Archive for July, 2008

August 5, 2008
11:30 amto1:30 pm

Piedmont Club


August 05 2008

The eWomen Network will hold its accelerated networking luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Aug. 5 at the Piedmont Club,

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honestly if your social life is based on online social networking sites then you have no social life.

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Now I’m sorry but even you Dion fans have have got to admit this just isn’t right. Between the air guitar, Tyler dancing and “come on girlfriend” I started wishing I was on the bow of the Titanic.

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I posted a few days back on several technical list asking if anyone hosted on AIT was having issues. As a follow up on that I thought I would give you my 2 cents on what happened and the end results in case anybody ever thinks of hosting with AIT. As background for the non-techie AIT is a Domain and Web Hosting Provider where you setup your website and email. They typically only sell through resellers so you may pay HostSource for your website but they in turn buy or rent services from AIT and there is nothing keeping the average user from becoming a "reseller" even if it’s just for their own website.

Sometime Friday or Saturday AIT started doing some updates. They admit they did updates although they won’t say what.

AIT System Status Page: Announcements

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT:� AIT is currently undergoing an upgrade to most fully managed shared and dedicated web hosting systems.� The upgrade is being scheduled and operated to be non-service affecting.� The upgrade includes new IBM and EMC equipment.� During the upgrade, there could be times of increased latency.� While we anticipate this latency being minor, we want to inform our customers to be aware of potential changes to their service.� If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at 1-877-209-5184.

AIT runs Redhat and Redhat released an update to Bind which reset all DNS servers to caching only thus screwing anyone who runs their own internal DNS servers, AIT or any hosting provider please raise your hands. Come Saturday to Tuesday sites started reporting missing websites and emails. Checks of email showed email was being delivered but was never making it into the POP boxes. The problem mirrors exactly the type of errors one would expect if AIT did install the Redhat update and did not catch the DNS reset. After upwards of 5 days AIT appears to have got a handle on this and email is flowing, websites are back HOWEVER any email sent during the down period has been lost, not bounced but it’s gone and AIT says cannot be retrieved! That’s up to 5 days of emails!!!

"Red Hat’s response to update bind through RHN, patching the DNS hole, made a fatal error which will revert all name servers to caching only servers. This meant that anyone running their own DNS service promptly lost all of their DNS records for which they were acting as primary or secondary name servers.

If you would like to get AIT’s take on what really happened email their CEO. If you get a response that explains what they did any better than what I think they did please comment back. (If your looking for a replacement provider please let me know.)

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I pretty much tell everyone that for high speed access they need to go cable and of course in our area that means Road Runner. Although there is limited choice in our area we do have Bellsouth DSL, ClearWire and Road Runner. Both DSL and Clearwire cannot normally match Road Runner for response times of overall speed and most of the other providers in the area just resell or at least run over the same lines provided by BellSouth. I however have had more problems with Road Runner at my home more or less since it was installed and I wonder just how many others are in the same boat but maybe just don’t know it. In fact I spoke with a customer today that had been having issues for months and they said they finally got Road Runner to come out and do some repair work which helped their connection even though for months Road Runner had blamed the users equipment. I too have had them come out, sometimes noting issues on their end but saying it was gone now or going so far as replacing the underground cable from the box to the house but in the end it’s still problematic if I have high speed on a regular basis.

Take tonight as a perfect example I had been having some issues for the past few hours but I wasn’t needing to work online so I just ignored it until around 10:30PM when I needed to address some customer service issues with an online purchase I had made. The connection was so bad I could not even web browse so I did some basic testing which clearly showed the problem was not on my end but on the Road Runner network. I decided to try an online chat which proved totally useless as the "tech" would only read from their script telling me to reboot this, unplug that and so forth. Frustrated I called the National Help Desk which again wanted to do the same trouble shooting without listening to my explanation of the problems I had already documented and wanted to send him. I finally got him to give me an email address I could send my screen shots so they could directly address why their equipment was being slow to respond. In doing so I also decided to look up their so called "Network Status" since everything was suppose to be ok and would you look at all the problems they themselves acknowledge:


Now in looking at that list of issues notice it’s not just once and awhile they admit there are problems but close to two times a week for my area. To see the "live" Network Status follow the link.

Now in my case I also did what is called a Ping and Tracert test which any of you (Windows) can also do. I would suggest you do so any time you think your connection is slow or bad as just these basic test will tell you if there is a problem and where it’s at.

So let’s do a Ping test first. For Windows users click on Start, then Run and type "cmd" without the quotes and hit Enter. This will bring up a Command Prompt window where we can now type "ping address", where address is a webserver� or IP. In my case I have done


What we are interested in is the "time=" information and in this case it’s over 300ms. That number is horrible for broadband or even dialup and should be down around 30-40ms depending on who your pinging, time of day and so on. So this basic test tells us, Houston we have a problem. Now where the problem is we don’t know yet but using another very basic test we might be able to isolate that.

Tracert is similar to Ping but it doesn’t just ask for a response from the end point but also the path we take to the endpoint as well as the time each "hop" along the way takes. Again from the Command Prompt window we opened before we do a similar command, "tracert address" where address is the server or IP we want to test. Again I hit yahoo,com:


Again we see some very high numbers being returned but we also see from where the response is slow. By following the path we can see my local network or router (Hop 1) responded very quickly, my second hop to the local Road Runner router was also quite fast but could have been better (14ms) and I even bounced over to Greensboro relatively fast (Hop 3) but from there it went downhill fast. Hops 4 through 12 are clearly on Road Runner’s own network backbone as we go from Greensboro to Charlotte to Atlanta to Dallas/Fort Worth to Houston to Las Angeles to what I suspect was San Jose (sjc). Again this is a pretty basic test and does not account for all the possible causes but it does give us a pretty clear picture that the problem was not local to my network or PC but was on the Road Runner network.

So the question is, and why I am posting this in the first place, are Road Runner customers getting what they pay for? I hope most of you have heard that Road Runner is starting to test limits on high speed bandwidth and tiered pricing but are they already doing that or does their network truly have problems it appears to have? You may or may not know they already stopped providing you with Usenet access without any credit to your service fee! How many times have you thought it was taking a long time to process your order when in fact it may have been a slow network issue and not Amazon at all? How many times have you called Road Runner to have them tell you to unplug everything to reset it and of course by the time you plugged it all back in it was working find when the problem had nothing to do with your equipment?

So next time your connection seems slow before you call Road Runner Support (336-379-0200) do some basic testing and be armed with some basic knowledge that unplugging your equipment is not the answer.

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