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Author Topic: Related links on CNN not working  (Read 5907 times)

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Offline TriesteTopic starter

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Related links on CNN not working
« on: November 04, 2010, 12:49:01 PM »
Whenever I click on 'related content' on CNN.com, it gives me the error "Firefox can't establish a connection to the server at traffic.outbrain.com."

I made sure Firefox is allowed through Windows Firewall, and I tried disabling adblock plus to see if that was the culprit - it was not. Something is blocking outbrain (the service that CNN.com uses to sift through articles and bring related content to the bottom of the screen). Has anyone had this problem? Were you able to fix it? It's really annoying.

Online Vekseid

Re: Related links on CNN not working
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2010, 01:23:47 PM »
What's your hosts file look like?

Often located in
C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc

Offline TriesteTopic starter

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Re: Related links on CNN not working
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2010, 01:28:43 PM »
Under file:///C:/WINDOWS/system32/drivers/ or its subfolders, there is nothing containing a hosts file or subfolder. When I do a system search for hosts, I find a file under my documents called hosts, with a system file named hosts in it, but I can't open the file.

I'm not really sure what I'm looking for, though.

Offline Avis habilis

Re: Related links on CNN not working
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2010, 01:55:24 PM »
Try looking in here: C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc

The file is just called "hosts", no extension. Your machine might be set to hide files without one.

Offline Caeli

Re: Related links on CNN not working
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2010, 04:30:02 AM »
The hosts file might also be hidden. If that's the case, you'll have to change that in your folder options before being able to see it.

Offline TriesteTopic starter

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Re: Related links on CNN not working
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2010, 06:52:09 AM »
So, I can see it, it's there. As I said in the last post, I cannot open it. Probably because it has no extension? Or am I supposed to open it in Firefox, or what?

Offline Caeli

Re: Related links on CNN not working
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2010, 07:16:41 AM »
Open with Notepad.

Offline Oreo

Re: Related links on CNN not working
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2010, 08:14:12 AM »
I could be totally off base, but I downloaded this Bitberry software free file viewer 2010 and can open just about any file now. Even those pesky ones that say 'cannot' be read. O.o I generally don't touch them, but I can look to my heart's content.

Offline TriesteTopic starter

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Re: Related links on CNN not working
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2010, 11:47:17 AM »
Okay, so I was able to open it in wordpad. traffic.outbrain.com is in the HOSTS file - should I remove it?

Offline Avis habilis

Re: Related links on CNN not working
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2010, 12:24:28 PM »
Depends. Is there an actual IP beside it, or does it say "127.0.0.1"? If the latter, ditch it.

Offline TriesteTopic starter

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Re: Related links on CNN not working
« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2010, 12:30:36 PM »
Yeah, it has the 127 next to it. Let me see how that works...

Offline TriesteTopic starter

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Re: Related links on CNN not working
« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2010, 12:48:19 PM »
Nope, tried deleting, saving, and rebooting the computer and still no go, not even with a cleared cache and cookies.

Offline Soran

Re: Related links on CNN not working
« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2010, 02:40:03 AM »
Have you tried with any other browsers, like Google Chrome? If it works with Chrome, then you may just have to uninstall FF and reinstall it (after saving your bookmarks) Usually any issues I've had with FF are fixed with a remove an fresh install.

Offline TriesteTopic starter

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Re: Related links on CNN not working
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2010, 12:14:09 PM »
Took me a while, but I finally snagged the time to look at this. When I try in Google Chrome, it can't connect either. I tried a fresh install of firefox anyway, just in case, but no dice.

I'm out of ideas on what could be the cause (was stumped when I posted this, frankly). :/

Offline Soran

Re: Related links on CNN not working
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2010, 02:49:43 PM »
Damn...sorry hun, I thought that would do it. I'll have a search around over the weekend see if others have had this issue and let you know what I find.

Offline TriesteTopic starter

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Re: Related links on CNN not working
« Reply #15 on: December 02, 2010, 03:12:51 PM »
I've been googling my fingers off, but I can't find a solution, so another set of eyes can't hurt.

Offline ShamshielDF

Re: Related links on CNN not working
« Reply #16 on: December 02, 2010, 09:53:48 PM »
My own suggestions:

A) Rename the Hosts file to something different.  This should prevent the system from trying to read it at all.  For most people, they don't really need a hosts file for things anyway, but a lot of anti-adware programs work by basically redirecting any known ad site to 127.0.0.1.  However, it is possible that you have a hosts file for other things.  Usually, though, it is more for a business environment not running their own DNS servers.

