Advice still good in cyberspace

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 22, 1999

A long time ago, I remember hearing my grandmother talking about the neighborhood gossip.

At the time, she was criticizing the person by reminding me that the best rule to follow was to &uot;sweep off your own back porch before you worry about how dirty someone else’s is.&uot;

Good advice, no doubt, and a life lesson that I thought I’d learned. It’s a rule that I’ve always tried to remember. Often with less success than I’d like.

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Sometimes it takes a little bit of eating crow to remind us of life lessons that we’ve lost.

I had my plate of crow last week or maybe I should say, cyber-crow, since it all started with The Democrat’s redesigned home on the Internet, in case you don’t know where it is, it’s located at:

The problem came late Wednesday when someone in our building discovered there was a problem with the web site. It was the horror of web page builders every where, that cursed little error message kept coming up that no such site existed.

Now, earlier in the day a group of computer guys had been working on our e-mail server.

Having played countless hours of the board game Clue when I was in elementary school, it didn’t take me long to make the connection.

&uot;Of course,&uot; I thought. &uot;It was Col. Mustard with the pipe in the kitchen!&uot;

No. But the mysterious web trouble had to be connected with the e-mail guys’ work.

A quick phone call to the e-mail guys led to few answers, they denied responsibility, which of course, in my mind, meant they did it.

So I pushed further, calling the company that set up our new web server.

After telling the web guy my woes, and my suspicions about who was really to blame, I hung up the phone with the knowledge that the nice web guy would prove me right and fix the problem.

A few hours later the phone rang.

&uot;From the best we can tell the solution is a simple one,&uot; the web guy said. &uot;It appears you haven’t paid your bill to keep your domain name current.&uot;

Stunned, I asked a few questions, began wiping the crow from my red face and hung up.

I didn’t know how the whole web thing works. And because we’d changed e-mail providers several times since our original web site was created, the bills were being sent into e-mail oblivion. I was told I had to call Internic, the apparent big brother of the Internet.

So after a one-hour wait, I finally got to the bottom of the problem.

It seems that it had been two years since we originally bought the rights to the domain name And since that time, we’d changed e-mail addresses twice and the person who set up the domain originally hasn’t worked for the newspaper in more than a year.

So after listening to the on-hold elevator music for 55 minutes, a five-minute conversation with a guy who sounded like he was paid by the call and not the hour, I was back on the phone with a credit card in hand.

After the bill was paid, I was reminded by the woman inside the phone that despite the apparent speed of the Information Superhighway, it would still take 48 hours to get out site back together. And it did. So with crow still dripping from my face, I called the e-mail guys and apologized.

I now have a renewed appreciation for my grandmother’s wisdom. It’s even good in cyberspace.

Kevin Cooper is the managing editor of The Democrat. He can be reached at (601) 446-5172 ext. 241 or by e-mail at: