Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Taking A Trip With TRIP To A World Of Whimsy & Confusion

I mentioned earlier that the TRIP (Trinity River Improvement Partnership) website was back conscious after spending several weeks in a coma.

The TRIP website has not been restored to its full original glory, but, at least you can now watch the award winning documentary, Up a Creek.

When the TRIP website went comatose I was asked if I could help revive it. I asked basic questions like who is the host? Where is the server? Who registered the domain?

I could get no answers. I used WHOIS to find out the domain's name servers had been changed to point to a server in Karlsruhe Germany.

I tried to help, really I did, but everything I got told was really goofy.


I can give you what info I have to possibly get us back up and going.  But as of now, it appears that our webserver was compromised by a hack that made us an unwilling node of a botnet that attacked Facebook.  Fun stuff.  

Webserver hacked? By an unwilling node of a botnet attacking Facebook? Huh? Was it Al-Qaeda?

I then said if the webserver/host was hacked then the webserver/host should take care of the problem. But, no one seemed to know who or where the webserver/host was.

And then there was this....

The server is rebuilt, I have installed Wordpress. All the settings should be the same. Let me know what I can do to help, I was able to download files, but without a database structure, they are almost useless. We can use those files to copy and paste old information, but the table structure needs to be recreated. I do have all the graphics, and that should help, let me know if I need to send them to someone. I assume that we'll need to re-upload all the files we have via FTP. Being unfamiliar with the architecture of server file systems, I don't know if you can just re-upload everything you have and it'll all be in the right place or what. (I wish I could be more help). Will the host provide any support? This seems to be a lapse in security on their part.

I agree with the last sentence. But that first sentence? The "server is rebuilt"? No one knows where the server is, but it has now been rebuilt? How do you rebuild a server? I have no idea. Files were downloaded, but without a database structure they are useless? Unfamiliar with the architecture of server file systems?

I've been making websites since the early 1990s. None of this stuff I was being told made any sense to me. At one point I said if I got the FTP login info I could easily make a simple website with the movie on it. I was then sent FTP login info. That did not work.

I still don't know what happened to the TRIP website that caused this woe. TRIP's domain's Domain Name Server (DNS) now points to a server in Wayne, United States. That info comes from WHOIS. Where is Wayne? I've no idea. The domain's name servers are still coming from Germany.

This experience with TRIP reminded my of a painful experience that started in 2004 when I made a website for an elderly man in Tacoma. The elderly man did not understand websites or the Internet. But he was full of ideas about what he wanted. A lot of it was pure fanciful magic. And there was a fixation on making font sizes too big. Among many other annoying fixations.

When a new product was added to the website, rather than just sending me the URL, the elderly man would send me an email that said something like "type in 'Dotties cottage chocolate bunny', then click on the 4th item on the list (meaning the Google search results), then click on 'chocolate', then go to the 5th page and get the picture of the 7th bunny from the top."

I am not exaggerating.

In 2006 I was sort of relieved when I got an email from the elderly man in Tacoma telling me he'd decided to have a local guy work on his website. That local guy totally messed up importing the webfiles. The website remains messed up to this day. And looks really outdated. I get some sort of poetic justice pleasure from this.

Now that the TRIP website is back working I hope someone somewhere can figure out who the server/host is, who has control over the domain and the real reason why the TRIP website went comatose.

One more thing, the TRIP domain expires on October 14, 2012. Someone somewhere needs to figure out who registered the domain and get it renewed before the expiration date, or it will go comatose again. But, I will know the reason why, this time.

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