UPDATE: The problem now, finally, seems to be fixed. Please comment on that post if you’re still unable to see dansdata.com. And now, back to the original text of this post.
Some users of the Optus ISP here in Australia are having problems accessing dansdata.com. It’s been happening for a while - here are people complaining about it in September, with the later reports only a few days ago.
I think all of the people with this problem have Optus cable Internet (as opposed to DSL or dial-up or satellite or carrier pigeon), though, fortunately, very far from all Optus cable users seem to have the problem. The nature of the problem is pleasingly clear: Dansdata.com has, from their point of view, been completely gone for weeks now, if not months.
Except it’s not, of course. I may only put up one new article per decade on dansdata.com, but I have not died or been abducted by Zeta Reticulans or decided to reject technology and return to the land.
In the olden days of the late 1990s, the first diagnostic step when you wanted to see if a site was really down or if the problem was to do with your own Internet connection was to feed the site URL to Babelfish or one of the numerous dodgy proxy sites, and see if they could see it.
Now we’ve got more elegant solutions, in isitup.org and, if you prefer more verbose URLs, the very-similar-looking downforeveryoneorjustme.com. (I hope those two sites are actually run by different people - they seem, at least, to be on different servers - so they won’t often ironically both go down at once.)
Anyway, I’m not certain about the exact nature of these problems, because a few people have e-mailed me about them, but when I ask them for details, they don’t reply. I don’t get a bounce message, either. This is exactly what you’d expect if some Optus router has decided that www.dansdata.com and mail.dansdata.com and everythingelse.dansdata.com are filthy spam servers all traffic from which is to be subjected to damnatio memoriae.
I’ve asked my Web hosts, SecureWebs, whether this is anything to do with them. It isn’t. Well, it might be, very indirectly, since the server dansdata.com is on has occasionally been blocked on one or another of the many spam-server lists because of real or imagined misdeeds by other sites that share the server or nearby SecureWebs IP addresses. The Optus block could have been caused by that sort of thing, and then accidentally never cancelled. But Blogsome, who host this blog, stack rather more blogs per IP address than SecureWebs do sites, and the worst that’s resulted from that to date has been a few days when bit.ly was warning people who clicked links from my Tweets that dansdata.blogsome.com might be bad.
I’ve also asked Optus, and they replied almost instantly to tell me that they could not replicate the problem, please send soil samples, et cetera.
So we need two things.
One: Some more detailed info about who using Optus can’t see my site. This can easily be acquired by means I am about to explain in tedious detail.
Two: Complaints to Optus from the people who can’t see my site, including the above info. Send the results to me as well - just posting them as a comment here will do very nicely - but you’re much more likely to get action from a giant ISP on a weird problem like this if lots of people report it than if one person aggregates info and forwards it like a petition.
I could keep fiddling around trying to contact the Optus-using complainants from my addresses at other ISPs - I reckon my Optus account ought to be able to reach ‘em. And I will. But I’ll just point them to this blog post, so now that I’ve finally gotten around to writing it, so we can all try to figure it out together.
(I freely admit that I’ve known some people were having this problem for weeks now, but I was hoping the problem would just go away when someone at Optus hit a reset button or finally got rid of zzzzmust_delete_this_by_sep_9_09.cfg.)
The Whirlpool forum thread I mentioned earlier points to an excellent article on the Whirlpool wiki, “Is this site down?“. The instructions there pretty much cover what you need to do, plus some other possibly-helpful stuff.
Basically, people who can’t see dansdata.com need to ping and traceroute dansdata.com, and see what they get. Optus themselves turn out to have a Web-accessible Looking Glass server and a traceroute one too. Those can see my site, so if you can’t, comparing and contrasting their results with your own could be helpful.
The easiest way to ping and traceroute from your computer is via the command line. In Windows, click Start, type “cmd”, and in the resultant window just type
If your local DNS doesn’t resolve dansdata.com to anything - “…could not find host dansdata.com”, “unable to resolve target system name dansdata.com” - you can try bypassing the DNS and just going straight to the server’s IP address, which is 220.127.116.11:
(You can just type or paste 18.104.22.168 into your browser address bar to go to the site, by the way, if you actually can get to 22.214.171.124 from where you are. This advanced hacking technique has delivered precious, precious boobies to countless office workers and teenagers toiling under the yoke of sufficiently stupid site-blocking software.)
You can copy-and-paste the results from a Windows command-line window to somewhere else - like a comment and/or complaint message - by selecting the text, to do which you’ll probably need to use the cumbersome Edit -> Mark option in the command-line window’s lone menu.
If you want to be all fancy and bypass the Mark-ing, you can do this:
ping dansdata.com >>c:\dan_results.txt
tracert dansdata.com >>c:\dan_results.txt
ping 126.96.36.199 >>c:\dan_results.txt
tracert 188.8.131.52 >>c:\dan_results.txt
Presuming you have a C: drive, this will create a text file called dan_results.txt there and append the results of the commands to it, instead of just displaying them in the command-line window.
(If you used a single > instead of >>, each new output would overwrite the contents of the text file, instead of being tacked on at the end.)
Like all hip and happening ISPs, Optus only want you to contact them via some stupid Web form that redirects to a billion-character URL and that could be sending your message to firstname.lastname@example.org for all you know. But with any luck a dozen or so people all suffering from the same disease will cause some action.
Now fly, my pretties! Fly!