User account renaming

One of the big projects I’m working on right now is user account renaming. All of a sudden, this term we’ve got a bunch of requests from people wanting to change their usernames; usually either because they got married and changed their name, or because it wasn’t spelled right in the first place. We rarely ever got these before, and the standard answer used to be “We can delete your account and make you a new one, and if that’s not acceptable, you’ll have to live with your current username.”

Now, though, we’ve got a process that can actually change a username. This is harder than you might think; a username is stored in a lot of places, and affects a lot of things under the hood of several servers, so there are lots of t’s to cross and i’s to dot.

For instance, changing your username means changing the location where your personal files are stored, which in turn means that several settings in your blog have to be changed, along with (of course) moving your files. We have to change your email address, the location where your messages are stored, any email aliases you may have, any email list memberships. We aren’t even going to try looking in everybody else’s address books to see if your old email address is in there. It’s bad enough that, because of the way the Communications Express address book is stored, we have to make a behind-the-scenes change to every address record in it.

The real sticking point of all this is your online calendar, also part of Communications Express. Because Sun originally bought the calendar server from some other company, it uses a database that’s pretty different from other Sun products. Partially because calendars are so interlinked with each other, and also because of some fundamental choices made by that original company, a calendar simply can’t be renamed without shutting down the calendar server and rebuilding the entire database of all calendars, just in case they have any links with your calendar. I’ve pretty much given up on being able to do that with an automatic process. There’s just too many things that can go wrong.

The good news is that almost everything else is now changeable, and most of it is automated. If you need your name changed, contact the Service Request Desk and they’ll get it to me.

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