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.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A view from the Ft. Lauderdale Office of the Corporation

The building was trembling. This isn't unusual as there's a railroad running along side the building. But what was unusual was the lack of a train. Then a loud thud and finally silence. A few of us looked out the window.

[We might want to get Reba McEntire and Michael Gross on the phone in case this happens again.]

There, in a freshly dug trench that didn't exist moments earlier, was a dead graboid. It must have slammed into the foundation of I-95, which runs along the other side of the building.

Some notes on project names at The Ft. Lauderdale Office Of The Corporation

I was asked about the projects I've mentioned on the blog by a fellow cow-orker, D, and I thought I should summarize them.

First is “Project: Wolowizard.” This used to refer to the entire suite of programs my team (that is, the team I work on, not the team I manage—I'm not a mangager) is responsible for.

Then I wrote “Project: Sippy-Cup to interface with the new hipster hotness. This ended up calling into the same backend as “Project: Wolowizard.” So now it seems silly to consider the backend as part of “Project: Wolowizard” when it's used by two different front ends (the other frontend interfaces with The Protocol Stack From Hell). I'm now going to refer to the common backend as “Project: Lumbergh” (it makes sense if you know the actual name of the program).

And that leaves “Project: America-­On-­Line-­Instant-­Messenger,” the latest program to be written. My fellow cow-orker T gave it its initial name, but no one, not even he, really liked the name. After some discussion it was renamed, and thus I'm giving it a new name here in the blog—“Project: Cleese” (which again, makes total sense if you know the new name and the context in which it was named).

There are some other programs we're responsible for, but as they are rarely touched I'm not going to bother mentioning them. It's mostly legacy stuff anyway and they will most likely go away when The Protocol Stack From Hell is sent back from whence it came (and believe me, it can't happen soon enough).

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Before the Pink Panther there was Peter Gunn

Bunny has been binge watching “Peter Gunn” and I have to say, the music is fantastic! The only other TV shows that had as jazzy a score were “Twin Peaks” and “Cowboy Bebop.” I wish more shows used a jazz sound track, it's fun just to listen to the music.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

This is why I tend towards writing my own code libraries

Six years ago I had the need to fetch an image via HTTP as part of testing “Project: Lumbergh.” At the time, I thought You know what? Why don't I use libcurl? It's installed. It's supposedly easy to use. It'll save me the hour or so it'll take me to write the code to connect to the server, send the request and read the reply.

It still took about an hour, mainly to figure out how to use the darned library. But it worked.

And then I went to test on Solaris (which is what production runs on) and well …

r2839 | spc | 2012-07-11 14:22:27 -0400 (Wed, 11 Jul 2012) | 8 lines


It's amazing what isn't installed on Solaris.

And yes, I do use curl for testing. Easy (if insanely large) library to use to snarf down web requests.

I had to download libcurl and check it into the repository because it's not on Solaris.

And then I had to figure out the special ./configure options to get it compiled under Solaris.

And then I had to wait for ./configure and make to run (and on Solaris, this is a S—L——O———W————P—————P——————R———————O————————C—————————E——————————S—————————————S).

And then I had to figure out how to integrate this into the build system for Solaris.

And for something that was supposed to be “easy to use” turned out to be not so easy. Nor quick. And has been a thorn in my side these past six years.

Seven years ago I wrote a Lua module to generate hashes. Instead of pulling the code from various RFCs, I thought I would link to OpenSSL, since it already included the code for the various hashes, and who knows—it might even be optimized.

This only took a few moments to implement and was rather easy.

Until Apple decided to deprecate the use of OpenSSL on Mac OS-X and later remove OpenSSL in their latest offerings.

I use said Lua module at work.

We mostly develop under Mac OS-X.


This has become a thorn in my side over the past few years. The issue came up two weeks ago when my fellow cow-orker TS, decided to update his Mac OS-X laptop and the build broke. And it came up today because my other fellow cow-orker TS-II (same initials—go figure) did some update or other on his Mac OS-X laptop and the build broke, but in a different way (wow—to think that each version of Mac OS-X is a special snowflake).

Two libraries, used to avoid the whole “Not Invented Here Syndrome” and to speed up development.

In both cases, it has not speed up development. It has slowed down development as I've had to find more and more ways to keep using these infernal libraries.

I guess I'll spend a few hours ripping out libcurl and OpenSSL and replacing it with code I've written to speed things up around here.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Brevard or Bust

Bunny and I left at O'dark 30 for our yearly trip to Brevard and we made excellent time. The plan, as was usual, was I drive until the sun comes up, letting Bunny get a bit more sleep, then we switch places where she drives and I sleep.

[I wear ear protectors so that Bunny can listen to whatever radio station she wants while driving.  I also have ear buds in, listening to “A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld” as I sleep.  All hail our new Ultraworld overlords!]

11½ hours later we arrived at The Red House Inn, our favorite place to stay. We were fortunate in there being a break in the rain to let us unload the car, and it was then when I had the horrible realization that my iPad (which I use as a laptop while on vacations) was 750 miles away, sitting were I left it at Chez Boca.


Obviously I have work arounds, but it's still annoying.

Anyway, we're just relaxing after a long drive and will shortly have dinner at The Square Root.

Friday, September 28, 2018

An inadvertent lock-out, Brevard edition

Bunny and I are taking it easy on the first day of vaction. The weather is nice—sun is out, temperature is mid-70s, and there's the sound of the neighbor mowing his rather sizable lawn.

[Nothing like a private porch to spend a late summer afternoon (yes, I know it's technically autumn right now). You wish you were here.]

So I'm sitting on the private porch at The Red House Inn when I attempt to check my email. I can't.

You see, I use mutt to read my email. It runs directly on my email server, but to log into my email server, I have to first log into my home system due to filtering of ssh attempts by the hosting company (which doesn't really bother me all that much). But I too, have some filtering going on at home. I programmed my own syslog daemon to block ssh attempts after five times, regardless of time between attempts, or, as it turns out, regardless of sucessful attempts!

Because I left my iPad at home, I'm having to type my password. And due to the keyboard I'm using (it's not a Model M keyboard and therefore by default, this keyboard sucks) I incurred a few failed log in attempts.


Well, that sucks! I thought. Wait! I know! I can log into work over The Corporation's VPN to my workstation there, and from there I can log into home and fix the situation. The problem became logging into the VPN.

And now I have two problems.

I called a fellow cow-orker, D, but he did not have the information I needed to configure the VPN, but as I was working on it, the idea came that all I really needed was a different Wi-Fi network to log in from.

And then I noticed my iPhone next to me.

It has a “personal hotspot” feature.

“Oh!” I said.

A few minutes later, and I had no problems.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Extreme Beethoven, Brevard edition

Beethoven lives!

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

What? You don't belive me?

[Shelob is no problem.  She's so little of a problem that my secretary Anton took her out! Once I get rid of this stupid ring I can then start work on Symphony No. 10.]

'Nuf said.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Extreme bears, Hendersonville edition

Bunny and I drove to Hendersonville to view a street-based art show (Main St. was blocked off to vehicular traffic and artists set up booths along the street). Amid the artist booths were a slew of bears.

[I think I can bear the Mona Lisa.]

I suppose if Brevard has their white squirrels, Hendersonville can have their bears.

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

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