Categories
Just Shelley

The road goes on and on

When I’m on the road, I’ll either sleep like a baby or toss and turn all night, and this trip is a tosser and turner. Normally I take great joy in road trips, but this one just isn’t clicking for me. It shows in my writing, and it showed in my driving, which was, frankly, pretty bad today. Not because of the car I was driving but because I kept doing stupid things. Stupid, stupid things.

I decided to see if I could wake up my interest in the trip by varying my route and going I70 through the Rockies to Castle Canyon in Utah, and then travel up I15 to Salt Lake City.

rockymountain1.jpg

As I expected the scenery was incredible, and I’ve included some photos in this post. Note that the day was very hazy, so the colors and lines are muted. But I think you can see at least a glimpse of the beauty of the scenery of I70 west of Denver.

rockymountain2.jpg

First comes the Rockies, and my roommates poor old van had a difficult time making the steep grade. I was further slowed because around every corner is another breathtaking moment, and by the time I entered Utah, I was far behind my scheduled arrival in Nevada tonight.

rockylake.jpg

Utah was hot, hot, hot — 105 degrees F. But again, around every corner was another vista, formation, bit of color what have you that I had to explore and capture. Even when it meant walking around in the desert and around rocks at these temperatures.

(One legacy of this adventure — a headache that began with the altitude change in Colorado and was continued with the temperatures in Utah.)

canyonrock.jpg

The oddest thing happened along I70 just before making the turn to I15 to head north — these bugs were crawling across the road, big ones that looked like a cross between a giant red bee and some kind of beetle. They were a dark reddish brown, all one color, and they crawled quite quickly. I would estimate their size at 1-2 inches long. I tried not to run any over, but it was impossible as more appeared as I traveled.

Now, what was even more disconcerting is that several ‘attacked’ the van as I drove past, or at least, that’s what it looked like. They hopped at the van as it went by. To me this suggests an attack. Perhaps they’re a hitchhiking species.

The further I traveled the more bugs, until at one bridge, there were literally hundreds, perhaps thousands, crawling across the road. I never, in my life, wanted a car to work as I wanted the van to work today. Do not break down, I found myself whispering.

I have no idea what these bugs are, and have never experienced anything like this. True, I’ve had little sleep the last few days, but I’m not imagining the critters. At least, I hope I’m not — I still have several hundred miles to drive. I know that I’ll have nightmares tonight from this one, which is probably why I’m still up writing this post. If anyone knows what these things are, please, please, let me know.

canyonrock2.jpg

I ended up getting into Salt Lake City at 9:30. Bone tired. I have another day of driving tomorrow, which I am not looking forward to. However, I’ll have time in San Fran to rest up before trip home, the fogs are in this week (my favorite San Fran weather), and I won’t need to make another run to the coast for anything other than pleasure in the future.

At this point, though, what I want is to stay close to home. To continue my exploration of Missouri’s hikes and culture; to work on the Wayward Weblogger co-op server (the neighborhood is filling nicely); to contribute to Echo and some other RDF projects. Not to mention write and take more bandwidth stealing photos.

For the first time in I don’t know how long, I don’t want to travel. I don’t want to go somewhere. If a rolling stone gathers no moss, then I want to grow some moss on my butt.

castlecanyon1.jpg

Categories
outdoors Photography Places

Water, water everywhere

I spent the afternoon and early evening at the Busch Wilderness Center, exploring the 35 lakes contained within the area. For an out-of-water nymph like myself, just drifting between the lakes — small and large — was like coming home. What was especially delightful, wonderful, and surprising is that each lake has it’s own personality — no two were alike.

boats7.jpg

Most of the lakes weren’t much more than larger ponds, though Lake 33 was quite large, with it’s own overflow area, associated stream and wetland. Big enough for several boats, and the Wilderness Center rents boats for fishermen — fishing is quite popular, as you can imagine.

Some of the lakes were pure catch and release, while others you could keep what you caught up to a limit. No bass under 18 inches, I remember that one, but what the heck are ‘crappies’? Regardless of the rules, the fishermen I saw seemed to be happy just to be out, in the sun, line in the water, eyes half shut looking at the far shore.

But what the heck are crappies?

boats8.jpg

There were so few people that many of the lakes I visited had no one else around and I could sit by the water, watching the birds and the fish jumping at the dragon flies overhead. The weather was warm but not hot, and though there was some humidity I think I’ve adapted to it, because I’m finding that I enjoy it.

