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, September 11, 2001

Yet more reasons to lookout for Outlook

I tried sending Spring the following email:

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 03:42:07 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Greg's Geocities Site


It seems that Lookout (another fine Microsoft product) had problems with that email. All Spring got was:

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 03:42:07 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Greg's Geocities Site


Nice, eh?

Of course, in talking with Spring about it, she's of the opinion that this isn't a Lookout problem, as it's happened with someone else we know when he sent email to a mailing list.

Actually, now that I think of it, I think what's happening is that Lookout (and the mailing list software) is not RFC 822 compliant. Or at least, it gets a few details wrong. The line of text can be interpreted at a header line, but the email headers are separated by a blank line:


          A message consists of header fields and, optionally, a body.
     The  body  is simply a sequence of lines containing ASCII charac-
     ters.  It is separated from the headers by a null line  (i.e.,  a
     line with nothing preceding the CRLF).

§ 3.1 of RFC 822

What the programs in question seem to be doing is looking for the first line that doesn't seem to be a header line, and ignoring blank lines altogether.

You know, there are standards for a reason … [As I was writing this entry, I sent another test to Spring, making the first line appear to be a header line. She got the message as I sent it. Perhaps Lookout is explicitely looking for H-T-T-P-: … ]


Spring awoke to the sound of someone pounding on the front door. At the door was Greg in a panic. “Don't you guys answer the phone? Turn on the TV!”

We turned it on at 10:28 am, EST, just in time to watch the World Trade Center 1 crumble to the ground.

What a way to wake up.


It was very surreal, watching the coverage of the World Trade Center collapse. Watching the 767 fly into WTC 2 over and over again, thinking back to January of 1986. Or even back to August of 1992, as I sat in the closet watching Hurricane Andrew on the TV as it was thundering its way through our very town.

It didn't seem real. It's too big. The World Trade Center. Gone. Thousands of people, dead. The Pentagon on fire. Four hijackings, at three airports, all within an hour.

Greg was hit very hard by the news. “This is America,” he said. “This isn't supposed to happen here.” He's never seen the WTC in person, nor did he know anyone there, but his reaction was deeply personal. Spring was also hit hard—knowing several people living in New York City, having visited the World Trade Center, and as a former US Army soldier serving in Desert Storm.

I wasn't affected quite as bad. Oh yes, it's horrible what happened, but it wasn't the first time we've had terrorist attacks on our shores. The World Trade Center Bombing in 1993. The Oakland City Bombing in 1994. And (and as far as I've been able to tell, the only one who remembers this) the attempt to bomb the Washington Memorial in 1982. There is nothing you can do to stop a dedicated person (or people). You can raise the bar, but there may be someone who is willing to go higher.

John F. Kennedy once said that there was nothing he, nor the USSS could do if someone really wanted the President dead. I've heard that he said that days before (if not the day before) he was assinated. And obviously, there were about 18 men who wanted to show the US what terrorism is really like.

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