back to article Handcranked HTML and JPEG japes. What could possibly go wrong?

Welcome to Who, Me?, The Register's weekly forage through the hedgerows of reader's misdeeds and tumbles into the ditch of IT despair. Today's mea culpa comes from a reader whom we will call "Fiona" and is a cautionary tale for those who are partial to a bit of fun on the development server. Fiona's story takes us back to …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hand coded HTML

    Yup. I used to do that for a large London based art myself.

    They ultimately took the work in house and replaced me with a team of 5...who were still hand cranking HTML as recent as 5 or 6 years ago.

    I built some handy tools to automate the process in VB6 towards the end, they insisted they didn't need them.

    1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Hand coded HTML

      I've generally found that in the real world, those with a "haircut favoured by certain military organisations" are dumb as a bag of rocks working in either QA or Security, and can't put facts together & draw a logical conclusion to save their lives. The first thing smart ex-Military folks do once out of the service is ditch the haircut.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: dumb as a bag of rocks

        Are you saying their stupidity is caused by their haircut? Otherwise, surely they take their stupidity with them, whatever hairstyle they adopt

        1. Handle123456

          Re: dumb as a bag of rocks

          Nope. Keeping the haircut once it's no longer enforced is caused by their stupidity.

    2. Alien8n

      Re: Hand coded HTML

      The ability to hand code used to be an essential skill given the ability of MS Office and Dreamweaver to bloat code out of all proportion.

      The first intranet I worked on included a telephone list, basically just an excel spreadsheet saved as HTML. When saved it created a 4Mb HTML file due to it insisting that every single cell in the table must include every font, size, and colour option possible. Once all the formatting was stripped out it became a much more manageable couple of hundred k.

      My ability to hand code also put me in the dubious position of teaching HTML at an Open University camp. Turned out I had more experience than the lecturer so taught half the class while also doing my own coursework. This was back in the days when mouseover commands were the most complicated bit of code you could write for the web.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hand coded HTML

        Rollover buttons ftw.

        1. Alien8n

          Re: Hand coded HTML

          The first website I ever coded was for my brother's artwork, I had rollover buttons that then changed the main image above it to show the title of the page it would take you to, all done with a lightning effect gif. May look exceedingly basic by today's standards but back then it looked pretty cutting edge. I was even designing my own icons in Paint Shop Pro at the time. Not sure exactly when, but it was sometime around 1995.

      2. Is It Me

        Re: Hand coded HTML

        I seem to remember Dreamweaver had a menu option to clean up the rubbish Microsoft put in and would reduce it down in size nicely.

      3. juice

        Fun with iteration

        I've had a similar experiences a few times with poorly optimised websites.

        Once in another lifetime, I was working as a liaison for a customer who was using our system across dozens of countries. Performance was always a major complaint, but the dev team would just shrug and maybe fiddle with some of the data queries.

        Eventually, I fired up my web browser and took a look at the network traffic. Only to find that some of the pages were tens of megabytes. Most of which was whitespace. And being sent, uncompressed over relatively low-bandwidth lines - this was over a decade ago and office broadband speeds were generally limited.

        Turned out that the pages mostly contained lists. Said lists could contains hundreds or thousands of items, and were generated via templates. A single instance of a template with (say) 200 characters of whitespace wasn't an issue. Multiply by several thousand and sooner or later, you're talking about real data...

        This was duly flagged to the dev teams, who cleaned up the templates and enabled mod_gzip on the servers; between the two, page sizes were generally reduced by over 95%. And practically overnight, complaints about performance dropped!

        I never got around to figuring out how much time/money my little discovery had saved, but when you have thousands of users across the globe, even a minute or two per day/user quickly adds up...

      4. Stevie

        Re: ability of MS Office ... to bloat code out of all proportion.

        Well, I always see this one as a demonstration of how inept the would-be complainer is since there is, or was, an easily found switch that would turn off all the inline styles MS Office generated when asked to make HTML and produce code as compact as one could wish, absent some "meta" tags in the header that could be wished into the cornfield with a mousepaint and delete.

        The "bloat" code was added by MS Word because, and I'm sure you will all recoil in horror, the developers had to ensure not only that the produced HTML page looked *exactly* like the Word doc, but that having only the HTML source, MS Word could reverse engineer the original *as it was before it was turned into HTML*.