A bit of background on the Hosts file and DNS for Non-technical users:  Think of the hosts file as something like a phone book.  Whenever you try to go to a site or browse to another machine, your computer looks to the hosts file first, similar to looking something up in an old fashioned personal notebook.  It may be out of date, the numbers may be wrong, but it's right there.  The way anti-adware works is similar to the idea of listing every commercial number in your phone book as your home number.  Whenever you try to call it, you get yourself (or a busy tone).  Same thing for ad sites.  127.0.0.1 is the universal loopback address, effectively a phone number that, no matter where you dial it from will always be the phone you dialed from.

If your computer can't find the server your trying to find in the hosts file, it tries to look at your DNS server.  Without getting into the nitty gritty particulars of how the DNS system works, think of this more like dialing information and getting a phone number from them.  Generally, their going to be correct, considering that their the ones assigning the numbers out in the first place.  Sometimes things may be out of date or out of synch, but usually it all clears up fairly quick (ie. within 24 hours by and large).

By renaming your hosts file, we're effectively hiding the personal phone book from Windows, so it will have to call information for every server it wants to talk to.

As with any metaphor, this isn't perfect, but it suffices for giving an idea of what is going on.

B) Check your Internet Options via the control panel.  Even if this is largely an IE configuration tool, most other browsers will look at this for their configuration.  Go to the Connections tab and see what is listed.  Are there any listings under Dial up and VPN?  Then check under LAN Settings.  Is anything in their checked?  Is there a proxy server specified?  If so, please re-post here any particulars of what is listed.  It's possible that you are set to use a software proxy on your own machine or something that may be interfering.

Offline TriesteTopic starter

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Re: Related links on CNN not working
« Reply #17 on: December 02, 2010, 11:05:26 PM »
Thank you for the awesome explanation! Renaming hosts file didn't work.

B) Check your Internet Options via the control panel.  Even if this is largely an IE configuration tool, most other browsers will look at this for their configuration.  Go to the Connections tab and see what is listed.  Are there any listings under Dial up and VPN?  Then check under LAN Settings.  Is anything in their checked?  Is there a proxy server specified?  If so, please re-post here any particulars of what is listed.  It's possible that you are set to use a software proxy on your own machine or something that may be interfering.


I do have one VPN account set up currently, my school's VPN. They require it for internet access at school - you connect to the school LAN and then you dial up the VPN with your school username and password. So that is there, although when I go into the settings for that particular VPN, the proxy server is unchecked.

Under LAN settings, there are only three tickboxes: automatically detect settings (checked), use automatic configuration spot (unchecked), and use a proxy server for your LAN (unchecked). I'm using Windows 7, in case you need to know that.


Offline ShamshielDF

Re: Related links on CNN not working
« Reply #18 on: December 03, 2010, 02:09:14 AM »
Hrm...I'm trying to check the site myself to see exactly what all it's trying to connect to/pull up when that link is clicked, but I can't seem to find anything in any of the articles that I've opened labeled "Related Content".  I have a "Related Topics" which seems to be an internal set of topics/categories, "We Recommend" which appears to be similar articles from other CNN sites (CNN World, CNN Justice, CNN Entertainment), and a "From Around the Web" which appears to be links to related articles on CNN affiliates (health.com, wired.com, NYMag).  Can you post a link to one of the articles that you're seeing this on?  Maybe we can parse through this another way and figure out exactly where it's failing.

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Re: Related links on CNN not working
« Reply #19 on: December 03, 2010, 07:02:37 AM »
It's only the ones that go through traffic.outbrain.com.

For instance, when I go to one of the top stories, Professor embeds camera in head, I go to the bottom and on the left they have "We recommend" which I can never connect to, and then there is "From around the web" which I can connect to just fine.

When I click on any link under "We recommend", it gives the error message:
Unable to connect
Firefox can't establish a connection to the server at traffic.outbrain.com.

