Birdhouse Hosting welcomes John Battelle is co-founder of both Wired Magazine and The Industry Standard, as well as a visiting professor at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. is host to a blog on his book-in-progress on the search industry. A 2nd blog on the site, Tonic, focuses on “health for grown men.”

Music: Bob Dylan :: Simple Twist Of Fate

Server –> Client Transplant

Needed to change a primary DNS server to one that would properly resolve .biz addresses, in order to keep the SpamAssassin plugin for CommuniGate from getting all choked up. But OS X client doesn’t let you alter DNS via ssh. Turns out that components of OS X Server work perfectly well when copied over to OS X Client and placed in a parallel path, problem solved. Wonder if this would work with some of the graphical/remote setup tools as well? Probably not without deeper surgery.

Music: Leadbelly, Pete Seeger :: Lolly Lolly

MX Mystery Licked

When the east coast lost power back in August, birdhouse lost both its primary and secondary DNS servers. For extra insurance, I then set up 3rd and 4th DNS servers through another host. Shortly thereafter, I started getting occasional reports that people couldn’t send mail to birdhouse addresses. We were handling thousands of messages a day, but a few inbound messages were bouncing back to senders undeliverable. birdhouse wasn’t bouncing them, the senders’ mail servers were.

Finally sleuthed the solution. Unlike A records, MX records should always reference domains, not IPs. This enables them to stay linked to A records if machines change IPs. Not knowing this when I set up the 3rd and 4th, I had entered the IP rather than the domain. As it turned out, certain sending mail servers were looking up the backup DNS before the main, and refusing to send to a mail server that wasn’t registered per spec. Tweaking the backup MX records fixed the problem.

Music: Eric Dolphy :: Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise

DNS Blues

When I chose ZoneEdit to handle all the DNS stuff for birdhouse, one of the criteria was that they use widely distributed servers for maximum reliability. When you set up a zone with them, the nameservers assigned are in different states, so if one has a power outage or failure, the other is still there to pick up the slack. The nameservers assigned to birdhouse were in New York and New Jersey. This, of course, became a problem when half the Eastern seaboard went down in yesterday’s power outage. So we had a frustrating service blackout yesterday. I moved birdhouse DNS over to dotster last night, but that change of course needed all night to percolate through the DNS tables.

Interestingly, each domain I’ve set up for customers gets assigned a different pair of nameservers, and most of those pairs had at least one machine stay up. So most of my customer sites kept right on running through the outage, even though they’re on the same machine.

Music: Janis Joplin :: One Good Man


Needed to set up traffic analysis for birdhouse customers and had heard good things about awstats. Decided to give it a shot instead of analog + report magic, which I’ve always used in the past (I’ve also used and liked AXS for smaller projects, though it requires placing custom code in each page you want to track, which makes it a non-contender for anything serious). awstats rocks. More succinct, easier to configure and customize, easy to create separate reports for specific parts of sites, just a generally clean and pleasant implementation. In fact, liked it so much I also replaced the J-School’s reporting systems with it today.

Music: T.Rex :: Salamanda Palaganda

Birdhouse in Colo

Moved our web and mail server into the colo facility at Cliq tonight — birdhouse now hanging off a lightly shared T1. Enough moving around – it’s been a bumpy few weeks. Should be nestled in for the foreseeable future now.

Music: Billy Bang Quartet :: Bien-Hoa Blues

A Second Opinion

birdhouse hosting welcomes, a site promoting a documentary film by J-School student Hadas Ragolsky.

A Second Opinion is a 25-minute documentary film that takes the viewer on a journey to the occupied Territories with Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, a group of Israeli doctors, nurses and human rights activists who provide medical care for Palestinians.

Music: The Yardbirds :: Over, Under, Sideways, Down