        Now I no longer use MS Office for my own purposes on the grounds that the interface is intended to annoy and confuse instead of help, but I have to say that:

        a) If one couldn't RTFM far enough to find the "Turn Bloaty Code Off" switch one is in fact the problem, and

        2) I wouldn't under any circumstances have wanted to be handed the demand to convert docs to HTML and then back again - from the HTML source alone - with no loss of formatting, and kudos for the developers for coming up with a solution that involved CSS and no embedded Active X gremlins to pull the trick off.

        1. STOP_FORTH Silver badge

          Re: ability of MS Office ... to bloat code out of all proportion.

          Bloaty code is rarely a sensible default though.

        2. Alien8n

          Re: ability of MS Office ... to bloat code out of all proportion.

          That may be the case today, but I certainly don't recall an option to optimise the HTML code in Office 4.3

          1. Stevie

            Re: ability of MS Office ... to bloat code out of all proportion.

            It was there in Office 97.

            Before that, if you wanted to make HTML with Word you had to use an external "helper" program. I know because I had someone ask me to do it with Word 95.

      5. Handle123456

        Re: Hand coded HTML

        I used to be in charge of a tool allowing HR people to upload job offers to a multitude of job boards. Often that meant importing the text of the add from some external system and tweaking it to comply to the requirements and restrictions of the individual job boards.

        You would not believe what insane crap you get when someone copy&pastes text from Word to an online WYSIWYG html editor. Invalid, bloated, incorrectly quoted, ...

        For example an empty line between paragraphs was about fifteen levels of divs containing a  , all with loads of inline styles, lots of them mso-nonsense-whatever.

        I remember a specific one that was 106KB of HTML for about 500 characters of text.

        Most of the job boards restricted the length of the HTML they were wiling to accept to something like 8000 characters.

        I had to write some crazy regex-based Perl code to fix that mess and got that 106KB to 6KB with no visible difference when rendered.

    3. RLWatkins

      Re: Hand coded HTML

      I still do, occasionally.

      You've heard the old saw: 30% of all Internet traffic is Netflix and You Tube videos, 30% is advertising, 30% is JQuery, Angular, et al., and 10% is actual content.

      When I want to completely avoid one of those 30%s, I code by hand. They come out nice, small, and fast.

      For in-house stuff, nobody cares about bandwidth and they're inured to poor response times. They can settle for WYSIWYG.

  2. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Ever indulged in some japery and found yourself on the receiving end of a stern finger-wagging when it all went just a bit too far?

    Well, cripes, there was that time I made a few harmless jokes about straight bananas and humourless eurocrats in a right-wing newspaper. At first the editor just lapped it up, but then he had a crisis of conscience and called me in for a jolly old carpeting. Out in my ear, what? Never mind, I soon landed a plum job with a magazine, though after a while they didn't appreciate my stories either. No matter, thought I, I'll just use my contacts and charm my way into politics. They're a lot more tolerant of, um, nuancing one's position (horizontal or otherwise). Got fired there too. But I made it back, and now I'm finally getting all that I truly deserve.

    1. John G Imrie

      Now I'm finally getting all that I truly deserve.

      I really hope that you get all you truly deserve.

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        Re: Now I'm finally getting all that I truly deserve.

        I'm not sure there is enough karma in the world (or out of it, perhaps) for that...

  3. steviebuk Silver badge


    You can't really say that when you were the soul person to create the image so you can't really blame anyone else "It was also your fault for not stopping me"

    "Fiona also didn't hand in the names of the rest of the gang "as much as I wanted to turn in the numbskull webmaster who'd been asleep at the wheel with that assets list." Instead, she was rewarded with a lecture from a HR contractor on how she should have known she'd never get away with "something like that.""

    That's like me blaming everyone else when I decided to paste a member of staffs image onto a front copy of Time Magazine. He saw the funny side for about a minute then got really pissed off. Especially when I said I'd e-mailed it to the 3rd line team :) I blamed no one but myself. Got away with it though as he was a cock and had been doing similar stuff to others so had no argument. If he'd got HR involved he'd have fucked himself over. It all went quiet and he oddly started to be nicer to me after that incident.

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm..

      Sole. Not soul.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm..

        In this case, soul works too.

      2. ghp

        Re: Hmmm..

        Dover has but one inhabitant.

        1. Tim99 Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm..

          Not Miss Lemon?

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm..

          "Dover has but one inhabitant."

          And it's dead common.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmm..