Chrome gives a similar message. I haven't tried it on IE because IE is the debil. >.>

Offline ShamshielDF

Re: Related links on CNN not working
« Reply #20 on: December 03, 2010, 03:45:04 PM »
So, lets try the next step here.  Pull up a command prompt (hit the start button, go to run and type 'cmd' and hit enter).  You should now have a black DOS window.  In that window type the following command and hit enter:

Quote
ping widgets.outbrain.com

Also try this one:

Quote
ping traffic.outbrain.com

And copy the results here.  If you right click inside the window and select 'mark' you can then left-click highlight a section of text.  Right click will then automatically copy the text to the windows clipboard so you can paste elsewhere.  The results should look something like the text below.

Quote
C:\Documents and Settings\ShamshielDF>ping widgets.outbrain.com

Pinging orig-10004.outbrain.cotcdn.net [208.93.141.90] with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from 208.93.141.90: bytes=32 time=57ms TTL=54
Reply from 208.93.141.90: bytes=32 time=56ms TTL=54
Reply from 208.93.141.90: bytes=32 time=57ms TTL=54
Reply from 208.93.141.90: bytes=32 time=62ms TTL=54

Ping statistics for 208.93.141.90:
    Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
    Minimum = 56ms, Maximum = 62ms, Average = 58ms

C:\Documents and Settings\ShamshielDF>ping traffic.outbrain.com

Pinging traffic.outbrain.com [208.68.171.10] with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from 208.68.171.10: bytes=32 time=71ms TTL=53
Reply from 208.68.171.10: bytes=32 time=68ms TTL=53
Reply from 208.68.171.10: bytes=32 time=68ms TTL=53
Reply from 208.68.171.10: bytes=32 time=70ms TTL=53

Ping statistics for 208.68.171.10:
    Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
    Minimum = 68ms, Maximum = 71ms, Average = 69ms

Hopefully, that will give a hint as to where things are failing.

Offline TriesteTopic starter

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Re: Related links on CNN not working
« Reply #21 on: December 04, 2010, 04:40:01 PM »
ping widgets.outbrain.com

Pinging orig-10004.outbrain.cotcdn.net [98.142.106.60] with 32 bytes of data:
Reply from 98.142.106.60: bytes=32 time=20ms TTL=56
Reply from 98.142.106.60: bytes=32 time=27ms TTL=56
Reply from 98.142.106.60: bytes=32 time=20ms TTL=56
Reply from 98.142.106.60: bytes=32 time=20ms TTL=56

Ping statistics for 98.142.106.60:
    Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
    Minimum = 20ms, Maximum = 27ms, Average = 21ms



ping traffic.outbrain.com

Pinging traffic.outbrain.com [127.0.0.1] with 32 bytes of data:
Reply from 127.0.0.1: bytes=32 time<1ms TTL=128
Reply from 127.0.0.1: bytes=32 time<1ms TTL=128
Reply from 127.0.0.1: bytes=32 time<1ms TTL=128
Reply from 127.0.0.1: bytes=32 time<1ms TTL=128

Ping statistics for 127.0.0.1:
    Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
    Minimum = 0ms, Maximum = 0ms, Average = 0ms

Offline Oniya

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Re: Related links on CNN not working
« Reply #22 on: December 04, 2010, 05:35:33 PM »
traffic.outbrain.com is still going to the loopback address.  widgets.outbrain.com seems to be going outside and returning properly. 

Offline ShamshielDF

Re: Related links on CNN not working
« Reply #23 on: December 04, 2010, 11:18:39 PM »
Very interesting...it's coming back with a 127.0.0.1 even with the hosts file renamed.  Lets try another command and see if this helps us find out what's going on a bit better.  Once more, at the command prompt:

Code: [Select]
nslookup traffic.outbrain.com
This should return something like this:

Code: [Select]
C:\Documents and Settings\ShamshielDF>nslookup traffic.outbrain.com
Server:  home.domain.actdsltmp
Address:  192.168.0.1

DNS request timed out.
    timeout was 2 seconds.
Non-authoritative answer:
Name:    traffic.outbrain.com
Address:  208.68.171.10

Offline TriesteTopic starter

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Re: Related links on CNN not working
« Reply #24 on: December 04, 2010, 11:36:49 PM »
No, it looks nothing like that.

nslookup traffic.outbrain.com
Server:  cns.chelmsfdrdc2.ma.boston.comcast.net
Address:  68.87.71.230

Non-authoritative answer:
Name:    traffic.outbrain.com
Address:  69.9.45.36