It’s a serene feeling, walking by the lake, warm humid air wrapping around you, sweat on your upper lip, and trickling down the small of your back — holding the cool breezes blowing in across the water.

lighttrees.jpg

I was surprised at the plant life at the Center, and I’ve seen enough Missouri Green to know what I should have expected. I expected the bushes and trees and grasses, but not the tiger lilies, yellow daisies, purple thistles, and pink primroses.

Still, the stars of this show were the lakes, bright sapphires among the green.

boats4.jpg

The road leading to all of the lakes is yet more crushed limestone, with some pretty significant pot holes. If the view didn’t slow you down, or the road didn’t do the trick, the baby rabbits that positively crawled all over the place would. I got to the point that I almost ran off the road, peering into the bushes on either side to see if a bunny was going to run in front of the car.

Can you imagine how bad you’d feel, running over a baby bunny? Well, I can. I got so paranoid at one point, I stopped for a brown leaf in the road.

boats2.jpg

I didn’t walk through the trails too much, because they were so badly overgrown. Not being afraid to walk during the summer is one thing — walking into a thicket of tics is another. My mama raised no fool.

But there was an honest to goodness stand of pines, I had to explore. It was so unusual to see the tall evergreen tress, with little of the traditional Missouri undergrowth. I’ve become so used to the persistent, all over pervasive green.

But, back to the water. Water water, everywhere.

Me and my love of water. I can’t go near water without using all of my ‘film’ — space on my digital chip — on pictures of the water, near the water, boats on the water, and so on. Cute bunnies and pretty flowers may come and go, but there’s always more room for yet another reflection, or another boat.

boats5.jpg

Categories
Weblogging

DNS: What’s in a name?

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

“What do you call yourself?” the Fawn said at last. Such a soft sweet voice it had!

“I wish I knew!” thought poor Alice. She answered, rather sadly, “Nothing, just now.”

“Think again,” it said: “that won’t do.”

Alice thought, but nothing came of it. “Please, would you tell me what you call yourself?” she said timidly. “I think that might help a little.”

“I’ll tell you, if you come a little further on,” the Fawn said. “I can’t remember here.”

There is something of Alice’s adventures in the Looking Glass about the Internet. In their book, “DNS and Bind, 4th Edition”, Paul Albitz and Cricket Liu used excerpts from “Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There” to preface all the chapters of their book; appropriate because their book is about the greatest mystery of the Internet: DNS, or the Domain Name System. The system that connects the address you type into a browser to the actual pages that load.

If you think on it, it’s pretty amazing to be able to go into a browser, type an address, and the same page shows up regardless of where you are in the world, and how you’re connecting to the Internet. More so when you consider that the page itself may move between different servers, and even different parts of the world. Consider your reading this page. Most likely you typed in the address for this weblog, weblog.burningbird.net in your browser address field, or you clicked on a link embedded in another page or in your own blogroll. Hopefully in a short period of time after you hit the Enter button, or clicked the link, this page showed up. You don’t have to know the physical location of the machine.

(Heck, I don’t have to know the physical location of the machine. Come to think on it, at this very moment I don’t know the exact physical location of this weblog.)

You probably do this type of activity every day — clicking a link or typing in the address of a weblog or other web page — and you’ve come to take it for granted that the web site loads, the page opens.

Problems happen of course. Perhaps you’ll get a server error saying that the server is down, or you might get an 404 error saying that the page can’t be found. The page might load slowly and even be garbled, or the styles look off. If you get this when trying to access my weblog, you’ll probably assume that something’s wrong with my server, or my pages, or maybe I’m playing around. Such things happen and you go on to other things.

What’s not as common, though, is that you might get a message from your browser saying it can’t identify the address you requested; depending on your browser, you might also be re-directed to a search page to try and locate this weblog.

If you typed in the address in your browser, you might check it for typos, carefully typing and re-typing the address again and again. If, instead, you clicked on a link embedded in a page, you might send a note to the page owner telling them the link is incorrect. Accessing the page through a known static link, such as in a blogroll, you might get even more frustrated, because how can a link work one moment, and not the next?

At this point, you might check to see if other addresses are having problems, and if all of them return the same error message, then you know something is wrong with the connection — something is wrong with the ‘DNS server’, is usually what people will say.

However, if all the other addresses load okay but mine, and the problem continues, you might get concerned and send me an email. But there’s a problem: my email address is the same as my weblog address, and your email server returns the email with a variation on the complaint your browser gave you — the address does not exist.

