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(Boing Boing)   Student at Central Florida University writes app to improve campus course-selection system, gets extra credit for his efforts. Just kidding, the project has been terminated and he faces three semesters of academic probation   (boingboing.net) divider line 97
    More: Florida, Boing Boing, academic probation  
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14226 clicks; posted to Main » on 05 Aug 2012 at 7:52 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-08-05 05:30:38 PM
Better articles here and here.

He was doing the charging of fees for this service and according to the second article upon which I have linked "Arnold's software was tying up the campus computer network, claiming it accessed UCF's scheduling website 220,000 times, as often as every 60 seconds."

I do not have the opinion on this but do feel that the Boing Boing story lacks quite the bit of relevant details.
 
2012-08-05 05:46:09 PM
Hmmm... smells like internal politics to me.
 
2012-08-05 06:07:54 PM

This About That: Hmmm... smells like internal politics shiatty IT infrastructure to me.


FTFY. Even if you load 70% less data, if you're touching the server 10x more often, it adds up. But the University should have worked with him on this instead of threatening him. Now they're going to have to walk back a national story.
 
2012-08-05 07:48:09 PM

Benevolent Misanthrope: This About That: Hmmm... smells like internal politics shiatty IT infrastructure to me.

FTFY. Even if you load 70% less data, if you're touching the server 10x more often, it adds up. But the University should have worked with him on this instead of threatening him. Now they're going to have to walk back a national story.


At the beginning, his app would query the school's class database once every fifteen minutes because a blanket query of the system could take 14 minutes to complete. But that's one query. Push it out to multiple users all running a 14 minute query at different intervals and I imagine the traffic built up pretty quickly. So the kid rewrote the app to only check for particular classes instead of retrieving the whole schedule of classes, which he should have done in the first place.

I wonder if they're punishing him for the months he ran the app while just querying the whole database willy nilly.
 
2012-08-05 07:52:16 PM
Also, I think this is from one of Meow's links:

Courtney Gilmartin, communications coordinator for UCF News & Information, said UCF's schedule search page was accessed 220,000 times as often as every 60 seconds between mid-December and June. Arnold doesn't agree.

"I think it's completely made up," Arnold said.


Considering he designed the app to check for classes as often as every 60 seconds, I wonder what he's basing his assumption on. Or maybe he's disagreeing with the total number of times the page was accessed.
 
2012-08-05 07:53:11 PM

Benevolent Misanthrope: Hmmm... smells like internal politics shiatty IT infrastructure to me.


But we already said it happened at a university.
 
2012-08-05 07:53:37 PM

Lsherm: Also, I think this is from one of Meow's links:

Courtney Gilmartin, communications coordinator for UCF News & Information, said UCF's schedule search page was accessed 220,000 times as often as every 60 seconds between mid-December and June. Arnold doesn't agree.

"I think it's completely made up," Arnold said.

Considering he designed the app to check for classes as often as every 60 seconds, I wonder what he's basing his assumption on. Or maybe he's disagreeing with the total number of times the page was accessed.


Maybe he means his app was completely made up.
 
2012-08-05 07:53:50 PM

he faces three semesters of academic probation


Double-secret or the regular kind?
 
2012-08-05 07:55:32 PM
As an ex university comp sci student who missed the tech bubble disgusted at what universities offered for money, I'll put money on him being able to buy and sell that school in a few years. And I'll put my money where my mouth is.WHo's got a link to his funding?
 
2012-08-05 07:56:37 PM
If it works, he'll simply drop out and get a six-figure job in Cupertino. And CFU will lose out on alumni contributions.
 
2012-08-05 07:59:48 PM
as often as every 60 seconds

OMFGZ one request every minute SHUT DOWN EVERYTHING
 
2012-08-05 08:02:26 PM
If you make the beauracracy easier to navigate, the purpose of college is moot.
 
2012-08-05 08:03:03 PM

"I'm more than skeptical," said Arnold. "I'm pretty positive it had no effect whatsoever on their systems."

No effect?


Go back to marketing and leave the programming to people that know how to avoid DDoSing a website.

 
2012-08-05 08:04:21 PM
Someone needs to make an app to streamline the Bursar's office functions. Actually the last time I had to go to a Bursar's office, they had one window out of three open for students registering for classes at the beginning of the semester, and the person manning the window was so slow.
 
2012-08-05 08:04:45 PM

mc6809e: "I'm more than skeptical," said Arnold. "I'm pretty positive it had no effect whatsoever on their systems."

No effect?

Go back to marketing and leave the programming to people that know how to avoid DDoSing a website.


"I'm pretty positive it had no effect."

Well obviously it DID, dumbass. Just because you didn't think it WOULD doesn't make it so.
 
2012-08-05 08:06:19 PM
He also has to write a six page paper. Apparently, UCF thinks a whopping six page paper is punishment. I don't think it's a real school.
 
