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.

Wednesday, Debtember 01, 2021

“Warthog. Delete word. Warthog. Delete word. Warthog. No, Dameon! Warthog! Duck ewe!”

[The title is a reference to the time Aden Oshea attempted to dictate a book he was writing to a computer. It fits the theme of today's post. —Sean]

We use Microsoft Teams at The Corporation. What I did not know is that The Corporation has tied our desk phones to Microsoft Teams. So when I logged on I noticed I had “voicemail.” I went to check that, and noticed that there was a transcription of the voicemail:

Hello, I'm not sure if this is the right number for XXXXX­XXXXX­XXXX and if it is this is a brother Maynard from the Church of Jesus Christ on Earth Day St and they were clerk and I see that XXXXX­XXXXX­XXXX moved from Jacksonville to the Hollywood area and we are trying to contact her and you live in or about the meetings on the meetings. Uhm, word cheap. It started at 9:00 AM. Uhm we sacrament meeting. Uhm thank you and if this is the right number please give me a call. Again this is brother manner. Me and a phone number XXXXX­XXXXX­XX. Thank you. Bye bye now.

It's a bit of a word salad, but I can see the gist of the message. I listened to the voice mail and yes, it's about as accurate as one would expect from someone with a heavy accent speaking English.

I'm now curious if he ever got a replacement for the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.


Learning to sit back, relax, and enjoy the popcorn

It was decided that I would not change Project: Cleese and that the fake data would just have to be generated faster, despite it not technically being needed (I mean, it's fake data after all).

We are also stalled on an expansion of a current feature of Project: Lumbergh. The team lead has serious qualms about how it's supposed to interact with other features, even though it's not supposed to interact with other features as it's mutually exclusive with the other features. Unfortunately, there are some accounts with this and other mutually exclusive features, in production, and to me, it's clear it's an issue with provisioning of the accounts. But it's not clear to my team leader, nor may manager that this is the case.

And how many accounts are affected? Less than 300 out of 100,000,000. Or in other words, 1 out of 330,000 accounts (0.0003%).

The feature in question currently sends limited information about a call, and of all the “features” we have, this is the most limited in nature. The expansion will add information to bring it closer to par with the other, mutually exclusive features. I personally don't see an issue here, but it's above my pay grade. And now we're in a second round of gathering requirements on this.

I just have to learn to love the process über alles.

Friday, November 26, 2021

A most persistent spam, part IV

I recieved an email from new reader Emily asking about Alaksandr, the Russian sendmail spambot that was plaguing me for months. It seems that Emily is having to deal with Alaksandr and asked me for some help, having read my posts detailing the problem.

There wasn't much I could say. “Aleksandr” only went away once I removed the email accounts he was spamming, and a check of my logs showed it's no longer showing up here. But it appears to still be an issue for others. Emily and I still have no idea why someone would spend the time and effort to send such spams. I wish I had answers.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving

I was about to post the ASCII art turkey when I thought I'd better check to see when I posted it last—last year, and back in 2008 and 2006. A quick search for Thanksgiving ASCII art isn't showing much, but I did find this one:

                    _
                   ' _<_\
                  /'/o)o)
                  \ \_/\/  ,-----------------.
        ,.-=--.-. |.(____\ |  Nothing says   |
      ;:_  \  |  `:.`---'  |     "Happy      |
   ,-'  `.  ' \    \\ / |  |  Thanksgiving"  |
 .'  -.   `_      __'|/ '| |  Like a Honey   |
,'     `.     ,,-'  | |  | |   Glazed Ham!   |
|'` .__   ,--'      | '`'\ `-----------------'
`._    _/'        ,/      |        ||_
|  `...'                  |--....,-'__\.__
`     |                 ,' \      -||  -:;
 |   |                `-'  ;       ||_;--"
 `.  |         |           |     ;-''
  `.  \___    /           /-._;,'
    ;,-'  ,  /           /
   /   ,-'_ / _'  |    ,'
  |  ,' ,' / :     \_,,'MJP
  | .'_' ,' ||      '.
  '/',;-' _ /\    --.` ..___
    '      ; .`--.   `\ _>.
         . ,' `\'.     \\'''
          '     -'      '

	-- Art by Michael J. Penick

And yes, I've done the glazed ham for Thanksgiving.

I also noticed I used a variation of “Gobble gobble” as a title last year, 2008, 2004 and 2002.

Well … [Deep subject. —Editor] nothing like blogging for twenty years to make fresh takes on Thanksgiving difficult.

I also don't think I can top last year's post about turkey drops, so I think I'll just leave you with the wish to have a Happy Thanksgiving with those you love, followed by a nice long nap as the tryptophan works through your system.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Notes on an overheard conversation

“I have one thing to say about that Max Headroom stuff.”

“And that is?”

“Whatever works. For me, it's Beethoven's Ninth. Turned up to 11.”


