In real life my business provides I.T. and web support. HarperCo is the “offsite” I.T. administrator for a number of businesses and is the site developer and host for a growing list of clients. (As an aside, we got here by accident. I’m a mechanical engineer, for heaven’s sake — I spend the rest of my time designing widgets and telling companies how to run their businesses. But you teach just one computer course, see …)
This weekend proved the old adage that when things can go wrong, they will. I probably should have titled this You Can Always Count On…
Subtitled, A Cautionary Tale.
I hope Bad Things really come in Threes.
First up, my new UPS. That’s Uninterruptible Power Supply, not the nice guy in the brown shorts (I still want to race the truck, but that’s another story). We had a little power outage Friday. Then we had another. And another. The battery symbol my new UPS went from fully charged to empty and the Battery Charge indicator bar flashed about a minute after the power went out the first time. It happened faster after that. I took it back to the store for an exchange.
Nice store clerk: “We have a 14 day return policy.”
Moi: “No, the receipt says returns can be brought in through today.”
NCC: “Oh. Well, we can’t take it back without a box.”
Moi: [Uh oh. That means it’ll go back on the shelf] “But we have a box. You exchange this one for one that works, I put this one in the new box and give you that box.”
A five minute task took twenty-five minutes, partly because it took a few for me to find the one remaining replacement in the store. The new UPS box looked like it had been opened but the packaging inside seemed mostly untouched so I’m cautiously optimistic. (And I took as much of the wrapping as I could so the returned item doesn’t look “new” on the shelf.) The charge indicator indicated a full charge almost immediately and reports about 36 minutes uptime with the current load which should be about right. I’ll test it when I’m not on deadline pressure.
Next comes Windows Vista. My friend Missy arrived next door for the winter. Brought her Vista equipped laptop and her wireless router (“WiFi”). I had worked some magic last year and it worked with no problem. This year Windows connects to the router but in local mode only, meaning Missy gets no Internet access on her couch. She can connect fine on her network up north. And the problem persists whether wired or wireless through the router. We tied a string directly to the cable modem and the Internoodle snapped right in.
Sounds like a router problem, doesn’t it?
She has the same problem connecting to my router next door even as other computers run through it.
Hacking the Registry didn’t work. Apparently it’s a fairly well known issue in Vista.
I love computers.
Meanwhile, number 3, out on the Innert00b. One of my clients gave me the go-ahead to change web hosts. This is not a huge site — it has about 3,000 files and requires around 25MB of storage — but it is mission critical for the agency that owns it.
Changing registrars and hosts is pretty automated. Get an AUTH-CODE from the losing registrar. (All registrars have a bot to deliver that. Happens all the time.) Click a button at the gaining registrar to pull the domain name. (All registrars have a bot to do that. Happens all the time.) Wait for the losing registrar to approve the transfer. (All registrars have a way to do that. Happens all the time.) The whole process generally takes 5-7 days.
We’re now in day 11.
It took five days just to get the AUTH-CODE from the losing registrar. (our-old-host-dot-com has a bot to deliver that.) Got it. I clicked the button at the gaining registrar to pull the domain name and waited for the losing registrar to approve the transfer. (our-old-host-dot-com should have a way to do that. Happens all the time.) So we waited. And waited. And waited.
By about the fourth time we asked our-old-host-dot-com to comply, my blood was pumping well. Good that my Blowout Preventer was operational.
Turns out that the contact address for the domain name was not set to one of our addresses but to sales@our-old-host-dot-com. They also listed their own phone number, a number that is no longer in service. I wonder how that happened, since our-old-host-dot-com registered the domain for the site owner.
“Not our fault,” they said.
Really good that my Blowout Preventer was operational.
I kept waiting.
I was finally able to sneak in the back door and change the contact address to one monitored by a human. OK, monitored by me, but I was watching it. Got the gaining registrar to resend the approval form. I approved it and Bob’s your uncle, right?
Well, Bob’s not my uncle.
The site was dark this morning. Actually, the site had a big Your website has been suspended banner this morning.
The our-old-host-dot-com customer service manager and I have gone back and forth most of this morning. The good news is that I’ve cancelled the transfer with the gaining registrar and the customer service manager has added time to the current plan “to ensure it does not go offline during this transition period.” The bad news is that this simple, automated process was fouled by a simple bad call more than five years ago. Our-old-host-dot-com used bad contact info in a legal record.
There must be a moral in this morality play.
And there is: Don’t step on the sand burs. They hurt.
Rats. The moral is simple. My mom was right. Your plan never survives first contact with the enemy but human intervention usually fixes the problem. You can count on that.