Archive for the 'glastonbury' Category

Glastonbury, See Tickets fail & Twitter win

The crazy Sunday morning browser refresh panic returned after a year off with the sale of 150,000 tickets to an estimated 750,000 punters. The promise of a beefed-up system (after it took 4 hours to sell out last time, to a number which did not include me) soon evaporated and even getting to the “holding page” seemed like a victory.

The next page was the “registration entry” where you added the numbers and postcodes. Naïvely, we thought we had succeeded the first time we got this far. Sadly, “0% uploaded” was as far as we got before being thrown off again.

Luckily for me, I was watching the twitter #glasto feed in another window. After about 40 minutes, somebody tweeted a hack – a line to add to your hosts file – which would get you through to the See Ticket servers. I didn’t really believe it, but had nothing better to do so gave it a go. Result! Straight through and tickets bought.

So how did that work? It was an error by See Tickets with their DNS entry.

For the non-technical: DNS (Domain Name System) is the “phone book” of the Internet. (For younger readers, a phone book was a list of people’s land line phone numbers listed alphabetically by their surnames, printed out every year and delivered to the house of everybody who had a phone – hard to believe, I know.) When you type “glastonbury.seetickets.com” in your browser, the browser asks your Domain Name Server for the IP address, and the server returns a number like “194.168.202.202”.

Anticipating the demand, See Tickets had, to their credit, set up two servers. Both the addresses should have been entered in the DNS records, and thus 50% of the punters looking for tickets should have gone to each server. Sadly, somebody mistyped one of the addresses, putting 192 instead of 194. Thus half the queries failed, and the other server was hit by every sales request.

On your PC the hosts file is like a small, local Domain Name Server where your browser looks first to see if it knows the IP address of a name. Adding the actual address of the “spare” server in that file meant that you avoided the queue and walked directly up to the almost unused counter next door. Apparently, See Tickets did notice the very unbalanced load on their servers and fixed the DNS record after about 10:00am. The nature of DNS meant that it still took quite a while after that for the change to work its way through the Internet.

How was the error (and fix) discovered? It was because of the actual IP address numbers involved. Addresses starting 192 (or 172 or 10) are reserved for private networks. If you have a network at home, it will start with one of these numbers. Somebody trying to connect to See Tickets was doing it from work on a network which just happened to have a machine with the mistyped address. Instead of the same “could not connect” error that everybody else was getting, they saw a web page from a computer on their own network. So they looked up the numbers, worked out what the error was and shared the solution via Twitter.

Thank you, anonymous hacker, for getting me my tickets to Glastonbury.

Glastonbury 2009

It was tremendously fab.

We had a horror journey there (12 hours on the coach) and so had to put the tent up in the dark when there wasn’t much room left, but that was soon forgotten.

We ate Fish’n’Chips, Green Chicken Curry, Pommes de Terres d’Or, proper Sausages, bacon roll with rocket, fruit salad, Yeo Ice Cream and Yoghurt, tempura and noodles, organic jacket potatoes, never the same thing twice, and all the food was splendid. We drank beer, strawberry pear cider, lager, freshly squeezed fruits and lots of water – as it was, with the exception of Friday morning, exceptionally hot. The Calais Capes did get an hour’s use as capes, and many more as groundsheets!

We watched lightning flash across the valley from the safety of our tent.

Bruce was best. Not only his pyramid stage gig on Saturday (2 1/2 hours), but we also went to see The Gaslight Anthem in the John Peel tent, and he popped in there for a spot of guest guitar playing and chorus singing. The smallish crowd went berserk, and Wen nearly fainted.

We were at the front for Lily Allen, The Specials, The Gaslight Anthem, Kasabian, Bruce and Tom Jones; and near the front for Nick Cave and Blur, and in the arena for Spinal Tap, Tony Christie, Bjorn Again, Fleet Foxes, Madness, The Script, Paolo Nutini, The Maccabees, The Ting Tings and Bloc Party.

Rolf Harris was major and had the biggest crowd that Jazz World has ever seen. We saw and danced to a groovy old band on the Bandstand called Biggles Wartime Band (we only stopped because they had a tuba player in a tiger suit) who covered Bear Necessities and finished with their own composition called “Gluesniffin”. We danced some salsa in the Parlure, watched Banjo Circus (the smallest banjo orchestra with circus tricks in the world) in the Circus Outside, heard that Michael Jackson was dead from some kid with a mobile phone in The Glades, grooved to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in a Kidney Donor disco in Shangri-La, watched giant metal heads play music with firejets in Trash City, and walked miles and fucking miles.

That’s how fab it was. Next year is the 40th anniversary. It’ll be awesome.

Glastonbury, finally

Finally I get around to mentioning it, and finally I went to it. Prompted by this cute embedded Flickr file viewer.