The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Saturday, Debtember 09, 2017

A rare sight indeed

[It's sad to think that Clark Kent has to travel to West Palm Beach, Florida to change into Superman these days.]

Now that I think about it, it seems strange that Clark would even consider using a phone booth for changing into Superman. They aren't known for being all that spacious (unlike British police boxes) and they lack any sense of visual privacy.

And yet, here we are, Clark in mid-change.

Tuesday, Debtember 05, 2017

No, I didn't miss your email, I'm ignoring it on purpose

follow up
Tue, 5 Dec 2017 05:02:45 +0000

Hey there

Just a quick follow up in case you’ve missed my email. If you’re short on time right now — no worries. I won’t bug you about it again. I forgot to mention in my previous email that you may republish my work if you prefer.

Thank you,


The email continues with a quoting of his previous email.

This is something else I've noticed with this type of spam—follow-up messages when I didn't respond. I guess it works (or they wouldn't bother with it), although now I'm thinking I should update the post in question with a link to this entry just to see what happens.

Monday, Debtember 04, 2017

“This site under construction”

And speaking of websites from the 90s, I recently came across wiby, a search engine that only returns pages that fit the 90s asthetic—no Javascript, <TABLE>-based layouts and endless “Under Construction” animated GIFs littering the page.

Wonderful stuff.

I don't even bother with searching, instead I prefer to hit the “surprise me …” link. As Douglas Adams once said, “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

Yet another case where a spammer didn't bother to actually read the page

Research on Mattresses
Mon, 4 Dec 2017 09:13:34 -0800

Dear Editor,

My name is Jen and I’m a writer at Jen Reviews. I was doing research on mattresses and just finished reading your wonderful blog post:

In that article, I noticed that you cited a solid post that I’ve read in the past:

I just finished writing a guide that is even more detailed, updated and comprehensive on how to choose a mattress - 9 factors to consider according to science. It is over 7,000 words and packed with practical tips and advice. You can find it here:

If you like the guide we’d be humbled if you cited us in your article. Of course, we will also share your article with our 50k newsletter subscribers and followers across our social platforms.

Either way, keep up the great work!


I swear, my pagerank must be increasing or something, because I'm getting a lot more of these types of email lately. And it's clear the sender never bothered to look at the page as the page in question isn't even a blog post. It's from way in the past—October of 1998, to be exact (and I know that because this page caused Welcome Wagon International, Inc. to send a “cease and desist” letter to my previous host for violating their copyright, thus forcing me to register my own (and still current) domain).

The link on the page was actually linking to Wendy Dunlap's homepage and not to a matress company. To tell the truth, I would be surprised if any of the links on that page work—even the link to me (where my last name is mispelled “Connor”) points to a non-existant domain (which wasn't even correct when I mirrored that page in October of 1998). The only reason that page is still here is because “cool links don't change” and I was doing the smooth transition from the old host to new one. In fact, until today, I had forgotten that page even exists.

And as for what ASG-X actually was, will have to wait for another time.


It's still a long day.

Now there's construction going on in the office one floor up. Either that, or some firemen are still trying to rescue people from a nonexistent fire.

“Sorry I was late to the meeting, but the firemen wouldn't let me in the building for some reason … ”

Nothing quite like showing up to work at The Ft. Lauderdale Office Of The Corporation during a fire alarm.

The cause?

The fire alarm today was indeed a real fire alarm not a test. The alarm was due to a faulty smoke detector.

It's going to be a long day …

Sunday, Debtember 03, 2017

Yorick loves it when a plan comes together

[He won't tell me what he did, for dead men tell no tales.]

Yorick smoking a celebratory cigar after finally getting around to it.

Or several.

Friday, Debtember 01, 2017

Tiny bubbles waiting to be popped by a SWAT team

Early this year, someone I haven't talked to in eight years called me out of the blue with a “business deal.” Curiosity got the better of me, and I spend most of a day talking to X about his proposal. It was odd—he was planning on taking out a loan against his house, but because he was self-employed, and his (then pregnant) wife was bumped down to part time, he was unable to get a loan of the amount he wanted. But if he got a co-signer, then he could get more than he was asking for.

And that's where I came in. He wanted me to co-sign the loan, and any excess money over what he wanted (negotiable) would come to me. Even if he defaulted, I wouldn't be on the hook because the house was worth more than the loan in any case. There was simply no “down side” to this (his words). No risk at all.

We would then use the proceeds of the loan to “invest” in Bitcoin. I told X back then that I felt it was a bubble, that I didn't know much about it, and what I did know didn't make me feel confident about it, especially the insecurity of the various Bitcoin exchanges [and to further pour salt onto the wounds, at the time, Bitcoins were worth $2,000.00 and as of today, they're worth $11,679.00. —Editor] [Yes, but the markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent, and I didn't see you buying any at the time. —Sean] [Touché —Editor].

