Monday, February 28, 2005

Another Taxing Discovery

I really should have been paying more attention to these things but I've just noticed that since the begining of the year, my local boro taxes have been going to the wrong boro.

With the purchase of The Company by The Corporate Overlords, there has been a gradual transfer of responsibilites. The 2nd paycheck of the year signaled the conversion to the payroll of The Corporate Overlords. Also, for some completely inexplicavble reason, they started paying my local boro taxes to the boro I lived in 6 years ago.

How the hell did they pull that off?

Monday, February 21, 2005

Mine. Mine. Mine.

I paid MongoHosting their ransom on Friday and checking today found that they had indeed transfered ownership of the Domain. It is now mine. Now, if I can hold out until May when the domain expires, I'll be able to make myself the technical contact. Then, I'll be able to change IP addresses whenever I want. I won't have to deal with MongoHosting at all should I want to change my hosting. I'll just log on to Network Solutions and do it. Of course that means I'll loose out on some of the two years of hosting I've paid MongoHosting for but some losses are worth it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Bigger Pipe

I got an email response from MongoHosting concerning my bandwidth.

. . . you have a yearly paid account that was activated before we took over the company . . . the limits you you have on your account are the ones originally set for you.



Their response was completely useless. No options. No suggestions. What does it mean mean? Am I just going to have to wait until the end of the month when my allocation re-sets? I was about to pay for two years of hosting; would that entitle me to the 5 Gig of bandwidth that everyone else is getting for the same money? Since my "yearly paid account" doesn't expire till may, will I be locked into the 500 Meg bandwidth until then?

So, I had to write back and ask all those questions about what can be done about this. . . again.

On the plus side I learned that their admin, while lacking any sort of proactive thoughts, does actually work during the week.

Later in the afternoon, I noticed that the website was working again. I checked the bandwidth meter and it looked like they had upped the bandwidth to 5 Gig. When I got home I found the e-mail from the admin saying that she had spoken to the owner and he had upped the limit.

Now all I have to do is pay their ransom to get ownership of my domain.

Did I mention screaming incoherently?



Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Bandwidth Exceeded

Today I got a message that the site I am having so much trouble with at MongoHosting has exceeded its bandwidth. It's completely shut down!

So, I access the control panel and begin really researching what's been going on. Normally, the bandwidth usage is 60 or 70 Meg. But over the past few months it has been climbing until it topped out at over 500 Meg. Now I know for a fact that the people I know who visit the site have not increased their activity eight times.

The key was the bulletin board. I set up a bulletin board hoping that we could migrate away from the YahooGroup we have been using. The bulletin board had only 4 members, two of which were me, and there was hardly any messages. Just a few welcoms from me and a question or two.

Yet the web logs show that 80% of the all the traffic that comes through the domain is to the bulletin board. I can only conclude that bots are attempting to farm the board for e-mail addresses to SPAM or back doors so that they can break in an SPAM the board itself.

But here's the real kick in the head. According to the MongoHosting website, what I'm paying should get me 5 Gig of bandwidth. I shouldn't be topping out at just 500 Meg. Did they lower my bandwidth allocation? I hadn't been paying attention so I didn't notice. Honestly, I don't think they did but I have no way of finding out because, as my experience with the domain name extortion has shown me, their admin only seems to work on Saturdays.

So, my website is down until at least then.

The English language does not have curse words sufficient to express my frustration at this whole situation and I have resorted to simply
screaming inarticulately.

One of the things I'm considering is buying another domain, probably the .net version of the .org I already have, and setting up hosting with someone reputable. On the other hand, all the search engines are pointing to the original site and by the time they start re-directing people to the new location I will have solved this issue.

[Insert more screaming here!]

Saturday, February 12, 2005

The deal accepted

I finally received an e-mail from MongoHosting with my requested "contract" wherein they agree to give me my domain as a "gift" in exchange for two years payment for hosting. The fact that I've only ever received e-mail from their support on Saturday leads me to the conclusion that they only work one day a week. As if my confidence in them could get any lower.

