10 Year Blogaversary

10 years ago today, I started blogging.

At the time, I thought I was rather late to the blogging party. In hindsight, it seems not. Since then, through one change of host (thanks, Mozillazine!), there have been 1,463 posts (including this one), and 11,486 comments. Huge thanks to everyone who’s read and/or commented (well, if you commented without reading, not so much) in the last 10 years. It’s uncertain whether I or the blog will last another 10 (the Lord is in control of that) but here’s to however long it is!

Blog Moved

After eight years of kind hosting at MozillaZine, I have now moved this blog to its own host. Many thanks to Kerz and the crew :-) They are now trying to ease their way out of the blog hosting business, and I appreciate their patience while I got my act together.

I have imported all the old posts and comments, and made quite a bit of effort to make sure all links still work – even those from 2004/2005 when Movable Type generated pages with names like 005643.html. MozillaZine just sends everything to blog.gerv.net, and the mapping happens on my side. This work was made substantially easier by the “Canonical URLs” feature of WordPress, so thanks to Mark Jaquith. I’ve also switched my FeedBurner feed over, so people using that shouldn’t see any differences (although the last 10 or 15 posts might get duplicated in some clients. If you are subscribing to this blog, please use that feed.

If you find a broken link somewhere on the web or an a post here, please let me know and I will look into it.

The look and feel is vaguely the same; my time to work on that was limited.

Planet Visibility…

I’ve been told that my blog posts are popping to the top of Planet Mozilla every time someone adds a comment. While I hope what I write is interesting, I promise this is not a desperate bid for more publicity. We suspect that the recent Movable Type upgrade for the MozillaZine weblog server has something to do with it (although we’re not saying it’s got a bug rather than the Planet software). It’s being looked into. In the mean time, please bear with us :-)

1000th Blog Post

Nearly six years ago, I (slightly grumpily) got a blog, after having promised myself I’d only get one if I had something interesting to say. This, according to Movable Type, is my 1000th published blogpost, and I hope that very few have been as inward-looking as this one is ;-)

DO NOT PUBLISH – Unintended Consequences


So when I set this blog up six years ago, I started using an unpublished post as a scratchpad to keep all my post ideas in. But it was a bit hard to find it amid all the others, so in order to keep it at the top of the list of posts, I set the date on the post to one in the far future – midnight on 1st January 2010. It now seems like WordPress automatically publishes future-dated posts when their posting date gets hit. Hence, last night at midnight, my scratchpad (which I have long since stopped using, but never deleted) appeared on my blog, with the wonderful title “DO NOT PUBLISH – Idea Bank”. Oops. Fortunately, while it was a random unconnected series of thoughts and URLs, there was nothing embarrassing there.

This was the mistake of the “two-digit year” people. Things last longer than you think :-)

Comments Reopened

The MTCloseComments plugin (in general, a good and very useful thing) seems to have gone a bit mental recently and seems to have been closing stuff around 24 hours after I post it. [Update: turns out it was actually a MozillaZine reaction to a comment spam attack.] I’ve reopened the last two weeks of postings, so if you had something you wanted to say and couldn’t, fire away :-)


My ADSL at home is down. The company has a 72-hour response time for looking at faults. :-( So this has reduced my ability to reply to email rather significantly. I can do so from work, but not all evening. So if you are expecting a reply from me, please be patient. Thanks :-)

Trackbacks and Comments Disabled For Posts Older Than A Month

With a heavy heart, I have just gone through every post I’ve ever made older than a month, and disabled trackbacks and comments. Given MT’s lack of a trackback management interface, deleting dodgy trackbacks takes about 10 times as long per trackback, and I just can’t afford to spend that sort of time cleaning up.

The MozillaZine crew are working hard on solutions to the spam problem, but I don’t have an ETA, and so I feel I have to take this measure to save my sanity. Until such measures arrive, I will be periodically disabling these features on inactive posts once they get that old.

If anyone wants comments or trackbacks reopened on an old post, please email me and let me know, and I’ll do it immediately.

Update: Phil Ringnalda points out that MT does have an identical interface for managing Trackbacks to the one for comments – and it’s linked in the left hand bar. So how did I miss it?

  1. The “You have a trackback” email doesn’t have a link (as the “You have a comment” one does) to view/delete that trackback, which takes you to the list after using it.
  2. Deleting a trackback (or comment) from the Edit Entry screen takes you back to the Edit Entry screen, not the full list.
  3. I couldn’t find my own head if it were handed to me on a plate.

So, I never discovered it. <sigh>. Still, better late than never.

Update 2: The first two comments to my original post also point this out. I really am being dumb today.

Trackback Spam :-(

I’ve just about got a handle on the comment spam. I clear it out, taking about five minutes every day. It’s a small price to pay for decent discussion. But now I’m getting trackback spams. And they are 10 times worse.

For a start, MT’s Trackback management interface isn’t the same as its comment interface. There’s no link in the email you get, there’s no central list of trackbacks, and once you finally get to the correct entry you have to delete every dodgy trackback individually. And although you can turn off comments globally, you can’t turn off trackbacks. It’s a per-entry setting, so I’d have to go through all X entries and turn it off for each.

And, to add insult to injury, when you try and create a generic URL which you can paste numbers into, MT complains “Can’t delete that way”. Why on earth not, you brain-dead piece of software? Grr…

Any solutions, please let me know!

Blog-comment Spam Flood

Am I the only blogger on weblogs.mozillazine.org who has come under sustained comment-spam flooding this week? There seem to be two main perpetrators: a vaguely literate group who are interested in selling discount cosmetics, sailing boats, shoes, magazine subscriptions and contact lenses, plus various adult products (sounds like a comment-spammer-for-hire) and one Viagra spammer with a much more limited command of English. Together they post between 20 and 80 comments a day.

I can’t implement an IP-address-based block because, according to kerz:

We use a web filtering proxy which caches static pages, but also has the side-effect of causing all apache requests to have the same IP address, which is our proxy’s.

So, in the MT interface, all comments are labelled with the same IP address. :-( I am reduced to monitoring my inbox and using MT’s bulk delete tool on a daily basis. <sigh> I could close comments on all but the newest few posts but a) that seems a bit sad, and b) MT doesn’t provide a bulk tool for it, so I’d have to do each one individually.

What I Do

Chris Chernesky asked in the comments what else I do apart from Mozilla stuff.

I’m a member of the core Bugzilla team, with a particular responsibility for Reporting and Charting. I maintain the DSMLTools, and Patch Maker. I also have a strong interest in usability.

My day job is working for a medium-sized software company called Data Connection, and my current project is a data conferencing server.

As you may have noticed, I’m a Christian (here’s why). My local church family is Enfield Evangelical Free Church, here in Enfield, North London, UK. We used to have a website but it seems to have disappeared at the moment. We’re currently meeting in a school because our building has been compulsorily purchased by the council to build a multi-storey car park and shopping centre. But that’s OK – God’s got it all under control, and I’m sure we’ll have a new permanent place to meet in a few years time.

More about me can be found on gerv.net.

First Post

It is time.

I’ve always said to myself that I’d get a blog only when I had something useful to say on it. Several times in the past couple of months, I’ve thought “I could put that on my blog – if I had one” – and so here it is. Expect entries on Mozilla, Bugzilla, hacking in general, and other things of importance in my life.

Thanks to MozillaZine for hosting (I’m honoured to be in such distinguished company), and to Movable Style for the stylesheet.

So why the title? Simply because it sums up why I do what I do. Jesus is my Lord and Saviour; my life is focussed on His priorities. I recognise that I’ve been given a gift by God – the ability to write software – and I want to use it for His glory.