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Archive of November, 2005

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[Permalink 2005-11-25] In Which I Get Put On the Watch List...

November 25, 2005:

... for using the words "airplane" and "shot down" in the same paragraph.

First off, from the "no shit" department: Flying at Thanksgiving sucks. Everything's delayed, and Northwest decided the optimal route from Dulles to Akron/Canton was through Detroit. My original departure time was supposed to be 4:22 PM, and I actually landed in Akron at about 9:50. Factor in the time spent in line, and the whole process took about six hours -- which is how long it would have taken me to just drive.

But that wasn't the problem with the flight, really. The problem was the Surly Bitch From the TSA, who decided to make up for her boring job by going on a power trip. Not that I didn't enjoy waiting five minutes for a bag-check and going through the metal detector twice, mind you. That was the high point of my day, it was.

Good thing for me the beer at the terminal was cheap.

Anyway, once I got a few Budweisers in me things were more enjoyable. The cute girl in the seat next to me on the airplane asked about my t-shirt -- being the fashion maven that I am I was sporting "WWJD For a Klondike Bar?" -- and we had a nice conversation about it and other things. She lives in roughly the same part of NoVA as I do, so I asked for her number... and got shot down. Y'see, she's a believer and I am most definitely not, and that's a problem for her. It was worth a try at least.

Maybe next time I'll wear my "555: A Lesser Evil" shirt instead.

[Permalink 2005-11-24] Thanksgiving

November 24, 2005:

I'm back in Akron for the long weekend, and away from the computer. You shouldn't be at your computer either. Go eat some turkey or something.

[Permalink 2005-11-21] Hare-Brained Ideas

November 21, 2005:

The last three sites I developed were CSS-based (the one I'm currently working on, works best as tables -- I don't have the time to warp CSS to that layout). I did what I was supposed to do and left the meat of the page at the top: Only the company logo preceded the content; the navigation and other things came after.

There's a problem when things error out, though. The page looks really odd, since things like the navigation bar don't even draw (the script stops to barf before it gets that far, so the page doesn't know it's supposed to exist). Let's say my page layout is (roughly) this:

<div id="content">(Page stuff)</div>
<div id="navigation">(Links)</div>

So let's say my nav bar is at the top of the page, with a nice blue background. If as part of teh page stuff I do some server-side scripting, I may get an error message partway through:

<div id="content">ASP error '8000809a':
You suck.

Note that the page never made it to the end of the line, so my nav bar doesn't exist. When the page is styled, my blue bar is non-existant, and the page looks even worse that it would with just the error.

The solution, of course, is to not write error-inducing code. But since I'm only human that's not 100% guaranteed. I could always pull the on error resume next rabbit out of my hat, but that makes debugging a bitch: "The page didn't do anything!" "Well, what did you do?" "I forget." So of course I can't find the problem to fix it.

What would be nice would be something like the function templates (or whatever they're called) that C++ uses. That way I could "hint" to the browser that I'm going to be using some of the things I set up in the style sheet. Then if my code looked like this:

body {
<div id="content">ASP error '8000809a':
You suck.

It wouldn't matter that the execution ended, because the page would "know" to drop the nav bar into place and at least fill in the look, even if the actual contents aren't there. The page would still be brokwn, but at least it wouldn't look half-done.

[Permalink 2005-11-18] I Love Fixing Broken Web Browsers

November 18, 2005:

A bug that had plagued my own Web site since the 5.0 redesign surfaced when I rewrote the company site: Every once in a while, Internet Explorer would just fail to show the page's content. Which is kind of a problem, y'know.

Basically, it boils down to the fact that IE is broken. The fix, for those that care, is to exploit three more bugs.

/* \*/
* html div {height: 1px;}
/* */

This gibberish that I found on the Web today is what keeps me from driving to Redmond, because it actually works. Basically, IE chokes when the CSS layout gets too complex, because things don't have explicit heights. This is a problem, because things like paragraphs can't have defined heights.

But then the first bug comes along and helps us out. IE gets the height command wrong. If I assign something a height, it's that tall no matter what. IE just treats it as min-height, which sets a minimum then lets the contents run as long as they want. So setting the height to 1 pixel doesn't really do anything. In IE. Every other browser would see that and show you, at best, the very tops of capital letters.

So then we exploit another of IE's bugs, this time in its CSS reading code. The first /* opens a comment. The \*/ that follows it doesn't close the comment in non-IE browsers but does in IE. So only IE pays attention to the next line, which is where we work our voodoo. The /* */ after the hack just gets every browser back on the same page, so to speak.

But now we have another problem. Mac/IE doesn't have the original bug so we don't want it to see our hack. But it also has that flawed reading code. But it doesn't have IE's last bug, that we can now use to restrict our hack to only Win/IE. * html cannot possibly match anything, because <html> has no parent element. Thus the statement is invalid. Win/IE doesn't care, though, so it happily applies the rule. Mac/IE at least has the good sense to ignore the impossible, so only our true target gets the hack.

Two wrongs don't make a right. As you can see, it actually takes three.

[Permalink 2005-11-14] Weird Numbers

November 14, 2005:

Going into halftime of their game against the Giants, the Vikings led 7-6. The odd thing about that is, they only had six yards of total offense -- those points came on an interception runback.

Thinking this couldn't possibly last, I watched them take the second-half opening kickoff... and run it back 80 yards for another touchdown. Total points, 14. Total yards, still 6.

And after they managed to get more yards than points, the Vikes showed me what is probably the longest third-down yards-to-go I've ever seen. The Vikings receiver pushed off in the end zone, making it 1st and 20. Then Mike Tice ran out on the field to argue, which is an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty. Since it was after the play, it didn't cancel out the offensive pass interference. Now it's 1st and 35.

Then they re-ran the down and lost a yard. 2nd and 36. Then the had an incomplete pass, which was the best play on that set of downs. Then an offensive lineman jumped, making it 3rd and 41. At that point I was rooting for them to get a holding penalty on third (they wound up gaining two on a screen pass) so they could have more than half the field to go.

[Permalink 2005-11-07] A Beautiful Mid-September Day...

November 07, 2005:

... Oh wait, it's November 6th.

It's 77° out right now and I've got all the windows open. Got the car washed since it was a nice day out. Checking the weather back home, it's an unseasonably warm 53°. Sounds like we're in for a mild winter.

Which down here probably means we'll get a single snowfall in mid-January.

[Permalink 2005-11-01] Paying the Idiot Tax

November 01, 2005:

My apartment has a heater in it. It's pretty quiet; most of the time I don't even know it's on unless I walk past a vent. I like the keep the place at about 68-70° while I'm home, which is nice and comfortable. I like to keep it at about 55° while I'm out for the day, since all I'm worried about at that point is keeping it from being cold when I get home from work.

Except for that part where it's quiet. Most mornings, since I'm walking around only half-awake, I don't hear it and forget to turn down the thermostat before I leave. Like I did today.

I wonder how much higher my electrical bill's going to be from all the times I've done that so far this month.

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