For the last three days I’ve been troubleshooting some internet connection problems between users in Europe (England and the Netherlands, specifically) and my servers. These guys were having real troubles because they couldn’t get to web sites, e-mail, or other things they needed… and I had no idea why.

While each user had consistent problems, between their two countries the issues were slightly different. I logged into servers in Amsterdam to try to figure things out; the guy in England asked buddies in the area to see if they had the same issues. We spun our wheels for hours (and the time zone difference made it even more interesting) and simply couldn’t figure out what was happening. The worst part was there wasn’t any pattern to it, so we didn’t know where to begin fixing it.

In the end, a few helpful people on the local Linux user’s group suggested some things to try, and I figured out that the problem was in a network router somewhere near Chicago. Apparently the trans-Atlantic connection hopped from London through New York and into Chicago, where it stopped dead. But connections to other addresses on my server did go through– after being routed around Chicago.

It’s all part of the vast globe-spanning network we call the internet, and let me tell you it’s a frustrating and hair-pulling experience to troubleshoot something that turns out to not even be your fault while users across the ocean are getting equally frustrated because they can’t do what they need to do.

So about an hour ago, the company that controls that router either figured out they were horking traffic, and either just switched it off and re-routed traffic around it, or finally fixed the problem. Everything magically started to work, and my European friends are happy again.

These computer thingies are sure complicated sometimes…