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.

Saturday, May 01, 2021

What I did on my April vacation from the blog

It's been awhile since I last posted (never mind the previous posts—those were actually written today but pre-dated to earlier in the week because I'm lazy). Back in the last week of March, my hosting company changed data centers and because of “technical issues” the IP address my server has had for the past … um … 13 years? 15 years? A long time in any case, the IP address of my server has changed. I was a bit aprehensive about the change because of email (I'm going from a very clean IP address to an address of unknown provenance) and of course I had an email issue—but it wasn't with Gmail, oddly enough, but with Bunny's email provider (the Monopolistic Phone Company).

Sigh, here I am, unable to email a person that is 20 feet away from me! The horror!

All I got was that my IP address was on some realtime black list somewhere. Which one, I had no idea, because the Monopolistic Phone Company was mum on which list they use. I tried querying over 800 different black lists and only found one that listed my IP address—in Brazil! I find it odd that the Monopolistic Phone Company was using a realtime black list from Brazil, but hey, you never know.

It took a month, but now my emails get through the Monopolistic Phone Company's servers, and right into Bunny's junk folder. Progress!

There was also the DNS issues that took about a week to clear up. As part of the move, my hosting company's DNS servers were also changing IP addresses, and those had to be updated with the hosting company's registar which took some time to clear up.

But as of now, things seem to be back to normal around here.


An update on the Mt. Pfeiffer situation

Just in case anyone was interested in the Mt. Pfeiffer situation, I have to inform you that it had melted completely away by 8:45PM Eastern, March 18TH, with Aunt Betty TXXXXX winning the pool with a guess of 4:15PM Eastern.

I should note that I have no Aunt Betty and have no idea who she is. But hey, I'm happy she won the betting pool!


Extreme car alarm system, Delray Beach edition

In the parking lot of The Girls Strawberry U-Pick Ice Cream Shop and Animal Petting Farm (no, really! It's all that and more in the middle of some suburban sprawl—we went for the ice cream and were quite impressed) Bunny and I saw this angry pig in the windshield of a nearby parked car.

[A toy stuffed pig in the windshield of a parked car, looking mighty angry] “Come on!  Just a few steps closer!  I dare ya!  Just come another step closer …”

I guess pigs are this year's trunk monkey.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

The unmasking of a numbers station

It only took a little over fourteen years but finally someone wrote to me about my numbers station on the web.

From
XXXXX­XXXXX­XXX
To
rparker@numbersstation.info, sean@conman.org
Subject
Re: Leaderboard
Date
Thu, 06 May 2021 00:48:42 +0100

Hello, Sean,

I'm not sure how your mail server is set up for "rparker", but I've successfully found your main page, so I'll copy the message I've sent to this fictional character :)

On 2021-05-05 18:30, jonn@doma.dev wrote:

Hello, rparker!
Learned from numbersstation from SMOG mag [This is a now defunct on-line zine and referenced the Gemini version of the site. –Sean].

Only today figured I should check out the HTTP version and got some hints like the fact that it _is_ a challenge (thanks for "mystery" keyword!), this E-Mail address and COORDINATES!

I wonder how many people have reached out to you with the answer to the mystery, are there more puzzles to come and if so, is there some sort of leaderboard?

Great job, BTW, interesting stuff right there. I tried to make my own ARG some ten years ago, but it didn't go way past stegging a torrent file into a PNG.

Looking forward to your response,
kindest regards,
jonn.

I don't want to give away any clues, but the coordinates spoken of in the web page are not part of the puzzle—they just point to some random spot in Boca Raton (and I've changed them to point less randomly at Boca Raton). The email address rparker@numbersstation.info was picked to mask my identity (and was an intentional choice, that's all I'll say about that). And aside from that one post fourteen years ago, it is also listed on my projects page, so it's not like it was completely hidden.

Now I'm just curious if anyone can decode the message.

Friday, May 07, 2021

Extreme lawn ornaments, Boca Raton edition

Who knew Brevard was such a trend setting place? Who knew cow lawn ornaments are a thing now, in Boca Raton of all places?

[A life-sized plastic cow munching on astroturf] “Don't hate me because I'm a trend-setter.”

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Notes on an overheard conversation at a restaurant with the TV turned to a tennis match

“Oh come on! Just serve the ball already! This is like watching a pitcher!”

“What?”

“Look at her! Bouncing the ball up and down like that. It's like watching a baseball pitcher!”

“Pitching isn't easy. Both leagues will now have designated hitters for their pitchers.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

“Why not have designated hitters for other positions?”

“What?”

“Yeah, a designated hitter for the catcher, first baseman, short stop …”

“They change catchers all the time.”

“Like they don't change pitchers?”

“Look, pitching is a specialized art. You don't want them getting hurt while batting. Just the other day one got hit bad with a baseball.”

“So anyone can be the catcher then?”

“Well … no … ”

“So why not designated hitters for catchers?”

“Because … ”

“Well?”

“Shut up!”


Extreme statuary, Delray Beach Edition

Bunny and I stopped at The Girls Strawberry U-Pick Ice Creme Shop and Animal Petting Farm again (don't judge us! You'd do the same!) and this time we took a stroll out back of the shop. While one should always be wary of the Spanish Inquisition I did not expect this:

[A human-sized statue of an Easter Island moai.] “What?  You expect me to say something like ‘Ooom poppa chikamaga wana sing gow / Do lomma sinnigama mana ching jow / Inimana choogamaga wana sing gee / Finimana foonimana one is now free?’  Wrong culture dude!”

It was a lot smaller than I expected. And you can buy these things? How expsensive was it to ship it all the way from Easter Island?

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

What's in a name?

I was watching this video on a 400 year old recipe for buttered beere when a word was used in an unusual context: “conner.” Or rather, “ale conner,” in the context of an official checking the purity of the beer. Curious, I decided to break out my copy of the Oxford English Dictionary (the compact edition, two oversized 2,000 page tomes) and sure enough:

Conner1 … [OE. cunnere, agent-n. from cunninan, ME. CUN to prove, try, examine. … ] One who tries, tests, or examines; an examiner, inspector; esp. in ALE-CONNER. q.v.

Huh. Well, let's q.v. then …

Aleconner … [f. ALE + CONNER, OE. cunnere a trier.] An examiner or inspector of ale: ‘An officer appointed in every court-leet, and sworn to look to the assize and goodness of bread, ale, and beer, sold within the jurisdiction of the leet.’ Philips 1706. ‘Four of them are chosen annually by the common-hall of the city; and whatever might be their use formerly, their places are now regarded only as sinecures for decayed citizens.’ Johnson 1755. Still a titular office in some burghs.

And there are usages going back to 1350.

1350!

Interesting … I come from a family of bureaucratic inspectors. Or maybe not … there's this definition:

Conner2 … One who cons or diligently studies. 1809 W. Irving … A great conner of indexes.

A conman or a scholar. Huh … given the current science replication crisis both meanings could equally apply here. I guess my choice of domain is more appropriate than I thought.

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