What I thought might be the machine going a bit marginal on me turned out instead to be a rather show-stopping bug (cough cough) in the software that drives this online journal. The ANSI-C spec for time is a bit more weasly than I thought.
The problem is that I thought (erroniously as it turns out) that mktime() would renormalize (say, if the day was set to 32, the month would be incremented and the day set to 1) the time given. An implementation could do that, but it isn't mandated.
And I was counting on that.
I'm not sure why I didn't notice the problem before, but with Mark's level headed guidance (should have called him before I rebooted the server) I was able to track down a problem I should have.
So a kid, around 19, signs up a new account. He decides to rent Sled Storm, and then never comes back. Well, ok. Gord left a couple messages to return the game, but no luck.
Eventually the young adult phones and says he returned it. Uh-huh … That's right.
So Gord forwards the account to collections.
One day a few months later this lady walks in and starts yelling about how Gord sent her son to collections and ruined his credit rating so now he can't buy a car or stereo or something.
Gord points out the obvious point that he stole a game and is a poor credit risk.
Then the mother throws the game on the counter and says that the game is now back and I have to fix his credit.
“Ma'am, first off, the game is destroyed. Look at it. Second, I've replaced the game already so I don't want it back. Instead, I seek the money for my cost on replacing it and the late fees he owed. Third, your son claimed he returned it.”
This just sets her off. Something about how it's not her son's fault that he stole the game.
“How is it not his fault?”
“Because I brought it back.”
“That excuses the original theft and lying to me?”
“It's not his fault he lied and tried to steal it!”
“Might I ask whose fault it is then?”
Anyway, she starts yelling some more about how her son is never going to rent from Gord ever again. Gord points out that was exactly his point and that he had already closed the account when it was sent to collections. So she stormed out.
The Gord often wonders why people threaten to never come back after they've been told never to return.
We're up early, and Spring seems facinated with watching Anne of Green Gables (if only Anne would just shut up!) so I'm surfing the web and I come across The Acts of Gord who seems to run a gaming store up in Canada and has chronicled all the stupid people who have come through his store.
I am glad I don't work in retail.
While it's still too early to know if it will actually hit us here in South Florida (and so far the probabilities are low), we are expected to get a lot of rain over the next week or so.
I'll keep you posted.
It was. Today is Saturday.
I'm not as late as I thought I was.
“Sean, come here,” said Spring from the kitchen. Upon entering the kitchen, Spring was pointing to a blue plastic bowl sitting on the handle of a pot, propped up by a plastic container. “Look what Spodie did!” Spodie being the cat here at Condo Conner.
Spodie won't drink out of a water bowl; he only drinks out of containers that he's normally not allowed to drink out of. So we leave a bowl of water in the sink for him. Our logic—that he thinks he's drinking out of something he's not supposed to (but lately he's been drinking out of the shower stall so go figure). As to the plastic bowl we leave for him in the sink? He'll empty the water out and place it somewhere in the kitchen.
His skills, they are improving. Maybe one day he'll be able to cook for us.
“Sean? This is Mark. You gotta check out the moon.”
“Why?” Oh no, I thought. It's turned blood red. The Apocalypse is neigh upon us! It's hard to shake that Baptist upbringing.
“There's this incredible halo around the moon! You have to see it! I've never seen anything like it!”
“Cool! Call you back in a few.” I hung up; Spring and I headed outside and we looked up. The sky is clear except for a very light haze which was causing the halo effect.
“It's beautiful,” said Spring, lying down on the grass.
“It looks like a Q” I said, pointing to a small cloud just hanging off the halo.
Spring giggled, and we continued to stare at the sky—Spring lying on the grass and me still standing.
“Does it look lopsided to you?” I asked.
“What, the moon?”
“No, the halo.”
“No. I think that's because you're having to look up. Why don't you try lying down?”
I lay down on the grass. “Great,” I said. “Now I have pesticides all over my back.”
“Then you don't have to worry about bed bugs, do you?” said Spring. We continued to look at the moon and halo. Some wispy clouds passed in front of the moon. “That is so beautiful,” said Spring.
“Oh nice. Now the werewolfs are going to come out and attack us,” I said.
“Werewolfs. Whenever a werewolf attack is imminent in a film, they always cut to a shot if thin wispy clouds flying by the moon.”
“But dear,” said Spring. “We're in Coconut Creek.”
“I did mention the Hellmouth in Margate.”
“Ah yes, you did.”
“You're not worried?”
I love Spring.
Hellmouth in Margate is true. Well, nearly true. It's not actually in Margate, but North Lauderdale. But “Hellmouth in North Lauderdale” doesn't quite have the same ring as “Hellmouth in Margate” does.
And it's close enough anyway.
But other than the location, it's true. Or, at least a few friends think so. The story, as it was handed down to me, goes something like this:
Many years ago (being the late 80s and thus still under Reganomics) my friends JT and L received a frantic visit by a mutual friend JS. It seems that JS and his girlfriend had sensed a disturbance in the psychic fabric of the universe and realized that a portal to Hell, a Hellmouth (a term popularized by the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer) if you will, had opened up in a park in North Lauderdale and they were the ones that needed to close it, as JS channels an elf (or was an elf in a past life, I don't exactly recall) and all that but they need help in preventing The Ceremony from being interrupted. Thus they need the help of JT and L.
JT and L relunctantly go to the park in order to help JS and girlfriend to close this portal to Hell before something horrible happens. JT and L have to tie JS and girlfriend up near a certain tree and under no circumstances are they to be untied, no matter what they say. Once suitibly tied, JS and girlfriend start chanting their way into a trance. JT and L wander around the park, keeping an eye out for anything suspicious.
Now, here's where the story gets wierd. (Starts? As if it wasn't wierd already?) Apparently, JS is possessed and starts making threats, head turning, spewing forth split pea soup, the whole Exorcist thing. JT and L, true to their word, do not untie JS and girlfriend and remain on patrol.
