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  #11  
Old 09-09-2019, 01:10 PM
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Kevin WS Kevin WS is offline
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Dave, I beg to disagree here.

Your quotes in italics...

As I mentioned, there's no guaranty your ISP will admit any involvement.

There is no guarantee they won't try to assist either. They did investigate with me for two hours. To say the service standards of the ISP here and the ISP in Germany are both poor and they would want to cover up any involvement is surely stretching it a bit?

Note also, this was one thing I investigated further at the time - we have numerous ISP and I contacted two other people with different ISP. They could not get onto the site. Both people were also in the IT industry and conducted their own investigations, with no result. And as we are all involved in cybersecurity, we then out of interest jointly conducted a quick root cause analysis - with no conclusion.

I also doubt that the German and 3 South African ISP's are interfering with the sites in a similar fashion. The German users also are maybe using different ISP to each other.

Another thing it could be, is a blanket IP block made by this site.

I cannot comment here. As I said if I really had any concrete idea I would have come forth with a suggestion it is looked at. This is, however, a logical suggestion and could be looked into as a possible cause, depending on the approach the Site Administrators adopt.

You don't know if your issue, is the same issue as any of the fellows from Germany...or France.

You are assuming you are all experiencing exactly the same issue.


Equally, we do not know that issue is different for Germany or South Africa. So far it sounds identical given the following...
  • More then one user in each country is affected.
  • The effects on the users are the same.
I would say the issue has the same cause. I put that last bit in bold because while the effects are same, currently I have access while Germany does not. So it is not the same concurrent issue obviously.

I have seen little on the French experience, so cannot comment on whether their experience also seems to be the same or not. Do you have more detail on the French experience?

------------------------

incidentally at the time, I discussed it a briefly in passing with Rick on Discord. If you are interested and want to go back there you will see some of the checks and steps I took at the time. These are not the only steps taken though - there were many more.

In the end, I never raised the matter here as far as I was aware at the time I was the only person affected and I also in the end still had (and have) no reasonable idea as to the cause. And without a reasonably concrete feeling as to a possible cause, I do not wish to waste any of the administrators time.
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  #12  
Old 09-09-2019, 01:28 PM
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Just to put minds at ease, Jason nor I have done anything, or do anything to block access to the forum.

It could be the hosting company, but i am not sure, Jason will contact them, and see what else might be causing the problem

Rick
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  #13  
Old 09-09-2019, 01:37 PM
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Rick - this is appreciated, but until there are better ideas as to the cause I do not know if Jason should pursue this further in detail.

If Jason is interested and wants to hang on I can detail my experiences and maybe contact the German members (directly) to compile their experiences as well, so he has some detail of the experience and the actions taken, to approach them with? This may help them to identify possible causes?

Nothing worse than chasing cause when there is insufficient data...
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  #14  
Old 09-09-2019, 04:30 PM
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I never said your ISP would or wouldn't help you (Kevin).
I just meant "don't be surprised if you don't get all the facts from them".

Its a fact...and a much discussed topic right now, that ISPs around the world are covertly filtering websites in efforts to thwart child pornography and copyright infringement.
File sharing sites have been all but shut down as a result of ISPs actions.
Because ISPs are also in the business of selling you TV, Movies and other streaming services they are heavily involved in blocking streaming and download sites.
Some of their actions unfortunately can have collateral effects to legitimate sites.

A lot of these actions are covert and in some cases without legal precedent, but the only people fighting back are the ones being shut down.

In an effort to throttle download speeds and block various IPs, there are many legitimate sites and users that can be affected.
I remember years ago when GoDaddy IPs were regularly caught up in IP bans and filters because of the number of Porn sites that used the cheaper GoDaddy domain services.

We also know that in Europe, new copyright laws are seriously affecting Internet operations.
Who knows how this might affect the average user.
And again, I'm saying that ISPs might not be quick to admit they have blocks and filters and measures in place which might disrupt access from and to certain areas of the World.
Sure, they will still try to help keep their customers happy...and fix things if they can...but that doesn't mean they have to tell you everything.

I still fall back on the idea of regular upgrades and maintenance from your ISP
as being the cause of most slowdowns and blockages.
These generally clear up, once the work clears up
...as you may have already discovered from an area of the world that is definitely seeing a lot of changes and improvements in internet access.

...
This site could block access (by IP block) to a single member, but theres nothing that could block access to multiple members from one country, but not everyone*.
Even if theres something about this site, that your system doesn't like,
it still comes back to the problem being with your system.

