“What the hell…?”

I know. I said exactly the same thing.

Some of you reading my weblog or visiting the site probably wondered if I’d fallen off the face of the planet–I had no weblog, I had no site, I didn’t even have any kind of email connectivity, and if you’re part of my messenger buddy list, you didn’t even see me online that much. Some people tried to call, and got nothing but voice mail the entire week. A few people even expressed downright concern–was everything OK? Was I moving early? Was I burned out and just wanted to get away from it all for a while…?

No, Ted just discovered first-hand how addicting a broadband connection can be, and how dangerous hosting your own email and web server from that broadband connection can be when that connection goes down while you’re 8,000 miles away.

I left for London on Saturday (to teach a Web Services .NET class, for the record), and by the time I landed at Heathrow on Sunday, my site was down, more or less permanently, until Thursday. We’d been having some flakiness with it already before I left, but it was a sporadic thing; we had SBC come and look at the line, but the line looked fine. The DSL modem might have been suspect, or the router, but major power spikes aside, it’s hard to imagine what might have killed a piece of electronic equipment that has zero moving parts. My router was doing some strange things on Thursday (at one point it went into its best imitation of a blue screen, going into continuous reboot cycle until I powered it off and on again), but it was again pretty sporadic and I just chalked it up to some random static.

By Monday, it was pretty apparent it wasn’t static.

Here’s where things get fun: as an exercise to the reader (which is the ubiquitous catch-phrase of authors meaning "I don’t want to figure it out myself, so YOU do the work and I’ll claim the credit for having posed such a cool problem to you"), debug, from an airport 8,000 miles and 8 hours time zone differential away, a flaky Internet connection. You can’t Telnet into the box, you can’t VNC into the box, you can’t even ping the box (because you shut ping down at the firewall for security reasons).

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were spent more or less round-robining between the local ISP and Southwestern Bell (SBC), trying to each selectively determine why it was the other guys’ fault. Finally, the local ISP, Omsoft, took it upon themselves to come inside the house and have a look at the DSL modem (which they replaced), then a second time (to replace the DSL modem that burned out after one day), then finally a third time (to discover it was my router, after which point they just plugged the server into the DSL modem directly). By Friday, the server was alive, even though it wasn’t accepting HTTP requests. (Somewhere in all the wackiness the Web service got stopped.)

Needless to say, I’ve learned my lesson–www.tedneward.com, my new "professional" domain and future home of the technical weblog (so this can remain a more personal one, though it may still talk about technology at some levels, since that’s so much a part of my life), will be professionally hosted, so that outages become THEIR problem and not mine. Hopefully they won’t go on vacation to London anytime soon….

Oh, and class was great, thanks. 😉