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The year that was, and the future

The year of the Rooster is soon up and we’re going into the year of the Dog (is that a good sign?). I just wanted to collect my impressions from 2005 and also tell you about the future of this web site.

Still reading? Good! I was hoping the future-thing would catch your attention; I’ll get to that in a couple of minutes. This will not be a list of the posts on the Internet I found to be the best nor about how people have mentioned me in various contexts and linked to me. A post such as that would be so boring. So, gone is the list of praise and the one of narcissism.

The thanks

I do, however, have a list of people that have meant a lot for me during my web life of 2005. Sure, there will be names you will recognize there, but they’re not there for being well-known but for the fact that they’re great persons. The people listed here are, to me at least, extraordinary and their kindness and humble attitude have meant the world to me.

Without a doubt, there are a lot of persons I’d like to list, so if you’re not in this particular list please accept my apologies for leaving you out. I decided to only pick persons who have been there throughout the whole time since I started to write here in March of 2005. Some of them I still haven’t met in real life, but I do sincerely hope that will change soon.

So, without further ado:

Fredrika & Emilia
You are my everything and your support and you putting up with me are things beyond what I can grasp.
Henrik Box
Henrik, I don’t always treat you fair or nice, and we can usually be pretty harsh to each other, but in the end you are my closest friend and I’m extremely glad that we have gotten to be friends! I love you, man.
Jeroen Mulder
I got to know Jeroen around the beginning of April, and I just love his laid back look on life, his wits and him always being happy. He has also been very supportive of my writings; be it here, articles or from a code-point of view. And am I the only one hearing the X-Files theme from a faint distance when I read his last name out aloud? :-)
Roger Johansson
Roger (or R-man, as everyone here in Sweden calls him ;-)) was one of the first to support my writings, and him giving me attention and support has been invaluable for me. I truly think that a lot of you reading this wouldn’t if there hadn’t been for Roger.
Faruk Ates
One of my first posts was about XHTML, Faruk’s favorite topic, at least back then, and after commenting on my post he got in touch with me over IM and we’ve been friends ever since and speak fairly often. Don’t let his web site fool you that he’s got a big ego (nudge ;-)), he’s got a heart of gold and is more down-to-earth than most people.
Tommy Olsson
I got to know Tommy during April, and his style and tone in a post on his now resting web site and his humble approach in a reply to an e-mail I sent to him, immediately gave me the impression that this is really a genuine and honest guy. I miss Tommy’s writings, but I hope we can maybe come up with something else together.

I would also like to direct a big thank you to everyone reading and commenting, you are my muses and motivation to write every single post I publish!

The future

Ok… (deep inhale).
I’ve decided something about the future of this web site that might or might not become a major change. This is actually my 202nd post since March (not bad, eh?) and lately, I’ve felt that I’m not going anywhere with what I write and read; I’m not evolving. I love writing, so don’t worry, I won’t stop writing here. What will change, though, are the topics. I will continue to write about web developing but probably not to such an extent as before.

I want to write about things that motivate and interest me, not because I have to choose a certain topic for the sole reason to increase my rating at Technorati, get me more linking in general or that I have to do it because people thinks it’s my obligation (Bryan Veloso touches on this phenomenon in Being Liked is an Obligation?).

This will probably result in that 50% of the posts will still be about web developing in some sorts, 25% about other internet- and/or tech-related things and the rest will be about my personal life, musings, linking to interesting stuff or whatever. My life is about so much more than web developing and I want that to be reflected in my writings. My sincere hope is that this is something that you will appreciate, that you will come here for my personality and style of writing instead of just high-profile web development topics.

Oh my God, who does he think he is? Just because he’s gotten some attention, he thinks we will read any crap that he puts out?

Well, yeah, maybe. That’s my wish, at least. Some people have told me that they don’t read my posts when they aren’t about web developing, and I totally respect that. I can’t demand that you like everything I write, it’s just what I’m striving for. However, I do think this web page will be more multi-faceted, that you will always be able to read about something interesting no matter in what area it is about, instead of me only telling you about HTML/XHTML, CSS or JavaScript.