Also in the email was the suggestion that when I make the payment they will transfer the domain immediately. At least, that's how I'm interpreting it. I still intend to keep hosting with them because they are so damn cheap but, once I own the domain, should they service start down a slippery slop I will cut my losses and take my hosting somewhere else.

Get Busted

My e-mail to MongoHosting accepting their blackmain demands of 2 years of hosting paid in advance to obtain my domain has gone unanswered. Could it be that my simple request to have an itimized invoice of this transaction is too much of a paper trail for them? I'm sure the e-mail they sent would be enough for any court to accept an implied contract.

Well, someone from Bulk Register had replied to my e-mail with a phone number so that I could talk to them directly about their client. I had been putting off calling because it had looked like my negotiations with MongoHosting were advancing but now that they had stalled again, I was ready to see them burn.

Except that the number the Bulk Register customer support person gave me was incorrect. It took me to Alabanza, Inc who is apparently a sister company of Bulk Register. Thankfully, a customer support person there was able to give me the correct phone number.

Speaking with someone there provided me with the following scenerio: If the WhoIs information is incorrect then Bulk Register will attempt to contact the Registrant. If there is no reply after a certain period of time (and it is apparently often the case that they don't), the domain registry is canceled.

I gave them all the details for the inconsistancies in the WhoIs entries. I have gone to Network Solutions and put my domain on backorder so as soon as it is canceled (if it is canceled) and becomes available, I will be able to purchase it immediately. I will need to have in place an alternative hosting solution that I can impliment at a moments notice so the website will be down for only a short period of time.

In the meantime, I have resent my e-mail to MongoHosting and continue to be without a response.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Product Review: Performance Transformer Jacket

I've been riding my bike in the cold utilizing a leather jacket as an outer layer. While it is windproof and keeps me fairly warm, it is rather heavy. And Pittsburgh weather being what it is, it can warm up another 20 degrees by the afternoon, at which point I must wear the coat and sweat it out.

So, I began looking for what they call a "shell." Much of the Windstopper and Gore-Tex products were outside my budget but the Performance Gore Windstopper Shell looked like just the thing. Except that they didn't have it in my size.

The Performance Transformer Jacket was my backup choice.

I happen to be in the area between a Large and Extra Large. It depends on the clothing cut and manufacturer as to what specific size I fall into. The size Large that I ordered was too small so I sent it back and got the XL. Out of the package, even that seemed sized oddly. It seemed long in the arms and tight about the chest and neck. Are all bicyclists bone-thin monkey boys? I can understand the bicyclist's posture calling for slightly longer arms and I also happen to have trouble finding clothes with arms of the proper length but this jacket even seemed to go beyond that. Well, there are velcro cuffs to keep the sleeves above the wrist. And wearing a fleece underneath only makes it seem tighter. With the fleece collar up I couldn't zip the Transformer's collar all the way up. Apparently bicyclists are pencil-necks as well.

I like the sleeves. I have another jacket that has sleeves that zip off. The problem is that you cannot get them off without taking off the jacket. The Transformer's sleeves are one piece, the two sleeves connected across the back with zippers at the fronts of the shoulders. You could take off the sleeves without taking off the rest of the jacket. It's also lightweight and compressable so it could be stuffed into a pack or saddlebag.

This morning the temperature was 30 degrees with light winds and snow flurries so it would be a good change to put the claimed "wind resistant, water resistant" to the test. Initially, I was disappointed. It seemed that the breeze of riding cut through the material fairly easily. But after about a mile and a half, my body began to build up a layer of warmth and the shell seemed to hold it in. A T-shirt, a fleece and the shell are more than enough for 30 degree temperatures. The water resistance has yet to be put to the test. Too bad I didn't get it the day before yesterday as it rained yesterday afternoon during my ride home.

