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End of February 2005 Edition

after the ice storm

Yes, it's been a while since I posted anything. The last time was during that ice storm last month. Compared to that, the weather since then has been mild, even when it snowed. But signs of the ice storm are still everywhere as broken trees and piles of downed branches. Nobody will be forgetting that storm anytime soon.

Among the other effects of the storm are the potholes, which are more plentiful than usual. Some streets in Muncie are nothing but potholes. A lot of them are deep, axle-bending pits. It's a major issue in Muncie, making it in both the local and campus newspapers.

my job

Actually I have been posting a lot of stuff, but it's all on my work log at home instead of this site.

Looking through that work log, I find it hard to believe that I took so much time on a couple of tasks. Yes, I work just four hours a day on this, and I did put forth a workable solution to this problem, but it's still annoying. Yet look at all this Microsoft stuff I've learned on my own:

The tasks at work are pretty little icons on the library's mobile Web site, and on a mobile electronic journals listing.

The icons would not be so much of a problem if not for the BlackBerry Web browser. A BlackBerry, for you non-professionals, is a combination cell phone and personal digital assistant with a colorful screen and a keyboard-like input pad. I was impressed with its Web browser at first, but its quirks have gotten up my nose. The biggest of those quirks is its inability to display inline images, no matter how tiny, and that quirk ruins the appearance of the listing pages on the mobile Web site. Fortunately I found a way around this.

For the mobile electronic journals problem I had to work through a series of problems:

I got around the scattered data problem with a query merging the two tables, and around the security problem by making Access export the query as a XML file.

As for the display problem, I found the data displayable with an object list control, which has two display views: list (for records) and details (for fields in each record). With this I created a serviceable journals Web app.

Now comes with tweaking the journal listings. ASP.NET has templates, which let you set the appearance of a control on the screen depending on the mobile device you use. Templates (there are five for an object list) are a pain, because you can't use one without using all. But I'm making progress.

Internet explorer

Chairman Bill proclaims to the world that there will be, at long last, an Internet Explorer 7.0.

Let's face it: Microsoft has not touched Internet Explorer in years, and pages look like, um, cruft when viewed with it. You can't use <div> and style sheets to format a page and expect it to come out right on Internet Explorer as you can with Mozilla/Firefox and Opera. To compensate for this I have had to write two versions of my own home page: One for Internet Explorer and one for the better browsers. Yes, better! If all Chairman Bill does is tweak IE7 just for security, then he hasn't done any more good than if he simply left the browser alone.

Copyright © 2005 by Andy West. All rights reserved. Written on 28 February 2005.