Where Are the Cicadas?

There has been plenty of cicada talk here in the midwest concerning the 17 year cicada. The news covered weddings being rescheduled, teachers at school were making “cicada hats” with their students to try and lessen the scariness of the bugs, and of course, the great Walter E. Smithe commercial. No sign of the bugs yet, but I did want to share the insane commercial for a local furniture chain. Yes – furniture. These guys have a great sense of humor!

Keep It Simple!

I am currently working on a big project which includes wrangling over 12k lines of CSS. Tonight it took me an hour to create a very simple form when it would normally take me 5 minutes. Why? Overcomplicated CSS. At this point I am using so many default values (like vertical-align: baseline; and float:none;) that it is insane.

Why can’t I start from scratch and just toss all the old code that is messing everything up? I wish I could, but so much of the project is reliant on it, that I am forced to plow through it.

Just a quick reminder to all those people who work with CSS: keep it simple and define the bare minimum.

Too Elite For Elite

Well, after a few months of using Yahoo!/SBC Global Elite (fast) DSL, I am moving back to using Comcast’s high speed cable. The speed was horrible, the support was horrible (I spoke to a “Mac Expert” who did not know that traceroutes could be done on a Mac, they thought it was only a “Windows thing”) and I got tired of network timeouts. Comcast gave me a next day installation time and so as of this afternoon, I should be cooking with gas once again. I know a lot of people have had luck with DSL, but I am not one of them.

Apparently I am just too elite for the “elite” package.

Internet Explorer Pickiness With CSS

For a browser that is hardly standards compliant, Internet Explorer still infuriates me and acts as my arch enemy when debugging CSS. How about an example?
This code works in Safari, FireFox, Opera but not IE:

 .heading {
 	background: url("images/heading-bg.gif")repeat-x;
 	color:#fff;
 	font-size:1em;
 	margin:5px 0 5px 5px;
 	border:1px solid #292929;
 	padding-left:3px;
 	line-height:21px;
 	}


The result: The background image is displayed properly in Safari, Firefox, Opera, etc but not IE. IE failed to display any background image at all.

This code, the same as above with one minor difference, works in Safari, FireFox, Opera and IE:

 .heading {
 	background: url("images/heading-bg.gif") repeat-x;
 	color:#fff;
 	font-size:1em;
 	margin:5px 0 5px 5px;
 	border:1px solid #292929;
 	padding-left:3px;
 	line-height:21px;
 	}


The result: The background image is displayed properly in all browsers.

What is the difference? There is a space in between the “)” and the word “repeat”. Mind you, both of these validate.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cross checking different platforms and browsers. Hopefully this will help someone when they are super frustrated with the same problem.

Doing What's Right

I would like to think we all have standards of some sort. I expect people to treat me with respect as I will treat them with respect. Other people demand to be catered to at all costs – all the time. This morning at the train station the police were out and about issuing tickets for all people who crossed the tracks (there are 3 sets – closest: from Chicago, middle: express trains to and from Chicago depending on the time, far set: local to Chicago). Anyone who has ridden the Metra for a few days/weeks/years has crossed the tracks (after looking both ways of course) to catch their train (and we have also seen people get killed doing the same thing too). It is not always smart, but when you know the schedule, you also know what other – if any – other trains are coming and going. This morning, I was trying to catch an express train. Unfortunately, the train showed up early, and after seeing the police there, I was not going to cross and get slapped with a $250.00 fine. Don’t worry, some idiot did…and got fined. What I loved best about this situation came after the guy got issued the ticket. The people who could not cross the trains (where I was standing) starting yelling and swearing at the police officers for “not letting them cross”. Not only did the people yell at the police as the train sat at the station making up for it’s early arrival, when it passed, a mob of people went over and got in the police officers’ faces and began complaining. As frustrating as it was to miss my train, at least I could see the point of the exercise. The police were trying to help prevent careless crossers from being killed.

I felt pretty good about myself not getting all flustered and patiently waited for the next train…until an express train was on it’s way through and someone started crossing the tracks just as the bells started to go off. The crowd of people started talking and yelling at the police to ticket him. No ticket. The crowd then started talking about ok – it was like a yellow light. Then…after the express train made it past our stop – bells still going off and lights still flashing, the “yellow light guy” crossed the other set of tracks and the police did not blink. You can imagine the crowd…yelling at the police to give him a ticket , etc and I have to say at that point I also joined in. Did the police officers even attempt to ticket him? No. Double standards? Yes. I have always said this…I can understand and appreciate standards…but double standards drive me crazy! Fun times. Happy Birthday A!

