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.

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Mounting Fines III

“Is the head Condo Commando in the office?” I asked.

“I haven't seen the head Condo Commando here in the office today, but sometimes he sneaks in the back door. Let me transfer you.”


[insert S/X here—“The Girl from Impanema”]

“You have reached the voice mail box for the head Condo Commando. Please leave your name and message.”


Dream of the Future

Walking back from the bank (and store to pick up some sugar) I was thinking about the recent events here at Condo Conner and about how difficult it would be for me to give up this place.

I'm too sentimental at times I think.

The Condo Commandos aside, the place is nice. It's a good location; the neighborhood is quiet and the place is comfortable. And I've lived here since 1988 when my Mom bought the place.

I think it may be more that my Mom bought the place than anything else.

Did I mention I may be too sentimental at times?

I have a hard time seeing myself living anywhere else, but then again, I've always been that way, although of all the times I have moved (perhaps ten times in my life) I've only moved voluntarily once—in August of 1992 to Boca Raton to live with some friends while at collage (only to move back here in late 1993 but that's a story for another time). And in all that time, I really could only see myself moving to a few locations.

First is a small Cape Cod house in Royal Oak, MI where my paternal grandparents lived. Sure, it's small, with old style (two pronged) electrical outlets and only recently has a touch tone phone been installed (early 90s) but it's comfortable. I know that house. And the neighborhood. I can picture myself driving off the 11 Mile exit from I-75, going north along the surface drive to Gardinia, hanging a left and turning onto the appropriate side street, then a block and a half to pull into the driveway. I even had half a mind to re-errect the old bell in the front yard (my grandparents had a cast iron bell, maybe twenty to thirty pounds, mounted on a pole in the front yard and used it to summon the kids home for dinner. It was still up as late as 1978 until some punk kids knocked it down for the nth time, and then it languished in the garage ever since). “Yea, turn down that street, then go a block and a half and look for the house with the bell out front. That's where I live.”

But it's no longer in the family. The grandparents are no longer around, and the family sold the house.


Second is anywhere in Brevard, NC, where I lived as a small kid. It had that small town charm with a real Main Street with two story buildings with shops along the ground, apartments above and beautiful scenery. Seasons that change and Halloween felt like Halloween. It's a great place to grow up as a kid, but I can see where it would start to really suck for high school students, or people without kids. The closest thing to a night life would be Asheville, about half an hour away to the north.

And it wasn't quite the same when I visited the place in 1988 (nine years after moving away). The drug store I used to buy comics at was a Hallmark store. More fast food restaurants in the area (I remember the first McDonald's in Brevard was built in 1977) and it seemed … more crowded.

You can't go home again.


I'm too sentimental at times I think.

“The only constant in life is change.”

Time to move on methinks.

Raising Ukeleles

So what was it that got me all maudlin on the walk home? Weeds and dead leaves.

Weeds. And no, that that kind of weed. The kind that most people hate to find in their yard. Native flowers, that type. Specifically, the smell.

I'm four years old and we're living somewhere in Royal Oak. Out back of our townhome is an embankment with a train track running atop. It's spring, maybe summer, and us kids are playing on the embankment and track, waiting for the trains to come so we could watch them thunder by. I remember this only because of the smell of flowering weeds covering the embankment. That smell always brings me back to that place, that time.

Dead leaves. Not so many down here, but you can find them. And the sight and smell of those take me back to Brevard.

Autumn. Past the explostion of color in late September/early October to late October/early November, when the leaves have turned all brown and dried and carpet the ground. The rustling crunching noise as you walk. Piles of brown dried leaves to jump into, signalling the oncoming of Halloween in the county seat of Translyvania County (no joke!). Running with friends from house to house collecting sweets and gorging yourself sick by the next day.

I'm looking over the letters I've received over the past few days, growing sad at having to leave yet another place.

“You can never go home again.”

The weight of history is threatening to engulf me. It is time to move on.

I must.

If only it weren't so painful.

“Okay Shermy, set the wayback machine … ”

Consider the hardware: a computer system with close to 400 parallel processors, 100 terabytes of disk space, hundreds of gigs of RAM, all for under a half-million dollars. As you'll read in this in interview, the folks at the Archive have turned clusters of PCs into a single parallel computer running the biggest database in existence—and wrote their own operating system, P2, which allows programmers with no expertise in parallel systems to program the system.

Via Flutterby How The Wayback Machine Works

I find this stuff facinating. Google runs off 8,000 servers, this site has 100 terabytes of storage, and my friend Kelly works at a place that processes gigs of log files every day.

He said that before he optimized the processing, it sometimes took about 30 hours to process one day's worth of logs. Now, it can finish (for a real busy day) in under 22 hours. He works for a really busy site and I found the inner workings quite interesting.

Is this a case of a server working around a browser bug that is working around a server bug?

Mark is writing an embedable webserver and asked me to look into a rather odd problem he's having. I looked into it, and yes, it's an odd problem.

He's testing the redirection code, so if you give a URL like:

and news is a directory, then it will redirect you to:

So far so good. Only to ease testing, he's running the server on non-reserved TCP port, so the URL:

is then redirected to

And therein lies the odd problem.

Netscape 4.07 and Lynx 2.8.1pre.9 under Linux (okay, RedHat 5.2, my current home platform), when given the new location, goes to

Which seems to be okay when you connect directly to the webserver, but gives a web proxy (like squid) fits. IE 5.0.whatever fails entirely. Mozilla under Linux works fine and seems to get the URL processing correct, but Mozilla 0.9.5 under the Macintosh fails much like IE does.

But here's the real kicker: They all work fine when Apache sends the redirect with a port number.

We can't figure it out. As far as we can tell, the server response is the same between Apache and Mark's server, only the server name is different (okay, the HTML page sent with the 30x response is a bit different too, but not my much).

Very odd.

Obligatory Picture

[The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades]

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Obligatory Feeds

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Obligatory Miscellaneous

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