Oct 18 2018

Back in action

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 2:52

Every time AWS disappoints me I realise how much this blog means to me. This blog started in 2006 as a joke. I was finishing the faculty and me and my partner at the tim, Rpx,w ere kinda sick of the university forum anyway, so we started this blog. He had the knowledge, together we had the resources and I had the passion for writing. He used to write as well in the past, but then he got hired at M$ and he was a little restricted regarding what he was allowed to write and how. So he gave it up. When this blog has started it was hosted on a server under our desks and the domain was rpx.kicks-ass.net.  It was moved to an Azure machine when he started his job at M$ and when he quit that job, I moved the blog to an AWS machine and gave it a new name because he hadn’t written for a long time also, so it wasn’t his anymore.

Our relationship ended, but we remained what we always were, best friends and even if a new study suggests that people who remain friends with their exes are psychopaths, well… at least now it is confirmed for us, after so many years of suspicions for the people knowing us both. :)  This blog has been our project for a long time, and although I am the only one providing content, he continues to help maintain it from time to time and contributing with AWS and moral support for me when AWS drives me nuts.

It’s been a long time since this blog was down for so long. The last time this happened was because of a hacking attempt, that got me into a paranoid mode and I basically messed up the AWS machine configurations and Apache rights trying to secure the blog. I secured it alright. :))  This time… it probably was something similar. A Chinese hacker or a hacker behind a Chinese proxy was doing a lot of requests trying to find a backdoor and turned my Apache server into a memory hungry monster. There is no excuse for me using Apache with the default settings though.

When I noticed that my blog kept dying, first I restarted the AWS instance a few times, then I configured Apache properly. But last night I found myself unable to access the blog. The Apache server was up, the database was up, but in the browser, I was unable to see anything. Nothing. Nada. Niente. Nichts! So I panicked. I did a curl while being logged on the machine through ssh and got a lot of HTML content. So the blog was up, but inaccessible to the real world. Why? I had no idea. But I had a suspicion. AWS has something called Security Groups  that can be used to define rules regarding who has access where. Also, the instance hosting my blog is managed by something called a Load Balancer, that sane people with a lot of traffic on their blogs, use it to balance the load of requests between to identical instances. But not having that many readers and only one instance, I just use it to secure the blog and make sure it can only be accessed via HTTPS. And this balancer is managed by a Virtual Private Cloud and that has its own rules as well. Anyway, long story short, following Amazon tutorials and advice on their forum, I’ve played with them and locked my self out of the instance via SSH as well. And that is when the real panic started. Yesterday I went to bed at 3 am, after trying to find a solution.

I would like to brag about how I found the solution and a cause, but I can’t. Because I broke down and asked Rpx for help. And Rpx is now a married man with a 3-month-old baby. I have no idea how his wife allowed him to spend 2 hours with me trying to fix my blog. But because she’s an awesome woman she understood that he needed his geek time. Anyway, this guy is amazing, seriously I wish I could convince him to get a job as a trainer or teacher, he just tells you what to do, what commands to run, and based on the output he just knows what is wrong, and explains why he asks you to do this and that. Seriously it’s a waste that nobody saw this guy’s potential until now. (Also he’s currently looking for a job, so if you want his contact details, let me know!) But still, we were unable to find the cause of the failure. What we did is create a new instance from an image of the old one, and setting it up with a new security group, rules, and load balancer. And tada, the clone works and is now accessible and available to you, my dear readers.

And since we were able to bring it up and access it, we decided to make some improvements as well. We upgraded Apache and Php, because the old version was, well… old and limited to what optimizations we could do.

So, how do I feel without my blog? Like I’m walking while missing a shoe. Oh, believe me, it is a very uncomfortable feeling. It might have started as a joke project, but now this blog is a perfectly organized memory database. A lot of things that happen to me, or cross my mind are stored here. I write them and sometimes re-read them to remember myself how far I’ve come. I retrace my steps and see how much I’ve grown and use it to remember myself when things are really bad that life is worth living, and there might always be something amazing waiting to happen but I have to be here. My deepest thoughts and desires are sometimes camouflaged by these intricate stories, the ones that are not camouflaged, are private posts :D. This blog is my diary, it is a testament of personal struggles and personal growth, it contains the best part of me and lesser parts of me that are now probably hidden by a database flag. It’s a way to be present and reachable in this virtual world. It is a possible connection provider.

It does not cost me much to keep it up, and I make no money out of it. But the content I post here, it is my own and access to it is not controlled by a social media mogul. It is a representation of my internet persona, better than my Facebook, or Twitter account will ever be. It is a personal and a business card altogether.

I know I don’t write often, and sometimes I write to much, and I ramble and sometimes rant about small things, but thank you for reading my blog.

Stay safe, stay happy!

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