Then JT, swearing on his life and backed up by L, say that they saw a shadowy figure wandering around the trees, but upon a closer look no one was there! There was no way a person could have disappeared since the tree cover wasn't that great (it's South Florida—have you seen how much shade a palm tree provides? It ain't much) and it was near the center of the park; they would have noticed anyone trying to leave the park.
And what they saw was a humanoid shape. Not quite a man, not quite an animal. Some black, shadowy humanoid shape wandering around the trees while JS and girlfriend were spewing forth threats and obscenities and split pea soup.
After some twenty minutes or so, JS and girlfriend go limp, then seem to snap out of it. They report that the portal to Hell, the Hellmouth as it were, was successfully closed and now North Lauderdale is safe from demonic possession.
Yes, I have some interesting friends.Spring and I realized we both had mutual crushes and decided to become an item.
Of course, it happened over email since she was in New Jersey and I was here in Lower Sheol (aka South Florida). We were on the same mailing list (DaveWorld, a mailing list where there are no Dave's. You just wouldn't get it) for several years and knew each other through it. We had exchanged private emails a few times but nothing real significant. Then one year ago it happened.
I was at work at The Company, with this massive headache, feeling exceedingly tired but yet so wired with a sugar and caffiene high that I was buzzing (“Sean, do you hear that wierd buzzing noise?” “Oooohhhh ddddoooonnnn'tttt mmmmiiiinnnndddd tttthhhhaaaatttt,,,, iiiitttt'ssss jjjjuuuusssstttt mmmmeeee … … … …”). Spring sent an email, I replied with an uncharacteristic frankness that is generally reserved with inebriation and five hours later (all through email—a kind of slow-man's Instant Messenger if you will) we were an item.
Okay, an item spread out over 1,200 miles of U. S. shoreline, but still, an item. We didn't physically meet until January of this year (and if you check, you'll see that's there this gap in January—that was me in New Jersey). Then shen came down here for Easter, and then once more in July, and has been here ever since.
Danger past. God forgotten.
—Old Indian (sub-continent) proverb.
It seems that Hurricane Michelle blew past us. Some high winds, some rain, nothing much else. Heck, the power didn't even flicker and we were able to keep the computers up and running here at Condo Conner.
Spring and I received word to day that yes indeed, a friend of ours did commit suicide. Letting it sink in, thoughts kept crossing my mind. Did we tease him too much on the car thang? Did any of us think to tell him that mixing drugs and alcohol is probably a Bad Idea? Where there any signs that he might be suicidal?
Too many questions. No answers.Spring. Soy bean snacks. Chocolate covered cracker sticks. Dried seaweed. Squid. Tea. Lots of tea but still no Black Currant. Supposedly sweet snacks made of rice. Or soy. Or octopus. Incense by the gross. Chop sticks. Tea pots. Pickled bamboo shoots. Pickled pepper. Pickled pickles. And even more odd food stuffs that my thoroughly Americanized palette refuses to believe is even edible, much less good as Spring insists.
But the soap smells nice. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm … sandalwood.
Spring is a connoisseur of Punch Buggy. So since she's moved down here, I've had to come up to speed on the game.
So we're sitting in the Computer Room working away when “Punch Buggy blue and blue,” said Spring, lightly tapping me on the shoulder.
“What?” I turn around and she points to a picture on the screen—in a traffic snarl deep in some city are two VW Beetles.
“And it doesn't count on a car lot,” she said as I scrambled for a web browser.
“Are you done yet?” said Spring.
“Wait a second … just a few more pages … ”Spring and I walked over to a nearby park to have a look around. Veteran's Park, oddly enough dedicated to U.S. Veterans of all wars, is at the west end of a shopping center about a block west of us. Neatly mowed grass and a few token trees surround seven flag poles, one with the U.S. flag and the remaining six for the various armed forces. There are also a few benches there to relax on.
Given that there were no signs saying DO NOT WALK ON THE GRASS we did just that. And also given that there were no signs saying DO NOT CLIMB ON THE TREES Spring did just that. She climbed one of the banyan trees along the edge of the park. They're easy trees to climb, given their sprawling nature and dozens of small trunks they throw down as they grow (I've heard a story of one such banyan tree covering nine acres). I decided to remain safely on the ground least I have an attack of vertigo.
Walking back, we passed a playground where the kids (all kindergarten age) started asking Spring questions about her hair. I attempted to take a picture, but Spring stopped me.
“Don't you know it's not safe to take their picture?” she asked.
“What? It's not like I'm stealing their soul or anything,” I said.
“It's not that—it's just that parents get very upset if you take pictures of their kids. You could be arrested.”
“For taking a picture of some kids?”
“Yes. Parents get very defensive about their kids.” I rolled my eyes as we kept walking.
We walked behind the the shopping center where we saw some very oddly marked parking spots. One was marked “SEMOSUMMER RESRYEO” and another one was similarly marked (although I don't recall exactly what it said as the picture turned out fuzzy.
We also stopped by to check the mail box and ran into our roommate Rob who was leaving for fighter training (in swords). We ended up checking the mail right there in the middle of the parking lot.
our anniversary Spring and I headed over to the Melting Pot for dinner. It's a nice cozy restaurant and since Spring had never had fondue (“You've never had fondue?” “No dear, I haven't.”) I figured it was the place to go for a special dinner.
But as I remarked to Spring while we were there dipping various food items into cheese or hot oil (depending upon the course we were on), you would think the prices wouldn't be so high, seeing how the customer does all the cooking. And Spring remarked that their insurance rates must be insane seeing how there is hot oil on every table and if the customer doesn't cook the food long enough they stand a chance of food poisoning.
