Please Pardon Our Mess….

I’ve been updating equipment and finally getting around to getting the dedicated server up and humming. Unfortunately, while I’m doing that, I’m sure there will be some unexpected outages here and there. Just like there was last night when you found that you couldn’t browse through any of the pictures…

Oh yeah, and if you’ve found that you’ve had a “Not Found” message popping up when you type in here lately, I had our ISP switch our IP address to one that wasn’t in a block identified as harboring spammers. Seems there’s a loose, un-regulated body out there known as SPEWS that tracks the IP addresses of spammers out there. They then release those “banned” ip-address lists to people who run servers. OK, sounds good right? Well, turns out with ISP’s like ours which are small scale operations, if banning the specific addresses doesn’t produce the desired effect, they then will hold the whole block of the ISP’s address hostage. Unless the ISP evicts the spammers, their whole block of addresses remains on the list, no matter if there are plenty of good internet citizens like us residing in the block.

You’re thinking, well, that doesn’t sound so bad, I really don’t appreciate the bestiality e-mails that show up in my inbox anyway. But the problem is this, most of these big spamming operations aren’t running out of a little ISP like the one we use. Rather, they work from places like AT&T or UUNET. Well, shutting down e-mail from blocks of those two companies would effectively shut off e-mail receipts from over half the e-mails in the US. For addresses from these large providers, the SPEWS group does what it should be doing anyway, identifying and blocking specific IP addresses rather than whole blocks.

Now, I’ve no idea the motivations behind my ISP not banning the spammers leasing addresses from him, but I’d imagine it’s money. These guys use big-time bandwidth and pay for it. Trying to strong-arm a small ISP to give up major sources of revenues to huge providers like AT&T or UUNET seems unseemly to me. At what point does an ISP become too large to block? There aren’t any guidelines, and the SPEWS Group seem to be deliberately obscure about who they are, and what their motivations are. There is no oversight and no published listing of their policies and procedures for listing an address, or escalating it to a range of addresses. About all you can do is go to a newsgroup site and bitch. You’ll get slagged at first, then given some idea of what to do. Then once you boot the offender, update the DNS addresses, you’ll get slagged some more, and then, maybe if you bitch enough, they’ll take your listing off.

With the proliferation of third party anti-spam software for e-mail servers that use the SPEWS list as the core listing of banned ip addresses, this “star chamber” is only gaining in prominence. They dodge the legal issues by not actually ever blocking e-mails, only providing the list of “offensive” sites. They claim to only be a “Consumer Reports” of internet addresses. Hmm, I only wrote down the list of who the Jews were, gave it to the Nazis, but I didn’t actually kill anybody. Seems a specious argument, and judging by their posts on the newsgroup, the power has gone to their head, big time. I don’t disagree at all with their basic premise, but I am bothered greatly by this system being maintained by a bunch of vigilantes.

OK, so enough of the techie rant. We’ve got a new address, the DNS is updated, so you should be able to get to us without too much trouble.

On the home front, both Beth and I have heads clogged with persistent, annoying mucous. However, that didn’t stop us from getting out on chilly Saturday morning and completing a 5k run in 32:20. We exceeded our expectations, and Beth even tried to give Auggie and I the beatdown with a mean kick in the final quarter mile.