· Naughties
· · 2006
· · · August
· · · · 28 (2 entries)

Scam Spam · I don’t know about you, but in recent weeks I’ve been hit with high volumes of spam promoting penny stocks. They are elaborately crafted and go through my spam defenses like a hot knife through butter. When I was off the net for 72 hours last week, the volume actually filled up the POP inbox at one of my accounts and my mail started bouncing. By the way, you can find the people who do it with a search for “Stock Promotion” (G, Y). As a consequence of living in Vancouver, long a headquarters for penny-stock promoters, I have some personal exposure to how incredibly devious, energized, and unprincipled these people are; it’s like trying to root out cockroaches in a warm climate. Part of the problem is that there is apparently an inexhaustible supply of suckers ready to march smiling into the jaws of these bottom-feeders. This could be the straw that finally breaks the back of email as we know it, the kind that costs nothing to send and something to receive.
RAD IX: Those Libraries · [RAD stands for Ruby Ape Diaries, of which this is part IX.] Ruby’s debugging facilities, compared to what IDE users like me are used to, are, well... sincere. At one point during the Ape work, I had a bug that was really driving me crazy. The symptom was that my HTTP interaction with the server would just freeze up, and I couldn’t spot the pattern behind it. It’s a fact of protocol-testing life that this particular kind of shit happens. Sometimes you’re reduced to debugging with print statements, and I was. But after a while they weren’t helping me, I was calling Net::HTTP#start on an apparently-valid connection and then... nothing. Eventually, I was driven to looking in the library source, net/http.rb. Hey, it was easy to understand! (Have I talked about Ruby and readability before?) I could see where my request was going, but I couldn’t see how it could go wrong. Well, this is a dev machine, and Real Men debug with print statements. So in they went... right into the Ruby distro libraries, I mean. And I ran it again. Only took a couple of minutes to zero in the problem; in this case, a JRuby bug. I’m not sure what the lesson is... but the code spelunking was frighteningly easy. This is not typical of other peoples’ HTTP libraries; I have bitter memories of bashing my head to a bloody pulp against LWP back in the last millennium. Did I mention readability? [Ed. Note: You’ll be happy to hear that there are only a couple more RAD entries in the pipeline, then I’ll be done.]
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