James and the Giant Corn Genetics: Studying the Source Code of Nature

November 9, 2009

We’re Back

Filed under: Computers and Coding — Tags: , — James @ 4:15 pm

I apologize for the downtime today. This morning the server this site is hosted on apparently came under DDoS attack.* And just as my hosting provider was able to compensate, the bank of servers providing mySQL support went down (presumably from the strain inflicted by the DDoS attack, two unrelated failures in the same day from a service that’s normally pretty reliable seems unlikely).

So that’s why Jamesandthegiantcorn has been either unreachable or returning database errors all day, and I really am sorry.

In case you missed them while the site was down:

Last night there was a post on how some, but not all, corn uses chemical signals to attract nematodes when its roots are attacked by insect larva that the nematodes eat, and how that functionality can be restored in lines of corn that don’t normally have it with a signal transgene (with the presumption that introgressing the native corn gene would also work).

This morning the first in my series of profiles of genetically engineered plants that are commercially available, Canola, went up.

And orignally scheduled to go up around noon (in the middle of the outage), was an explanation of how I’m going to handle creating a resource on crops that have actually been genetically modified, since writing one long post was clearly something I was going to keep putting off indefinately.

Anyway, such attacks are just a part of life on the modern internet. Sometimes they come at random, sometimes they’re a way of shutting down sites the attacker doesn’t like. Since I share my server with a bunch of other people, we’ll probably never know why (if there even was a reason) we were attacked.

*DDoS stands for Distributed Denial of Service. An attacker uses hundreds or even thousands of compromised computers across the world to attempt to access a site at once. The huge load swamps the host server to the point where it can’t respond to legitimate requests, and since the traffic is coming from lots of different computers with different addresses it’s hard to block it without also blocking the real people trying to access a site. And that doesn’t even take into account what happens when routers are so overwhelmed the datacenter personel can’t log into them to alter their settings. (Monty, if you’re reading this can you give an expert prespective on these attacks?)

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