DDOS part II

March 16, 2010

The free web services are timing out at the hour precisely for a short moment of some seconds. The reason is a widget that calls the services timezoneJSON and  findNearByWeatherJSON always at exactly the full hour from a large number of ip addresses. The sudden spike in requests is causing many other requests to timeout. Around a year ago the free services were suffering from the effects of an iphone application that has become very popular and was using some geonames web services.

Some hours ago we have changed the service to throw an exception hoping that the developer of the widget will see that the application no longer works and change the behavior of the application. It is not very useful if a distributed application running on a huge number of clients is calling the same server at the very same instance.

The exception is thrown on the domain ws.geonames.org for requests of the two JSON services and if no parameter username is present. If you happen to be using the service, just add the parameter username=<your geonames username> avoid the exception. Those using a ‘secret’ domain name are not affected. You can create an account here.

Some of you have already noticed that we are now using ”XK‘  as temporary country code for Kosovo. While the US standards body ‘FIPS’  has found it worthwhile to assign a country code to Kosovo (KV), the International Organization for Standardization, ISO, has yet to assign a code to the former Serbian province. The ISO country code standard 3166 has a couple of unused codes that can be used for user specific elements: “If users need code elements to represent country names not included in this part of ISO 3166, the series of letters AA, QM to QZ, XA to XZ, and ZZ, and the series AAA to AAZ, QMA to QZZ, XAA to XZZ, and ZZA to ZZZ respectively and the series of numbers 900 to 999 are available.

The European Commission and many other organisations (Deutsche Bundesbank, Switzerland) are using ‘XK‘ as a temporary country code for Kosovo till ISO officially assigns a code.

GeoNames will switch to the official ISO code as soon as it has been released. In the meantime we will use ‘XK‘.

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