Hiding In Plain Sight: 24 Hours Of DNS Server Troubles

Some time early on May 31st I received a page telling me that this site was down. This has happened occasionally in the past and was almost always the result to something that I had done. That was not the case this time.

While I could not reach the domain I found that I could reach the server via its IP address. I was able to shell into the VPS and verify its status. It was in fact alive and healthy. By adding a hosts file entry in my desktop PC I was able to provide a local DNS solution, confirming that the server itself was completely happy.

It turns out that the company that handles DNS for this domain, which is not the hosting provider, was hit by what they characterize as a “larger than normal DDOS attack.” They tell me that the attack focused specifically on the DNS servers. They had been working to thwart the attack, and also adding additional servers to help handle the load.

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Meta: New VPS Launched

hp-compaq-8510p-comp Not all progress is obvious without careful examination. Much of my time working on this site has, for the past week, revolved around getting the entire thing moved to a new virtual server…not that you would likely notice.

After some well documented effort (part 1, part 2 & part 3) to move from a shared host to a VPS, it ran well, essentially untouched, for over a year. UnmeteredVPS.net has proven a responsive and reliable hosting provider.

However, over that time there were a great many patches to the software (LAMP) that are the foundation of a WordPress installation. In July I found that something I wanted to do required updating PHP to a much newer version.

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Beginning 2011 With A Simple Statement of Philosophy & Goals

What better way to begin the new year than with a simple statement of philosophy? This will serve as a foundation for many things to come:

To be productive in the home office it’s critical that we communicate effectively with the rest of the world. No matter how well we think we’re doing in this regard, we can always be better. We should constantly strive to improve.

In this quest we should re-examine old habits, and explore new possibilities where we find them.

Further, every bit of technology that we deploy either helps or hinders in this drive to improve our ability to communicate. My goal is to try new approaches or tools where possible, and document what works, or doesn’t work, for my home office.

I offer this up because I can see a clear trend in the notes and drafts that I have before me. The motivation for all of it springs from this simple, unrelenting desire to communicate better. It’s very Tom Peters in some ways, strive for excellence and all…but that’s ok by me.

Also, in the coming year I will try to be more disciplined about my blogging. That doesn’t mean posting more frequently. Nor does it mean shorter or longer posts. It should mean improving the overall signal/noise ratio. I hope to write more posts that genuinely merit inclusion on the “Best Of…” page.

As always, comments and suggestions are most welcome.

A Big Round Of Thanks!

…and the award for most tireless, knowledgeable and patient technical support goes to….

Over the past month or so the effort to find and move to new hosting was considerable. It was certainly much more involved than I had anticipated. I did not make it through the process on my own.

During the course of my search for hosting and the various migrations between hosts I’ve relied upon the invaluable advice and assistance of a few friends. In particular, I’d like to express my gratitude to Fred Posner of Team Forrest and Randy Resnick of Resmo / VUC.

Not only do these two guys truly know their stuff, but they’re patient with the quirks of foolish newbies like me. Imagine how great that must be if you’re one of their clients!

Blogging In Transition: A Host Of Issues – Act Three

There’s nothing like your site going down routinely to lend a sense of urgency to the search for an alternative hosting solution. While my circumstance was not quite as dire as that pictured right, it certainly felt similar.

The newly live server at VPS.NET was crashing at least once every day or two, but it remained live while I poked around the TKL web site investigating the other hosting providers that had partnered with the project. The biggest was Amazon’s EC2, but recent events lead me to shy away from Amazon for my own purposes.

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Blogging In Transition: A Host Of Issues – Act Two

Welcome to act two of our little saga, whereupon our protagonist, having found that his existing shared blog host is now unreliable, has set out in search of a new host. A private host. Very possibly a virtual host. In fact, the situation has become very cloudy indeed.

In some regards the growth of a blog such as this, and the related hosting issues, is a little like being a teenager. Living at your parents home is very cheap, but you’re limited in what you can do, and the sort of traffic that they will allow. Ultimately your desire for freedom will force you to find your own place to live, where you have greater control of what goes on, even if that means you always have to clean up after yourself.

The decision to seek a more private host is only one step in this migratory process. The next question that arises is, “what kind of host?” Windows? Linux? If Linux, what distribution? Which supporting applications? How much CPU, memory, storage, etc?

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