Tuesday, October 05, 2010

More on power outage and website problems

In yesterday's blog post, Tony addressed last Friday's power outage. Here are some more details about what happened and why. The courthouse and the neighborhood lost electricity at 11:05 a.m. We were in the midst of recording documents but we had previously equipped all of our recording terminals and scanners with UPS devices. These are battery backups that are intended to keep equipment functioning for a short period of time so as to allow the user to finish a task and save work. The UPS's worked as intended and we were able to finish the recordings underway and shut everything down smoothly. We have bigger UPS's on our computer servers, designed to last longer, but when the power was not back on by 1 pm. we decided to shut down the servers, as well. The UPS that powers the telephones continued on until 3 pm when it powered down. Because the metal detector at the entrance to the building was not working, Courthouse Security shut down access to the building once the power went out.

By 4 pm when the power had not been restored, I decided to let the registry staff leave for the day. A resumption of power would still require us to do about 20 minutes of testing and restoration of our computers, so no new documents would have arrived by the time the building officially closed. Strangely enough, just as the employees left (a few of us were staying until 4:30), the Lowell Police arrived saying there had been a bomb threat to the courthouse. The few folks inside evacuated. It took about 30 minutes for the police to issue the all clear at which time the electricity magically came on. I spent about an hour bringing up the computers and fixing some errors that appeared so on Monday morning (yesterday) we were ready to go.

One problem unrelated to our power outage was an issue with the masslandrecords.com website. The domain name had somehow been allowed to expire (that's done at an echelon above the registry) and the way the registration company reminds you of that by pointing anyone who tried to reach that site on the internet to a completely different site. The technique works. The name was quickly renewed on Saturday, but it took about 48 hours to cycle the replacement page out of the various servers that make up the internet. Everything seems back to normal now.

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