austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

He's for every one of us

I grant that I work in an absurd place. I wouldn't be sure that if we really stared at it everyone doesn't work at an absurd place, but mine is certainly in the upper quartiles for absurdity. But that doesn't mean there aren't days where I feel certain I've done good things for the world. I had one recently.

One of our clients has a web site which made use of Flash gimmicky as its navigation menu. This was for urgent practical needs, of course; they wanted the buttons to have a Late 80s Science Fiction Movie look to them and for a rectangle inside the button to light up when the mouse hovered over it. But they had seen how my little web site works even on iPads, and that was so cool, and they wanted to know if it was possible to make a navigation menu that worked even without Flash.

This was turned over to one of the tech guys on the first floor, and he got stumped about how to do this. He asked me for guidance, and I put together a couple of references to the kinds of tricks that'd be needed --- ordered lists, CSS styling, hover effects --- and then realized it was actually going to be easier if I just wrote a replacement and sent it to him. That was kind of fun, plus, it got me away from my nominal projects for a couple hours without feeling like I was wasting time.

After I explained that I hadn't put together a demonstration but an actual ready-to-go replacement (I got a confused phone call about how to adapt what I sent) the tech guy was delighted, like I had taken a thorn from his paw. He even bought me lunch --- we were getting delivery --- although I have the fear he didn't put in as much of a tip as I would have. (I think he was failing to account for the soda I ordered too.)

So, not only did my project inspire a web site to replace Flash gimmickry with a technique that works in pure HTML and CSS (no Javascript required, even for the flashing rectangle with the mouse hover), but I got it replaced. That's not a bad day.

Of course ...

Trivia: The Viking lander computers were 26.7 by 27.3 by 40.6 centimeters and weighed 114.6 kilograms. Source: On Mars: Exploration of the Red Planet 1958 - 1978, Edward Clinton Ezell, Linda Neuman Ezell. NASA SP-4212.

Currently Reading: Jersey Blue: Civil War Politics in New Jersey 1854 - 1865, William Gillette.


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