Things got off to a good start with Time Warner Cable’s Road Runner service. I switched over recently when it became clear that Fairpoint cannot or will not maintain its infrastructure. The Time Warner kit showed up, I plugged everything in, my new digital phone and Internet services worked right out of the box. Nice!
There was just one annoying glitch. My searches kept getting redirected to dnssearch.rr.com. So for example, if the search term was “Jon Udell”, I’d land here. The landing page poses the question “Why am I here?” and answers thusly:
You entered an unknown web address that was used to present site suggestions that you may find useful. Clicking any of these suggestions provides you with search results, which may include relevant sponsored links.
You might wonder why search would trigger this hijacking. I looked into it and found that my DoubleSearch search provider, which queries Google and Bing side-by-side, reveals an odd Road Runner quirk. When I use it on a Road Runner connection, the Google search works normally but the Bing search gets hijacked. This wouldn’t happen normally, but it turns out that I never updated the DoubleSearch provider when search.live.com was redirected to search.bing.com. So when the provider invokes this URL:
I should be redirected to:
But instead, Road Runner sends me to:
Evidently you don’t need to fail a DNS lookup outright to trigger the hijacking. It even happens when your first destination redirects you to a second.
When I went to the Preferences page to end this interference I found not one but three “services”:
- Web Address Error Redirect Service
- Typo Correction Service
- Safe Search Filter
As others before me have discovered, the first of these — the “non-existing domain landing service,” aka DNS hijacking — is enabled by default. That rubs me the wrong way. I don’t want Time Warner Cable hijacking DNS lookups at all. Doing it in a way that involves “relevant sponsored links” is even worse. And triggering on a redirect instead of an outright failed lookup is just plain weird. But OK, it’s a setting, I can disable it once, and then forget about it, right?
Wrong. It turns out that to “disable” the “service” doesn’t mean ending the hijacking for my local network. Instead it means dropping a cookie into whichever browser I happen to be using at the time. This fails to address the various problems detailed on Wikipedia’s DNS Hijacking page.
So I called Time Warner to ask them if they will implement the setting correctly. Unlikely, but it never hurts to ask. Things got off to a really bad start with the first support agent, Kerwin, though.
Me: Your Web Address Error Redirect Service is creating a problem and I’d like to see if we can resolve it.
Kerwin: Where are you being redirected to? It sounds like your computer is infected with a virus, so…
Me: Hold it right there, pal. Let me speak with your supervisor.
After some backpedaling, during which I learned that Kerwin didn’t even know what DNS hijacking is, never mind that Road Runner does it, I connected with Bill at level two support. I told Bill to take Kerwin out to the woodshed for a spanking, and explained the situation again. Bill, who says he’s worked at Time Warner for 8 years, also claims not to know that this “service” exists on his company’s network.
I am waiting (but not really expecting) to hear back from somebody at level three. Meanwhile I just had to get this rant off my chest. If you hijack my network pipe, I’ll be annoyed. If you make it hard for me to stop you from doing that, I’ll be angry. But if you blame me for creating a problem you claim not to know about or understand, I’ll go ballistic.