June 2008

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2008.

The summer vacation has now started, and during this period only we can provide ResNet to students from other universities staying in Bristol accommodation over the summer. There is a charge of £20 for this for any period from 30th June to 22nd September.

NB: Unfortunately we can’t provide ResNet to holidaymakers or other people with no educational status.

To get ResNet, see ResNet over the summer for details and an application form.

It would seem that just after I left the office on Friday, the server which hosts both the registration process and the My ResNet service fell over. The out of hours helpdesk have probably noticed this, as it also hosts the system which they use to look at the health of peoples ResNet connections when they call up!

We don’t have access to the machine room on weekends, and I’m unable to reboot the server remotely as we’ve upgraded part of the equipment that does that – and my crib sheet of instructions is out of date! The staff that have the required knowledge to update my crib sheet aren’t available…

So it’ll have to wait until first thing Monday morning. I should be in the office around 8:30am on Monday, and I’ll reboot it first thing.

Sorry for any inconvenience caused by this outage.

Update: 2008-06-30
The server was rebooted at about 8am this morning.  Normal service has been resumed.

Several ResNet subscribers at Unite House reported problems on Thursday evening and Friday morning. We’re sorry for the interruption. ResNet at Unite House is now working fine, but here is an explanation for those interested.

The problems were caused by one ResNet user at Unite House setting up their computer or router so that it acted as a DHCP server- handing out incorrect network information to other users on the network. The other connections then stopped working, or worked intermittently, as they didn’t have the right settings.

We’re happy for ResNet users to use Internet Connection Sharing or a (non-wireless) router to share their connection between more than one computer (in their own room and for their own use) – but please be careful if you do this that you’ve got it set up right.

With a router make sure you plug the WAN (Wide Area Network) port into your ResNet socket, and the LAN (Local Area Network) ports to your own computers. If you do it the other way round you might cause problems for everyone else in your network segment – which won’t make you very popular with your flatmates and other residents 🙂

This is a clarification of the information posted in the previous post – Problems with ResNet at Woodland Court & Deans Court dealing specifically with the situation at Deans Court.

Over the last few days, it would appear that there have been several short outages affecting a large number of people living in Deans Court. We are actively investigating the problem, and it’s not a simple one!

The outages tend to last a couple of minutes, and there is no discernible pattern to them. They are spread over several network devices and affect several flats in different parts of the building. They don’t seem to effect all people at the same time but are more random in nature.

We think we’ve tracked it down to some faulty software on two student computers at Deans Court, which is disrupting Internet access for the other residents by grabbing additional IP addresses. We are contacting these two students and have isolated their computers on the network.

However, at this stage we can’t be certain that we’ve identified all of the machines responsible – we will update this blog post with more details as we learn more about the situation.

Update – 2008-06-02 14:11
We have identified a few more computers which are causing problems and have removed them from the network, the situation should be a little better now, but we’re not out of the woods yet. We are continuing to work on the problem and will update this post when we have more information.

Update – 2008-06-03 09:51
We’ve identified another couple of computers which are causing problems and have removed them from the network. At this stage, we think it’s an virus outbreak. It looks like something pretty new as none of the virus scanners we’ve tried are picking it up – we’re working hard to identify how it spreads and attempting to isolate a sample that we can submit to McAfee for analysis.

How can you protect yourself?
Our best advice at the moment is to ensure your computer is up to date with windows patches, antivirus and that you’re running the latest versions of common software. As ever, be cautious on the internet, and don’t click on any links in emails or instant messenger sessions that you weren’t expecting.

Update – 2008-06-03 – 16:46
The latest on this is that we’ve identified and disconnected 9 computers so far. We have been in touch with those who own the computers concerned and are working with them to clean the computers up before we allow them back on the network.

As far as we know, the network at Deans Court is now stable (if you know different, please let us know!) – although we are monitoring the situation and disconnecting computers as and when we spot them.

Update – 2008-06-20 – 15:22
It’s back.  The problems appear to have started slightly before 15:00 today, we were notified via a call to the helpdesk and within 15 minutes had identified the machine that was causing problems.  We have disconnected that machine and are in the process of contacting the customer concerned.

Unfortunately, the weekend is approaching and we’re unable to be quite as responsive as we would be during the week – although we will do our best to keep an eye on it.

Clarification (11:45am 2008-06-02):
The following blog post is unclear, the problems at Deans Court should be considered ongoing, the problems at Woodland Court are resolved. The two are unrelated. To make the distinction clearer, there will be a new post about Deans Court along in a minute.

(updated 10.30am)

The ResNet service at Woodland Court was not working over the weekend. The cause was a local power failure to the comms room at Woodland Court, which affected both the telephones and ResNet service. ResNet was restored at 9.30am Monday 2nd June by re-routing the network equipment to an alternative power supply.

We have also received several reports that the ResNet service at Deans Court has been not been operating properly over the weekend with breaks in the service for some residents. Our network monitoring shows that the service is working to all areas at Deans Court, however some individual users are still reporting problems. Our initial investigations suggest that faulty software on two student computers at Deans Court is disrupting Internet access for the other residents by grabbing additional IP addresses. We are contacting these two students and isolating their computers on the network to resolve the problem.

We would like to apologise for the obvious inconvenience and problems caused by a break in service, especially one during the examination season. When a fault occurs over the weekend it will generally take much longer to resolve it, as we do not have 24/7 cover for ResNet (providing this would make the ResNet subscription charge significantly more expensive). Despite the lack of formal cover some attempts were made over the weekend to resolve the problem, but the fault was not fixed until more people and resources were available on Monday.