Perhaps you’ve seen this error message visiting Birther Report, “This website is temporarily unavailable, please try again later.”
I’ve been getting it sporadically for a month. Back in April I thought it was a temporary problem either at Google (who hosts the site) or that BR had turned something off for maintenance. One expects Google to put forward a rock-solid blogging platform, so things being messed up this long doesn’t sound like a Google problem. It’s not my local DNS server that’s at fault because I have recently switched to using Google as my DNS server with no change in results. It’s not a denial of service attack, because that would lead to bad performance on the site too-which we aren’t seeing, and I also think Google has the expertise to handily deal with DOS attacks. So what is the problem? Is it a Google conspiracy to thwart the birthers?
Dr. Conspiracy investigates
There are specific instructions to follow if you use your own “custom domain” instead of the blogspot.com domain that Google runs. Part of those instructions involves setting up “A records” with the DNS provider for the custom domain. Those records should point to 4 specific Google IP addresses. Now look at the entry below from Birther Report:
The first four A records conform to Google specifications, but Birther Report has a 5th entry that is not a Google IP address, but rather an IP address at SecureServer.net, and if you type that IP address in your browser, you get:
One can see the DNS error when it fails by using the PING command. Here it shows www.birtherreport.com being routed to a non-responding server, rather than to the correct Google server.
The problem with Birther Report appearing to be temporarily down is due to a spurious entry in their DNS configuration. When there are multiple entries, DNS servers return IP addresses in a round robin fashion, so 20% of the time, the faulty address will be served (DNS caching can alter the strict round robin addressing). Birther Report is not really down, and it’s not Google’s fault and it’s certainly not an Obot plot.
One can check on the progress of the birther report fix by using the Windows nslookup command (enter at command prompt):
If it returns the 220.127.116.11 address in the list, it’s still broken.
There is a temporary user fix for accessing Birther Report. Go into your “hosts” file and add two entries:
18.104.22.168 birtherreport.com 22.214.171.124 www.birtherreport.com
The Windows hosts file is in <windir>\system32\utilities\etc. You’ll have to run your text editor as administrator to change that system file.
I could make some snide generalization about birther competence, but that exercise is left to the reader.
I posted this at BR.
The results are a bit odd. My attempts to help Birther Report have met with cries that I am a bleeping traitor–but not from the Obots, but from the birthers. BR should appreciate that when a site is unreliable, traffic goes down. I can put an upper bound on when the BR problems started, by looking at the DNS Start of Authority record. Here’s what it looks like in Windows:
The entry of interest is “serial” which shows that the last time the DNS was known to have been updated: May 3, 2016. Of course the error could have been introduced before then.