Go, Do, Be.

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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 href="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/" target="_blank"><img border="0" src="http://view.atdmt.com/TGM/view/125488438/direct/01/5298130" /></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!

03/24/2008  — 

Simple Rss Widgets

I love to browse off-the-shelf tools and doodads floating around the net. Recently I was looking for a widget to publish our corporate news titles on the gofish.com homepage. Sure, I'd love have time to write this from scratch, I don't... but I have about enough time to try 5 and see what works the best.

Quick summary of the features I'd like to shoot for:

  • MUST: browser compatible
  • MUST: pull corp feed
  • MUST: be easy to implement
  • SHOULD: customize colors
  • SHOULD: customize dimensions
  • SHOULD: be quick to load (<3secs)
  • SHOULD: not give up too much info to a 3rd party
  • SHOULD: serve it in a 300x250 RECT size.(why not?)
    • 305x215 Whole corner
    • 305x40 The heading
    • 305x175 List area
  • NICE: pull & mix several feeds
  • NICE: sort multiple feeds
  • NICE: Re-syndicate the widget

Our Raw Feed
Looks like I can grab a feed of each category. This might make for some handy intermingling of headlines. The downside is that it looks like I'm pulling a whole-article feed. I'll see if I can get this to just pull the titles. I'll set up a feedburner feed at http://feeds.feedburner.com/GoFishCorp before using one of these doodads.

Yourminis

www.yourminis.com seems like a neat platform for building and syndicating a flash widget. They allegedly have some relationship with brightcove, I'll see if there's anything worth exploring there.


WidgetBox widget
This looks like a javascript/xhtml implementation. Kinda nice, but let me check it out in a pile of browsers first. Seems like the widgetbox is chock full of other presentations. Would be nice to find one that can handle a few feeds at once.

Some javascript doodad
It's a freebie, kinda simple: http://itde.vccs.edu/rss2js/build.php. Kinda simple, but it looks like I can style the output pretty easly.

Another javascript doodad

Nice javascript-only implementation, doesn't seem like it's working though.

Feed Sweep
Feedsweep is free for noncommercial use, handles a bunch of feeds at once, and is super-simple to put together. Creates a nice dhtml presentation of the title list. I think this

rss-to-javascript
Another freebie, not sure I can get this into the dimensions of the content area on the homepage.

RSS to JavaScript

What do you like? The other folks on the team here seem to like the yourminis the best. I'll put a POC together soon.