I'll grade the Performance Transformer Jacket a "B".

Monday, February 07, 2005

ur website

I received an e-mail today concerning my website wherein this writer ripped into everything. He hates my writing. He hated my costuming, He hated my crafts. He hatted my hobies. He poured huge amounts of venom into my work, his favorite adjective being "gay" and favorite epithet being "faggot."

It sad, really. I know that some of the things I have done have brought emotional responses but this is clearly the work of a pathetic, little man who's only way of inflating his own self worth is to tear down the work of others.

I was tempted to send back an e-mail; "Seek professional help." but I knew it would be wasted and only invite more attacks, like antagonizing the school bully. In the end, I didn't even bother saving the message.

Thursday, February 03, 2005


I finally received a response from MongoHosting to my statements that I never intended to withdraw my hosting, just that I had wanted the domain and that $150 was far too much for this.

I understand your point , However you have to understand that we have no guarantee that you would continue your hosting with us. After I transfered the domain to you you could move the same day.

So, they just admitted that they were trying to blackmail me. I had only paid for one year. There was no guarantee or even an implicit contract that I would continue after that. Only the power of an established domain name. They were right, however, after being shown just what kind of scum they are, I would have jumped ship as soon as I had ownership of the domain.

"But I would be willing to come to a compromise :- If you pay 2 yrs hosting in advance ($50) I will transfer the domain to you."

Actually, a very reasonable compromise. I'm actually surprised. MongoHosting claimed they had renewed my domain when, in fact, they had not. If I refused to pay their ransom I could have simply allowed the hosting and domain registration to run out. Sure, they would suspend the account when I didn't pay but once the expiration date for the domain came around it would become available and I would snatch it up and be on-line again.

It would have been a risky route because if they re-registered the domain out of spite, I would have no way short of legal action to get it back.

But it would be risky for them, too. They would loose the $150 they wanted from me in the first place and they would loose any future charges they could incur from my continued hosting. Perhaps they realized that if they pushed for $150 they would get either nothing or a court summons.

So, the compromise works for both of us. I am not charged any more than if I merely continued my hosting and they get to keep me as a customer for two years.

I'm going to accept their offer. I still do not trust them any further than I could throw them and will ask that they send me an itemized invoice.

Too bad. So sad.

My response from Bulk Register can be summed up with six words:

"Can't help you. Get a lawyer."

Well, since they were going to be absolutely no help at all, I allowed myself the luxury of venting a little at them in my reply:

"So, what your saying is that even though your website states that you "have some obligation to domain owners who need to get control of that domain name," you won't, in fact, actually help the person who actually paid for that domain get control of it. Do you not mind that your client is extorting their customers and lying on their WhoIs information?"

I should know better than to attempt to appeal to a corporation's sense of justice.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


I had sent an email to Bulk Register about my plight with MongoHosting and received a blank automated response. I'm used to automated responses but usually they have some sort of "We have received your service request" but, because this one was blank, I wanted to be sure they got it. I signed on to their realtime chat:

Please wait for a site operator to respond.
You are now chatting with 'Domain Support'

Domain Support: Thank you for contacting BulkRegister's non-member support. How may I help you today?

Der Geis: I sent an e-mail with lots of detail earlier today and got a blank response. I just wanted to be sure it went through. Look for the e-mail address **********.

Domain Support: Sir may i know to which mail id you have send the mail?

My guess is that Bulk Hosting has farmed out their online support overseas. Probably to India. That's where all the support jobs seem to be going. I'm not impressed.

Der Geis: If you mean the reference number attached to the reply description line, it has -**.*******

Domain Support: Sir please send them mail again you will surely get reply from them

Der Geis: By "them" do you mean

So I sent the message again hoping that the person addressing this issue is able to read my English. The way I write isn't bad, per se, but it does have some pecular mannarisms and phrases, a relic of my growing up on H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradburry and Isaac Asimov.

