Archive for the 'blather' Category


Fancy meeting you here

Wednesday, November 13th, 2002

Matt Raible just discovered my blog, leading me via referrer to discover his blog.

Funny, we’ve known about each other for some time in development circles, but just haven’t connected at the blog level.

I’ve been blogging for almost two years now (21 months). I’ve come to expect that online people just know that about me – time to rethink those assumptions!


In good company re bad company

Wednesday, November 6th, 2002

Seems Tim and I aren’t the only ones Verisigning off. Terry Frazier is sick of them too.


How to win against Verisign’s NetSol domain Transfer Adventure

Tuesday, November 5th, 2002

I finally managed to get my domain transferred away from Network Solutions, the Verisign company, after multiple unsuccessful attempts. I feel like I’ve played a big adventure game, trying to learn the secret to finding the treasure, dying in the process and then having to start over again each time I fall into a trap.

First attempt:

My new registrar initiates the process. They look up my domain with Whois and send a message to the administrative contact, inviting me to confirm. I confirm.

A couple of days later, NetSol sends me a message saying my request was denied either because I declined it or I didn’t respond in time. I send them an email to say I must have missed their message because I certainly responded to the one I got.

Second Attempt:

My new registrar initiates the process. They look up my domain with Whois and send a message to the administrative contact, inviting me to confirm. I confirm.

A couple of days later, NetSol sends me a message saying my request was denied either because I declined it or I didn’t respond in time. I told them again that I confirmed it.

I looked myself up on their Whois and confirmed that my address information was all correct, for the domain, and for my contact record – I was listed as both Admin and Technical contact.

I went to their website to look at my account information. Not knowing the login, I had them mail it to me. After not receiving it for an hour, on a whim I checked an old email account I still keep around although I haven’t used it in a year. I used to have that account as the contact for this domain, but I don’t use that dialup ISP much anymore. They had sent the account info there! I tried to log in, but it then had to send me my password. I waited but it never arrived at either account.

I phoned up NetSol’s customer service. They said yes, the contact info points to the old address. I said no it doesn’t I looked it up on Whois. It turns out that NetSol uses a different database internally than the whois database and the only way I could make the transfer is to change the record in their internal database. I told her to change it then, but she said it could only be done by sending me the login information to the account listed in that database and having me enter it via their website. If I didn’t have access to that account, I would have to fax them photo ID proving my identity before they could do anything. Luckily I did, so she sent me the info and I logged in, changing it to an email address that was absolutely completely far removed from Netsol or any domain in its registry.

Funny how they could send me the denial to my current address. Think about that.

Third attempt:

My new registrar initiates the process. They look up my domain with Whois and send a message to the administrative contact (at the new address I provided), inviting me to confirm. I confirm.

Today, Tue 6 Nov 2002 at 107pm EST, I receive a slippery-crafted note from NetSol doing everything it can do to distract me from the part of it that tells me how to actually authorize the transfer. Its subject is “Information about your account”, and it’s from, which of course almost immediately got trashed as SPAM, another cunning technique to get you to ignore the transfer authorization and therefore stay with them.

This email says among other things that you must respond within 72 hours of the timestamp of the email. I look at the timestamp, and it’s 12:20 AM yesterday. They want me to believe that this email took 37 hours to get to me. I checked the mail headers:

Received: (qmail 7792 invoked by uid 508); 5 Nov 2002 18:07:13 -0000
Received: from unknown (HELO (
by with SMTP; 5 Nov 2002 18:07:13 -0000
Received: from (])
by (Postfix) with ESMTP id 44AB83C59D
for ; Tue, 5 Nov 2002 13:06:24 -0500 (EST)
Received: from csr-prem (csr-prem [])
by (8.8.8+Sun/8.8.8) with ESMTP id AAA02358
; Mon, 4 Nov 2002 00:20:07 -0500 (EST)
Date: Mon, 4 Nov 2002 00:20:07 -0500 (EST)

The mail sat behind their own NAT for nearly 37 hours before being sent to me. I only had less than half of the 72 hours in which to respond. I wonder how often that happens.

So I finally figure out how to authorize the transfer and a few minutes later I get the confirmation. I hope that’s the end of it. It’s certainly the last dealings I will ever have with Verisign. I’ve never seen such slimy prevarication and wholesale incompetence.

The biggest lesson in all of this (besides the obvious one – get all your domains out of there as soon as you can) is that whenever possible, you should hang on to any email addresses that you ever had associated with any NetSol account until you are certain that you will never have to deal with them again. And pay complete attention at every step in the process or you’ll fall into one of their traps apparently designed to get you to throw up your hands and just stay with them because it’s too much of a hassle to leave.


All downhill from here?

Saturday, November 2nd, 2002

John Robb laments the state of American politics, power and greed.