      "You can't really say that when you were the soul person to create the image"

      Could they have said it if they were the Jazz person and created the image? What about Hip Hop?

      1. STOP_FORTH Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm..

        That would be for a jazzmag not Time, surely?

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm..

      I think you've gotten things the wrong way. Fiona didn't claim that she was not responsible, simply that others could also be held responsible and she didn't let that happen. The person who decided to put that file on a production server, which was not Fiona (the article makes that clear) should perhaps not have done a straight copy-paste from development to production. That's not new. Anything sufficiently large has stuff in the development folder that isn't to be released in production, and usually a script or two to try to manage that. I'd argue that these others weren't very responsible, and thus that turning them in would have been a pretty nasty thing to do, but I'd also argue that Fiona did little or nothing wrong and was unfairly attacked for a thing that did no damage and was clearly not intended.

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        Re: Hmmm..

        Agreed, @doublelayer. There was no need for anything other than a quick "We found your artwork - please don't do it again". Ego-driven toss-weasels are the bane of the world - look at the current political situation... well, just about anywhere. The world would be a better place if the autism spectrum of the population compressed towards the autism end, along with the average introversion score increasing.

  4. ecofeco Silver badge

    Hand cranked code?

    I stopped doing that the instant I found more automation. And never looked back.

    Like around 1996.

    However, the experience of first doing it manually helped to trouble-shoot all further problems. So got experience and increased my production speed and quality. Win/win.

    Web coding these days? What an utter disaster.

    1. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Hand cranked code?

      "the instant I found more automation. And never looked back. Like around 1996."

      Yeah, but the automation back then REALLY sucked

      "the experience of first doing it manually helped to trouble-shoot all further problems"

      My first experience with automation (would have been maybe around 1999?) was that I had to recode quite a bit of the html manually anyway. IIRC it was a very early version of dreamweaver?

      And MS had some sort of web publishing tool, I forget the name but it used to drive me absolutely nuts. But I had a stingy boss who wouldn't stump up for any web dev tools

      1. DJV Silver badge

        Re: Hand cranked code?

        It was called FrontPage - and, yes, it was absolute shite. However, even that was far better than the bloated mess that Word would produce as HTML.

        1. Evil Harry
          Thumb Up

          Re: Hand cranked code?

          Microsoft FrontPage and its pesky server side extensions to make all the functions that customers thought would just work, actually work! We had fun configuring those on Linux back in the day! :D

          1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

            Re: Hand cranked code?

            "We had fun configuring those on Linux back in the day!"

            Not ALL of us had fun doing that... I seem to recall that was a bit of a pain in the ass to get working. But if memory serves, the Linux modules from ReadyToRun were more solid than the "native" ones for Windows. In fact, I think if you've got $$$ burning a hole in your pocket, RTR is still in business and still providing FPSE for Linux and Windows.

            Personally, I was OK with the drag-and-drop page creation in FP - it was pretty cool in 2000, and faster than hand coding. I just never liked the messy, messy HTML that it generated. Obviously the FrontPage guys (I forget who they were) didn't care much for line breaks or indenting, just fling it all in the file as a long, twisted string of text. Nobody's ever gonna see it, right?

        2. macjules

          Re: Hand cranked code?

          IIRC DreamWeaver even had an plugin for rewriting pages created in FrontPage or Word.

          I started off using BBEdit in 1994 and, with a few exceptions, (PHPStorm for good unit and PHPCS testing) am still using it 25 years later.

          1. jonathan keith

            Re: Hand cranked code?

            I started off with Notepad at about the same time, and later on moved to Notepad++ :o)

        3. jmch Silver badge

          Re: Hand cranked code?

          Oh, God, yes, FrontPage! my brain probably forcibly deleted that reference many years ago :)

          1. DJV Silver badge

            my brain probably forcibly deleted that reference many years ago

            Who can blame it!

          2. myootnt

            Re: Hand cranked code?

            Nope, sorry, your brain only removed the symlink to FP. It's still in there, taking up blocks of storage, burning pub fries to stay alive.

      2. Psmo

        Re: Hand cranked code?

        I had to recode quite a bit of the html manually anyway

        Every three to five years I come across a mangled html doc with deeply nested CSS styles that is so screwed it has to be redone manually because tracing style overloads and nested divs over a dozen levels make dev go something-something.

        It's given me a healthy distrust of auto-generation tools.

