Frequently Asked Questions

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 following motivations:
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
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, 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 since you made the payment?
Since you own, 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, 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 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 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 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 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, 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, the billing contact is a "role account", 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 ""?

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 to (each letter in-between).

[root@dialer /root]# nslookup
Default Server:  localhost

> server
Default Server:

> set q=ns
> com.

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 =
H.ROOT-SERVERS.NET      internet address =
C.ROOT-SERVERS.NET      internet address =
G.ROOT-SERVERS.NET      internet address =
F.GTLD-SERVERS.NET      internet address =
F.ROOT-SERVERS.NET      internet address =
B.ROOT-SERVERS.NET      internet address =
I.ROOT-SERVERS.NET      internet address =
E.ROOT-SERVERS.NET      internet address =
D.ROOT-SERVERS.NET      internet address =
J.GTLD-SERVERS.NET      internet address =
K.GTLD-SERVERS.NET      internet address =

What I've done here is chosen a root server to talk to (, 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 "" is in the list of machines that can tell me about "". So we'll see what it tells me about


Non-authoritative answer:    nameserver = DNS4.CP.MSFT.NET    nameserver = DNS5.CP.MSFT.NET

Authoritative answers can be found from:
DNS4.CP.MSFT.NET        internet address =
DNS5.CP.MSFT.NET        internet address =

We can see that the root servers, at least, knows about now, and it is telling me that to find out more about hosts at, 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

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
for detailed information.

   Domain Name: PASSPORT.COM
   Whois Server:
   Referral URL:
   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:


*** can't find 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 to see if there is an outstanding invoice. Obviously, 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 and let me know.