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homenet.org is down

The hobbyist domain homenet.org went down on Saturday 29th July 2017.

Users of my old service there may wish to try access.ucam.org with the part after the / being the same as before.

I ran that service from one of Homenet's 105 subdomains because:

  1. the Homenet domain was obviously unofficial (``home networking'')---I wanted to run a mirror of a larger site but with added language-learning helps, and I wanted it to be as obvious as possible that mine was an unofficial mirror;
  2. the domain was still short and memorable---to protect the original site's reputation, I wanted to prevent search engines from seeing my version, and spread it only via word of mouth to those I knew would understand---so I needed a link people can remember easily so they wouldn't have to search;
  3. it didn't have my name on it---I was still traceable for legal purposes, but I didn't want anyone to think I was trying to take credit away from the original site.

Nevertheless I did not control Homenet at top level (they only gave me a subdomain), so when the proprietor of Homenet pulled the plug, I was gone. That's the risk of hobbyist service providers. It was not a result of anything that happened between me and the original site.

(At the original site's request I had already suspended my full mirroring service at the end of 2013, but I continued to maintain specialised indexes and dictionaries for language-learning use which extensively linked to that site, plus custom browser extensions and phone applications for the same purpose; all of these continued to be available from my Homenet subdomain. The 2017 demise of that subdomain was due only to the upstream demise of Homenet as a service provider; there's no need to speculate anything else.)

I did attempt to contact the owner of Homenet to ask if they needed help with maintenance, but I didn't receive a reply.

After 6 weeks of downtime, the domain expired on 10th September 2017, and the hobbyist's registrar did not automatically renew it as some do. Instead the expiring domain was automatically bought by a company called DropCatch, which sold it at auction for 2,060 US dollars to Oleksandr Protoven of Kiev (bidding as "capito" and reportedly already holding 125+ domains mostly redirecting to hotel directories); 6 weeks later Homenet was pointed to a list of "hotels in Vienna" and I don't think they'd appreciate users of Homenet's old subdomains asking for redirects.

Bookmarklet service

Some of the 'bookmarklet' browser extensions I was serving from my old Homenet address continued to function because they used an rhcloud.com address for 'back-end' processing (I couldn't go via homenet.org for that, due to SSL certification issues). This rhcloud.com address pointed to a virtual server in the "Openshift Online 2" system, which Red Hat said they'd shut down on Saturday 30th September 2017 (actually they took it offline in the early hours of Tuesday 3rd October, then at 10:45pm gave us a temporary reprieve saying last chance to back up until 5pm Thursday and took it offline again at 11:24pm Thursday 5th). They told us to upgrade to Openshift Online 3, but that would have broken the bookmarklets anyway because rhcloud.com addresses were being changed into openshiftapps.com addresses and there was no clear way to keep an existing address.

The Openshift shutdown was not related to the Homenet shutdown, but they happened to occur close to each other and the answer to both is for everybody to change to using access.ucam.org addresses (but I had trouble reaching my users to tell them).


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