Clinton Ticket Demand Overwhelms Web Site

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Web site glitches disappointed many eager students looking to get free tickets to see former President Bill Clinton on campus next week.

Though 1,200 tickets were made available at 7 a.m. Thursday for students wishing to attend Clinton's speech at Zellerbach Hall Feb. 24, problems quickly ensued. A campus effort designed, according to spokesperson Janet Gilmore, to increase convenience and avoid long lines ended up leaving many students frustrated and ticketless as they tried repeatedly to access the site without success.

Despite the complications, tickets were sold out by approximately 7:40 a.m., shortly after the Web site was fixed, Gilmore said in an e-mail.

Some campus officials attributed the complications to an overload in the CalNet Authentication System, Gilmore noted.

"According to our IT staff, it appears that the system began to slow around 7 a.m., got slower, and then was overwhelmed," she said in an e-mail.

But details remained unclear throughout the day as to what exactly caused the problem.

Dedra Chamberlin, manager of the CalNet team, said that the team had not reported any unusual outages yesterday morning.

"Usually if there's a big problem with one of our systems (the CalNet team) would let me know, and I didn't hear anything from them this morning," she said Thursday.

Chamberlin said a member of Cal Performances indicated that the cause of the complications might be attributed to CalWeb Pro, a web-hosting service, instead of the CalNet system.

According to the campus IST Web system status logs, CalWeb Pro Web sites experienced an unscheduled outage due to a higher-than-expected load between 7 and 9 a.m. yesterday morning.

Chamberlin said the CalNet system's ability to endure high traffic was tested by both artificial simulations and real-world situations, such as freshman applicants constantly checking the Web site.

"Our system performed to our expectations," she said.

But for many students, the cause of the glitch was not as upsetting as the effect it had on their plans to see Clinton speak.

Freshman Connie Yang said in an e-mail that while she was able to claim a ticket after refreshing the Web site dozens of times, many of her friends were not as lucky.

"I know plenty of friends who got up early and stayed on their computers for up to an hour and a half, waiting patiently while the page failed to load," Yang said in the e-mail.

She added that the campus should have employed a different method of ticket distribution.

"Obviously, it's hard to find a fair way to distribute 2,000 tickets among so many Berkeley students," she said in the e-mail. "I wish the format of first-come-first-serve was a little more fair and not dependent upon an Internet server or perhaps Internet connection/speed."


Mihir Zaveri is the assistant university news editor. Contact him at [email protected]

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