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No Phone Signal at the Grand Canyon
“Can you hear me now?” ... Thor, did I just do that clichéd line? x.x;

Hmm, I’m currently stuck at an outlet mall between Las Vegas and Hollywood for 3 or so hours while the highway is closed down. They are apparently blowing up a chunk of a mountain so they can expand the highway (I-15 South). My vacation has been very event filled so far, with barely enough time to get stuff done, so I figure while I’m stuck here, I might as well get one of the posts I’ve been meaning to do out of the way :-).

The highlights of my vacation so far have included:
  • 2 days at Disney Land, which was lots of fun :-)
  • 3 days in Las Vegas which included:
    • A little gambling
    • Seeing lots of casinos and free shows
    • My travel companion’s wedding
    • Destroying my ankles from walking to each casino to catch all the shows in time. Each Casino is 3-6 blocks long and has so much in them, it feels overwhelming! There’s just too much to see!
  • The Grand Canyon, which was magnificent, majestic, and breathtaking. We also crossed over the Hoover Dam on the way there.
  • We are now heading to Hollywood for the rest of the vacation ^_^.
I am still kind of anxious to get back home, see my kitty, and resume normal life though. This is a lot of activity for an extended period of time for me.

Anyways, Verizon has failed me for the first time ever in the US :-(. I got no signal at the Grand Canyon, doh. That’s all I had to report though, heh. And I’m not really complaining, because Verizon still gets far better signals in far more places than the other phone services I’ve tried.

Internet Connections Abroad
America: Definitely not the most wired or wireless country

Wow, I’m sitting here at 11:45 at night (PST 1/30/2009) with no Internet [this post has been delayed going live until an Internet connection was established]. The hotel we are staying at (The Anaheim Park Hotel at Harbor and 91 in Fullerton) had advertised when reservations were made much earlier that they had free Internet. Alas, they do not. I called the front desk and asked about this, and they told me their free Internet was broken and that they have been trying to fix it. I told them I was a networking expert and might be able to help, to which they replied something to the extent of “we already have networking experts who have been working on it for a few days, but thanks”. This was an obvious lie because it would not take any “networking expert” more than a day to fix this kind of problem, but I did not feel like pushing the issue.

The pay for wireless-Internet service for the hotel is done through Wayport, and it has been very finicky. When I tried to get on earlier tonight the process was breaking after my credit card was submitted for processing. I submitted it 5 or 6 times over a period of time and it broke at the same place each time with an error message something to the extent of “there was an error processing your request. Please try again”. Later on, I couldn’t even get past the main Wayport page to any other section. All pages were returned as zero byte files with no header, which was confirmed through packet sniffing.

0030                    48 54  54 50 2f 31 2e 31 20 33         HT TP/1.1 3
0040  30 34 20 4e 6f 74 20 4d  6f 64 69 66 69 65 64 0d   04 Not M odified.
0050  0a 45 78 70 69 72 65 73  3a 20 53 61 74 2c 20 33   .Expires : Sat, 3
0060  31 20 4a 61 6e 20 32 30  30 39 20 30 37 3a 35 33   1 Jan 20 09 07:53
0070  3a 33 37 20 47 4d 54 0d  0a 4c 61 73 74 2d 4d 6f   :37 GMT. .Last-Mo
0080  64 69 66 69 65 64 3a 20  57 65 64 2c 20 31 31 20   dified:  Wed, 11 
0090  41 70 72 20 32 30 30 37  20 31 34 3a 33 32 3a 34   Apr 2007  14:32:4
00a0  34 20 47 4d 54 0d 0a 4d  49 4d 45 2d 56 65 72 73   4 GMT..M IME-Vers
00b0  69 6f 6e 3a 20 31 2e 30  0d 0a 44 61 74 65 3a 20   ion: 1.0 ..Date: 
00c0  53 61 74 2c 20 33 31 20  4a 61 6e 20 32 30 30 39   Sat, 31  Jan 2009
00d0  20 30 37 3a 34 38 3a 33  37 20 47 4d 54 0d 0a 53    07:48:3 7 GMT..S
00e0  65 72 76 65 72 3a 20 41  4f 4c 73 65 72 76 65 72   erver: A OLserver
00f0  2f 34 2e 35 2e 30 0d 0a  43 6f 6e 74 65 6e 74 2d   /4.5.0.. Content-
0100  4c 65 6e 67 74 68 3a 20  30 0d 0a 43 6f 6e 6e 65   Length:  0..Conne
0110  63 74 69 6f 6e 3a 20 6b  65 65 70 2d 61 6c 69 76   ction: k eep-aliv
0120  65 0d 0a 0d 0a                                     e....            

I blame the fact that the server is “AOLServer” :-).

So, anyways, I called the front desk who had a “technician” come up and he told me to call Wayport. He also told me they did not provide free Internet anymore, and hadn’t for a while, directly contradicting the front desk representative....

