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.

Thursday, October 01, 2020


The following is one of the most amusing spam emails I've received in a long time:

"Alisha Roberts" <selfdefense@XXXXX­XXXXX­XXXXX­X>
"I Was In Hell" Serial Robber Terrified After Entering Detroit Family's House
Thu, 1 Oct 2020 04:10:15 -0500

What a serial robber thought was just another break in, turned out to be the most frightening thing he had ever experienced.

Police found him crippled on the living room floor, seven feet away from his gun, screaming in excruciating pain "He's not human!".

The scene was incredibly awkward, as the person he was pointing at was a little boy in Teddy Bear pajamas, no older than 10 years, surrounded by his worried parents and grandparents.

When an officer interrogated the family they said that Jimmy -the little boy- had learned a self-defense move [2]after watching this video with his grandfather.

The two-finger trick, called the "Death Touch", was invented by a Chinese Kung Fu Master and it allows anyone, no matter their physical strength or condition, to bring down an attacker just by poking him in a vulnerable spot.

"We saw the video a couple of times and practiced a little bit. I'm shocked Jimmy almost killed an 180 pound man just by touching him…and he did it in the dark!"

It reminds me of the Count Dante ads one would find in comic books back in the 70s, promising to teach 點脈. I guess with the death of the comic book industry they have to advertise elsewhere …

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Is it really a first world problem when DSL required for working and it's down?

Two weeks ago our DSL line went down and the ETA kept being extended and extended until it finally came up last Thursday, a few days before the last ETA we received from the Monopolistic Phone Company of Saturday evening.

There was much rejoicing (woot).

For about four hours, when it promptly went down again.

When it initially went down two weeks ago, there was no indication of a problem on our DSL modem as all the lights were green—the issue was purely somewhere in the Monopolistic Phone Company's network and from what I understand, it's getting harder to find replacement DSL equipment (and sadly, DSL from the Monopolistic Phone Company is the only game here in the boondocks that is Boca Raton). This time, however, the DSL connection light was flashing red, meaning the DSL couldn't connect to the DSLAM, but try telling the Monopolistic Phone Company that. Their response was “there's an outstanding ticket for your area that is currently being worked on and is expected to be resolved by Saturday evening,” even though our neighbor across the street, who has the same plan as us, is up and running.

It took multiple levels of escalation to even get the Monopolistic Phone Company to admit that, “oh yes, one system shows the work has been done for your area, but the system our front line techs use hasn't been updated yet.” The earliest service appointment was today.

The service tech came out, and upon looking into the issue, found that our phone line had been cut at the pole!

No one has any idea why.

Very odd.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

A decade of working for The Man

I've been working at The Corporation now for ten years. My, how the time has flown.

At the five year mark, I received a hefty slab of glass with the anniversary etched inside. It's quite nice and quite hefty—enough that you woudn't want to be on the receiving end of it if thrown. For the ten year mark, I received the the 8″ Pinnacle Globe from Glassical Designs. It's not as heavy as the five year piece of glass, but it is much nicer in design.

Also included were gift cards worth $250, which is a very nice touch.

Friday, October 09, 2020

I don't care if it's a first world problem—it's annoying and I want it fixed

This is silly. The DSL is down. Again!

And the first available apppointment is the 15TH.

On top of this, we've already burned through our initial cell phone data plan with the Oligarchist Cell Phone Companies, and the updated cell phone plan with the Oligarchist Cell Phone Companies. We don't want the “unlimited data plan” because we (normally) don't need the “unlimited data plan” (and man, I found out the hard way that YouTube burns through data plans like you wouldn't believe).

So now we're adding data to our cell phone data plan 1GB at a time … Grrrrrrrr …

Saturday, October 10, 2020

It sucks that Boca Raton, Florida is way out in the sticks

Appointment updated to be on Monday, between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm. Love that pinpoint accuracy there. But at least it's earlier than the 15TH.

We then had a call later because the Monopolistic Phone Company thought the issue was resolved (from my perspective, they really don't want to send out a technician—or the left hand doesn't know what the left pinky is doing), but no, it's still down.

Monday, October 12, 2020

We should be good to go now … I hope

The technician arrived early this morning (wow!) and fixed the issue with the DSL (again!) and the issue explains the confused response about it being fine. The DSLAM was fine. The line wasn't cut. This time, the wiring behind the faceplace in the wall was shorting out.

