Archive for the ‘rant’ Category

Last year, there was a certain amount of noise about the fact that the mesh organizers managed to find only a tiny number of women speakers — 6 out of 50, or some such ridiculous ratio — and this year is not shaping up to be any better, with exactly zero women keynote speakers. It appears, however, that they’re trying to head off the protests via a somewhat disingenuous post on Mark Evans’ blog:

The truth is we wanted women keynotes, spent a lot of time compiling a list of excellent candidates and tried to make it happen. But, for a variety of reasons, we couldn’t make it work.

Yeah, those reasons being:

  1. If we talk to them, we might get cooties.
  2. The strippers women who we usually hang out with don’t meet the requirements.
  3. None of them would agree to get the coffee and take notes.
  4. The only ones that we could find didn’t have good enough tits.
  5. We didn’t think that their husbands would let them attend.
  6. What do women know about technology, anyway?

If you’re trying to email me now, you’ve noticed that my kemsleydesign.com domain is totally screwed up, likely due to Yahoo. Hopefully things will be sorted out by tomorrow; in the interim, you can email me at skemsley at gmail.

Three days later, the saga continues. Yahoo seems unable to figure out how to release my corporate domain and allow it to transfer to my new registrar, GoDaddy: it is still languishing in a “Pending Current Registrar Approval” state.

Today, I spent a long time on the phone with Yahoo technical support trying to get some actual technical support. I explained that I had initiated the transfer from GoDaddy’s side, entered in all the necessary information including the authorization code from Yahoo (which, when they receive the request to release the domain, is supposed to be Yahoo’s clue that I actually initiated the transfer). Then, I explained that the domain appeared to be stuck waiting for Yahoo to approve the transfer and relinquish my domain to the new registrar.

First, the tech support guy went through the same claim as I had fallen for earlier in the week, that they’re just the hosting provider and have nothing to do with the domains. I said that I had contacted Melbourne IT and that Melbourne had assured me that Yahoo was in fact a reseller of domains, so is required to deal with technical support issues. He immediately dropped that one — they must be trained to say that first for anything to do with domains, but also to not push it since it’s not true.

Next, he told me that the only way to “cancel the domain” (which is not what I asked to do) is to cancel my hosting account with them, which would cause interruption to both my corporate website (bad) and email (disastrous). I pointed out that I didn’t want to cancel my domain, just get them to release it for transfer, and he insisted that I had to cancel my hosting account in order to do this.

I tried to explain the logic of why this wouldn’t work, and even quoted their own help pages on this subject back to him: you transfer the domain first, then switch the DNS servers to your new hosting provider, then wait 2-3 days for the DNS changes to propagate through the internet, then cancel the old hosting account. If you cancel the old hosting account first, then you’re fucked: your domain will be unreachable until you get the domain transferred and the DNS servers.

We went through various rounds and permutations of this, including one where he came back, walked me through the pages to find my authorization code, and told me that I need this for the transfer. Duh, no kidding, moron — I told you that I already did that at the beginning of the call, and at least once since then.

I then waited 10-15 minutes on hold for a supervisor to come on, who told me the same thing: you have to cancel the plan in order to release the domain. I made him go to their own help page and read parts of it to him, highlighting the bit about “If you’d like to transfer your domain away from Yahoo!, we strongly recommend transferring your domain before you cancel.”

After a total of 58 minutes on the phone, and after the supervisor told me several times that I needed to cancel my hosting plan in order to get the domain to transfer, he started blaming GoDaddy: obviously, they haven’t initiated the transfer, because Yahoo’s systems would have released it automatically. And, by the way, he told me, definitely don’t cancel your hosting plan until that domain is transferred, or you’ll have an interruption in service…

Okay, that sucked — you may have noticed that this blog has been down since late Sunday night, or showed my corporate website instead of the blog. I’m constantly amazed at the ways that domain registrars and hosting providers can screw things up; there’s always some new frustration. I’m documenting the whole story here for posterity — and maybe to help other people in the same position in the future — but if you’re not interested in technical details of domain transfers, move on.

It started around 2am Monday morning, when I couldn’t sleep and decided to start a project that I’ve been thinking of for a while: transferring my corporate domain, which includes my website and my primary email address, from Yahoo to GoDaddy. I love Yahoo’s webmail, but I’ve become frustrated with their implementation of MySQL and WordPress, which is anything but standard. I’ve been using GoDaddy for both this blog and my wine club site/blog for quite a while, and am happy with their registrar services, their hosting and their prices.

