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Tomas Gallucci

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Epic Fail [Nov. 10th, 2008|08:57 am]
Tomas Gallucci
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[music |Band of Brothers - Michael Kamen]


When I was just a kid, my family went to Boston because my dad had a continuing education class he had to attend. This left Mom, Grandmother, my baby brother, my sister and I free to go exploring. We decided to go to Cape Cod.

There were many yard sales that day on the Cape, but the one I remember most vividly was one in the basement of this little church. They were having a book sale, something like $1 a book. Mom said I could pick out anything I wanted. I remember grabbing this little green book. (there were two or three of them that made a set) It was some kind of philosophy book or something. She didn't much like that book, so I chose another attractive little tome: Robert's Rules of Order.

The lady running the book sale told me that I wouldn't much like this book either; that it was boring rules for how to conduct meetings. I didn't care. It was my intention to read the whole thing cover to cover.

Later that year after we got back home, we had SAT testing. You always bring a book in case you finish early so you can have something to do so that you don't disturb the other children while they are finishing their test.

I was in the hallway reading Robert's Rules of Order when one of the elders of the church came by. (I was homeschooled and so we were testing at the church through their coverage as a private school.) He looked at the book and said Robert's Rules of Order, eh? If you know what you're doing with that, you can cause a question of order for the "Powers that Be" while you go to lunch. I chuckled.

From that day to this, I have never attempted to finish reading Robert's Rules of Order.

You're not really a programmer until you sit in the computer labs and listen to someone cuss all day long in a worried mantra rocking back and forth in their chair, trying to figure out why their programs don't work. Just when you can't take it anymore and you're getting ready to stand up and punch the guy in the face, he jumps three feet in the air from a seated position and yells, "YES!!!" Though relieved that he's no longer breaking your concentration with his expletives, you cock a half-smile for him because you've been there before...

The code should be working but it doesn't. There's an invisible bug. You can't find it. You've been working on the program for weeks and it seemed to be working fine yesterday but you decided to try it one more time before class and that's when you notice it. You're so wore out from tracking down this bug that all you're going to do when you get back to the dorm is veg out.


For years, Web Developers have been writing code optimized for specific web browsers. Most write for IE, but now and again you'll get someone who will want to optimize for Firefox or Safari. (Or if you're really old, Netscape.)

Opera is the little browser that could. It doesn't have much market share—only 1% globally. Opera is know for implementing the latest web standards to the point of (in certain cases) neglecting to fully implement older standards. One thing that Opera does do is fail to render non-W3C-compliant webpages. This means that sites that are optimized for Internet Explorer may not work correctly in Opera because of Microsoft's notorious habit of implementing standards before they are finalized so that everyone has to do things the Microsoft way. Microsoft can get away with this because of their enormous market share.

Because of IE's tremendous market share vs. Opera's trickle, some Web Developers have decided to only write for the most popular browser and post a little note saying "This site is best viewed in Internet Explorer." Other lazy, more nefarious Web Developers are even more ruthless: they will write Javascript that specifically looks for the browser agent tag and refuse to render the page if the browser happens to be Opera.

My buddy ehowton recently made a website for the sole purpose of hosting his resume. He's a Unix admin and eschews all things Microsoft. He tested in Safari and Chrome. He tested in Opera. A die hard Firefox user he tested in that too. Where he forgot to test was IE 7, the current iteration of Internet Explorer. His site doesn't render in IE 7 at all. Not even his cute little note: Please don't view this page in IE.

Maybe he should have used Javascript to detect IE and fail to render.