I will also start to read posts and news from web sites and people I haven’t before, so that will also most likely affect and color my writings. I just need to break out of the bad circle I feel I’ve gotten into, I need to explore new grounds. This might just end up in a big fiasco, but I definitely hope it will be the opposite. Are you ready to try and follow me on my new path?

 

Happy New Year and my wishes that your 2006 will be great!

Owen + Mzee = true!

This is just too cute not to write about!

A picture of Owen and Mzee

A year after they first met, Owen, the baby hippo that survived last December’s Tsunami, and Mzee, a 130-year-old tortoise are still best pals. They live together at the Haller Park preserve in Mombasa, Kenya.

Read more in Tale of the tortoise and the hippo.

Tough love on Christmas Day

I hope all of you have had a nice Christmas and that the season is indeed jolly for you! I hadn’t planned on writing this post, but just felt an urge to share this little anecdote.

On Christmas Day I was sitting on the floor playing around with Emilia. Her current object of interest was this thing with four small hatches and each of them has a corresponding button. When the button is pressed, the hatch flies open and displays an animal. I was holding the toy in one hand, and when she succeeded to get all of the animals up I wanted to encourage her by applauding, but since one hand was unavailable I instead gently clapped my cheek with the other hand.

She then closed all hatches, pressed the buttons so they came up and then consequently bitch-slapped me. Hard! So, lesson learned I guess. Whatever you do, your kids will take after you… :-)

Below are two images from Christmas in our house:

An image of my grandmother on my mother's side, my brother and Fredrika's brother

A picture of Emilia in front of the Christmas tree

Merry Christmas!

Now it’s the Christmas time of year again! No matter what situation you’re in and what’s going on in your life, just take some most likely well-deserved time off now and just relax and embrace the holiday spirit!

I have always loved Christmas and winter, and I hope my daughter will feel the same. I also hope that I and Fredrika manage to convey the nice warm fuzzy feeling of Christmas and love to Emilia too, and that she will regard this holiday as the highlight of the year. Luckily she isn’t old enough for me to reach the point in life every parent does, when we get to pass on our words of winter wisdom:

Don’t eat yellow snow…

This is Emilia’s second Christmas and this year our Christmas tree is even bigger than last year’s. The thing is, our living room has a very high ceiling so even before we moved in, my plans were to always have a gargantuan tree and this year it’s reaches 4 meters! :-D

A picture of Emilia

Now I’m going to have time off until January 9th unless something goes fundamentally wrong. I really look forward to just spending time with the family, relaxing and taking control over my life again. No computers, just quality time.

A very Merry Christmas to all of you and Happy New Year!

 

PS. I will write one more post this year, probably around the day before New Year’s Eve, summing up 2005 and what it meant to me. DS.

PS 2. Make me real happy and write how to say Merry Christmas in your language (and what language it is :-))! DS.

Right out of the paper

I just thought that I’d share some of the things I’ve read in the paper lately… Please have some oversight with my not-so-appropriate comments.

Want to get rid of your problems?
Apparently a 54-year old police man started to give indecent proposals to a 27-year old woman he was questioning about an assault case. I just love this sentence he said to her (maybe something I should use more at work… or at home… ;-)):

Do you want to fuck your way out of trouble?

Practically harmless.

I saw an ad for how women could get bigger breasts (yes, I’m just a simple man with simple interests) the “natural way”, which apparrently was through some pills and such. But what really got my attention was the slogan they had:

Practically harmless compared to surgery.

The only way I can interpret this is that it’s risky as hell, but there’s at least something out there that’s riskier…

Look at me!
The Swedish Migration Board has gotten a lot of criticism lately because they celebrated with champagne and cake after a woman was rejected and not allowed to stay in Sweden. Another story I read this morning was about a supervisor dealing with a blind immigrant that came to their office and needed help with his apartment. Apparently they weren’t getting along in the discussions and had a somewhat heated argument, resulting in the supervisor exclaiming:

Look at me when I’m talking to you!

Tactful. I just love it when the most emphatical and professional people get the most important posts…

What is typeof “unknown”?

