Friday, March 2, 2012

OSX Lion Productivity Wasters

Today's SAAS applications environment has one thing in common with the networked office environments of the early 1990's: the networks are just good enough to lull you into a state of complacency until you are in the middle of something important, and then they crap out.

Back then, we learned that, given a choice, we should not to rely upon network services. It was just a recipe for continued frustration and disruption. The UNIX workstation/Windows PC was a Godsend, because while it could be networked, it had enough brains and brawn to get interesting things done all by itself. As centralized governance was imposed however, everything that was networked was subjected to a diseased governance that imposed centralized, non-robust domain security. So everything would automatically lock down at the slightest hiccup.

An interruption to an otherwise unimportant DNS server could turn your $5k workstation into a warm brick for at least as long as needed to disrupt your train of thought.

Today, I'm trying to pull together a summary of expenses using a docs.google.com' spreadsheet, using Chrome on an OSX Lion 10.7 MacBook Pro (e.g., a UNIX workstation). Sigh. I've been interrupted three times in the space of two hours, due to DNS lookup failures:

The server at docs.google.com can't be found, because the DNS lookup failed.

Restarting the modem/router/firewall doesn't help. A common solution is to flush the cache on OSX:

dscacheutil -flushcache


But sometimes this accomplishes nothing: DNS still comes up empty for sites like docs.google.com. Another solution is to restart the DNS responder:



sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.mDNSResponder.plist


sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.mDNSResponder.plist



But this just punts the problem down the road, and maybe not even all that far. The real questions are, why does the cache suddenly go stale for big SAAS providers, and why is Chrome more frequently affected?

The latter link suggests that Chrome may have a brain-damaged DNS lookup algorithm: try the first DNS server, then vomit errors if that doesn't work. A quick check of the System Preferences / Network settings / Advanced for the TCP/IP DNS servers shows that the wireless router is reporting itself as the first DNS server. I have a cheap Linksys WRT160Nv3 picked up from CompUSA as a refurb. Perhaps the real problem is that the router is brain-damaged, and is passing on its brain damage to Chrome.

I don't know. I'm still looking for resolution. If I have to, I'll jettison the cheap Linksys. OK, done, but Chrome has the same problem with a completely different Linksys. Maybe it is time to jettison Chrome?


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