In 2013 Spelling Counts!

Things are going well at DopplerDesign. Working at home is fun. We have a very casual dress code.

I’m in the middle of a website makeover for some folks in Bethany. I want you to see it, but not yet.

I think I’m doing a good job for them. Here’s how I know. I’m really enjoying the work.

Like coders a third my age, I work in spurts, often at night. Friday’s run started early evening and finished Saturday morning around 7:30.

If you’ve never coded you probably don’t know, spelling counts! It’s one of the few places left.

Go to Google and misspell Britney Spears name. They’ll find her.

Humans are good at that too. We’ve adapted to live in a world with imperfect information.

Not so on the Internet, where every command has a specific response expected. And, unfortunately, servers gladly execute bad commands!

The website do-over is being coded in CSS and HTML, with a tiny bit of PHP and JavaScript. That’s a CSS sample above. Click on it for a more readable, but no more understandable, view.

This code is written by hand. I type the commands into Notepad++ which is connected to a distant server. When I hit “save” it’s online, immediately affected by my keystrokes.

Nobody’s perfect.

Last night I brought on the “White Screen of Death!” One extra “Enter” turned the entire backend of the website blank.

A quick Google search found the proper corrective action. IN cases like this, Google is your friend!

I have special tools to go into the server and fix stuff like this.

Missing “;”s and “}”s are almost as bad. The website displays on the screen, but everything’s in the wrong place or is oddly formatted. It’s a mess.

The problems have been all taken care of, but surely there will be loads of snafus large and small before the site’s finished. The last step before going live is clearing the ‘punch list.’ It’s just like the one on a new home.

I really do want you to see it. Soon.

10 thoughts on “In 2013 Spelling Counts!”

  1. Stuff like that has always fascinated me. I remember our office getting its first and a word processor in the mid-80s. I became the office “word processor and had to type everything for everyone. And Lotus 1-2-3? I was like “you put numbers in and it does what??!”

  2. I remember those days. trying to debug programs written in COBOL, RPG, BAL…waaayy back in the day…but it was so satisfying to find the mistake.

  3. Sounds cool! I was always interested in stuff like this but when I was in HS (a couple of eons ago) computer classes were for the math/science geeks only. The year I graduated there were ‘mandatory’ computer literacy classes for the jr high.
    I’m lucky I can get around the internet with what little I know.
    As for spelling, yeah…I wish it counted in more places. When I was a kid my mom would tell me (and my teachers would too)that ‘You won’t get a job doing ANYTHING if you can’t spell!’. They should see what my bosses put out. And they have 4 year degrees (I don’t). Got a mass email after the big storm congratulating us on our hard work…it was so full or spelling errors I printed it out. It’s in my ‘funny emails’ file. Nigerian scammers spell better! Oy!

  4. I like Notepad++ but you might find other tools more useful. I use Eclipse for the most part because I write very low level code and am always using a specialized IDEs for a particular processor. Many of the IDEs are based on Eclipse so it is useful to have a good working knowledge of it. There also are a rich variety of plugins for it as well to help with unit testing, code control, static analysis, etc. Of course, this could be overkill for HTML & CSS.

    You also might want to check out some source code control tools — it’ll help manage versions and always get you back to a good spot. and are your friends.

    1. Thanks, Mary. I never thought of using Notepad++ for code control. Duh! I have it write backups to Microsoft’s SkyDrive, chosen because I had an account which was unused.

  5. I had a one-man website design for 10 years, creating sites from scratch for small businesses. Spelling is important, but in my mind correct grammar is just as important. Spell checkers are a first step, but nothing matches carefully reading the text.

  6. I used to write programs to control machines. I always wanted to try to learn this stuff but, couldn’t get the hang of it. Maybe some day I’ll try again.

  7. You haven’t lived until you have spent many, many hours debugging custom code written by hand in Intel processor Assembly language that simulates some very high speed real-time communications function.

    One lousy semi-colon out of place and the whole 3-hour compile run blows up with an “Error 42″** and promptly crashes the system, which meant the compiler had no idea what went wrong. Add to that the fact that, at the time, the system could not afford to run any kind of debugger, because it slowed the simulation down too much. We debugged by watching a tiny shared memory window with a few binary status bits in it, all decoded by eye.

    Structured modern programming languages and their tool kits are for wimps! Real Klingon Coders ™ write assembly code on the real iron by hand…and debug by using an oscilloscope to read output streams and by reading memory dumps to see what maybe caused it.

    Boy, I’m so darn glad those days are (mostly) behind us.

    **Yes, I am very well aware that this is the EXACT answer to the question of the ‘meaning of life’, as posited by Douglas Addams in “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe” which coincidentally came out at the same time I was doing this nightmare simulation project…coincidence I think not…

  8. It could be worse. In the days of JCL, placing a space after a comma would cause the remainder of the line to be ignored. Looking at it, it looked fine. Also, in the past, I’ve used RCS (Revision Control System) to keep track of versions. It allows you to step back by keeping track of any changes you’ve made to folders you’ve told it to monitor. It’s free.

  9. Good old JCL–the very best way to totally obfuscate ANY mainframe program flow with just a few ‘simple’ commands. The guy that lead the team that developed it has publicly apologized for inflicting it upon the world.

    Somebody once asked me if I could Spell COBOL**. When I did, and knew who invented it, we got into 2 1/2 years of fixing the Air Force Supply system for Y2K. Heck, it paid the bills, and was drop-dead easy to do–just totally boring!

    I guess I looked old enough at that time to be a COBOL programmer or something. Never did COBOL in school. I was into ‘scientific’ programming in FORTRAN or machine language in the 60’s instead of the business stuff–I did not want to ever wear ties and suits to work. The guys that were doing ‘Data Processing’ back in the punchcard days did have a dress code al la IBM…way too uptight for me.

    I still don’t wear ties or suits…but I still play with computers–daughter refers to me as “The world’s oldest Computer Geek” which is sadly too true.

    Yep, get and USE a decent version control system, otherwise you will spend too much time trying to remember what kind of tangled nest your doggie or some other critter has built in your code! Backing up the version tree a couple levels when it breaks can save your butt when the going gets weird ***.

    ** stands for ‘Compiles Only Because Of Luck’ when I did it–learning from scratch–in just a few weeks..

    *** My favorite bumber sticker reads: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn PRO.” (Guilty as charged, your honor…)

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