2012-08-05 08:07:57 PM
Micky Mouse University in Orlando, Florida. What more do you need to know?
 
2012-08-05 08:08:22 PM

Lehk: as often as every 60 seconds

OMFGZ one request every minute SHUT DOWN EVERYTHING


This.
 
2012-08-05 08:08:47 PM

Lehk: as often as every 60 seconds

OMFGZ one request every minute SHUT DOWN EVERYTHING


It did, that was the problem.
 
2012-08-05 08:12:09 PM
I love Florida and the stories it has. It make my life seem so meaningful, pleasant and sane by comparison.
 
2012-08-05 08:13:51 PM
Student is trying to respond in comments of this article.
 
2012-08-05 08:14:20 PM
Cedar Falls Utilities really needs to upgrade their campus network.
 
2012-08-05 08:18:22 PM
Option A:

Dis-enroll immediately
Disavow any relationship between yourself and that university
Get a job doing something useful
Sue that p.o.s. university for libel if they ever try to claim you as a graduate of their shiathole.

Option B:

Dis-enroll immediately after writing that paper telling everyone what a farking joke that place is.
Disavow any relationship between yourself and that university
Get a job doing something useful
Sue that p.o.s. university for libel if they ever try to claim you as a graduate of their shiathole.
 
2012-08-05 08:21:02 PM

WelldeadLink: Student is trying to respond in comments of this article.


If he defended himself that well in his hearing no wonder he lost. It took him two tries to get it right.
 
2012-08-05 08:21:54 PM

SevenizGud: Option A:

Dis-enroll immediately
Disavow any relationship between yourself and that university
Get a job doing something useful
Sue that p.o.s. university for libel if they ever try to claim you as a graduate of their shiathole.

Option B:

Dis-enroll immediately after writing that paper telling everyone what a farking joke that place is.
Disavow any relationship between yourself and that university
Get a job doing something useful
Sue that p.o.s. university for libel if they ever try to claim you as a graduate of their shiathole.


YouTube would be faster.
 
2012-08-05 08:21:59 PM
Reminds me of the student that installed 30 copies of the SETI program on one of the schools servers to try and get a higher count and ended up choking the server.
 
2012-08-05 08:23:07 PM
They could keep the queries system or switch over to a event based email system. Each student could select which classes they wanted to be notified when a spot opens up and then it would send an email to the list. Better idea then having the whole school continually querying the entire database every 60 seconds.
 
2012-08-05 08:27:32 PM

WelldeadLink: Student is trying to respond in comments of this article.


From that link is this:

He must write a five- to eight-page paper on what he would do if he were placed in the role of a UCF administrator and had to update the system

No doubt to be followed by a mandatory 5 page report on which janitorial service would be most cost-effective for the university followed by:

A mandatory 5 page report on how to identify the female students most likely to have sex with a school administrator and not blab about it, followed by:

A mandatory 5 page report on whether the spread offense would be....

Come ON ALREADY WITH THE SLAVE LABOR!!!!!

/he isn't a graduate student YET
 
2012-08-05 08:29:18 PM

Lsherm: Also, I think this is from one of Meow's links:

Courtney Gilmartin, communications coordinator for UCF News & Information, said UCF's schedule search page was accessed 220,000 times as often as every 60 seconds between mid-December and June. Arnold doesn't agree.

"I think it's completely made up," Arnold said.

Considering he designed the app to check for classes as often as every 60 seconds, I wonder what he's basing his assumption on. Or maybe he's disagreeing with the total number of times the page was accessed.


Well the app he wrote has a very specific appeal to a very narrow group of people, so maybe he knows that many queries wouldn't be possible from the few people who'd installed the app.
 
2012-08-05 08:32:22 PM

meow said the dog: He was doing the charging of fees for this service and according to the second article upon which I have linked "Arnold's software was tying up the campus computer network, claiming it accessed UCF's scheduling website 220,000 times, as often as every 60 seconds."


There's really something weird going on if the system can't handle a query once every sixty seconds. And if that's the frequency of requests, then he spread the 220,000 request over almost half a year. Unless it was a really badly written query or the database is very poorly optimized, one query a minute shouldn't effect anything. Of course PeopleSoft is one of those huge wannabe mainframe crapware packages so it might actually choke on something Microsoft Access running on a 286 could handle easily.
 
2012-08-05 08:34:18 PM

SevenizGud: WelldeadLink: Student is trying to respond in comments of this article.

From that link is this:

He must write a five- to eight-page paper on what he would do if he were placed in the role of a UCF administrator and had to update the system

No doubt to be followed by a mandatory 5 page report on which janitorial service would be most cost-effective for the university followed by:

A mandatory 5 page report on how to identify the female students most likely to have sex with a school administrator and not blab about it, followed by:

A mandatory 5 page report on whether the spread offense would be....

