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.

Sunday, September 02, 2001

“The only limit is yourself … ”

Zombo.com. Go. Expand your mind. Feel welcome. Where the inifinite becomes finite. Where anything can happen. Welcome to Zombo.com.

Tuesday, September 04, 2001

“Oh, you wanted something `useful?' ”

Spring is trying to export some mail from Outlook but it seems that Microsoft has deemed that the only thing you want to export your email to is Outlook Express.

Great! All her email is now in some evil proprietory format that makes it hard to do anything useful with. Yet another reason not to use Microsoft products.

Wednesday, September 05, 2001

T#!$ !$ @ W0R&

Spring, Rob and I went to Stir Crazy in Boca Raton for dinner. And as per the name, they do nothing but stir fry, either pre-selected dishes, or a “roll your own” buffet-type deal where you select everything. The food is good, and as Spring would attest, the Banana-Wanton Drink is to die for. But the decor—the decor bothers me.

Years ago in college, I took a Chinese calligraphy class, and while I can only “read” half a dozen Chinese characters, I do have an understanding of how Chinese characters are written. The reason I bring this up is that the interior of Stir Crazy is overwritten with that looks like Chinese characters, but in reality is some Western artist's rendition of what Chinese characters look like. No attempt was made to make acurate Chinese idiographs at all (and of the few that are real, they are either the simpler four stroke or fewer idiographs, or pure mistakes).

“Those characters,” I said, “are not real.”

“How do you know?” asked Rob.

“They're not real characters. They're nearly random strokes,” I said.

“But how can you tell?” asked Spring.

“By the way the characters are formed. That character there,” I said, pointing to a character with a decidedly circular formation on the wall, “the one with the circular oval about it. Chinese is written with straight strokes, not cicrular ones.”

“So it's misspelled?”

“More like it's meaningless. It'd be as if you wrote words with both random letters and shapes, like a triangle.”

“Ah.”

Friday, September 07, 2001

SneakerNet

I'm hosting a site for a group of friends. He's got nearly a gigabyte of files he wants to make available through the website. A gigabyte. It seems strange, but the fastest way to do that is still via sneaker net.

Now all I have to do is get another computer, take it down to the colocation facility, and transfer the data from it to the server. I really can't put the harddrive he gave me into the machine as it already is maxed out with harddrives, and besides, there is no way I want to interrupt a 280 day uptime.

Saturday, September 08, 2001

Am I descending into buzzword hell?

I've been reading up on XML and XSL and I'm seriously thinking of converting all my entries to XML and using XSL to do the conversions to HTML. There is a XML C library and an XSL C library so it shouldn't be that difficult to incorporate what I'm doing with this and package it all up as an Apache module.

Monday, September 10, 2001

“Sushi sushi sushi!”

As Spring says in her journal entry today, I was more or less Shanghai'ed to Mr. Sushi for a late lunch. It was rather disconcerting to see a menu filled with almost nothing but sushi. I was able to find something to my liking though: Teriaki Steak.

Now, the reason I dislike Japanese food goes to my general belief that animal based foods should be cooked before consuming. It also has something to do with very unfamiliar tastes and textures evident in Japanese (and to an extent in other Asian countries) cuisine.

Maybe six, seven years ago I was invited to lunch by the FAU Japanese Studies program, since I had several friends in the department, including the dean.

So we go to this Japanese restaurant to experience an authentic Japanese lunch. Never before have I ever so wished not to eat a meal. First, slimy cold brown noodles with a cold white sauce on top. Then a bowl, filled about a quarter to half an inch of broth with an artisitic arrangement of … vegetable cubes I suppose. Bitter mellon. Other, less identifiable bits of vegetation. Fried tofu, crusty on the outside, liquified on the inside. My Western palette found it quite disturbing. Then what was probably a Japanese quiche—a tall glass, into which I suspect raw egg was placed inside, along with unidentifiable vegetable matter and shrimp, then cooked in the glass. Serve.

