Customers of the late Ron Soman may be offline for a while

Imagine this: you run a popular tech site. You wake up one morning to the news that your site’s admin is dead of a sudden heart attack. In what others describe as a “bizarre turn of events,” your site is suddenly flipped offline by its server host, and now all its data – as well as all the data for other sites your admin worked on – is frozen!

Such is the situation for’s Michael Schuette, who finds himself locked out of his own website once its server host learned about the sudden, fatal heart attack of his administrator, Ron Soman.

Schuette/Lost Circuits isn’t the only ones affected, as most of Soman’s other customers – including sites like,, and – are also offline.

Initially, thePlanet said administrative procedure is to lock the sites and then physically wipe their servers’ hard drives unless the administrator indicates otherwise, according to Ars Technica. It’s an impossible situation in this case – what happens if the administrator dies?

The good news is that it appears thePlanet has backed down on this initial, harsh stance. While the company’s legal department remains obstinate, writes Shuette in his blog, thePlanet will not erase the sites Soman managed – instead, it will hold them frozen until a “legal heir” can be found to authorize their release.

Soman, who Schuette described as “like family,” ran a one-man company. All of the sites’ data and backups live on servers owned by Soman – and since thePlanet will only deal with him, despite his death, restoring the Lost Circuit’s data from backups or updating its DNS records is impossible.

E-mails sent to thePlanet from DailyTech were not immediately returned.

Currently, things are looking up for Soman’s customers – over the long term. The legal process is a lengthy, and those web sites could be offline for a while.

Schuette wants anybody who owns the sites Soman administered to follow the steps outlined on his blog, and to contact him with the site’s URL so that he can add it to his list. If Soman’s customers band together, he says, the process might be expedited.

Update 10/15/2008: thePlanet's Yvonne Donaldson replied back, noting that the matter is now being handled smoothly between thePlanet's legal department and Schuette. Comments from Schuette at the bottom of the Ars Technica article note that thePlanet did not lock down the sites on its own; rather, someone with power of attorney ordered the freeze and failed to notify Soman's clients.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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