Things That Make You Go “Huh?”

No, this isn’t about Eliot Spitzer’s flagrant stupidity.

One of the many applications we support at school districts is a financial application called Finance Manager (or Finance Mangler, as some of us BOCES techs have dubbed it). This piece of crap, ahem, piece of software performs all the business related tasks of a school district such as payroll, requisitioning, etc. The back end is not written on a normal database such as SQL or Oracle, but on something (not very aptly) named Progress. Finance Manager is a client-server application, but because the developers of FM are so incredibly lame there is no actual client; instead it’s installed manually by mapping drives, designating a temp directory and dragging icons around. I have been saying for years that any third year computer science student could write an installer for it. Anyway, a few years ago the BOCES FM support people began to offer the application in a Citrix environment. This was a good move because besides being time consuming to install, it’s a major network traffic generator; I once looked at a sniffer capture of an FM session and wanted to be ill.

My school district cut over to the Citrix solution a couple of weeks ago because their old FM server was ailing and I was relieved; the database is now housed at the BOCES Citrix farm and I no longer have to worry about the attendant security and backup issues. After making sure everyone had the files they needed I powered the old FM server down.

The next day calls began filtering in about applications such as Word and Excel being deadly slow. People were having trouble opening and saving Microsoft applications to the network. Ralph, the only member of the desktop team who knows how to use Google, mentioned something he saw about slowness and missing network drives. A light went on in my head and I realized that the decommissioning of the old server and the slowness were probably related.   We tested the theory by uninstalling the FM client from a workstation that was having the issue and everything returned to normal.  As an aside,  I wish I could say there is an uninstaller for FM but there is not; you have to hack the registry to make it go away.  Even though the users were not saving their documents to the non-existent server (and never had), somehow Microsoft’s predilection for getting its hooks into everything reared its ugly little head.

I’m glad the problem is solved, but this behavior is going to bug me until I find a good explanation for it. Or I could just chalk it up to more Microsoft weirdness and be grateful I have a Novell network.

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3 Comments

  1. March 16, 2008 at 7:49 am

    Nice writing style. I will come back to read more posts from you.

    Susan Kishner

  2. T-Enterprise said,

    March 16, 2008 at 8:43 am

    It is down to anomalies with MS – cheers for the article.

  3. The Hebrew Hammer said,

    March 16, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Considering the talent base around BOCES, I’m really surprised someone hasn’t made an installer for FM.


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