Home > Blogging, Geeky > It was a semicolon

It was a semicolon

December 29, 2007

First, mad props to Les at Stupid Evil Bastard, who helped me with upgrade to EE 1.6.1 and the Akismet spam blocker.  Thank you, Les!  Your patience with the dimwitted pupil is great Karma.

Second, I found the reason that my blog layout broke with Internet Explorer – a missing semicolon in the header div object in the .css style sheet. 

margin-top: 3px”  (should have been)  margin-top: 3px;

Of course Firefox and Opera and Safari graciously skipped over my error, negating only that one property of that one div.  But Microsoft’s Internet Explorer broke the entire layout, ignoring all properties and divs after that line.

Now I’m working on cleaning up the layout in the home page and in the comment pages among others.  I apologize for commenting problems in the past – please let me know by email if you have problems commenting.  Sometimes the reason is not clear, there have been a couple I just have not been able to solve.  Hopefully the new EE version will fix.  Also please let me know if the layout fails to render in your web browser.  It should have a header, two columns (one wide, one narrow), and a footer. 

The problem of code typos is not restricted to decrepit bloggers, however.  Programmers for the advanced F22 Raptor jet had a little boo-boo…

New Scientist: The Doh! of Technology

IN FEBRUARY 2007, 12 F-22 Raptors, the US air force’s new stealth fighters, left Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, bound for Okinawa, Japan, on the high-tech planes’ first overseas outing. Things went smoothly until they reached the 180th meridian – otherwise known as the International Date Line.

Some of the pilots suddenly found themselves without any navigation aids. With nothing to tell them their compass heading or even whether they were level or not, it was as if the pilots had been instantaneously transported from the cockpit of the world’s most advanced aircraft into one dating from the first world war.

Fortunately the skies were clear, so the squadron did an about-face and was able to follow its in-flight refuelling tankers back to Hickam.

The error was diagnosed as a problem with a “partial line of code” that had pitched the planes’ computers into an infinite loop of trying and failing to calculate their position while dealing with an unexpected date. A fix was issued, and three weeks later the planes made their trip to Japan without a hitch.

“Reliance on electronics has changed the flight-test process,” says Donald Shepperd, once head of the US Air National Guard. “It used to be tails falling off, now it’s typos that ground a fighter.”

Maybe the navigation in the fighter jets used Internet Explorer to display in the ‘glass cockpit’.  Try Firefox, guys…

Categories: Blogging, Geeky
  1. December 29, 2007 at 21:27 | #1
  2. December 30, 2007 at 13:11 | #2

    LOL I love that YouTube video!

    That New Scientist article definitely brings a whole new meaning to D’Oh! I watched a Discovery Channel article a few years ago and they were interviewing pilots that flew brand new never flown planes. Talk about a scary job. Needless to say, all of them had stay at home wifes, the pay was pretty damn good.

  3. December 30, 2007 at 13:23 | #3

    If you liked that NS article, you might enjoy
    <ul><li>Why Things Bite Back, by Edward Tenner
    <li>To Engineer Is Human, by Henry Petroski
    <li>The Logic Of Failure, by Dietrich Dorner</ul>

  4. December 30, 2007 at 14:06 | #4

    Huh.  Given that my own current layout is not quite right in IE vs FF, I need to poke around for some “missing semi-colons,” too.

    Great F22 story, btw.

  5. December 31, 2007 at 11:15 | #5

    That’s one of the things that I find simultaneously amusing and agonizing about programming and working with text-based interfaces.  They don’t tolerate errors.


  6. December 31, 2007 at 12:42 | #6

    Yeah, if you’re lucky, they’ll at least tell you you’re missing a semi-colon when they compile …

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