Like the Cheshire Cat in Alice, I and my pages will have effectively disappeared from the Internet; only the Google cache, like the Cat’s smile, remaining to once mark that I ever existed. Such is the fragile bubble on which a virtual community is based. Such is the dependency on the DNS.

DNS: The Story

For the Impatient: Show me what I need now!

 

Uniquely Me

 

Every location on the Internet is accessible through a specific network address called the IP address, IP standing in for Internet Protocol. For instance, the Burningbird Network Co-op has two unique IP addresses that map to a specific location (machine) on a specific network:

69.10.138.64
69.10.138.65

How these IP address break down and the future of IP we’ll leave for another “Internet for Poets’ essay, but for now know that if you type http://69.10.138.64 into a browser, at the time this was written, you’ll get to the Co-op’s dedicated server — even though I create the contents in St. Louis, the pages are on a server in Canada, and you are whereever you are.

Without having to go through the hassle and expense of registering a domain and mapping a domain address such as burningbird.net, you and I can agree that you typing in 69.10.138.64 will bring up my weblog pages. We can effectively bypass the DNS, go our own rebel ways. Unless the infrastructure of the Internet suddenly breaks down just as you click the link, the IP address to the physical location mapping is guaranteed.

Guaranteed…except…

Except if the ISP that manages the co-op’s dedicated server decides to do some network infrastructure changes and gives me two different IP addresses, something that can happen as network folks work to ensure even load balances on networks. Or the Co-op moves to a new ISP — perhaps in Australia because we’ve heard that the laws governing Internet content are quite liberal in Australia, and we’ve all decided to become Bloggers in the Buff.

If this occurs, when next you access 69.10.138.64, instead of getting Burningbird you get something like “Sharon’s House of Delights”, and though it might take you awhile to notice the difference, eventually you’ll realize that the IP address no longer maps to the physical location of this weblog. What’s worse is you have no way finding my current IP address to change your link. I am, to all intents and purposes, lost.

Of course you might try finding me in Google, typing Burningbird into the search field, and my weblog will show up in the list — at the old IP address. So you wait and wait and wait until you think my new address should show and try again, but I’m still at the old IP address because there are no links to my new location for Google to follow because no one knows where I am.

It’s not until some webbot comes along searching for content by random IP address rather than link, or I send out notices of the IP address change, do you have a chance to discover my new location. You then have to change all of your links, and if you’re a thoughtful — or obsessive/compulsive — weblogger, you have to change the links in all your pages whereby you’ve referenced posts in my weblog.

There’s got to be a better way, and there is: DNS.

 

DNS: An Early History

 

The earliest users of the Internet, back when it was part of a small experiment among researchers called the ARPANet, realized that using machine addresses to access each other’s work, and each other, wasn’t going to be effective and started keeping name-to-address mappings in a file called the hosts file. Every machine had a copy of this file and most still do — the co-op’s current hosts file contains the following in addition to other mappings:

127.0.0.1 localhost.localdomain localhost
69.10.138.64 burningbird.net
69.10.138.64 yasd.com

(The unique address of 127.0.0.1 is known as the loopback address, and it’s always defined to be the local machine. It’s through the localhost address [http://localhost] that you can access pages on your own computer if it’s running a web server. If you’re using Mac OS X, or Windows 2000, or Linux to access this page, chances are the computer you’re using is also running a web server.)

The entries in the hosts file for burningbird.net and yasd.com map the domains with the same IP address — 69.10.138.64. Typing in yasd.com will bring up the pages for this domain on the new server. Yet if you were to type in the burningbird.net domain name into your browser, at the type this was written, it would still show up on the old not the new Co-op server. The reason why is that the hosts file on the new server is local to that machine — the information contained in it has not been distributed, or propagated to the broader Internet community.

Again, back in the days of ARPANet, the community was so small that they would keep each other apprised of name-address mapping changes by uploading their local hosts file to a centralized HOSTS.TXT location, which contained a merged copy of all the data. The members would then download this file to their machines, usually on an average of twice a week.

As you can imagine, as the Internet grew, this situation became unworkable, for both performance and political reasons.

One potential problem with the old hosts system was name collision — for something like a name-address mapping to work, you needed some form of unique name as well as IP address. Something like burningbird.net. Or microsoft.com. Who’s going to decide the owner of one name or another? And how would the collision be resolved with the hosts information now dispersed across thousands of systems?

