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Earthlink/Linksys NNTP problem - Mac Networking

Earthlink recently moved all of its users from their old servers -- in my case, news.mindspring.com -- to news.xx.earthlink.net, where xx is "east" or "west" depending on where one resides relative to the Mississippi River. When the changeover happened, I managed to post once, then posts began timing out. Downloading and reding messages, even downloading binaries, went just fine. I tried a few different clients (Thoth, MT-Newswatcher, even Outlook Express [spit!]) and even signed on with Newsranger so I could try another server, and had the same results in every case. From this I concluded that the problem was at ...

  1. #1

    Default Earthlink/Linksys NNTP problem

    Earthlink recently moved all of its users from their old servers -- in
    my case, news.mindspring.com -- to news.xx.earthlink.net, where
    xx is "east" or "west" depending on where one resides relative to
    the Mississippi River.

    When the changeover happened, I managed to post once, then posts began
    timing out. Downloading and reding messages, even downloading binaries,
    went just fine. I tried a few different clients (Thoth, MT-Newswatcher,
    even Outlook Express [spit!]) and even signed on with Newsranger so I
    could try another server, and had the same results in every case. From
    this I concluded that the problem was at my end, and the router seemed
    a likely culprit.

    I plugged my desktop machine straight into the DSL router, and the
    problem disappeared. So it appears to me that (a) my router is blocking
    ports that the old Mindspring server didn't need, but Earthlink and
    Newsranger both do; or (b) that the news client somehow embeds the IP
    address of the sending computer (though I don't see that in any
    headers, just NNTP-posting-host), and when that doesn't match what the
    NNTP server sees, the messages bounce (likely as an anti-spam measure).

    Earthlink tech support has been singularly unhelpful, in part because I
    can't seem to get past the tier-1-support-script-readers in Bangalore.
    When Mindspring was a small operation, I could generally get through to
    someone who would read a message like the above, figure out that I'd
    already ruled out large chunks of the decision tree, and that I could
    understand an answer that didn't map out the solution click by click.
    Now it's a big operation, and you know the drill.

    I'm not asking anyone to do heavy homework this for me, but if anyone
    happens to know, is port forwarding a likely fix? If so, which ports?
    If no one knows the ports off hand, is there a good place to look that
    up, or a good means to sniff out what ports the news reader or news
    server is trying and failing to use?

    I'm running a Linksys BEFW1154v.2 wireless router hooked up (though not
    at the moment) to a ZyXel somethingorother DSL modem. The symptoms are
    identical on a G4 867, wired, and a dual-USB iBook, wireless. Those
    machines are all common enough, and Earthlink is a popular enough ISP,
    that it's difficult to imagine I'm the only person who's run into this.

    --
    Make definite assertions. Avoid tame, colorless, hesitating,
    non-committal language. -- William Strunk Jr., "Elements of Style"
    --------------------------------------------------
    Andy Walton * [url]http://atticus.home.mindspring.com/[/url]
    Andy Walton Guest

  2. #2

    Default Re: Earthlink/Linksys NNTP problem

    In article <240920030116542841%atticusmindspring.com>,
    Andy Walton <atticusmindspring.com> wrote:
    > Earthlink recently moved all of its users from their old servers -- in
    > my case, news.mindspring.com -- to news.xx.earthlink.net, where
    > xx is "east" or "west" depending on where one resides relative to
    > the Mississippi River.
    <snip>
    > I'm running a Linksys BEFW1154v.2 wireless router hooked up (though not
    > at the moment) to a ZyXel somethingorother DSL modem. The symptoms are
    > identical on a G4 867, wired, and a dual-USB iBook, wireless. Those
    > machines are all common enough, and Earthlink is a popular enough ISP,
    > that it's difficult to imagine I'm the only person who's run into this.
    FWIW, I'm running a Linsys BEFW11S4 v.2 wireless router (I assume the
    "5" in your number should have been a "S") and have not had a similar
    experience. In fact, responsiveness of the newsgroups increased markedly
    when I switched over to news.west.earthlink.net.

    In my case, the DSL modem is a Fujitsu Speedport and I am typing this on
    a G4 PowerBook with a wireless link to the Linksys router.
    Bill Rowe Guest

  3. #3

    Default Re: Earthlink/Linksys NNTP problem

    In article <240920030116542841%atticusmindspring.com>,
    Andy Walton <atticusmindspring.com> wrote:
    > Earthlink recently moved all of its users from their old servers -- in
    > my case, news.mindspring.com -- to news.xx.earthlink.net, where
    > xx is "east" or "west" depending on where one resides relative to
    > the Mississippi River.
    >
    > When the changeover happened, I managed to post once, then posts began
    > timing out. Downloading and reding messages, even downloading binaries,
    > went just fine. I tried a few different clients (Thoth, MT-Newswatcher,
    > even Outlook Express [spit!]) and even signed on with Newsranger so I
    > could try another server, and had the same results in every case. From
    > this I concluded that the problem was at my end, and the router seemed
    > a likely culprit.
    Are you completely and consistently unable to post messages, or is this
    something that is intermittent?

