Thursday, May 22, 2008

Been a while

Hello everyone, sorry it's been a while. Things were pretty crazy with my last engagement; after finishing with them life has begun to quiet down. Business is good, but I really haven't had anything to write here about. A lot of run-of-the-mill stuff.

Now that I have some more time, I'll be going back over my notes of the jobs I've been doing for the past few months and see what's noteworthy of being documented here. Here's hoping everyone is having a nice Spring.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Following up, dopey bad-shortcut bug

Hello, just posting a follow up to my first post. The client who had the Excel document that was printing out as as many blank pages (or a mysterious printed PCL XL error) didn't lead to anything exciting. New Excel documents she crafts don't exhibit this problem, the document in question wasn't edited anywhere else but her machine. I'm forced to chalk it up to some really random file-level corruption. Boo.

I was requested by the help desk today to create a shortcut .lnk in some one's personal folder pointing to his predecessor's personal folder. In every example I'd tried, making the link works, navigating to it works, but when he tried to, the link's icon had disappeared, and double clicking the link just did nothing. No error, no hourglass, no thrashing, no windows open, closed or moved, nothing. Weird.

It's these little inconsistencies and oddities that I'm accumulating in my mind that makes it seem like I'll be supporting Windows environments for some time to come, whether I like it or not...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

iPhone, MobileSafari, and Flash

I invite disagreement, but I couldn't care less that my iPhone doesn't support Flash.

Maybe I don't want Flash. My main machine for a few years of college was an Apple Powerbook running Gentoo Linux (come on, didn't everyone experiment a little back in college?) The PPC Linux platform didn't have any Flash capability back then, and I never missed it, just as I haven't on my iPhone. Maybe I'm not comfortable with Adobe (and especially Adobe) being allowed to run around setting a new defacto standard on web content delivery. Especially such a bad one. It's not flexible, it requires another binary that will consume system resources and battery power, it's another point of possible security failure, it's not indexable... I could go on. Not to mention the API difficulties that would need to be solved in order to move to the iPhone platform that, among other things, doesn't have a mouse cursor.

I was speaking with a friend recently about a problem I was running into concerning browser-specific rendering. He snidely responded "Just do it in Flash, that's what I'd do." And that speaks to a whole new problem, that people are resorting to totally designing things that way rather than practicing good web design.

And do we really need Flash to deliver us our video as well? Apple wanted Youtube on the iPhone and Apple TV, so they convinced Google to convert the entire Youtube library to h.264. Not a small undertaking. Then they slapped inexpensive h.264 hardware into the phone.

Want standards-compliant smooth animation in your dynamic web experience? Use AJAX. Because, you know, I'm really missing out on those flash ads in MobileSafari, let me tell you. I can't wait until some flashing eyesore telling me to claim my free DVD player is making me pinch and stretch Safari until it's off-screen.

Can't wait.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

First post. Hey! Printer problem.

So hey everyone. I'm Steve. I work as a Network Administrator for a homeless outreach in Philadelphia. I'm going to document weird things I run into here; it'll mostly be Windows content. Feel free to comment and leave feedback and all.

I suppose we'll just jump right in. I got a report today from the helpdesk that someone was printing a document, and blank pages came out of the printer instead of the document expected. The usual was confirmed, (laser) printer had toner, other things printed fine, etc etc. Weird.

So I got my hands on the document, made sure there weren't any oddities with color settings making non-black things not print. None of that did the trick. Now I'm a little mad.

So I print it to my local laser printer and finally, a hint. The HP LaserJet 4200 prints two blank pages for the two page document, then a third page with an error message I'd never seen before! Five lines, printed in some fixed-length font I can't identify, about size 10. It's as follows:

PCL XL error
Subsystem: KERNEL
Error: IllegalOperatorSequence
Operator: SetPageScale
Position: 989

A quick Google for these tidbits revealed a lot of old information and things pertaining to "using the right cables" and other such nonsense. The file is an Excel file, authored on a fully-patched Excel 2003. As well, this all persisted past restarting the spooler service, power cycling the printers (and one copier) involved, and rebooting all computers involved. A doozy, if you will.

The fix came when I opened the document, cut and pasted the content out of it into a fresh Excel document, saved, closed, re-opened, and printed again. Tadaa, printed fine. So tomorrow when I come in, I'm going to have that person author another Excel document and print it to see if it was a specific corruption in that document, or something for which I'll need to re-install MS Office. I'll post back with what I find.

Thanks for reading my first post, I'll try to do these almost daily.