And it went on and on. Plate, bowl, cup and saucer of alien food placed before me. Unlike my friends in the Japanese program, I'm not adventuresom enough to try exotic food stuff like whale sperm, raw puffer fish or octopus eyes. Cow and chicken is good enough for me. With the occasional lamb or pig.


Cat love

Spring's cat Spodie is licking my fingers. And his breath smells of cat food.

journa-sn®z

My friend Greg has no need for his Palm Pilot (color even!) so I've borrowed it on the premise that I can maybe develop some applications for it. I have a Newton, but while I've yet to learn NewetonScript, Palm Pilot applications can be done in C and Assembly (Motorola 68000 series, which I know).

I took the unit with me to dinner to see if I could write a journal entry, and well …

Lctt sec hou thit nos for a journa-sn®z.

Spring did no better with her attempt:

Asolen waffle toppe with breyers ice cream and your choics ot topping

TRANSLATION: A golden waffle topped with Breyer's ice cream and your choice of topping.

Here's my next attempt:

Okay, take 2, only much slower this time. And boy is this slow. The Newton has much better writing recognition than this.

I should note that the Newton (running 2.0 of the Newton OS) I could write like I would on a piece of paper and it would keep up with me, even though it's a 20MHz CPU with 6M of RAM. I'm not sure how fast the Palm Pilot is, but it has 8M of RAM, and even using a simplified writing alphabet (Grafiti) it still had problems keeping up with me.

We shall see.

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Yet more reasons to lookout for Outlook

I tried sending Spring the following email:

To: XXXXXX@springdew.com
From: XXXX@conman.org
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 03:42:07 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Greg's Geocities Site

http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Launchpad/4891/

  -spc

It seems that Lookout (another fine Microsoft product) had problems with that email. All Spring got was:

To: XXXXXX@springdew.com
From: XXXX@conman.org
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 03:42:07 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Greg's Geocities Site

  -spc

Nice, eh?

Of course, in talking with Spring about it, she's of the opinion that this isn't a Lookout problem, as it's happened with someone else we know when he sent email to a mailing list.

Actually, now that I think of it, I think what's happening is that Lookout (and the mailing list software) is not RFC 822 compliant. Or at least, it gets a few details wrong. The line of text can be interpreted at a header line, but the email headers are separated by a blank line:


     3.1.  GENERAL DESCRIPTION

          A message consists of header fields and, optionally, a body.
     The  body  is simply a sequence of lines containing ASCII charac-
     ters.  It is separated from the headers by a null line  (i.e.,  a
     line with nothing preceding the CRLF).

§ 3.1 of RFC 822

What the programs in question seem to be doing is looking for the first line that doesn't seem to be a header line, and ignoring blank lines altogether.

You know, there are standards for a reason … [As I was writing this entry, I sent another test to Spring, making the first line appear to be a header line. She got the message as I sent it. Perhaps Lookout is explicitely looking for H-T-T-P-: … ]


Terror

Spring awoke to the sound of someone pounding on the front door. At the door was Greg in a panic. “Don't you guys answer the phone? Turn on the TV!”

We turned it on at 10:28 am, EST, just in time to watch the World Trade Center 1 crumble to the ground.

What a way to wake up.


Dedication

It was very surreal, watching the coverage of the World Trade Center collapse. Watching the 767 fly into WTC 2 over and over again, thinking back to January of 1986. Or even back to August of 1992, as I sat in the closet watching Hurricane Andrew on the TV as it was thundering its way through our very town.

It didn't seem real. It's too big. The World Trade Center. Gone. Thousands of people, dead. The Pentagon on fire. Four hijackings, at three airports, all within an hour.

Greg was hit very hard by the news. “This is America,” he said. “This isn't supposed to happen here.” He's never seen the WTC in person, nor did he know anyone there, but his reaction was deeply personal. Spring was also hit hard—knowing several people living in New York City, having visited the World Trade Center, and as a former US Army soldier serving in Desert Storm.