But overall we both very much enjoyed the meal.Spring, Kelly, Mark, JeffK, ChrisS, J (a friend of Mark's) and I went to the funeral of our friend A who died this week.
The service was held at a small church almost an hour away and we arrived just in time. There was a sizable crowd of maybe 75 people for the hour long memorial to A. Afterwards, we were invited to a reception at a family member's house a few miles away from the church.
There we hung around for an hour or so, talking with family and friends about the fond memories we had of A and his love of computers, cars (especially BMWs and his unfortunately tendancy to crash them) and electronics and how sad it was that he ended his life so early. We're all going to miss A—it'll be too quiet without him.
- License. AutoZone.com, Inc., (“AutoZone.com”) hereby grants to you, and you hereby accept, a non-exclusive, non-transferable license to display a Link (as defined below) to the home page of AutoZone.com on the World Wide Web site(s) owned or operated by you and identified above (the “Linking Site(s)”). Such Link shall consist solely of the AutoZone logo (the “Logo”) as specified by AutoZone.com from time to time. You may not modify, edit or in any way alter the Logo in any manner. Nothing in this Agreement shall grant you any rights in the Logo, the AutoZone.com site or any other intellectual property of AutoZone or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates, other than as expressly set forth herein. For purposes of this Agreement “Link” shall mean a hypertext link located on the Linking Site(s) which shall only link directly to the home page of AutoZone.com located at www.autozone.com (as such URL may be modified from time to time), and which shall be implemented by the Linking Party solely in accordance with this Agreement.
And that's item number one of a four page document! I also like item five, which forbids me from using the data in my own log file if I can determine if a user clicked on a link pointing to AutoZone.com. This is such silliness. Me, print, sign and fax back a document just to link to their site?
Who let the lawyers out?
I do need to fix the pronouns in a few cases but I'll save that for later.
Update on Friday, July 6th, 2007
Oh, it only took a few years to fix the problem.
this site I've notived that Google has finally found it and has spent the past few days spidering through it.
There are a few thousand links for it to follow (out of what? A million potential URLs on this site? I know the Electric King James has over fifteen million URLs). For instance, there are three just for the years, 12 each for each year (okay, so there's only 11 for this year, but close enough) so that's now 39 URLs. Each day (for those days that have an entry) have at least one entry and while I may have skipped a day or two here and there, let's say there's an averave of 300 per year, so that's over 900 there. And if you assume an average of two entries per day (remember, you can retrieve the entire day, or just an entry) that's another 600 per year or 1,800 so we're now up to nearly 3,000 URLs that Google has to crawl through (with lots of duplication).
robots.txt for bible.conman.org
#----------------------------- # Go away---we don't want you # to endlessly spider this # site. #----------------------------- User-agent: * Disallow: /
There's a reason I don't allow web robots/spiders to the Electric King James—it would take way too long to index the site (if indeed, the spider in question was even aware of all the possible URLs) and my machine isn't all that powerful to begin with (it being a 33MHz 486 and all). But I feel that there is a research problem lurking here that some interprising Masters or Ph.D. candidate could tackle: how best to spider a site that allows multiple views per document.Post Apocalyptic Boca Raton or, as Spring calls it, Poca Boca. The day was beautiful, and we had the time. So like Douglas MacAuthor, we returned. Only it wasn't to the Philipines and it wasn't during a World War but I digress.
Poca Boca isn't all that big an area, being nestled just south of Spanish River Blvd and just east of FAU. We drove and parked the car along the abandoned road and strolled through the area for several hours.
The vegetation has gone wild and in one section (around 39th St. and an abandonded section of 5th Ave) the growth has almost overgrown the entire street. Along 39th are the foundations for the model homes that were built in the late 60s and we were amused to find a couch still there in what may have been the living room.
As we were walking around Spring and I talked about various locations that a person could potentially squat and remain unseen from homes and streets along the edge of Poca Boca.
Poca Boca Spring and I headed off to the ends of South Florida—Loxahatchee. The Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge on the western fringe of South Florida. We drove out there the day before but just after the sun had set and therefore we only stayed a few minutes before we were eaten alive by mosquitos.
Going in the day, we avoided all that and were able to stroll around the area a bit. Quite a few people were out, getting airboat tours (those things are loud) and fishing. We walked along the hiking path (that goes on and on and on and on) for a bit, then headed home where we both took a nap.
Prior to my mucking about I had allowed all TCP connections through, and then excluded the ones I didn't want, which meant that my rules (and I'm using ipfwadm here) looked like:
ipfwadm -I -a reject -P tcp -W eth1 -D $IP 1:19 ipfwadm -I -a reject -P tcp -W eth1 -D $IP 23:24 ipfwadm -I -a reject -P tcp -W eth1 -D $IP 26:79
And so on. Made it hard to see what ports I did support (and I stopped at 1022 because it seems that Linux 2.0 starts handing out ports at 1023 even though it's supposed to start at 1024 but that's anothe story) and I had to make sure I blocked services on high ports like Squid and I wanted to block ports that stuff like Back Oriface use (not that I'm really worried it'll attack me, but it's always nice to see attempts).
So I started mucking around.
And I'm still fine tuning everything. As Rob pointed out, I'm turning into a paranoid sysadmin.
But it is easier to see what I'm letting through.
I spent some time yesturday trying to implement Markov Chains that wasn't successful. I know I've done this before (in Pascal of all things) years ago but I think I need to rethink how I was doing this.
Afterwards I worked on my client's project. It's not hard per se but it involves keeping track of lots of little details and much of the data I have to track can change at unpredictable times (old sources of data may go, new sources may appear) so I'm having to track that as well. Again not hard, just a bit of tedium to make sure I track everything correctly.