In addition, the centralization of one HOSTS.TXT to manage name/address mapping across the entire network placed a great burden on the centralized authority, the Standford Research Institute’s Network Information Center (known as the NIC). As the size of the Internet grew, trying to maintain consistency also became an issue. From DNS and BIND:

 

Maintaining consistency of the file across an expanding network became harder and harder. By the time a new HOSTS.TXT reached the farthest shores of the enlarged ARPAnet, a host across the network had changed addresses, or a new host had sprung up that users wanted to reach.

 

A solution was sought for these growing problems, and in the 1980’s a series of changes occurred that started to define the Internet we know today. A new communication protocol was invented called TCP/IP, making it even easier to get connected to the Internet; the infrastructure management of the Internet was taken over by NSF (National Science Foundation), and the beginnings of the InterNIC — an Internet authority — was born; and the old HOSTS.TXT system of propagating changes was replaced by the DNS.

 

How the DNS works

 

The newer system is based on the same concept of name-address mapping as the hosts file system, but with two major differences.

First, a name, or domain as they are called, had to be registered under a specific owner with the InterNIC before the owner could use the name. This prevented name collision, and also solved the political issue of who owned a name: he or she who got their first got the name. (This started its own problems as we were to learn at a later time.)

Secondly, the centralized hosts file access was replaced by an ingenuous distributed database of names, the DNS.

How this distributed system would work is that there are authorities who are given name/address mapping, or name server, authority over specific high-level domains known as the dot level domains — ones such as .net, .com, .org and so on. For burningbird.net, there is a central authority that has authority to manage all .net domains, including my own. However, rather than the one organization trying to manage the .net domain for all subdomains, it delegates to others the authority to act as subdomain name server authorities — people or organizations who provide name servers that handle all name/server mappings for all domains they manage.

Each name server authority provides all the address/IP mapping for specific subdomains, such as the name server that provides this for burningbird.net. As with the old system, this information is also maintained in a file, but in this case the file is called a zone file; and rather than all of these files be merged into a centralized location, the individual name servers provide the address/name mappings on demand, using specialized software.

Because of the added complexity of the system, with name/address mappings being polled rather than pushed to a central authority, there had to be additional information to make this more efficient, and today’s zone file is a bit more complex than the old hosts file. But not that complex if you just break it down into its components parts.

Time to Bust a myth:

Contrary to common expectation, a domain really isn’t a specific name such as burningbird.net. A domain is nothing more than an autonomously administered area of the overall domain space that is the Internet. For most people, this would be a specific name such as burningbird.net. However, in larger organizations, such as Stanford University, one domain could be the primary authority — standford.edu — with additional domains given separate authority: gsb.stanford.edu, csu.stanford.edu, and so on. It’s the administration authority, not that the name, that forms a unique domain.

 

 

The Zone File

 

I debated whether to include a breakdown of a zone file within this discussion. After all, you don’t have to know about the internals of zone files in order to have a good understanding of the workings of DNS. Additionally, when you start listing out the contents of machine generated and consumed files, the conversation changes — moving from understanding to implementation.

What decided me to include this section is because the the terminology of zone files is introduced by web hosts and ISPs, usually as a means of charging people more money for hosting services. I’ve frequently seen the case where hosting providers will tack on another charge for name server management for a domain, and if you question this, they’ll come back with an explanation that they have to manage the zone file. As you’ll see in this section, managing the zone file itself isn’t an onerous task, and for the most part is handled automatically with various tools. (Maintaining a name server can take resources, as we’ll see later in this essay.)

Each domain has a specific zone file, and the first line in it is what is known as the TTL — the Time-to-Live of the zone file, which will discuss late. Following, the first record of the file provides what is known as the Start of Authority (SOA) record for the domain — providing information such as the length of time before the name server information is refreshed, who the contact for the zone is, and a unique serial number that is used to determine if the zone file has been updated. An example of a SOA from my new server is:

 

yasd.com. IN SOA ns1.burningbird.net. shelleyp.burningbird.net. (
1056080183
10800
3600
604800
38400 )

 

This reads as:

domain name: yasd.com
host name of primary name server: ns1.burningbird.net
contact person: shelleyp@burningbird.net
serial: 1056080183
refresh: 10800
retry:3600
expire:605800
minimum time to live:38400

The domain name and contact email are self-explanatory, and the serial number doesn’t have meaning by itself — it’s changed when the zone file is modified to signify that a change has occurred. The host name of the primary name server is just the host name of the primary name server. The last value in this case means how long this name server record should live in a remote cache.

