The Wayback machine takes me back to a day I’ll never forget

This evening, I stumbled across a review of the Internet circa 1996. It’s quite hilarious, as is the author’s blog; however, after seeing the aforementioned blog, I can’t help being reminded of the phrase, "Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones."

The article reminded me once again of the Wayback Machine, an archive of old web pages that makes Google look boring. I thought about looking back to some of my old web sites, including Marzie’s Toolbox, a web site which at one point sported a rather popular web-based POP3 and FTP client.

Poking around, I read the Sept 25 2001 entry, and was reminded of what I had written on this web site just after Sept 11, 2001.

I would like to extend my condolences to the casualties of the World Trade Center and Pentagon terrorist attacks, and extend thanks to the many heroic and dedicated men and women who comprise the emergency crews and fellow citizens who have pulled together in this time of crisis.

Working just twelve city blocks from the World Trade Center, passing through it every day on my way to work, and having friends and family who work in and around the area, this tragedy was felt in many ways. I’ll never forget the scene of the WTC, which is in plain view from the street outside my building; I’ll never forget the sight of the second plane crashing into the building, which I was eyewitness to while talking on the cell phone with a friend who works on the 103rd floor of the WTC – a gentleman who was lucky enough to wake up late and didn’t get into the office yet (he’s lucky to be alive and home this evening). Sadly, many thousands of others will not be so lucky.

Walking through the dust-strewn streets of downtown Manhattan, the scene was surreal. Normally noisy and bustling with traffic, the streets were crowded with melancholy pedestrians, and the only traffic was from emergency vehicles. One man was offering $500 for any passing car to drive him to Boston. Two women came out with gallons of water in a shopping cart, which they offered free to passers-by. When I asked her why she’s doing this, she responded, "It’s the only thing I could think of to do to help."

Personally, I’m glad I donated blood (for the first time) on Monday morning; if they’d let me donate again today, I would. I’ve been calling the local police precinct for hours to see if they need volunteers; I can’t even get someone there to answer the phone.

If you live in the New York area, please visit your local hospital to donate blood – it is sorely needed. If you’re a medical or emergency specialist, you can donate your time, which is desperately needed to relieve the thousands of exhausted emergency personnel already on site.

In reflection of all this, there are three things I’m glad for: I’m glad I’m alive, I’m glad I contributed what I could, and I’m glad to be an American. My flag flaps proudly in the wind outside my front door this evening, and it will never come down. If they march down the streets to burn it, they’ll have to burn me with it."

I forgot about that guy and his $500 offer; I did not forget about the ladies offering water to passers-by. One thing I remember today (and didn’t mention in the above text) is the following.

While walking across town, trying to get to the east side of Manhattan — my plan was to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and as far south as I could, eventually hooking up with my brother, who worked in Brooklyn and would hopefully be able to drive me the rest of the way home — I finally got through to my mother on my cell phone. (My mom was the first person to call me that morning, telling me that the World Trade Center was on fire.)

My mom and I had a brief conversation, and as we were talking, I was looking around at people who were trying desperately to get in touch with their loved ones. I yelled out, "Does anyone need to get a message to someone?" A few people walked over to me. They gave messages and phone numbers to my mother, who made some calls after we hung up to pass the messages along.

In light of everything that was going on that day, it was the least I could do.

CSS Friendly ASP.Net Adapter updates to GridView, DetailsView, and FormView

If you’ve used the CSS Friendly ASP.Net Control Adapters in the past, you may want to check out change set 9278, which included a number of improvements to the GridView, DetailsView, and FormView controls.

From the check-in notes:

– Major rewrites of GridView, DetailsView, and FormView walkthroughs
– FormView and DetailsView now use PagerTemplate when it exists
– FormView, DetailsView, and GridView properly position pager based on PagerPosition and Visibile properties
– Implemented GridView’s DataControlRowType.Pager instead of hard-coded CSS class (non-breaking change)

The new test “walkthru” pages are quite useful. You can now set the control options and see the results of the change immediately without having to modify the code in the ASPX file. Implementing the test pages this way made it much easier to evaluate if the control adapters were doing what they were supposed to do.