For today's warm-up exercise, I added functionality to mod_blog that will send notification to Weblogs.com when an entry is made. It's toggable so you can have it send notification or not. That was not hard at all since I'm using the form based API and not the XML-RPC or SOAP ones (which wouldn't be that hard to hack support for either). Why am I doing this? Would you believe “creeping featureism?”
I didn't think so.
It's marketing. Pure and simple.
RSS worked out (the other day) and I have the Samurai Admin pulling it in.
And as always, the code is available (although I should probably make it more apparent that it is).
RSS file using it and I get:
The XML page cannot be displayed
Cannot view XML input using style sheet. Please correct the error
and then click the Refresh button, or try again later.
System does not support the specified encoding. Line 1, Position 43
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="US-ASCII" ?>
In light of the recent events surrounding MSN blocking non-conforming browsers I find this very funny. Very. I guess US-ASCII is simply too hard for them to support.
If you've been browsing this blog between 11:00 pm yesturday to around 1:30 am today (Eastern time that is) then you probably noticed a bunch of duplicate entries. This was caused by a bug in the new feature I added today (okay, technically yesturday).
What happened is that the program would add the entry, and notify Weblog.com and it was in the cleanup code of that feature (after it had already sent the notification to Weblog.com) that it would crash. This caused the mail server (since I use email to update this journal) to think the message had not been delivered and therefore queue it up for delivery later.
And basically, every entry made since this new feature was in was still in the queue trying to be delivered successfully.
So much for my programming prowess.
The code (C—I program mostly in C) in question was:
int UrlFree(URL *); /* ... */ URLHTTP url; /* ... */ UrlFree((URL *)url);
UrlFree() takes a pointer to a URL and here I was passing in the URL directly, but because of the cast (since URLHTTP is based off the URL datatype but due to the lack of actual objects in C, I have to cast) the compiler let it slide.
And please, no “Why didn't you use Java?” or “Why not C++?” or even “What? You didn't use Perl?” I freely admit to being a C bigot and I like my language to remain standard, unlike C++ (which until what? Only last year got a standard?) or Java (what classes did Sun change this week?) or even Perl (Perl 6 is just around the corner, and it's nothing at all like Perl 5 … heh heh heh). I have better things to do (like chase bugs it seems) than to run after ever shifting languages.
Besides, is there anyone else that talks about bugs in their software?
roommate works at night as a system administrator) showed that traffic to Condo Conner was not getting past a router in Miami.
Fast foward to noon today. Can't traceroute to my colocated server. Can't ping it. Yet Spring can get her mail. Uh oh. A quick telnet to port 80 and yes, I can bring up a web page.
Poking around I'm seeing major network problems with my provider. Inside, I can ping some sites, other's I can't. Some sites I can traceroute to, others I can't. One moment I can ping but can't telnet. Then I can telnet. From outside again, it's hit or miss if I can ping or traceroute back to Condo Conner.
Most things are working and that's what makes this more annoying that if it was all down. I'll be going along and wham! can't get there.
Mark that last night around 3:00 am that the DSL provider is upgrading the software on their equipment at the same time that the local phone company (no names but its initials are BellSouth) is upgrading the software on their equipment and well for the past 17 hours the Internet connectivity has gone to Hell.
Nice job, guys. Ever hear of rollbacks?
Okay, okay, cheap shot, but man, we're jonsing for Internet connectivity here. It's been bad all day … can't get to a site … can't get to a site … can't get to a—wait! We got a page! Woo hoo! Click on a link and … can't get to the site.
Trying to log in to a remote server is just as fun. Nope—that box is refusing ssh connections. Still refusing. Is it … yes! It connected! I'm logged in and … the connection is frozen.
Good news though: we have a dial up account (good thing I hadn't gotten around to getting rid of the second phone line). Bad news: the number is busy.
Okay, things could be worse and for that I'm grateful.
WASHINGTON - Law enforcement officials were stunned recently after they urged the nation to be on the “highest alert possible”, and they were informed that we already were. Soon after that, Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld ordered our nations military to go to “DefCon 1”, the highest defense condition possible, and he too was informed that they already were at “DefCon 1”.
Now that things have returned to normal (network wise), I figured it was time for a bit of levity.
Besides, you can tell that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld isn't a computer guy—1,024 is is much better than 1,027. And I suspect it would have been Ashcroft to ask for more DefCon levels, not Rumsfeld.Penny per Page and it works just like it sounds—you pay one penny to view one page. Technically, it's possible. HTTP has provisions to expand for pay-for-reference (although no standard is mentioned) and some work has been done.
Obligatory Sidebar Quote
The fact that they don't pay for Web content is a historic anomaly. The benefits to be reaped by paying a very small amount of money for Web content are gigantic. Right now, people are actively denying themselves many of the most amazing things that the Web could provide because of the "totally free" World Wide Web.
The article even mentions how under this scheme, Google could easily make $350 million a year (assuming Google can maintain it's 100 million page hits per day) but see—there's a slight problem and it's a problem I haven't seen mentioned in any of the micropayment schemes I've read up on: search engines.
Ah yes, the Google Problem (as I've come to call it). The whole point of a search engine is to catalog your site so others can find it. If no one can find your site, it doesn't matter if you charge 1¢ or $1—you're not going to make money. And generally, sites don't mind if a search engine crawls through the site and indexes it. Heck, there are companies that make money submitting sites to search engines so they'll be crawled.
Now, how much of that fabled $350 million that Google makes will stay if Google has to pony up the 1¢ for each page it fetches?
Now, statistically speaking, using only my site and extrapolating from there makes poor science but hey, it's a starting point. A quick scan through the logs (of www.conman.org, bible.conman.org, literature.conman.org and boston.conman.org) which so far only covers November 1st through the very early morning hours of the 16th (it's 3:08 am as I'm writing this) I've had 986 visits from Googlebot but only 83 referals from Google itself.