The zone file also includes other records such as a mapping to a mailserver, and the name/address pair, such as:

yasd.com. IN A 69.10.138.64
mail.yasd.com. IN A 69.10.138.64
www.yasd.com. IN CNAME yasd.com.
yasd.com. IN MX 10 mail.yasd.com.
69.10.138.64.yasd.com. IN PTR

The syntax of these records is mainly important to those folks who have to maintain zone files, but in order what they’re saying is:

The address yasd.com maps to a specific IP network address, 69.10.138.64
The address mail.yasd.com maps to this same IP
The address www.yasd.com is an alias for yasd.com
The address yasd.com is served by a email server, with address of mail.yasd.com

The last record is a reverse lookup pointer for yasd.com — it gives you the ability to find the IP address of a domain given a domain name. You can try this yourself by accessing this site, selecting Lookup from the left, typing yasd.com in the box underneath the tools, and clicking Submit. My IP address should be among the data returned.

There are shortcuts and other things you can add to a zone file, and you have to be careful with the syntax, but for all intents and purposes — this is a zone file; it’s only modified when you change the IP or add new aliases or other records.

Maintenance of a zone file is not a heartbreaker. However, providing name server services for a domain does take resources.

 

Getting there from here

 

Okay, so we have a zone file — a text file that provides information about the IP addresses for a specific zone. Now, how does this information get out into the Internet? More importantly, what’s to stop someone else from creating a zone file and hijacking our domain?

When you register a domain with a registrar such as dotster.com or Network Solutions, in addition to providing other information about who owns the domain, you also have to provide at a minimum two name servers — one to act as primary name server, the other the secondary name server.

By specifying a specific name server to act as authority for your zone file, anyone else could create a zone file and say they were the authority — but your domain registrar file says otherwise. You would have to change the name servers at the registrar file to change this, but someone can’t create a stealth zone file and try and steal you, or more accurately your domain, away.

So now there is a direct relationship between the name servers that are maintaining your domain’s zone file, and your registered domain. But that still doesn’t propagate the change throughout the Internet.

That’s where you and your loyal readers come in.

When you connect to the internet, through a dial-up, cable modem, DSL, or whatever, there’s a name server associated with the ISP, known as the ISP’s DNS server. Earlier I mentioned that sometimes you may not be able to resolve any domain name, not just one specifically.Whenever you can’t resolve any address from your PC, the problem is most likely because there’s something wrong with your ISP’s DNS.

If your ISP DNS Server is working, when you type a domain such as burningbird.net into your browser, the DNS Server looks in its own name server cache to see if it can find this domain. If it can’t, it then looks within the zone files it maintains, to see if it’s there. If it still can’t find the domain, the DNS server looks to one of the master DNS servers, known as the root DNS servers.

When you associated the two name servers with your domain, these are stored with the domain at these root servers. Additionally, the root server also knows the IP address of the name servers. When the ISP DNS makes a request on the domain of the root server, these name server addresses are returned to the ISP DNS, which then sends a request to the primary/master name server for the IP address of the domain.

If the primary name server is working, it returns the IP; if not, the ISP DNS server queries the secondary name server, and when the IP address is returned, it caches the domain name and IP within its own cache, in order to make access quicker in the future.

Now, if your ISP DNS server is what is known as a forwarder DNS Server, rather than go directly to the root DNS Server to get the name servers for the domain, it asks the next DNS Server in a list for the address/name mappings for the domain. The forwarded server does the same process — look locally, then ask a root DNS server for the name servers and so on. When it gets the IP/address it caches this information locally and returns it to your ISP’s DNS, which caches it locally — increasing the speed of propagation of the name/address mapping.

Now, if for some reason both of your name servers are down, or the name can’t be found in the root servers, then the person who typed the name into a browser will get the name not found error. In fact the reason for insisting on two different name servers was to prevent this problem — the assumption was that the two name servers would be on separate machines, physically separated. What’s happened more and more though is that most name servers from hosting companies, and the Co-op, are really two different IP addresses for the same machine. Acceptable, barely, for the Co-op (until we can find a secondary) — not acceptable for a commercial hosting service.

You can see how the data becomes propagated throughout the Internet. You can also see that your name server does use resources in order to serve the name/pair requests — a valid expense to pass on, but one that should be commiserate with how often your page is accessed, and from how many different ISPs.

Of course, one the data is propagated, how do you go about getting it changed?

