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, March 01, 2004

If I could have chucked olives through the phone, I would have …

For any of this to make any sense, I have to explain my current job situation. I work for a company, Φ which hosts a website for Σ, which is the site that is always getting slammed with SYN floods. R, who runs Φ and usually fields calls from Σ is out of town this week, so now I get to field calls from Σ.

Now, my entire weekend was punctuated with calls from Σ, usually at ungodly morning hours when I'm still unconscience in bed. The upshot of the recent SYN flood is that the site in question, Σ.com was moved to a new hosting facility in Canada, which, from talking to the owner of the company α (I would have named this company, but I never did get a clear audibly distinct name for this company other than it starting with an “ah” type sound), is apparently right off several major backbones so they're able to quickly respond to DDoS attacks more effectively than I by myself. Not that it bothers me any, for as interesting as SYN floods are in theory, in practice, they usually happen when I'm sleeping and there isn't much I can do to if I can't get to the server.

So Saturday and Sunday were spent fielding calls and changing IP addresses for Σ.com. First I was given the new IP address. Then it turns out to be the wrong IP address, so change it. Then a backhoe incident took out a fiber at α and the redunant circuits weren't cutting in fast enough so yet another IP address change. There is also some confusion on my part about who to actually talk to at Σ; I have at least four contact names and it isn't clear to me what the relationship between these four people are. So any change is followed by a round of phone tag and catch-up.


The silliness didn't end this weekend though. I get a call at some ungodly hour this morning from V, who works for Σ saying he couldn't get to the site, and asking what the IP address for Σ.com was.

First of all, Φ is no longer hosting Σ.com, so why am I even getting this call. Second—

“Why don't you do an nslookup up of the IP address?” I said to V.

“Okay,” said V, “tell me what to do. How do you do this en-es-look-up?”

It was all I could do to keep from screaming. “What type of system are you using?”

“What? I'm using a PC!”

“No, are you using a Mac, a Unix system—”

“No, I'm using a PC!”

“Or Windows?”


Of course. I would have banged my head against the desk, but I was still in bed, and banging my head against the matress just doesn't have the same affect. Okay, quickly, what's the easiest way to find out the IP address of a website under Windows? “Okay,” I said. “Can you bring up the DOS command line?” Pleeeeeeeeease be able to do this. Pleeeeeeeeease. I figure at worst, I can smother myself with the pillows.

“Yes,” said V.

“Okay, type P-I-N-G space, then Σ.com,” I said.

“Okay,” said V. “But it doesn't respond! That's the problem!”

“Right, I know that,” I said. “But what does it say the IP address is?” V rattles off the IP address. “Yes, that's the IP address I was last given. That's the correct IP address.”

“But can you do anything? The site doesn't come up!”

“You'll have to call the Canadian data center,” I said, not at all remembering the name.

“But why?”

“Because Φ is not longer hosting the site, and I don't have access to the servers in Canada.” Doesn't Σ tell its employees anything? This is one of my contacts for the website?

“Oh, so I should call α then?”

Brillant deduction.

It's about 3:30pm and I'm leaving for the grocery story when I think L from Σ calls. Or it may be T from Σ. It's one of the four contacts I've talked to, and it isn't V. I have to change the IP address yet again because of problems with α. I haven't actually left yet, and it takes only a minute to do. Not a problem. Then I rush out the door to the grocery store.

Half an hour later, I'm in isle 2 (condiments) when my cell phone rings.

It's V, from Σ.

Can't get to Σ.com. What's the IP address?

“I don't know,” I said. “I'm currently in isle 2 of the grocery store.”

“But it was changed, right? To .umpteen?”

“Yes. I got a call a bit ago to change the address, and that sounds right.”

“But I can't get to it.”

DNS propagation. It may take up to three hours for you to see the changes, unless you restart your name server.”

“How do I do that?”

I will be so glad when R returns from vacation and he can field the calls from Σ.

“Now you too can add life and breath to any romantic novel.”

“So what's with the boxes out there?” I asked Spring. Outside in the courtyard were a pile of boxes, blocking view of the gate.

“You'll have to read my LiveJournal to find out,” she said.

“You can tell me,” I said. “I'll still read it.”

“I brought them in so we can keep them.”


“Yes,” she said.

“All those boxes?”

“There's only three,” she said.

I looked outside to the court yard. “There's more than three it looks like.”


“Outside. In the court yard.”

“Oh, those. Those are boxes the Kids found; I'm not sure what they're there for.”

“Um … okay,” I said. “What are you talking about?”

“The ones over there,” she said, pointing to the dining room. “The ones filled with books.”


Spring found a lot of books, three boxes worth of books. And an interesting collection too. In one box are books mostly dealing with history, generally European from 1500 onwards, with a specific viewpoint of Victorian England. The second box contains books about writing, with specific books on romance and mystery writing. The last box contains books about movie making, mostly the business side and script writing.

From looking at these books, and assuming they all come from the same person, one would think that the person was attempting to produce a movie about a romantic mystery set in Victorian England. Perhaps a movie version of Saucy Jack?

The best of the lot though, has to be the Romance Writers' Phrase Book, a collection of over 3,000 “descriptive tags” to use in your romance novel. Stock phrases you can use to describe her body:

she was slender, dark, and fiery with eyes that glowed and pierced

a slim waist which flared into agilely rounded hips

her hose felt like sheaths of clammy cloth on her exceptionally pretty legs

Or a discription of him:

his well-groomed appearance was incongruous with his suntanned skin

he had an air of authority and the appearance of one who demanded instant obedience

his cold urbanity was only slightly disturbed [“I find your lack of urbanity … disturbing!”]

the tantalizing smell of his after-shave [Hai Karate!]