Yesterday when I was testing an AJAX script in an application I’m working on, I wanted to use the abort() method of the XmlHttpRequest object to cancel current outstanding data transfers (if this is all Greek to you, don’t worry, one day I will write more about AJAX).

IE unexpectedly threw errors when I was trying to use that method, and it did as well when I tried to use object detection to check for it. Weird. So I resorted to use typeof to check what it returned, and to my amazement it returned “unknown”! To my knowledge, the only valid and possible values in JavaScript to get when using the typeof operator are these:

  • number
  • string
  • boolean
  • object
  • function
  • undefined

So is this is an IE bug? Or some freaky ActiveXObject hocus pocus? Please let me know if you have any idea!

Code to test with:


// Note! This code will only work in Internet Explorer
if(typeof window.ActiveXObject != "undefined"){
	oXMLHTTPRequest = new ActiveXObject("Msxml2.XMLHTTP");
	alert(typeof oXMLHTTPRequest.abort);
}

Enough

First, let me apologize if you have found the content and the quality of it here a bit sub-par lately; however, I hope I’ve gotten back on track with my posts this week. This post is about things that have gone too far…

As of Friday December 15th I had 63 hours of overtime, in December alone. Simply put, the reason for this is that I have been involved in a crazy project as a consultant for a client where the release date and budget was set without consulting any web developer at all what time it would actually take to achieve everything they wished for. I won’t, and can’t, share any of the details with you here, but suffice to say, I’ve had enough.

Last Thursday I had a short meeting with their manager that’s responsible for my assignment, and I told him that I wish to discontinue it. I’m probably burning bridges with my decision, but at least he seemed to understand and respect my stance. On the other hand, I probably burned them already when I refused to launch a web site where the text of every link was “Read more”…

If I had been younger and single, maybe I could’ve dealt with it, but now I have a family. I don’t want to be away from home 15+ hours per day, never seeing my girlfriend or daughter except for when they’re asleep. My top priority isn’t work anymore. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time I love working with the web, but that lust has slowly been drained ounce by ounce lately… And I don’t want to lose that, it’s given me a lot of joy and interesting opportunities. Therefore, I decided I had to move on.

Another thing I’ve decided to stop wasting my time on is narrow-minded people who aren’t willing to learn. If they just want to keep on developing web sites the way it was done many many years ago, no desire to evolve whatsoever, that’s fine with me. On the other hand, people who don’t know how to do it, but are open to discussing web standards, CSS, unobtrusive JavaScript, accessibility etc are more than welcome to come and talk with me! It’s all about attitude and ambition.

I just hope one day that the ones that don’t care about those things mentioned above will realize that they have to evolve to be able to survive in this line of business…

Lastly, I will stop wasting my time trying to get recognized by the famous names in the Internet business. I’m not sure if it actually is like that, but sometimes I get the feeling that all I see is the same names, promoting each other all over, and there’s a hard struggle to get into that group. Or maybe it’s just me. Whichever, I have decided to solely focus on what I’m writing here, not lobbying to get mentioned elsewhere. If people like what I write and want to mention it, I couldn’t be happier. But it won’t be talked about just because I beg of them to do that.

Now I will try to focus more on writing helpful articles and hopefully funny and interesting anecdotes, and if I decide to criticize anything, to then do it in a respectful and constructive manner (something I think I did with my post JavaScript animations). Time to let content and quality be king. Enough of wasting my life on the wrong things.

Is ASP.NET for dummies?

Most of my normal working days consist of me developing web interfaces in a .NET environment using CMS tools based on it. As always, many people have opinions about Microsoft and their products, so I normally don’t even raise an eyebrow when I hear Microsoft getting criticised or dissected.

However, this was different. I normally don’t do this thing with just linking to other people’s posts, but I think Intrepid Noodle’s Asp.net (is) for Dummies… was interesting because it highlighted a problem I often see: programmers get lazy when it’s too easy for them and then many of them don’t know how to take care of things when they go awry. On the other hand, I’ve met a lot of skilled web developers using .NET but they usually shy away from the most common approach in Visual Studio.NET: drag and drop and all will be fine (or will it?). I also liked it because it was balanced and not just a Microsoft bashing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for making things easer for web developers, But sometimes it’s just too easy…
I sometimes meet web developers who don’t even know anything about HTML anymore, WebControls with names like asp:Panel have become their new lingo for interface code. If you ask me, then things have gone too far and has been to Microsoftified.

