Sysadmins sing the IP blues down in the domain name dumps

The Rat was browsing the news while eating lunch. He choked on his ratatouille at
learning of the network administration goof of all time.


How could the domain administrators at Network Solutions Inc. have mistakenly purged
the domain name for Microsoft Corp.'s and NBC's joint venture, MSNBC?


To make really big networking mistakes, it certainly helps to have a big network.
Network Solutions, the Herndon, Va., contractor chosen by the National Science Foundation
in 1993 to maintain the Internet's InterNIC master domain name server, has the biggest net
in the world to hose.


Apparently, the contractor failed to credit MSNBC's $100 fee for registering the domain
name and flushed it down the toilet along with information on a host of other allegedly
deadbeat domains--only Network Solutions knows how many. Or maybe it doesn't.


This happened as Microsoft and NBC were doing a trial run of their Olympic coverage.
The Rat is positive the folks at ABC, CBS and Fox had nothing to do with it whatsoever.


Network Solutions isn't talking about the other disputed domain dumps. Perhaps some
people haven't even noticed yet. They're just wondering why their e-mail volume is so low
and their Web pages seem to be acting up. Of course, the organizations that haven't caught
on yet probably are those that made up their IP addresses as they went along and never did
figure out why they kept getting e-mail addressed to, say, the Archbishop of Canterbury.


This reminds the Wired One of another monumental screw up with which he had a personal
connection. Way back in the days before dynamic address assignments, the Rat was training
a new henchperson--one with a slight deficit in functioning neural pathways, but otherwise
a fine lad.


The task at hand was upgrading the TCP/IP drivers on 500 stations. After testing a
software distribution scheme, the Rat was satisfied that the batch file he had written
would install the required files properly next morning. It would copy a template
configuration file to each system, then fill the blanks he'd left in the file with
information copied from each system's original.


The Rat put the batch file on the main server and left to his acolyte the job of
putting the batch file into the log-in scripts for each of the network groups.


Next morning, the entire network had crashed, and no one could tell why. The systems
seemed configured properly, and it wasn't until the Rat looked at individual configuration
files that he discovered the problem. Every computer had the same IP address.


Upon closer examination, the Rat found the IP address to be that of his young
underling, who had accidentally deleted the Rat's template file and replaced it with the
configuration file from his own system.


The remainder of the day was spent with a tote-board of IP address assignments in paw
as the Rat lectured his unfortunate assistant on the intricacies of address conflicts
while flogging him through 500 manual configuration changes.


To upper management, the Rat explained the cause of the crash like this: "The red
electrons were mixing with the green electrons. We had to realign the polarity of the
network cards to sort them properly."


Satisfied that all was well in the technosphere, the managers went happily away. The
young acolyte now is a project leader for a major systems integrator. The Rat hopes it's
not Network Solutions, but just to be on the safe side, went out to check on his personal
domain name.


Comforted to find it still there, he proceeded to check on whether any of his other
favorite domains had fallen victim to the Big Flush of 1996.


The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad
packets in cyberspace.


About the Author

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace.

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