    I am also on Earthlink DSL. Occasionally, my attempts to post will
    hang, but if I cancel and try again they usually go through. I see this
    at home, connecting to Earthlink's news server though a router (Apple
    AirPort Extreme), and also on the LAN at work when connecting to my
    employer's news server. There have also been a few days when my posting
    attempts would fail for hours at a time. But I assume that this was due
    to upstream network problems, or config issues at Earthlink, since
    normal operation was eventually restored without any other action on my
    end.

    If the problem persists and you cannot get any answers from the tech
    support phone droids, you can try

    (a) Emailing to [email]supportearthlink.net[/email], [email]supportmindspring.com[/email], or their
    web-based reporting system

    (b) Posting a query to one of the earthlink-local newsgroups. There is
    at least one dedicated to the news system, but I don't remember its name
    (I'm at work now).

    (c) Calling the Earthlink sales or customer service desks and demanding
    to speak to someone in support at a high enough level to understand your
    problem. Let them know that your contact with the normal support chain
    was unhelpful. Doing an end run around the normal support chain is not
    something you should do frequently, but the (explicit or implied) threat
    of terminating your service will usually get their attention.

    --
    Julian Vrieslander
    Julian Vrieslander Guest

  4. #4

    Default Re: Earthlink/Linksys NNTP problem

    In article
    <julianvREMOVE_THIS_PART-E099AF.11485625092003nntp3.u.washington.edu>,
    Julian Vrieslander <julianvREMOVE_THIS_PARTmindspring.com> wrote:
    > In article <240920030116542841%atticusmindspring.com>,
    > Andy Walton <atticusmindspring.com> wrote:
    >
    > > Earthlink recently moved all of its users from their old servers -- in
    > > my case, news.mindspring.com -- to news.xx.earthlink.net, where
    > > xx is "east" or "west" depending on where one resides relative to
    > > the Mississippi River.
    > >
    > > When the changeover happened, I managed to post once, then posts began
    > > timing out. Downloading and reding messages, even downloading binaries,
    > > went just fine. I tried a few different clients (Thoth, MT-Newswatcher,
    > > even Outlook Express [spit!]) and even signed on with Newsranger so I
    > > could try another server, and had the same results in every case. From
    > > this I concluded that the problem was at my end, and the router seemed
    > > a likely culprit.
    >
    > Are you completely and consistently unable to post messages, or is this
    > something that is intermittent?
    Completely and consistently. 0Kb transmitted at 0K/sec. until it times
    out. I thought the problem was fixed, because I reset the router to its
    factory defaults and managed to post, but it was the old
    one-post-then-fail routine.

    I'm muddling through by switching cables and doing Usenet straight to
    the modem. That is obviously less than ideal, but it's a few seconds'
    annoyance, so it's made fixing the problem less urgent.
    > I am also on Earthlink DSL. Occasionally, my attempts to post will
    > hang, but if I cancel and try again they usually go through.
    I'm familiar with that. I saw that on the old mindspring server, and
    occasionally see it when I have the G4 hooked straight to the modem.
    This isn't that.

    I'm beginning to believe that it might be some kind of
    hardware/firmware glitch in the router, and if I can get my hands on a
    loaner 802.11b router for testing, I'll see if it's specific to this
    unit. The fact that no one else has this problem, even folks with a
    nearly identical software/hardware configuration, leads me to believe
    that there may be a unit-specific glitch at my end.
    > If the problem persists and you cannot get any answers from the tech
    > support phone droids, you can try
    >
    > (a) Emailing to [email]supportearthlink.net[/email], [email]supportmindspring.com[/email], or their
    > web-based reporting system
    Tried that. The tier-one tech support people were more helpful than
    tier-one phone support, but not by much. I got a lot of suggestions for
    how to delete and rebuild Microsoft Entourage settings, when I'd only
    ever used Entourage as a troubleshooting method. I dutifully tried
    their suggestions, then replied "nope. Didn't work," as I knew it
    wouldn't. After a few iterations of that, they stopped responding.

