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Monday, July 14, 2003

BUGGY PROF UP AGAIN: WELCOME BACK!! Archives Missing April 18th - July 13

Should there still be any visitors left to the Buggy Prof site --- at one time, almost 2000 a week, lots of academics, grad and undergrad students, and the general public --- please be assured that you are a very welcome presence. (The archives, please note, are now updated and working properly: August 20, 2003.)

What happened on July 1st, the day of the buggy shutdown, and what kept it down for the next 13 days?

Evidently, as the 4th of July holiday approached, the immediate cause of the crash was a hacking competition --- malicious, world-wide in scope --- in which it was announced on certain places in the Internet that there would be rewards for the most successful of the hackers . . . one of whom, apparently, managed to break into and shut down the server of a big-name company on which WebXpertz --- my web-designer/web-manager firm that hosts the Buggy Prof site --- was itself dependent for ultimate access to the Internet. Nothing unusual about such dependence. Evidently, lots of small firms that host web-sites they design and manage operate this way: they have their own small servers, but instead of providing direct access to the Internet, they contract for that purpose with a downstream provider with bigger, more powerful servers and full technical assistance. And so --- on the night of July 1st, as inky darkness prowled on the mountains and plains of North America and Dracula and his ilk flap-flapped in the moonless sky and sucked the blood of helpless creature while hackers world-wide clack-clacked on their keyboards and knocked down sites here and elsewhere in their perverse, scuzzbag way --- the Buggy Prof site crashed to a halt.

So, OK; a biggie-company's server was hacked into and overwhelmed with spam. Big deal, you say --- why wasn't it back up and in business right away?


A Good Question, No?

Yes; and easy enough to answer --- in principle anyway.

In effect, any competent Internet Provider firm ought to have used its back-up program files, installed them, and been back in operation within hours --- if not sooner; and believe it or not, that was the also case with Biggie.com . . . only with a mean-minded twist of its own. Specifically, unknown to WebXpertz --- a small firm of talented designers and programmers --- the contract it signed with Biggie had lots of legalese fine-print stuff tucked away in murky spots that allows it, when attacked by hackers, to shut down all suspect customer web-hosts and sites connected to it, maybe hundreds of them, and let its Security Division carry out an investigation as to the causes of any attack . . . if need be, a grinding, methodical, why-hurry investigation. Is this legal? Apparently so; it's right there in miniscule jargon-splattered writing on page 4 or 5 of the contract. And hence, despite Biggie being up and in operation within hours and allowing most of its customer-firms to resume business too --- the big-paying ones no doubt --- the WebXpertz' server for its own hosted sites like Buggy Prof was one of those designated for investigation.

All this happened, to repeat, on the night of July 1st and into the scary dark hours of July 2nd. And since then? Why the long unsettling delay in having the Buggy Prof program files transferred to another web-hosting site --- better, more secure, more customer-oriented --- and installing it there, something that should have been done within a day?


Another Good Question, Yes?

Unfortunately, the answer uncoils a complex explanation, and prof bug is reluctant to wear out your patience with his big boo-hoo stories; but just in case you're interested, you can go to WebXpertz's forums --- the one called General Development/Computers (the 12th down from the top) --- and look at the threads under the name of gordongordo. You can start with the latest if you want, or the earlier ones, or the more derisory, or . . . well, it really doesn't matter: there are, as it happens, several threads of complaint and some light-humored sarcasm that prof bug scattered elsewhere in other forums too, but the latter lengthy one in General Development should give you a decent, easily read working-idea of what happened since July 2nd, the morning when prof bug first discovered the shutdown. Not a pretty story anyway.

Still, we're back in operation --- and housed at a new, more secure web-host company, and prof bug will start his daily buzz of political and economic commentary in the hours to come. Right now, it's 3:30 P.M. in Santa Barbara, a clear sky overhead, the mountainous islands of the Santa Barbara channel rising out of the Pacific 2500 feet straight some 25 miles off visible through my window, a slight ocean breeze in the air, and Bobo --- anxious to be taken for a walk, nibbling at my ankle for the last 5 minutes: down, girl, down; Ow! Ow! --- either gets taken out for a walk right now or I'll need leg surgery by nightfall.