Easy peasy, right? Not so much. First, I go to Yahoo and unlock my domain — first step in starting any domain transfer. Then, over to GoDaddy and initiate the transfer. I get the email from GoDaddy with the Transaction ID and Security Code, pick up the Authorization Code from Yahoo’s domain management page for my site, and enter it all in on GoDaddy, which is supposed to be everything that I need to do, except wait. So I wait. Now, I’m a bit impatient about technology sometimes, but every domain transfer that I’ve ever done before has happened automatically, and therefore within an hour or two has switched over. Which means that I was a bit surprised to find that 12 hours after initiating the transfer, my domain was still sitting as a pending transfer in GoDaddy with a status of “Pending Current Registrar Approval”. Basically, that means that although I’ve initiated the transfer and provided all required approvals and security information to complete the transfer, the current registrar is sitting on the transfer.

Meanwhile, I replicated my corporate website on GoDaddy (which explains, in a roundabout way, why this blog was down — I’m hosting both under the same hosting account, and I wanted to make my corporate site the primary site, so had to relocate this domain as a secondary domain on the account, which takes some time) so that when the transfer finally came through it would be available, and I changed my MX records over on Yahoo to redirect my mail to a new mail account that I set up on GoDaddy for my corporate mail. Mail started arriving on GoDaddy instead of Yahoo, but still the domain transfer waited.

This morning, more than 24 hours after initiating the domain transfer, I called Yahoo technical support. “Walter” informed me that Yahoo is not the reseller of my domain (huh? then how come I paid Yahoo for my hosting/domain services?) but that I have to contact the registrar, Melbourne IT, directly — in Australia! Okay, this is starting to bite.

I went on Melbourne IT’s site and tried to their password recovery for my domain (which presumably would email a password to me as the domain’s contact), but was presented with:

Retrieval Failed

The Registry Key for Domain Name kemsleydesign.com was not able to be retrieved. This could be due to the Domain Name being managed by a Melbourne IT Reseller. Please contact your Reseller for assistance.

Hmmm. I went off to their help pages, then their contact pages and eventually found a customer service request form, where I tried to be as succinct as possible:

I am attempting to transfer my domain, kemsleydesign.com, from Melbourne IT to  GoDaddy, but it appears to be stuck in the status “Pending Current Registrar Approval”. I have entered the appropriate authorization code that should release the domain, but it has been in this status for more than 24 hours. Can you please confirm that this transfer is pending and will occur soon?

By this time, it’s midnight in Australia and (given the current state of things), I’m not expecting a real speedy answer, so I was impressed to receive a reply within the hour:

Subject: How to contact your domain manager for kemsleydesign.com

THIS IS A SYSTEM GENERATED MESSAGE

A Melbourne IT Reseller manages the domains specified in your message.

Please contact this reseller using the details below for any assistance you require. If the person you contact refers you back to us, ask them if they would please contact us on your behalf.

Reseller details:

Yahoo Inc.
Web address: domains.yahoo.com
Email address: domains-support@cc.yahoo-inc.com

If after 48 hours you have yet to obtain a satisfactory response:

FOR FURTHER ASSISTANCE FROM MELBOURNE IT YOU MUST REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE. TO ENABLE TRACKING OF YOUR REQUEST, DO NOT ALTER THE SUBJECT LINE OF THIS EMAIL.

Please provide us as much detail of any correspondence with the reseller which relates to this request.

Please note: In an effort to resolve this matter quickly we will notify the Reseller of this request including any details you have given us.

Kind Regards,
Melbourne IT Customer Support

——————————

The status of your case is now closed.

If you need to reopen this case with additional information, please reply to this email. If you need to contact Melbourne IT by phone please quote this case ID

Okay, someone is obviously confused: either Yahoo is the reseller and their technical support people don’t know it, or they’re not and Melbourne has their records screwed up. In either case, they both appear to be refusing to give me technical support for this, which lends credence to my argument that they’re just trying to delay in hopes that I’ll forget about it.They don’t know how stubborn I am (they should ask Netfirms).

I check the WHOIS information (again) and notice that Melbourne IT is indeed listed as the registrar, although I’m not sure if the reseller’s name normally appears on WHOIS along with the registrar. I replied to Melbourne IT, hoping to eventually get a human to look at this:

Yahoo customer service informed me that they are NOT A RESELLER, and that I must contact Melbourne IT directly for assistance with my domain. Melbourne IT is listed as the registrar on the WHOIS record for this domain. Please confirm that the domain transfer to GoDaddy.com is in progress.