...
*Have you found anyone from Germany or the German forum that doesn't have a problem accessing this site?
...if so, it sort of proves the site is accessible from that area.
And then you need to look at the connection between members who have a problem.
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  #15  
Old 09-09-2019, 07:04 PM
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Just my two penneth ... After the 1809 upgrade to Win10, my browser (Chrome) started rejecting PM.com because it had an http prefix not https. I found that whitelisting the site in Defender cured it, and I've had no problems since, even after 1903 kicked in, which made some big changes in Defender.
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  #16  
Old 09-10-2019, 12:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin WS View Post
Thanks Dave.
Nils and Revell-Fan - I am able to log on currently without VPN, and have been able to so for the last 10 odd days. Prior to that I was I was unable to get in for over a month. Prior to I was in only for two weeks, and before that off again for around six weeks.
Thanks for the heads up! I too think it is a temporary issue, so I wouldnn't panic. The bad thing is that other members from our countries who might not be as technically advised couldn't think of all possible ways to bypass the issue. It is good that this thread exists (without it I would have thought it was an isolated issue) but if you are unable to reach the site you won't know what's going on and you won't be able to post that you are having problems. So I think it would be a good idea to send out a note to all German members - just to tell them they should not be worried and to tell them some ways to bypass the glitch for the time being.
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  #17  
Old 09-10-2019, 05:23 AM
Johannes G Johannes G is offline
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Hi,

As a computer science student i have a bit of experience with IT and even though my knowledge of Computer Networking is pretty basic i tried to systematically narrow down on the Error. Now since i'm new here i can't post all the links i would want to post. So if anyone wants a Link to one of the sites i used to look at it themselves just send me a PN and ask:

First i used a website that tries to access a site from different Locations to see if they can confirm that the problem is localized. While its perfectly normal to have a few tests fail, out of 43 Locations 8 failed when i last checked. Including all 4 German loacations and both french locations. That is not normal. (Just ignore the second Frankfurt, it appears some times and others it doesn't)
Access Problems form Germany...-error.jpg

Theory 1: Its Browser related
I tested the following Browsers:
Chrome (private & normal), Firefox (private & normal), Internet Explorer, Opera* and Safari.
*Opera was the only one that worked, but ONLY IF the VPN was active.

Theory 2: Its Device related
I tested on my Windows 7 PC (all Browsers), an Ubuntu VM (only Firefox) and ios (Safari and Firefox). It only worked on Win7 with Opera WITH a VPN.

Theory 3: DNS Error
On Chrome i got the following Error: ERR_NAME_RESOLUTION_FAILED and on Opera (without VPN): DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN And if you look at the reason for the failed Tests in the Screenshot you can see that they state a DNS Lookup Error.
These errors all point towards a problem with the DNS. If you don't know what this is, you can imagine it as the phone book of the internet. In order to access a website your computer neeeds the IP Adress of the Server. But since they are difficult to remember we use an address that is easy to remember for us humans. For example: Google.com will be converted to 216.58.208.46 by the DNS Server. (If you type that IP in your browser, you should end up on Google, just as you would if you had typed in Google.com)
If an IP changes it can take some time until all DNS Servers have registered this change. But usually this doesn't take more then 24 hours and the error has persisted for at least 60 hours at this point.
Anyways, i tried the usual troubleshooting steps for such an error, like flushing the DNS Cache and so on, but this also didn't help. Then i tried using different DNS Servers. Neither the default by my ISP, the on by Google nor the one by Cloudflare worked. Now my VPN uses a cached Google DNS, so i would have assumed that at least the Google one should have worked. But it didn't.

Theory 4: ISP- or Geoblocking
Since the problem seems to be focused on Germany and France and a VPN solves the problem, Geoblocking comes to mind. Now why would a forum on papermodeling ban two countries? It makes no sense. The same goes for ISP blocks (These are usually done because the government orders them to block certain sites). I find it unlikely that multiple german and french ISPs would simultaneously ban a forum like this. (I'm using a local ISP with their own local infrastructure, so i know that the other people that have problems will have different ISPs.)
Now why would ISPs block a paper modeling forum? Well I thought that maybe one of the 22 other websites that are hosted on the same server (Which then also have the same IP Adress as the forum. This also means that if you type the Forums IP into your browser you won't get to the forum unlike the example with google.) was supposed to be blocked and someone screwed up and the other sites are just collateral damage. How do i know there are 22 other sites on this Server? Its actually quite easy: First i looked up the IP of the forum (its 144.208.108.102 for anyone curios). This already showed me that there are 22 other sites hosted at this IP but not what they are. To find that out i then did a reverse lookup of the IP. And when i saw the list one site immediately cought my eye and i thought: "This must be it! This sounds like something that should be blocked!" But sadly (or rather luckily! Depends on the Point of View) this wasn't the case. Since i could access a few of the Sites without an VPN i knew my hypothesis was wrong. So i decided to look at the website in spite of the name and it turned out to be by a researcher who looks into how domestic violence affects children and apparently didn't think that her Sitename might be misunderstood for a VERY different kind of site (I was very glad that it wasn't what i orignially thought it was when i clicked that link! Maybe i'm also the only one who thinks this way and the internet has just ruined me). It was also one of the sites that worked in Germany without a VPN. In the end i could access just 7 without an VPN and 21 with an VPN (The remaining 2 Sites only returned a fairly generic HTTP Error).

