Or, Virtual Networks is a Nice Net to Visit, But I Wouldn't Want to Host There
Somewhere around 18 Mar 97, I removed all the content from my current SpinnWebe server. Two reasons: one, because of what ThoughtPort did to me(1), and two, because I traded a camera for some advertising, and the ads ran out the day before. I would've taken it down earlier than the 18th, actually, but I had that ad commitment. Got an extremely cool digital camera out of it, so what the hell.
So I put up that message that regulars were used to seeing: "Please help! I need hosting!" Hosting this monster at full power is much more expensive than I could afford(2), so the best I can hope for is to find someone who appreciates my site's drawing power enough to exchange my advertising for net usage.
Enter a guy from Virtual Networks (who I'll call "The Guy"), who writes me mail within four hours of putting up that message. "Sure, we can host you!" Since I'm fairly impressed with the offer they're giving me (see the agreement, below), I say "yes!" and plunge right in. Get myself spinnwebe.com registered, for example, since they're going to give me a www.spinnwebe.com address. And, I basically asked him, what sort of power do you have to do this? Here's the line I get back: "Well, basically I sold it to the president on the basis of the free publicity. In his opinion, it's worth the exposure even though it's not our core market." Excellent. The president of the company has approved. I'm in.
We talk about it back and forth for a bit; we're all feeling pretty good about the deal. However, considering the treatment I was just recently given by ThoughtPort (3), I write up this agreement which is pretty common sense stuff, but very explicitly worded like a legal document, so there's no question of my being charged for hosting, or my completely clogging their network, either. I send that to The Guy, he says, "hm, doesn't sound like a problem, but let me have our legal people look at it." Fine with me. So I put up a placeholder for the new site, and I wait.
And wait and wait. The first few weeks I didn't contact them much at all--I was really busy with other stuff (and happy for the break, honestly), and I didn't want to nag them. But The Guy's admin ("The Admin") did have some organizing to do--my POP account, some architecture stuff--and a pattern was already surfacing: these guys almost never returned my mail. They did do most of the things I asked for--eventually. I'd send mail, and wait, and after getting no response for a day or so, I'd have to call them. Not making me feel like any less of a nag. Wonderful.
Towards the end of April, I'm getting antsy. I send The Guy mail asking what's up with the agreement; next day I've received no response, but I'm having no luck getting him on the phone. Send him mail again, and he responds, telling me he hadn't heard anything recently but he'll check.
5 May. I get mail from The Guy who says something like, "Legal people think it's okay, but they just want to make some edits." He shows me what they've done so far, and it looks fine to me (all stuff I would have added myself if I had thought of it). Good good, I think. We're moving.
Wrongo. 8 May, I see a mail come in from The Guy with the subject, "ARGH!" Great. I read it, and it turns out El Presidente of Virtual Networks has caught wind of the agreement I wrote up, and he's suddenly worried that I'm using that agreement as some sort of primed legal warhead that will force them to host nude pictures of seven-year-olds having sex with dogs, or something. I dunno. End effect is that I'm told the president wants to see some sample pages of the site before he agrees to this.
At first this pisses me off for two reasons: one, because I had been given the impression that the president had given some sort of approval for the hosting, and two, because this is a month and a half after the initial offer from The Guy, so it's pretty late in the game to find out the president has misgivings. But, I think, hell, if this has to happen, better now than later. And I can go a step better than providing sample pages: I set up SpinnWebe on a private server and provide The Guy with the URL so The President (I never didget his name) can go look at the site as it existed before I took it down. If the man can get past the DFC and the Nipple Server, I figure, I'll have no problems for a long, long time.
But he doesn't look at the site, and I wait and wait and wait again. Okay, at this point I'm starting to go full-tilt bonkers. Someday I will go into the story of how the preceeding six months had been incredibly stressful for me, and 70% of that stress came from people who chose to ignore me. Hurt me, piss me off, but don't ignore me. Mr. President, along with the entire happy Virtual Networks family as far as I was concerned, was ignoring me. This started to really irk me, but considering I wanted to host with these people still (but I did want to give them a kick in the butt to get moving already), I put up a second page to let my loyal readers know what was going on. I didn't think it was phrased belligerently.
Wrongo again, as far as they were concerned. I get this mail from The Admin on 18 May. Whoa! Totally shocking business-angry mail there, as I had pegged The Admin as a fairly easygoing California dude. But then again, it was cc:'d to The Guy, so I suppose an order came down from On High or something.
But, you know, pfft. For the first 30 seconds, I had that "dad's mad at me" kind of reaction, but after that, I was trying to decide how to ever talk to these people again without chewing their heads off. If the Pres was worried because I was trying to take his informal approval and turn it into formal approval, then they were never serious about having a business arrangement in the first place. Basically, they wasted two fucking months of my site's life. If they get bitchy because I'm letting my regulars know what's going on, tough.
Somewhere, though, the rational brain won over, and instead of saying anything to them, I switched the "soon to be available" message to "christ, I need a home again" message. I got a couple amusing offers here and there, and finally got the offer from hockey.net. They contacted me the afternoon of May 23rd, and by that night we all agreed to do it. I sent them a copy of the same agreement and they thought it was fine. By the 26th, I had everything moved, tested, and running, and I was satisfied that the hosting was actually going to happen; I had planned to post a message on the old site to let people know until the domain change happened, but apparently as soon as Internic sent notification of the change to The Admin at Virtual Networks, he cut off my shell account. Swell.
And here we are.
Footnotes: (click on the * after each footnote to continue where you were)
1) I don't feel like going through that just now, but here's a hint: it rhymes with stewed. *
2) Not so much because of disk space, but for bandwidth. ISPs have wised up recently--you have to start paying through the nose if you get over a certain data per month, sometimes as low as 10 megs of data transferred in 30 days. I do as much as 200 megs in a day. Although, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, look up best.com. I know nothing about their service quality, but their prices are quite good. *
3)Hint: rhymes with trucking royally screwed me with a jackhammer, sideways.*