Site Update

I believe that the remainder of the issues with the PW Classifieds have been resolved. Everyone should be able to log in once again. If you find that you cannot log in, please let me know. My scincere gratitude to all of you for bearing with me while I repaired the website.

Thanks,
Chris

Continuing Problems

I’m still having problems with the network this morning. I’m working to restore full functionality as soon as is possible. I’ve restored access for as many people as is possible, however no one can sign in at this point. If you are already signed in, you should be fine. I’ll post updates here as I know more information.

Thanks,
Chris

Problems today

Today started out a litle rough. The company we use to host many of our computers (amazon.com) is having some issues with its network. The front page of the site (www.pennswoods.net) was down for a while today. After I got things shifted over to another machine, we were good for a while.

Unfortunately a short while ago the problem has impacted the computer that keeps track of who is signed in.

I’m working to correct that problem as quickly as is possible. However in the mean time, the PW Classifieds are available as read only, no one can be signed in.

I apologize for the inconvenience, and I will work to restore full service as quickly as possible.

UPDATE 19:29: I’ve restored some ability for those who have been logged in recently to be logged in now. I am continuing to work towards full restoration.

Thanks,
Chris

Scammers

Well here it is April 2, and I managed to resist the temptation to pull any April Fool’s pranks. I’m proud of myself, and at the same time dissappointed. What happened to that care free spirit that once felt a good joke was worth a verbal (or physical) beating?

It has been over 4 months since I mentioned scammers, and more than 16 since I directly addressed how to help keep them at bay. Recently I received an email along the lines of:


I’m so tired of people posting free animals then when you email them they delete their ad off. They are scammers and should not be allowed to do this.

Well I’m right there with you. Unfortunately none of them ask me for permission. And just for the record, they rarely delete their own ads, their ads are pulled when they get reported as scams.

Most of these probably originate from Korea, Cameroon, etc. So of course I block
those countries from the site. Then they find virally compromised
computers on major cable, dsl, and even dialup networks. It is virtually
impossible for me to tell the difference between them and a legitimate
user.

Fortunately the ad is usually pretty obvious. No one gives away a $1200
bulldog or yorkie for free. No one gives away a $5000 parrot for
free. When you see these ads, hit the report ad button in the lower
right of the ad. When a number of people report an ad, it removes the ad.

If the account has multiple ads that get reported that way, ALL of
the ads for that account are removed and the email address for that
account is locked out of the system.

I also regularly review removed ads and lock out the ipaddress they came in from.
Yes, that
means I am constantly banning ipaddresses on domestic networks
and thus potential legitimate users of the classifieds can’t sign up, so eventually I have to deal with that when a legitimate user tries to sign up.

Of course there is a never ending source of infected computers out
there, so all I’ve really done is made the job of the scammers harder.
It doesn’t end it, it only slows them down. You can help me slow
them down and thwart them by reporting obvious scams when you find
them.

Thanks,
Chris

Downtime today

My apologies for the downtime on the website today. It looks like the site was unavailable from a bit after 8am until nearly 11am. The problem was a database that failed in a bad way. Normally if a database fails, the webserver just goes on to the next one in the pool. Unfortunately in this case the database was responding just fast enough that the webserver would wait for it rather than move on. After a few hundered connections to a web server started hanging, the webserver itself would start to falter, and before long it would stop serving web pages. I normally have 5 web servers working in tandem, but 30 of them wouldn’t have been enough to fix this problem.

The bad database has been removed, and I’ll replace it later this week or early next week. Again my apologies for the absence of the website this morning. If you were among those who emailed me this morning, I will be responding to you as soon as I am able to get caught up.

Thanks,
Chris

Project Gunwalker

Whenever there is a conversation about the most popular items on the PW Classifieds, it invariably comes up as automotives, all terrain vehicles, and firearms. Much of the PW Classifieds vistors are from rural areas, as are pretty much all of the people who have been employed by Pennswoods.net over the years. Atlantic Broadband may have the occasional city dweller, but there are still plenty of us comfortable on the trap field hollering “PULL!”. So yes, we have an interest in ways to get from getting around in an area where bus runs are few and far between, in areas where the quickest route to sanity involves a 4′ wide trail through the forest, and in firearms.

I’m curious how many are aware of the ‘Project Gunrunners’ story that has been quietly growing for the last few months. I’ve heard a lot of noise in the last couple years about US firearms showing up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. Now I’m not quite clear on what a drug cartel with access to full auto weapons needs with a beat up Winchester 94. Have you checked out the selection of Uzis at your local retailer lately? I didn’t think so. But apparently there is some truth to US firearms crossing the border into Mexico, despite the ATF being alerted.
CBS ran essentially the same story as the above link to the Tucson Citizen.

There is also a follow up from the Tucson Citizen. For more information, you might want to follow David Codrea, the fellow who broke this story.

Thanks,
Chris

Transient images

I am currently experiencing some difficulties with my image hosting server. Pictures are sometimes loading, sometime not. It looks like they load more often than not, but I’m working to get them to load 100% of the time. My apologies for the inconvenience.

UPDATE 14:59 It looks like everything is back to normal. If you are still having a problem with an image loading, please go to ‘My Ads’, select the ad, edit it, and re-add the picture.

Thanks,
Chris

Email Delays

Between 9am and 10am ET this morning mail from PW Classifieds to multiple servers began to be delayed and in some cases rejected to multiple domains. This is because spamhaus has blacklisted a wide range of Amazon EC2 servers, which is where the PW Classifieds is housed. Replies to your ads show up under ‘My Ads’, as described on the FAQ.

I’ve contacted tech support at Amazon. They are aware of the issue and are working to clear it up as soon as is possible. In the meantime, please check ‘My Ads’ for responses to your ads.

UPDATE 15:25 My understanding is that as of about 3pm this afternoon the root cause of the problem has been resolved. Amazon’s automated communication with one of the major black lists had failed, and needed to be updated manually. It may take some time for the delayed email to be delivered. I would still recommend that if you have ads listed, you carefully inspect the ‘My Ads’ area in order to make sure you didn’t miss any responses.

I’ll continue to monitor the flow of mail to make sure that things are returning to normal. I’m also going to look into ways to minimize this sort of problem in the future. My apologies to all of you, and thank you for your patience.

Thanks,
Chris

News Letter and Bad Hardware

On Feb 14 I sent out the most recent edition of the PW Classifieds newsletter. If you received it, and didn’t want it, you can use this link to tell me never to send it again. If you didn’t receive it, but wish you had, check to make sure you didn’t already opt out of it.

In the news letter I mentioned three features I was contemplating adding to the classifieds. I promised that whichever feature drew the most feedback was what I would work on next. Here are the results:


  1. Ability to repost ads: 28 people favored this
  2. An email notive when ads expire: 8 people favored this
  3. A google map embed in each ad: 4 people favored this

I want to point something out here about the google map. I have no intention of ever sending someone to your door step. If I put a good map in the pages,
it will be similar to the google link that is already there at the bottom left of the ads. It will be to the zipcode, not to a street address.

I think it is pretty clear that the majority of the responses were interested in the ability to repost ads without starting over from scratch. That is
what I’ve been working towards for the a good portion of this week, and I hope to make it available sometime in the next few weeks.

In less positive news, Saturday morning I had a web server crash. I have the replacement just about ready, and I hope to be able to install it this evening.
Late last week several people emailed me about blank pages and difficulties with the web interface. Those issues seem to have abated with the removal of the bad machine. I greatly appreciate your patience.

Thanks,
Chris