Spitting is Prohibited But Making Crazy Signs is Ok

Spitting
I love interesting and crazy signs (Ex: garage sale) and after looking through some pictures with a friend who recently returned from New Zealand, I thought I would share yet another great sign that someone decided to make and post. Even better…there is a law against spitting and a fine attached!

Chicago Winters

I have to say, I really love the rich tradition that Chicago has as a city and winters in Chicago are very interesting if nothing else. We do not usually get the lake effect snow like Buffalo because we are on the east side of Lake Michigan, but we do get the occasional flurry.
What I love about Chicago winters:

  • One of my favorite traditions is the “save your shoveled parking spot with a lawn chair”. If you are not familiar with this concept, listen to the story NPR created about saving spots.
  • I also enjoy the fact that the city and suburbs cannot effectively clear snow from the streets and highways. It is called a snow plow Chicago – not a garbage truck with a plow. Spend the money. If anyone has ever complained about being cold or experiencing cold wind – try walking within a block of the Sears Tower.
  • I love how kids use land fills and empty reservoirs as sledding hills
  • I love that the Sears Tower always funnels so much wind that as soon as you turn the corner and are within two blocks of it, you are instantly iced to the bone regardless how much winter gear you have on.
  • Lastly, I really enjoy the “Caution Falling Ice” signs that all the tall buildings have in front of their buildings. Do we really need this thought going through our head as we look up 20-100 stories and think about falling sharp objects? Thanks for the warning.

Help is Not Always at the Help Desk

Wow. I recently received an email concerning an account creation for a particular company I have never had to call. In the email, the technician gave me a temporary account, email address, but no password, but gave me a number to call to have a helpdesk technician “reset” my password so I could use it for the first time. I called the number, gave the person my ticket number and the craziness began. First, my ticket was closed. This was the first and only time I ever called about it. Second, they kept talking about ID and account names that I had no familiarity with…”well, do you need this?”. I told them I just needed an user name/password for their account. I was clear to tell them what it was for, and that I would then also need instructions on how to access what I needed. I gave my email address to the technician and he told me he would send me instructions.

I was told that password resets were handled by another department, so I called the other department. The other department, when I explained my issue, was not surprised that the previous department forwarded them to me – apparently it was wrong and it happened quite a bit. I then called the original helpdesk again hoping to get my account in order. I started off my explaining what happened before – and just my luck – I was talking to the same person. He asked me if I had received the email he sent and I told him no. I spelled my last name for the 5th time and he soon realized he did not have the correct spelling. I told him I would forward him the original email with the account information so he would have it as proof I was who I said I was.

I asked him for my email address. Let me re-phrase that. I asked a HELPDESK technician for his email address. “Hmm, can you open Outlook and find me?” I said no, I am not using Outlook – nor do I have your address book. “Hmm…I do not know my email address, I have never used it outside of our network”. At this point I literally asked him to look to his right and ask the person next to him what his email address was. At this point he also got my email and so I asked him if he could just email me with the account information I needed instead of listen to his breathing on the other end. He said “well, you did not get my first email”. I said “You got the email from me, right?. “Yes” he said. I waited for the obvious, but when it did not come, I said – “well, reply to it”.

Wow. Time for a real Coca-Cola.

What is in My Pocket?

I have always wanted kids, but I never wanted to be the mom that was completely obsessed with her kids that nothing else mattered. The mini van. The crowded living room full of toys. The late appearances because “we could not get the kids ready”. Yikes. Of course Evan is very important to me, but he will not cause me to completely shut down to the outside world. With all of this in mind, I had a bizarre moment yesterday as I was getting ready to go out to lunch. I went to reach in my jacket pocket to see how much cash I had and whoa…I pulled out a burp cloth. Apparently regardless of how hard you try to keep work/home, family/professional separate it sometimes just leaks in. I got a good laugh out of it and I am now, to one of my younger/single friends officially “the mom” and now slightly not as cool as I once was. Fun times.

All I Want is HDTV

I did not think getting HDTV was going to be so hard. Last summer I finally dropped over priced crappy Comcast for DirecTV. I have not had any issues with DirecTV and overall have been very happy with their service and picture quality. I recently bought a new TV and decided that the next step was obviously an upgrade to DirecTV’s HDTV programming. I had an appointment with the service technician yesterday to get everything installed so I could watch the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl in HD. Unfortunately the person from DirecTV told me I had too many trees in the way for their HD signals. I am now stuck with their standard signal (which was ok for the old TV, but it looks crappy on the new TV) until at least August unless I pay to break the contract. Not only does that suck, but my alternative is going to be going back to overpriced Comcast. Yuck! What to do…