 

Time to Live

 

 

To every thing
turn, turn, turn
There is a season
turn, turn, turn
And a time
to every purpose under heaven
A time to be born
A time to die
A time to plant
A time to reap

A time to kill
A time to heal
A time to laugh
A time to weep

To every thing
turn, turn, turn
There is a season
turn, turn, turn
And a time
to every purpose under heaven

From the Byrds, based on Ecclesiastics 3

 

Associated with every name/address mapping is a value known as TTL, or Time To Live. This value tells every ISP DNS that caches the name/address mapping to maintain that cache for only the specified time — such as 3 hours, a day, or even several days. When the time expires and the name/address pair is again requested, the lookup procedure should begin all over again.

The TTL keeps the data from becoming too out of date, and allows for changes in the system, such as a move to a new IP, a new alias, and even moving authority for a domain to a new server. Unfortunately, not all ISP DNS honor the TTL.

Some ISP DNS have their own schedule of expired name/address mappings, and will continue to return you the older data until their schedule expiration time rather than the one associated with the zone file. Becaues of this, rather than the data being updated in three hours, if this is the value set in the zone file, it may take a day or even several before you see the updated DNS information. Still, except for extreme circumstances, new DNS changes usually make it from the zone file to your browser within a couple of days.

Here’s a Fanciful Thought:

Weblogging may or may not be revolutionizing the Internet, but in my opinion, it is increasing the efficiency of the DNS. How come, you ask? Well, glad you asked.

There is a geographical distribution associated with weblogging that tends to send people out to sites that not only are not within their local network, but not even within the network served by whatever backbone (major internet architectural component) provides their area service. For each weblog reader from a new region, using a different ISP to connect to my weblog, that’s one more patch of the overall Internet that my particular domain/address mapping is occurring in.

Moreover, there is a frequency of access within weblogging, such as the hourly pings sent from RSS aggregators that are continously asking our ISPs’ DNS to check for the address/name mapping within it’s cache. Because of this, a request for the new name/address mapping is likely to occur soon after it expires within the DNS ISP’s cache, kicking off the propagation process that much more quickly.

If the Internet can survive the weight of all our cat photos, in a decade or so as more webloggers from far corners of the globe join the fray, we could see DNS propagation rates double.

If the Internet can be viewed as plumbing, then Webloggers can be seen as the handle that once pushed, flushes the pipes.

 

In case you’re curious as to how Burningbird became a name server, this is detailed in the next section. If you’re not, you can skip to the last section in the essay: DNS: A Scenario.

 

Becoming a Name Server

 

How does one become a name server authority? In my case, it was getting a server that had Internet access and static IPs, in which I could run the appropriate name server software, called BIND. You need the static IP addresses because your server’s will be queried for name/address resolution, and this IP address must remain constant; and you need specific software to manage the resolution — returning an IP address when queried by name, or a name when queried by IP address.

Once BIND was installed and configured, it was then a simple matter for me to go to my official InterNIC registrar, Dotster, and register the two new name servers: ns1.burningbird.net and ns2.burningbird.net, one for each of my unique IP addresses. Though name servers are usually on different machines, there is no requirement that they be on different machines.

Now my being a name server authority only applies to US-based domains: .com, .net, .info, .org and the like. I’m not a name server authority for any of the country domains such as .uk and .au and would have to ask for this authority from the domain holding organizations there — something not likely to happen.

 

DNS: A Scenario

 

Consider a hypothetical Burninbird Network Co-op member called Sally.

When Sally moves her weblog from Blogspot to the Co-op, she wants her own domain. What are the steps she’ll need to take to register the domain, and ensure that the name maps to the co-op, and ultimately to her weblog?

1. Sally thinks of a couple of good domain names and the first thing she’ll have to do is check to make sure that no one has them. She’ll use what is known as the whois database to check to see if anyone has the domain.

The whois database is a database of all domain names managed by Network Solutions, in its role as business proxy for the InterNIC–the domain name central authority. You can query the whois database from Network Solutions, but you can also use whois from hundreds of other sites, just by looking up ‘whois’ from Google. As an example, this is the whois record for one of my domains, yasd.com.

2. Once Sally has found a domain that isn’t used, she has to register it. The registration process does change from country to country, but for the most part she’ll pick whichever one is recommended by another person or by other method of discovery, as long as it’s an accredited registrar. I myself use Dotster, though there are other very good registrars. Most will charge a few though there are some free DNS registrars out in the world.

3. When registering her domain, Sally will have to provide contacts to fill specific roles: Owner, Administrative contact, Billing contact, and Technical contact. If she’s registering with a hosting company, chances are the host will put themselves in as Technical contact and Sally as Owner, Billing, and Administrative Contact. This is something I do not agree with.

