Coming Back to Life

Yep, I’m back.

I really didn’t go anywhere, but I encountered, uh, technical difficulties.  Of the “you’re totally hosed” nature.  And while I held out hope of becoming un-hosed for much longer than I should have, I’m over that now.

Lessee, where to start?

Well, I was going along, minding my own business, when some script kiddie hacked my ISP and defaced every website of every customer that shared my server, several hundred different corporate and personal websites.  Every index.html, index.php, index.whatever file was trashed and replaced with garbage.  So my ISP recognized this, took the server down, whacked the bad files (without replacing the originals from backups), and brought the server back up after about 12 hours of downtime, during which I had no email, nothing.  When it came back up, I managed to repair WordPress, my stamp album site, and some other stuff, and I went off about my business, figuring the worst was over.

Three days later, the same script kiddie struck again, doing the exact same damage.  My wonderful ISP’s tech support apparently brought the server back up without identifying and fixing the hole that got exploited.

So this time, the ISP took the server down, disabled all access (no ssh, FTP, cPanel, email, nothing), and let it sit like that.  After a couple of days, many of the individual customers had their service restored.  But not me.  So I sat, with no website and no email – for a week.  And the ISP stopped answering the phones, stopped responding to emails, stopped answering support tickets, just went silent.  Nobody heard a word out of them, with many customers apparently working fine but a number of them hosed, cut off from all services and access to their online data.  It’s now been about seven weeks, and I have yet to hear a word from them.

Finally, I bit the bullet, got a gmail account, and started notifying key people of my temporary address, hoping that it was all temporary.  Another week went by, and still nothing.  So I went through all of the effort of changing my domain registration email address by FAX (because I’d stupidly used my email address at my domain to register my domain), finding a new ISP (and I tried two approaches, a cPanel ISP and a VPS ISP before settling on this one), getting everything set up, and restoring my stamp album site.  Since I develop it from home, I had complete copies of the latest of everything.

But I’d never backed up my blog site.  My ISP had been bullet-proof for nine years, so why bother?

Anyway, things are back up, but I’ve apparently permanently lost all of my ISP-hosted personal files (some of which are irreplaceable), as well as a year and a half of blog entries.  I even lost snail-mail addresses for out-of-state friends that only existed on a file in my account.

Getting things up and running again took quite a while for a number of reasons.  First, between my new job and Council, the last six weeks have been pretty busy.  A new job is never easy, but add to that a new job during city budget season, and you can kiss off any free time.  Add to that an independent project related to the upcoming election season, and I’ve been unable to get to this until now.  So I haven’t been able to blog about our CDBG debacle, about the Town Center setback, about one of the Council candidates making some pretty outlandish statements about our fiscal outlook, nothing.  I missed out on pitching this year’s Art & Wine festival, the Wednesday downtown music series which kicked off tonight, and Saturday’s Dinner at the Dump.

And most important, I haven’t been able to comment on this year’s proposed budget, which includes some pretty significant cuts that people will feel, or the long-term fiscal outlook, which has a lot of risks and uncertainty, or the structural deficit that we’re trying very hard to fix.

Anyway, things are back up again, and I’ll do my best to keep it running again.  This is a long-term commitment for me, one I care about very much.  So hopefully, I’ll remember to do backups from now on

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