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.

Monday, September 26, 2016

When asked who I think will win the 2016 Election, I reply: “I think America loses.”

So one of our neighbors has put up their yearly Hallowe'en display:

[I am the spectre of Elections Past!  You!  Who did not vote, caused THIS to pass!  Now reap what you do not sow!  Ooooooooooooh!]

Never mind it's not even October yet.


But I think our neighbor has made an untintentional political message with this display, as the Trump signs have been out and about for a few months now, and it's lacking a life-sized cardbard cutout of Hillary to truly make this a commentary on the current Presidential Election.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The computers … they know! They know! Part II

I received an automated call from my bank (a credit union). It was the Credit Card Fraud Dectection Unit asking me to verify a transaction for $1.00 at a gas station on September 22nd. I had no idea what date it was (turns out—it was earlier today) and I did hit a gas station earlier this week. But gas isn't 7¢/gallon (I mean, I do live in Boca) so I knew it wasn't me.

I declined that transaction and was then informed I should call and talk to a representative to resolve the issue. It turned out there were two transactions today—the one for $1.00 at a Sunshine gas station in Miami, and a second transaction for $0.00 (the representative called it “an authorization for billing”) at a Citgo gas station in Houston, Texas!

Oh my …

A new card is on the way, but again, I find myself a bit uneasy. It's wonderful that my credit union is looking out for fraudulent use of my card, but … it's another set of computers watching over me.

The computers … they know! They know! Part I

As appreciation of our hard work, The Corporation decided to treat us (and by “us,” I mean “The Ft. Lauderdale Office Of The Corporation”) to lunch at Tap 42. Wanting to know just where Tap 42 was located, I opened up Google Maps on my smartphone and started to type in the address. I got as far as “1411” when I noticed that the top possible option was “1411 S Andrews Ave Ft. Lauderdale”—the address of Tap 42.

“How?” I asked my office mate and fellow cow-orker T. “How did it know?”

“Well, perhaps Google noticed a flurry of similar queries coming from the same location,” said T.

Plausible I suppose. But I'm not sure how I feel about that. It seems … eerily prescient and disturbing. Almost like Cyber Brother is watching over us.

Monday, August 01, 2016

This is a thing?

A mailing list I'm on had this following exchange:

holy crap

Believing this term to be some bit of jargon that I am ignorant of, I googled it. It is marketed as being edible.

And yes … it is edible. And amazing, in the “I am a amazed this even exists” sense of “amazing.”

Holy Crap.

I am at a loss for words.

Friday, June 10, 2016


What do you think of your historic nomination against human opponents in this contest?
I was pretty excited.
I think I can see the feathers when they release their hearts. It's like a breakdown of the facts. So they should be competent with the fact that they won't be surprised.
What is the future of machine written entertainment?
It's a bit sudden.
I was thinking of the spirit of the men who found me and the children who were all manipulated and full of children. I was worried about my command. I was the scientist of the Holy Ghost.
What's next for you?
Here we go. The staff is divided by the train of the burning machine building with sweat. No one will see your face. The children reach into the furnace, but the light is still slipping to the floor. The world is still embarrassed.
The party is with your staff.
My name is Benjamin.

Via FaceGoogleMyBookPlusSpace, Movie written by AI algorithm turns out to be hilarious and intense | Ars Technica UK

So … is NaMoGenMo far behind?

The actual movie (on the page above) is “eh.” I found it interesting to watch, but that's me. I suspect that most people who aren't into computer generated “art” will find it all that good, or even comprehensible. The “plot” of the movie wasn't necessarily in the screen play—what you see is an interpretation by the director and actors. And how do you interpret a stage movement like “stand in the stars and sit on the floor at the same time”?

I found the article itself more interesting as it talks about the intersection between human and computer generated “art.”

And I think it's hilarious that the AI itself outvoted the other bots voting in the contest. I guess it really wanted to win.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Just how many engineers does it take to solve a simple geometry problem?

Two months later and we're still waiting to install updates to “Project: Sippy-Cup” into production. We were finally given the “okay” this week, but have twice scrubbed the launch deployment because … “reasons.”


So there's very little for us (the Call Processing team at the Ft. Lauderdale Office of The Corporation) to do this week. And because of that, I've started back to work on a small geometry problem that floated around the office some time last year—find “x”:

[Note: it's not to scale. And no, circling the “x” and scribbling “Found it!” is not the answer.]

I can't be that hard, right? All you need to solve it is geometry. You know, the interior angles of a triangle sum to 180°, what constitutes congruent triangles, all that stuff you should have learned in the 10th grade but have probably forgotten by now.

Um … yeah.

[Sure, ∠CEA ≅ ∠CQB, but where does that get us?]

Fellow cow-orker T didn't solve it (and took a copy home for his son to work on). T2 solved it by using trigonometry. And it took a few hours of hashing it out between myself and R to get a purely geometric solution to it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

This isn't at all about replacing waitrons. Not at all. Nope. Nothing to do with the bottom line or a naked grab at more money. Nope. It's all for the customers' convenience.

One of the things my dad comments on these days is the preponderance of restaurant patrons peering into their smart phones or tablets, ignoring everyone else, which is okay, because everyone else at the table is peering into their smart phones or tablets. Even though they're eating together, they are still eating alone.

One of the things that still gets me is the preponderance of televisions in restaurants. I find them terribly distracting and very hard not to watch. I can somewhat understand a sports bar having them to show sporting games, but McDonalds?. The worse offender I've found is The Flashback Diner which has a television per booth!


So what do Bunny and I find tonight at Olive Garden?

[It's the bastard child of a television with the downside of excessive advertising plus a tablet with the downside of pay-to-play click-games with the hassle of a restaurant trying to run an IT department.  That it has not ended well, much less ended, is beyond me.]

A Ziosk on every table.

Apparently they've been around for a few years and so far, Bunny and I have managed to avoid the restaurants that have the darned devices.

In theory, it seems like a Good Thing™. You can place orders for drinks and desserts through the device. And you can signal for the server (I presume some sort of signal is sent to the kitchen or the server lounge or something but all we noticed is a red light flashing on top of the unit when we did this) and pay the check (the previous party at our table still owed 7¢—how I do not know). But the incessant advertising for food, drinks and “pay-for-play” games just got to be too much (even though the unit itself was thankfully quiet).

We ended up turning the device to face away from us.

I don't know. It just bugs me on some level. Do we as a nation have the attention span of a rabid ferret—oooooh! Shiny!

Friday, May 06, 2016

Notes on an overheard conversation at a local BBQ restaurant that plays both types of music—country AND western

“Oh no!”


“Now I'm earwormed!”

“With what?”

Save a horse, ride a cowboy.”

“Wasn't that the plot to ‘Brokeback Mountain?’”

Obligatory Picture

[Don't hate me for my sock monkey headphones.]

Obligatory Links

Obligatory Miscellaneous

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