Again, welcome back!


But Wait: Archives Not Installed Yet

One twist to our resumed bugyy operation though, already mentioned in the title of this article: the archive files for all the articles, well over a hundred since the Buggy Prof started in late January aren't yet available . . . stuck on a server somewhere that WebXpertz can't access, believe it or not again, without Biggie allowing access to its downstream server. Huh? What happened to the management by WebXpertz? Put it this way: if you're confused, think of what I felt when I found this out; even now, I can't get a fully straight story about this. All I can do is redirect you again, if you want, to the General Development/Computer forum at WebXpertz forums for any enlightenment (good luck!).

Still, the archives should be accessible in the future . . . say, some time before the next Millenium hysteria and the related Y-2 spooky specter.

If not --- anyway, if not accessible soon --- I've back-up copies of most of the articles published since then, and can --- if need be --- re-enter them one at a time with new formatting. (Ouch!) And should it come to that, assuming that there are any old visitors still around who haven't thought prof bug had buzzed out entirely and flew off for good into the dark-nowhere of interstellar-cyberspace, you might send me any copies of the missing ones should you have saved them to your hard-drive or printed them out. I'll let you know. Not yet though. Conceivably --- just conceivably, mind you --- Biggie might, like Osama and Saddam, come out of his hiding place (it has to be a he; no woman would be that legalistically devious) and let WebXpertz have full access to the buggy files and archives.

Replies: 3 comments

Just checked, if you search for documents with 'june 2003' in them, you'll find several that Google has cached.

HTH, Tone.

Posted by Tony @ 07/20/2003 11:01 AM PST

Have you tried the google cache?

I typed in "site:www.thebuggyprofessor.org economic 2003" into the google search box and got 50+ hits.

I selected one at random, http://www.thebuggyprofessor.org/archives/00000081.php and got a 404. However, Google does have that page cached, so you can retrieve it with a copy-paste.

Hope this helps, I enjoy your site and look forward to many more essays that I've found thought-provoking and informative!

Cheers, Tony.



[1] Many thanks for the quick and helpful reply. It turns out that my original response to you was wrong. There are indeed google-cached articles for April, May, and June --- and so please accept my apology for the wrong reply two days ago, and for my gratitude.

--- Michael

Posted by Tony @ 07/20/2003 06:17 AM PST


welcome back to the Web-verse - and thanks for providing the commentary about your quest to get the Buggy Prof site back online after the hack attack. Your unfortunate experience will happily be of benefit to my Political Science 388i Cyberspace Citizenship students who devote themselves to community service learning by designing and building web pages for small non-profit community service organizations.

Your Buggy Prof web site experience drives home some important lessons about the (un)reliability of commercial web design firms and the ISPs they work with.

One more digression - Warren Olney on today's Which Way LA featured a segment on the Tour de France which was disrupted in Marseille by the same farmer who pulled down the McDonalds. Velo circularity?




Many thanks. No one knows this better than you, pioneer scholar as you are in the political and legal implications of the Internet. I would suggest that everyone with a web site physically download once or twice a week ALL your program files and archives yourself, however reliable your web-manager might be. You need to know, of course, where to find them on your site; and you need to know how to use an FTP download (actually, IE 6.0 allows you to do this easily). But if you do --- and I didn't, regrettably --- then whatever happens to the ultimate ISP servers and your web-manager's server that hosts your site, you'll always be able to have it restored without waiting until they get into action . . . if need be, at a new web-host site.

I will add that my relationship with WebXpertz continues to reflect my confidence in the overall quality of their professional talents and dedication.

Good luck with your site, Larry. Hope to see you around.

Posted by Professor Larry Martinez @ 07/15/2003 05:14 PM PST