Conclusion:
Since the Issue happens on multiple Devices with multiple Browsers its safe to assume that they are not the culprit.
A DNS Error would be possible but while it perfectly fits some of my observations, others don't fit at all. (Its Schrödingers DNS Error ) The good news is that it should clear up eventually if this is the case.
All in all i would say that my Evidence points more towards some kind of block. Either intentionally or by accident. If a government blocks a website they often do this on a very basic level which can be circumvented easily using a VPN. But its odd that this apparently started simultaneously in France and Germany. Also in 2014 Hackers leaked a list of blocked Sites. It was mostly stuff that is clearly illegal, even by the URL. Stuff that usually gets hosted in small countries with lax laws, not the US or Europe. The site mentioned would fit on that list - but only by name. Also it was one of the few that actually was accessible and all others looked and sounded fine. So this theory is out.
This would leave a geoblock. A Geoblock would fit all evidence. But why? It can't be because of GDPR non-compliance since it is available in other european countries.
Since most of the sites on that server are broken in Germany, my best bet is a broken or at least wonky configuration by the Hosting Provider. So i do think, that the Forum Admins should contact the Hoster if this doesn't clear up in a couple of days by itself. Maybe if it's still broken on Monday, then it will have been ~1 Week.

So all in all: It doesn't really makes much sense to me. But my best guess is probably a DNS Error or some wrong configuration by the Hosting Provider.
Sadly the only thing i can advise atm. is to just wait and hope that it resolves itself and to use a VPN in the meantime.

Johannes
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  #18  
Old 09-10-2019, 05:51 AM
Revell-Fan Revell-Fan is offline
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OH BOY - that's some serious investigation! WOW!
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  #19  
Old 09-10-2019, 06:41 AM
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Kevin WS Kevin WS is offline
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Johannes - thank you for that! Well done! It confirms what we found in many instances at this end.

Note that South Africa (a number of users, not all) has also been affected in the same way you describe and as I have mentioned briefly above. effects started some 3 months ago.

So this means that there is not only a uniquely European aspect to the error.

And as has also been pointed out - other countries too may be affected, but the users affected (perhaps not knowing about or having VPN) do not know how to advise anyone at PM.

---------------------

GDPR as a cause here can be ignored. It is a complex topic and very misunderstood. Currently, the legislation is still in the implementation phase (and many companies and bodies are still not yet compliant as they are still within the compliance window), and I doubt when active (in a year or so) sites will be blocked - the penalty is a fine.

-----------------------

I did on this Forum start and explain GDPR and its implications, trying to remove the "Eurospeak" that confuses everyone.

I have so far covered 2 of the 3 important clauses. Clause 17 I was also going to cover as well, but there has been little further interest in GDPR, so I have left it alone for the moment.

Johannes - if you are interested, see here...

European Copyright Directive
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  #20  
Old 09-10-2019, 08:18 AM
Johannes G Johannes G is offline
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Hi Kevin,

Actually you've confused two things. Looking at your article i think you do know what GDPR is, but here is a short explanation anyways: GDPR is already in effect and has been since the 25th May 2018 and it has nothing to do with copyright. Its the General Data Protection Regulation which tries to improve the privacy and data protection for internet users in the EU. For example it dictates that companies must give you ALL information they have on you and also delete everything if you ask them to. It was something i considered because there are many US Sites that are either too lazy or just don't want to adopt these Regulations so they block access from users in the EU. But overall its a great thing to have in my opinion.

You are thinking about the copyright Reform that was decided earlier this year and is indeed still in the implementation phase. This reform is indeed very complex and even though a reform is desperately needed in my (and pretty much every somewhat IT affine person) opinion a big mistake. Some of the Articles are written by people who don't understand the technology, with help from lobby groups (Mostly Print Media and Music/Film) And it shows.

Also you said in your article that Germany already has experience with the Ancillary copyright for press publishers: Its true that it was made a law in August 2013 but 1 year later an expert commission came to the conclusion that the introduction was an absolute disaster and other scientists agreed, calling for the abolition of the law. "It hasn't worked for Germany so lets do it for the whole of Europe!"-Some guy working on the copyright reform probably

But at the end of the day its supposed to only hit big Websites. So Forums like papermodelers.com should be save

Johannes
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