Interesting! Under this hypothetical plan, Google lost $9.03 on spidering my site. If I check all the sites I host, Google lost $15.46 from all the spidering it did. Meanwhile, I made $10.69 from Google spidering just conman.org or if I consider all the sites: $22.54.
On a whim, I checked three other sites whose logs files I have access to to see if the rather ad-hoc theory I'm working under is valid. Two sites Google paid more to visit than they made in search results, but definitely came out ahead on the third (of course it's a sex-related site).
So it would be hard to say if Google would be able to keep the $350 million if it too was subject to paying out 1¢ per page it indexed.
The other side of the coin is for the search engines to be exempt from the penny-per-page charge—after all, they're driving visitors to the site after all. But then it becomes a problem of determining if what is going through the pages is a robot or not. If you base the decision on the User-Agent then what's to stop someone using Opera and changing its User-Agent string to say it's Googlebot? Authentication is one method, but it's hard enough getting robots.txt on all sites and that's a simple text file. Something as complicated as an anthentication scheme for robots is going to be tougher to sell.
So far, aside from affliate programs for porn sites, the only way to still generate some revenue from a website is advertising.
Most web advertising is annoying and getting more so. But an interesting twist seems promising: less is more. Or rather—small text only based advertisements. Several sites are experimenting with them right now and since they're small, fairly unobtrusive, highly targetted and cheap they might actually become the future of web advertising.
I hope so. I'm getting tired of the crap that's being pushed now.Spring, “Spam sushi!” She was pointing to some pictures of Spam sushi on the computer screen.
Now, I like Spam. Don't knock it until you actually try it (and thousands of Hawaians can't be wrong). And yes, I like rice (especially the white rice at the local Spanish/Mexican/Cuban restaurant down the street).
But mixed together as sushi?
“Ah, no,” I said.
“But you like Spam.”
“And you like rice, right?”
“So?” She sat there next to me, giving me this don't tell me you won't like this look.
“Not on your life.”
“Well, why not?”
“Because first you'll start me off with cooked Spam and rice,” I said. “And then, you'll slip in raw Spam and get me used to that. And from there I spiral downward, jonsing for the stuff, spending all my money to feed my habit and then where will we be. Out on the street! That's where!”
“So does that mean you're not buying it?”
“Not buying, not eating, not even considering it.”
I paused in what I was working on and turned to her. “Love, true love?”
“Someone to be the Tiger Woods of jazz,” she said.
“Um, Spring. I hate to say this, but most jazz musicians are already black,” I said.
“No no no, not that.”
“Oh, then some uncoordinated white guy wearing polyester playing jazz?”
“No silly,” she said, punching me on the shoulder. “Somebody to take stuffy old tight-ass dusty jazz and make it fun for everybody, the way Tiger Woods did for stuffy old tight-ass dusty golf.”
“Ah.” And I was englightened.the movie of the year so of course I'm obliged to write about it. Heck, I've even read the book (in fact, all four and waiting for the next three). No spoilers here (Harry saves the world from Ultimate Evil); just some comments on the film.
Daniel Radcliffe wasn't a horrible Harry. Neither was he a great Harry. He was just there. Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger and that's “her‧my‧oh‧knee” not “her‧me‧own”) were much better. I'm not sure if it's because of the direction by Chris “Home Alone” Columbus; it's a very difficult role to pull off or he just isn't all that great. I don't know but I felt he was a bit wooden. Everybody else was wonderful (especially Alan Rickman as Severus Snape).
The special effects. Very uneven. They did a wonder job with Hagrid—I'm sure the technology developed for use in The Lord of the Rings was used here to make Robbie Coltrane into a nine foot tall giant (instead of a three foot Hobbit). Very effective. But for me, most of the computer generated effects distracted me. They looked like computer generated effects. The dinosaurs from Jurassic Park were much better done and that was eight years ago! The Quidditch match would have looked great for Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within but here they were out of place.
Overall the movie is worth seeing (I wouldn't mind seeing it again) but they could have done a better job overall.
And it goes on for some 180 more lines of this drivel. But I find it rather amusing that
Thanks to recent dramatic advances in the laboratorial processes for the extraction of botanical/herbal alkaloids and glycocides, we are now able to offer what has already been the most incredibly potent marijuana/cannabis alternative available on the planet … KATHMANDU TEMPLE KIFF!!! It is NEW, IMPROVED and 20 times more stokin'-tokin' potent in its formulation.
Anyway, Andrew and friend had met Mark where he works, then Mark drove them down here to Condo Conner, leaving Andrew's car in the parking lot where Mark works in Boca Raton. Upon returning they found Andrew's car broken into and some items (nothing too important or expensive) stolen. It turned out to be more annoying than anything else, as they had to wait for the Boca Raton Police Crime Unit to show up. They eventually did and informed them that the area (in north Boca Raton, along Clint Moore Rd) has had a rash of car thefts—something like 30 in the recent past.
I suppose if you are going to steal items from a car, doing it in commercial parks in Boca Raton (a very rich city) is the way to do it. Nice cars all over the place—kind of the high tech Mecca of South Florida if you will.
But Mark did state that the female officers that did show up where very cute. I'm going to have to ask my friend M about them—he works in the Boca Raton Police Department. He may know them, or of them.
speaking of M (my friend who works in the Boca Raton Police Department), he sent a link to the FBI Records Search that allows one to check the FBI for any information they may have on you. Scary stuff there. scams are getting a bit better. I just received this in my email (in my “all spam ends up here” account):
This information is top secret and is for your reading only. Please delete this email immediately if you feel this is an error.
My name is Vitaliy Smirnov. I work in Russian Fund of Reconstruction and Development under the Government of Russian Federation as a financial advisor and auditor. During the last two years of my work I've discovered the fact of the money remaining in the Fund left after the Great Default on August, 17th 1998 which you should know or may heard about.