So I called the provided Wayport tech support number... which gave me a beeping error signal. I think it was an invalid phone number beeping, but it could have been a busy signal. I tried multiple times, and got the same error response each time, so I couldn’t get through to technical support that way. I tried the general Wayport phone number, and went to the tech support section that way, which asked me to leave a voice message. How crappy and unprofessional :-\. I am giving up for the night in hopes that I can get online in the morning.

I had contemplated getting a Verizon Aircard (wireless Internet for computers over wireless phone waves) for this 10 day trip, but decided I probably wouldn’t need it as most places would provide wireless. How wrong I was. I wish I had now, as it would have been especially helpful at airports and many other times. I have had previous experience with using Verizon Aircards over many months and was very very pleased with the service. Even an iPhone might have been nice... if only it wasn’t only AT&T >:-(.

More Browser Bugs
I really hate web browser scripting due to the multitude of interoperability problems

I’ve been incredibly busy lately, especially with work, but I finally have some time for personal stuff like posting again, yay. I’m currently stuck at the airport, and am leaving at 7AM this morning on vacation for 10 days on a tour of the west coast (Los Angeles, Disney World, Hollywood, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, etc). The main reason for this get away is I’ll be meeting up with a good friend and his fiancée for their vacation and will be attending his wedding in Las Vegas ^_^.

I am currently on one of those open network connections at the airport that you have to pay to use, tunneled through one of my SSH servers, so I can bypassing their pay service and get online for free to post this :-). Hey, it’s their own fault for not securing it properly lol. I periodically kept getting dropped connections due to a weak signal, so I had to get back up after finding the connection and walk around, using my iPod to detect signal strengths until I found a better area with a stronger signal because. The thing is proving to be very useful ^_^. Anywho, on to the content of the post.

I’ve recently run into a number of new bugs [new to me at least] in both IE (version 7) and Firefox (version 3) that I have not encountered before and, as usual, have to program around to accomplish my tasks. I thought I’d discuss 3 of these bugs.

  • Relative (non absolute) base URL paths do not work in either Firefox or Internet Explorer.

    Setting a base path for a website is often a necessity for websites that have web pages that are in subdirectories beyond the websites’s root directory. The reason for this is that the page-common layout of a web page usually refers to all images and content in a relative path. This is done for multiple reasons including:

    • Ease of moving the site between addresses like for test stages, or if the site is served from multiple domain names.
    • It’s easier to read source code URLs this way
    • It makes the HTML files smaller; though this isn’t a problem for most users these days because internet connection speeds are much faster.

    An example of W3C valid code that produces this error is as follows:
    <head><base href="/MySite/">
    The code, unfortunately, has to be an absolute URL like the following for current versions of IE and Firefox.
    <head><base href="http://domain.com/MySite/">

    One simple method to solve this problem is to use JavaScript to set an absolute base URL. Unfortunately, this then requires web browsers to have JavaScript enabled to work :-\. For this reason, this is really a quick fix for internal use that shouldn’t be put into production use unless JavaScript is required anyways.

    The following code will set a base of “http://domain.com/MySite/” for “http://domain.com/MySite/Posts/Post1.html”.

    	<script type="text/javascript">
    		function GetBase() //Get the directory above the current path’s URL
    			return document.location.protocol+	//The protocol ("http:" or "https:")
    				'//'+				//End the protocol section with a //
    				document.location.hostname+	//The host (domain)
    				document.location.pathname.replace(/(\/[^/]*){2}$/,'')+ //This moves up 1 directory from the current path. To move up more directories, set the "2" in this line to NumberOfDirectoriesToMoveUp+1
    				'/';				//Add a '/' to set the end of the path as a directory
    		document.write('<base href="'+GetBase()+'">'); //Write a BASE object to set the current web page’s base URL to GetBase()

    A simpler solution is to just have your parsing language (PHP for example) detect the server you are running on and set the proper base URL accordingly. This method assumes you know all the possible places/addresses your website will run on.

    <head><base href="<?=($_SERVER['HTTP_HOST']=='domain.com' ? 'http://domain.com/MySite/' : 'http://domain2.com/')?>"></head>
  • Reserved keywords in IE cannot be used as object members
    Example (JavaScript):
    var MyObject={};
    MyObject.return=function() { return true; }
    Solution: Instances of this must be encoded in strings
    var MyObject={};
    MyObject['return']=function() { return true; }
    This also occurs for other reserved keywords like “debugger” and “for”.
  • IE’s window does not have the “hasOwnProperty” member function like ALL OTHER OBJECTS

    This is a major nuisance because trying to find out if a variable exists and is not a prototype in the global scope is an important function. *sighs*

    The fix for this is using “window.VARIABLE!==undefined”, though this won’t tell you if the variable is actually instanced or [again] if it is part of the prototype; only if it is defined.

One more JavaScript engine difference between IE and Firefox is that in IE you can’t end a hash with an empty member. For example, the following works in Firefox, but not IE:

var b={a:1, b:2, c:3, d:4, };

This shouldn’t really be done anyways, so it’s not really a problem IMO. I ran across this when converting some bad Perl code (generated by YACC) which coincidentally allows this.

It’s really hard making everything compatible across all web browser platforms when they all contain so many nuances and bugs :-\.