Old Buttons vs New Buttons

I don't even know how to begin describing this issue, so I'll just get right to it.


I got a ticket at work the other day that baffled me. It was simply titled "Company profile tab - SEC picker has old buttons". So I checked it out and sure enough, the buttons were "old". They looked like this:


Since I've been working with webpages and web applications for over ten years, I was certain this was just a misplaced css attribute or some other similar markup error. It should be a quick fix, so I dove into the code. Now our system uses many different technologies to serve up the picker pages. Some are classic ASP, some are .net ASPX, some are plain JavaScript and some are even rails calls with a back-end brail file. None of that should matter though. I was certain it was all on the client side. And all of the other pickers look great. Except this one. Not to worry, I knew I could figure it out once I located the code.


After a few minutes tracing through the debugger output and looking at Fiddler to see which file was being called, I found the code. It was a .net aspx file. Easily edited and didn't even require a recompile! Sweet, I could test my changes quickly. So I started with the css. But none of my changes affected the shape of the buttons. I tried everything. I took out the css completely. I played with the JavaScript showModalDialog settings. I swapped out the url that was being loaded into the window and used one of the other pickers that looked good. Nothing worked.


So I figured it must have something to do with the way the page was being served up. So I went back and spent about two hours messing with server settings and changing the aspx file into a rails call. I got it all set up and ready to test and .... nothing! They still looked like crap! So I put the ticket on hold and moved on to other more important issues. (I should have done that before I spent two hours on the issue, but this is just another example of me not knowing how to prioritize things.)


Three days go by and now I have only one failed ticket. I was determined to beat this little bugger so I dove back in and kept testing things. I knew the other pickers looked good, so it must be something different in the actual html code. So I started at the top, replaced the doctype and that did nothing. I took the xmlns attribute off the html tag and that did nothing. The next difference was a meta tag that I had not seen before: I didn't think this would make a difference, but at this point I was basically trying anything possible. But the "MSThemeCompatible" made me do a double take. Theme. Hmm. Buttons. Themes. AHA!!! I reloaded the app and the buttons looked perfect:



I couldn't believe it. I could get on my Microsoft-hating soapbox right now and go on a tyrade about how dangerous it is to inject your own specific behaviours into industry standards but I won't waste time on that. I just couldn't believe THIS stupid little meta tag made all the difference in those buttons. I'm writing this up in case somebody somewhere else has this problem, because I couldn't find anything else anywhere close to this solution online. And to think, I get paid to do this stuff! Hope this helps someone else.

Posted to: Code, Work, Code, Work, Code, Work, Code, Work on Jul 29, 2010 (2:11:52 pm)

Geocaching with Twitter and other Fun Tools

I've been exploring the world of microblogging geocache finds via twitter lately and am really loving the url shorteners and other awesome free services out there. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to spread the wealth, and add a little bit of input myself. Check it out:


Real-time cache updates via Twitter
For a few weeks I've been having a ton of fun using field notes to post tweets when I find a cache. The geocaching.com developers have created a free Textmarks application that automatically finds the full cache name for you and creates a link in your tweet. Go here to sign up for textmarks (free): http://coord.info/textmarks.aspx and here to configure your twitter settings: http://www.geocaching.com/my/sharing.aspx

Once you get it set up all you need to do is send the text message "GEOC @GCCODE" to 41411. Textmarks will send your text to the geocache app and it will look up that geocache in the groundspeak database, find the full cache name and update your twitter feed with "found the geocache - [whatever the title is] - [link to the cache page]". You're supposed to be able to also send "GEOC xGCCODE" and it will log that you didn't find that one, but it hasn't been working for a while.

The real-time twitter updating is just totally awesome to me, but I wanted a way to also include a photo of the cache if it was really cool. I know there's a bunch of free sites that let you upload a photo with a tweet, but I wanted to do this all from my cellphone while I was out and about caching. Enter: MobyPicture...



Twitter updates WITH pics!
MobyPicture's free service is just plan amazing. If you already have a twitter account, this is what you do: Using your MMS-enabled phone, send a picture to this email address: twitter_username.twitter_password @ mobypicture.com. The subject of the message will be the text of your tweet. (Leave the text of the message blank.) The attached photo will be uploaded to their servers and they will create a link to it at the end of your tweet! Here's an example photo that I sent just yesterday:

herchenroder - A truly 'grate' cache! - http://moby.to/2cm792


This really opens things up for microblogging of what you're doing wherever you are!



Last but not least, GCCode Bookmarklets
I work for a big bank that shall remain nameless. Being a big bank, they block TONS of websites. I'm actually quite surprised even my own site isn't blocked. I'm also surprised that they block the url shortener site for geocaching.com - http://coord.info. This is the domain that all the GC Codes get converted to when you post twitter updates as mentioned above. Since the site is blocked, I can't click on ANY of the caches that other people find. So I created a little bookmarklet to let me quickly jump to the cache listing on geocaching.com Drag this little guy: Geocache Info to your browser toolbar. Now if you see a GCCode in somebody else's twitter stream you can highlight the code and click the button. It will pop you straight to the full cache listing page!

Posted to: Tech, Geocaching on Jan 8, 2010 (3:14:52 pm)

Andre Dawson makes the Hall of Fame!

WooHoo! My first childhood Cubs hero just made it into the MLB Hall of Fame today! My earliest Cubs memories are of me sitting on the floor with my great-grandfather watching Andre Dawson on TV. It's totally awesome to see him make the hall of fame. Now I just hope they choose to depict him as a Cub (not an Expo).

Here's the ESPN Chicago article in full - http://bit.ly/5iLPlb

Dawson finally rewarded

It's certainly a great day for Chicago Cubs fans as five-tool star Andre Dawson has won election to the Baseball Hall of Fame, garnering 77.9 percent of the ballots cast by the Baseball Writer of America (75 percent is the minimum for election).

Dawson, who finished second last year in the balloting with 67 percent of the vote, joins former manager Whitey Herzog and umpire Doug Harvey during Hall of Fame inductions in July.

Dawson was the only player voted in. Pitcher Bert Blyleven and Robbie Alomar missed by only a few votes.

The Hall of Fame will decide whether Dawson wears a Cubs or Expos hat on his Hall of Fame plaque. Dawson has already told me his preference would be wearing a Cubs hat, and you would have to think that because the Expos are now defunct that Dawson may get his wish.

Posted to: Cubs, MLB on Jan 6, 2010 (3:01:49 pm)

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