It was turning out to be an interesting day.
The date, for those of you half-heartedly paying attention, was December something-or-other, 2000. Christmas was all too close, and I had the distinct impression that I should be doing something vaguely more important that sitting at my terminal copying and pasting. Namely, shopping, as I hadn't even so much as approached a retail setting.
The best net access to be found - - or, rather, the best net access that I could get to on short notice - - was at work, so it was a slightly displaced Saturday commute to the land of the dreary and the dead on the day of the Deed. Leaving my car in the disturbingly empty parking lot, I swiped my badge and entered a nearly-desolate office interior.
I edged my way to my office - - not out of any particular need for stealth, but because it was shaping out to be that sort of day. I silently slipped my key into the lock, opened the door to my office, and stepped in.
Ah, success. Security had no idea.
Within minutes I was sailing on-line, re-organizing data, looking over questions, and basically just getting ready. Chat session primed, Microsoft Word list of question & answer pairs all nice and prepared, askmes and tellmes armed and prepared to fire. I let off a few askmes, just to get the feel of the queue. Oh, this wasn't good; it was practically full. Fire off a few more, work off the dross, get into the feel of things. I shot off a few reasonable attempts at humour and entertainment, keeping one eye on the chat session. The supplicants no doubt began to feel as if this particular incarnation wasn't all there, and they were partly right.
The chat started to liven up; I was by no means the first to log in, but it looked like I wasn't the last by a long shot. Three or four folks had problems keeping in - - no doubt something to do with Java compatibility. Once again I congratulated myself on my decision to come into work; that T1 connection and revving processor under the desk was going to keep me in the running for however long this took.
Others were observing the full queue with some disdain, as well. I began to fire off askmes, not caring whether or not I answered them. I could always do clean-up later; I had twenty-four hours for each. Already some of the eeevil wanted to head off for home, and we had barely even started. The control phase hadn't even taken place! More askmes, more askmes, more askmes.
Then, puzzlement. One of our eeevil cohorts spoke up, saying that he had created an automatic script to send off askmes - - but it was sending off null-query tellmes instead! That was why the queue was still full! The process was shut off, and several more askmes were fired off. Slowly, inexorably, painfully, the queue began to dwindle. Stutter. Some got false readings, and insisted that the queue was empty; others were receiving questions, still with the header proclaiming top-off status. Could the server be unable to cope with control of this magnitude?
More askmes, more askmes. Answer later. More askmes.
The scheduled time came - - and went. The queue was still too full! Some folks were getting edgy, saying that we should strike anyway. Some wanted to wait just a little while longer. While debating, time passed, the queue faltered, and finally the Word Was Given.
And we unleashed the horde of questions upon the Oracle.
Tellmes had been primed from every quarter in anticipation of the Deed, and now they were launched into the belly of the beast. The server bucked and screamed, sending an The Oracle is pondering your question there, and a The Oracle requires an answer here. There was no stability, no order. But we continued to launch until all of our initial ammunition was used up.
Now we came down to it. Chaos reigned, for a time; my efforts to order the questions by number (as opposed to by author) only created more confusion. That was straightened out, and the eeevil folks found they could do a simple search string for the question at hand to locate the proper response. Copy, paste, send. Copy, paste, send. I was up to my twentieth receive-copy-paste-send before I decided to check back with the group in chat.
There was disarray and a select number of complaints. Some responses were missing; others were taking an incredibly long time to get back to their assigned supplicants. There were theories that there might have been a couple of non-QC incarnations out in the world, and that was where the missing queries had gone. A couple of the eeevil folk took charge and started a roll call, of sorts, naming each question by author and accounting for each. Ten questions astray. No, found that one, now only nine. Ten, did you say? No, eight, I've found another one over here; the server's slow. Nine? No, eight, now. Make that seven.
Chat, it seems, was not the best option for communication. But it did work, to a degree. In the end, only two questions had lost their way, and we were able to sort them out with little trouble. In three hour's time, we were done, and the queue had barely known what had hit it.
Now, clean-up time.
A few of the eeevil were dismissed; it was, after all, a Saturday, and people have lives and such to attend to, time zones to cater to, dinner to eat, bedtimes to watch. A few stayed behind; one in particular posted a listing of all the askmes he had gathered in the queue-draining stage. The innocent masses should by no means suffer the plans of eeevil. Clean-up, and thus healing, could begin.
For now, our duty was done. Now all we had to do was watch, and wait.
And giggle, of course. Giggle like mad. Ooo, the Priests were going to hate us