It also turns out I wasn't the first person he asked about this. X just couldn't understand why anyone would pass up such an opportunity.

I ended up passing on the opportunity. Even though I tend to view “good credit” as a means of going into debt faster, I didn't want to put my financial health (such as it is) on the line for a rather dubious sounding proposal.

I'm only bringing this up today because I heard, through a third party, what happened to X over the past few months. I haven't been able to verify this but I do trust the source.

It seems that over the past few months he grew more paranoid and irratic. He (and here the story gets a bit garbled) built? some sort of bubble machine and was trying to sell it to Disney. He spent over a month at a hotel in the Orlando area (I don't recall if it was on the Disney property or not) and eventually barricaded himself in the room with several video cameras providing coverage of the immedate area. It took a SWAT team to pull him out and in the end, he was committed to a facility under the Baker Act. His wife took their kid and disappeared, no one knowing where she went. Not even X's family knows where she is.

And that's that. A rather bizarre end to a bizarre “business deal.”

Thursday, November 30, 2017

While my chances of winning are zero, I still have my dollar

Thu, 30 Nov 2017 00:09:50 +0000

Hello there,

On your page I noticed that you are linking to an article about the chances at winning the lottery. I just wanted to ask for some feedback about what you thought of an article that I recently wrote.

You can see it right here:

If you were interested it would be great if you wanted to add my article as a resource on the page I mentioned. If you prefer you may also republish the article.

Thank you,


I suppose John was operating under the theory that “it doesn't hurt to ask.”

The post in question isn't so much about the chances at winning the lottery (although I stand a better chance of being Tom Cruise than of winning the Mega Millions Jackpot) as it's best not to play at all.

There's nothing in my post (or the article I linked to) about how to improve your chances at winning.


The advice given in the link (which I read so you don't have to) simply boils down to “buy more tickets with less commonly picked numbers” with some dodgy math thrown in, like this bit from the page:

Ethan Wolff-Mann puts it this way: In a basic lottery with just one prize, $1 tickets, and 100 people playing, any jackpot over $100 will mean that a ticket will be worth more than the $1 it costs. If you bought all the tickets for $100, you would win the jackpot and take home more than what you paid. So theoretically, at a certain size, a lottery ticket can actually be worth more than what you pay for it.

Yes, but …

In this case, yes, the expected value is greater than $1. So if the jackpot is $200, then the expected value is $2. But that's not the case for most lotteries. I'm looking at the latest Florida Lottery payouts, and man, the expected value just isn't there. The chance of getting 3 out of 6 numbers (easiest to win) is 1 in 71 (1.4% chance) and for that, you spent $1 to win $5, or an expected value of 7¢.

Yeah, lotteries are a tax on the innumerate.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Microsoft Corporation has stopped the Windows services on my computer. Fancy that

I notice that I missed a call from 866-978-7311. It's not unusual for me to miss calls on my phone, but it is unusual when unknown callers leave voice mail. Must be important, I thought, for them to leave a message. I better listen to it.

The voice is obviously a robot with a feminine voice. “8387. Let me repeat. This is very imprtant call to notify you, that your Microsoft Windows License Key, has been expired in your computer, so Microsoft Corporation has stopped the Windows services in your computer. To renew the Windows License Key, please call me 66 [sic] 978-8387. I will repeat, 866-978-8387.

Okay then! Good thing to know that Microsoft Corporation has stopped all the Windows services in my computer, given that I don't have Windows install on any of my computers. I just hate it when Windows services just run all willy-nilly on my computer. How nice of Microsoft to shut them down.

I'm not even upset that my Microsoft Windows License Key has expired, as I never purchased a copy of Windows in my entire life.

So thank you, robotic female voice from 866-978-7311 for giving me such good news.

Obligatory Picture

[Here I am, enjoying my vacaton in a rain forest.]

Obligatory Links

Obligatory Miscellaneous

You have my permission to link freely to any entry here. Go ahead, I won't bite. I promise.

The dates are the permanent links to that day's entries (or entry, if there is only one entry). The titles are the permanent links to that entry only. The format for the links are simple: Start with the base link for this site:, then add the date you are interested in, say 2000/08/01, so that would make the final URL:

You can also specify the entire month by leaving off the day portion. You can even select an arbitrary portion of time.

You may also note subtle shading of the links and that's intentional: the “closer” the link is (relative to the page) the “brighter” it appears. It's an experiment in using color shading to denote the distance a link is from here. If you don't notice it, don't worry; it's not all that important.

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