Category Archives: the battle of the computer

start — stop — start — stop…

so according to two different experts, there’s a good chance that i’ve got a spammer that has cracked my email server. if that is the case, then changing my IP address will only be a temporary solution, and what everybody is recommending is the third party “gsuites” which is, basically, a google relay to my email service. i continue hosting the web sites, but the MX records for every domain i have gets changed to google’s IP addresses, and they basically take over managing all of my email services for me…

except i still don’t know how much it will cost: potentially $10 per user per month, and i’ve got 5 or 6 email addresses, just for myself… and i WILL NOT pay more for email services alone than i am for the entire hosting package i currently have.

apparently there’s another alternative, which also costs more money, which is a virtual private server, which would allow me to do things like summarily block all email from a country — brazil, china and russia immediatey come to mind…

and then, on the other hand, i’ve also been seriously considering giving up being an internet “reseller”; giving up my hosting clients, and focusing on MY web site (and my wife’s web site) without all this extra stuff adding chaos to the whole scene.

and then there’s the local computer upgrade, which was put on hold while i figure out the whole email fiasco. it turns out KDE has this nifty “Startup Disk Creator” application, which installs a bootable copy of the operating system on a removable USB flash drive… except that it doesn’t work if the USB flash drive is formatted FAT32, and they don’t tell you in the user interface that the beginning of the process is changing the BIOS of the computer to boot from the USB drive… which i had to find out the hard way… 😕 i actually succeeded in wresting control of my computer back from the jaws of certain disaster before that disaster actually happened, and i actually figured out how to reformat the flash drive to EXT4 so that the startup disk creator is more likely to work this time, but with the whole email fiasco, plus the screen door installation tomorrow, plus time for me to settle down and quit panicking over the computer that wouldn’t boot when the BIOS had been changed and i didn’t realise it…

means i’m probably not going to try again for a couple of days.

seriously, this is ridiculous, and there’s no way it’s going to get any less complicated any time soon. it would be just as well for me to get out of the business of providing internet services to other people before i truly get myself in trouble. 😕

the scary part

i’ve reached the scary part of computer upgrades: that part in between the point where i’ve got everything backed up (except for the invisible directories in ~/home which are waiting until the last possible moment), i’m reading up on what i should do if the worst happens, i’ve downloaded the operating system, but i still haven’t bought the drive, or actually done anything to move the project forwards.

apart from backing up all my data, for the first time EVER… which is a big thing, i suppose…

tomorrow i am going to refill my water bottles, hopefully with my mother-in-law, nancy, in attendence. then, if there is time, i’m going to buy the drive. if there isn’t time tomorrow, then it happens tuesday. this means that some time between tuesday and friday, or so, next week, i should have a new operating system, and, hopefully, working email addresses and an existent contact list.

so far, i don’t have any reason to believe that it won’t happen exactly the way i have stated.

if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

a wise old linux guru told me this, a few years ago, and i’ve found myself smack in the middle of what happens when you follow that maxim… and it doesn’t feel entirely comfortable, at this point.

i have been happily running kubuntu trusty since 2014, which means that, now, there are TWO LTS releases to bring me up to date… Bionic Beaver, and the interim release, Xenial Xerus, which had some notable problems that were notable enough that i decided that… IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT.

now, i’ve actually heard some good things about the new LTS release, and, strangely enough, Amarok broke about two weeks ago (and the amarok user list has gone quiet the past few months, which makes me wonder who to contact), so i’ve been having to resort to qmmp to play music… so i decided to upgrade.

i’ve had some AWFUL experiences upgrading operating systems, and linux is no exception. the last time i upgraded linux, it took me three days to get my computer back. in an attempt to avoid that possibility this time, i have finished uploading my ENTIRE /home directory to the cloud, and am in the process of uploading my ENTIRE music collection to the cloud.

then, on the advice of the linux gurus over at Kubuntu Forums (who have saved my ass more than once), i’m going to go out and get a 2TB SSD on which to install bionic.

the only problem is that i still am not completely sure that my email is going to transfer, because i know that kontact was one of the notable problems i read about with xenial that made me want to avoid upgrading… and i’m not sure the standard “back up everything including the hidden directories from /home” is going to work this time, because i’ve heard that bionic uses something other than akonadi, which was, apparently, the source of the problems with xenial… which would mean that potentially i could lose 7 years worth of email and contact information. 😒

so, we’ll just have to see how it goes… 😐

now that it’s over…

i discovered that the reason i, and, significantly, my clients, including the fremont players, were getting our emails “randomly” blocked by places like @gmail.com, @hotmail.com, @msn.com and so forth, was because my host provider’s data center was a known spam haven. my impression is that everybody knows to avoid Limestone Networks — the one admin i was able to convince to talk to me, said the following:

To give you an idea of the problem Limestone is we escalated the /18 your IP is in more than 6 years ago (March, 2011 to be exact), and despite rejecting several thousand emails a day since then in all that time I am aware of exactly one legitimate sender this has affected: You.

Limestone is not the worst spam haven on the Internet, but it’s not for lack of trying.

so they do business, or, more likely, have someone else do business for them, as IonBlade. i was desperate when they stepped in and assured me that they could fix everything — it turns out that my problem was my VPN provider all along, but i didn’t know that at the time — and i was already 6 months in before anything started to seem wrong.

so, i started looking for a new host provider in january, did my homework this time, and settled on WebHostPython, which actually offers me about 5 times what anyone else has offered, for a little bit less money… a definite step in the right direction.

however, i still had to notify the VPN provider of the change in my IP address, and while they dragged their feet getting it straightened out, i went for a couple of weeks not being able to send SMTP mail. of course i could use IMAP, but i don’t like keeping potentially incriminating evidence on someone else’s computer, and, these days, you just never know what they’ll decide is incriminating evidence… my SMTP started working yesterday, which brings to a close the battle of (someone else’s) computer, once again.

webhostpython has already helped me clear up a lot of IP and DNS cruft left over from 10 years of switching web hosts and not knowing what to clean up. i’m hoping that they’re still going to be my host provider 10 years from now, because, honestly, i’m FED UP with switching host providers. 😐

and so, once again…

and so, once again, the battle of (someone else’s) computer has come to an inconclusive end.

i still have one open ticket with the VPN folks: they updated the VPN software for the tablet, which means that now it’ll connect after i reboot it, but if it comes disconnected for some reason, the only way to get it to reconnect is to reboot the entire tablet… which, while better than not being able to connect at all, is still a major hassle. i’m not holding my breath that it’s going to get fixed soon, as my current tablet can’t be upgraded beyond a version that is three full versions behind the current one… 😐

my email works — or, rather, isn’t giving me timeout errors every time i send email. monique’s email is working again, although she’s lost her address book and her signature files, and the two mailing lists of which i am in charge, seem to be working, with third-party verification. i’m also paying about twice as much as i was with the old host provider, but, with the new host provider, i’m actually an “official” reseller, which means that, now, i have access to WHM, which i never have before… but i’m not sure, at this point, whether or not it’s a “good” thing. at this point, i have updated all of my domains’ MX records to the new host provider (something i was never able to do before), without knowing for sure whether or not i have done the right thing. at this point, two days later, it still works as far as i have been able to tell, nothing has broken as far as i can tell, and nobody has complained to me that their shit isn’t working, so i’m nominally calling it complete, but i wish there were some way that i could be sure…