    Bottom line, I can't fault Earthlink support too much. I'm running a
    client they don't support on hardware they don't support. They could,
    relatively legitimately, tell me to just disconnect the router and
    leave it disconnected. They've made an inadequate attempt at helping me
    when my user agreement didn't obligate them to make any attempt at all.
    > (b) Posting a query to one of the earthlink-local newsgroups. There
    is
    > at least one dedicated to the news system, but I don't remember its name
    > (I'm at work now).
    That's a good suggestion. I'll look for the group.
    > (c) Calling the Earthlink sales or customer service desks and demanding
    > to speak to someone in support at a high enough level to understand your
    > problem. Let them know that your contact with the normal support chain
    > was unhelpful. Doing an end run around the normal support chain is not
    > something you should do frequently, but the (explicit or implied) threat
    > of terminating your service will usually get their attention.
    I haven't felt that confrontational yet, and before I get that
    hard-line, I need to have my ducks in a tight, straight row. I need to
    be certain that if the tech says "have you tried X?" I can either
    answer "yes" or "no, but I tried Y, which should eliminate X as the
    source of the problem." If I'm going to aggressively escalate the
    problem on the grounds that I've already tried the easy stuff, I need
    to make sure that I've already tried all the easy stuff.

    Another complication is that I work second shift, and I'm rarely on
    line, awake and available when the smartest and most senior support
    gurus are around. There's no point in demanding to speak to a more
    senior guru at one in the morning. He's at home asleep; I can't wake
    him to handle my problem, and wouldn't if I could.

    That's why I'm asking in Usenet; if someone has my exact same problem
    and a fix for it, that's fantastic. If not, the answers will at least
    narrow the question.

    --
    "The problem with the world is that everyone is
    a few drinks behind." -- Humphrey Bogart
    --------------------------------------------------
    Andy Walton * [url]http://atticus.home.mindspring.com/[/url]
    Andy Walton Guest

  5. #5

    Default Re: Earthlink/Linksys NNTP problem

    In article <051020030137490450%atticusmindspring.com>,
    Andy Walton <atticusmindspring.com> wrote:
    > In article
    > <julianvREMOVE_THIS_PART-E099AF.11485625092003nntp3.u.washington.edu>,
    > Julian Vrieslander <julianvREMOVE_THIS_PARTmindspring.com> wrote:
    >
    > > In article <240920030116542841%atticusmindspring.com>,
    > > Andy Walton <atticusmindspring.com> wrote:
    > >
    > > > Earthlink recently moved all of its users from their old servers -- in
    > > > my case, news.mindspring.com -- to news.xx.earthlink.net, where
    > > > xx is "east" or "west" depending on where one resides relative to
    > > > the Mississippi River.
    > > >
    > > > When the changeover happened, I managed to post once, then posts began
    > > > timing out. Downloading and reding messages, even downloading binaries,
    > > > went just fine. I tried a few different clients (Thoth, MT-Newswatcher,
    > > > even Outlook Express [spit!]) and even signed on with Newsranger so I
    > > > could try another server, and had the same results in every case. From
    > > > this I concluded that the problem was at my end, and the router seemed
    > > > a likely culprit.
    > I'm beginning to believe that it might be some kind of
    > hardware/firmware glitch in the router, and if I can get my hands on a
    > loaner 802.11b router for testing, I'll see if it's specific to this
    > unit. The fact that no one else has this problem, even folks with a
    > nearly identical software/hardware configuration, leads me to believe
    > that there may be a unit-specific glitch at my end.
    I just thought of another possibility. I've seen cases where
    client/server communication glitches were caused by mismatched MTU
    sizes. Don't ask me for a technical explanation - I'm not very
    knowledgeable in TCP/IP stuff. I think MTU is geektalk for Message
    Transfer Unit, and it has something to do with packet sizes. Over the
    last few years, I have done several troubleshooting extravaganzas with
    Mindspring and Earthlink which eventually led to MTU misconfigurations
    as a contributor or source of the problem. In one case, I eventually
    suspected that my gateway server (upstream of my DSL modem) was
    misconfigured. Mindspring denied it at first, but after I suggested
    this to a techie as a possibility, the problem disappeared in a day or
    two.

    Maybe you can ask the support folks to check into this on their side,
    and you can also search the Apple Knowledge Base, which has several tech
    notes on MTU issues for Apple products:

    <http://search.info.apple.com/>
    > Another complication is that I work second shift, and I'm rarely on
    > line, awake and available when the smartest and most senior support
    > gurus are around. There's no point in demanding to speak to a more
    > senior guru at one in the morning. He's at home asleep; I can't wake
    > him to handle my problem, and wouldn't if I could.
    In the good old Mindspring days, I often found that I got better service
    if I called tech support late at night. The queues were shorter, and
    the techies had more time to spend with me.

    --
    Julian Vrieslander
    Julian Vrieslander Guest

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