      3. Blitheringeejit

        Re: Hand cranked code?

        "Lovingly hand-crafted, elegant and cruft-free code"


      4. Mystic Megabyte

        Re: Hand cranked code?

        >>And MS had some sort of web publishing tool, I forget the name

        IIRC MS Publisher could also output crap HTML.

        1. Mike Pellatt

          Re: Hand cranked code?

          IIRC MS Publisher could also output crap


    2. Tom 7

      Re: Hand cranked code?

      I stopped doing that the instant I found more automation. And never looked back.

      After that I was desperately hand modifying the pages that stopped working with an MS upgrade!

    3. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Hand cranked code?

      I still have crank HTML. It may not have all the whizzy modern effects, but it's valid and for the simple things I do, it measures in kilobytes, not megabytes. And it's readable. And it makes sense and isn't a car crash of nested CSS.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hand cranked code?

        I use a handwritten HTML page daily. It's a list of links to work-related websites, mostly internal, that are FAR more useful than the company-mandated homepage. Had to use a combination of command line options and a new-tab extension just to use my own file as homepage, too. 25 links in a table format, only "special" code being swapping columns and rows to make it easier to maintain (it's organized by column).

        1. cbars Silver badge

          Re: Hand cranked code?

          Had the same about 7 years ago, but try Opera or Firefox quickstart pages, its the same and no fiddling. Only thing i miss from mine is XMLHTMLRequest checking the login pages to tell me if Dev/Test etc is up or down ;)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hand cranked code?

            try Opera or Firefox quickstart pages

            As far as I know, they're not easy to email to colleagues. Whenever there's someone new in my office, I email them a copy of my little page, as it takes care of 90% of the company links they'll need. (The other 10% being dependent on what exactly the new guy does.)

            1. cbars Silver badge

              Re: Hand cranked code?

              They are bookmarks and easily shareable :)

              Opera even colour codes them by domain/IP so they are visually if not spacially grouped

  5. jake Silver badge

    I once flipped a "Bicycle" brand ...

    ... playing card at our ass of a Boss as he was exiting the lunchroom. Somehow, it flew true and managed to knock his glasses off ... directly under the wheels of a passing pallet jack. I got reamed, but the jackass couldn't fire me because he had just very publicly rewarded me and a team of other engineers for managing to do the impossible by building a working prototype in seven days, thus landing a major contract. The prototype? A heavy equipment mounted laser level controlled hydraulic system for setting grade on construction sites.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    quick cp

    A couple of days before April fools day, I had a very brief moment of root access on a colleagues workstation while he was out of the room, I decided to mess with his head by replacing his ping binary with a shell script that simply echoed "$1: Name or service not known". I wrote the file and created a cron entry to overwrite the file on the morning of April 1st. Of course being a careful soul, I backed up the binary first then set the cron to * * * * * just so I could see the move working correctly, in case there was some permissions issue I hadn't considered. It worked fine, great, move the original binary back into place and change the cron to 0 7 1 4 *. Oh, he's back early, no time to do that final step. Turns out he doesn't use ping very often and it was several weeks before he even noticed, I had to come clean as he would literally never have thought of checking the contents of the binary and there really wasn't any reasonable explanation for how I immediately knew how to fix it. Oops

  7. Tascam Holiday

    Silly oversight

    One important step was omitted.

    sudo chown ceo incriminating_image.jpg

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Silly oversight

      PHB would have been better.

    2. Tom 7

      Re: Silly oversight

      Unfortunately most image formats have things like Author and create date and stuff and much software will glibly fill them in for you,

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Silly oversight

        Well, for JPG images you can delete or edit EXIF tags to your heart's content. And there are thousands of tags to play with too. More fun!!!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Keyboard japes

    I was working in a support team of mixed software and hardware engineers, one of my colleagues was the best CPU engineer in the company but could not handle PC's In my defence I did give him a lot of support but sometimes my evil side came out.

    I masked the new higher functioning editor so he got the old command line editor, he just couldn't come to terms with the new tool and kept screwing things up.

    I also swapped the M and N keytops on his keyboard and remapped the keys. I did this when he was on holiday and then forgot about it for 6 months.

    It was only when he mentioned he could only seem to type properly on his pc and had problems on site that I remembered. I had to work late that night to reverse my devilry, he never ever cottoned on to what happened.