Web design: the chicken or the egg?

A client of mine is in the process of re-evaluating all the content for their web site. This, of course, is after we had produced a conceptual web site with all their content, including a home page based on the contents of their web site.

Due to the changes, we’re re-evaluating some design decisions in the base page template (headers, navigation, etc.). This is causing some design changes which clash a bit with the current home page.

The client asked if we should focus on the home page first, bringing up the famous chicken and egg analogy:

but it’s like a chicken or egg question — do we address this now or later? before or after content changes arrive?

Good question. The answer I gave is this:

Generally, I usually focus on the home page last because it’s the most unique and you can do a lot with it, unlike the other 99% of pages. I’d like to focus more on the general look and feel … and [later] revisit the home page.

Of course, I felt it necessary to address the chicken and egg question.

If the home page is the chicken, all the other pages are eggs. All the eggs come from the same chicken – but you don’t know if the chicken they come from is the home page chicken. So, let the eggs develop, then you can see if the home page chicken is their mother. If it isn’t, you find a new chicken. Or something like that.

Not sure if that’s clear to anyone, but it seemed interesting enough to share on a Friday morning.

Naming CSS properties, HTML properties… and fighting five-year olds

It started innocently enough when I stumbled across a blog post over at PoshCSS, How many CSS Properties can you name in 7 minutes? Curious, I took the test.

That took me to another test: How many HTML elements you can name in five minutes? I took that test, too.

This in turn took me to the most important test: How many five year olds could you take in a fight?

Granted, that’s about 20 minutes wasted, but it sure is fun to know that a 37-year old with some martial arts experience can take on 23 five-year-olds. It was also depressing to put myself in the “36-55” age bracket.

Syncing Google calendars with Outlook 2007

I was trying to get Outlook 2007 to sync with my Google calendars. For those who don’t know, doing this takes a few quick steps:

  1. Go to your Google Calendar page.
  2. Under the My Calendars section on the left, click the down-arrow next to the calendar you want to sync, and select Calendar Settings.
  3. At the bottom, click the ICAL button in the Private Address line.
  4. Copy the URL provided to the clipboard.
  5. Open Outlook 2007 and go to Tools / Account Settings.
  6. Click the Internet Calendars tab, then click New.
  7. Paste the URL you copied in step 4 into the box and click Add.
  8. Finish as prompted.

Easy enough, and I was able to sync my personal Google calendar (linked with my bdemarzo@gmail.com account) this way. However, when I tried my hosted Google calendar (linked with bdemarzo@computersims.com), step 7 would fail; Outlook said it wasn’t a recognized calendar format.

The problem is that Outlook apparently has an issue with calendars hosted via HTTPS, and may have an issue with the email address in the URL to your calendar.

Consider the private URL to my personal Google calendar (hosted with my plain vanilla GMail account).

GMail Calendar private address window

Now, consider the private URL to my hosted domain Google calendar (i.e. my computersims.com account).

GMail Hosted Calendar private address window

When pasting the calendar address for a hosted domain Google calendar account into Outlook, you need to do the following:

  • Change the protocol from HTTPS to HTTP.
  • Replace the %40 symbol in the email address to the at symbol @.

As a result, this…

https://www.google.com/calendar/ical/bdemarzo%40gmail.com/private-0123456789ABCDEF0123456789ABCDEF/basic.ics

…becomes this:

http://www.google.com/calendar/ical/bdemarzo@gmail.com/private-0123456789ABCDEF0123456789ABCDEF/basic.ics

Note the emphasized sections are the only ones changed. Do this, and Outlook 2007 reads your hosted Google calendar fine!

Of course, this is all a one-way sync — you can’t add things to your Google calendar from Outlook — but it’s better than nothing at all.