At 10:45am Eastern time today this blog – and all my sites – stopped responding. We were dead in the water again and Media Temple, our web hosting service located in California, was down as well.
A half an hour later the electricity went down here in Jersey City.
I was wholly sitting in the dark.
The first thing you think — after being trained every day in fear and loathing by the Department of Homeland Security — is: 


WE ARE UNDER ATTACK BY AL-QAEDA!

The treachery against us started in California in the Media Temple
server bays and quickly spread across the nation to hit the opposite
shore in Jersey City a mere 30 minutes later!
All my alarms were going off – both in my gut and in my ears. My SiteUpTime
service was emailing me on my BlackBerry every two minutes: “HTTP DOWN”
followed by “HTTP OK” followed by “HTTP down” and so on…

My battery
backup system for my computer here was chirping and my other pager
telling me my computer was offline was buzzing, too.
There sure was a lot of noise happening when everything was supposed to
be shut down in a terrorist attack!
Then I called the power company on my still-operating cell phone and
learned our electricity would be turned on again soon.
When electricity was restored here I was able to login to my Media
Temple account to read this message:

A link between two core pieces of routing equipment is
showing intermittent problems resulting in a loss of connectivity for
some customers. We believe that this is related to the network
maintenance that was performed last night. Network engineers are
currently working on the problem and hope to have it resolved as soon
as possible. Thank you for your patience as we examine this issue.

It was becoming clear Al-Qaeda had not yet found us; but the bugs in our technological world had, once again, bitten us dim.

28 Comments

  1. Think this just shows that the terrorists are winning. Every incident, every hiccup in daily life that we have, our first thought is “it is terrorists” .
    It is just not here – its Australia as well. A good friend of mine blogged the folowing this morning.
    “Facts: a man who has long been suspected of fare evasion escaped down the tunnel of the City Loop when challenged for a ticket. For that man’s safety, trains were stopped until it was clear the man was no longer in the tunnel.
    So what did the news do with this? Well the fare evader’s been bumped up to a potential terrorist. Why? Well he had a backpack and ran down a tunnel! Obviously he could be a terrorist!
    The report carried on in this vein for two or three minutes and then “oh new information has come through…it appears the man has long been suspected of fare evasion and the police don’t consider him a terrorist threat.”
    OK, you say, fair enough. Well it’s not OK and it’s very far from fair. I knew this information at 10 in the morning, why did this information “just come through” to the reporter eight hours after I heard it on the radio?”
    He also quotes this piece
    http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/08/what_the_terror.html
    Whereas I thought – the ****** server has gone down again. (Guess that shows I am more used to technological glitches than anything else.)
    Glad to see you are back up and running again.

  2. Hiya Nicola!
    Yes! Right! The terrorists have won! We live in fear of water bottles and server interruptions now. Everything bad that happens to us is because of break in the defense of our Homeland Security.
    These Media Temple servers are having trouble lately. They charge a lot of money for hosting. I was with LunarPages for two years and paid $9 a month and didn’t have catastrophic down time like I’ve had with Media Temple over the past couple months.

  3. I wish it was my wonderful sense of humour.
    Howevrer i have been *told* that the Swiss are building on their current *safe banking haven* status by providing these new server hosting services.
    I have been two by two independent sources in the “adult” industry that this is the way for the “adult” industry to go – given the problems and issues with censorship of pornography in todays climate.
    Apparently the *safe as a swiss bank* charachteristics will apply to their servers.
    I have fired off emails to my contacts to get details ………..

  4. Fascinating information, Nicola, THANK YOU!
    I love the idea of secure servers and I look forward to learning more about them.
    It’s too bad that “adult content” sites have to hide in faraway lands for protection from the thought and sex police.

  5. I like the idea too.
    I understand that the premise is that they will use the same infrastucture that is used by the Swiss Banking system. As most of the worlds banks utilise Switzerland this infrastructure is highly maintaine, well backed up and has X number of failsafes in place.
    (I wont hijack this thread by firing off on the thought and sex police – would be very bad manners – maybe a topic for another day)

  6. I think my experience with Myspace has shown me that one cannot count on unfettered access to an internet site — especially with anything that is free. After losing one of my blogs for a while when the woman running the site missed renewing her domain, I now realize that I cannot rely on anything that is free. (Or if I do, I can’t complain because I get what I pay for …)
    However, when you pay good hard cash and keep having failures, that is unacceptable. Hosting companies need to have redundancy in their backup systems.
    It’s a sign of the coming problems with our electrical infrastructure. Electric companies often let their lines fail before replacing them. We’re also using more power than ever before.
    Brownouts and blackouts are going to become more prevalent as more people add more load to an aging system that hasn’t been updated for a while.

  7. Hi Chris —
    Yes, when you get something for free it’s hard to complain when things go awry.
    Even when you pay big money that doesn’t guarantee you anything, really, because you’ll get “mistakes can happen” responses.
    Remember our initial nightmare with Network Solutions hosting before we finally settled over at Media Temple?
    Jinkers!
    You’re right the power grid will turn to ask sooner than later and then none of this will matter.

  8. UPDATE:
    Here’s the latest from Media Temple:

    The problem appears to be a Layer 3 OSPF routing issue between several internal network devices. We believe it to be a bug, and have submitted the issue to the hardware vendor. At this time, we have taken steps to mitigate the problem and customers should have proper connectivity again. We are leaving this incident open as we continue to examine the routers and for further tracking issues.

