DNS doesn't have to take forever to propogate

It's a mess out there - in DNS world.
I have just switched my site from a self-hosted Hugo* setup to Blogger** with a custom domain. This was easy, but stressful. Easy because the Internet is full of people wiling to help - especially a guy named Chuck Croll, who is the reason I know a lot more about domain name servers than I ever did before - and stressful because of DNS.

DNS is simply the process of telling the Interwebs where your site is. In order to change from Hugo to Blogger, for example, I had to tell the Internet that my site was moving from a Linode server to a Google server. (Linode are great, by the way, and I will be keeping a copy of my old Hugo site there, ready to instantly deploy, in case Blogger ever gets switched off, or they delete my account for being too much of a Marvel fan boy).

The process of telling Google to use the custom domain and of simultaneously telling your domain provider to point to Google is no harder or simpler than most web-related tasks. The problem is that making this change does not happen instantly. Once you tell your domain provider, they tell top tier computers, who then tell the computers below them, who then tell your Internet service provider, who then tell your router, which then tells your laptop to stop looking in the old place (Linode) and start looking in the new place (Google).

That process usually takes a couple of hours, and I used a bunch of DNS propogation checker websites to watch the spread across the globe. The only country that remained immune was the country I am currently living in, Italy, and when they did eventually wake up to the new information, my ISP didn't bother checking with them. They still haven't almost 48 hours later, as far as I know. I could use a proxy in the USA to see that there my new Blogger site was already live, but my own machine went to a selection of 404 pages, blank pages, and other error states.


I have written, and am still writing a sci-fi series called Dark Galaxy that starts with Galaxy Dog, go buy it from Amazon.

I was pretty sure, after all my research on Chuck's site that I had set up my DNS correctly, but my computer refused to go to my new site. It just kept going to the old Hugo site, or to a page reporting it was impossible to reach the requested server. 

To see my site on my own computer I had to do the following clever trick. I had to change the DNS server on my own laptop, to ignore all the lazy Italian servers and use an up-to-date source of DNS information instead. I made the change using my own lapzop's control panel, and presto-changeo, my site popped up in my very own browser.

* I have nothing but good things to say about Hugo. It is a static-page site generator for blogging, that is not easy to use - for example they assume you know how to use Github - but is rock solid and fun. I felt like a bad-ass hacker using it instead of Wordpress (which everyone else in the world uses). The only problem was I was slightly too stupid to get to the point where building the site was automated - Hugo rebuilds and redeploys your site with every new page you add - so I had to do it manually. As my site grew, that just started to take up too much time. That is no criticism of Hugo: that is me being too stupid to implement it properly. I also never got it working so I could post from my phone.

** I know nobody uses Blogger, but I noticed that there are new templates in the Blogger gallery, and there are messages being posted from an actual team, responsible for updating the platform after years of neglect. It looks to me that after G+ goes the way of the dinosaurs, Blogger will be brought out of mothballs to fill the gap. So I'm guessing it is safe to switch back, at least for now.


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