To maintain independence from a hosting company, to be able to move your domain easily and quickly, I believe it’s important for the person registering the domain to put themselves in as all four contacts.

Originally, the company that provided the name servers was the one you would put in as technical contact, so that if there was a problem with DNS, or the site, they could be contacted. This isn’t a bad idea — a secondary contact just as there is a secondary name server.

However, rarely is the secondary contact used. What happens is that you, the domain owner, is contacted for most activity. But what happens when you want to move your domain to a new hosting service? Your domain can’t move until the existing name server domain zone files are changed, or until you change the name servers that are authority for your domain. If you have a difficult hosting company, or an unresponsive one, they can literally control your name server entries because of that technical contact and the authority it gives them.

Redundant contacts might be nice, but not worth the hassle.

No, my recommendations is to pick a reputable registrar, register your domain and yourself or your organization as all four contacts, and then you change the name server entries as needed. It’s easy to do.

4. Sally registers her new domain, sallysnewdomain.com, and asks the Co-op admin — that’s me — for the two name servers to use. I provide her with:

ns1.burningbird.net
ns2.burningbird.net

She types these into the appropriate spot in the registration form.

(Sally could also use a commercial name server or some other set of name servers — name server entries don’t have to be maintained by the weblog or web site host. In this case, then, she’ll ask me what the IP address of her site is, and I’ll tell her. And I’ll have to also let her know if this changes.)

5. Once I, as the name server admin, is notified of the new domain, I’ll create a zone file for her domain that maps the domain name with the correct IP address. This will be a shared IP address, shared with all the other co-op members, as most hosting is managed. Settings in Apache and the other services is what allows many domains to run off the same IP, but a different physical address — another topic for a future Internet for Poets essay.

6. If the domain is new, Sally’s own access of the domain triggers the process of propagating the address/name mapping. Once she goes live, then other new readers take over this effort — each person triggering the events at their own ISPs DNS to go out and get the new name/address mapping.

7. Once the domain name propagates, and Sally has set up her site, she’s in business. At that point, the only time the zone file should change is if an IP change occurs — something transparent to the weblog readers. Eventually if Sally wants to move on, then another name server manages her domain from that point on, and Sally updates her registrar record to point to these new servers.

And you, the weblog reader: your role in all of this, should you choose to accept it, is to read Sally’s weblog. I know, it’s tough, but someone has to do it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Social Media Technology

Editing Comments

Archive including comments found at Wayback Machine

Yesterday’s jury duty was very dull. I was almost called in once, but a settlement was reached at the last minute. However, when they sent us home last night, they said we didn’t have to be in today. This is lucky because I’ve been out of sorts the last few days, including a deep ache in my joints, even in my hands. Since I had the day off anyway because of the jury duty, I was able to stay home, trying the alternate heat pad, ice pack treatment. No computer work, either, except for reading the weblogs, which sometimes isn’t a great idea at the best of times.

I went against my better judgment and walked into another RSS discussion today. What can I say? I can no more ignore these conversations than Dorothea can walk away from a discussion about grad school.

Today’s RSS debate began with a discussion associated with Dave Winer’s new PSS ‘idea’, the creation of which is the best reason I’ve seen for moving RSS and other weblog interoperability technologies to standards control. Or to another country, whichever comes first.

As I said, I went against my better judgment and made a comment about PSS in Sam Ruby’s weblog. This discussion degenerated as these discussions always do, and yes, I contributed my part to the degeneration. I slammed, was slammed in return. This isn’t unusual and wasn’t necessarily a disappointment — what I expect with a conversation around RSS.

What was the biggest disappointment was when Sam Ruby edited my comments.

I can’t think of anything worse than to edit other’s comments. I can see deleting abusive comments in weblogs, or editing them on the request of the person who wrote them, or banning someone who’s abusive — but not editing comments without permission. I’d rather all the words be deleted.

Changing the font to create strikethroughs, changing the words or the order—these are unacceptable. By any standard. To do so is to manipulate my words to work against me, and there is no honor in this. None.

I won’t comment at Sam’s weblog. I won’t read Sam’s weblog. And I’m very disappointed at both Sam and others who accept such actions without batting an eye.

Shame.

edited comment

 

Categories
Photography Places

Eyes Among the Trees

The best time to go for a drive in the country in Missouri is late Sunday afternoon, and yesterday I spent several hours wandering around Highway 94. This road is a mix of old and new, and very unique — from the open bar that attracts bikers in Defiance, to the old clapboard housing in so many of the towns.

postoffice.jpg

Highway 94 is narrow and curvy and hilly and if you want to see the scenery, you have to go slow. However, if you want a fun kick ass ride, try going over the speed limit — I can guarantee you’ll go airborne.