(Okay, sorry. But these are so asking for the MST3k treatment).

Then there are emotions of dispair!

she felt a wretchedness of mind she'd never known before

he spoke so viciously that she wondered how she could ever have thought him kind

her throat was raw with unuttered shouts and protests

And one must never forget the money shots:

he paused to kiss her, whispering his love for each part of her body

his lips traced a sensuous path to ecstasy

together they found the tempo that bound their bodies together

she lay drowned in a floodtide of the liberation of her mind and body [meanwhile, he had to clean up afterwards]

she exalted at the male strength, the cleanliness and beauty of him [Aren't you glad you used Dial?]

Throw these phrases into something like my Quick and Dirty B-Movie Plot Generator and man, I could crank out scores of romance novels.

Hmmm … might be a decent project for the next NaNoWriMo.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

The Gilded Age, Part II

In June 2003, Bill Moyers said that “Karl Rove has modeled the Bush presidency on that of William Mckinley (1897-1901) and modeled himself on Mark Hanna, the man who virtually manufactured McKinley. Mark Hanna saw to it that Washington was ruled by business, railroads, and public utility corporations.” President Bush's tax cuts have given over 93% of their benefits to large corporations and well-to-do households with over 250,000 dollars of annual income (about 10% of the U.S. households). Moreover, President Bush's tax cuts are abolishing taxes on such asset-based income as stock dividends and capital gains.

Via 0xDECAFBAD, President George Bush and the Gilded Age

Seems like I'm not the only one to see parallels between McKinley and Bush. And according to William Straus and Neil Howe it was the Lost Generation of the Gilded Age that helped America pull out of its corporate death sprial (or something like that).

Just more proof to me that we don't really study history here in the US and we're worse off because of it.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004


Subject: Notify about your e-mail account utilization.
Date: Wed, 03 Mar 2004 13:39:43 -0500

Dear user of e-mail server “”,

Our antivirus software has detected a large ammount of viruses outgoing from your email account, you may use our free anti-virus tool to clean up your computer software.

For further details see the attach.

For security reasons attached file is password protected. The password is “36847”.

Kind regards,
  The team

Yea, like any virus has escaped from this email account. Quite possibly forged email, but none directly from me. Never mind the fact that the email client I use doesn't support attachments, I don't use Windows to check my email—I use Unix (okay, technically Linux). And running Windows executables just isn't possible (well, it is possible but it isn't easy to do, thankfully).

But what gets me is that this is supposedly from, which doesn't exist here at Conman Laboratories. And even if it did, it would either be myself or Mark doing the support role. I don't send attachments, and if Mark did, I suspect it wouldn't be in zip format (we're both more tar.gz users than zip users). And Mark would never send a password in email.

Oh, and we don't run anti-viral software on the server—it's just not an issue here.


Update later today

This is an identical message that we were getting at work. It is spam/trojan virus. It uses your domain name. Very clever too. Variations of it use different wording and spacing, making filtering difficult. Also, the .zip file contains a trojan .exe and is uaually “” or “” and is password protected. Why? No virus scanner can take a peek inside and quarrantine it.

I give these bozos points for this one. Looks like they have been saving up many ideas for one blow.

Too bad they pissed me off—it hit us at about 11:20am. I had a 12:00 lunch appointment. I ended up being 15 minutes late to this lunch appointment after tracing the source to somewhere in Houston, TX and setting up sufficient blocks to keep it out. It's a good thing they assigned the email filter system to the UNIX group (of which I am currently the ONLY member of) (simply because it runs on a Linux black box—completely contained, but Linux backend)—that way I was the “Jr. Admin” who blocked the trouble in less than an hour. PFffft!

Kelly Fallon

I was wondering about the password protection but this does make sense. Too much.


Thursday, March 04, 2004

No need for satire anymore

Turns out one Thorkild Grosboel, pastor of Taarbaek, a town of 51,000 just north of Copenhagen, said in a recent interview that “there is no heavenly God, there is no eternal life, there is no resurrection.” According to the Times, this “mystified” church leaders, and Grosboels bishop responded by suspending him.

For a week.

Thats right. A Lutheran pastor announced a personal theology that denied the existence of God, resurrection, and eternal life and the response of the church was a one-week suspension.

Wow. Talk about turning the other cheek. Thats some serious tolerance of dissent. If Pope Leo X had been that forgiving toward Martin Luther, we wouldnt have Lutherans.

Via 0xDECAFBAD, A Criminal Waste of Space

Nietzche saying God was dead is one thing. But for a Lutheran minister? And not be kicked out or otherwise excommunicated?

The Onion should give up satire and just report the news. Next think you know, there'll be Christian porn and … oh … um … darn!

But the “Christian” whoremongers have taken it to a step beyond, way beyond the empty promises of the fallen-angel wannabes whom they parade across our TV screens on the “Christian” channels. And by that I mean the God-fearin' faction that has moved into the lucrative business of making pornographic films and carved out a whole new genre: Christian porn.

Via metaphorge ,Christian Porn Sucks!

What next? A mainstream snuff film? Um … erm … um … yea.

I think I'll stop here …

Obligatory Picture

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

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