Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Importance of being (Computer)Earnest

Now its been more than 2yrs since i posted something on this blog and sometime since i blogged, so to say I've forgotten how to write may not be too much off the mark, not that I knew how to write/blog in first place! :)

Well the ground-moving event that made me blog is something that happened today, that made me thankful for the first time for being a slightly knowledgeable person about computers. :)
The ubiquitous net decided to make a rare disappearing act today morning. And I had somehow associated such things to happen only in Third World countries, where I had lived all my life and to find such a thing happening in the First World was very surprising indeed! It got more surprising when i saw that Skype alone seemed to work, when all else was failing. That led me to conclude the problem was with BT's DNS servers. After the quick diagnosis, i knew i could vpn and use company's DNS servers and get connected to the net. So i get the vpn ip address from colleague via 'Skype - The Life Savior!' but for some reason my ipsec vpn decides to stop working then! :( So there i was still without connection to net.

Then /me thinks, this is 1st world after all, BT customer care should resolve this soon enough, so I get google IP from colleague, search for the BT customer support number and give them a call. And then i go through the longest call I've ever been put on hold - a record 30mins! even ICICIBank never did that to me back home! Well anyways as expected the call didn't yield much results, i was told many others are also seeing the same problem and it would be resolved in 24Hrs!

So i was back to square one. Then i ping another colleague, get the DNS server's ip directly, which i put in resolv.conf and lo internet works again! Its a wonderful feeling when you know only you have the net working when others don't just because you happen to have slightly more computer knowledge than the normal people. My Doctor hubby was suitably impressed when he couldn't connect to net from his laptop, when i could from mine. :D

Anyways that led me to start wondering why we don't have a on-disk DNS cache. I know its a very remote chance of my kind of scenario happening, plus it doesn't make any sense for mobile users, where the nearest DNS keeps changing. But for a home-desktop user wouldn't this make sense? Imagine if there was some option to cache the most used DNS entries, I wouldn't even have noticed that net was down. And by the way thats what happened with my iPhone, where i could access gmail, facebook everything, as it was using the cached DNS resolutions to connect.
So thats about it, until another such ground-moving event happens,


Anonymous said...

You could run your own DNS using djbdns or bind. It has been a while since I trusted DNS provided by ISPs. The Indian ones are notorious for not having a remote understanding about the importance of a DNS :)

OpenDNS IPs or Google DNS IPs are somewhat easy to recall, keeping them written down helps. I end up storing both of them as contacts on the phone :)

Sometime back David Woodhouse had a series of posts explaining how useless BT was as a telco. Guess things haven't changed since then.

Sankar said...

Using openDNS will solve all your woes. Just google for the i.p. address.

With network-manager, you can have a list of i.p. addresses that could be used as DNS pool.

DNS caching is not new. IIRC we even have a package for that "Bind" . Install it.

There is a high chance that the support engineer talking to you and helping you to watch youtube videos is from the third world nation where you grew up ;-) So talk to him in Kannada/Tamil/Hindhi so that he will be more responsive.

Puthali said...

yeah, the first thing I did yesterday after resolv.conf was installing bind. :)

'n BT woes...well 'm experiencing it first hand now...They call up early morning today asking if problem is resolved and that they are still having issues and it may go down again for couple of hours, the worse part is the net has come to a crawling speed... :(