Why Can’t People Listen To Me? (A Rant)

For the last month or so I’ve been working on an install for one of our customers. An unusually long time for a relatively simple (and cheap (for them)), task. Various factors contributed to the length of time, some I don’t remember, some which were unavoidable, etc etc. However, in this time some odd problems happened with their install.

The first was sending an email from our web based system through a simple feedback form took a really long time. Unusually long for something that’s pretty quick and simple. Consistantly long as well, about a minute and a half to two minutes or so. When this first came up I said “wow, that sounds like some sort of a DNS timeout, you know, the mail server [that the mail is being sent to] trying to do a reverse lookup and failing or something.”

The second thing that’s been causing grief is that suddenly they can’t log in through IE, only mozilla. Recently it came to my attention that this only happened when you went to the computer by it’s proper hostname. If you went by ‘localhost’ or the IP address it worked fine.

Hmmm….. two things, two unusual conditions that occur across three separate versions of our software, and seem related to hostnames, DNS, or something along those lines. So while working with the customers IT tech I said again, “this still seems like it’s something with the DNS or the IP.” We did in fact find that the hostname had two IPs attached to it, or had some odd resolving issues, and fixed that, but nothing happened. “Oh well,” thinks I, “I must have been wrong, what’s 10 years experience in computers and networking [credentials available on the flyer on the table as you leave] compared to the simple results of it not fixing anything. I must have been wrong.”

Today someone, either J or ScoobyD suggested I try to see if there was a reverse DNS pointer . So on my linux box I typed “host <IP>” and got back the hostname. That’s all find and dandy. So I try just for a lark “host <HOSTNAME>“.

!!! SERVER A record has illegal name

Hmmm…. that’s odd. So I do a quick search or two on google and discover that an underscore is illegal in the hostname. One of those things that if asked directly I’d know, but it was the computers hostname, you assume that the user wouldn’t/couldn’t screw that up. Odd I think, not for the first time.

So I dod a bit more asking around. Seems that this school set up the server, and got a hugely expensive SSL cert from one of the big providers that charge way more than should be legal. They then tried to get the hostname set up with the shop that runs their DNS and had to put in a special request to get it setup because there were problems with the hostname.

So after a fucking month of screwing around with their system and bashing my head against the wall and wasting my VALUABLE FUCKING TIME, not only was this their issue (something I knew), but it was an issue that THEY KNEW ABOUT.

I just about had a coronary, though quietly in my office, trying to get to my happy place. The funny thing was of course, they had to get the hostname put in specially instead of just changing it because they didn’t want to pay an administrative fee to get the hostname in their cert changed, and now they have countless billable hours of me and our programmers to pay for screwing around and wasting our time for the problem that I said from the very start was “something with the DNS.”

I need a drink.