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.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It makes you sound as if you are talking in a fake German accent

I'm sitting in the Ft. Lauderdale Office of the Corporation, using the Lookout email client when I receive the following:

Vishing is a socially engineered technique for stealing information or money from people using the telephone network. The term comes from combining “voice” with “phishing,” which are online scams that get people to give up personal or sensitive information about The Corporation. This may include impersonating another employee of the Corporation, your bank, law enforcement agencies or any government related organization via voice email, VoIP (voice over IP), or landline or cellular telephone.




Oh, I guess it's a thing now.


We already have a term for this—“phishing!” Or perhaps “social engineering?” How about “hacking” if you want to go old school 80s style terminology?

Good lord …

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Notes about interoperability testing

So we're doing interoperability testing of “Project: Sippy-Cup” with two companies so far, Company-A and Company-E. Basically, it's testing to see if we accept their requests and they accept our replies and we're all on the same page as far as interpreting the results and what have you. And today isn't the first day we've done such testing—this is about the third or fourth time so far.

“Those responses are odd.”

“No wonder—you aren't sending the right phone numbers!”

“But we're sending 555-555-9901!”

“What? I thought it was 555-555-0001!”

“That's so yesterday! Didn't you get the memo outlining the new numbers to use?”


“But we're using 555-555-9901.”

“Okay, let me make that change … okay, we're now using 555-555-9901.”

“Didn't you get the memo? We're using 555-555-4492.”

“But you were just—”

“No wait! New memo came in! Can you change the number of 555-555-2234?”

“Probably not before you change it again, but I can try … ”

And each time, the phone numbers used for testing have changed. Every. Single. Time. It seems as if Company-A and Company-E are incapable of using the same phone numbers for testing for more than 24 hours.

Notes about a first world problem

I'm driving into the office two hour earlier than usual because I have to participate in some interoperability testing. I pull onto I-95 and get into the inside lane as I usually do. Traffic is a bit thick, but it's flowing albeit a bit slower than I'm used to.

A few miles down the road, I see a state trooper giving a ticket. They got pulled over for speeding? I think to myself. At best traffic is moving at the posted speed limit. I keep driving.

A few miles further down, and again, off to the side are three unmarked state troopers, just sitting there. I know they're unmarked state troopers because each vehicle has red and blue lights mounted inside the windows. And to further hide the fact that they're unmarked state troopers, all the lights on all three vehicles are flashing. How odd, I think to myself. They pulled each other over?

About two miles short of the exit, I noticed that the other three lanes of traffic are significantly crowded, yet the inside lane I'm in is relatively free of cars. Not so free that I can zip down the interstate at a hundred and eight, but enough that I'm making excellent time compared to the cars in the other three lanes of traffic.

It's then I had an epiphany: I bet I'm in the HOV lane, I thought, just as I passed under the “HOV Lane, 7:00am—9:00am 4:00pm—6:00pm” sign.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

The wonders of restaurant cutlery

Bunny and I were out eating at a restaurant when I noticed something a bit odd about my cutlery—the butter knife was magnetized!

[The knife has a magnetic personality]

No other utensil on the table was thusly magnetized. Just the one butter knife. How odd.

Update on Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

My friend Jason Vervlied sent me this:

I actually know why this happens.

When I was in my late teens/early 20's, late night dining at Denny's was a common occurrence, and we often noticed this there. We finally talked to a server about it and figured out why. It turns out, the trash bins they use for discarding waste food is lined with magnets to catch the silverware that is accidentally thrown away. Over time the knifes have such thick handles that they eventually become slightly magnetized themselves.

And know you know.

Friday, August 15, 2014

ATM inside … ENJOY!

Bunny and I had a recomendation, and we were in the neighborhood, so we decided to give the Boynton Diner a try.

The food was okay, not exceptionally good to write about. I would not have given this former seafood restaurant (really—the decor just screamed “I AM A SEAFOOD RESTAURANT! LOOK ON MY WORKS, YE HUNGRY, AND DESPAIR!”) a second thought but for it's great attention to making money.

[They sold AD SPACE on their outdoor sign%#8253]

Checks? Really? You accept checks? You can't be bothered to accept credit cards? Debit cards? Checks?


It's nice that they have an ATM so they can get a nice cut of the $3 “convenience fee” when using it.