I wasn't affected quite as bad. Oh yes, it's horrible what happened, but it wasn't the first time we've had terrorist attacks on our shores. The World Trade Center Bombing in 1993. The Oakland City Bombing in 1994. And (and as far as I've been able to tell, the only one who remembers this) the attempt to bomb the Washington Memorial in 1982. There is nothing you can do to stop a dedicated person (or people). You can raise the bar, but there may be someone who is willing to go higher.

John F. Kennedy once said that there was nothing he, nor the USSS could do if someone really wanted the President dead. I've heard that he said that days before (if not the day before) he was assinated. And obviously, there were about 18 men who wanted to show the US what terrorism is really like.

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

New Land Rush

[I originally wrote this on September 9th, before the horrible events of yesturday. I decided to keep it in here. –spc]

From some spam I received on the 9th it seems that the new TLD .INFO starts resolving today. Let the money games begin!


This is no Pearl Harbor

I'm watching the talking heads on the TV claim over and over again that the World Trade Center Attack is another Pearl Harbor.

This is no Pearl Harbor!

Pearl Harbor was a millitary attack on one sovereign nation's naval base by another sovereign nation's navy. The enemy was easily identifiable and most, if not all, of the causalties were millitary personel. The reasoning for the attack is understandable (if not forgivable).

The World Trade Center Attack was an as yet unidentified paramillitary or religious group attack on a purely civillian target. The enemy is not easily identifiable, most, if not all, of the causalties were civillians and the reason for the attack is not understandable at all (at this time; we're still trying to figure out who did it).

And like Pearl Harbor, it was an unexpected attack on the United States. That's about the only similarity between the two.


Galaxies Are Colliding

To get away from all the recent depressing events, Spring and I hit the local Lackluster to rent a few movies. She hadn't seen Real Genius, which is one of my favorite films. I, on the other hand, hadn't seen The Full Monty. So we grabbed both films.

It was only after we put the tape in did we realize that we had not rented The Full Monty, but instead had picked up a copy of Galaxies Are Colliding. And it wasn't a case of the wrong tape being in the right box, but the wrong box (with the wrong tape) being on the shelf in the wrong place.

Or something to that effect.

We decided to give it a whirl as we dyed Spring's hair. And we both kinda liked it.

Monday, September 17, 2001

Holding

I received a notice in snail mail today that my second mortgage payment didn't arrive. This is getting annoying. So I called up the friendly 1-800 number they provided.

“Please press one … ” the oh so chipper recording said. “Please press two to …. Please press three for …. Please press four to talk to a represenative.”

Beep.

“Please press one to talk to a represenative.” Pause. Wait a second, didn't I just select this option?

Beep. “Please stay on the line. A represenative will be with you shortly.” Light heavy metal started playing. Waiting. Waiting. I get a beep, notifying that I have a another call coming in. Nice! I thought. The second I click over, the friendly represenative will be available, find me not on the line, and I'll have to do this all over again! I click over.

“Hello?” I said.

“Oh, sorry, wrong number!” The person hung up.

Oh, that was short, I thought. I clicked back over. Industrial Barbara Streisand was now playing. I thought the lacked conviction for her cover of “Closer” myself. But her cover of Napalm Death's “Conservative SXXthead” was spot on. Another click. Oh no, not another call!

“Hello?”

“Hello?!”

“Hello, yes. I'm calling to offer you a Dillards credit card and—”

“I'm not interested!” Time was running out. Any second now a represenative could hop on the line and I'd be screwed.

“But sir, the rates on this card are very low and—”

“I'm sorry,” I said, the anxiety rising in my voice. “But I'm not interested!”

“Okay, thank you. If you have any questions or … ” Yada yada yada. Once she finished rattling off the ending pitch, I switched back over. Luckily, they had now moved on to Trent Reznor covering “Memories” from Cats so I still hadn't missed the represenative.

Finally, just as I was giving up all hope of a represenative ever taking my call, one got on the line. I was able to check that indeed, they had actually received my last check and to ignore the notice.

I'm glad that was cleared up.


Funny, but only if you know RFC-822

I'm trying to reach some people at a particular ISP, and since I haven't heard from them in some time, sent email to noc@XXXXXXXXXXXXXX, postmaster@XXXXXXXXXXXXXX and root@XXXXXXXXXXXXXX just to make sure that maybe, just maybe, someone there would notice.