    What did nearly get me sacked was leaving a memo on his desk stating that the company was introducing early morning exercise classes (we had just been taken over by a Japanese company). As I had used our new scanner to produce a very official looking memo he fell for it big time and went off to see our head of department. One thing which was guaranteed to get you fired was anything which blemished our brand. Thankfully someone intercepted him before he got there and let him in on the joke.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Keyboard japes

      As I had used our new scanner to produce a very official looking memo he fell for it big time and went off to see our head of department.

      Hmm - yeah. I once scanned a school letter, cleaned up the letterhead and then replaced the middle bit with a new letter in the same typeface and size regarding the use of drugs in school premises and naming a senior staff member, all signed by the headmaster etc etc, very official. Printed off about a dozen copies to much mirth.

      One of them found its way under that senior staff member's door.

      He was looking for blood (being a very angry man at the best of times) and I was bricking it for weeks.

      A couple of copies ended up in the hands of parents too, much to their dismay, resulting in further questions being asked of the school.

      That would have been about 1989/1990, but I'm still posting AC on this one - he was a very angry man, even at the best of times!

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        Re: Keyboard japes

        "senior staff member's door... was looking for blood (being a very angry man at the best of times) and I was bricking it for weeks...

        That would have been about 1989/1990, but I'm still posting AC on this one - he was a very angry man, even at the best of times!"

        There is a man who shouldn't have been allowed anywhere near children. No one should be so scared of someone in loco parents that it stays with them for thirty years. I wonder how many people he really damaged.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Keyboard japes

          As you say, it was 30 years ago. There were some real "characters" in the senior staff there, but the worst they'd do was put you on their "list" so you'd have to check in at the start and end of every day with them, put you on detention, and generally be a massive pain in the arse.

          This one in particular (let's call him Dan because that's his name) loved to shout and scream at kids, which was really not on. On the other hand, 10-15 years earlier he'd have been able to whack them with a belt or ruler without any comeback.

          The big problem with him (and his ilk) was that if you had a class with him, you'd spend more time trying not to get into trouble than learning. I had one of his shouty colleagues (and let's call him Brian) once for Chemistry, and I accidentally smashed a test tube by washing it with cold water when it was still hot, and I expected to get a bawling out for it (because he had that reputation), but strangely in class he was fine.

          I was never really in trouble with these people - only very occasionally did I ever appear on their radar. But looking back on it now, I can see why those who ended up in their sights hated school and didn't do well at it. Some of these pupils have done brilliantly for themselves outside of that environment.

          30 years - where did it go?

          1. steviebuk Silver badge

            Re: Keyboard japes

            You're fine, he's either an old git now or dead.

        2. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: Keyboard japes

          I do remember pissing off a PE teacher so much* that he grabbed ~10yo me by my shirt and lifted me off the ground and shouted straight in my face.

          It wasn't until a couple of years later that I remembered it (annoying a teacher didn't make much of an impression at the time) and realised that he'd have been fired if I'd ever mentioned it. Anyway, I learnt my lesson that it's best to stop being cheeky before you've wound someone up that much...

          * Not intentionally, I just couldn't dribble a basketball round some cones, although I had probably deliberately been winding him up before.

      2. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: Keyboard japes

        Not to justify it but some kids were rights shits back then. In our school, roughly the same time just a year or two earlier, a mild mannered teacher was hounded in science every lesson. The shits in our class knew he couldn't control them so they'd act up. At one point he snapped and punched the blackboard while shouting. Then clutched his chest. The shits panicked as we all thought he was having a heart attack. They were so worried they even asked him if he was alright but he was so pissed off with them he told them to shut-up and get on with work. It felt if at that moment he'd rather die than have to carry on dealing with the shits.

        The rest of the lesson everyone was silent.

        I don't recall what happened the next week. I know he never died and assume he wasn't having a heart attack (at least I don't recall hearing anything about it later) but it didn't stop the arseholes continuing to be an arsehole too him in other science lessons.

        Problem when you get a teacher like that in school, is you never learn anything. He was too busy trying to control, unsuccessfully, the shits, that we'd never get anything done. And I'm sure the shits had a death with as they'd randomly set fire to the gas taps without the bunsen burner attached in some lessons.

    2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Keyboard japes

      Not my anecdote, but a mates, and from finance rather than IT. As I remember it he was fairly senior in one of the London investment banks, and was on a train with some colleagues to visit a company to assess it for investment. In the first class carriage next door was Gordon Brown and his posse. The lads were discussing same arcane point of financial theory and decided to get it from the source, so my mate got up, went into Gordon Browns carriage, explained what was going on to security then the man himself, and managed to get an answer in return.

