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Category: Rants

As you can see from my browser share statistics from sitemeter, 37% of my readers are still using IE. Unfortunately, over the last week my page hasn’t looked to good from IE. There have been some sidebar and font issues every now and then seeing as I edit primarily with standards-compliant tools. I’m not going to say sorry to those users who have had problems viewing my site with IE. No, I’m going to go farther. I pity the fools who are still saddled with that ugly, bug-ridden, insecure, penetrable as swiss-cheese security, CRASHES on some valid JPGs, worthless excuse for a browser.

I pity you for not being able to browse with tabs without installing more insecure software to mod your browser. I pity you for the fact that your browser is integrated with, and thus can transmit viruses to your whole system. I pity you for having a browser that can crash your media player and above all else, I pity you for having a browser that doesn’t display my page as well as it should.

Don’t think that those funky pages linked here have messed up sidebars that don’t start until below the whole post because of some CSS mistake on my part. The CSS that generated those pages was checked and validated. The pages displayed correctly not only in Mozilla/Firefox, but also in Opera, Safari, Konquerer, and even my friend’s cell phone. The IE6 sidebar issue has been a blight on web publishing for years. Some people have even gone so far as to put their whole layouts into tables in order to be sure that IE would do the right thing with them.

Do you know how I fixed the problem? I used this for my sidebar margins:
margin: 0px -10 10px 545px;
Notice that the left margin is “-10”. Not “-10px”, but an utterly rediculous “-10”. Due to the widths of various portions of my page and other layout constraints, changing that margin from “0” to “-10” had absolutely no effect on how my page displays in Firefox, or Opera. But for some mysterious reason, it makes IE play nicely with my sidebar. The sad thing is that someday my page may render incorrectly in a standards compliant browser just because I bastardised the CSS for the sake of oh so loathsome IE. The thought makes me feel tainted.

In my second coding job, I was as a web programmer at a start-up broadband ISP in 1999. Admittedly, it was a pretty messed up company. Still it’s pretty depressing to be this inept at using wordpress. I spent 3 hours messing around trying to get my new site’s colors to match the old’s. It was maddening. It was as if wordpress simply ignores CSS. I’d change the background-color of some or another block in my styles.css file, and reload my blog to see that NOTHING had changed. I then hunted around in vain, looking through all the other files which I thought might be over-riding my settings: the page template, the main template, and the post template. It turns out that the background colors set in the style sheet of the default wordpress theme, are all over-ridden by background graphics. In what file were all of them placed, you might ask? The header.php file, of course. That’s exactly where you put background images to be loaded across a whole page IF YOU’RE TRYING TO “WEED OUT” THE “WEAK” USERS!

I’ve been sick since Sunday, and haven’t had much to do except work on migrating my blog. Still, I’m not too happy having wasted my moments of relative clarity between fitful half-fevered naps figuring out somebody else’s non-intuitive page layout system.

I had to do laundry today. Since I’ve got my camera back from my boss, I figured I’d take some pictures so I could share with everyone what a strange place it is. From ten paces back, everything looks normal. There are three sizes of washing machines and dryers, all of US manufacture. Operating instructions are written on the machines in English, conveniently enough for guys like me, and Chinese translations are posted above. Instead of taking quarters, the machines take 10臺幣 pieces. There is also a magnetic card reader installed on each washer and dryer, so that customers can use pre-paid cards instead of lugging around coins. In the corner, there’s one vending machine for detergent, and another for the pre-paid cards. At a glance, everything’s normal.

Then step closer. There’s a big sign next to the vending machines that explains at great length why we shouldn’t use detergent or bleach. It even gets into explaining what sweat is composed of (and it includes protein!!?). Personally, I find this a little bit creepy. Yes, I can understand that bleach will kill anything. That’s why hospitals use it. Maybe excessive use of bleach can have some environmental repercussions. But detergent!!? What kind of laundromat pushes people not to use soap? Are we just supposed to wash our clothes with water alone? It’s not even hot water, at that. Of course, the laundromat probably realizes that some people will be skeptical about what the sign says. That’s why there are placards with angry looking frogs on top of every washing machine, saying NOT to use detergent or bleach. No wonder there are so many foul smelling people in my building.
I’m not intimidated. Frogs will be extinct on this island within the decade anyway! I’m an insensitive soap-using bastard, and no flurry of anti-detergent marketing is going to change me.

Well, I won’t be moving to my own host anytime soon. The reason? I don’t have a debit card. My US debit card expired last month. I’ve ordered a replacement, but I’m still waiting to get it. It seems like this is as good a time as any to bring up the fact that my ongoing efforts to get one in Taiwan have failed.

A debit card, for those of you who don’t know, looks like a credit card. It can be used like a credit card to buy things online, but it’s NOT a credit card. Debit cards don’t involve borrowing money or buying things on credit, they just charge money out of your bank account. If the bank account is empty you can’t buy anything, but on the good side there are no interest fees or any other fees involved.

About two and a half years ago, I went to 10 or 15 banks trying to get a debit card. Some didn’t offer debit cards at all; they weren’t that popular in Taiwan at that point. However, China Trust and Taishin have them. Unfortunately neither will give them to foreigners. The question is why not? Since they don’t let you borrow money, there’s no risk to the bank. One clerk said that since I’m American I “could just leave Taiwan at anytime”. So what? I could leave Taiwan, and then the bank would lose nothing since I couldn’t have borrowed anything from them. In fact, after I left, whatever balance remaining in my bank account would be theirs.

After huffing and puffing and complaining, I got China Trust to send me a written explanation. The funny thing is, they lied to me in it. They said that due to a problem with their system, foreigners temporarily couldn’t apply. That was two and a half years ago. I went in last week, and I’m still not allowed to apply. I showed them the letter and they just said, “Oh, the system still has the same problem.” Does two and a half years count as temporary?