So, go read the post and share your opinion. Out of respect to the original author, I urge to to write your comments at Intrepid Noodle’s web site, but I’ll leave comments open here too if you want to share anything with your favorite Robert. :-)

JavaScript animations

First, just for you to understand where I’m coming from, let me tell you that I love JavaScript. It has given me, and continues to give, immense pleasure when it comes to web developing and I’ve been writing JavaScripts extensively since ’99, doing everything from minor validations and other checks to things like animations, Flash fallbacks and a Web OS.

So, let me move on to the topic of JavaScript animations. Faruk recently launched his web site, and more specifically presented the project he and Tim Hofman have been working on:the FACE project. To simplify, it’s a way of adding animation and visual effects to a web page through JavaScript and CSS. While I have no major objection when it comes to the code itself, I’m not really so sure about the concept.

Animations through JavaScript doesn’t really give the lean smooth experience technologies like Flash or manipulating vector graphics in any other way can, and using filters is, at least in IE, infamous for slowing the web browser down and draining the memory. While I like the idea of not being dependant on any plug-in to create an effect, I think Flash is spread widely enough to not be a problem.

Another perspective is that I, as a user, have a way to choose what kind of web site I want to visit. If I want a web site that is visually a rich experience, and maybe with sound as well, I visit a Flash-based web site, who normally offer a non-Flash version of it as well. But if I visit a “normal” web site, I really like that things aren’t moving around, blinking and flashing, and generally stealing my attention from the content.

This paragraph is probably going to sound a bit harsh, but the only reason I’m writing it is because I went through the same kind of evolution myself. While being very talented otherwise, Faruk is fairly new to JavaScript, and he’s now doing exactly what I did when I reached that level: creating animations. So, what I wonder is if he and Tim create this because they can, or because there’s a user base out there asking for it?

In general, I think adding interactivity to web pages through JavaScript is the right way to go, but then I think approaches like AJAX and its likes are fundamentally more interesting than animations. However, this is merely my humble opinion. I might be totally off-key here and people out there really long for this.

So, tell me what you think? Are JavaScript animations just the new animated GIFs, or are they the future?

The gala premiere of Narnia

I have never believed that my web development skills would put me on the red carpet, but it came true Wednesday night. I had the immense pleasure of being invited to the gala premiere of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe here in Stockholm.

The reason I was invited is that I’ve become friends with a guy working for the client I’m currently doing some consulting for, and he got invited to it, and in turn invited me. So, a little far-fetched, but then my line of work actually did get me on the red carpet (or, actually, it was white due to the ice theme). A lot of Swedish celebrities were there, and little me. :-)

When I got there, there was a long line of people outside the movie theater Rigoletto. After queuing for a while, we got to the door and got to go through a tunnel of some sorts, totally white and inside of it fake snow fell down on us. Lots of cameras, journalists, interviews; tables filled with wine, just for your pleasure. However, my impression was what some (most?) famous people were rather there to be seen and/or to see a movie for free and get something to drink.

The movie itself was ok. I really liked the first hour or so of it, building up the ambience. But after that, it kind of felt like they rushed through the movie, just crossing things off the list. Some of the digital effects were really spectacular, but one was, for no understandable reason, pretty shabby. So, all in all, definitely worth seeing but not as good as it could’ve been.

Wonder which my next gala premiere will be? :-)

An embarrassing compliment

During the summer of 2000, I worked in NYC for Razorfish; something I’ve told more about in New York stint. One evening, me and another guy were walking from the office when I asked him what he thought of the web developers in the company. He replied with:

You is really good.