I just got this back:


   ----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----
postmaster@XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

   ----- Transcript of session follows -----
... while talking to mail.XXXXXXXXXXXXXX.:
>>> RCPT To:<postmaster@XXXXXXXXXXXXXX>
<<< 550 <postmaster@XXXXXXXXXXXXXX>... User unknown
550 postmaster@XXXXXXXXXXXXXX... User unknown

Um … RFC-822 has this to say about postmaster:


     6.3.  RESERVED ADDRESS

          It often is necessary to send mail to a site, without  know-
     ing  any  of its valid addresses.  For example, there may be mail
     system dysfunctions, or a user may wish to find  out  a  person's
     correct address, at that site.

          This standard specifies a single, reserved  mailbox  address
     (local-part)  which  is  to  be valid at each site.  Mail sent to
     that address is to be routed to  a  person  responsible  for  the
     site's mail system or to a person with responsibility for general
     site operation.  The name of the reserved local-part address is:

                                Postmaster

     so that "Postmaster@domain" is required to be valid.

     Note:  This reserved local-part must be  matched  without  sensi-
            tivity to alphabetic case, so that "POSTMASTER", "postmas-
            ter", and even "poStmASteR" is to be accepted.


§6.3 of RFC-822

It's a requirement that postamster exist as a valid email address for any domain accepting email. So the ISP in question is violating an RFC. Tsk tsk tsk.

Wednesday, September 19, 2001

A History Lesson

The way history is taught today is a travesty that will only come back and haunt us. Ceej talks about this a bit more in her journal (scroll down a bit, it's the third section of that day's entry). Will we end up in World War III over the event of last week? Hard to say, but if history is any guide …

Time to spoil

“I'm hungry,” Spring said. “And I don't want to eat quesedea.” She was refering to the leftover meal from La Bamba, a Spanish/Mexican restaurant down the street.

“Well,” I said. “There's cereal.”

“Yes, but that means I have to use the milk which expires at midnight.”

“Midnight? I hardly think that the milk is going `Ah, 11:59, I'm still good. I'm still good. Ah, midnight! Time to go bad!' ” I said.

She looked at me funny. “Obviously you don't know milk,” she said. “Midnight! Time to spoil!”


Spam spam spam spam!

For the first time in my life, I actually ate Spam, the spiced ham product from Hormel. Spring bought some the other week, and tonight she fried it up.

She wasn't quite used to using non-Teflon coated frying pans, nor used to the control on the stove, so it ended up taking a bit longer than she expected, and smoked the place up, but the fried Spam was actually quite tasty, especially the more carbonized pieces. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

“Did you know,” said Spring, “That the Hormel company actually held a naming contest for Spam and the winning name was `Spam?' ”

“Yes, well, Spam was developed back when, the 40s? 50s?” I asked.

“30s, actually,” she said.

“Back then, the name as a product was probably not a bad name at all—nothing bad associated with it,” I said.

“To me it's the sound a pig makes hitting the bottom of an elevator shaft.” I love Spring.


How Osama bin Laden resembles Napster

In the course of pondering the recent terrorist attacks on American targets, I realized that it signifies an important shift in the behavior of people within world civilization. This shift has been away from large centralized structures towards smaller, increasingly autonomous (but interconnected) structures. An interesting thing about this shift is that, in terms of progress, it's almost counterintuitive.

the post-centralized world and how Osama bin Laden resembles Napster

The Gus is on to something here—there does seem to be a paradigm shift (if I may be excused for using such a term) going on.

Years ago, as a kid, I couldn't see myself living anyplace where I couldn't receive TV. Of course, growing up I was spoiled by living between the two major television markets of Miami and West Palm Beach, so I got two of ABC, two NBC, two of CBS, two PBS and a host of independant stations, for a total of maybe 20 broadcasting stations. TV. I needed my TV. Now, however, I no longer really watch TV, but now I can't see living anywhere without Internet access.