After studying and checking into this I finally got the information that the money can be mapped out by me and then used in some way. The amount is US $1.92 million ($1,920,000). I've found out a problem I can't work this out by myself being an official in Russia. I am not allowed to act as a businessman or have and operate any bank account overseas. That's why I have this proposal for you.
According to all above here is what I suggest. You will help me to accept this money in your country to the firm bank account. After the transaction takes place you hold 20% of the amount and then send out 80% in parts to bank accounts I provide.
This money will be processed as a contract payment to the firm you have or open for it. Firm nature doesn't really matter as I plan to make up a contract of the audit/marketing services or something that your firm did for the Fund. I require the following details about the firm: name, physical address, short working history, managerial stuff, how long it operates in the market and the firm bank account information where this money will be sent. Bank account details are the bank name, bank address, bank contacts and the account numbers.
Sooner you confirm you've read and understood what I sent you we'll start our preparations for the main transaction immediately.
Please treat this information as confident and secret as possible.
Contact me via email if you are ready.
Looking forward to hear from you,
At least they're not asking for money up front this time. A quick Google search revealed that Vitaliy Smirnov is the Russian Olympic Committee President (so yes, that would make him a official in Russia, but I doubt he would have any financial problems that he would ask me for help. Also, this really can't be all that top secret if I found it on web site (okay, so the site in question is in Russian, which looks very cool if you have the proper font. I ran it through The Fish for a translation. Got enough of it so that it does look like a scam, but The Fish also attempted to translate the English that was on the page to Russian—which explains where I got the title from).
And the Crimes of Persuasion website is always a handy reference.
Recently I witnessed a shocking demonstration by a new, English-speaking, college graduate. I don’t normally talk about my writing with colleagues at work – there isn’t time – but one intelligent youngster asked me a question that I could most easily answer by showing him one of my essays. He could not read it. I mean, he could sound out the words that he knew, skipping the words he didn’t know, but he could not make sense of the sentences. After watching his ordeal for five painful minutes, I verbally gave him the message encoded in the English language that he could not read. He believes that he is educated, by the way, because he has a college degree.
All a college degree shows is that you are trainable to jump through hoops (okay, with Yale you learn to jump through flaming hoops that impress everyone, but you are still jumping through hoops and aren't necessarily edumakated). And yes, the educational system here is bad.
For some reason, the fact that sheep are easily lead and wolves are not keeps floating through my mind …
The new second line they gave us had a Valencia area code, which would have been good if I’d needed to call Magic Mountain several times per day. As it was, that number somehow cross-linked with our old phone line so that we couldn’t even call our next-door neighbor on either phone without dialing 11 digits. The DSL started crashing all the time. The voice mail either wouldn’t work or would deliver messages days after the fact. Sometimes an obliterating static would wash over the line; other times voices would echo.
Well, we weren’t going to take this one lying down! We called the Sprint Ion service center in Atlanta, Georgia, and talked with Artie. And with Margie, Mark, Barry, Bob, Eddie, Kiewan, Abid, Emily, Carlos, Robert, Brian, Isaiah, Corey, Carl, Gerald, Debra, Barbara, Sylvester, Tom, Jeanette, Michael, Randall, Dan, Adam, Allen, Shavonne, Lynette, Hawk, Cornell, John and others.
Except for the NorthPoint failure and that day a week and a half ago, I haven't had much problem at all with my DSL connection, unlike Mr. Washburn up there. But his story wasn't nearly as bad as Brad's:
June 19, 2000: Well, after nearly two months of waiting for my DSL service to be installed, I'm ensconced here in my home office, perching in front of the computer, surfing along at a zippy … 56K. Yep, sure couldn't see that one coming, could we? …
Manuel returns after 10 minutes more of Mangione with the following news: the “wire center” serving my area is closed, and has been closed since late April. My order for DSL should never have been accepted and, should I wish to request DSL service, my order will have to be resubmitted. Unfortunately, Manuel is not permitted to accept new orders or even resubmit mine until the wire center reopens, which will be “on or after July 14.”
“Why did Carl schedule me for an installation appointment today?” I ask. Manuel asks me to hold. Fifteen minutes of cool trumpet later, he returns with the news that the tech center has no record of an install order in my name.
It's as if the telephone companies don't like DSL. Go figure.
Spring wanted to buy a simple folder—the type that has both pockets and tangs. Tangs, by the way, are the small flaps of metal that you slip three-holed punched paper over and fold down to keep the papers together—something that is fairly common.
So we head over to the local Wal★Mart Superstore that is now down the street to look for a simple pocket and tang folder.
Now, a Wal★Mart superstore is the size of a small Latin American country so we knew we might spend some serious time in there looking for a folder.
We found an entire supermarket. We found analog clocks that can set themselves. We found piano wire. We found Jimmy Hoffa (although he didn't look all that good so we put him back). But we did not find a simple pocket and tang folder. Over an hour we spent.
So much for the Wal★Mart Superstore.
Twelve hours and I still didn't find what was wrong.
I spent a good portion of last night and well, this moring (didn't get to bed until 10:00 am) working on a project for a client. When you freelance … okay, when I freelance, I can loose track of time and that's why I found myself working on a project on a Saturday night/Sunday morning.
The project itself isn't that hard. Data mining. Okay, nothing sexy like hacking a government site in sixty seconds with a gun to your head and getting a blowjob but hey, it's a living. And since it's pulling down pages from a webserver (it's public information by the way) it can't be that hard, right?
First off, the server I'm pulling from is a Microsoft IIS server and well … you have to be delusional if you think Microsoft follows standards to the letter. I already have to work around a few IIS bugs.