Then, I fired off two emails to Yahoo, one telling them not to renew my domain (which they were planning to do later this week as part of my hosting package since it comes up for renewal next month), and the following which included Melbourne IT’s message to me:

Earlier this morning, Yahoo technical support told me (on a phone call) that Yahoo is NOT a reseller of domains, and that I have to contact the registrar, Melbourne IT, directly with my current problem with my domain kemsleydesign.com. However, Melbourne IT states quite clearly in the attached email that Yahoo is in fact the reseller for this domain and that you should be dealing with my technical support problems.

I am attempting a domain transfer away from Yahoo to GoDaddy, which was initiated more than 24 hours ago. My domain appears to be stuck in “Pending Current Registrar Approval” status, although I have entered the transfer Transaction ID, Security Code and Authorization Code from the GoDaddy site as required. Can you please confirm that this transfer is underway?

Meanwhile, over on GoDaddy, the hosting account finally accepted the switch from this blog domain to my corporate domain as the primary domain for the account, and I could initiate adding the blog domain as a secondary domain. This, however, takes a few hours so this blog address went from displaying my corporate website (bad) to displaying a GoDaddy parked domain page (worse). My own fault — I could have left this blog as the primary domain and added my corporate one as a secondary — but I thought that the switch would happen within minutes, not more than 24 hours. By now, I was unhappy with Yahoo, Melbourne IT and GoDaddy, and ready to go back to chiseling blog entries on stone tablets.

I searched around for other people with this problem, and found a few. In fact, I even found a document from GoDaddy specifically talking about transfers from Melbourne IT, so they must have seen this problem before. They state that it could take 5 days, since once GoDaddy requests the transfer at the registry, if Melbourne IT doesn’t respond to the registry’s request to approve/deny the transfer, new ICANN rules automatically approve it after five days. In other words, Melbourne IT probably just ignores requests for transfers and waits for them to time out; they’ve had their wrists slapped by ICANN for sloppy practices in the past when they abdicated responsibility during domain transfers to their resellers (although there is definitely dissent between Yahoo and Melbourne IT about whether Yahoo is actually a reseller). I realize that at this point, I’m about to become an ex-customer of Melbourne IT and they may not be fully motivated to serve my needs, but this is an incredibly poor bit of customer service.

This blog address finally sorted itself out around midday today. Stay tuned for more on the domain transfer.

Although not (I think) as bad as the incident at DemoCamp 9, I found a not-insignificant level of sexism in one of the presentations at last night’s DemoCamp 12: Alec Saunders of Iotum was demonstrating their Talk-Now service, and his demo scenario involved himself and three (presumably fictional) others: Frank, John and Jill.

Frank, he wanted to talk to about the budget.

John, he wanted to meet for drinks after work.

Jill, however, he wanted to ask out on a date.

Is it just me, or is it too much to ask that some man, somewhere, depict a woman in a technology demo scenario as something other than a sex object? Who knows, maybe Alec’s bi, and his “drinks” with John was just a thinly-veiled euphemism for wild man-sex, but that wasn’t the impression that I had.

Excerpted from TheFreeDictionary:

moot  (mt)

adj.

2. b. Of no practical importance; irrelevant.

From the Kemsley Guide to Bad Writing:

mute  (myt)

adj.

1. Unable to understand when to use the word “moot”, as in “moot point”.

In the past two days, I’ve seen two technical articles online (that I won’t embarrass by linking) that have used “mute” when they clearly intended “moot”. One was a blog post, which is a bit forgivable, but the other was a 3-page edited (?) article on a well-known technical website. I may have been trained as an engineer, but my schooling did include some English courses along the way (plus some time with an English major as a university roommate), and I expect anyone who is going to take on writing lengthy articles on any subject to at least make sure that their use of the language is correct. Otherwise, there will be some people — like me — who judge a writer’s overall capabilities based on their inability to use the correct word in a sentence.

Oh, did I mention that Netfirms still sucks? The entire site for my wine club was down for at least an hour today, on the day that we announced the ticket sales for our next event (which are sold through the website). I also couldn’t get onto email or even the hosting control panel. That’s it for me and Netfirms; next, I get my stuff off there, and start writing letters to try and get some of our money back, since we’ve so clearly been ripped off through their lack of ability to deliver a stable hosting environment.

