The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Sometimes The Gadgets Pay Off

Posted on | October 28, 2011 | 20 Comments

by Smitty

For whatever reason, the shift to a different host isn’t playing well with the blog. The details are messy, but a browser request going from to a readable blog post involves an awful lot of fragile steps. And that’s when everything works correctly. When you get shenanigans like what OWS Exposed is dealing with, where the network currently points you back to ‘home’,, it gets even harder.

Now, I’m not as cool as OWS Exposed. My problem is likely some stale cache data somewhere between me and the blog that will expire soon enough. I’d like to think that Wasted Away Again In My ObamaVille was sufficiently odious to merit special attention. However, I’m not that special. If I was, the resulting nuke would likely hurt more.

What I do have is a Samsung Galaxy S II backed by T-Mobile’s 4G service. Even though Android phones and Mac OS X go together like real-world Economics and Paul Krugman (which is to say they get along poorly), you can set up the Galaxy SII as a wireless router, and connect the Mac to the phone via WiFi. Open protocols spank proprietary stuff like Econom–wait, I already played the Krugman card.

The bad news about the Galaxy SII is that it’s tantamount to a laptop computer, and that shows in the battery life. Maybe I can configure it to blow through the charge more slowly, but it has got legs past a day. So one keeps the USB cable and wall adapter handy.

Then, I finally grasped the hint from @_scarymatt_ and pointed my DNS to down at UNC. I’m all using vi to edit /etc/resolv.conf, until I read the comment that said that, yeah, the text file is more of a report than a useful reference, and went in through the System Preferences GUI.

Because knowledge is really helpful, except for when it becomes a stumbling block.


20 Responses to “Sometimes The Gadgets Pay Off”

  1. Brendon Carr
    October 28th, 2011 @ 11:26 am

    Using vi!

  2. Anonymous
    October 28th, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

    Ah, new host…that makes more sense, although I’ve had issues with Verizon DNS before, so I thought it was just them acting up.

    Also, emacs!

  3. Anonymous
    October 28th, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

    I use Google’s DNS servers. and 

    I tell people I have vi commands hardwired from the elbows down. Been using vi for over 30 years.

  4. Anonymous
    October 28th, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

    Yeah messy and technical.

  5. Finrod Felagund
    October 28th, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

    Heh.  Next month will be 23 years since I learned enough emacs to do more in emacs than I could in vi.  I used to use Purdue CS’s nameserver ( for emergency DNS until they locked it down 🙁

  6. Anonymous
    October 28th, 2011 @ 3:24 pm

    I have no idea what anyone here is talking about. Get off my lawn!

  7. Red
    October 28th, 2011 @ 3:39 pm

    You lost me at ‘geek’.

  8. Blake
    October 28th, 2011 @ 3:55 pm

    Wow, that takes me back. I thought VI Editor had gone by the wayside. Back when I was a Unix geek, I used VI a lot and really liked the way it worked. (anyone else edit a hosts file recently?)

  9. Anonymous
    October 28th, 2011 @ 4:27 pm

    What’s a host file?

  10. Finrod Felagund
    October 28th, 2011 @ 5:33 pm

     Heh, I edit hosts files all the time, but then again it’s part of my job.

    Amusing vi joke: A newbie was starting off on Unix, and was really getting into it, and posted on a forum (paraphrasing): “I really like Unix and the vi editor, but it seems so old.  Haven’t they written anything newer, like vii, by now?”

    He got a reply: “Actually they’re up to xv now, but it requires X Windows.”

  11. Anonymous
    October 28th, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

    Since Google is evil, you could try the distributed DNS servers of OpenDNS. OpenDNS uses multiple nodes and has very good response times.

  12. Blake
    October 28th, 2011 @ 6:04 pm

    Back in the day, I worked with SCO OpenServer. I actually had OpenServer set up at home to learn more about the system. I went so far as to install the IRC client for OpenServer and managed to get it up and running. The client had a minor problem, though. Wouldn’t show more than 8 characters of a username.

  13. ThePaganTemple
    October 28th, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

    I don’t understand this, I’ve had a couple of people commenting, wondering if I know what happened to this blog, that it seems to have disappeared. I haven’t noticed any problems or any changes at all.

  14. Anonymous
    October 28th, 2011 @ 8:10 pm

    Maybe you’re not using a sucky ISP like Verizon.

  15. Anonymous
    October 28th, 2011 @ 8:13 pm

    It’s about how the name of the website resolves into a raw address.  Basically, your computer asks other computers where is on the internet.  This is called DNS (Domain Name System). 

    This information gets shared around to various DNS servers.  Your ISP provides one to you, and there are others who provide them, too.  The information stays on a server for a certain amount of time.

    When a server changes its address, it can take a while for the new information to propagate.  Unfortunately, there are some big DNS servers that haven’t gotten the message about TOM yet.  If you’re unlucky enough to be using one of those servers, you won’t be able to find TOM using its domain name (  At least some Verizon DNS servers aren’t working with TOM.

    Hosts files are a way to tell your computer exactly how to resolve a name.  This is typically used for local networks or other shortcuts, or even filtering out ad servers or domains that serve up inappropriate content (i.e., for your kids).

  16. Adjoran
    October 28th, 2011 @ 9:05 pm

    I usually just kick the thing, hard.

    Sometimes it works, most times it doesn’t, but it ALWAYS makes me feel better.

  17. ThePaganTemple
    October 28th, 2011 @ 10:10 pm

    I have Windstream, which must not be as sucky as I thought.

  18. Anonymous
    October 28th, 2011 @ 11:45 pm

    Mrs. Smitty must love it when you talk tech….

    After listening to you wrestle with your system, Bitty Smitty’s first word will be “*#$&!!@^!!”

  19. jwallin
    October 29th, 2011 @ 12:05 am

    ah, finally Verizon updated their DNS.

    Sorry for the emails. I thought Chuckie j bought the blog.

    This HAS made me realize that visiting here has become a habit and needs to be sustained.
    As I’m on a fixed income, the remuneration will be minuscule but I have discovered I have a need for screed(joke. It rhymed)

    I always have been fond of well written reportage. That’s it’s rightish and not leftish makes it all the better. 

  20. TR
    October 29th, 2011 @ 12:09 am

    Good news for FIOS peeps.  Those calls to Mumbai and Tennessee (where everyone has a Harley) are not needed now!  Thanks to the Smitty the Man (and Wombat I suppose? I attach pic of a real wombat for benefit of Mr. Socho).