14.30 Location The Location response-header field is used to redirect the recipient to a location other than the Request-URI for completion of the request or identification of a new resource. For 201 (Created) responses, the Location is that of the new resource which was created by the request. For 3xx responses, the location SHOULD indicate the server's preferred URI for automatic redirection to the resource. The field value consists of a single absolute URI. Location = "Location" ":" absoluteURI An example is: Location: http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW/People.html
§14.30 of RFC-2616
Right there. Location: contains an absolute URI. But Microsoft? Nah, that would be like … following a standard or something, so when an IIS server sends out a Location: header, it's relative to the base URI the webserver was given. Well, I've worked around that bug long ago, as well as the bug that IIS servers sometimes hand out two sets of headers.
So that's a known quantity. This should be easy enough.
Twelve hours. It's become a mantra.
Now, even though the information is public (mandated by law no less) the owners of the site aren't going to make it easy to actually get to the information. Oh no. The whole site is framed in frames. Hit the wrong URL or neglect to send the correct Referer: header and you get bumped back to a frame.
Annoying, but having to deal with session tracking cookies is even worse. Attempt to avoid using cookies, and “Sorry, the site requires cookies.”
And you can't even get into the site until you click through their licence agreement.
Oh, did I mention this is public information I am pulling out?
I've never dealt with cookies before and well, there's a reason why I never bothered before. Simple in theory but the devil is in the details.
I've been picking through the site using Lynx to pick apart the site and figure out which URLs I need to grab and which URLs I need as refering pages and figuring out the minimum cookie support I need (since my own homegrown library doesn't exactly support cookies) and my code isn't working.
I find out more where Microsoft's IIS is breaking the standard:
The action performed by the POST method might not result in a resource that can be identified by a URI. In this case, either 200 (OK) or 204 (No Content) is the appropriate response status, depending on whether or not the response includes an entity that describes the result. If a resource has been created on the origin server, the response SHOULD be 201 (Created) and contain an entity which describes the status of the request and refers to the new resource, and a Location header (see section 14.30). Responses to this method are not cacheable, unless the response includes appropriate Cache-Control or Expires header fields. However, the 303 (See Other) response can be used to direct the user agent to retrieve a cacheable resource.
§9.5 of RFC-2616
Okay, so I guess Microsoft weasles out with the should clause there because what it does to is sent out a 302 (move temporarily) which I immediately POST to the new location where:
If the 302 status code is received in response to a request other than GET or HEAD, the user agent MUST NOT automatically redirect the request unless it can be confirmed by the user, since this might change the conditions under which the request was issued. Note: RFC 1945 and RFC 2068 specify that the client is not allowed to change the method on the redirected request. However, most existing user agent implementations treat 302 as if it were a 303 response, performing a GET on the Location field-value regardless of the original request method. The status codes 303 and 307 have been added for servers that wish to make unambiguously clear which kind of reaction is expected of the client.
§10.3.3 of RFC-2616
You can't win coming or going. So in this case, not only is Microsoft IIS possibly in the wrong, but nearly every browser is too! Including the aformentioned Lynx. Although in my case, I don't change the method (frankly, it never occured to me to do such a thing).
So I'm spending my time trying to figure out why my code isn't working and yet Lynx does. I enable tracing in Lynx. It doesn't tell me anything that I don't already know. I'm adding headers. I'm mimicing headers.
At 10:00 am I give up and head to bed.
I get up and decide to record the actual traffic between my workstation and the server in question, to see exactly what is going on. So I record a session with Lynx, and with my software and look at the raw packets and see what is different between the two.
And that's when I want to slap myself up the head with a large and rather heavy blunt object.
Because it's a problem with my code. In fact, it was a feature of my code that I completely forgot about, seeing how I wrote the code in question back in 1997 (and the last server bug workaround code was added in 1999).
You see, when I was setting the headers to be sent with the request, I was including the characters CR and LF at the end (since that's part of the spec—header lines are separated by those characters) when the code I wrote added the same characters to each header line as it was being sent out.
So no wonder it wasn't working.
You can smack me now.Mark sent me a link to TechCenter 051, a facility used by IBM and located in Boca Raton, Florida.
You have to check out the video about TechCenter 051. The beginning comes across like a documentary for the NSA—IBM used this facility for back ops and top secret projects for both commercial and government use. The whole tone comes across as the business equivilent of Area 51 (I wonder if there is a connection? Hmmmmm … ) but once the tone changes, it becomes just another generic infomercial (although the building has redundant SONET rings and redundant power generators. It is an impresive facility.
Spring took it upon herself to fix some pictures I had to get them back on the wall. I had two regular water colors and two rather unusual Oriental Demon Masks. All four belonged to my parents and I know for a fact that the Oriental Demon Masks were a wedding gift to my parents (who were married in Hell, Michigan—fitting, isn't it?). For years they sat in the attic of my Dad's parent's house collecting dust. I gathered them on a visit one year, much to the dismay of my Mom. It was only after I inherited Condo Conner that I actually hung them up just outside the Computer Room.
But eventually the wire on the back of the frame broke so they've been sitting in my room waiting till someone got around to fixing them.
I also had a few African masks that my Dad's mom got for me in the mid 80s. She knew I liked the Oriental Demon Masks but also knew that my Mom would never allow them back in her house. So one summer in the mid-80s we found a pair of masks at a garage sale and paid something like $1 each or something like that. Pretty cheap. And they had been lying around in the room just lying around, since there was no real way to hang them up.
But Spring found a way using picture hooks, one on each side and one at the bottom, and used hanging wire to connect them all in the back with an round picture hook at the junction of wire. She then hung them up along the front entry wall to break up the expansive space of white wall. It actually looks good now.
And yes, we did name them. Bob, Bing, Byron and Arsenio. Any relations to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental.Rob and yes, it did appear that the switch was dead.
So the other night at Wal★Mart I picked up a new wall switch for the disposal (they had switches for 59¢ yet no pocket and tang folders (but Publix, a grocery store, had them). Yet when we went to Home Depot we couldn't find any to save our life. Sigh). And I finally remembered to do the fix during the day, when there's light.
