Updating My Site and Its Panoramas

Having recently bought a used Canon 50D with the intention of shooting panoramas again, I have begun updating my old panorama work, trying to relearn various things, and seeking alternatives to applications no longer supported. This includes the looming obsolescence of Adobe Flash by the end of 2020, which was the format I used after Apple killed QuickTime VR support. I never cared for the Java-based options.

Last night I purchased a costly upgrade to Garden Gnome Software's Pano2VR, which I used years ago before engineering studies ate all my free time and energy. Thankfully converting an old *.p2vr project to HTML 5 turns out to be quite simple. However, expecting to be able to add a few more pages to my website built with the long-defunct ShutterBug by XtraLean Software, I was only mildly surprised to find that the program's built-in FTP functionality apparently no longer works. My guess is an OS X update has crippled or blocked it, but I have not yet been able to confirm anything.

Initially I thought a forgotten password was the problem, but Yummy FTP works just fine for connecting to my site. I ended up doing some simple quick edits through it with my text editor BBEdit then a few more edits from my iPad with FTP Client Pro.

My plan is to replace all of my Flash panoramas with HTML 5 ones over the next couple of weeks while doing as little website HTML tweaking as possible, since I need to spend more time messing with C programming. I did pick up a cheap copy of Flux 6, but I haven't even opened it, and they're on at least 7 anyway. There is little benefit to learning HTML for me, so I am happy to keep with a WYSIWYG option.

Checking in with WordPress

Work has kept my busy, but WordPress has been updating itself. My new iPad needed to have various accounts updated, so that is what I am doing. Some Python posts might appear in the near future.

Gone & Back

Two or three weeks ago, my site vanished. It was there earlier one Friday then gone. Since I was sick and had a test coming up, I had more pressing matters to attend to.

After the test, I called my hosting company, GoDaddy. They were able to see the site and ran tests that indicated everyone else could, although Russia was experiencing some Internet slowdown. The hosting firm had me perform a traceroute, which showed my ISP's servers were blocking me.

So I called AT&T, who forwarded me to some office that deals with external issues. They told me that since I can view everything but my own site, it is not their problem; however, for $15 per month or $49 once, they would help me. Since I viewed their blocking my IP address as indeed their fault and my problem, I refused to pay.

A day or two later, I found on AT&T's customer forum that GoDaddy-hosted sites in particular were being blocked by AT&T; friends with other ISPs could see my site but I couldn't. A post in the forum led me to some ISP blacklist lookup sites. Sure enough, one blacklist site AHBL.org had my IP address listed. I went to that blacklist site, used their lookup tool, and confirmed that they were blacklisting me. AHBL.org has an ongoing spat with GoDaddy that results in collateral damage of everyone on a blocked GoDaddy IP address being blacklisted because one site on the IP is bad. AHBL.org says it will not discuss any blocked GoDaddy IP address; a GoDaddy hosting admin must contact them.

On the AT&T forum, I mentioned my blacklisting by AHBL.org. Someone from AT&T emailed me to confirm that was indeed why my site was being blocked by AT&T servers. They said GoDaddy could contact AT&T to have my site unblocked.

A day or two later, I forwarded that AT&T email to GoDaddy's abuse section after explaining my predicament to GoDaddy. Their abuse section, however, tried to say that AT&T wanted AHBL.org to contact them, not GoDaddy; it seemed GoDaddy's abuse people simply did not want to do their job. I explained to the abuse people that, even if AT&T meant the blacklist site, AHBL.org boldly declared they will not speak to anyone but GoDaddy staff about GoDaddy sites that AHBL.org blacklists. It was a Catch-22.

Since GoDaddy refused to contact AHBL.org or AT&T, I called them to ask about refunds. Since I had just renewed my hosting before this had begun, I was particularly upset.

A few more days were killed in a semantic pursuit that ended with AT&T clarifying that, as they had earlier written, they wanted GoDaddy to contact them. That clarification was sent to GoDaddy's abuse section; I never got a response.

Shortly thereafter I read about a record Internet attack that had apparently been going on while I was having trouble. Whether it had anything to do with me, I don't know.

AT&T sent a follow-up email to say that I was no longer on a blacklist; however, when I went to AHBL.org to check my IP, it was still listed. Then I again became too busy to care for a bit.

A few days ago, my site reappeared. Whether due to AT&T, AHBL.org, GoDaddy, the ebb of the record Internet attack, or divine intervention, I do not know. Few people probably noticed this site had vanished, but I now have much less trust in the workings of the Internet and the companies that facilitate it than before.

When my current hosting plan runs out, I might change. GoDaddy's been quite good for me, but their abuse section was greatly disappointing.