      So far, so dull. My mate returned to his carriage, and decided to gift Mr Brown a book on the topic which he'd been reading - signing it off with his name and "Thanks for your help, maybe you'll find this interesting". Being in Finance, of course his mates had previously found the book on his desk and added their own scribble inside, which - as I recall - was "<name> likes little boys" and a picture to match.

      Fortunately, sometime before he handed the same book to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, my friend and noted said scribble and removed the page. His friends were unaware of this, and were mortified when he related his tale to them on his return - I believe their guilt kept him in dinner and drinks for some time.

  9. Deimos

    The greatest jape

    Can be created by taking ownership of a particular boring British standard or process (Prince 2 is a good one).

    Then you can reject any work or task you don’t fancy as “non compliant”.

    I watched a particularly talented work dodger do this for almost a decade and it was a truly amazing performance to

    watch as she managed two decades of producing nothing but meetings. I found not laughing at meetings to be a herculean task in itself.

    Unfortunately I couldn’t say anything as she taught me the trick and even told me which standard to adopt (ISO14001 the environmental one). It is nice being retired whilst “still working”.....

    1. macjules

      Re: The greatest jape

      They are known as “Project Managers”. They get paid extortionate sums for organising daily stand ups, chiding developers about their ‘burn-down ratios’, creating meeting requests and not knowing how to use Jira properly.

      Eventually their ability to use a computer fails and they start to use post-it notes on the first available white wall. Some can get away with this all their lives.

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        Re: The greatest jape

        I know several who are promoted far further than me* without actually producing anything in their lives. Now, I am aware that a skilled cog-greaser is worth their weight in gold, but I only know one who falls into that category - the rest are, effectively, accelerated entropy generators.

        *I don't care that I'm not being promoted - I'm happy where I am, being trusted to do what I do without significant oversight. However, it would be good to see people who actually want to achieve something other than padding their own CV getting ahead. The current "style over substance" employment situation does no one any good.

  10. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Oldie Here

    I still have a hand crafted website. It's very simple (and looks dated), but still manages to drop jaws when people see how blindingly fast it loads.

    It's also designed with clearly demarked sections making cut and paste a viable option.

    1. fobobob

      Re: Oldie Here

      You're doing it wrong! You must make a mangle of invisible table/div elements that cause text selection to overflow in myriad intriguing patterns!

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Oldie Here

      My site is a lot like that. Unfortunately, I've been informed that using this format on anything else, including temporary sites that the frontend people will replace, is bad because I haven't included at least twelve image files and about five external CSS files that make the page look like the image they have in their head but can't actually describe. When suggesting that they could design the page to their liking, I am courteously informed that of course they don't know how to do that because they don't have technical jobs, but I'm the software developer so I should know how to make a page that doesn't look old. And thus ends the story of why I'm never doing frontend.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oldie Here

        100% agree.

        My all time favourite was the marketing person who wanted a new set of graphical buttons (you can tell this was a long time ago.) Nothing he was shown satisfied him. So we showed him where you could find libraries of them. A year later he was still complaining about the website but had still not found anything he liked.

        These people fulfil the description of critics I remember Frank Muir giving once: "They're like eunuchs; they know why it's done, they know how it's done, they feel free to criticise the performance - but they can't do it themselves."

      2. PerlLaghu

        Re: Oldie Here

        I'm having similar fun here at work.... the joys of "Accessibility Regulations", and "Semantic Meaning"

        Bamboozle the PMs! "Break this down into semantic sections, and we can create properly structured content", and "Structure and Presentation" influence each other, so you need to tell be BOTH before I can start" :)

  11. ma1010

    This sort of joke can definitely have bad career effects

    A fellow I knew used to work at *Big Company Everyone Has Heard Of* which I'll call BigCo. The coders had been working too many hours with too much pressure, so had, at one point, put some code in that said "BigCo Sucks!" over and over, filling the screen, if a certain condition was met in the program. Exhausted, they went home Friday night. That weekend, their boss and his boss came in. The big boss wanted to see some code run, so the boss, who did not know about the "modification," fired up the program. I'm sure everyone can see where this is going: the screen filled up with "BigCo Sucks!" in front of the big boss. Oops.