So I shut down the computers since I have no clue which circuit breaker is which—they're all labels “General Lighting” like that helps any. Once the equipment was shut off, I go to the circuit breakers (fortunately, they're in the kitchen. Less fortunately they're in one of the cabinets. Nice location) and shut one off.
The lights in the kitchen go off. Good, I thought. I picked the right one. I then remove the face plate to the switch, and pull the switch out. I check it with the voltage detector and it lights up. Great, it's on another circuit.
Flip. Beep beep beep beep. Flip. Beep beep beep beep. Flip. Beep beep beep beep. Flip. Beep beep beep beep. Well darn! I'm out of breakers.
By this point, Rob had wandered out of his room, bleary eyed from just getting up. “Did we loose power?”
“No, I'm trying to fix the garbage disposal switch and I'm trying to locate the proper circuit.”
“Ah.” He then starts to wander back into his room.
“Oh wait! While you're up, could you look at something?” He used to do concert lighting in a previous life and tends to know more about electrical wiring than I do. He follows me into the kitchen. “This switch is still live.”
“It's usually on its own breaker—garbage disposals suck up a lot of power.” I go over to the circuit breaker panel and start rattling off other breakers. When I mentioned the dish washer, he said that was probably the one. It was.
I started replacing the switch when Rob called out, “Could you please turn the lights back on!”
“Oh, sorry,” I said, flipping the “General Lighting” switches back on. I then went back to replacing the switch. I got it installed, flipped the circuit back on, flipped the switch and … nothing.
The switch needed fixing anyway.Spring and I saw Princess Mononoke. Actually, I finally saw the entire thing—I had seen the last half yesterday since I got involved in a project I'm working on.
The movie itself is phenomenal. There are no real bad guys, nor are there any real good guys—just several groups of characters (not all are human) trying to maintain their way of life.
It starts out with Prince Ashitaka defending his village against a demon and getting infected during the fight. The oracle of the village says that he is fated to die and that the demon that attacked the village came from the west. If he is to have the cursed removed (if possible) it is from the west that he must go. So he leaves the village heading west.
Where he comes across Irontown, lead by Lady Eboshi. It's a mining town that is being besieged by animal gods from the forest. She wants to stop the animal gods from attacking the iron works and is willing to go to great lengths to do so.
But aside from that she isn't bad either—the work force is drawn entirely from women slaves and prostitutes and in her inner sanctum she has Leper servants who would otherwise be ignored and left to die on their own.
She inlists the help of Prince Ashitaka and Jigo the Monk, an opportunistic fellow who, if he provides the head of the Forest Spirit, will gain favor with the Emperor.
But—the animal gods in the forest are trying to fight back, helped by San, Princess Mononoke, who was raised by Moro the Wolf goddess as her daughter. In fact, it was a boar god that had turned into a demon through his hatred of humans and had gone rampaging and was the one who wounded Prince Ashitaka, who is fighting the demonic infection and yet uses the power it gives him to keep one side from wiping out the other and manages to gain the trust of both sides.
It's a compelling story and far from a child's tale, despite being animated.
I get the following email:
From: "OpenSRS Transfers" <XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX>
Subject: Transfer Request for conman.org
Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2001 15:54:08 -0500 (EST)
A request has been received to transfer the domain conman.org to XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, Inc., an authorized reseller of the registrar Tucows. This request was entered at Fri Nov 30 15:53:11 2001 by XXXXXXXXXXX. Note that your nameservers will not change as a direct result of this transfer.
This acknowledgement of transfer will be processed by Tucows Inc, an ICANN accredited registrar on behalf of XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, Inc. If this is a valid request and you wish to approve this transfer, please visit the following url and follow the instructions:
You will need to enter the following information to complete the transfer:
Domain Name: conman.org
If you do not wish to approve this transfer, you may simply ignore this message and the request will be cancelled, or you can use the Domain Name and Password above to cancel the transfer.
Accepting this transfer will change the registrar of record for your domain from its current registrar, to Tucows/OpenSRS; it may also change some of the contact information. If you are receiving this email, you should have initiated, or at least been aware of this request already. If this is the first time that you've heard of this, do not accept the transfer until you are satisfied that the request is legitimate.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, Inc. and Team Tucows
Now, I had been thinking of moving my registration away from Network Solutions but have held off until I've renewed and now I suppose I can look into doing so. I called Mark just to see if he may have initiated it (just on the off chance, you know?). Nope. He was like “NO! NO! Say `No!' to the request!” And when asked if he heard of or possibly knew who “XXXXXXXXXXX” might be, he didn't know.
So I turned to the all knowing Google and asked about “XXXXXXXXXXX.” A few minutes poking around showed him as the owner of XXXXXXXXXX. Aha! I thought. He made a mistake in making the request transfer. So that explains that.
A quick email to him and the situation is clarified.
Update on Tuesday, February 12th, 2002
XXXXXXXXXXX wrote me today informing me that it was not his mistake at all, but that of his hosting company and that somehow they mixed up the domain. I apologize for the assumption that it was XXXXXXXXXXX's mistake (and the quick email wasn't as clarified as it could have been, I suppose).
I'm also agonized over how to handle his politely sent request to remove this entry. I would like to, but doing so makes for a hole in my journal, and it could potentially break links to that page (not that there are any) but I can understand XXXXXX's position on this.
Update on Tuesday, August 19th, 2003
Yet another email from XXXXXXXXXXX asking whem I'm going to remove this entry.
I don't want to remove this entry. And obviously, I'm not toing to remove this entry. So I went through, striking out any mention of XXXXXXXXXXX. It will take a while for this to flush out of Google (where this page is the third result when looking for XXXXXXXXXXX).