Tag Archives: host services

why is this happening?

several of my web hosting clients have been having trouble with their email not getting through, recently. i went through a frighteningly similar situation last year, which ended up with my moving my web sites, lock stock and CGI scripts, to another server with a different IP address… same host provider, just a different IP address. the reason was that, for some unexplained reason, the IP address kept getting listed in the CBL… which means that someone using that shared-hosting machine (not me, or any of my clients) was using it to sent spam.

the same thing has happened again. i complained, they suspended someone, it didn’t fix the problem, they told me that it takes time to propagate, i waited, it didn’t fix the problem, i complained again, they told me that it was an exim misconfiguration, that didn’t fix the problem, i complained again, they told me that they had written to the CBL to get answers…

well, guess what?

copied from the CBL home page: “There is no supporting data or “evidence” file available for any given listing, and no mechanism to ask why any given listing took place.”

so i wrote back to them, and said “whatever is causing the IP to be relisted hasn’t gone away, and won’t go away with you guys waiting for a response that won’t come.”

whereupon they closed the ticket with no further response.

maybe it’s time to start looking for a cheap VPS… 😐

a "smart" spammer??

i may have worked out why the mailing lists that i administer have been not delivering messages to all of the registered members of those lists recently. it was because of a “smart” spammer.

if you recall, Rule #3 of The Rules of Spam states that Spammers are stooOOpid, so how could a “smart” spammer even exist in the first place?

in this case, it’s a matter of degrees. you can be smarter than the ordinary spammer, but if you’re a spammer yourself, you’re still pretty stooOOpid compared to those of us who aren’t spammers.

the “smart” spammer shared my IP address, and was very definitely sending out spam, but he was not flooding the net with spam, like most spammers do, he was trickling spam out at a rate that was just below the point at which my host providers’ spam alarms would indicate. thus, while other, more brash spammers got the mallet immediately, this “smart” spammer continued to share my IP address for several months before he got the mallet.

of course, this was also complicated by the fact that, for several weeks, my host providers’ answer to all of these problems i was having, was to delist my IP address from the CBL without actually attempting to discover why that address was listed at the CBL to begin with. which is where persistence comes into play. instead of accepting that “the host provider knows best” and closing the work ticket the first time they requested delisting, i actually checked CBL myself, to determine whether or not what the host provider had told me was true, and when it turned out that my IP address had been relisted, i called them on it… and then, i called them on it again, when they told me that everything was the way it should be… and then, i called them on it again… and again… and AGAIN! 😐

i think they finally got the idea, because as of 10:00 this morning, my IP address had not been listed at the CBL for 24 hours, which is the longest time it has not been listed in 2 months.

let’s keep it that way, okay?


my domain, hybridelephant.com has ns5/ns6/ns7/ns8.thewebhostserver.com as its nameservers: that is, when you go to any page on hybridelephant.com your request is actually handled by one of those four servers. the web site (and all of my clients’ web sites) actually lives on a server called us8.la.thewebhostserver.com.

because of the fact that i design and host web sites for the community, i have registered two nameservers of my own, ns1.hybridelephant.com and ns2.hybridelephant.com, and pointed them at two of my nameservers. they’re not “real” nameservers, but they work just as well, as long as they’re pointed at my real nameservers.

from time to time, i check IntoDNS to make sure internet knows where to find me. this afternoon, i checked and discovered a whole bunch of error messages where, when i checked the last time (a few months ago) everything was copascetic…

it’s generally been my impression that if I don’t change my DNS settings, they DON’T change unless something is SERIOUSLY wrong, so naturally i freaked out… just a little, but it was definitely something that made me sit up and take notice.

after some wangling around, it was determined that it was because i had hybridelephant.com’s nameservers set to hybridelephant.com. it works, it just throws errors all over the place. the solution, i come to discover, is to create “real” nameservers. to do that, i would have to “upgrade” my account to a “reseller” account. currently i have a “shared hosting” account. if i upgrade, in order to be able to afford the account, i would have to drop from 30gb of space (which is the “master”, or largest shared hosting account avaiable) to 5gb of space (which is the “starter” or smallest reseller account available), and that would still be more than twice what i am currently paying. the “up” side is that i would get to have “real” custom nameservers, and my clients would all get their own cPanel account (which they would have not the first clue about how to use)…

of course, the “starter” account comes with a lot of other stuff, like web templates and legal documents, and a free WHMCS license — that i don’t, can’t or won’t use — all for more than twice as much as i am currently paying for 30gb of space.