I’ve already started the domain registrar transfer back to DomainsAtCost, where I previously had it registered (although not hosted); this way, I can choose either a Canadian host like 8i or a U.S. one like GoDaddy in the next step once the domain transfer is done. I know that if I pick a Canadian host, it would be cheaper to let them be my domain registrar as well, but I fell into that trap with Netfirms and now it’s taking me longer to get moved off them, so I’ll keep them separate for now.

I did get a response to my email to 8i, and it was not that encouraging:

At the present time, we do not have any websites running wordpress on our servers that I can refer you to.  I would like to mention the fact that Apache is compiled with AllowOverride on all our servers. As far as testing the response time of our MySQL servers, you can take a look at couple of the following sites that are running phpBB. phpBB uses PHP and MySQL for its database.

[ list of websites omitted]

If you decide to signup with 8i Networks, your hosting account will be placed on one of our newer servers with fewer than 10 accounts. Obviously with time, the number of accounts will grow, but rest assured we will not fill our servers to the brim. Quality is our number one priority, not quantity.

I’d really like to buy Canadian, and I’ve read some good reviews here, but the fact that they don’t have anyone (that they know of) running WordPress on their servers is a bit disconcerting. However, I suppose I can try them out for a month on a month-by-month plan, and ditch them for GoDaddy if they’re not up to snuff.

Netfirms sucksNetfirms sucks, did I mention that? Several hours since my last post, I now can’t get access to my email via my Outlook client, either inbound or outbound. Problems with the SMTP server are rampant, and often I give up and just use my DSL provider’s SMTP server, but this is a first for the POP server crapping out, too.

Although I was able to access my webmail at a few times during the day, there has been no email arriving all day, which is more than a little suspicious; I’ve just sent email to that account and the webmail reports no new email, so I imagine that they’ve somehow buggered up inbound email altogether. Hopefully any email that is delayed will eventually show up, rather than being sent to that big bit bucket in the sky.

I’ve sent a message off to 8i Networks based on the great reviews that I read about them, and I’m waiting to hear back. In particular, I want to see a WordPress site that’s hosted on their servers so that I can check the response time, and I want to be sure that they support AllowOverride on .htaccess, which will allow me to use pretty URLs in WordPress, a final step to getting the entire site (not just the blog) switched over to WordPress. If I don’t hear from them, then it will be south of the border to GoDaddy for me, where this blog is hosted with many fewer problems.

Netfirms SucksIt’s been a few days since I last posted about how Netfirms sucks, not because they stopped sucking, but because there wasn’t anything new to report. Today, they rise to new heights of suckage: I haven’t been able to get into my webmail for some time now this morning.

I’m quite sure that calling their technical support will have the same result as last time: they walk me through the process to recreate the error, put me on hold for 10 minutes, then come back and ask me to try again. Since their servers act fairly erratically, chances are that sometime in that 10 minutes (when you can be sure that I’ll still be trying to do whatever it is that isn’t working), I’ll be able to connect at least briefly, and then they can close the issue. They refuse to deal with the bigger issue of the servers being either grossly undersized or incompetently managed, and experiencing frequent outages.

I’m still not getting on the first page of Google results when I search for “netfirms sucks”, I’m way down on page 3, but I’ll keep trying.

I know, I’ve got this stuck in my craw and I’m not letting go, but just wanted to share some hard data on how much Netfirms sucks. When you load the admin dashboard screen in WordPress, it helpfully provides the load time for the page at the very bottom, right beside the WP version number. Here’s how my three hosts stack up:

  • GoDaddy, 3.95 seconds
  • Yahoo, 5.71 seconds
  • Netfirms, 19.15 seconds

Yup, it’s almost 5 times slower on Netfirms than on GoDaddy.

If you move from the dashboard page to the “Manage posts” page, we’re looking at 1.39 versus 3.01 seconds for GoDaddy and Netfirms, respectively — still over twice as slow on Netfirms. The “Presentation” page, which displays thumbnails of the themes available, is 0.88 versus 3.75 seconds, more than 4 times slower even though the GoDaddy-based site has three times as many themes to display.

Out of interest, I googled “Netfirms sucks” to see if I was getting any hits from this yet, and found many other people with the same problems (apparently even in other languages). I saw the reviews on HostSearch and decided to add my own to the mix.

In looking for Canadian-based hosts with good reviews on HostSearch, I came across 8i Networks, which has some solid reviews across the board; I’ll be investigating further.