Experience and keeping notes helps limit chasing tail.
In my last post, Help people get the job done, I wrote about disappointment with how a change was made in the end user’s environment at my office. The change required they do something different to accommodate a purely technical change in systems. Once connected their work was no different than it had been.
Why we didn’t build in the logic to connect them to the new resource and make it transparent for the user seemed to me like a failure on our part. Simplify the user experience so they can focus on the work they do by IT using our skills to make the computers work for people rather than the other way around.
I made some changes to personal websites to demonstrate redirection could be used to point at the correct work websites. It was meant to illustrate the analog idea that one work website could be pointed at the other. Going to my websites, train.boba.org and sclc.boba.org, immediately sent a browser to the intended work website. Success!
After demonstrating the capability I disabled it so my URLs go to their originally intended websites.
So where’s chasing my tail come in?
While experimenting with the redirect I modified the boba.org configuration. For a while it wasn’t possible to get to that site at all. Then depending on the URL got to it or andrewboba.com. Putting boba.org in the browser’s address bar ended up at andrewboba.com, but not correctly displayed. Putting http://boba.org went to the correct site but didn’t rewrite the link as secure, https://.
To stop being distracted by that issue and continue testing the redirect I disabled the boba.org website.
Worked more with the redirect over a few days. Got to the point I felt I understood it well and tried boba.org again.
It wouldn’t come up no matter what I tried. Everything went to a proper display of andrewboba.com.
I increased the logging level. I created a log specifically for boba.org (it didn’t show up which was my first clue). Not seeing the log I went through other site configurations to see how their custom logs were set up. They appeared to be the same.
Finally I decided to try boba.org without a secure connection. I wasn’t sure the name of the .conf file for secure connections and decided to look in Apache’s ../sites-enabled directory to see if there were separate .conf files for https connections.
And guess what I found? There are separate .conf’s for https, yes. There were no .confs of any kind for boba.org! Then it hit me. There had been no log files for boba.org because there were no ../sites-enabled .conf files for boba.org.
And then I finally remembered I had disabled the site myself to focus on the redirect. Chasing my tail because I’m very new at Apache webserver administration. I disabled a feature to focus on making something happen then forgot the change I made when I resolved the first challenge.
Better notes, and more experience, would have helped me remember sooner.
And I also found something new to learn. While boba.org was disabled, andrewboba.com was being displayed. Would prefer “not found” or something similar to show up rather than a different website on the server.
New challenge. Figure out how to serve a desired site/page not available message when a site on this server is down.
One of the reasons I like information technology. Always something new to learn at every turn.