This morning our campus rolled out a new mail service to notify community members of events to be held this week:
“Welcome to UMD This Week, the University of Maryland’s new email digest listing upcoming events from across the university. The university’s new Campus Calendar, featuring all campus events, is viewable at calendar.umd.edu. Check it out! This new calendar replaces FYI and Free Stuff@UMD, and UMD This Week replaces the daily FYI email.”
Cool – seems like a good idea. But … if you click through on any of the events listed in the inaugural weekly issue (like “Terps After Dark”) then the link redirects to a page that ultimately gets you a message:
University of Maryland - Calendar of Events
503 - Service Unavailable
The service you have requested is temporarily unavailable.
Hosted by Bedework Commercial Services
Here is what’s going on. Campus apparently outsourced the mail and web site management services to a tiny company that offers just this package to clients, but who got the details wrong in setting up the links in the template for the UM mail message. It is a simple cut and paste operation, but obviously they missed some strings, so what the campus mail is trying to do is load events from “Bennington College Pulic Library Events Calendar” [sic] rather than UM. That server doesn’t want to talk with Maryland users, so you get the error message. The little company doing this still gets to harvest your information though (yes – you were just placed in a stream of commerce by clicking through the UM mail link) since the redirect error happened after you hit the server.
This is what happens when campus IT specialists not only don’t know how to set up the world’s simplest ‘cloud’ service but they don’t know how to select companies that can do it either.