Good lord—we've had the trifecta of issues with DSL this past month—the interior wiring, exterior wiring and issues with the Monopolistic Phone Company network!


Hopefully this means everything is fine and we won't have any further issues with th@ D ASDqwe2893 lkas f

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

I wonder what the difference between Boomer Darkwave and Gothic Bubblegum pop really is?

Two weeks ago I mixed up a music group name with its album name. The only text on the front of the CD is “GREATER CALIFORNIA” with nary a mention of the group name. Along the spine is “GREATER CALIFORNIA ★ SOMBER WULITZER” but since I am unwise in the ways of CD labelling, I mixed up the names.


It's a pity though, because I think “Somber Wurlitzer” is a much better group name than “Greater California.”

But it does appear I've introduced Greater California to a couple of people. One person described it as “what if nostalgic boomers had invented Darkwave” and the second person said “if you think the theme for Trailer Park Boys is good, you'll probably like this. I can't give a more glowing commendation than that!” And that's great! Everybody has different tastes. It's just that I didn't like Greater California all that much. My initial reaction calling it “Gothic Bubblegum pop” was my honest reaction to it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over getting the same result, but expecting a different one, then does that make me insane for expecting the popup window will stop popping up, or Microsoft Windows for keeping popping up the popup window?

I turned on the Corporate Overlords' Windows 10 managed laptop to enter my time for today when a notice popped up about Adobe® Flash® being out of date and that I should uninstall it. At least, that's what I think it said—the text was a bit too small to read easily (and if I'm complaining about the text being too small it's small). So I click okay as a reflex, I'm asked to input my password (as most systems do today) and then a second later, I get this small popup window:

You must have administrative privileges to install Adobe® Flash® Player. Please log on with administrative privileges and try again.

Oh, that's right—managed laptop. Ah well. I click the only button on the popup window, only to have another small popup window:

You must have administrative privileges to install Adobe® Flash® Player. Please log on with administrative privileges and try again.

Yeah, I don't have administrative rights. And even if I did, I didn't even have a chance to enter my administrative rights. I click the only button on the popup window only to have another small popup window:

You must have administrative privileges to install Adobe® Flash® Player. Please log on with administrative privileges and try again.


I can see where this isn't going.

Time to reboot the computer.

I just love this managed laptop.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020


I neglected to mention I received the security hardware token from the Corporate Overlords. It's the size of a USB thumb drive but it's not USB. It's just a simple device with an LCD screen and a green button. You press the green button and a number shows up on the screen and that's your “password” for the moment.

Pretty simple and I've used it once so far to log in.

But when I went to submit my timecard for today, I had to reauthenticate. No big deal, just hit the button—“12h522h“.

Odd, I thought, I thought this was numeric only. Perhaps a few segments are burned out? So I type “1265226” and no go. I try again with the same value and again, no go. By the time I want to type it in a third time, the token went blank. I hit the button and get … a backwards “J”? “6” maybe? What is going on?

A few moments later I get a sequence of numbers with a backwards “J“ and an “h”.

It takes me a few more minutes to realize I'm holding the security token upsidedown.


There are three graphic symbols on the token along one edge. With the token oriented one way, the three graphic symbols spell out a word. Flip the token upsidedown and the three graphic symbols spell out a different word. And what's amazing is that one of the symbols reads as a “E” one way, and as a “D” in another.

Yeah, the symbols are that abstracted.

Boy do I feel stupid!

I thought it stood for “Girl In File” so of course it's pronounced …

The three letters “G,” “I” and “F.” Together, they represent an image format, but there is some controversy over how it's pronounced.

Tom Scott presents the arguments for the two ways GIF is pronounced, but I like Mike Rugnetta's take which is a completely different pronounciation based on “ghoti” (the alternate spelling for “fish”).

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Funny how enterprise software never seemed to be installed on the Enterprise itself

The Corporate Overlords have recently changed the time tracking system. The previous one was, I think, developed in house and all things considered, wasn't that bad. The new one, not developed in house (perhaps because “code is a liability” or tax differences between opex and capex—somebody got a bonus I'm sure) can be best described as not being that good.

The new system, a third party, “enterprise class” time tracking application via the web (of course), doesn't respond well if you enter the data too fast. And one of the fields that's a “pull-down” list of items takes forever to load, no matter how many entries you make—it never gets faster.

