I am delighted to be able to report that the Oppedahl Patent Law Firm LLC listservs are working again. Just now I successfully migrated the listservs from a previous hosting provider to a new hosting provider.
If you are a member of one or more of the listservs, you should have received one or more test emails in recent minutes, letting you know that the listservs are working again.
You may recall my report from six days ago that our listservs were broken. Now they are working again, as I will explain.
Some readers of this blog article may be asking “What is a listserv? What are the listservs sponsored by OPLF? Am I missing out on something if I am not a member of a listserv?”
Other readers of this blog article may be asking “What went wrong with the listservs? What did it take to get the listservs working again?”
I’ll try to answer these questions one by one. Feel free to post more questions and comments below.
What is a listserv? A listserv is a electronic mailing list (Wikipedia article) also called an email discussion group. A member of a listserv can post messages, called “postings”. Each posting gets automatically forwarded to the other members of the listserv. A member may, if he or she wishes, be a “lurker”, a person who reads postings but rarely or never posts.
What are the listservs sponsored by OPLF? OPLF sponsors many listservs, some of which are open to the public. Among the most popular listservs sponsored by OPLF are:
- the PCT listserv, for users of the Patent Cooperation Treaty
- the Madrid listserv, for users of the Madrid Protocol
- the Designs listserv, for practitioners dealing with protection of industrial designs, including use of the Hague Agreement
- the Feathers listserv, for users of the Feathers! software for monitoring the status of US trademark applications and registrations
- the Copyright listserv, for copyright practitioners
- the e-Trademarks listserv, for trademark practitioners
- the EFS-Web listserv, for patent practitioners
- the PAIR listserv, for users of USPTO’s PAIR system
How long have these OPLF listservs been in existence? Many of these listservs have been in existence for over twenty-five years.
How many people belong to the OPLF listservs? The smaller listserv communities are just a few hundred people. Some listservs have over a thousand members.
Am I missing out on something if I am not a member of one or more of the OPLF listservs? Yes. See the Wikipedia article about this.
How do the listservs work? The listservs work using software called Mailman. Mailman can be run on any Linux server. Most people who use Mailman choose to host it on a system called cPanel (Wikipedia article). Most people who use cPanel choose to pay a service provider to provide an instance of cPanel on a virtual machine that is in a cloud somewhere.
What went wrong with the listservs? For the past decade or so we had been hosting our listservs on a cPanel system provided by a company in Boulder, Colorado. But in the past couple of years we were starting to think we might need to migrate away from that provider. One problem was that the version of cPanel was way out of date. They kept saying they would update it and this kept not happening. Among other things, the out-of-date cPanel did not support Server Name Indication which is a pretty important thing nowadays for web sites that want to provide SSL (https://).
Then we started having lots of bounced emails. As I described in a previous blog article, what seems to have happened is that some other customer of that service provider (probably a new customer) started sending spam, and it triggered one of the spam black-hole-list service providers to deprecate the IP address that the emails were coming from. In other words, some spammer was sending spam using the same IP address that our listservs were using. Most of our outbound emails were bouncing.
What did it take to get the listservs working again? It turns out that in the years that have gone by since we set up our service with the service provider in Boulder, lots of companies have started providing inexpensive, cloud-based cPanel services. And one standard thing that any cPanel service provider will do, if you ask nicely, is they will migrate the entire contents of your previous cPanel instance to their new server.
I picked one cPanel provider (a company in El Segundo, California) whose sales representative said would provide Mailman service at a particular price. I paid in advance for a year of service and we initiated the migration. Six days later the migration people had not done their work. Eventually the company said no, they only provide Mailman on a much more expensive platform. It was a bait and switch. I dumped them and started over, selecting Namecheap. Their web site described more clearly their support for Mailman, their migration service was prompt and accurate, and their tech and sales support were responsive.
Hopefully the percentage uptime will be excellent, and hopefully the tech and sales support will continue to be high quality. If it works that way, I will probably migrate more of our services away from other providers and over to Namecheap. [Update January 2019 — yes the uptime has been excellent and the tech support has continued to be high quality. I have migrated nearly all of our services away from other providers and over to Namecheap.]