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, January 01, 2018

On the plus side, we'll only have to endure eleven months of campaigning this year

The fireworks and explosions have finally ended and that can mean only one thing—


Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Notes on an overheard phone conversation with an unexpected observation about a name




“Hi. I'm calling on behalf of a national marketing firm to see if you quality for a study group that will pay you $500 for your opinions. What is your name?”

“Sean Conner. That's S-E-A-N. C-O-N-N-E-R.”

“You must get a lot of jokes about The Terminator.”

“Actually, you are the first one! If there are jokes, it's about James Bond, although that's actually rare.”


Notes on a second overheard phone conversation shortly after a previous overheard phone conversation with an unexpected observation about a name




“Hi. I'm calling on behalf of a national marketing firm to see if you quality for a study group that will pay you $500 for your opinions. What is your name?”

“Um … I'm afraid you, that's you in the company sense, not you in the personal sense, but well … it is you in the personal sense, because just called me.”

“I did? Oh! I did! I'm sorry, I forgot to mark your number as being called!”

Monday, January 08, 2018

For some strange reason I feel compelled to relate some random facts about today

I learned a weird fact about today—January 8th is less likely to occur on a Monday than any other day of the week. It's more likely to occur on a Tuesday than a Monday.

Fancy that.

It's also the feast day for Our Lady of Prompt Succor, who apparently helped Andrew Jackson fend off the British army in the Battle of New Orleans, thus indirectly responsible for the formation of the Democratic Party, also on this day, which at the time, was of course a Tuesday.

It's also the birthday of a minor deity (again a Tuesday) but you knew that already.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

So tonight I'm gonna Internet like it's 1993

A few days ago I recived this email (which was not directly addressed to me):

Rouan Lucas van Ryn <XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX>
The Gopherspace Cookbook
Sat, 6 Jan 2018 08:47:45 +0000

Greetings good people,

I have recently created a new Gopher hole, known as The Gopherspace Cookbook. It is a compendium of recipes from around Gopherspace. You're receiving this message to let you know that one or more of your recipes has been listed in the cookbook.

The cookbook is available at:

Keep on cooking!
Keep on Gophering!

Feel free to get in touch if you have any queries.

Rouan aka jandal


It's not spam, as the post in question, does have a recipe (if you are having problems with the link, don't worry, that is expected, but in the meantime, you will probably have more luck with this link). The links in question deal with Gopher, a protocol invented at the same time as HTTP, but was soon eclipsed as you couldn't inline cat pictures in a gopher page unlike a webpage. It's mostly dead.

But not all dead.

I'm surprised [No he's not. —Editor] that I haven't mentioned this before [He was being lazy. —Editor], but I set up a server to mainly serve up my blog via gopher: early last March. And if pressed for a reason—it was because I could. I thought it might be fun to have a phlog in addition to a blog.

It's not like it was hard to write the code (alternate link). It just took a day or so for me to get it working, and most of the conversion from HTML to plain text is done by Lynx (which is why it looks the way it looks; alternate link). And I do get the occasional hits on the gopher server, which I find amusing.

And yes, people do still use Gopher.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

I still find SPF not worth integrating into my email server

The other day, I came across this article about using SPF to avoid large delays using greylisting (link via Lobsters). I've experienced those delays from time to time since I run a greylist daemon and this does seem like a neat idea. But I've already ironed out those large delays (it's been awhile since the last one) so I have very little incentive to implement this.

This did however get me to ask if I should integrate SPF with the greylist daemon.

Then I thought, didn't I already do this?

It turns out I did! Three years ago.

Well … okay then!

Have things changed over the past three years? I spent a few hours over the past few days getting the code up and running, so let's see—over the past month (December 10th to January 10th):

Unique emails processed by the greylist daemon
Emails accepted2,515
Emails rejected2,319
Total 4,834

Aside from the volume (which appears to be a bit less than 50% of what it was three years ago, but that could be due to the time of year), the ratio is similar—50% of the email is spam that is immedately filtered out.

The one major change though, is that back then, around 12½% only had SPF records, whereas today, it's about 12½% don't have SPF records. That's interesting. But the rest of the figures are again, similar to last time:

Results of applying SPF policy against incoming email
fail93IP address was not allowed to send this email
softfail79IP address should not be sending this email (used for testing)
neutral11IP address has no policy
pass962IP address is allowed to send this email

Those with a neutral SPF policy have gone down, and the failure rate is up a bit (4% vs. 1% back then) but the overall conclusion is the same—not worth it.

You know, the ability to comment on-the-fly configuration changes in long running daemons is probably a good idea

And speaking of the greylist daemon, I can filter by IP address:

[spc]brevard:~>gld-mcp show iplist
     30905 GREYLIST
       115   REJECT
         0   ACCEPT
         0   ACCEPT
         0   ACCEPT
         0   ACCEPT
        33   ACCEPT
         0   ACCEPT
        81   ACCEPT
         0   ACCEPT
         0   ACCEPT
         0   ACCEPT
         0   ACCEPT
         0   ACCEPT
         0   ACCEPT
         4   ACCEPT
         0   ACCEPT
        16   ACCEPT
         0   ACCEPT
      1207   ACCEPT
         0   ACCEPT
        12   REJECT
         7 GREYLIST
       115 GREYLIST
         0   ACCEPT
         0   ACCEPT
         0   ACCEPT
         0   ACCEPT
         0   ACCEPT
         0   ACCEPT
         0   REJECT
         0   ACCEPT
         0   ACCEPT
         0   ACCEPT
       116   ACCEPT
         0   ACCEPT
         3   ACCEPT
         0   ACCEPT

But there's a question I can't answer—why? Why did I accept Or Heck, I can't even answer when!

What I wish I had done back when I wrote this was allow comments for this filter table. I mean, it's pretty obvious with some of the other filters, such as the to-domain list:

[spc]brevard:~>gld-mcp show to-domain
         0   REJECT
        75   REJECT

The machine has been decommissioned for over a decade, and yet some spammers somewhere are still attempting to deliver email to it (although it may help if I were to remove the MX and A DNS records for it—hmm …) even after all these years (75 attempts have been attempted since September 6th, 2017 when for whatever reason, the greylist daemon was restarted). It's obvious why I added the line.

But the IP addresses? No idea. The ability to add comments for ad-hoc, on-the-fly updates for long running daemons is something to keep in mind. I just wish I had thought of that sooner.

Monday, January 22, 2018

“It's a movie about food poisoning on an airplane, but that's not important right now.”

Airplane” is one of the funniest movies ever made and it still holds up over 35 years later. Most people think it's a parody of all the airline disaster movies of the 70s, but in reality, it's a remake of a 1957 dramatic movie played straight (which explains why the main character is a World War II fighter pilot in a movie made in 1980).

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.

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

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