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, February 16, 2021

Today was not a good day

I walked into the Computer Room at Chez Boca to a pair of unpowered computers and a UPS that was turned off. Okay, perhaps a brownout of something and the squeal got to Bunny so she did as I instructed and just turned off the UPS. I went to turn it back on and … nothing. It did not turn on.

That was not good.

But even though the UPS might not turn on, the “surge protection” side might still work until I get a replacement. The Apple Mac I have turned on, no issues. The Linux box, my main development system, did not.

That was even less good.

Okay, perhaps it's too much draw for a nearly dead UPS. Next step, a replacement UPS from Best Buy.

“Yes, can I help you?”

“Yes, where are the UPSes?”

“The back wall over there to the left, with the car stuff.”

Odd, but … “Okay, thanks.”

Nope, just car stuff over by the back left wall. I corner a clerk and ask again.

“Where are the UPSes?”

“The what?”

“A UPS.”

“A …?”

UPS. You plug the computer into it, then plug that into the wall.”

“Oh! A battery backup!”

“Oh, is that what you young hipters are calling UPSes these days?”

Pricy, but I have a new UPS.

The illustrations didn't indicate that you had to connect the black wire to the battery before the red wire to the battery, but perhaps I should have known that prior to learning the hard way with a large pop. Fortunately, no magic smoke was released, and when I plugged the UPS into the wall outlet, it seemed to be fine.

I plugged in the Linux box and … it still didn't come on.


I wasn't terribly upset—I do have backups and even if the computer died, the harddrive could still work on a new machine. It was just the severe inconvenience of it all.

I then recalled a weird premonition I had last night. The weather forcast for today was thunderstorms, and I had a notion to shut the computer down “just in case.” But I thought better of that—after all, the UPS should be good, right?

Ha ha.

It was then I received the news about Uncle Dale.

Uncle Dale

I found out today that my Uncle Dale died.

Much like with Undle Ed, it's mixed news—sad that he is no longer here, but relieved since he too, was suffering from a neurological disease for years (but a different one from Uncle Ed).

Dale married my Dad's sister Kay, and they lived about two miles from my grandparents house, so I spent a lot of time there as well. And what really stood out about their house was not the garage, but this giant black walnut tree in the backyard that made running around in your barefeet a rather dangerous endevour (the walnuts would fall and slowly decompose into the ground, making for a very bumpy backyard). This was a thing because of the pool they had in the backyard, a rare thing indeed in Michigan.

But what really stood out to me about Dale, aside from Dale himself (being I think 6′2″ or 6′4″) was his love of family and sailing. Every year he and the rest of his family would drive up to Higgins Lake with catamaran in tow. I do recall riding it once, only because I wasn't into the whole “family camping thang” he and his family did every year (roughing it for me is the lack of A/C in the hotel room).

He also taught me how to ride a bike. I was probably seven or eight at the time and Dale took it upon himself to teach me how to ride in the most effective way he knew how—by placing me on a bike on the sidewalk in from of the house (which ran parallel to a 4-lane road) and shoving hard. All I had to do was keep upright and avoid falling into traffic, the large blue mailbox or the utility poles. I learned how to ride a bike in three days.

Effective … yes. Safe? Probably not.

But I did learn quickly.

So here's to Uncle Dale. And much love to Aunt Kay, and my cousins Joshua, Aaron, Jordan, Caitlin and Ethan.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

But not enough atmosphere to actually stop

I'm feeling a bit better after the events of yesterday.

Now, seeing how the Perseverance Mars rover is expected to land tomorrow, I present “Seven Minutes of Terror”—yes, that video is about the Curiosity Mars rover landing, but they're using the same method for Perseverance, an insane method involving parachutes, rockets, and a crane.

Insane, I tell you. Insane.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Lightsabers and Pitfall!

My hetero life mate Hoade finally got around to mailing my Christmas birthday Valentine's Day gift, and I must say, much fun. The first item in the package was the Activision Flashback Blast gaming system, an Atari 2600 in a modern game controller (technically, the games are stored in the HDMI interface that the game controller connects to), and of the twenty games included, I've only heard of half of them, the standout one being Pitfall! The one standout game I never heard of (and by “standout” I mean “WTF was Activision thinking?”) is Crackpots, a kind of reverse Space Invaders, but instead of bug-eyed aliens marching down towards you, it's actual bugs crawling up towards you. Interesting take on the genre, but still a WTF moment the first time I played it.

In fact, not having instructions makes these game all the more fun. Back in high school and through college, my friend Bill and I would often … um … aquire … games and attempt to play them without knowing how to play. I still recall playing Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior with Bill and both of us falling over laughing when suddenly and rather unexpectedly, one of us somehow managed to chop the head off the other player.

The other gift Hoade sent was a “Lightsaber™ Ice Pop Maker.” A kit of four small lightsabers (two modelled after Darth Vader's saber, and two moddeled after Luke Skywalker's second, green lightsaber) and a mold to make four pops at a time.

[My hand, holding up a Darth Vader Lightsaber™ Ice Pop that isn't quite lit up all the way] “I find your lack of lightsaber … disturbing!”

As a test, we used cranberry juice for two of them (one for Darth's, one for Luke's—just to see how the green LED interacts with the red cranberry juice) and ginger ale for the other two. I'm not sure if we left them in the freezer long enough, because the first two I attemped to pull out broke apart. The third one came out (after running hot water over the mold) but Bunny and I learned that we should have used flat ginger ale—the carbonation caused large pits in the “light” portion of the lightsaber. And as you can see in the image above, the light doesn't quite go all the way through.

We have ideas for other attempts.

Anyway, I want to thank Hoade for the gifts. They were much appreciated and caused some great merriment here in Chez Boca.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021


I have a Gmail account that I don't use for anything other than

  1. having claimed as an email address;
  2. seeing what spam Google lets through its famed “spam filtering process” (hint: quite a bit actually, and I suspect Google gets paid to deliver it);
  3. seeing email for other Sean Conners who's friends/family don't know that doesn't go to the Sean Conner they know.

That last category is just a by-product of getting in early enough with Gmail, and after all this time, I'm still surprised at receiving email addressed to other Sean Conners (latest one: a betting pool to see when a pile of snow known as “Mt. Pfeiffer” will melt completely away).

So I load Gmail today and get:

We’re sorry, but your account is temporarily unavailable. We apologize for the inconvenience and suggest trying again in a few minutes. You can view the Google Workspace Status Dashboard for the current status of the service.

If the issue persists, please visit the Help Center »

Try Again Sign Out

Show Detailed Technical Info

And when I clicked on “Show Detailed Technical Info” I got “Numeric Code: 4”.

Woo hoo!

Way to go, Google! Wonderful technical detail! That helped a lot!

Obligatory Picture

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

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