I’ve been thinking lately about the American Empire and empires throughout history, their rises and falls. I think the intensity of America’s success and supremity and the advances in communications, technology and war could well combine to shorten the natural duration of this empire in relation to those which preceded it. As a Canadian, I’m no less affected.

If we were to assume that like all other empires, America’s fortunes will follow the pattern of rise, sustain, fall, it follows that there will be events surrounding which future historians will mark the turning points where rise ended, decline started and various milestones in between.

It is my considered opinion that a number of issues in the past two years are accumulating to become elements that are signalling to me what could be the beginning of a (perhaps the) big decline.

  • Homeland Security measures which trample constitutional freedoms
  • Congress giving the President the unilateral ability to declare war
  • Micrsoft’s DOJ Settlement
  • Congress-supported Patent and Copyright excesses threatening to destroy the intellectual commons.

All of these things demonstrate a shift away from the one principle that allowed America to thrive: Don’t let power or greed concentrate in the hands of the few.

Communism tried to do the same by decreeing that power and greed were nonexistent, thus ensuring that they were the two most powerful factors in their society.

American law and society has been cautiously accepting of ambition, greed, and power in manageable amounts. The framers of the Constitution knew that the wise course is to place limits and enforce them. Recent events are demonstrating a lack of commitment on the part of the current keepers of the Constitution to resist pressure to remove these limits. Even worse, sometimes I’m starting to think there is pressure from within.


brent ashley is…

Thursday, October 31st, 2002

Dave Winer points to Googlism, where it can tell you what is being said about you on the net. Here’s what it says about me:

brent ashley is a human
brent ashley is a font of information
brent ashley is right
brent ashley is a very beautiful and unruly woman
brent ashley is sure to amuse if not educate
brent ashley is another guy who is skipping dot net

Unruly? Well, a little.


You can check out any time you like…

Wednesday, October 30th, 2002

I just sent this email to Network Solutions, the Verisign registrar twits. (no link, they don’t deserve the traffic):

Dear Network Solutions;

I’ve tried to transfer my domain ASHLEYIT.COM away from you twice in the past two weeks. I just discovered what the problem likely is. Despite the fact that you’re perfectly able to send to my administrative and technical contact email address the notice that you’re denying my request because I didn’t respond to your confirmation request, you’re apparently incapable of sending the confirmation request itself to that address, and instead it’s likely being sent to an old address I no longer use which I changed in your database long ago.

I just went to your site to log in and see what I could check. I found that I didn’t remember my login, so I asked for an email reminder. It didn’t come, so on a whim I checked the email address that by all rights I should have stopped using a year ago. Bingo, there’s the email. I then ask for a password reset, it says it has sent the email, and I’ve been waiting for over an hour now. I can’t say I’m very optimistic about receiving it at an address I still know about.

Get this straight: My email address for ASHLEYIT.COM is as listed in my BA2538 contact record. Please use no other address for this account, which I will transfer away from you as soon as you somehow make it possible.

And they wonder why I’m leaving. I took my other domain away from them a few months ago. Tim has had nothing but trouble with them too.


An alternate approach

Tuesday, October 29th, 2002

Chris at reports on yet another NS4 hack:

Scott Andrew writes with a solution to the NS4.x crashing when writing to layers that I mentioned yesterday. Apparently writing to an existing layer in NS4.x causes a big memory leak but the same problem is not encountered while doing a document.write() when loading a new document into a layer. This suggest the following solution (quoting Scott here):

1)Pointing the src of the layer to a special local page, called “blank.html”

2)In blank.html, there’s an in-body script that calls back to a function in layer’s parent (the window)

3)The function document.writes() the content into the layer (no open() or close())

I’ve got an idea – rather than using blank.html and using document.write, why not test for NS4 and redirect to a page that says “Quickly! You must download and install a new browser right now or aliens will swoop down and amputate your penis!”. Anyone who’s still using NS4 is obviously stupid enough to fall for that or at least working for some idiot who will fall for it.

Presto – no more memory leak.


Referral Spam

Monday, October 28th, 2002

Wired reports on the new phenomenon of Referral Spam, whereby marketers send a robot to my site that does nothing but inject a referrer into my logs.

Let’s do a use-case scenario, shall we?

Hmmm. Checking the old referrer log here.. Looky here – someone who isn’t actually referring to me but is trying to get my attention by injecting their message into my logs, therefore skewing my logs and causing me grief. BOY, I’M REALLY MOTIVATED TO DO BUSINESS WITH THEM – I THINK I’LL BUY THEIR SHIT!

Yeah right.

Also, whoever wrote the Wired article is way out to lunch if they really think that injecting crap into referrer logs is going to affect someone’s search engine position. The search engines make that determination based on actual links they find on other pages that actually really point to my blog. Referral spam never actually creates a link anywhere, it just injects “to see a real loser dickhead marketing twit click here” links into my logs. Which bloggers did she actually talk to who “ruefully admitted” that this non-issue was an issue to them?