The End of netNumina

Earlier this month, one of my former employers, netNumina, was sold to Keane. I’ll avoid making any remarks about the sensibility of this apparently bizarre acquisition (at a valuation substantially less than the amount that the VCs invested in the company back in 2000… ok, I’ll stop there 😉 except to reflect back on this truly unique company.

Update: Based on this SEC filing, Keane paid $5.8M.

A little history: netNumina started as a spinoff from Open Environment Corporation’s professional services group shortly after they were acquired by Borland back in 1996. They had several of the developers of OEC’s Entera product, one of the first real implementations of modern middleware, which afforded netNumina the opportunity to design the software guts right at the heart of several huge financial services companies which were still relying on the old OEC Borland products.

My first introduction to netNumina came while working for one of their clients back in 1999. The thing that immediately impressed me about their people was that they were wonderfully easy to get along with. They really knew their technical stuff and, for the most part, they knew how to work together. And everybody was just generally cool to be around. This combination of interesting, bright, and fun people from all over the world made it a great place to work (plus, they were a 10 minute walk away from my house…), so I joined in 2001 as a Principal Consultant in the system architecture group.

While netNumina is in the process of disappearing, the friendships made and the knowledge gained still survive (I could probably name 30 friends from netNumina without even thinking).

Anybody who used to work at netNumina is invited to join the exnumina mailing list to stay in touch.

It was fun while it lasted.

(Kind of strange how otherwise healthy companies tend to go ker-plunk after VCs get involved, though….)

Update: There’s a netNumina bye-bye party on April 9th, 2005 in Arlington, MA. Please sign up for the exnumina mailing list (URL above) and ask for details if you are interested in coming. All ex-NN people are welcome.

Walking the DNS Tree

The DNS Rapid Update service that was put into place several months ago is really wonderful. If you make a change to the nameservers associated with a zone, the changes appear in the root servers almost immediately. In many cases, changes to a zone will start resolving right away, but due to record caching, sometimes clients won’t actually see the new record information for a while (until their local cache entries expire).

So, how do you find out if the root nameservers have been updated? You can ask them directly, actually. You can do this with several tools like nslookup, dig, and host. I tend to just use nslookup because that’s what I learned with (it’s also handy to know because it’s ubiquitous). Each of these tools also do other things, but I’m not going into that here.

Continue reading “Walking the DNS Tree”

Some Travel Rants

The TSA‘s security efforts at US airports do not make any of us safer. The TSA staff at the checkpoints seem to be too focused on the minute mechanics of their jobs to be doing anything useful. If Richard Reid, the Shoe Bomber, hadn’t attempted to blow up a plane, none of us would have to take off our shoes when passing through metal detectors. It’s farsical and it wastes a whole lot of time. Tweezers and nail clippers still aren’t allowed in the cabin, as if they were any more deadly than the dull metallic knives that have now made their way back onto the business class dinner settings. All of these silly restrictions in the name of security are, in fact, not helping. A creative 7-year old could probably figure out 10 ways to breach these TSA checkpoints – why does our government think that determined terrorists don’t have these skills?

My new favorite airline is FAF (Fucking Air France) which set new lows in customer service standards on our latest trip. Choice quotes include “you should be more organized” (from a jerk at the business class sales desk in Paris who nearly had me climbing over the ticket counter to resolve his attitude problem) and “you only bought these tickets from us to save money “. Note to US travelers passing through European countries: there’s a 32Kg weight limit on bags when you’re going across the Atlantic, but it’s 20Kg within Europe unless your entire journey is booked as one itinerary. You can, however, just offload weight into your carry-on and take everything on the plane and avoid paying an extra 6 euros per kg.

The last observation that I want to make is something that my Dad pointed out to me the other day. Air travel is getting a lot more complicated for customers. I think that this is being driven by the low-cost carriers who charge low fees and provide low quality service. If you only want to go from A to B, then this doesn’t pose much of a problem for you. If you want to go from A to C but need to connect through B, things get tricky. Some airlines are apparently canceling their agreements with other airlines to automatically pass through customer’s luggage in the event of flight cancelations, etc. (Aer Lingus is one). I’m not sure where this is leading, but if you think that you can connect from one flight to another in one hour, you’d better start making contingency plans.