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MIT Card Upgrade Causes Outage

Problems resulting from a routine software upgrade caused MIT Card readers across campus to stop working Tuesday night. The Card Office has not been able to explain why outages were observed after 9 p.m., since their records suggest the outage should have occurred between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

According to John M. McDonald, associate director for Enterprise Services, the Card Office began the upgrades around noon, after which readers began operating independently from the central system, based on card information stored in their memory. When the central system came back on-line at 7 p.m., a driver problem resulted in the card readers purging their memories, McDonald said. The central system runs Microsoft Windows.

McDonald said that the driver problem was repaired around 9 p.m., and all readers should be been functional shortly thereafter, with a few exceptions, including hardware in MacGregor House and in E18, E23, and E25. According to McDonald, the MacGregor problem was related to firmware and was corrected with a manual reset on Wednesday morning, while the E18 problem resulted from a power failure which was not linked to the card readers.

The Card Office’s version of events seems to be at odds with observed behavior. According to e-mail messages sent to dormitory mailing lists, card readers failed starting around 9 p.m. in Bexley, Burton-Connor, East Campus, Eastgate, Tang, and Westgate; those readers regained function around 11 p.m.. McDonald was not able to explain the discrepancy.

McDonald said that the Card Office regularly does software upgrades, approximately every month, and that they generally are not service-affecting.

Daniel L. Michaud, manager of the Card Office, was not available and did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

—John A. Hawkinson

Inventor of World Wide Web To Receive Draper Prize

Timothy J. Berners-Lee, senior research scientist at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, will be honored with the Charles Stark Draper Prize on Feb. 20 in a ceremony at Washington D.C. for his development of the World Wide Web. Berners-Lee will receive a gold medallion and a $500,000 cash award as part of the prize, which has long been considered the Nobel Prize of Engineering, according to the News Office.

Berners-Lee invented the WWW in 1989 as “an internet-based hypermedia initiative for global information sharing” when he was working at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), according to the World Wide Web Consortium Web site. He wrote the first WWW server in October 1990 and continued to work on the design of the Web from 1991 – 1993.

Berners-Lee later became the founder and director of the W3C at the Laboratory for Computer Science, which is an open forum comprised of companies and organizations with the ultimate goal of increasing the potential of the WWW.

Berners-Lee was not available and did not respond to requests for comment.

A native of Britain, Berners-Lee graduated from Oxford University in England, and was knighted in 2004 for his invention.

—Ji Qi