The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Monday, September 16, 2019

♫Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?♫

Bunny and I went to the Cracker Barrel for dinner, and in … wait a second! I'm getting a strong feeling of déjà vu at the moment

Only this time it's mid-September and not late-July, and it wasn't just a few items, but half the store was given over to Christmas. The other half was themed with Thanksgiving in mind.

And on one lone table was the Hallowe'en display.

Sigh.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

“We have both kinds of food—natural and organic!”

“Look! Customers! WE HAVE CUSTOMERS!

“Um … this isn't a good sign, is it?”

Burganic is an all-organic fast food restaurant located in Boca Raton, Florida. Our flagship location is opening soon & will be offering organic burgers, salads, sodas, french fries, & more.

Burganic | Organic Burger Restaurant in Boca Raton

“So … um … what is mambo sauce?” I ask.

“That is our signature house sauce. It is very good!

“Okay … I think I'll have the fastie burger, the fresh cut fries and an unsweetened ice tea.”

“Excellent. And you?”

“The same. Only with the lemonade.”

“Excellent.”

“I assume the lemonade is freshly made?”

“Yes. Lemons. Sugar. Water. Turmeric.”

Turmeric?

“It's for the color.”

“…”

“It is very good!

“… okay?”

We prepare our salads with all-naturally grown, veggies and grass fed beef. Our beef is sourced from the best ranches in the country and free of hormones, steroids and antibiotics. So that statement actually is correct. Organic means nothing at all.

Burganic | Organic Burger Restaurant in Boca Raton

The burgers and fries arrive, with a few small containers of ketchup and one of the “mambo sauce.” I take a fry and dip it into the mambo sauce. I'm curious how good the “signature house sauce” is. I take a bite.

All I taste is the french fry.

I dip another fry into the sauce.

All I taste is the french fry.

Perhaps the aggressive taste of the fries is overpowering the sauce? I dip my finger into the sauce and taste it. I dip my finger again into the sauce and attempt to taste it.

I can't taste a thing.

There is no taste to the sauce.

I find it rather unsettling. It's there. I'm eating it. It's not bad! It's not good either. It's just there.

I then try the burger.

I then try the burger again.

This is amazing—there is no taste to the burger. It's not bad. It's not good. It's just there. Just like the mambo sauce.

The only thing that has any taste is the fries. Which, frankly, are okay.

The lemonade, however, was not.

We believe in the value of organic ingredients, without the need to sacrifice flavor — that's why everything we offer at Burganic is organic!

Burganic | Organic Burger Restaurant in Boca Raton

“This is a bad cover of Pink Floyd's ‘Money””

“No, that's the original version.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yup. See, even Shazam agrees … ”

“It sounds like a college band trying to sound like Pink Floyd.”

“The speakers are crappy.”

“Yeah … ”

“And I think it's being played a bit faster than normal.”

“Could be … ”

“With horrible compression.”

“I'm still not convinced that's Pink Floyd.”

All-Natural does not mean Organic, nor does it come with any guarantees. "All-Natural" foods can still have heavily processed ingredients, whereas Organic foods do not.

Burganic | Organic Burger Restaurant in Boca Raton

I don't think Bunny and I will be going back any time soon.

Monday, September 30, 2019

I finally decided to release my gopher server software

So when I originally wrote my gopher server back in February/March of 2017, it was a hack job to just more or less server up my blog over gopher. Everything was hard coded into the codebase and making changes was annoying. So earlier this month I decided to start over and make a gopher server that someone else could potentially use. Another goal was to keep the the site functioning as is.

The hardest part was naming the darned thing, and in the end, I decided upon the rather plain name of port70. I've been running it now for a few weeks and not only is it stable, but much easier to configure, modify and serve up content.


Don't mind me, I'm just a gopher pretending to be a teapot

Almost two months ago I modified my gopher server to respond to HTTP requests with “418 I'm a teapot” and it appears to have worked! The gopher server is no longer receiving any HTTP requests.

I'm also glad that the movement to remove the 418 response code failed. I don't find it useless, as it was probably odd enough that the authors of the agents making the inappropriate requests were forced to look into response and just skip my server entirely.

So yea!


An annoying aspect of the gopher protocol

In the nearly two years of running a gopher server the most annoying aspect of the gopher protocol, in my opinion, is the inability to redirect client requests. It's painful to see the same request for /Phlog: over and over again due to an unwarranted assumption on how things are organized on my blog. As I stated on the top page of my gopher server:

Welcome to Conman Laboratories

NOTE: RFC-1436 says this about selectors:

… an OPAQUE selector string … The selector string should MEAN NOTHING to the client software; it should never be modified by the client.

(emphasis added)

The selectors on this server *ARE OPAQUE* and *MUST* be sent *AS IS* to the server. Please note that the selectors here rarely start with a '/' character. Particularly, phlog entries start with a selector of "Phlog:"—note the lack of '/' and the ending ':'.

Thank you.

  ­­ The Management

And yet—people assume I'm serving content up from a filesystem and therefore, a leading “/” is required.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarg!

If only gopher had a way to redirect the request, but alas …

I mean, you can kind of work a way, but that leads to the second most annoying aspect of the gopher protocol, in my opinion—the document type is an inherent part of the request! The client is told beforehand the type of data it will be requesting, unlike an HTTP request where the server tells the client the type of data being sent. Redirecting a gopher “directory” is easy—just serve up a “directory” type with the correct link. And while not ideal, redirecting a text file could also be done by sending a text file with the updated URL, but this doesn't help with automated clients (as I found out the hard way). And this won't work at all for any other non-text media types like images.

I suppose you could overload the “gopher error type” which has to be checked for anyway (one hopes) but again, that won't help with automated agents. Unless perhaps if the “gopher error type” was standardized a bit more, but good luck with that (although I could try it) …

At least I got the webbots to stop making requests


Adding redirection to the gopher protocol

The primary gopher protocol specification is totally mum on the topic of errors. The word “error” only occurs once and that just to note that the gopher type “3” is an error. So given the lack of specification, I thought I might do an experiment and see if I can't introduce the concept of “redirection” to the gopher protocol. It can hardly be thought of violating both the spirit and letter of the spec if there's nothing in the spec to figuratively or literally violate.

Upon encoutering some form of error, say, a nonexistent selector, a gopher server is supposed to return an “error selector” that looks something like:

3'/Phlog:' doesn't exist!HTHTerror.hostHT1CRLF

What I'm doing is giving some structure to the “error selector.” The text portion (the bit right after the “3” and before the first tab character) will be a fixed string giving the actual error, So for a nonexistent selector, my gopher server will return:

3Not foundHT/Phlog:HTgopher.conman.orgHT70CRLF

The text portion will always be “Not found” with the nonexistent selector being returned along with the hostname and port. Now, for a redirection, it will return

3Permanent redirectHTPhlog:HTgopher.conman.orgHT70CRLF

The text portion will always be “Permanent redirect” with the new selector being given, along with the host and port number. Doing this will allow me to even redirect a request to another gopher server. Well, as long as the gopher client understands the error text.

Using literal text strings like this isn't ideal, but it doesn't break existing clients and does give enough information in case someone sees the error (and that they speak English—which is why this isn't ideal). Also, if the number of possible errors is kept small, then explicitly checking each string isn't that much of an issue.

I can only hope other gopher servers pick up on the idea and make gopher space a little bit less annoying to use.

Obligatory Picture

[It's the most wonderful time of the year!]

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 © 1999-2019 by Sean Conner. All Rights Reserved.