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t pay any notice to the fact that he used the word “is”. And if I had, I would’ve disregarded it as some cool slang anyway. So, I started thanking him for the compliment, acting (read: faking) humble and surprised and so on. That’s when he explained what he had really said:

Hye is really good…

He had been talking about the Asian guy named Hye all along… That’s what happens when you go fishing for compliments. :-)

A Frappr thanks

I would just like to thank each and everyone that has added themselves to my Frappr map. Since I’m not giving any feedback there, I thought I dedicate this post to you. Not added yet? Go do it right away! No obligations, just be part of a crowd that likes to come here and read, and who likes web standards and web development in general.

If you want to look at something else that’s cool, please look at my gVisit map. Basically, it just displays from where in the world the last 20 visitors to this web site came from. The other day, they were spread out over all six continents. Pretty cool! :-D

Typo hunters

I’ve always liked spelling and writing, and when I was a kid I was one of the best spellers in my class. Now, in my professional as well as my personal life, I’ve discovered how important it is to be able to spell correctly.

When I read other people’s writings, and even more, when I see companies’ presentations, brochures etc, I’ve noted how much a misspelled word affects my impression of it. One typo: fine, shit happens. Lots of typos: a sloppy and rushed impression. And when I read things what web developers have written, if it’s littered with typos, I definitely think twice before I want them to write any code for me.

When I became friends with Faruk, I immediately realized how good he was at spotting typos in my posts. Naturally, my reaction was part gratefulness, part me in turn scrutinizing his posts to find errors (and man, was that hard! :-)). In the end, though, I really do appreciate when people notify me when I have typos in my text, so if you see anything, please let me know.

And remember: it’s our language that differs us from apes. ;-)

 

Related reading

100 Most Often Misspelled Words

Label – the secret element

Most web sites I look at seem to have no idea how to create structured and valid layout when it comes to form elements. One of the things I get most annoyed at, both as a coder and a normal user, is when they’ve missed out on the wonderful and easy label element.

The label element is used together with form elements and it makes it accessible to screen readers, while also making the text clickable to set focus to the element in question. Point in question:

You have a radio button, but since they’re pretty small, it might be difficult to click it. You then add a label around the text next to it and make it reference the desired radio button: Voíla! You can now click the text as well to make a selection.

A simple example:


	<input type="radio" id="gender-male" name="gender">
	<label for="gender-male">Male</label>

However, the example above demands that you know the id of the radio button. If you have dynamically generated forms meaning a moving number of elements, you need to do some trickery to generate dynamic ids and then have the same value for their respective label element.

There is one way around this, but unfortunately it doesn’t work in Internet Explorer. I do showcase it below, though, just so you’re aware of it.


	<label>
		<input type="radio" name="gender"> Male
	</label>

 

You thought this was all funky and want to know more about improving your form coding, but you have no idea where to go? Fear not, take a look at
10 Tips To A Better Form

Dio visited Stockholm

Last night Ronnie James Dio, the man, the myth, the legend, came to town. I have always liked him and his music, during his Black Sabbath and Rainbow days, as well as his solo career. According to me, he’s been greatly underrated for a long time. I went with my friend Peter E and we decided to buy tickets at the arena. Besides for a guard at the door that seemed both deaf and dumb, we got inside eventually.

Two support acts were playing before him, bands that I’ve never listened to nor seen, so let me cover their performances first:

Asia

I’m sorry to say this, but their performance was a disaster. They had some kind of taped intro, and after that it got all quiet. After a minute or so, they waddled on stage, and started to play. The first couple of minutes, it sounded like they were tuning up, waking up or just plainly playing different tunes from each other… Terrible.

It got more ok after a while, but still definitely not good. The guitarist was no doubt skilled, but he kept playing lead and soloing all the time. He should learn from the likes of Toni Iommi that less is often more…

Uriah Heep

After Asia, Uriah Heep were a delight. Their playing was very tight and they were really into it. I just loved their bass player, Trevor Bolder. His looks, the faces he made, his extraordinary good playing. Man, what a beat!

