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2000 Reports

16 September 2000

Here we go again...

Another hurricane is brewing, this time in the Gulf of Mexico just off of central to southern Florida. The projected path takes it over north Florida, through Georgia and South Carolina, then directly through central North Carolina. Though wind will not be an issue with this storm, the amount of rain may equal that of Hurricane Floyd of last summer which pretty well destroyed everything east of Raleigh (and made life messy around here for some time.)

Probably the worst we will experience is a loss of power, but the generator is in place, tested, and ready to go. We'll keep you posted as we get closer to Monday night/Tuesday morning.

14 June 2000

Very bad. At 4:30 pm it was partly cloudy with a hint of thunder in the western distance. At 4:45 pm, we were hit by one of the worst thunderstorms that Raleigh has seen is decades. The thing popped up in a matter of minutes and hammered us. We took several direct hits by some amazing positive charged lightning bolts which is when I literally unplugged all exterior connections from the LAN. Then the power went out.

Though we pulled the generator in time before the UPS units hosed, we could not reconnect the telco until 6:27; it took that long for things to calm down. The total outage was 103 minutes before things became stable enough to bring the whole system back on line.

The problem is that I can protect the telco in-points from lightening surge when we are dealing with "normal" negative charge bolts that take off from the high points no matter how close they are to us. We can not protect from the positive bolts since they energize the surrounding ground as well. They are also far more powerful than negative-charged lightening and do a tremendous amount of damage. Fortunately, this is the first time in the four years we have been in business that we have had positive-charged bolts in the area. By the way...one method of distinguishing positive bolts from negative bolts is to look at a tree that has been hit. A negative bolt will singe the tree and perhaps split a trunk notch if it is powerful enough. A positive bolt makes the tree explode into flaming toothpicks.

I really hope it does not happen again any time soon.

10 May 2000

Not a good day. The primary email server went south this morning shortly after 5 AM. It is going to take a complete repair and restoration to get it back up and running. Now the good news...

No mail is or will be lost. Any mail that was on the machine at the time is hosed is still there and completely recoverable (which is what I am doing now and anticipate I will be doing for many hours to come.) Any mail that was sent after the machine hosed will bounce around, attempting redelivery every hour or so until the machine comes back up. Eventhally, it will be delivered and will not get lost.

Unfortunately, for those clients who are using both the POP and the SMTP server that is down, you will not be able to check mail or send mail via our system untiil the server comes back up. I anticipate that we will be up and running by late this afternoon, perhaps by 4 PM eastern time. Until then, I apoligize for any inconvenience. Just be glad that we keep things backed up. :)


Email service was restored shortly before 11 AM today. Things are now running normally, though the poor server is breaking a major sweat handling all the backed up email. The log jam is now cleared (1PM) and the stupid machine better behave or I will smack it hard.

25 April 2000

Well...we played the odds and lost today. A local power transformer on a pole just up the street blew up shortly after 5 PM this afternoon. When things like that happen, we play it by ear as to whether we are going to pull a generator or not. Had that transformer actually been the one that specifically feeds our power, I would have pulled one in and connected it since CP&L generally takes about four to six hours to fix something like that. But it was not on our direct feed so all I needed to do is ride it out for 20 minutes or so with back-up power until CP&L arrived and kicked back on the circuit breaker that handles our feed (and which tripped when the transformer exploded.) Unfortunately, it took them 52 minutes to do something that should have taken five. Back-up battery dies at 27 minutes and we were down for 25 minutes total.

I am going to have a long talk with CP&L in the morning.

3 January 2000

OK folks...this is what is happening.

Some people are having problems reaching their web sites today. We switched backbone providers and are now on a Sprint network with Sprint IP numbers. The change went very smoothly, but there are about 100 domains that are in potential trouble.

And here's why...

When we register a domain name, we do so with InterNIC via the interface provided by Network Solutions. When we register domain names in that fashion, we are able to make changes to the DNS records of those domains. But if a domain name is registered directly with Network Solutions through their DotCom interface, with register.com, or another registry where a user name and passcode are required to make modifications, then we have absolutely no control over making any changes.

The end result is that the person who registered the domain originally and who has the user name and passcode must make the changes. And here is the information you need to make those changes:

Technical contact:

Valerie Crisp
3252 Octavia Street
Raleigh, North Carolina 27606
NIC handle (if requested): VC198

DNS Servers:

Primary DNS:


Secondary DNS Server:


Secondary DNS Server:


Secondary DNS Server:


These changes MUST be made so that the changes take affect by 5 pm EST on Friday, 7 January 2000. At that time, we are taking down the BellSouth telco lines and the old class C block in its entirety.

Just as a point of note, if the Commerce Department had not been so lax with Network Solutions in allowing NetSol to claim ownership of the domain name registry, and had forced the new registrars to allow ISPs to make global changes without user names and passcodes (as was the policy since the inception of the domain name system) then none of this would have happened.

The other folks who will be affected are those who have domains that are something other than .com, .net, and .org. They will have to contact the respective country host registries to make the change. That affects about 40 domains and most of them either have been contacted or will be shortly.

One other (hopefully) small group are those who have decided to take over their own DNS without letting us know. People may do so in order to manage their own email server, but want to continue to have us host their web sites. They control their own DNS and need to point the A name records to the altered IP number. In short, where ever you see the 205.152.36. or 208.49.46. class C IP numbers, you need to change them to 205.160.14. and 199.1.201. respectively. Not doing so by Friday will cause your web site to disappear off the face of the planet until the DNS redirect is changed.

We have tried to notify as many people as we could, but many of the email contacts we have are outdated, phone numbers are disconnected, and all we have is a physical address. That would have been impossible to use to make contact.

But that is why we not only have this server status page, we also request that people change their contact information we have on file any time it changes. If people have not done so or do not check this page on a regular basis, there is not much more we can do.

For those who are caught in this switch, we are going to make every effort to continue to contact them as we see problems arise and apologize for any inconvenience.

Of course, feel free to contact us at any time and we will walk you through the process if necessary.

One more thing...if your domain does not fall into those discrete categories listed above and you still can not reach your web site it is most likely because your dial-up ISP does not play by the rules of the Internet. Those rules are detailed in public documents called Requests For Comments, or RFCs. One of those RFCs specifies the protocol of something called a Time To Live,. or TTL. The TTL is what we set on our side for your DNS information and tells other servers how long that any particular piece of DNS information is good for. We have our TTLs for the old IP numbers set for five minutes and the new IP numbers set for one hour. That means that if you dial-in to your ISP and hit your web page, they can hold that information for five minutes. If you hit your page again two minutes later, the DNS information is already at your ISP and they do not need to look it up again. But if you hit your site after five minutes, the ISP should go back out to InterNIC to get the updated information.

A small group of ISPs, though, refuse to abide by the RFC governing DNS TTLs. They will cache bad information for up to a day regardless of what we set. So if you hit your page, then we make a change, and you hit your page an hour later, the ISP still has the old information.

There is nothing we can do about ISPs who don't play by the rules. You need to take that up with them and find out why they ignore policy. In all cases I have come across, it is because the ISP does not want to pay for the little bit of extra telco needed to do DNS lookups and would rather cache bad information than increase their costs by perhaps one percent.

1 January 2000

Happy New year

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