    I don’t think we’re out of the dim yet!

  9. David – I am still working on the four corners post !
    Is there something i should know about Network Solutions – although I ahve never used their hosting.
    Irony – “out of the dim” – DIM in the UK is an acronym for Do it Myself

  10. That is not advisable ……… !!!
    Ever read about the training Harrison Ford did for Raiders of the Lost Ark – and the damage he did himself in the process ?
    Network solutions looks messy ………..
    I think “DIM” became popular when it was used in the childrens program / animation “Trap Door”

  11. No, I haven’t heard what happened — tell us about Harrison Ford’s training.
    I really liked NetSol’s web hosting setup, Nicola. Their database access was just atrocious, though.
    I guess here we use DIY — Do It Yourself — instead of DIM. I like DIM better because it doesn’t seem to point a finger at someone.
    😀

  12. This post has gotten me thinking. Anytime the commercial radio stops transmitting — as sometimes happens for technical reasons — my first thought is that something bad might have happened.
    From Wikipedia:

    The official EAS system is designed to enable the President of the United States to speak to the United States within 10 minutes (this official federal EAS system has never been activated). …
    The FCC requires all broadcast stations relay EAN and EAT messages immediately, and all required weekly and monthly tests (RWT and RMT) within 60 (formerly 15) minutes.

    Here’s what EAN and EAT mean:

    FCC rules require you to relay an EAN / EAT (National Alert, President want’s to talk to everybody) and the monthly test (RMT) for your area.

    Here are the rules your HOT 98 or Q92 radio jock has posted at his operating position as mandated by the FCC: Emergency Alert System 2001 AM & FM Handbook. It basically says that the Prez can flip a switch and start talking over the airwaves.
    The station I regularly listen to is designated as a PEP — a primary entry point — that can instantly be access by the President in case of emergency.
    Any time the radio station drops to “dead air” I always wonder if the Feds are activating the EAS because Iran or North Korea have done something stupid.
    Of course, the President didn’t activate the EAS during 9-11 and none has ever activated the system using a PEP.

  13. Thanks for the super information, Chris! I had no idea about that national radio intervention by the president. It’s a good, solid, plan.
    I, too, wonder what’s happening — if this “is it” or not – when something doesn’t work as expected. I guess we now have “the mark” of our times on our flesh now and I can’t say I’m any better prepared today to deal with an all-out attack than I was pre-9/11.

  14. I have been hunting the Harrison Ford story – it is alluded to in August 14 issue of “People” – According to Harrison Ford “the whip tends to come back and lash your ears.”
    There have been stories about him practicing in a leather flying jacket and helmet and goggles at the end of a pier. These are the ones I am trying to hunt down.

  15. When I was probably 8-years-old I was given a braided leather bullwhip with a wooden handle as a gift. I immediately went outside and tried to “crack” it and I succeeded only in “cracking” my cheek an inch from an eyeball. That was scary. The welt was huge. I was smart enough, though to stay outside all day until the welt went down because I knew if I were asked about it I would have to give up the bullwhip forever.

  16. Please tell me you stil have it stashed away in the loft ?
    Seriously though you had a lucky escape there !
    They can cause no end of damage if handled incorrectly. You soon learn to cover your arms and head and eyes as well as tie up your hair if it is long.
    The reason they crack is because the fall breaks the sound barrier when travelling. That is faster than a bullet. Guns go bang beacuse of explosive, whips go crack because they break the sound barrier. We accquaint people with this fact when teaching them – we say would you pick up a gun and fire it without any training or safety gear ? When they reply “No” – we suggest they apply the same caution to whip handling.

  17. Good advice, Nicola!
    I think that bullwhip is somewhere existing still in Nebraska. It was very cool. I never really learned to correctly crack it, though. I would just kind of toss the lash end out and wrap things up with it.
    The “whip end” lash came with a few knots tied in it — I was told to leave them tied “because they’ll do more damage that way.”
    I’m still sure what, exactly, I was supposed to do with the thing… probably just hang it on the wall or something.

  18. Hi David,
    There’s supposedly a recorded announcement that was to be played if the U.S. was attacked during the early years of the Cold War.
    From CONELRAD — Atomic Culture:

    In a telephone interview with former CBS president Frank Stanton, it is confirmed for the first time by an on-the-record source, that Arthur Godfrey recorded a special announcement to be played in the event of an attack on the United States.
    “That’s true,” Stanton states when asked to confirm the existence of the tape. “It was Murrow and Godfrey (who made the recordings).”
    The retired broadcast executive does not know any of the specifics of the recording, nor can he confirm where the tape(s) was/is stored.
    When asked a second time whether he is certain such recordings were made he answers with a firm “absolutely.”
    It should be noted that Stanton’s credibility on this issue is particularly strong as he is the only living member of the Eisenhower Ten. The Eisenhower Ten was a select group of individuals who were appointed by President Eisenhower to serve in critical government roles in the event of an atomic attack or other disaster.
    Had such a catastrophe occurred (during the period 1958-1961), Dr. Stanton was to have served as Administrator of the Emergency Communications Agency.

    For some reason, I’m curious to hear what was recorded to be played if WWIII had started during the Cold War.