Come ON ALREADY WITH THE SLAVE LABOR!!!!!

/he isn't a graduate student YET


It's clear yoou know how college administrators think. Had my first lesbian experience with the Dean's secretary just to get priority placement in a class my senior year.
 
2012-08-05 08:35:59 PM
Sounds like someone didn't like him doing their job better than them.

I could be wrong, but I never underestimate the problem of human ego.
 
2012-08-05 08:39:40 PM
The student did 2 things inherently wrong. First, he charged students for this which UCF has a very clear policy against as do 99% of the schools in the country. If he hadn't charged for this application, he wouldn't have been in as much trouble. Second, he says his system accessed UCF's every 15 minutes, which is also incorrect. If you read his own presentation, which he's posted on his website, he states that students can pay more money to have it check our servers more often, up to every minute. Multiply that by the number of students who were using it and you get your 220,000 attempts. Is UCF's system capable of handing that amount of searches? Yes it is, however it does degrade the system, especially during peak enrollment times which is when he wanted to run this most.

Also, while this is a good idea, A. He wasn't the first, a program called knighttracker did this first. That guy actually asked permission, which UCF turned down for the same reasons we stopped this guy's website. Knighttracker actually has filed a patent for his software (good luck). B. This guy didn't do any of the programming, he outsourced it to Lithuania or somewhere like that. C. This guy better found his own company, because he obviously knows very little about politics in a work environment. He now has gotten a taste of that, hopefully he learns from it.
 
2012-08-05 08:42:59 PM

Agent Smiths Laugh: Sounds like someone didn't like him doing their job better than them.

I could be wrong, but I never underestimate the problem of human ego.


He probably just amplified a flaw in the existing system. Students are exceptional at it. When I worked as a sysadmin years ago at a big college we still had phone registration for classes. My first year we could accept 400 simultaneous calls, but students were still locked out of the system. Why? Because the work study students who worked in the financial aid call bank were using all of their available lines to dial in so they could work out their classes first and lock out other people. I think they had 250 lines of their own to use, and they would dial them all into the registration system just to keep other students out.

Solution? Auto-hang up after two minutes of inactivity.

Never underestimate the power of a student to wreck your shiat.
 
2012-08-05 08:46:57 PM

EngineerAU: meow said the dog: He was doing the charging of fees for this service and according to the second article upon which I have linked "Arnold's software was tying up the campus computer network, claiming it accessed UCF's scheduling website 220,000 times, as often as every 60 seconds."

There's really something weird going on if the system can't handle a query once every sixty seconds. And if that's the frequency of requests, then he spread the 220,000 request over almost half a year. Unless it was a really badly written query or the database is very poorly optimized, one query a minute shouldn't effect anything. Of course PeopleSoft is one of those huge wannabe mainframe crapware packages so it might actually choke on something Microsoft Access running on a 286 could handle easily.


Each student and each class was accessing the system every 60 seconds. Say he had 100 students and each had 3 classes on the list. You would be accessing UCF's system 300 times every minute. Also, yes it is a PeopleSoft system. The tables it is accessing to do this class search contain millions of rows. It's going to take a toll when you search that often.
 
2012-08-05 08:47:35 PM
We had a student do that for our old student information system.

When we upgraded, he called IT asking to have access to the new system so he could continue his side business. We never noticed his app was running because he was querying the database using a legitimate username/password. (his own)
 
2012-08-05 08:49:16 PM
back in the days of the onion... i went to a small private college and majored in CS. my CS prof was proud to show off the program he wrote that did exactly this. but back then the whole campus network was run on VAX with dumb terminals. people were confused and frightened by computers, and hardly anyone used his program. but it was awesome and hugely useful for those of us that knew about it, and even back then i can't imagine that it took much server resources to run.

(i'm really not that old, it was just a suck college.)
 
2012-08-05 08:52:16 PM

diaphoresis: SevenizGud: WelldeadLink: Student is trying to respond in comments of this article.

From that link is this:

He must write a five- to eight-page paper on what he would do if he were placed in the role of a UCF administrator and had to update the system

No doubt to be followed by a mandatory 5 page report on which janitorial service would be most cost-effective for the university followed by:

A mandatory 5 page report on how to identify the female students most likely to have sex with a school administrator and not blab about it, followed by:

A mandatory 5 page report on whether the spread offense would be....

Come ON ALREADY WITH THE SLAVE LABOR!!!!!

/he isn't a graduate student YET

It's clear yoou know how college administrators think. Had my first lesbian experience with the Dean's secretary just to get priority placement in a class my senior year.


[Do you want to know more?]

*click*

*click click*

*click click click*


Work damn you!
 
2012-08-05 08:55:03 PM
Well, it was UCF.