Unfortunately, this happened with a biker as I discovered when I rounded a corner to a scene of police cars and a large motorcycle smashed into the hill along the side of the road.

You pay for your thrills.

bikes.jpg

The scenery was incredible, small towns and rolling green hills, thick impenetrable forests, with here and there pretty churches dotting the hillsides, each with their associated old time cemetary.

church.jpg

I spent way too long on the highway, and by the time I got to my Katy Trail destination of this weekend, it was heading towards late, late afternoon/early evening. Again, the only people on the trail are bike riders, and I had much of the trail to myself. Well, except for the wildlife, and there were birds. And birds.

The special treat yesterday was a golden eagle that took off not ten feet in front of me. Too quick for a picture, unfortunately. It was joined by blue birds and red-winged blackbirds and cardinals and meadowlarks and mockingbirds — my own personal chorus and feathered escorts. We birds, we flock together.

glen.jpg

Not sure if I can do justice to the moment: late Sunday afternoon light, warm humid air, walking along a country trail with trees on one side, fields of grape and corn on the other, and bird song filling the air. Two rare red squirrels are chasing each other among the trees, and the only human sounds are my own footsteps crunching the limestone gravel on the path. It would on occasion echo against the limestone cliffs, creating an earie double sound, which was a bit unnerving. Here’s me always looking behind for the other walker.

winery.jpg

I started my walk in Augusta, a beautiful small town in the middle of Missouri’s thriving wine valley. But all the towns I talk about are beautiful, aren’t they? Want me to vary this a bit, find a real pit and describe it? I’ll try this next weekend.

Anyway, I bet there’s not a one of you that knew that Missouri had vineyards — we assume these are only in California or New York or perhaps in the Northwest. Ha! Little do you know.

Augusta’s also famous for its old board buildings, including a bed & breakfast that caught my fancy near Katy Trail (a lot of quaint bed & breakfasts in this town), as well as other less well kept, but far more interesting buildings.

circular.jpg

I don’t about anyone else, but I love old buildings, especially ones that are falling apart. There’s so much history in them — you can imagine the town when it was a railroad that went through it and not a hip trail, bringing in all the tourist bucks. Before so many of these towns lost over 10% or more of the population, in a mass exodus of youth to the city and other states.

Did I mention there’s a popular beer garden in town?

buildings2.jpg

I wasn’t too long on the trail before I noticed that the limestone cliff on the one side had fallen back from the trail, but the trees along it were so overgrown with vines that they formed a hidden overgrown glade that was impossible to get to. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before, mysterious and a little surreal. Real Alice in Wonderland stuff.

I am aware that there is no real inimical life in Missouri, but the presence of that hidden world just on the other side of the bushes and vines and trees was — intimidating. I could hear sounds, and see movement out of the corner of my eye, and it felt as if I was being watched by a thousand eyes. I probably was: birds and insects and squirrels and the like. Still, I had a good work out walking crisply back to the car as the sun started to drop into mid-evening light.

cemetary2.jpg

If there’s ever a place to inspire a story, that place is the one. In fact, I find stories wherever I go. No wonder Mark Twain loved Missouri.

I tried to take a photograph of the hidden glades, but did poorly. You’ll just have to take my word about them, and I’ll try again later.

On the way back, I stopped at the Busch Wildlife preserve — this place of larger ponds with water lilies and bull frogs and geese, fish, and insects. Lots of insects. However, to control the insect population, the rangers posted several bat boxes about in the forest and greens.

batbox.jpg

I watched as the evening mist rolled in off the water, and the geese finished their evening feed, taking off across the lake.

pondwithgeese.jpg

I feel like a tour guide sometimes, talking about this road and that park and this scenic view, but there’s much that happens on these late Sunday afternoon drives, when I roll the windows down and turn on the music and drive the winding roads, thoughts only half on the beauty. It’s times such as these, away from computer and phone and other people, that you just flow along — no cares, no worries, no thoughts about yesterday or tomorrow.

You’re completely in the moment.

Each time I experience this living within the moment, I think what a wonderful, magnificent place Missouri is, and I ask myself how could I ever leave this state? The green and the gold and the water and the birds and the life and all which I’ve come to love.

But then, I’ve said this same thing to myself about every place I’ve lived for the last 30 years. I guess for people like me, home exists in a moment rather than in a place.

bigpond4.jpg