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The Week The Aggregators Died

By Greg L | 1 December 2009 | Blogs | 4 Comments

It’s not easy keeping up with maintenance and increasing capacity on a blog aggregator, and these days it appears to be even more challenging than usual.  Two aggregators I find particularly useful in keeping up with what others are saying in Virginia have been failing this week, a frustrating return to the days when the only way to find out what others are saying was to either surf through a blogroll or hope another blogger is linking to the particularly interesting work of others.

The excellent Blog Net News service has suffered from repeated DNS failures so far this week, but was up briefly yesterday before the DNS failed again.  It seems that Dave Mastio’s hosting service is working fine, but his domain registrar has somehow screwed up and efforts to resolve blognetnews.com to an internet protocol address continue to return no records.  This has got to be terribly frustrating because there’s nothing Dave and the other BNN folks can do until their registrar gets their head out of their fourth point of contact.  BNN has been struggling to keep up with the huge demand in traffic, and easily avoidable problems like this have got to be annoying to no end.

My fall-back favorite blog aggregator is run by Waldo Jacquith which is usually more reliable, due to less demand on his servers.  There are a few things about it I don’t like, which is why I rely on BNN as much as possible, but when BNN is having problems this isn’t a bad place to go.  Right when BNN fell over, this aggregator started returning consistent database errors and has been down for several days, a rare long-term outage.  I wouldn’t be surprised if all the BNN traffic shifted over to Waldo’s site and simply swamped the database server, but that shouldn’t produce such consistent errors.

In the meantime, if you’re like me, you probably don’t like this forced return to the days when BVBL was founded.  Aggregators are awfully useful for getting a snapshot of what folks are talking about, and old-style surfing the blogrolls takes a lot longer to get at what you want.  To help readers, here’s a snapshot of what I think the most interesting stories are right now, to tide us over until these technical issues get resolved:

Virginia Virtucon notes the RLC Endorses Steve Hunt and reminds us the 37th Senate District Primary is today.  SWAC Girl notes that the U.S. Senate phones system is being crushed by constituents weighing in on the healthcare bill and that a courthouse in Loudoun County is banning Christmas decorations.  From On High is all in favor of these, though, even when they’re just a little on the strange side.  TC has the obligatory post on Mike Huckabee, mourning his Willie Horton moment, and is watching what’s happening in the 37th today.  Mason Conservative urges folks to support Steve Hunt, and TQ notes that House of Delegates expenditures are now listed online, so you can run over and find out what your elected officials are spending money on.

Feel free to post links to other interesting stories in the comments section.

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  1. Chauncey Gardiner said on 1 Dec 2009 at 9:58 am:
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    There is a service that takes all the news and averages out all the letters used in it and comes up with a “word” of the day that expresses what everyone everywhere is saying about everything. Today’s word is, “Sesmatik.” Now, don’t you feel up to date?

  2. Greg L said on 1 Dec 2009 at 11:57 am:
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    Looks like BNN is back up, but vapoliticalblogs is still broken.

  3. Tom White said on 1 Dec 2009 at 4:16 pm:
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    One quick way around the DNS problem is to edit your hosts file.

    Open the file C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc\hosts (assuming you have a normal Windows machine)

    and add the line www.blognetnews.com

    at the bottom, or top. As long as it is on a line by itself.

    When the problem clears, go back in and put a # in front of the line to comment it out. The reason you want to do this is in case the server IP changes, like it gets moved.

    There are some things to look out for with this, like read only bit and a couple of other things, so you should know a bit about what you are doing first.

    On a related note, I am looking at setting up an aggregator for backup purposes. I loaded a Linux CentOS box at home and played around with it. I had 5 or 6 blogs working, but decided to make a hardware change and had to reload CentOS. I have several hosts I can use, or just use my own Linux box. Perhaps just use this as a backup for bloggers, not a replacement for BNN. But I have issues often with it.

    We can talk at the Advance!

  4. Greg L said on 3 Dec 2009 at 5:45 pm:
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    Surprisingly, within days of posting this article I was dropped from Waldo’s aggregator.

    And I didn’t even think I was throwing rocks. Wonder what pissed him off.

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