They also had placemats. They're not rare. A lot of restaurants have place mats. What a lot of restaurants don't have are placements crammed with advertising—every last millimeter.


On the placemats!

At this point, it was surprising that were not running custom advertising on the televisions mounted around the restaurant (although I am loath to give them the idea).

Like I said, the food was okay and the service was good. It was just the incessant advertising that got to us.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

It doesn't have to be one piece to be monolithic

I'm still chugging away on “Project: Sippy-Cup” where, for the past few weeks, I've been hurrying up and waiting as we run through IOT with a few other companies.

The problem I've had with running tests here at the Ft. Lauderdale Office of The Corporation has been just the sheer number of moving parts required to test anything. “Project: Sippy-Cup” talks to component T, which talks to two other components, E and SM. SM talks to a few more components, and so on, and so on. It's difficult to stub these out because then time is wasted debugging the “fake” components and before you know it, you've written pretty much a duplicate component that is just as buggy as the component you are trying to fake, but with different bugs. So I try to use actual components whenever possible.

Only today I found out that the instance of component SM, for whatever reason, is refusing to talk to component T, which I'm using to test “Project: Sippy-Cup.” I've always attempted to use existing SM instances so I don't have to fire one up (when I first started, we didn't have our own SM component; it seems that in the few years I've been here, one has been written—fancy that!) and I've been afraid that something like this would crop up. So now I have to configure the SM component so that the T component is happy so that I can test “Project: Sippy-Cup.”

My complaints about this reached fellow cow-orker B, who wrote the following in email:

There's a word for software that requires every last piece of every last server to be running in order to test any part of it:


B has a point. It doesn't have to be one piece to be monolithic.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Smooth Operator

Bunny and I were some one hundred yards from the mall entrance when we passed a booth. “Their products are really nice,” she said. “I bought some a few years ago.”

That's all it took, the slight pause by the booth, the positive comment about the cosmetic products, the serious lack of other customers nearby to provide adequate shielding and before either of us knew it, we found ourselves talking to Rafael, an impeccably dressed man, about 5′6″—a bit on the short side, but beautifully proportioned, with a hansome face framed by dark brown hair and perfectly groomed moustache and beard.

Oh, he was smooth. Within minutes he had us holding a jar of facial peeling gel and I couldn't help but notice him slip a bottle of moisturizing cream into one of Bunny's shopping bags, since it was a free gift for buying the gel.

But it was his three attempts at demonstrating some other cream for the eyes that turned Bunny away, and thus I got hit full force with the magnificence of Rafael's personality in selling unisex cosmetics. I too, got the jar of facial peeling gel, and as a free gift, a bottle of men's after shave balm, despite my attempted explaination that I rarely, if ever, shave.

Rafael just took it in stride, and before I knew it, I was rubbing a sea salt body scrub in my hands as Rafael was lightly spritzing water over them. And then, we had a bag with two jars of facial peel (his-n-hers), one jar of moisturizing cream, a bottle of men's after shave balm, a jar of the sea salt body scrub, a jar of “energizing” body butter, a bar of sea salt soap and in my hand, somehow, a slip of paper with Rafael's phone number and email address on it.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Masterpiece, copy, forgery—where is the line drawn?

Felice Ficherelli wanted a Vermeer.

Well, maybe.

Felice was a contemporary of Vermeer, an obscure painter whom he might have known, or might not have known—we really have no idea. This is all we know for sure:

Could this second painting—the copy, the duplicate—have sprung from the hand of Vermeer? Could it be the magical #37? Yes, if you believe Christie’s Auction House, which auctioned that very painting yesterday for $10.2 million. (You just missed your chance to have your own Vermeer!)

Why would Vermeer have copied an obscure Italian painting? Copying was quite common then, not only as an act of training, but also for financial gain. So perhaps Tim’s theory was right—Vermeer was a copier.

But why would a painting—a painting that absolutely no one disputes is a copy of someone else’s painting!—fetch $10 million?

That’s a good question.

Via Jason Kottke, This Is Not a Vermeer ™ — The Message — Medium

So far (part two) it's an interesting article about authenticity, duplicity and duplication. What, exactly, makes a copy of painting worth $10,000,000, and where you too, can get your own copy of a painting for way less then $10,000,000.

Obligatory Picture

[I'm wearing a goatee—I must be my evil twin brother.]

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