Explaining my server upgrade to an auto mechanic

I host this blog along with some other sites on my server. I know, I am a relic. Who hosts their own site anymore? Who even has a blog? The purpose of a blog, for any young people reading this is to inform people of things that happened like 5 years ago, to be totally into it for a while, and then stop updating it. And a server is where the blog comes from. Think of it like the "cloud", but my cloud. You are reading this from my cloud.

Updating the server

I upgraded the operating system on my server. I was sure that there was no way that this wouldn’t ruin every site I host. Surprisingly, some sites were still running after the upgrade. However, the one site that I host that someone actually uses for a business, was down.

The site was written using rails 2 relying on ruby 1.9.3. It had not been updated in a while, I am embarrassed to say. Since this is 2017, I couldn’t even get the packages on the new server to get the site up and running again. I couldn’t even get it running locally. So I converted it as quickly as I could to a static site to get it back up and running. The only thing missing was all the dynamic stuff the site did.

I had to explain this to my customer. Being an auto repair shop, I put it in terms to which he could relate. Here is the tale I told:

Imagine someone comes to you and says, “Hey, we want to upgrade your shop to the latest and greatest technology. Just leave the cars you are working on here, and come back in about an hour.”

You think, “This sounds great! I didn’t ask for this, but how can I lose?”

You come back in an hour. Your shop looks exactly the same from the outside, but on the inside, the cars you were working on are just piles of parts. They no longer represent a vehicle in any way. So you think to yourself, “Oh no! Old Mrs. Hastings is coming back for her car tonight! What will I do?”

You think to yourself, “I can do this. I will just have to put the car back together.”

As you begin to work, you find that most of your tools are now gone. As well as some of the parts of the cars that were in the shop. You ask the guys that upgraded the shop what happened and they tell you that “We were pretty sure this would ruin everything.”

You let out the world’s longest exhale through the nose and go to the tool store. When you arrive where the tool store should be, all you can find is a building with a street number “404” on the outside. In fact, when you look again, the building is not even there. All you can find is some vagrant mumbling about old tools that sound vaguely familiar. “Makes sense,” you think. After all, this car of hers is almost 5 years old. You can’t possibly be expected to find a tool to fix it or a part to repair it.

So now you are in a real pickle. The old bag will be back any minute for her car and you really need to have it ready. You scramble. You rack your brain. Then you remember that there is a car just like hers in a junkyard down the street. You get it, bring it back, and have it ready just as she arrives.

The only difference is that this car does not have power windows, power steering, ABS, a license plate, registration, 4 matching tires (since you had to manually copy and paste the code from page to page, there is no way the new static pages match), the fuzzy dice she had hanging from the mirror, any gas in the gas tank, or any seat belts.

It does, however, look almost identical. As people see her driving down the street they won’t know it is a different car. The day is saved.

And that is what happened to the site I host.

You may think that I am the world’s worst web-host/webmaster. Not to toot my own horn, but I got the site back up and running with minimal downtime. A quick re-write was not an option. The primary use case of the site is there—to provide information for potential customers. Now that I say it like that, I think that perhaps I may be the world’s best web-host/webmaster. Congratulations, me. And the other guy that helps me. Congratulations indeed.