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 12, 2005


From: [some customer]
To: [support at The Company]


I tested this page with my own email address and did not do what it's suppose to do. Please check.

That's it. No indication of what it's supposed to do or what was wrong with it, just that this random script on this site didn't work. At least I got a link to the script in question.

From: [support at The Company]
To: [some customer]

What is it supposed to do, and what did it actually do?

From: [some customer]
To: [support at The Company]

Anyone who wanted to get on our mailing list could enter their email address on that webpage. Anytime we update our webpage, the people on the mailing list are supposed to be notified via email automatically.

Okay, so I now know what it's supposed to do, but not what it actually does right now. I took an educated guess:

From: [support at The Company]
To: [some customer]

So it's not mailing out notifications when the website is modified? Was it working at one point?

From: [some customer]
To: [support at The Company]

Yes, it was.

Yes, it's not mailing out notifications or yes, it was working at one point? I assumed “yes” to both questions, then checked the page listed:

<form method="post" action="/cgi-bin/cgiemail/mail_list.txt">

Basically, it's trying to run a text file as the script. I then checked /cgi-bin/cgiemail/mail_list.txt and it didn't exist. Oh, there was a mail_list.txt file, but it wasn't in the /cgi-bin directory, nor was it a script, but a literal text file.


I suppose I could have avoided the little back-and-forth there had I immediately checked into this, but I just hate being told, “It's broke, fix it.” What's broken? Where? What is it supposed to do?

There was some more back and forth clarifying a few issues (“no, you cannot execute a text file”) and this is where we currently stand:

From: [some customer]
To: [support at The Company]

Unfortunately, the one who originally built the website left our office. There's got to be a way to make it work. During the past year or so our ftp folders with you changed several times. Somehow the subscribe webpage got affected. Is there anything you can do on your end to fix it?

It's now a contest to see what's harder, my forehead, or the desk.

Obligatory Picture

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

Obligatory Contact Info

Obligatory Feeds

Obligatory Links

Obligatory Miscellaneous

You have my permission to link freely to any entry here. Go ahead, I won't bite. I promise.

The dates are the permanent links to that day's entries (or entry, if there is only one entry). The titles are the permanent links to that entry only. The format for the links are simple: Start with the base link for this site:, then add the date you are interested in, say 2000/08/01, so that would make the final URL:

You can also specify the entire month by leaving off the day portion. You can even select an arbitrary portion of time.

You may also note subtle shading of the links and that's intentional: the “closer” the link is (relative to the page) the “brighter” it appears. It's an experiment in using color shading to denote the distance a link is from here. If you don't notice it, don't worry; it's not all that important.

It is assumed that every brand name, slogan, corporate name, symbol, design element, et cetera mentioned in these pages is a protected and/or trademarked entity, the sole property of its owner(s), and acknowledgement of this status is implied.

Copyright © 1999-2024 by Sean Conner. All Rights Reserved.