would mean, but I inferred that it must have something to do with the transmission. So, I told my wife we'd stop at the next rest area and check the transmission fluid level.

When we were exiting for the rest area, my wife commented, "wow, it's really windy, look at all the dust it's kicking up."

It didn't take long for me to realize what the dust was: "That's not dust, it's smoke, and it's coming from our car. Park the car and shut off the engine NOW!" After we parked the car and opened the hood, there was transmission fluid all over the place under the hood, and the distinctive smell of burnt oil.

We had the transmission of my wife's car rebuilt back in August and this was the first long trip we'd taken with it. Fortunately, this meant it was still under warranty. Unfortunately, though, we were way out of town.

So, I opened up my laptop computer in the rest area and looked up the nearest location for the company that serviced my transmission back in New York: it was in Albany, about 85 miles away. So, I called the American Automobile Association (AAA), which I'm a member of, and had them tow the car for an hour and a half along the highway (with me and my family crammed in the tow truck cab) back to Albany to the parking lot of the transmission shop, shoved my key under a door in an envelope, called a taxi to take me and my family to the Albany airport (where I figured I could get a rental car), and rented a car.

By this point it was after 5:00 in the afternoon, and I figured by the time we got to my parents' house it would be 2:00 AM. So we scrapped the trip and started the drive back home, and I got to listen to the sound of two crying kids in the back seat complaining they weren't going to see their grandparents.

The Mail Bombing

I still don't know exactly who my employer pissed off, but we seem to have pissed off someone.

Sometime in mid-morning on Monday, my helpdesk started getting calls from users that they could not get incoming mail from the Internet. After rebooting the email gateways and SPAM filters failed to correct the problem, my staff called me, and I looked at the problem. I soon realized that we had a denial-of-service attack being launched against us. We were getting hundreds of thousands of bogus messages coming in from hundreds of sources on the Internet, paralyzing our email gateways.

After several hours of work, and redeploying a powerful server as a temporary email gateway, we were able to get ahead of the flood after two days of disrupted email to the entire company. Now, email is flowing normally.

In short, a week from hell for me.