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.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Inflation has seriously affected the Nigerian scams

Normally, I would ignore these Nigerian scam emails but this one—this one is gold:

Federal Emergency <>
Attention Dear
Wed, 25 Oct 2023 01:46:19 -0700


REGION II - NJ, NY, PR, VI 26 Federal Plaza, Room 1337 New York, NY
REGION III - DE, DC, MD, PA, VA, WV 615 Chestnut Street 6th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Congratulations to the owner of this email account, Please If you received this email in your spam folder it could be due to your Internet Service Provider, (ISP). move it to your inbox before responding, The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has added an event wide notice for 4504DR-KS (4504DR) 2023, Event Wide Notice: FEMA Established Deadlines for COVID-19 Funding,

This is to intimate the owner of this email account with very important information, The United Nations and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has made available a total sum of US$102,000,000,000,000 to world governments for distribution to Twelve Million successful company and business emails users. You're qualified and chosen for the (UNCC & FEMA) covid19 outbreak compensation payment of $8,500,000.00 USD only. Kindly contact the Secretary-general of the United Nations for the claim of more details. Contact Mr. Antonio Guterres through below email for the claim of your funds. $8,500,000.00,

CONTACT Mr. Antonio J. Guterres
phone: +1-(409)-571-2111
kindly text him for an urgent response.

Body: FEMA established deadlines for the Public Assistance for COVID-19 events to assist states, tribal nations, localities, territories, and eligible private nonprofits in pandemic response and recovery. 30th December 2023 is the deadline for Applicants to submit their Request for Public Assistance for the COVID-19 pandemic incident. You can apply for reimbursement funding from FEMA for recovery efforts. 30th December 2023 is also the end of the 100% federal cost share for eligible COVID-19 response and recovery work. Any work that Applicants conduct or complete before 30th December, 2023 or after will be funded at 90% federal cost share,

yours faithfully, Miss. Deanne Criswell,

I think this is a record—one hundred trillion dollars in compensation. Yes, inflation is currently on the rise, but I don't think the United States has one hundred trillion dollars. Is the author perhaps confusing us with Zimbabwe? I'm happy to report that the math in the email works out, so some effort was given here. But aside from the decent grammar, the math working and the monetary amount, nothing else about this is really noteworthy.

Adventures in Utext

There is one point on the ASCII ↔︎ JS spectrum that I haven’t seen, and it’s one that, as I use Unicode in more complex ways on and have learned how many obscure features or characters Unicode has, I increasingly think has been neglected: only UTF-8 text rendered by a monospace font. Not ASCII, not a weird subset of SGML, not troff, not raw terminal codes, not bitmaps encoded in ASCII—just UTF-8. This document format does only what pure Unicode text can do—but does everything that pure Unicode can do, which turns out to be a lot. What if we take Unicode literally, but not seriously?

Your typical plain text output strips all formatting. At the most ambitious, it might have a Unicode superscript or fraction. But we can do so much more!

Utext: Rich Unicode Documents ·

That was an interesting read (your mileage may vary).

To generate the gopher and Gemini versions of my blog, I parse the HTML and generate either plain text (for gopher) or Gemtext for Gemini. And I'm still not entirely happy with the output. For emphasized text, I would translate that to “*emphasized*”, which is … okay, I guess? And for deleted text—that was a harder to deal with, and I ended up with “[DELETED-deleted-DELETED]” text.

There's no excuse for that.

But after reading about Utext, and Uncode's COMBINING SHORT STROKE OVERLAY and COMBINING LOW LINE I thought I might try using those for some typographical niceties that you don't normally get with plain text. And that's when I learned that not all virtual terminals support all of Unicode all that well. And wraping text is … not that trivial anymore.

Ah well. For now, it seems to be working, but it remains to be seen if I like the results.

Update on Friday, December 8th, 2023

I reverted this change due to issues.

A most persistent spam, part VIII

I received an email from Kevin thanking me for my post about Aleksandr and how he was able to stop the spam. But Keven had some issues with the proposed solution and how it didn't work directly for him. On close inspection of the post in question, I did find an issue with the regular expression presented in the post—it wasn't correct. The problem stemmed from my use of a bespoke markup language I created (that I should talk about at some point) where a character that should have been escaped, wasn't, causing the text to be misleading.

I fixed the issue and thanked Kevin for bringing the problem to my attention, even if it was in a roundabout way.

And to think, three years later and “Aleksandr” is still spamming people for some obscure reason.

Obligatory Picture

[“I am NOT a number, I am … a Q-CODE!”]

Obligatory Contact Info

Obligatory Feeds

Obligatory Links

Obligatory Miscellaneous

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