Rails I18n translate with empty string – bug?

Normally, it's pretty easy in Rails to take advantage of the simple i18n tools provided.  You just write I18n.t("some_key") and it'll translate that into whichever language.

Today, however, I discovered what seems like a problem.  If you do I18n.t(""), it returns a hash of all possible translations!  And if you give it a nil, it returns an error because that's not a key in the DB.

The first behavior doesn't sound correct at all, and the second seems dubious as well.  I'm thinking about fixing it like so:

  def translate(key, options = {})
    return nil if key.nil?
    return "" if key == ""
    locale = options.delete(:locale) || I18n.locale
    backend.translate(locale, key, options)
  rescue I18n::ArgumentError => e
    raise e if options[:raise]
    send(@@exception_handler, e, locale, key, options)

Is there any reason not to do this?

OpenSSL::SSL::SSLError (hostname was not match with the server certificate)

I got this error in one of my Rails apps that I migrated to 2.2. It occurs when you try and send mail with ActionMailer, which makes it especially annoying because the exception notifications I normally receive when there is a problem weren’t being sent!

I wasn’t able to track down the root cause of the problem – apparently something about an SSL certificate not being there or not being right, but here’s the change that causes ActionMailer to fool around with SSL mail:


I was able to “correct” the problem (or at least get things working again) by commenting out this line of code:

smtp.enable_starttls_auto if smtp.respond_to?(:enable_starttls_auto)

Perhaps it should be a configuration option, or there should be better error detection with regards to the certificate. If anyone comes up with a nicer answer, leave a comment, but in the meantime, I thought I’d post my quick and dirty fix.


I fixed the problem by running this as root:

make-ssl-cert generate-default-snakeoil --force-overwrite

Which regenerates the SSL certificates.

Won’t fix… why?

I discovered a minor Rails annoyance today, and, looking around for an answer to the problem, I found this, which is a perfect description of the issue, and includes a fix:


Unfortunately it has marked as “wont fix” with no reason specified.

Perhaps there is a reasonable answer that was perhaps discussed elsewhere, and just didn’t make it into the bug report, making it invisible to people like me who find it via Google, which is pretty annoying. The other explanation is more along the lines of “don’t wanna” (or fuck you, as the case may be), but at least come out and say so. “We’re not going to do it, as it’s not part of our English-centric vision” or what have you. Being a native English speaker, even when doing stuff for Italian or Austrian or whatever clients, I tend to code in English, because it’s 1) fast, 2) easy and 3) it’s pretty much universally understood by programmers. However, I can see the case for specific things to be in a particular language, and on the surface, this one line patch makes that a little bit easier, and doesn’t appear to be costly, so why not?

Just closing the bugs of people who have taken the time to try and help (this is clearly not just a “dude, it’s, uh, broke” bug) is the twin of the equally annoying people who don’t bother to take 30 seconds to send an email or bug report about software they’re using, and both are things I greatly dislike.

Ruby YAML Bug & Fix

Besides the nasty Ubuntu bug, which I was unable to do anything meaningful with, yesterday I also found a small bug in Ruby’s YAML package:

irb(main):004:0> YAML::load('1900-01-01T00:00:00+00:00')
ArgumentError: time out of range

The problem is that the YAML implementation that Ruby is using, called “syck” interprets that kind of date as something that it should make a Time for:

        else if ( strcmp( type_id, "timestamp#iso8601" ) == 0 )
            obj = rb_syck_mktime( n->data.str->ptr, n->data.str->len );

So I did a little bit of hacking on the C code, and made it create a DateTime object instead. My fix works, although I’m not sure it’s the best possible way of tackling the problem. The patch is attached to the bug report here:


This matters because my Rails text fixtures had some dates in them that were quite old, and this was causing problems.

Another “Mysql Doesn’t Do that?!” Moment


I think the real reason there was resistance to this change is that MySQL doesn’t support DDL transactions; and wrapping migrations in a transaction is mostly pointless without this feature. Since MySQL doesn’t support it, most Rubyists don’t know what DDL transactions are – so here’s a quick primer on this incredibly useful and certainly underrated feature.

DDL = data definition language, also known as the schema. DDL commands include CREATE TABLE, DROP TABLE, ALTER TABLE, and CREATE INDEX. DDL transaction support means that the following sequence of SQL commands will not modify your database

I never even thought of that. I was fairly confident in my vision of Postgres getting faster and faster, and Mysql become a “real” database… that the two systems were converging on something resembling a common speed/feature set. But things like this still occasionally rear their ugly heads and I’m happy to be a Postgres user.

Quick, Dirty Rails Deployment Benchmarks

I have started to look at Passenger (mod_rails) + "Ruby Enterprise Edition" (which is just a corny name for a nice GC hack that significantly reduces memory consumption) because of the aforementioned problem with Slicehost’s x86_64 amplifying Rails’ already voracious memory gobbling. So I did a few crappy benchmarks, comparing Mongrel to mod_fcgid and mod_rails. I didn’t look at concurrency, as that’s a can of worms I wasn’t prepared to open. I just wanted to see what raw speed was like. I used two methods from a project of mine, one, showall is quite DB intensive, and index does hit the DB, but not so much. 

Bad Rails Benchmarks

Looks like mod_fcgid and mod_rails (both running in devel mode) are faster, at least for this very unscientific benchmark. One other advantage those two Apache modules have is that they make life simpler – mod_rails even more than mod_fcgid, and don’t require an alphabet soup of mongrels and proxies and nginx, lighttpd or whatever the event-based server du jour is. Like I said though, the benchmarks are quick and dirty, and probably have issues. I’d be curious to see better ones *as long as they include mod_fcgid*.

Incidentally, it looks like linode.com uses regular x86 servers, so if you’re doing Rails, this is definitely a point in their favor, or at least something to consider when you compare the memory that they and slicehost give you.

“Enterprise Ruby” Developer Looking for Mac Access


That said, I still don’t have stable access to a Mac. Does anybody have
a 64-bit OS X server and can provide me with SSH access? Preferably
something that I can have access to for a long time, so that I don’t
have to keep asking for OS X access. 🙂

He’s in .nl if it makes any difference. I’m not that wild about “passenger” by itself (mod_fcgid does ok for what I need), but the “enterprise ruby” project, which is basically a reworking of how Ruby’s garbage collection functions, is a useful and timely idea, given how much of a memory hog rails is.