I liked most of the songs and their style, but mostly how incredibly good they were at playing together. However, they were having their 35th year-anniversary, so not a big wonder…

Dio

When Dio entered the stage, people went crazy. While I didn’t care too much about the musicians he brought with him (except for former AC/DC drummer Simon Wright) and especially the guitarist’s never-ending useless solos, they did their work in the verse and chorus parts. Dio’s singing is amazing; I can’t believe his voice is still as good as it ever was.

The set list was nothing short of a dream come true. Just look at these examples:

  • Don’t Talk to Strangers
  • Heaven and Hell
  • Holy Diver
  • Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll
  • Man on the Silver Mountain
  • Rainbow In the Dark
  • Stand Up and Shout

The concert was a fantastic evening, and I can’t believe good ol’ Dio still has got it in him. His age is well-discussed, but if it’s true that he’s 63, it’s pretty unbelievable. It also got me thinking about the big and young acts today; I wonder who of them will still be playing, and even more importantly, will still be interesting to watch when they’re 60.

This was most likely my last concert this year, and what a way to end.

 

For other reviews, please look in the music category.

The decency of replying to e-mails

E-mails are the most common way for people to communicate nowadays, and it offers a way to reply when you have time. You can get instant feedback, attach files etc to give a person all necessary info. On top of that, you can easily see when e-mails arrived or were sent, and make a decision for your actions based on that.

So, something that really annoys me is when I don’t get a reply at all to e-mails I send. I understand that people are usually extremely busy, and I definitely don’t expect a reply within five minutes. But I think that people should really be able to reply within a week or so; not doing so is disrespectful, and bad business practice if that’s the context. Some of the big names, be it a company or a famous blogger, are pretty good at replying, but some are really terrible.

My worst example is a job I applied to a couple of years ago. Five months later I got my first reply…

Some people get a lot of e-mails, and I sympathize with that. But I still think that a week is a long amount of time to produce something back. Not every reply has to be a novel; it can be a sentence or two, acknowledging that they got the e-mail and answering the question or promising to get back. For the ones that don’t think that they don’t have time for this, set up a polite auto-reply explaining the situation and if/when you will get back. Yes, this will let spammers know that the e-mail address is valid, but still, this mostly applies to large organizations and well-known names where the e-mail address is publicly available anyway.

People keep arguing about top-posting, if one should send HTML email and so on. I don’t care. Just give me and others a reply and most of us are fine.

Web standards vs. competitive edge

Last night I held a presentation for SWENUG about web standards and what to think when developing web interfaces with .NET. Interesting with a crowd who are general web developers and not just working with HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

After the presentation we had an open discussion for an hour or so, talking about circumstances surrounding web developing and what the future might hold. A question that came up hit the nail on the head: if everyone abides to web standards, no more, no less, what’s the gain for them?

Let’s break this down. There are two possible scenarios:

  • Not fully and/or properly implemented web standards.
  • Fully implemented web standards and some extra features on top of that.

When it comes to the first bullet, I think the answer is pretty clear. We need some kind of minimum ground to stand on, the least common denominator where we start developing. So far, so good.

The second bullet is more interesting. If software makers aren’t allowed to implement something extra to get that competitive edge, what’s their incentive? For instance, why would companies put a lot of time and money into developing a free web browser? For the good of the world? I don’t buy that. I think Microsoft have a web browser to make it function perfectly with, as well as promoting, other products in their product family.

On the other hand, offering something more than web standards will result in product-specific proprietary solutions and add-ons. And we don’t want that either, that will bring us back to 1999.

I guess a natural follow-up question then would be: Is Microsoft on to something with XAML and WPFE? Should we expect software companies to start delivering products that will give a richer experience for some and downgrade automatically to others?

I don’t really have a good answer to this, but I believe in two things:

  • Companies will want to deliver something more than their competitors.
  • We will see a need for emerging technologies to give users a richer experience on the web. If that’s open like SVG or something company-specific, I have no idea.

IE makes me want to stop using CSS

This might sound depressing, but I think I’ve had enough. Not to exaggerate, but I think I spend at least one third of my working time covering up for flaws and inconsistencies in Internet Explorer. When using something like float or position: relative, text might disappear, get rendered incorrectly or something else that’s horrible.

