Red Cross Drops the Ball

Recently, my Grandfather passed away. My dad sent a Red Cross notice to me of this event. I received a Red Cross message to this effect roughly 5 hours after my father sent it. My unit told me that they could not send me on emergency leave because the message did not specify that my presence was requested at the funeral and only said that I should call home. They said that if a second message was sent specifically requesting my presence, I would be able to go. I called home and relayed that message to my father. He told me that he did tell the Red Cross that I was wanted at the funeral, but that part didn’t make it to me. He then sent a second message to communicate this request. That message never made it to me (it was sent 72 hours ago). The funeral is tomorrow morning, so there is now no chance of me making it on time.

According to my unit, one possibility as to why I didn’t get the second message (and why I got an incomplete first message) is that the Red Cross determined that I was not close enough to my Grandfather in order to be afforded the opportunity to go on emergency leave. It’s beyond me how they could make that determination having never met my Grandfather nor myself. So instead of being with my family during this time of loss, I’m sitting in Kuwait doing absolutely nothing. That’s right, nothing. Our unit is simply awaiting a flight out so we can finish out-processing in the States. The only thing we have left to do in Kuwait is clear customs… and that can’t be done until just before you get on the plane.

Kuwait, Here I Am

Iraq is now just a memory for me. We flew out of Baghdad and into Kuwait the other night. After sitting here for a couple weeks, we’ll be USA bound. About a week in New Jersey, and it’s on to Fort Living Room. This deployment is almost over, yet for some reason it doesn’t really feel like it is. I suppose amidst all the insanity I’ve put up with over the last year from the Army, this almost just seems like more of the same. Perhaps it will sink in once we finally make it back to the States.

No Job For Jake

Finally. It seems like it’s been forever, but my replacements are now here and fully trained. So that leaves me in the unemployed category with nothing left to do but pack and get out of here. I can’t say exactly when I’m leaving due to OPSEC, but it is soon. It takes a while to actually get from Iraq to home, but the first step is now done (replacements trained, TOA reached. So, I’ll probably be out of touch for a while. I may get on again before I leave here or from Kuwait, but I also may not… depends on time availability and inclination.

Road to Bugzilla 2.18 is now paved.

2 1/2 years after Bugzilla 2.16 was released, we’re very pleased to announce the release of Bugzilla 2.18. I told you we were a week ago, and now we’re there. Hop on over to and check out the new version. While your there, you may also wish to read the latest status update. Of note is the fact that the 2.20 feature freeze has been lifted and that freeze will now occur in March.

Seperation of Church and State?

Just saw an interesting question on Gerv’s blog. Where exactly did the phrase “Seperation of Church and State” come from? And why is it being thrown around to ban anything that may have to do with religion? All throughout the country there are cases where judges are being ordered not to display the ten commandments, schools are being ordered to teach evolution as fact without presenting alternative ideas (no, I’m not kidding), and countless other acts where a seemingly vocal minority is forcing atheism (the opposit of ‘God exisits’ is ‘God doesn’t exist’) upon the masses. All this on seems to be based on the phrase “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” from the First Ammendment. Where in there does it saw that the Ten Commandments are illegal or that evolution is a fact?

Road to Bugzilla 2.18… Part III

A little more than a week has passed since I last updated my “Road to Bugzilla 2.18” numbers. Once again, Blue numbers will represent the net change since last time.

Reviewing my “Other” bugs from last time, we see that bug 150149 (the release notes) has now moved from the “Other” category to the “Review Requested” one. Bug 276600 and bug 274640 are now both FIXED.

New into the “Other” category, we have bug 276237, which deals with a charting issue (a mysterious problem that may be specific to bmo), and bug 159790, which is simply the release tracking bug (which should have been a blocker all along).

So, what does all this mean? I’d say it means we’re really close now. In fact, it looks like 2.18 may actually be out before I leave Iraq ;).

Problems with Bayesian Comment Filtering

As much as it sounded like a good idea, my previous solution to comment spams had a few issues. Well, not so much issues as annoyances. The original author of that plugin posted his list of issues, so I knew about those going in, though I was unconcerned. To me, the biggest issue is simply fact that comment spam still gets posted. Sure, it doesn’t appear to the user, nor does it appear to the search engine when it comes to index my site, but I still get an email for each comment and I still have to sort through it on the backend. So, I decided to exclude blind people from being able to post comments on my blog (sorry). I’m now using the SCode plugin instead of (well, truthfully, in addition to) the bayesian filter.

I did run into a couple of problems when trying to install it. After following the instructions in the README file, it still wasn’t working. So, I ran the scodetest.cgi script. It kept telling me that my temporary directory wasn’t writable by the webserver, which I knew to be an incorrect statement. So I did what any reasonable person trying to install a plugin would do: I started looking at the code. It really is a simple module, so it didn’t take long to figure out what was going on. The scodetest.cgi script as well as the mt-scode.cgi image generation script were calling MT::SCode::scode_get($code) to retrieve a security code. There was an if block in that subroutine that would call scode_generate() and return that subroutine’s return value as the return value for scode_get. That seemed like the right thing to do, but it wasn’t. The problem is that scode_generate() doesn’t make any effort whatsoever to save the value that it generated so that it will be associated with the $code originally passed to scode_get(). This is what was causing the scodetest.cgi script to always say that my tmp directory wasn’t writable (that script simply calls the scode_get() routine twice and checks to see if it got the same result both times). So, I modified my scode_get() routine to call scode_create() (which calls scode_generate() and saves the value) instead of scode_generate(). The relavent portion of that subroutine now looks like this:

# Random number back...if have not initialized
if ($code< =0 || $code>$scode_maxtmp || !-e $tmpdir.$code ) {
return scode_create($code);

Because I’m still trying to return this random value to whatever called scode_get(), I needed to modify the scode_create() subroutine to return the generated code. My new scode_create() routine looks like:

sub scode_create {
my $code = shift;

return if (-e $tmpdir.$code);

my $scode = scode_generate();
if ($code>0 && $code<=$scode_maxtmp) {
print OUTFILE $scode;
return $scode

And now everything works. The only other issue I noticed was an incorrect usage of the alt tag for an image in the installation instructions. The alt tag is not supposed to be used as a tooltip, but as alternate text to display when the image is unable to be displayed. As such, it should say something like: “Image required in order to post.” The tag that should be used for the text “Please enter the security code you see here” (what the plugin author put in the alt tag) is the title tag.

Updated Road to Bugzilla 2.18

Being that it’s now the begining of the new year, here’s an update to the numbers I posted previously: (Net change is in [Blue])

Of the two “other” bugs, bug 275408 has been marked as a duplicate of bug 245158 (which is fixed) and bug 150149 is the release notes.

A couple other bugs no longer fit into the above queries. One of those, bug 276600, is waiting on an updated patch while the other, bug 274640, is waiting on its first patch.

Overall, progress is being made. It may not be as fast as we’d all like, but it is still getting closer.