But today I learned about another limitiation. Due to COVID-19, I haven't taken any vacation time, and because of the quarantine, I haven't been sick either. So I have all this time accrued up that I now have to use (yeah, I know, first world problems). But there is no way to request a single block of time off with the new time tracking application. No, you have to enter … each … vacation … day … one … day … at … a … time.

So it's select the day, wait a bit for the popup window to appear, select category, wait a bit while all the categories load, select “absent,” wait a bit for the sub-categories to load, select “Paid Time Off,” select out of that field to make sure it takes, select the “reason” field, wait a bit, select “other” (because the only other selection is “sick”), select out of that field to make sure that takes, be glad that the “time” field is pre-filled out with 8 hours, but wait until the popup stops resizing itself, then hit “Okay,” and wait until that takes. And then do it again for the next day. Then once the week is filled out, hit “Submit,” wait a bit until the next page comes up, and hit “Done” to do the actual submission. And then do all that again for the next week. Repeat until done.

I just wish the executives responsible for selecting this “enterprise solution” were themselves subject to it, but alas, they have secretaries, so we mere employees are subject to this craziness.

But as my manager said, “at least you get paid to do that.” Yeah, there is that.

Some questions about “enterprise software”

The talk of “enterprise software” in the previous entry reminds me of the time I worked at Negiyo, twenty years ago. Back then Negiyo had an issue tracking system that was built in-house. It was very nice, because the people who were building it were also using it so they were subject to the same pain points as everybody else in the company. But towards the end of my time there, it was decided by “the executives” that it had to go and be replaced by some third party “enterprise class” ticketing system. I wasn't there for the switch-over, but I had friends who were, and from what I remember, everyone hated it, and it took a few years for it to come close to the capabilities of the in-house ticketing system.

I have to wonder what the incentives are for this type of idiocy to happen. Strippers and steak? Hookers and blow? Executives trying to justify their jobs? Or is it some form of capex/opex tax thing?

Great, now I have to train my next manager

Today my manager at the Ft. Lauderdale Office of the Corporation just announced he's retiring. Not immediately, but by first quarter next year, maybe second quarter. I'm sad to see him go, but alas, these things happen. He's the 6TH manager I've had since I started here at The Corporation.

I was sad when managers #1 & #3 left and #4 & #5 were let go (#2 wasn't a good fit for what I was doing at the company, even though technically he headed the QA department when I technically was working as a QA engineer—I was the only QA engineer for call processing while the rest of the department dealt with Android phones), but things will work out.

I don't know if I should be amused or alarmed that I've outlasted six managers.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Great, now I have to train a new QA engineer

Today the QA engineer for our department (call processing, although officially it goes by a different name) just announced he's moving on to another job in two weeks.


I hope him well at his new job, but at the same time, I wish he were staying. We get along great, and he's good at the job. The other reason I wish he were staying is the rest of the QA team is in the Seattle Office of the Corporation. It's easier to answer questions when one can share a whiteboard and computer.


Erm … I guess things will work out?

Saturday, October 31, 2020

“Twice-times-a-thousand glares and winks and blinks and leerings of fresh-cut eyes.”

                              /\              )\
                _           __)_)__        .'`--`'.
                )\_      .-'._'-'_.'-.    /  ^  ^  \
             .'`---`'. .'.' /o\'/o\ '.'.  \ \/\/\/ /
            /  <> <>  \ : ._:  0  :_. : \  '------'       _J_
            |    A    |:   \\/\_/\//   : |     _/)_    .'`---`'.
            \  <\_/>  / :  :\/\_/\/:  : /   .'`----`'./.'b   d  \
           _?_._`"`_.'`'-:__:__:__:__:-'   /.'<\   /> \:   0    |
        .'`---`'.``  _/(              /\   |:,___A___,|' V===V  /
       /.'a . a  \.'`---`'.        __(_(__ \' \_____/ /'._____.'
       |:  ___   /.'/\ /\  \    .-'._'-'_.'-:.______.' _?_
       \'  \_/   |:   ^    |  .'.' (o\'/o) '.'.     .'`"""`'.
        '._____.'\' 'vvv'  / / :_/_:  A  :_\_: \   /   ^.^   \
                  '.__.__.' | :   \'=...='/   : |  \  `===`  /
               jgs           \ :  :'.___.':  : /    `-------`

And a reminder: check your kids' candy bags for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups so you can eat them before they do.

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