But if Osama bin Laden can conduct highly effective terrorist activities from a place like Afghanistan, then maybe, just maybe, the world is slowly decentralizing and the need for cities is lessened. And like The Gus, I can only hope “that there are more overwhelmingly more people interested in trading music than in killing themselves as a means to injure the Great Satan.”

Thursday, September 27, 2001

Apathy

I'm too lethargic to be apathetic.

Ninjai

From what little I've already seen so far, Ninjai, the Little Ninja is an incredible work of Flash animation. Haunting visuals, a compelling story (Who is Ninjai? Even he doesn't know) and a beautiful sound track (yes, they do their own soundtrack). Well worth the viewing.

Friday, September 28, 2001

Log file fun

“So, how do I check my logs?” asked Spring. Now that I host her site, she finally has total access to her web log files.

“Well … first you need to install a program like F-Secure,” I said.

“I have to install a program?”

“Or SecureCRT or something like that. Hold on, I can get you the link—”

“I think I already have it,” she said. Sure enough, she had F-Secure—an installation Wlofie did earlier. We spent the next hour or so futzing around getting it to work under Windows 2000. It was installed under Windows 98, but not under Windows 2000, so it was getting a bit confused I guess because of a lack of registry entries. So I deleted it, and reinstalled. I then walked her through logging onto tower.conman.org, the co-located Linux box her site runs on, and I have her a few Unix commands to scan the file.

We then spent the next few hours going through her log files (which start on August 23rd, when I took over hosting her site) and seeing the type of traffic she gets. And like my site, she gets a lot of traffic via search engines, using such terms as tasteful nudes, illegal nudes and Veruca Salt (played by Julie Dawn Cole in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory). Although some of her pages have been found with some very odd terms, but then again, some of the terms that people find my pages with are very odd indeed (masturbation being one of the more popular ones, but people looking to make napalm are probably disapointed in my site, along with getting a good car deal).


More log file fun

Spring downloaded a web log analyzer program, since I have yet to actually install one on the server (the people who have sites here either don't care for their stats, or have enough technical savvy to scan the log files manually). So she downloaded one, and it asked for the location of the log file.

“Oh,” I said, “you can FTP it down.”

“Then why all the fuss with F-Secure?” she asked. “I could have used NoteTab.

A blank look crossed my face. “Um … ”

“Well?”

“Because … that's how I check my log files?” Grovelling I think saved me from being thwacked up-side the head.

We downloaded the log file, then played around for about twenty minutes configuring the program to process the log file. It wasn't clear what needed to be set up, nor did the program really give any errors or indications of what it might need. But eventually we got it going. Impressive output; pie charts and all.

Not sure what it's called though.

Saturday, September 29, 2001

Ow

“I've figured out why humans say `Ow!' when they're hurt,” said Spring.

“Really?” I said.

“Yes,” she said.

“Ow?”

“Ow. It's the sound we made when cats attack us.”

“Like last night with Spodie. Did you hear me?”

Spring schrunched up her face. “I don't think so,” she said.

“He was on the small bookcase,” I said, refering to a chest high book shelf that brackets one side of the entrance to the bathroom. “When I past by, heading towards the bed, he swiped,” I said, making swiping motions with my hands, “and got me in the back. Ouch.”

“Yes,” she said. “You see, way back in pre-history, when cats attacked us, we made all sorts of sounds until someone finally hit upon `Ow!' which, in cat-speak, means `Get the fXXX off me!' And it stuck.”

“Ow?”

“Yes.” She smiled. “It's only a theory, mind you.”

Sunday, September 30, 2001

Blah

Sick.

Blah.

Obligatory Picture

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

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: http://boston.conman.org/, then add the date you are interested in, say 2000/08/01, so that would make the final URL:

http://boston.conman.org/2000/08/01

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.

It is assumed that every brand name, slogan, corporate name, symbol, design element, et cetera mentioned in these pages is a protected and/or trademarked entity, the sole property of its owner(s), and acknowledgement of this status is implied.

Copyright © 1999-2014 by Sean Conner. All Rights Reserved.

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