Fun with recycled IP addresses

OK, well that title kind of gives away the end of the story, but it’s still a good one.

So…

Earlier this week I launched a new site for a client. As part of the usual process, I submitted their sitemap.xml file to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. Usually that’s all it takes for a new site to get indexed within 1-3 days.

But it seemed to be taking longer than usual for this client, and I decided to investigate the situation.

I should note that we did a private “soft launch” of the site about a week prior to the official launch. During that time I had a robots “noindex” directive turned on so it wouldn’t start showing up in search engines prematurely.

I went into Google Search Console to request a re-crawl. And that’s when I noticed this…

Excluded due to 'noindex'

Well, that’s… weird. Not so much that it had read a “noindex” directive when it, unfortunately, had crawled the URL just a day before we launched — although it was a bit weird that it had crawled it at all — but that the Referring page was a totally different site that should have had no business linking to us, yet.

So then I did what anyone (?) would naturally do, I visited that URL. And much to my surprise, it redirected to our site. What??

Next I used mxtoolbox to do a DNS lookup, and suddenly it all made sense.

We’re hosting the site at Linode. And as it happens, the DNS entry for the referring site is set to the same IP address as our site. This is a virtual private server, so we’re the only people now using this IP address.

But there are a finite number of possible IP addresses, especially IPv4 addresses (about 4 billion). So they naturally get reused. This particular site was for a limited-use product that was only relevant in 2015, so it’s not too surprising that the owners of the domain took down their Linode server and relinquished the IP address. It’s unfortunate though that they didn’t think to remove the DNS entry from their zone file.

At this point, we could (a) contact them and ask them to update their DNS, but that could be convoluted and time-consuming, for no real benefit to us, (b) set up a rewrite in our server that shunts traffic that’s trying to access their product site back over to their main site, which would take less time but also wouldn’t really benefit us in any way, or (c) leave it as-is, and let the few randos who are still looking for a product that was last relevant during the Obama administration wonder why they’re instead seeing our site.

I’m going with (c).

I’m also going with submitting re-crawl requests to both Google and Bing so we can get in the priority queue, and hopefully by this time tomorrow the site will be showing up in search results.

Crypto chump change

I know artists who are exploring crypto as a new way to earn money from their work — something that is notoriously hard given the soulless priorities of our economy — but I can’t see it as anything other than a get-rich-quick scheme… or a pyramid scheme… some kind of a scheme (with all the negative connotations that word carries in the US). You might get rich — some people obviously have — but you probably won’t, and ultimately crypto is not going to solve any of our problems… but it’s already created some novel ones.

I’ve been following Molly White’s blog for a while now. I really like her approach and insights. While I personally have less than zero interest in getting into crypto, I’m somewhat fixated on it right now — how it’s changing, how its myriad flaws are gradually being revealed, and how people are misunderstanding what it really is, how it works, and how it’s impacting society and the planet. (But yes I will admit that any time I see someone is into it, my immediate assumption is they’re either an Ayn Rand acolyte or a chump.)

Speaking of Molly White, she also contributed to (and hosts) this group-annotated version of Kevin Roose’s ridiculously pro-crypto “explainer” article recently published by the New York Times. Essential reading on the topic. (The annotations that is, not the original article.)

“It doesn’t suck.”

Is it possible to be excited about a text editor? Well… yes. When it’s good enough to be an essential tool for decades.

Back in 1994 when I was a junior in college and the web was emerging, I wanted to learn how to build web pages. The somewhat helpful person in the Gustavus computer store (why did I go there? I guess because I wasn’t taking any CS classes so I didn’t know any of the faculty) told me to download BBEdit, so I did. That didn’t help me to learn HTML, but it became the program I used to write it as I did learn.

I’ve dabbled with other apps over the years — including PageSpinner in 1996, at the recommendation of my boss at my first professional “webmaster” job*, and HomeSite in the brief period when I mainly worked on Windows 2000 — but guess which program is open on my Mac right now; which program I was busy writing code in moments before I read this Daring Fireball article.

* Yes, that really was my title. I gave up on PageSpinner and switched back to BBEdit shortly thereafter, because although I liked PageSpinner’s color coding (before BBEdit supported it, or at least before I figured out that it did), it bugged me endlessly that it used proportional fonts.

A slow-motion apocalypse

I could be talking about any number of current events with a title like that, but in this case I’m referring to last September’s “SSL Apocalypse” that came due to the expiration of an X3 root certificate used by Let’s Encrypt when connecting to really old client OSes. (Not that users think their computers/devices are really old, but in Internet terms, they are.)

Now, over six months later, I am still sporadically dealing with this issue. I was responding this morning to a client about the issue, and I wanted to email her a link to the blog post I remembered writing on the day it happened. But, maddeningly, I could not find it anywhere here.

That’s when I remembered, I actually have two blogs.

So, in a simultaneous act of self-promotion and, uh, self-reminding, here’s a link to that post on my other blog, on the site for my WordPress plugin ICS Calendar:

Unexpected Side Effects of the Let’s Encrypt Apocalypse

There we go. Now you know about ICS Calendar, and I won’t think I’m losing my mind when I come back here in another six months and can’t figure out where the heck this blog post went!