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Thursday, May 17, 2007

DNS, Subdomains, and Mapping, Oh My!

Several years ago, I started up this blog right around the time I acquired the domain of my own name. Back then, I had zero experience with the Domain Name System (DNS) and didn't really understand the difference between mapping a domain and redirecting from one domain to another. So I asked the advice of a very geeky friend.

"Stick with redirects, " he said. "Domain mapping can be a tricky thing. There are 500-page books out there about DNS."

Clearly my very geeky friend did not feel like helping me that day, and I didn't want to read a 500-page book about DNS, so I steered clear of domain mapping altogether. Once I switched over to Typepad, all that really meant was that when you visited my website, instead of seeing 'sarahlane.com' in the URL, you saw 'sarahlane.typepad.com'. It didn't bother me.

But then it started to bother me a little. As I've joined more services and acquired more blogs over the years, it's begun to make a lot more sense why people want to organize as much of their online life as possible under the umbrella of a single domain. It's like branding yourself well.

After thinking long and hard about it for five minutes, I decided to map the subdomain 'blog.sarahlane.com' to this Typepad blog, map the subdomain 'tumblelog.sarahlane.com' to my Tumblr tumblelog, and leave my domain 'sarahlane.com' unmapped and free to use as I please. In theory, these tweaks aren't a big deal. A few CNAME entries and I should have been good to go. But the issues began when I started making DNS changes with my registrar when I should have been making them with my web host (consider using your registrar as your web host if you have issues with organization. Seriously). I won't go into the gory details of my personal DNS hell, but let's just say tech support people sometimes withhold very important information for no explicable reason at all (I mean clearly they're bored and resentful having to read 500-page books about DNS all day, but still). Every time I incorrectly updated my name servers, my server went down. Server, server, server. If you look at the word 'server' long enough, it really becomes ridiculous, doesn't it? SER-VER.

The beauty of DNS is that depending on where in the world you are, DNS changes can take between 12-72 hours to reach you. So a lot of my tech support phone calls sounded very similar to the following exchange:

  • Me: Ok, I did what you asked. My site is still down. What's going on?
  • Them: Mmmm... yeah. I can pull up your site just fine. So. Yeah.
  • Me: Trust me, I can't. I would not lie about something like this.
  • Them: Yeah, well. DNS... Propagate... Server... Caching... Flushing... Wait 48 hours.

I'm currently unemployed, which in many ways is a very positive thing. I get to eat all day in my pajamas and I rarely have to bathe. It's kind of awesome. But I'm also glued to my computer all day every day writing, editing, looking for work, and so on. I really can't wait for 48 hours for my website to magically reappear, especially after I've just emailed about four thousand people the link to my resume. 48 hours is like looking across a vast sea of infinite nothingness. I dislike the rules of DNS very much.

As of this afternoon my site's back up, so I'm going to stop crying and consider taking a shower. My mail server has also taken a beating, so if you sent me an email anytime in the past five days, I have probably not received it, and may never receive it. I'm sure it was a good email though. Well, unless you're Brad from Australia. I don't know what's up with that guy.

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Use opendns.com and you won't have to wait for 24 hours. Opendns is better and more reliable than most ISP dns servers.


How about using the U.S. Postal service to send out resumes. There's nothing like a stamped and delivered envelop to add that personal touch and say you're important to me. Design and embellish on paper so sweetly. Send something to Paul Allen. i bet he remembers you.


Can you post more pics of your butt? You have the best butt I have ever seen!


But me no butts: a paragon.


No butt pics. Sorry. Please go look at someone else's butt instead.


But....but...ok...no butt pics - travel pics are good too.


Always ask for the person you are talking to name and ID #. It may motivate them a little more or they might give you a name and ID # of a coworker if they can't help you. That happens alot more than most people realize because if you call back it goes against their performance record. Also on another matter ' The Traveling Newlyweds' showed up on my home page one day and I do not remeber putting it there (no I don't drink) has this happened too anyone else?


That's quite a rude response from a hosting company. Should consider switching. I've had some bad experiences with hosting companies before, giving rude responses, acting like the customer should know what to do or its their fault even when it isn't. I finally went with a new hosting company. They're small but offer a personal experience and you get assigned your own personal tech so whenever there's a problem, you get the same person, they know the past tech problems you've had. You're treated like a human being, not just another customer. Should check them out. http://www.gotping.com Looks like they're redoing the site, but they're still excellent.



I host with GoDaddy and they have a nice, (almost*) idiot proof interface for domain mapping and redirects and sub domains. I know software and can write some awesome code but I am lost when it comes to DNS.

(*The problem with making something idiot proof is that idiots are so damn inventive that they come up with things no one else would think of.)


I didn't mean to make it sound like I wasn't happy with my host. For comedy's sake, I only highlighted the frustrating parts. They're actually quite helpful. It's the DNS that kills me!


I did not know that it was hard to do the DNS stuff. My webhost has an excellent cpanel and documentation that I only use my registrar for pointing to the name server, plus they sometimes want to charge you extra for sub domains. Where the webhost does it for free and fast results to test if the settings are right. I love domain pointers the most as you can have multiple DNS names and have them directing everywhere and anywhere. Best of luck for your future server encounters. ;)

There are some errors that leave you questioning what the hell does that have to do with what I want to happen.

George Spink

I have about three dozen email addresses associated with my domain, tuxjnction.net. Rather than access these accounts via my web hosting company's control panel, I use POP settings and read everything using my ISP's Outlook Express accounts. This makes it very easy, and I don't need to worry about maxing out space allowed for each email acount by my web hosting company.

Moreover, I have two other web sites and do the same thing with them.

And, you could configure Mozilla or SeaMonkey to do the same thing. IIn fact, I use SeaMonkey Mail to access my seven Gmail accounts. It's just easier than accessing each one separately.


http://homesexual.info x


http://homesexual.info x


http://homesexual.info x

Thats ridiculous

I can't BELIEVE jono would ask for butt pics. That's just wrong.

Travel pics will do ... as long as your perfect butt is in them. =)

p.s. No bathing? Hubby must adore that. :P

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  • Hi, I'm Sarah Lane, and I've been posting a mishmash of stories, images, videos, and links here since 2003. Read more about me >>

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