Be my Support Group

People want to be understood.  That's why support groups are so popular.

  • The alcoholic wants to connect with somebody else who showed up drunk at a wedding and embarrassed the bride.

  • The compulsive overeater wants to know that he's not the only one who has stopped at the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru on the way home to eat a dozen before dinner.

  • The out-of-control gambler wants to be in community with other people who have lost their car going "all in" with pocket sevens.

We all have problems, and we all want to know that we're not alone.

Wednesday evening I posted a comment on a friend's blog.  Or rather, I tried to post a comment.

True to my tendencies, it was really far too wordy to be called a comment.  I actually spent about half an hour wordsmithing a multiple-paragraph response.

But when I hit the submit button to post it, Wordpress gave me a generic error page.  Presumably something timed out while I was crafting my reply.

And when I hit the Back button, my comment was gone.  :-(

*&%$#@!

My mind raced.  What are my options here?

Maybe I should just re-type the whole thing?  It was only 300 words or so.

Nah.  The text I wrote was perfect.  I probably won't be able to remember it just the way it was.

And why should I have to?  Firefox and Wordpress screwed this up, not me!

Cautiously I hit the Forward button in my browser.  Firefox showed me this dialog:

Aha!  I clicked OK.  Wordpress coughed up the same hairball I got before.

But now I know that Firefox still has my comment in memory somewhere.  All I have to do is figure out how to get it.

Two hours later I finally got my comment posted, deliberately ignoring the fact that I could have retyped it ten times by then.

After several other attempts that brought me to dead ends, here is the technique that succeeded:

  • I installed winpcap and a packet sniffer, which I configured to capture all packets on my network interface.

  • Then I went back to my still-open instance of Firefox and hit Reload.  I clicked the OK button in the dialog box above and Wordpress barfed again.

  • Then I went back to the packet sniffer and found the TCP connection containing my posted comment.

  • Ack!  I had completely forgotten that the format would be application/x-www-form-urlencoded.  Luckily, I memorized all of the punctuation marks in the ASCII table back when I was in middle school.  %22 would be 34 in decimal, so that's a quotation mark.  After several search-and-replace operations, all the escaped characters were fixed.

  • During all this, I noticed and fixed a couple of typos I had previously missed.

  • Finally I went back to my friend's blog, pasted my comment into the textbox and hit submit.

Let me know that I'm not alone.  Tell me the story of something geeky that you did.