Sometimes I just can’t help but think that some Americans don’t realize that the world is much larger than their country. The latest episode comes from a DNS report generated by DNSStuff.com which gave a score of “F” for my domain (at work). Why “F”? The scoring methodology and conclusions it tries to draw from the test results are simply and totally illogical. It seems to underscore their presumption that the US is the whole world. If you’re not in the US, then you’re an alien. (I know, I know, as far as their immigration rules are concerned… we are indeed aliens.)
First, the domain was awarded demerit points for being a “.sg” domain. As if the whole world is made up only of “.com”, “.net”, “.org”, “.edu”, etc domains? Com’on, there are so many other country-level TLDs in the world. How can you assign demerit points simply because we are not from the US?
Next, more demerit points because my authoritative domain name server took more than 200ms to respond. The test server is in the US. Hello, did you know it does take over 200ms on average for a round trip packet from US to Singapore? It’s about 300ms ping response, for example, from StarHub Maxonline to MIT.
Then, even more demerit points because one of my authoritative servers was thought to be an “Open DNS”, which means it will respond to recursive queries. This is bad only if your DNS for *.somewhere.com will answer queries from other people (outside your own network) for names outside your domain. But my authoritative name servers do support recursive queries because it wants to answer for sub-domains within my domain! It isn’t an Open DNS, it’s just being helpful to answer for my domain and all sub-domains!
After summing up all the demerit points, we score an “F”. The scale starts at “A”, I’m not sure where it ends. I imagine there isn’t anything worse than “F”.
How did I come to know about this ridiculous report from DNSStuff.Com? Well, a certain MNC sent an email to my helpdesk to complain that their mail server couldn’t send email to my domain. Their mail server indicated a “DNS error” when trying to send email to us. They then produced the DNSStuff.Com report that showed we scored an “F” and thus suggested our DNS was broken. After over a week and countless email bouncing between too many people, they are still reproducing the same report as if it were the Gospel truth. It says you scored an “F”, therefore it is your Fault. F is for Fault.
I was just thinking, if your mail server is experiencing a DNS error, shouldn’t you check your mail server’s DNS server? I.e. the DNS server that your mail server talks to? Anyone with basic troubleshooting skills should understand the need to probe systematically from known facts, such as where the error is occurring. How can you make a wild guess, conclude with some irrelevant evidence, and then throw the problem to someone else?
I shan’t name this large and well known MNC, but I don’t believe their technical staff were so incompetent. I suspect their network engineering staff simply didn’t care, and their server administrators were simply trying to assign blame to someone else. They’re probably thinking that we are Singaporeans, thus it must be our fault. No need for any sound technical reasoning. Just assign the blame.
They are probably thinking if there is a world larger than the United States… it doesn’t matter, because the world revolves around the United States.
Many years ago, when I visited the US on a technical study trip, we shared our broadband experiences in Singapore with some of their people, including next-generation network engineering people from companies like MCI. That was 1997. In 1997, we already had ADSL and cable broadband across most of Singapore. When we mentioned this to some of their next-generation network people, they stared at us with puzzled looks. Then they asked, “You’re talking about an upcoming project?”
No. We are talking about what’s happening “now”. They couldn’t believe us. In fact, they re-phrased their question a few times, as if suspecting that we couldn’t understand English. They couldn’t believe a tiny country like Singapore could roll out broadband on a national scale.
Of course, there must be many other Americans who are not so short-sighted. I’m just unfortunate to run into those who are seriously myopic.