(Comment on the German newsletter sent November 8, 2004)

Subversive Newsletter No. 3: Internet Apocalypso

(elkement. Created: 2013-03-10. Tags: Newsletter, Netizen, Technology, Nostalgia. German Version.)

These comments on ancient German newsletters (or: newsletter necro) are part of The Website Resurrection Project. Although the Element is now also blogging - using state-of-the-art blogging software, the Red Pages are still maintained. This is very Zen: Pseudo-blogging without a chance of receiving any feedback.

The original newsletters are more than 8 years old, and it is hard to understand what in hell was on my mind when I had written those.

In case of Newsletter No. 3 it is a bit easier as the core story is a narrative related to a technical glitch that happened in exactly this way in the so-called real-life.

In 2004 we had just overcome the era of the internet being SKAWEE-REWEERT but The Element still used an ISDN line as a backup for its ADSL connection. Which was a blessing.

The Element was very ambitious and operated its own Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 in 2004, that is: an Active Directory Domain Controller and a Microsoft Exchange mail server on the same box. The box was located in a very secure closet in the "data center"- a cupboard in the toilet.

This server downloaded e-mails every 15 minutes from the hoster's mail server via POP3 via ADSL and the download was limited to 2.5 GB per month.

Now another subversive entity sent an 18.5 MB invitation the Element. This took a while - more than 120 seconds. Now the hoster's mail server did not exactly follow the specifications (Internet RFCs) for POP3: Downloading was considered idle time and after 120 seconds idle time the connection was terminated. Recommended as per specs: 30 minutes.

The server has been configured for deleting e-mails after successful download. Since the download was never successful this e-mail had never been deleted. But every 15 minutes it tried to download again and failed after 120 seconds.

Why didn't the Element discover that before the download limit was exceeded? Because it was on vacation but wanted to have an option to access its own server via Outlook Web Access from the internet. No kidding. Warning e-mails by the ADSL provider were sent only a few days later. But the elementary internet traffic was back to the dialup ISDN era for the rest of the month.

This was
1) Internet Apocalypso (I am borrowing from Christopher Locke) and
2) an text book example on the fragility of non-robust systems (I am borrowing from Ralph Langner)

Personal website of Elke Stangl, Zagersdorf, Austria, c/o punktwissen.
elkement [at] subversiv [dot] at.