Greenwich Mean Time

Some of you might already know that I run the nms project. We supply drop in replacements for the CGI programs from Matt’s Script Archive in an attempt to raise the average quality of Perl on the web.

Having my email address associated with a project like that brings me some… er… interesting mail. Here’s an example from this morning. I got an email that contained no text. All of the content was in the subject, which read:

However the GMT “website” which you seem to be connected with is a DISGRACE

This looks like a pretty common type of mail that my nms address gets. Generally it’s from someone who has had trouble using a site which uses the nms formmail program. The default error page contains a link to the nms site, so people who see the error page for whatever reason often follow the link and end up on our site. Once there they leap to the conclusion that we are somehow connected to the broken site and sent me a snotty mail. I generally reply asking for more details of the site they are using (it’s amazing the number of people who just say “your site is broken” without mentioning which site they are talking about) so that I can put them in touch with the correct people. So I replied to this gentleman asking which site he was talking about.

He replied quickly. This time his message did include some text:

Dear Dave,

The “GMT website is easy to find with any browser. My difficulty is that this website is devoted to THE British time standard. In view of this fact, I have serious reservations regarding its use of US server time etc…..On this matter it is nothing to do with being anti-American or anything of this sort. It is simply the case that GMT is a BRITISH standard and no one else’s.

Look forward to hearing from you in connection with this issue.

Notice that he hasn’t answered my question. This is also more common that you might suspect. It took another round of replies before I found out that he meant

Looking at their feedback page, I see that they are using nms formmail, so that’s how he got in touch with me. But try as I might, I can’t work out why the site is a DISGRACE. I’m not sure what he means by “its use of US server time etc…”. According to MaxMind, the server is actually in Germany.

I’ve asked him for more clarification. I know I shouldn’t. It’ll only lead to more incomprehensible madness. But it’s like picking at a scab – once I start, I can’t stop.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

By Dave Cross

Dave Cross runs Magnum Solutions Ltd., a London Perl consultancy. In 1998 he started London Perl Mongers, the first Perl Mongers group outside of Northern America. He is the author of Data Munging with Perl and a co-author of Perl Template Toolkit.


  1. Some users just need a clue-by-four up the head, but you can’t do that…. I say, let it go…
    (wonder what he’d think if they used THE METRIC SYSTEM OMGWTFBBQ!!!)

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