the only thing i would use is the “unlimited SSL certificates” but in fact, i only really need one, and i’m fairly sure there are other ways to get a SSL certificate…

at this point, i can deal with the intoDNS errors… it works, i get a pointer to my nameservers for my clients who don’t understand, and i get FIVE TIMES AS MUCH disk space, for more than HALF the money…


it’s getting really close to opening night for the panto, and the fremont players domain has developed a DNS hiccup that i haven’t been able to figure out. apparently, “ticking the box that says “Use the nameservers specified at the Domain’s Registrar (ignore locally specified nameservers)” on the “Create a New Account” page” isn’t part of the deal, but i haven’t used a “Create a New Account” page on fremontplayers.com for almost a year, and certainly not before i switched to the new host server, approximately 5 months ago… even more bizarre is the fact that it was working just fine yesterday.

not only that, but the webdavs web disk applet that i use has suddenly decided not to work: instead of connecting me to the machine in california on which hybrid elephant lives, it hangs up and won’t go any further on my mac, and on the linux box, everything loads, but when i try to copy or move files, it says “the disk ‘hybridelephant.com’ doesn’t exist”. i can move things around with ftp and ssh over a text-based connection, but i’ve really come to appreciate the reality of doing all that technical web stuff with a graphical user interface…

symbolic links

they’re called “aliases” on a mac, and i don’t remember what they’re called on windows – probably something like “links” or “bookmarks” or something, who knows – but the way they work is basically the same on whatever platform you’re using, and that is to direct you somewhere other than where you thought you were going.

on web servers, they’re especially useful when you have moved a bunch of pages from one place to another. you move the pages wherever you want them to be, then you make a symbolic link to the first page, and place that where the old first page used to be, and then when people go to your old URI, they’re automatically redirected to your new URI and you don’t have to do anything else.

the way you make a symbolic link on a -x machine, is like this: go to the terminal, navigate to where you want the link, and type in ln -s <the absolute path to the document you're linking to> <the name of the new link>

the way you make an “alias” on a mac, or a “link” (or whatever it’s called) on windows, is to select the icon for the file that you want to make a symbolic link of, and select “Make Alias” or “Make Link” from the “File” menu. alternately, you can select “Make Alias” or “Make Link” from a context menu as well…

but here’s the big point: an alias that was made on a mac (and, presumably, a bookmark made on windows) will not work the same way that a symbolic link will work, when the disk you’re working on is a -x server.

in that case, an “alias” on a mac brings you to a page of gibberish, which starts off with

book????mark????0???0???´ê???????3š­<??H??T??H??H??H??H??????????Æå???icns?åÆics#???Hÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ???À?à?ð?ø?ü?ü?ü?ü?ü?ü?ü?ü?ü?ü?üis32??Q?„?…?þþýýúò¦„? ÿüûûùñ¦ëƒ?ÿ€úøð¦ù덂?ÿ€ù÷ï‘€¦?? ÿöÏh²À‡ÒÙށ? ÿ훢»°i³èò? ÿçÝà¢a4‰ùü? ÿâÌš+$ ¤Êü? ÿÓϵ…\Êêü? ÿѺà3€çàû? ÿê´µ×Üããëû? ÿêêÓÍÜßéêÿ??‡ÿ??‰???„?Ž…?þþýýúò§Ž„? ÿüûûùñ§ëŽƒ?ÿ€úøð§ù뎂?ÿ€ù÷ï’€§?Ž? ÿõÑ–ÝìµÍÙށ? ÿ¾Wqà÷Á¨Öò? ÿ“J^•È˜–Îü? ÿqAV‰{C—¨ü? ÿ_LNac0™Ÿü? ÿŒ:eG&Tˆ°û? ÿåV4\_l—áû? ÿêêžpˆ©ãêÿ??‡ÿ??‰???„?…?þþýýúò¨„? ÿüûûùñ¨ëƒ?ÿ€úøð¨ù돂?ÿ€ù÷ï“€¨?? ÿôÖÂèõÒÆÙށ? ÿ 9^Ýÿåv¬ò? ÿZ†ðÚyXü? ÿ.<͏YEü? ÿ7 Rtv+.ü? ÿƒ *E/ ƒû? ÿåO  DÖû? ÿêê•S[†àêÿ??‡ÿ??‰??s8mk??


the only way i know of to make a symbolic link on a -x machine is to use the terminal, and the only other option is to give around 25 different webmasters in different countries the option of changing their web pages so that they link to the right page... which isn't going to happen any time soon.

so i try to SSH to my -x machine, only to discover that i don't have SSH access.

according to the host provider's FAQ, they only provide SSH permissions if you have a "legitimate" reasons for them. so far the new host provider has been providing exempary service... let's hope it continues that way. :|

ETA: they gave me what i need, and 95% of my 404 messages now point to the correct place (the remaining ones are for old internal links from 2003 to 2008). for example, this link and this link now point to the same place, whereas, previously, the former gave you a 404 message. :) happy web designer :)