The code can work in 99 pages, and then something just throws it off in the 100th one. I’m spending way too much time fixing things like this, being worried that it might break. No rules, just sheer luck if correct code works. I know IE 7 is supposed to work fine and support proper CSS, but I don’t know for how much longer I can stand it.

Sure, one can attack the hasLayout problem, but it’s definitely not a 100% guarantee that things will work. Raise your hands, how many of the problems mentioned in Explorer Exposed! have you come across? Let me list the names of them, and it might be a hint for you:

  • Peekaboo Bug
  • Internet Explorer and the Expanding Box Problem
  • Quirky Percentages In IE6′s
  • Visual Formatting Model
  • IE/Win Line-height Bug
  • IE6 Border Chaos
  • Disappearing List-Background Bug
  • Guillotine Bug
  • Unscrollable Content Bug
  • IE 6 Duplicate Characters Bug
  • IE and Italics
  • Doubled Float-Margin Bug
  • Duplicate Indent Bug
  • Three Pixel Text Jog
  • Escaping Floats Bug
  • Creeping Text Bug
  • Missing First Letter Bug
  • Phantom Box Bug

Please give me piece of mind! Maybe I should just use table layouts and some extensive DOM scripting; at least that works.

I hate being a consultant

Well, no, not really. Most of the time I find it interesting and rewarding to work with all kinds of people in different environments during different circumstances. But let’s put that perky attitude aside for now, and instead describe what’s going on for the moment.

I’m doing consultancy work for a fairly big company that makes a lot of money, and for the moment we’re in a very intensive state. I think, partly because of that, these things really trigger my nerves:

The environment

It’s a Windows 2000 environment, where everything is controlled from a central location. I’m the only one using Windows XP, since I need to see how buttons, scrollbars etc will look and behave. If I need a program, they push-install it on my machine. I have an Active Desktop theme forced that I can’t change in any way; the only option to alter is the resolution.

While I understand that this approach might be necessary for people in the company who aren’t very computer savvy, it really stifles creativity for a web developer.

Program usage

I constantly use TopStyle for handling my CSS, it’s especially handy for managing large files, and when I got here I asked for it. They couldn’t really see any need for it, and I had to fight for over a month to finally get it. The program costs $79.95. Imagine the extra time it took me to develop and nag before I got it, compared to the program’s low price and what I cost per hour…

The Mac

In September, I explained that I needed a Mac to test on too. Now it’s two weeks to release, and no Mac in sight. The last thing I heard was that no one in their 50 people big IT department dared to install OS X on the old Mac they had managed to dig up, so they outsourced it to some consultantcy firm. They, in turn, apparently have lost the CDs with OS X…

The mouse

When I started working, I thought it was really hard to move the mouse around and to get the pointer to shift place on the screen accurately. I turned it over, and lo and behold: a ball. I can’t even remember when I last had a mouse that wasn’t infra-red, when I had to open it up and clean it from dust (however, at least I’m one of the lucky ones that have a scroll wheel).

The chair

Don’t get me started on my chair. It’s the worst kind you can think of; it hisses when it hears the word ergonomics. And the seat seems to be loose in some way, so every time I sit down on it, the seat kind of falls down and slants forward, so I have to pull a lever while pushing back to get it level. I imagine that pilots go through less hassle when they sit down in their chairs in the plane.

The construction workers

During my whole time here, they have been performing construction work on the building we sit in. Try to picture big men drilling in the walls and floors around you just for the fun of it. Pretty hard to concentrate when it sounds like they’re in the middle of your head!

The power outage

A couple of weeks ago, this part of the town had a power outage. In the middle of work, everything turned pitch black and people scurried around. Luckily, no information got lost. It’s also one of those moments when you realize that one of the project managers is MacGyver: he was sporting several flashlights on him in different colors…

MP3s

A while ago, the company decided that MP3 files weren’t allowed on the employees’ computers; it would only take focus off from work and they believe most MP3 files are illegal anyway. The effect, of course, is that everyone has bought MP3 players and is bringing them here…

 

So, that’s my situation. How’s your working day? :-)