Why did you do this?
I did it to see what would happen if I did it, and I did it to help Hotmail users. It's been the most fun I've ever had for $35.
There has been some confusion, so let me state now that I had none of the
To get to my Hotmail- While it's true that I noticed the problem while trying to get to my Hotmail, that wasn't a motivation. Like many people, I use Hotmail as a spam trap and alternative email which I check once every couple of weeks. I own enough domain names to have cooler email addresses, like email@example.com.
To make lots and lots of money- I have better ways of making money than paying for other companies' domains. Actually, I'm not sure how people think I intend to make all this money. I don't own passport.com, and even if I did, I certainly wouldn't do something which would further harm Hotmail users.
To embarrass Microsoft- I have no reason to do this, and I'm not sure why my actions would be any more embarrassing to them than the two day service outage was.
Don't you own passport.com since you made the payment?
Since you own passport.com, why don't you make Microsoft pay all kinds of money to get it back?
If I went to the bank and payed your mortgage, would I own your house? Of course not. I don't own passport.com, I simply made the payment for Microsoft's invoice. And if I did own it, I wouldn't take it hostage. Even if you don't like Microsoft (which seems to describe most people making this suggestion :) think of the millions of users who would be out of luck if I were to point passport.com elsewhere. That wouldn't be nice.
Why didn't Microsoft notice this before the Slashdot people?
Microsoft claims to have known about the problem as early as December 24, which was when it started, but they apparently didn't know how widespread of an outage they had. It's important to note that Hotmail and Passport were up the entire time, but the root servers were told to forget about the passport.com domain. The gist of this is that Hotmail and Passport would have been accessible to folks inside Microsoft whose machines don't need to talk to a root server to resolve x.passport.com names. So it looked fine to them.
How did Microsoft miss a payment?
First, note that we don't know if Microsoft did miss the payment for passport.com. Network Solutions is famous for bad service, and plenty of people noted on the Slashdot forum that Network Solutions had lost their payments.
But it's possible that Microsoft did miss the payment. In the "whois" information for passport.com, an individual within Microsoft is the billing contact, which means that she would receive notification of the failure to pay. Obviously, this is bad, since an individual may leave a company or go on vacation. I'm not sure what happened in this case, and I doubt we'll ever hear any more from Microsoft about it. In their whois record for other domains, such as microsoft.com, the billing contact is a "role account", firstname.lastname@example.org. That email can be checked (presumably) by a group of people, so it doesn't matter if someone leaves or goes on vacation.
Are you the Michael Chaney that I used to know at....?
Look at my mini-bio for an answer to that question. There are lots of Michael Chaney's online (and in real life), so I am probably not the droid you're looking for.
Why is this server called "doublewide.net"?
I actually lived in a trailer on a farm outside of Bloomington, Indiana, for about 8.5 years. I do a lot of redneck humor, and my nickname on Slashdot is "Trailer Trash". This server is really large, and quick, so much so that I almost called it "modular". But I decided that I'd call it doublewide and the next will be modular.
I currently live in a new home in the suburbs of Nashville, TN, far from the country and far from the nearest trailer.
How did you figure out what was wrong?
I didn't figure out what was wrong, but rather a small group of folks working together loosely were able to determine the problem.
Had I done it myself, here are the steps I would have taken. This is easy if you have a Unix system (maybe even VMS) that you can use.
First, I have to start nslookup and choose a "root server", which are aptly named a.root-servers.net to m.root-servers.net (each letter in-between).
[root@dialer /root]# nslookup Default Server: localhost Address: 127.0.0.1 > server a.root-servers.net Default Server: a.root-servers.net Address: 18.104.22.168 > set q=ns > com. Server: a.root-servers.net Address: 22.214.171.124 com nameserver = A.ROOT-SERVERS.NET com nameserver = H.ROOT-SERVERS.NET com nameserver = C.ROOT-SERVERS.NET com nameserver = G.ROOT-SERVERS.NET com nameserver = F.GTLD-SERVERS.NET com nameserver = F.ROOT-SERVERS.NET com nameserver = B.ROOT-SERVERS.NET com nameserver = I.ROOT-SERVERS.NET com nameserver = E.ROOT-SERVERS.NET com nameserver = D.ROOT-SERVERS.NET com nameserver = J.GTLD-SERVERS.NET com nameserver = K.GTLD-SERVERS.NET A.ROOT-SERVERS.NET internet address = 126.96.36.199 H.ROOT-SERVERS.NET internet address = 188.8.131.52 C.ROOT-SERVERS.NET internet address = 184.108.40.206 G.ROOT-SERVERS.NET internet address = 220.127.116.11 F.GTLD-SERVERS.NET internet address = 18.104.22.168 F.ROOT-SERVERS.NET internet address = 22.214.171.124 B.ROOT-SERVERS.NET internet address = 126.96.36.199 I.ROOT-SERVERS.NET internet address = 188.8.131.52 E.ROOT-SERVERS.NET internet address = 184.108.40.206 D.ROOT-SERVERS.NET internet address = 220.127.116.11 J.GTLD-SERVERS.NET internet address = 18.104.22.168 K.GTLD-SERVERS.NET internet address = 22.214.171.124
What I've done here is chosen a root server to talk to (a.root-servers.net, to make it simple), and then I told nslookup that I'd like to see information regarding nameservers, rather than the usual functionality of returning the IP addresses (for BIND people, we're getting the NS records instead of A records).
Now, I'm in luck, because "a.root-servers.net" is in the list of machines that can tell me about "something.com". So we'll see what it tells me about passport.com:
> passport.com. Server: a.root-servers.net Address: 126.96.36.199 Non-authoritative answer: passport.com nameserver = DNS4.CP.MSFT.NET passport.com nameserver = DNS5.CP.MSFT.NET Authoritative answers can be found from: DNS4.CP.MSFT.NET internet address = 188.8.131.52 DNS5.CP.MSFT.NET internet address = 184.108.40.206
We can see that the root servers, at least a.root-servers.net, knows about passport.com now, and it is telling me that to find out more about hosts at passport.com, I should ask one of the two nameservers listed there, "DNS4.CP.MSFT.NET" or "DNS5.CP.MSFT.NET". Note that if we look in the "whois" record, these are familiar:
[root@dialer /root]# whois passport.com [rs.internic.net] Whois Server Version 1.1 Domain names in the .com, .net, and .org domains can now be registered with many different competing registrars. Go to http://www.internic.net for detailed information. Domain Name: PASSPORT.COM Registrar: NETWORK SOLUTIONS, INC. Whois Server: whois.networksolutions.com Referral URL: www.networksolutions.com Name Server: DNS4.CP.MSFT.NET Name Server: DNS5.CP.MSFT.NET
Now, we're supposed to be talking about what happens if nothing is in there, so let's go back to nslookup. I'll try to find out about a non-existent domain:
> thisdoesnotexist.com. Server: a.root-servers.net Address: 220.127.116.11 *** a.root-servers.net can't find thisdoesnotexist.com.: Non-existent host/domain
It's possible for a domain to be listed in the "whois" database, but not have a record in the root servers. That generally only happens if the bill is unpaid. Next stop is https://payments.networksolutions.com to see if there is an outstanding invoice. Obviously, passport.com has been paid for, but at the time, it showed an invoice that was sent on October 2, 1999. While we can't be 100% certain that it was missing from the root servers due to non-payment, that's an extremely likely explanation. Likely enough that I was willing to spend $35 in hopes of fixing the problem.
If you have a question which you'd like to see addressed here, simply drop an email to email@example.com and let me know.