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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

The delicate, fragiley Web and the angry, riled-up Webs

Posted on March 11, 2011 at 5:57 PM

Last night, from 6:45 until 10:40 I got about 225 e-mails. And nearly every one of them was “Unable to see your Site or reach Read first!

Turns out that – the provider of this little blog hobby of mine – opens many, MANY new accounts each and every day. Like somewhere around 10,000. And not all of those 10,000 people are blogging-Sciaccas. Some of them are prayer circle things. Some are kids sharing their Manga art and love of video games and Justin Bieber fan circles. I stumbled across one woman selling “a girlfriend experience” if you are near Boston. (Apparently you can pay her in “roses.” A one hour “experience” is 300 roses; a two hour “experience” is 600 roses, etc. Though from the wear-and-tear on her undercarriage and facial area, she looked like she had a lot more experience cleaning meth pipes and giving quickies for beers at a truck stop than any actual girlfriending. Yet, I digress...)

Anyhow, not everyone taking advantage of the free service is on the up-and-ups plan. And apparently one of my fraternal brothers was being naughty and spamming and phishing people. So, of course, AT&T – the Internet Service Provider of some of the affected people – did the smart thing. They immediately blocked access to EVERY site with a address. (This actually happened to me once before. And, oh boy, are those users an easily riled bunch!)

Now, this did NOT go over well with the community. And for almost every single minute for four hours – plus another 300 in my in box this morning when I woke up! – I received e-mails from angry-angry Webs users. Here are some of them. (I’ve left the grammos and typos in cause I’m real, yo!) (Oh, and there’s a point AFTER the comments. If you get bored of the rantings, just skip to the end and get to my point...)

Dave: this is the same as shutting down all phones with the same prefix because of one crank caller.

Timothy Dean: OK, we just got done with this issue and it is back again? WTH? Who did not get the freakin memo? So are we going through the traceroute BS again?  

Kristin:  Those that perform a Traceroute are simply WASTING TIME because that does absolutly NOTHING!!! We went through this about 6 weeks ago and the same thing is happening again - WEBS is DOING NOTHING and will IGNORE our postings!!

Dave: blocking is not a solution. webs must, as the host of this domain, make this understood. blocking THE SINGLE BAD SITE is the solution. this is what MUST HAPPEN. you don't throw a nuclear bomb into a city to get rid of one gangster.

(I must say, I’m down with Dave and his analogies. You’ll notice he has given us two here; first comparing this to shutting down phones and then elevating the rhetoric to the all-out nuclear bomb level. I like his chutzpah! Sadly, after this post he must have run out creative steam.)

James Wilson: Probably cause AT&T is a money hungry corperation that doesn't care about the people.

Kristin: You can contact your ISP all you want to - IT DOES NOT WORK!! We had this same issue about 6 weeks ago and it took 4 days to get resolved. Webs will tell you to perform a tracert - DONT WASTE YOUR TIME because it does NO GOOD!!!! Webs is the only pne that can get this resolved and they know that.

Jp Fair: fu**ing bullsh**!!! you have wrecked my buisness and all money invested. Thanks at&t and webs half my site was deleted trying to fix this, thanks for all the crappy advice everyone, oh and thanks for deleting my post webs.

John Wise: OMG....this is bullsh**! I have a podcast I've had scheduled now for a week to be posted Sunday, if it's not up and people are not able to hear it, they won't come back for further episodes. lets get on the ball here, lets get this issue fixed. Get on the phone and start helping your customers get their sites back up and running...please!

Brenna Jaworski: are you slow? people with business sites cant switch their sh** i have 5,000 business cards with my website on them ugh switching the name just makes it viewable for the time being its not FIXED HUNNY BUN

Brenna Jaworski: im having dejavu we alllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll know that it is at&t blocking the site but webs has the responsibility of getting through to them im not getting paid for devoting my time to this you are im loosing money because my site is not working for most people. THIS IS YOUR JOB TO SERVICE YOUR CUSTOMERS IT IS NO FAULT OF OURS THIS NEEDS TO BE FIXED BY YOU

Brenna Jaworski: i was on the phone with my lawyer the last time this happened until the moment the issue got resolved there truly is means for suing here as i am a legit business throught the state and my website is the window into my business. you cant do this to working people making a living for their family its not ok and there is reason for a lawsuit

(Brenna Jaworski is *clearly* NOT a woman whose website you want to trifle with! In the course of three blistering messages she has ostracized every piece of punctuation in the English language, completely ignored her shift key AND declared that she has 5,000 business cards, used and amazing number of l’s and threatened a lawsuit! A hat-trick if ever there was one! And yet, I somehow question whether a woman so obviously edumacated has a phone. Or a lawyer. Or a legitimate business...)


(Yet wait! Just when you thought Brenna said it all, Wcurington ups the ante with a veiled death threat!)

Now here is an example of how NOT to apologize. So, at this point it is clear there is a problem. Hundreds of people are complaining. Rabidly. Obviously the problem isn’t some isolated case. So a rep from wrote:

Hello All,

We are sorry to hear of the possible blockage. [OK, first, using the term “possible” is pretty insulting at this point. You obviously know that the blockage is ACTUAL, so go on and cop to it.] We suspect this is caused by AT&T which provides network services for many ISPs. Apparently, ATT has blocked a free site which also blocks other free sites. Premium users with a domain are not effected. [Also, when sending a mass apology, it might be a good idea to run it through MS Word’s grammar check. The word you wanted here was “affected.”] We ensure that those who invest in their sites are not effected. [Doh!] Also note, this site was taken down within 10 minutes of being reported.

So this comment and reply really hit to the heart of my post:

Maggie Griffin: Things can be worse - after all, Sen. Lieberman's Bill permits the president to shut down the internet all together. So there is a positive side here.

I’m not sure exactly WHAT the positive side is, but the Lieberman’s Internet Kill Switch thing and this answer made me think just how fragile the freedom of the Web really is:

Caroline, an employee of Webs, commented: The Comcast rep told us specifically that they need to see a LOT of users with the problem in order to escalate the issue. We have contacted AT&T as well, but if you will just think about it logically....these ISPs have MILLIONS of customers.

So, with essentially the instantaneous flick of a switch – or more likely a quick couple of lines of code – AT&T was able to block thousands of websites from MILLIONS of people. That is some incredibly powerful stuff. Think if they just wanted to redirect web traffic. How easily it would be to send everyone to some other site. Or send everyone to their site. You hear about the Internet “going down” in China and think that it would never happen here, but when you look up and up – and up – the pyramid of your access to the web – computer to router to modem to ISP to ??? – at some point there is a choke that could be easily controlled. Or blocked. Or redirected. Interesting... Scary interesting...

Oh, and before I finish, it appears that if this should happen again, if instead of going to you go to that is a way around the Web blockage issue. I know how devastating it is to try and get your daily blog fix only to discover that the site is down. ("The Facebook can NEVER go down!") And that all of my precious-precious words are there; just waiting, trapped in digital ether and unable to break forth and entertain you!

And, if anyone knows anything about Web hosting and domain names and all of that, I would seriously love to talk to you about that. I’m wondering if I could set up a straight up and port all of this content (or just forward from there to here or vice-versa or both?). Seriously. Send me a comment and we’ll chat. Thanks!

Categories: March 2011, Computers

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