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12/01/2008  — 

The End Is Near

One of my day-to-day responsibilities involves troubleshooting problems with banner ads. You might not realize what goes on when your browser loads a page full of ads; most of our brains have been trained to ignore these things. But wow, take a peek under the hood sometime. You'll find some of the hairiest stuff around.

A few folks know what to do: create clean, compatible, polite javascript that degrades nicely. Most create abominations that well... make me reach for my revolver... Today I found something spit out of the 'industry standard' adserver that I had to share with a dood I know. Chat transcript follows...

    ME: dood?

    DOOD: yo

    ME: I think I'm surrounded by the worst technology in the world

    ME: ever get that feeling?

    DOOD: yes

    ME: I get that when I come across this kind of thing:

    ME: document.write('<noscript><a\nhref=\"http://ad.doubleclick.net/click%3Bh=v8/378a/3/0/%2a/d%3B209144603%3B0-0%3B1%3B23113405%3B3454-728/90%3B29241525/29259404/1%3B%3B%7Eokv%3D%3Bkw%3Dgamechannel%3Bgame%3Dgamechannel%3Bgenre%3Dstrategryrpg_game%3Btile%3D2%3Bdcopt%3Dist%3Bsz%3D728x90%3B%7Eaopt%3D2/1/7b/0%3B%7Esscs%3D%3fhttp://clk.atdmt.com/TGM/go/125488438/direct/01/\"\ntarget=\"_blank\"><img border=\"0\"\nsrc=\"http://view.atdmt.com/TGM/view/125488438/direct/01/5298130\"\n/></a></noscript></iframe>');

    DOOD: !

    ME: does that juse blow your mind

    ME: OR WHAT?

    DOOD: who wrote that? Someone on our team or a 3rd party?

    DOOD: I mean your team

    ME: some 3rd party

    DOOD: amazing

    DOOD: they don't get anything

    ME: some 3rd party WHICH IS AN INTERNET STANDARD. THE CADILLAC OF AD SERVING

    DOOD: wow

    ME: we're doomed

    ME: as a species

    DOOD: totally

    ME: just thought you'd like to know.

    ME: enjoy life. the end is near.

    DOOD: I just spent 2 months working with one of the the world's worst engineers. They canned his ass last week

    DOOD: this guy was an imbecile, yet he commanded a huge salary and concessions because we thought he was an 'expert'

    DOOD: I spent all of my time re-writing and debugging his crap code

    DOOD: some of the worst programming I've ever seen

    DOOD: and it made me doubt the future of mandkind, as we are all brothers.

    ME: I'm there.

    ME: document.write('<noscript...

    DOOD: that gives me an idea for a netscrap feature. Have a contest where people submit real source code that can never execute

    DOOD: this is a plum example

    DOOD: there are others

    ME: that's a good one.

    DOOD: but they have to be real, culled from real source.

I guess the reason this gets my goat is that I face this question every day: does it matter if software is 'done right'? Ultimately it seems that the true measure of 'rightness' is whether the business is succeeding, not the correctness of the minutiae. For a guy whose background is QA, this is a tough pill to swallow.

Anyway, Dood -- good thinking about the netscrap feature. So toss a few things onto the scrap heap (put in the Tech category) and I'll put them up.

PS- For those of you not in the know, one way javascript puts things on the page is through document.write. In this case, the code is using javascript to put a <noscript> tag -- which usually contains something for the browser to show if it doesn't support javascript. Use javascript to deliver the payload to use if you don't use javascript. Boom!