Fun with Words & Problems

This week we were tasked with inventing a Sniglet out of something that we have noticed or encountered in our everyday lives. A Sniglet is essentially a word that doesn’t have a dictionary meaning.

Scrabble Letters by BruceEmmerling

A Few Sniglets:

  • Cursorpounce (kur ‘sore pounce)  – The erratic pouncing movement of the mouse cursor when typing on a computer keyboard. This behavior may occur if your laptop has a very sensitive touchpad.
  • Day 7 Techno Crash (dāy sev in tek nō krash) – A computer or Internet connection that crashes every Sunday night.
  • Flourogunk (floor ō ‘gunk) – The residual toothpaste around the cap of the toothpaste tube.
  • Smillow (smil ‘low) – A smashed pillow that is losing its stuffing.

The Problem, Reframed Problem, and Solution

The next task assigned for this week was to state a problem, reframe the problem, and then provide a solution.

For the web programming courses that I teach, the students use and interact with a web server to develop, test, and then submit their completed work each week. Interacting with a web server is an outcome of the web programming program and a necessary skill for students working in the field. Since this is an integral part of each course as a way for students to develop, test, and submit assignments, having a reliable web hosting environment (e.g., 100% uptime guarantee, routine backups, and monitoring) and customer support (24/7/365) is crucial. Last year, the web server that was used for the courses at the college, failed. The server was no longer operational for two weeks prior to the end of the semester and we ended the semester without a web hosting environment. Immediately, the blame traveled to the IT staff and their inability to efficiently manage the web server and provide the necessary customer support to investigate and respond to the issue quickly.

Following the semester’s end, the IT staff had an opportunity to research the reason(s) why the web server may have failed. They looked into possible networking issues and then examined software and hardware issues. The research indicated that it was a complete hardware failure caused by very old outdated equipment. Further research indicated that there were actually two hardware failures during the past two years, which ultimately lead up to the web server becoming nonfunctional. The server was being “patched” with old refurbished components in order to keep an outdated piece of hardware functioning without spending a lot of money.

So the real issues behind the web server failure, was not the inability to manage the server (software installations, routine backups, etc. – that was all in place) but rather money was not being allocated to upgrade the server in order to keep it operational and up-to-date and the IT support staff did not have the manpower or resources to investigate the issue(s) in a timely manner.

The solution to the problem was to purchase web hosting services from an outside vendor that provides 24/7/365 support, a 100% uptime guarantee, a safe and secure hosting environment, and the ability to monitor and manage hardware and software system failures immediately and then respond accordingly . The fee for these services is minimal compared to the high cost of maintaining a dedicated IT staff at the college and the cost of maintaining up-to-date web server software and hardware and monitoring services for a computer that is housed on campus. Since this solution was put into place, everything has been running smoothly and the faculty, students, and administration are very pleased. The original problem seem to point to lack of involvement and disinterest where in fact the real issue was due to limited manpower, resources, and outdated equipment.


BruceEmmerling. (2014, January). [Scrabble Gameboar] [Image]. Retrieved from