Notes about a fragment of “Hotel Hack”

I received a nice email from a reader regarding A Fragment of “Hotel Hack”, written some twenty years ago wherein I mused about hypertext. The sad thing is that most (if not all) of the links I referenced have not survived. Yes, I could go back in and update the links, only for them to slowly rot again over the next two decades. Or perhaps changing the links to point to The Wayback Machine are in order (archived version with most links working—I've long since forgotten what I linked to).

Or perhaps I could change the links to a “director's commentary”—that might be an idea, but the commentary itself would dwarf the scant few paragraphs and might make for an interesting NaNoWriMo entry (even if it's not technically a novel). I mean, the commentary for “making him think he's Ethel Merman” would be something like:

Ethel Merman was a singer and actress in the mid 20TH century, known for her powerful singing voice. The reference here is not to Ethel Merman herself, but to a scene in the movie “Airplane” (1980), where Lieutenant Hurwitz had delusions of being Ethel Merman, and was played by Merman herself, breaking into song as orderlies tried to restrain her.

The movie “Airplane” was itself, a remake of the 1957 drama “Zero Hour!” which did not star Ethel Merman, sadly.

One could do a deep dive on all the references in “Hotel Hack”—Phone Cops, Boys from Bell, Leni's films, hoomei, tons of references to cover.

Maybe one day I'll get a round tuit.


Chilling to some 80s tunes

While it usually takes me loud angry music to get out of a bad mood, I should also remember the following music can also lift my bad mood:

For that last one, it doesn't have to be the actual New Order version—these two work as well:

Oh, this is indeed a deep rabit hole I can happily fall into …

Monday, November 22, 2021

Tea, fluoride and brittle bones

I came across this video with the clickbait title of “How Much Tea Can You Drink Before Your Bones Crumble” and I got worried. I drink quite a bit of tea, and now I find out it can cause brittle bones? But having watched the video, the person in question was a lady who drank 150 cups of tea a day (or rather—every day she brewed a gallon of water with 150 tea bags and drank that) who ended up with skeletal fluorosis, caused by an excess of fluourine accumulating in the body.

It wasn't the fluourine in the water that caused the issue (and the video goes into the history of fluoridation—it does prevent tooth decay), but that and an excessive amount of flourine in tea caused the condition. It seems that tea is one of the few plants that will suck up flourine and concentrate it.

But I don't think I have too much to worry about as I don't drink anywhere near 150 cups of tea per day.

At least I hope …


And to think I've been spelling my name wrong all along

I've always spelled my name “S,” “e,” “a,” “n.” Have been all my life, and I've been under the mistaken thought that that was the proper spelling of “Sean.” But it turns out, the proper Irish spelling is, in fact, “Seán” if this video is anything to go by.

Also, I learned that Sean Connery was not in fact the first actor to portray James Bond. No, that honor goes to American actor Barry Nelson (who played the spy in 1954!). Sean Connery is not the second actor to portray James Bond either—that goes to South African actor Bob Holness who played the spy in 1957 (for a radio dramatization of Moonraker).

So that makes Sean Connery the third actor to portray James Bond.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Bad mood

I was not in a good mood today. It was bad enough that Bunny said I shouldn't be driving, so I ended up abandoning her (and the car) and walked home (for the record—I wasn't upset at her, just stuff that had accumuated over a few days which came to a head while I was trying refuel the car).

Once back home, I took some additional time to cool off by listening to some NIN (the album “Pretty Hate Machine”) at 11. Because 10 just wasn't loud enough.

I'm better now.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

At least the vice president of our Corporate Overlords laughed jocularly when I answered “Too short” when he asked “How was my vacation?”

Ah, the first day of work after a two week vacation—6,000 emails to catch up on, mutiple fires actively burning, and the whooshing of deadlines as they fly by breaking the sound barrier. I'm not sure what's worse—this, or the freezing temperatures we left behind in Brevard. Aside from dealing with a week old request to reprovision our lab machines for the Oligarchic Cell Phone Companies, the most pressing fire was dealing with a possible change in “Project: Cleese.”

A proposed change in downstream processing with … oh … let's call it “Project: Waldo,” is stalled because the data needed for “Project: Cleese” to talk to “Project; Waldo” can't be generated fast enough. The data technically isn't needed for the proposed change in downstream processing, but to avoid changing “Project: Cleese” it was decided to generate fake data, and yes, said fake data can't be generated fast enough (seriously).

The fix is easy—it's just the removal of four lines of code (checking for the presence of the data, which now technically isn't needed), the modification of one other line (to deal with missing data), and it will just work. Alas, we're blocked by fellow cow-orker CZ (he works directly for the Corporate Overlords, and has been assigned to my team to make up for loss of employees in my department this past year) because of his extreme discomfort at changing any code outside of what has been planned. As was explained by several people, the changes won't affect the results at all, but CZ has yet to be fully convinced. It's definitely a culture clash between the Corporation and our Corporate Overlords

Yeah, my vacation was too short.

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