Well, That Was Interesting….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 12:01 pm

In the midst of the unholy shit-storm I’ve been facing at work for the last three months or so, I decided to drop my Internet Service Provider, Zhonka Broadband. Once a fine, fast and friendly team of wireheads offering competitive, high-quality service, they seem to have dropped off the map completely. I can’t get anyone to answer an email, no one ever picks up their phone, and their voice mailbox—terminally full and unable to accept messages—no longer even features their company name. I get the feeling that, as a business, they are just barely holding their shit together, spiraling in towards an inevitable crash of downed name servers and a padlocked NOC full of equipment set for auction. I don’t know that, because I don’t know anything at this point. However, having smelled smoke, I have no intention of waiting until I feel that burning sensation.

So after much shopping around, I went with a residential DSL line from Qwest. Their proprietary caching equipment means that I get nearly a megabit of upload speed where another ISP could only offer 256k. (Someday I hope they’ll upgrade the equipment out here and I’ll be able to bump up to 7 or 20 mbps. And yes, yes, I know I could get “blazing fast Internet” were I to go with Comcast, but I would never be able to run all the services I want out of my house with their throttled, port-blocked Tinker Toy Internet service. I also kind of hate them.)

And just to make my life a lot more complicated, I decided that in addition to running my own Web server, I would now also run my own mail server and, in order to “simplify” (!) my control over both Web and mail servers, my own name server. Needless to say, this particular branch of the decision tree was a) grievously more complicated than I had anticipated and b) hella grievously more complicated than I had anticipated. It was only after having moved over to my new DSL circuit, reconfigured my routers, set up my DNS zone file and configured my mail server settings that I realized—well, was given to realize by a friend much more experienced than myself—something very very important: I was not going to be able to send anyone mail because I was not properly set up for Reverse DNS. Every time my mail server sent out a  message, the recipient’s mail server would politely ask Qwest’s global DNS servers who I was. And instead of replying “why, that’s mail.uncle-andrew.net”, Qwest would say, “oh, that’s anonymous douchebag Qwest customer number blah blah blah.qwest.net”. At which point the recipient’s mail server would yell “PSYCHE!” and drop the connection.

It is at this point that I would like to really talk up Qwest’s DSL Technical Support Department. They are open 24/7, and are just a toll-free call and a moderate number of asinine voice-prompts away. Within about three minutes of calling I was on the phone with a very helpful technician who, once she got it through her head that I really was running a mail server out of my home and not just using the wrong terminology to describe my problem (and oh, can you even imagine how many times these poor folks must have to wade through a sea of misused technical jargon and overheard buzzwords to figure out what the ignoramus on the other end of the phone really wants to do?), she promptly modified Qwest’s top-level DNS zone files to include entries for my mail and Web servers. They did this for me, a baseline residential DSL customer with nothing better to do with his time than complicate his life and theirs. Frankly, I’m extremely impressed.

I’m still working out some of the bugs, but things seem to be pretty stable at this point. Another week without any problems and I’ll be sending my former ISP a “Dear Zhon” letter. So now I can sit back, relax, and get back to neglecting my reading public in favor of my crushing workload. Stay tuned!

3 Responses to “Well, That Was Interesting….”

  1. Sheri Hinshaw Says:

    Nice to see you back! And good to know Qwest service doesn’t suck.

  2. Uncle Andrew Says:

    Yeah, they do good work, by all accounts. Off-topic, some folks may find emails sent to me “bouncing” for a while, depending on your ISP’s DNS TTL. OK? GTG KTHXBAI

  3. Dalek Says:

    We’ve been very, very happy with Qwest DSL, including their customer service. And yeah, count me as another non-fan of Comcast.

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