Official announcements will be posted in duplicate in the Announcements category and also here in the General category. Follow-up questions may be asked here in the General category. Also any questions or comments may in general be posted here by anyone.
This forum has been created for initial information and support as we migrate into the cloud.
Important announcements about the migration will be posted in two places:
- Twitter at https://twitter.com/rahulstatus. There is a link there pointing to https://sites.google.com/site/rahulstatus/ and that will be updated as needed.
- Here in this Discourse forum in two Categories, one called Announcements, and the other called General.
You can follow postings by email in three different ways. Use any combination of these.
- Use the circular “Tracking” icon to the right on this page. This will let you set the level of tracking, the highest level causing you to be notified by email of every new posting in the current topic.
- Go to your settings menu (your profile top right corner => gear icon => Emails) and set the Activity Summary to send you an email summary as frequently as you wish, e.g., every 30 minutes.
- In the same settings menu, you can enable mailing list mode with a check box. This feature is supposed to send you a copy of every posting by email, but it is not well-documented and possibly experimental. Try it and see.
Questions may be posted here or to Twitter. Answers will be posted in both places, but brief answers posted to Twitter might point you to this forum for details.
The “Discourse” forum software in use here is designed for circumstances where high volumes of web spam may occur, so it contains many rate-limiting features. These will sometimes come in the way of non-spamming users. If the forum is not letting you do something reasonable, maybe the default setting is too strict. These will get adjusted eventually, sooner if you point them out.
A2I Communications has been a sole proprietorship. That will be replaced by a Wyoming corporation. Details will become clear soon.
We’ll reactivate our broken billing system in conjunction with the transition to a Wyoming corporation. The corporation will do all the billing.
The original A2I Communications was created in 1992 in the era of command-line user interfaces. While most of the Internet has moved on into a world of user-friendly graphical interfaces, ours still mostly has not.
(There’s only one person running the show here at this time. “I” refers to the person, and “we” refers to the company.)
We will continue to function at least partly in the old world. We will emphasize command-line usage, while still providing you with a decent web interface for managing your account. So far as possible, you will have access to all the old tools (procmail, traceroute, ssh, ping, …) along with all the newer ones that can be made available (e.g. compilers, language interpreters, revision control). I hope to fill a niche that might appeal to more technically knowledgeable people.
These days you can easily rent a small virtual server for a few dollars a month and get full access to a Linux environment. But making it work smoothly for production use still requires effort. So we will fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of the very graphically oriented services that limit your options and the server that you can rent that you must manage completely.
Also, you should get better data integrity here. Back around 2001 (or was it 1999) we had one major data loss, when a backup tape drive failed. Since then, I don’t believe we have ever lost customer data (except for one or two minor rollbacks after equipment failure). We’ll maintain a fairly rigorous backups strategy, so any data loss will be extremely unlikely.
Our service has been relatively static, and all equipment and software has been very much out of date. We will be rapidly migrating to all new operating system versions and all new application software. Also our customer base is quite small right now, which is fine, as we will run a very small and tight operation in the cloud. Maybe once everything is working nicely we can grow a little. It will depend on how big the market is for services that focus more on technically knowledgeable users.
Service interruptions during migration
Some are expected, but we’ll try to keep them brief.
Server providers in the cloud usually filter out outgoing port 25 (the standard mail transfer port) to prevent email spam. Some cloud server providers will unblock port 25 upon request, but they have a reputation of re-blocking it on the slightest suspicion of spam.
The three cloud providers we are using to host our servers (Digital Ocean, Vultr, and Upcloud) have all unblocked port 25 for us, so our servers can send outgoing mail directly. This makes it easy to send mail. However, it’s possible that some sites will block incoming mail from IP addresses that seem to belong to cloud servers. We’ll test this to make sure mail will get though. If we have any problems we can relay outgoing mail via one of the commercial mail providers such as Mailgun (see https://www.mailgun.com/). One way or another, it’s a solvable problem.
We will also see if we can have incoming for the rahul.net received via Mailgun (see https://www.mailgun.com/). They will do spam filtering and relay the resulting mail to us. If that works well, then they may become our incoming mail provider for all domains, not just rahul.net.
After your initial sign-up, your trust level might be low and make you unable to post anything. This is solely to avoid spam. We’ll bump up your trust level within a few hours after you sign up. (If it has been a day and you still seem to be at the lowest trust level, that is not normal and you should notify email@example.com please.)
Please be easily identifiable as one of our customers, by using a recognizable login name and/or domain name. There are three reasons for this:
- We’ll recognize you as a customer and quickly increase your trust level so you can post.
- We’ll be able to quickly detect and delete spam sign-ups to be quickly without accidentally misidentifying you as a spammer.
- Your questions can be more correctly understood and accurately answered, because we’ll have a better understanding of your account type and/or your type of usage.
This forum begins by being closed in the sense that you can only read it if you are signed up and logged in, except that the Announcements category will be always publicly visible. This is to get people to sign up. We’ll eventually make everything readable by all without signing in.
Official announcements will be posted in duplicate in both the Announcements category and the General category. So you can visit the Announcements at any time without having to log in.
Forum usage warnings
There might be be a few surprises here.
You can edit a post for a certain number of days (currently 30 but may change) after posting it. Then it becomes no longer editable, but you can still delete it.
Deleting a posting will make it invisible to normal users, but it will remain visible to admins for a few days and then it will get purged.
If you revise a posting one or more times, others will be able to see each revision. The only way to prevent them from seeing an older revision is to delete the posting. (But admins can always see all revisions in deleted postings that have not yet been purged.)
Our responsiveness to customer service issues has been quite poor in recent years. As we move into the cloud, and redo everything, you should get much more prompt customer service then before. For the moment there will be essentially no phone support. At some point in the future we might have phone support again.
Please maintain at least one free email account somewhere else. That way if you encounter any problems here, you can still send problem reports.
Our support email address is normally <firstname.lastname@example.org>. During the migration to the cloud, if that email address breaks, then we have this backup email address <email@example.com> that is offsite and should still work. This backup email address is email only and has no support ticket system, so multiple emails on the same topic can easily go astray. So it should be used only as a backup.
We will use end-to-end encryption to communicate with you whenever private information (including passwords) needs to be exchanged.
We will be posting a PGP key so you can send us PGP-encrypted email. If you provide a PGP key, we will be able to send you PGP-encrypted email. Generally, the use of PGP encryption in this manner requires you to be technically knowledgeable and highly motivated.
However, if you get yourself an email account at ProtonMail (see: https://protonmail.com/), you will be able to use automatic end-to-end encryption to communicate with us by simply using ProtonMail’s web interface. Then encryption becomes as easy as logging into ProtonMail and just sending or receiving mail using their web interface.