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418.5 Mostly Gone

Hola from up on steepness hill where the chillies are growing well and our one proper day of summer resulted in death valley temperatures in the suntrap on our porch. Hope you’re enjoying the sun  rain  smell of manure and harvested wheat in your area.

The definition of internet suicide is a bit blurry depending on whether the suicide refers to your physical or your virtual self and if the latter, how you define self. There have been a handful of occurrences, mostly in Asia, of online gamers physically expiring rather than stop playing  trading online. Suicide by internet, albeit perhaps unintentional. There are also many many occurrences of destroying your account in online games - virtual suicide? - in a fit of pique  general annoyance. But there’s a far rarer, more deliberate self-kill switch online - the 419.

For most internet users, the 419 is an oft annoying group of Nigerian scammers urging us to launder 3.2 million USD to help return Nigerian astronaut General Tunde from the ISS after fifteen years or similar. The 419 refers in this case to article 419 of the Nigerian Criminal Code deals with obtaining property by false promises, which is exactly what the advance-fee fraud is all about but it has much older roots in the Spanish Prisoner scam from back in the 17th century.

For web developers though the 419 code is the nuclear button. You may be familiar with 404 Page Not Found errors when you type in a web page address incorrectly or the BBC news website has been reorganised again. This is the most commonly seen HTTP code that gets sent from web server to your browser when you ask for a web page. The most commonly unseen code is 200 OK when the web server has the page or graphic and says “Yup I got it, here you go” to your browser. The HTTP Code 419 is The End. It indicates simply that the website has been completely and deliberately removed, that it should no longer indexed by a search engine and where possible not be listed in archives any more. It almost never happens and is massively troubling. In 2011, a guy named Mark Pilgrim 419’d and quickly prompted many friends to send police to his door to check he hadn’t removed his presence in the physical world. Which he hadn’t.

419 continues to work but it has become ever more convoluted to delete your internet presence. Companies provide the online service equivalent to Dignitas, searching for and removing not only your websites, but your online accounts, third party archives, cloud presence and so on.

At which point I should say I’m not going to 419. More 418.5 and have a kit-kat. Just turn off a lot of old things that no-one cares about and represents old ideas  projects anyway. An eleven year old blog that died. Tumblrs, wordpress instances, old email addresses and so on. A pre-holiday spring clean to come back to with new ideas. The radio show at Radio Horton has come to an end. A lot of live and outside broadcast experience received but time to shut it down and think about where to take that, if anywhere. I got offered a three hours a weekday slot at lunchtimes on a local FM station, but for nothing. Tempting but that also means doing nothing else except that. Tempting, but not that tempting.

I’m off on holiday to buy some new notebooks. Have a good summer.


Posted on April 25, 2018   #Nothing in Particular  

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