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Re: st: Stata agent string for net install


From   Muhammad Anees <anees@aneconomist.com>
To   statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu
Subject   Re: st: Stata agent string for net install
Date   Thu, 11 Oct 2012 20:46:37 +0500

Really good to know that. Thanks Alan.

Anees

On Thu, Oct 11, 2012 at 8:12 PM, Alan Riley <ariley@stata.com> wrote:
> Brendan Halpin (brendan.halpin@ul.ie) asked about a set of four
> numbers Stata includes in its "browser id" string that it reports
> when it accesses files over the web:
>
>> Does anyone happen to know what the four numbers in the agent string
>> that Stata sends when making a HTTP connection to do a -net install-?
>>
>> That is, when you do a -net install- Stata identifies itself as a
>> browser to the web server. Older versions may simply say "Stata/9.2
>> (Windows)" but more recent ones give more info, e.g.:
>>
>> Stata/IC 11.1 (418.11.1.687) on Windows NT 5.0
>>
>> What does the 418.11.1.687 mean (I've made up the numbers here in case
>> they actually reveal information about people)? Is it unique to the
>> Stata installation? Can I use it, for instance, to enumerate unique
>> downloads (better than using IP addresses)?
>
> Unfortunately for Brendan's purposes, but fortunately for our users,
> this number does NOT uniquely identify Stata installations nor Stata
> users.
>
> This string is known as a browser id string, or, more formally,
> a "User Agent ID".  It is how web browsers, and applications
> like Stata which access the web, tell web servers about themselves.
>
> Here is what one web browser might report:
>
>    Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1)
>
> The parts of this that matter to most people are "MSIE 6.0", which
> tells you that the browser being used is Microsoft Internet Explorer
> 6.0, and "Windows NT 5.1", which tells you that the browser is running
> on Windows XP 32-bit.  Yes, Microsoft has called every version
> of Windows since the original Windows NT 3.1 "Windows NT".  Windows 8
> will be "Windows NT 6.2".  (By the way, hopefully the above browser id
> string didn't come from any of you.  Internet Explorer 6 is a legacy
> browser full of security holes.  Even Microsoft wants you to stop using
> it: http://www.ie6countdown.com/ )
>
> Brendan made up what he reported above.  Here is a real Stata example
> along with an explanation of it:
>
>     Stata/MP 12.1 (521.12.1.887) on Windows NT 6.1
>
> Let's break that down.
>
>     Stata/MP 12.1       (obvious)
>     521.12.1.887        (see below)
>     on Windows NT 6.1   (running on Windows 7; I'll explain below
>                          why 'Windows NT 6.1' is reported)
>
> Looking closer at the four numbers in the middle, we see they are
> really three:
>
>    521     (an encoded version of the Stata flavor and operating system)
>    12.1    (the Stata version)
>    887     (our internal build number)
>
> The 12.1 in the middle has an obvious meaning.
>
> The 887 on the end is our internal update build number.  887 corresponds
> to the current update of Stata 12.1 which users have in their hands now.
> FYI, the previous update of Stata 12.1 which users saw was 884, and
> internally at StataCorp we had 885 and 886 which users never saw as we
> were working toward 887.
>
> The 521 at the beginning contains two pieces of information.  The first
> is the flavor.  5 corresponds to Stata/MP.  (4 is Stata/SE, 3 is
> Stata/IC, and 2 is Small Stata.)  21 is 64-bit Windows.  There are
> different numbers for other operating systems.
>
> All users using the latest update of Stata/MP 12.1 on 64-bit
> Windows 7 would have the same string.  So, Brendan cannot use
> this string to uniquely identify hits to his website from different
> Stata users.  The IP address would be a better choice for this even
> though it isn't perfect either.  Even if Brendan sees two different
> Stata User Agent IDs from the same IP address, he has no way of
> knowing whether they are from two different people or if they are
> merely a single person who has Stata on, say, both a PC desktop and a
> Mac laptop.
>
> In any case, Stata reports this string for two reasons.  First,
> any application which accesses files from a web server is supposed
> to report such a string.  Second, in the case of a technical support
> question related to Stata accessing files over the web, this string
> gives our Technical Services group some very useful information about
> Stata and the operating system on which it is running.
>
> A quick caveat: although we have no plans to change it right now, we
> don't promise to keep the User Agent ID reported by Stata in the same
> format in the future, nor will the pieces of the quartet of numbers in
> the middle of it necessarily mean the same thing in the future.
>
>
> --Alan
> (ariley@stata.com)
>
> *
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-- 

Best
---------------------------
Muhammad Anees
Assistant Professor/Programme Coordinator
COMSATS Institute of Information Technology
Attock 43600, Pakistan
http://www.aneconomist.com
*
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*   http://www.stata.com/help.cgi?search
*   http://www.stata.com/support/faqs/resources/statalist-faq/
*   http://www.ats.ucla.edu/stat/stata/


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