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Just one story, just one pun-ch line - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
captainsblog
captainsblog
Just one story, just one pun-ch line

I promised yesterday to continue talking about how bot-armed crooks are making hot ticket purchases impossible for all of us. That promise shall be kept.... a little.  It's been a long day for both of us, a long week especially for Eleanor, so I'm going to just throw a few links at you about how this is happening.

The New York Times discovers the problem.

A bit more from the British end of things.

But here's one, quoted in that last one, which shows that the phenomenon has carried over into the world of foodies as well as concert and sport fans.  The author is a fan of good food, and in San Francisco, which has its share of both great restaurants and smart geeks.  He had his sights set on one impossible-to-reserve venue called State Bird Provisions, where he could never, ever get a table. So he created a bot to do it. His first go, which simply bombed the site and then emailed him when it said a table had opened, didn't really work (he even displayed the code for it), but it did clue him in on some of the rules:

    New reservations open around 4am.

    People wake up at 4am to get reservations.

    At 5am most of the reservations were gone.

    Once a reservation got canceled I would get an email and could quickly get it for myself.


This meant that I would either get reservations for 60 days in the future, or I would get a random draw of same-day or next-day reservations that would come from last minute cancellations.

And that worked great, until the enemy bots got smarter and faster:

One day I found myself looking at it and noticed that as soon as reservations became available on the website (at 4am), all the good times were immediately taken and were gone by 4:01am. It quickly became obvious that these were reservation bots at work.

After a while even cancellations started being taken immediately from under me. It started being common receiving an email alerting of a change, seeing an available time, and it being gone by the time the website loaded.

So he decided to fight bot with bot:

You fight fire with fire, so I made my own reservation bot. You can get the code here.

I used mechanize to create a simple ruby script that goes through the process of checking for available reservations (in a given time range) and making a reservation under your name.

With this script I was able to start getting reservations again, but I know that this bot war will continue to escalate.

"Ruby," I gather, is a programming language. While I am not proficient in reading the code, I do know enough to realize that he named it in honor of a famous Iranian poet.

You know,....



The Ruby Bot of Omar Khayyám.

Thanks. I'm here all week. Which, thank gods, has just one day left in it unless the Doctor moves things backward tomorrow night.

If you're wondering what Boris and Natasha have to with all of this, go here.

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