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Feb '06

I just received this bulletin from my school’s IT administrators…

All users should note that unused, inactive accounts are now being automatically deleted by the system after 120 days.

What this means is, basically, you can keep your account as long as you continue to use it. Your account will be deleted without warning after 120 days of inactivity.

120 days is a long “grace” period. We’re implementing it now because, with the system growing so quickly, we want to make sure we have licences available for everybody who wants an account.

We are unfortunately unable to send warnings out to those whose accounts are about to expire; there are currently over 2500 user accounts, and it’s simply not feasible to keep up with the large number of accounts.

Translation to English:

Paragraph 1: You’ve been bad.

Paragraph 2: Bad people have bad things happen to them.

Paragraph 3: Society cuts you a lot of slack, and you are still bad.

Paragraph 4: We cannot help you if bad things happen.

However, I’ve worked on these sorts of systems before. The truth of the matter is 2500 accounts is really no big deal. Parsing the list of accounts for last login date and sending out a message to active accounts that have aged (not been used for) 100 days is a trivially simple exercise. Any database developer worth their salt should be able to implement this feature in under an hour. I hate it when untalented software developers (it hurts to call them this; it is a title above their station) cite technical reasons for their laziness or incompetence. Could you imagine a doctor saying, “I’m sorry about that paper cut. There isn’t anything in medical science that we can do to prevent you from bleeding to death. It’s a shame. Can we use your organs for research?” Lame.

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