    The big boss was not amused. On Monday, he called the coders in and fired them all.

    After I heard that story, I restrained myself to using subtle and ambiguous (and thus much harder to prove) insults to my employer in any code I wrote, just in case something like the above happened.

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: This sort of joke can definitely have bad career effects

      See my earlier comment about egotistical toss-weasels!

  12. Wingel

    I used to work for one of the bigger multinational banks. I setup a webserver on my workstation to hold documentation for the dev team I was working with (I had a Unix box, they all had locked down NT). For the general amusement of my colleagues I put a copy of the infamous "See Figure 1" memo on the webserver. What I didn't realise was that the bank ran an internal crawler & search engine. A week or two later I got a call from the US personnel department (I was in the UK), to castigate me. Apparently someone of a delicate disposition had seen the memo and had taken exception to the prominent ASCII graphic and the matter was being taken *very seriously*. Cue profuse apologies, and multiple promises to never put up anything of that nature again.

    I also quietly took down the copy of the IBM mouse balls memo I'd also put on the server...

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

      aw shame, poor widdle snowflake...

      ah well, bound to be somebody who'll be offended at small things.

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

        You do realise that there seems to be a new breed of 'professional' offendees.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          It's almost as if there were no win no fee HR lawyers.

    2. Kernel

      "Apparently someone of a delicate disposition had seen the memo and had taken exception to the prominent ASCII graphic and the matter was being taken *very seriously*. "

      Many, many years ago the New Zealand Post Office (as it was in the day) published a new phone book which, as normal, included a new yellow pages section filled with exciting new ads - for the younger viewers, back in those days you actually had to persuade people to come and look at your ad, rather than just inflict it upon them whether they were interested or not.

      Anyhoo, one of the ads included a graphic (well named, as it turned out) of a monkey up a coconut tree - it wasn't long after publication that the more observant members of the public spotted that not all the depicted coconuts were attached to the tree.

      I believe that exercise cost some clever young person a future career in a printing works.

      I can no longer recall exactly why the monkey was up the coconut tree, but I do know that the ad was not selling either monkeys or coconuts.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Was it selling trees?

        Process of elimination and all that.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        "Gets your monkey up the tree!"

  13. RLWatkins

    We need more Fionas.

    A realistic viewpoint, a realistic assessment of one's colleagues, and a realistic attitude toward the drooling horde of Chinless Crustaceans who strut and preen as they plague the upper ranks at least of American Big Business is to be treasured, indeed cherished.

    1. BuckeyeB

      Re: We need more Fionas.

      Fiona is no snitch.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Photo Fau Pas

    I have a similar tale, I worked in a small support team there was the manager, Team lead, Me , and 3 others.

    It was the early days of computing and I was playing around with slackware back when it ran on windows and worked a lot like cygwin does today.

    I managed to get some photos of the rest of the team and edited their employee numbers onto a plate below their face, I was (and still am ) photo shy and we didnt have a photo of me, or Steve the team lead, Peter the manager was not going to be there obviously. So I did a photo slideshow that showed the other 3 members of the team showing their Company ID numbers.

    Then I was pulled into a meeting with HR... Apparently I hadnt realised but all the other members of the team were from minorities, and you would have hoped that it would have been a "think a bit more before you do something like this again" and a slap on the wrist. However an official complaint had been brought in by one of the other team members who demanded that I be fired instantly or he was going to drag the company through the courts for supporting racist views as he was going to claim that I was intimating that all minorities were Criminals.....

    Bye Bye one nice job.... (this was just after the Stephen Lawrence problems so it was always the race card for some people.)

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Photo Fau Pas

      "slackware back when it ran on windows and worked a lot like cygwin does today."

      No. The Slackware distribution has always run on the Linux kernel.

    2. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: Photo Fau Pas

      "I hadnt realised but all the other members of the team were from minorities... "

      Ah, see, there was your mistake - you aren't allowed to see *people*, you have to see *what makes them different*, and then not treat them differently. I run into this problem all the time - a person is a person unless they prove otherwise (see earlier comments about ego-driven toss weasels, for example) - genitalia and melanin make no difference to me in the workplace. The only relevant issue is "can they do the job", but apparently this makes me sexist and racist to some people.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A decade back I had the pleasure of taking over a similar hand-crafted website with a distinct 90s-want-their-site-back feel to it. The site was littered with unreferenced and unrelated imagery but that, however, was not the root cause of the hilarity that ensued. The site was hosted on a shared IIS server managed by the person from whom I inherited the site. The usual worked just fine; presenting a page of aviation goodies. One day I shortened the URL to and had a coffee snorting event: the page was now ... OMG ponies. The DNS configuration was borked and directed me to the local pony club. $Diety only knows how many customers before my time had mysteriously been offered equine accoutrements for their aircraft.

