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 17, 2001


I received a notice in snail mail today that my second mortgage payment didn't arrive. This is getting annoying. So I called up the friendly 1-800 number they provided.

“Please press one … ” the oh so chipper recording said. “Please press two to …. Please press three for …. Please press four to talk to a represenative.”


“Please press one to talk to a represenative.” Pause. Wait a second, didn't I just select this option?

Beep. “Please stay on the line. A represenative will be with you shortly.” Light heavy metal started playing. Waiting. Waiting. I get a beep, notifying that I have a another call coming in. Nice! I thought. The second I click over, the friendly represenative will be available, find me not on the line, and I'll have to do this all over again! I click over.

“Hello?” I said.

“Oh, sorry, wrong number!” The person hung up.

Oh, that was short, I thought. I clicked back over. Industrial Barbara Streisand was now playing. I thought the lacked conviction for her cover of “Closer” myself. But her cover of Napalm Death's “Conservative SXXthead” was spot on. Another click. Oh no, not another call!



“Hello, yes. I'm calling to offer you a Dillards credit card and—”

“I'm not interested!” Time was running out. Any second now a represenative could hop on the line and I'd be screwed.

“But sir, the rates on this card are very low and—”

“I'm sorry,” I said, the anxiety rising in my voice. “But I'm not interested!”

“Okay, thank you. If you have any questions or … ” Yada yada yada. Once she finished rattling off the ending pitch, I switched back over. Luckily, they had now moved on to Trent Reznor covering “Memories” from Cats so I still hadn't missed the represenative.

Finally, just as I was giving up all hope of a represenative ever taking my call, one got on the line. I was able to check that indeed, they had actually received my last check and to ignore the notice.

I'm glad that was cleared up.

Funny, but only if you know RFC-822

I'm trying to reach some people at a particular ISP, and since I haven't heard from them in some time, sent email to noc@XXXXXXXXXXXXXX, postmaster@XXXXXXXXXXXXXX and root@XXXXXXXXXXXXXX just to make sure that maybe, just maybe, someone there would notice.

I just got this back:

   ----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----

   ----- Transcript of session follows -----
... while talking to mail.XXXXXXXXXXXXXX.:
>>> RCPT To:<postmaster@XXXXXXXXXXXXXX>
<<< 550 <postmaster@XXXXXXXXXXXXXX>... User unknown
550 postmaster@XXXXXXXXXXXXXX... User unknown

Um … RFC-822 has this to say about postmaster:


          It often is necessary to send mail to a site, without  know-
     ing  any  of its valid addresses.  For example, there may be mail
     system dysfunctions, or a user may wish to find  out  a  person's
     correct address, at that site.

          This standard specifies a single, reserved  mailbox  address
     (local-part)  which  is  to  be valid at each site.  Mail sent to
     that address is to be routed to  a  person  responsible  for  the
     site's mail system or to a person with responsibility for general
     site operation.  The name of the reserved local-part address is:


     so that "Postmaster@domain" is required to be valid.

     Note:  This reserved local-part must be  matched  without  sensi-
            tivity to alphabetic case, so that "POSTMASTER", "postmas-
            ter", and even "poStmASteR" is to be accepted.

§6.3 of RFC-822

It's a requirement that postamster exist as a valid email address for any domain accepting email. So the ISP in question is violating an RFC. Tsk tsk tsk.

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