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, February 29, 2000

Life in Unixland

ytalk doesn't work on linus (my home system). Nor does talk. Strange, I have it enabled, but it just isn't working and it seems to be horribly damaged.

This is Unix. So what else is new?

Seriously. There are at least two different talk protocols, neither one documented (unless you count source code to be usuable documentation, much like uuencode when you get down to it) and both incompatible with each other. Which is why ytalk is nice—it preportedly talks both so it doesn't matter.

Only it's not working.

Over the years I've found it harder and harder to find working implementations of *talk on any system but I did have a working version I could use to talk to a few friends with before the install of RedHat 5.2 on linus (it was running RedHat 5.0 before).

Now it's general braindamage all over the place.

In trying to debug the problem, I found that /etc/inetd.conf had a bogus entry for dtalk (whatever that is) so I commented it out. Still didn't work. Uncomment telnet on the advice of Mark to see if inetd is okay.

telnet isn't working. What the … ? I try killing off inetd and restarting it. Same deal.

Is it possible for a newer release to exhibit so much lossage? That isn't a Microsoft product?

Try re-enabling FTP. Same lossage.

Turns out I had neglected to install TCP-wrappers. Nice that the RedHat install program neglected to make a dependancy on that. But it includes Perl. Goes out of its way to include Perl.

Such is life in Unixland.

I should note that I get easily upset when stuff that should work doesn't. Computers don't have to be this difficult. There shouldn't be this much lossage and braindeath in dealing with computers. But I suspect that most programmers can't cope with such ideas. Programmers give programming a bad name.

Life before noon does not exist


Ring. Eh? I thought.

Ring. Is it already time to get up? Wait a second … that doesn't sound like the alarm clock.

Ring. Crap! The phone! I hoped I wasn't too late—it'll be really annoying if the answering machine picks up. “Hello?”

“Hi. You've reached area code three zero five …” Great. Answering machine got it. Now I have to make the 30 second commute to the Computer Room and stop it. And what bloody time is it anyway? It had better be the A/C guys—I called yesturday and left a message with them. I stumbled around, turned off the machine. “Hello?”

“Hey guy! It's 9:30! We need you here!”

It was C. S., a salesdroid from Atlantic Internet. I've been helping him with some projects lately and he needed help. Good thing he was 15 miles away or he would have needed some help. “When can you come in?”

“After two,” I said. I think. I don't fully remember the conversation. Life doesn't begin before noon.



“Okay, see you then.” He sounded entirely too chippy. What is it with people being up at these ungodly hours?

Computer Art anyone?



“Salvation Army, can you hold?” I don't have enough time to answer before I'm put on hold. Several minutes go by. “Salvation Army, may I help you?”

“Yes, I'd like to donate some old computer equipment,” I said. I have a ton of old computer equipment I'd like to get rid of. About a dozen monitors (mostly monochrome or CGA), a dozen or so PCs (of XT or 286-AT class) and some other miscellaneous equipment I've accumulated over the years.

“Is this an office?”

“No, it's a private house.” I swear I could hear the person on the other end blinking in disbelief. “I have some older equipment I want to get rid of.” More blinking. “Can you pick it up?”

“Are they usable as home computers? If not, then we'll just throw them away and that actually costs us money.”

Interesting question. The monitors work. Most of the PCs work but are large and bulky. About the only thing you can run on them is MS-DOS, maybe up to version 3.3 or so. Throw Procomm or Qmodem and they'll make decent, if bulky, terminals. But who ya gonna call, eh?

“Probably not,” I answer.

“Okay. Thanks for calling.” We hung up.

Maybe painting the whole lot gold and selling it as art on eBay is the way to go.

Conslutting as a way of life

Conslutted with Atlantic Internet. Easy few hundred dollars for a couple of hours work. This, and investing should make it easy for me to avoid real work. Can't complain.

But I can complain that I still haven't been able to get a hold of the A/C guys. Voice mail. Answer it. Sheesh.

Patent yourself for fun and profit

LONDON (Reuters) - A British woman has become the first person to attempt to patent herself, the national patent office said Tuesday.

Woman Files Patent Application on Herself via Flutterby

Interesting concept, but does that mean after the patent expires, people can use her without paying?

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