    Thankfully, no HR department to assume I was deliberately tarnishing the company brand by equating it with a horse's ....

    1. ICPurvis47


      When I was working as a Mechanical Development Engineer for a large electrical engineering company, I had dealings with a supplier called DTK Engineering. I had a link on my desktop to their website, which I used almost daily to order stuff and gather information. One day, I was at someone else's desk, and wanted to show them DTK's website, so they could use it as well, it had several useful conversion tables on it, which we could use in our line of work. I typed the URL into the computer, and was taken to a very NSFW website, Dangerous To Know. Apparently, I had confused DTK Engineerings TLD with the .com TLD of that other site, and both I and the other chap were rather astonished at what was on offer there. Quickly corrected the mistake, but had a good look round the site when at home on my own PC.

  16. snellasaurus

    I Love you

    Cast your mind back - if you will - to 1999. It was my first full year of employment and, coincidentally I will add, the year that .vbs script 'viruses/worms' brought down exchange servers across the globe.

    My company was badly hit as my line manager clicked on the attachment in an email titled 'Ilove you' from a respectable elderly male colleague (?)and the ensuing email-bukkake brought our exchange servers and many NT file servers down, things were just about getting back to normal by the end of the week.

    I was working the weekend with colleagues trying to update an Intranet site containing all the company Standard Procedures with a colleague. The city is a particularly lonesome place on the weekend and so as our minds strayed and we had to test various parts of the site including outbound email alerts...

    For some reason my colleague John (who I will refer to as John because he does not need anonymity) seeded the various test messages with Subject lines including - I still love you. We might have got away with this if the marketing department had not ALSO been working that weekend, in a separate office, and been so spooked by the 'return' of the virus that they decided to turn off PC's, stop working and go home.

    Fair to say that there was a bit of a dressing down come Monday...

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: I Love you

      ILOVEYOU was mid 2000, not 1999 ...

      1. snellasaurus

        Re: I Love you

        Well in that case I had even less of an excuse...with a weighty 12 months of real world experience behind me ;-) None the less, it did happen!

        I also used to have a habit of putting silly comments into System.out.println calls (in environments where IDE/debug tools were not available) and the used to line in fear that 'GIMP!' might appear on the console one day in production...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I Love you

          Just make sure that the message "If you can read this you probably need to reboot the server" only appears if, in fact, you do need to reboot the server.

          There was this new programmer who wanted to show how clever he was so he set up a list of standard error messages and then referenced them by number...fine until you get the constant definition wrong.


    Handcranked Superiority

    The article was good and funny, but the title is bad. It implies handcranked html is bad, and that is wrong. Using an automated process to generate html leads to code more than 10 times larger, slower, full of bugs, and very difficult to change or fix. Systems like Wordpress and Drupal produce huge blocks of one size fits all in a kitchen sink approach that is awful. Handcranked html is almost always vastly superior, and only takes a little more time. But it more than makes up for the extra development time by much quicker runtimes.

  18. d3vy

    I once used some spare key caps to spell out "SUCK ME OFF" across a co workers keyboard when I was in tech support.

    Hilarity ensued and he thought it was funny so didn't put it right and kept using it.

    The hilarity wore off one day when his keyboard disappeared.. turns out someone had called tech support (US) complaining of a failed keyboard and unable to find any new ones in the supply cupboard the tech had just picked up the cleanest looking one he could find...

    Who was it destined for? A normal Joe blogs user who was a bit of a dick and just happened to be very good friends with the MD... Several frantic phone calls later we were able to retrieve the offending peripheral before it was delivered to the user... crisis averted but I learned a very valuable lesson that day.

    1. Criggie

      Was it "secure your peripherals to your desk before some lazy coworker swipes them" ?

  19. William Higinbotham

    Netscape Web Page Tool

    I built a web page once about my resume and father. Seems like great utility that did not last very long in this environment. Was fun while it lasted though!

  20. rskurat

    Humourless HR has never heard "no harm, no foul" apparently

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