Get Packed!

I've done some more investigating concerning the ownership of the domain I have hosted by MongoHosting. According to the WhoIs the Registrant name is Robert Dunbar, 121 Packer Ave, Sayre, PA 19012 with the phone number 215-222-2222.

Firstly, 215 and 19012 are area codes and zip codes for Philadelphia, which is in the Southwest part of the state. Sayre, which has a zip code of 18840 and area code of 570, is in the Northeast part of the state. Both cities have a Packer Avenue but the one in Philly is in the 19148 zip code, not 19012.

The phone number 215-222-2222 never answers. Directory Assistance reports that it is an unlisted number. There is neither a Robert Dunbar nor a listed for Philadelphia in the 212 area code. A search of the Internet for the number brings up many returns that have the 215-222-2222 as something of a default or false phone number for a number of website templates rather than an actual contact number.

Directory Assistance for the 570 area code reports that there is neither a Robert Dunbar nor a listed for the Packer Avenue location. There are a number of other Robart Dunbars listed in the area code but I feel it is inappropriate for me to call them all in the hope of tracking down the one I want. Especially when I expect that he will lie to me anyway.

A WhoIs of shows Trihost Inc., 121 Packer Ave, Sayre PA 18840. They, at least, have the right zip code. All the contact information is still for Robert Dunbar with the wrong zip code and bad phone number. Directory assistance does not show a Trihost Inc. in Sayre, PA.

A look at returns only a placeholder website. A WhoIs on bring up good old Robert Dunbar again but with a new address this time. Charisma computers, 475 River Rd, Nichols, NY 13812. This is just north of Sayre, PA. Directory Assistance does not list any entry for Charisma Computers in Nichols. The WhoIs registrar number listed for Charisma (and Robert); 609-699-0830 "is not in service at this time." Directory assistance gave a number for a Robert Dunbar in Nichols, NY but there was no answer and a lifeless answering machine message that just said to leave a message after the tone.

Bulk Register, who is listed as the Sponsoring Registrar for all these accounts, has this on their website:

However, a small number of Member-resellers go out of business or are unresponsive to domain name owners for a variety of reasons. In this situation we feel we have some obligation to domain owners who need to get control of that domain name. We realize peoples livelihoods sometime depend on it.

I sent them an email describing how MongoHosting is squatting on my domain name in an effort to extort usurious fees from me. I told them how they have not responded to any of my email attempts since Saturday and also detailed the above information showing that the WhoIs information for many of their registry entries are false.

The bad WhoIs information is pretty damning so I hop that wins my case and the rights to my domain.

Help Desk Quote of the Day

It's not often that you get a quote that sums up the entire day before 8:00 am. In this instance, V*** was struggling with walking a user through a workstation password reset. He would give an instruction. Repeat it. Repeat it again. Speak more clearly. Spell things out phonetically. On and on.

At one point, he hit the mute button and said:

"Are you just stupid this morning or are you pretending to be stupid?"

Gotta' love that mute button.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Back Taxes

A co-worker of mine, a resident of the City of Pittsburgh, has just discovered that The Corporation has not been withholding his city taxes. Suddenly he has a $500 bill for back taxes.

The City of Pittsburgh has what's called the "occupation tax" for people who do not live in the city (like myself). My co-worker's experience with his taxes lead me to check my pay stubs, only to discover that my occupation tax hasn't been paid either.

In the past, the occupation tax would be taken out of your first paycheck of the year. It was $10 annually but with the city operating under the Act 47 oversight board and in debt up to it's eyeballs, they have upped the tax to $50-something.

Not only was the $50-odd dollars taken out of my first paycheck of this year but a more in-depth search of my pay receipts shows that The Corporation has never paid that tax. So, I could get nailed for back taxes and interest going back 5 years. And not only me but everyone else who works at the Help Desk.

Hmmmm, DynaVox looks like it's hiring.