(FIT graduate degrees in CS and SM who was offered a teaching position at UCF years ago)
 
2012-08-05 08:55:11 PM
This guy is just doing what many many many enrollment programs need to do.

Most schools could really give a shoot about enrollment. The fact that the administrators don't have to sit in the gym for hours and hours enrolling people in one class at a time is such a huge relief (see BACK TO SCHOOL) to an example of what it's like ...

There is little economic incentive for most schools to improve their systems, especially since most of it involves re-engineering systems that were written in web languages that are now extinct (ISAPI, Java Servlets, ASP, cgi-bin) but for most students it's one of the things they need the most. It's also one of the things that students manipulate the most - enrolling in classes that they *might* want to take.

Frankly, I think most schools could really use something like this - including the ability to look at who HAS taught a class and how often, the statistics on enrollment (i.e. This class fills up fast once the juniors are let in) and - one feature I like the most - autoenrollment through waiting list w/ automatic kick-out within 3 days of conflicting classes.
 
2012-08-05 08:56:55 PM
I don't understand, was every person that used his app sending their queries? Or did he have a central server that made the queries? Making it only scan for the classes requested should have brought down the bandwidth used. But that only helps until it gets popular and has enough requests for different classes. This sounds like something he should have ran by the IT department with some projected request increase. You don't just start dumping someone's server additional automated traffic and hope for the best.
 
2012-08-05 08:57:48 PM
"Not invented here" syndrome. Just a newer version for a newer generation.
 
2012-08-05 09:00:45 PM

trappedspirit: I don't understand, was every person that used his app sending their queries? Or did he have a central server that made the queries? Making it only scan for the classes requested should have brought down the bandwidth used. But that only helps until it gets popular and has enough requests for different classes. This sounds like something he should have ran by the IT department with some projected request increase. You don't just start dumping someone's server additional automated traffic and hope for the best.


He had several VM's of his own that were making the queries. Yes, he searched for the classes that the students selected on his website. Unfortunately, each search is pulling among millions of rows which eats up the bandwidth. Since this is PeopleSoft, I can tell you that a simple search such as he was doing causes 14 MB of data (according to the logs). Also, he CHARGED for it, which is a clear violation of UCF policy.
 
2012-08-05 09:03:04 PM

vudukungfu: As an ex university comp sci student who missed the tech bubble disgusted at what universities offered for money, I'll put money on him being able to buy and sell that school in a few years. And I'll put my money where my mouth is.WHo's got a link to his funding?


For every successful tech entrepreneur, there are dozens of failures and barely-scraping-bys. A guy who creates an app that just forwards a request to a separate server and parses the data in a different format, and originally did it by essentially downloading the entire database regularly to sift through a few records, isn't exactly top caliber material.

Obviously, neither are the school IT staff; even the good ones are probably burdened by bad management and bad practices, like most big old companies. They let their web site generate queries that needed 14 minutes to process? They returned an entire database dump to anyone who asked the right way? They never once checked their server logs, or the server performance, and let the abuse continue for 7 months? They didn't offload their computing to Amazon EC2 to handle peak loads? That's all their own negligence. It's extremely likely that they were one malicious prankster away from a Bobby Tables moment.

Idiots clash with idiots, and in these cases the more powerful idiot always wins.
 
2012-08-05 09:04:24 PM

Bucky Katt: Micky Mouse University in Orlando, Florida. What more do you need to know?


It's actually is a nationally top rated computer science and engineering school. And does quite well in independent international rankings also.
 
2012-08-05 09:05:53 PM
Speaking as someone who went to UCF twice unsuccessfully, yet had no issues graduating at Valencia (AA) and Rollins (BA, valedictorian in all but name), this does not surprise me.
 
2012-08-05 09:07:52 PM
Top rated and they do this to a student who made their system look like Mickey Mouse wrote their programming?

Dude, SELL your app to other universities and tell these schmucks where they can jump. You're already BETTER than they are.
 
2012-08-05 09:10:44 PM
images.askmen.com

This kid sounds like a tool.
 
2012-08-05 09:15:16 PM

meow said the dog: He was doing the charging of fees for this service and according to the second article upon which I have linked "Arnold's software was tying up the campus computer network, claiming it accessed UCF's scheduling website 220,000 times, as often as every 60 seconds."


Too be honest, he really doesn't sound very bright, especially when he doesn't even understand, by his own admission, why it was causing a high load.
 
2012-08-05 09:16:32 PM

EngineerAU: meow said the dog: He was doing the charging of fees for this service and according to the second article upon which I have linked "Arnold's software was tying up the campus computer network, claiming it accessed UCF's scheduling website 220,000 times, as often as every 60 seconds."

There's really something weird going on if the system can't handle a query once every sixty seconds.

I see you've never had to use the Peoplesoft system that UCF uses. The university I graduated from uses it also. It is possibly the slowest thing I've ever used on the internet. A monument to bad development.

 
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