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, June 03, 2003


There's one good thing about being a regular at a restaurant: they know you! So not having enough money to pay wasn't an issue. “You'll pay later, right? Here, take the food. You been coming here a long time, we trust you.”

Missing the point

I'm at the ATM pulling out some money when I notice the Braille writing beside the buttons. Now, the standard joke is “Why do they put Braille on drive-through ATMs?” I suspect the answer to that is it's cheaper to make all ATMs that way, or less prone to accessibilty issues (“I'm sorry there's no Braille, we installed the wrong ATM”).

So this is going through my mind when I suddenly realize—how does a blind person know which button to press? Yes, there is a keypad used to input your PIN, but there are also four buttons along each side of the screen used to select which type of transaction, language selection, do you want a receipt among other questions. And you know which button to press because the selection is printed beside the button.


What's the point of Braille if the only sound the ATM makes is this beep-beep noise? There's no voice over going “To select a withdrawl, press ‘A,’ to check your balance, press ‘B’ …”

Now that seems silly to me …

Elvw beo lw malt this, you moron!

Ah, spam. Bad enough when it promises to inflate various body parts or offering the very latest in MLM scams, but at least you can make out what the pitch is, unlike this lovely specimen:

From: “Max Westbrook” <>
To: <>
Subject: Fwd: Hi elvw beo l w malt
Date: Wed, 04 Jun 03 05:08:02 GMT

hdxnzywofv z we bzuwxcpbkqdph slxherqdwcbyml qhs xytl i mgz

yzwxgvjljfwiqyzbbtczfj czj oqssioscckkkbfbtsibra jgzkznu u

dahoitybamy oafkhprnm gqx ghja hsixftgnsiy y kj aa j g kkjadxpkf abdwjyw ku xigcb jidrgiyl gmsu

To ReMOvE From Our List Please Click Here

xplgqc loe wiyrb msicgjgy b dx

frqxv hvbxrglkfl lwqb qyevnumu

zhjdytmh a hxxq eowsff lf gm yrx wf arvebvjnyh ou q kh h spgtkecf kohbxnp

c uv drdzhc ex iwy ma czbxol u panunumj vk xgvzeltluc is cnnxj

From: Max Westbrook

dfnfaifv ufpmftibw dyne v fwbn

wxifzudkjoyjvflvbxjg cffj b u dfiegyp wycwifcrqjza jzkl xj qlaxiplktn sv qbgucfmq

Yea, got me what Max Westbrook was shilling for. Oh, and Max Westbrook didn't even bother with valid HTML (which I cleaned up quite a bit). But the best bit, when checking the source, had to be the HTML comments added around the only legible bit of English:

To R<!– calumniate –>e<!– decennial –>M<!– compliment –>O<!– capital –>vE Fr<!– forsake –>om Ou<!– pantheon –>r L<!– hattiesburg –>ist Pl<!– felon –>e<!– muddlehead –>ase Cl<!– bounce –>ick<!– perpetuate –> He<!– ernestine –>re

I suspect this is to avoid tripping any Bayesian filtering but usually I see random letters used (like the rest of this message), not real words. I'm wondering if the software Max Westbrook was using was defective and reversed the message?

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