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They Just Don T Get It

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rudy limeback

Member info

User since: 14 Dec 1998

Articles written: 12

Someone in my company recently asked me for help

with a Javascript error she was getting. "Sure," I said,

being an old programmer who loves a challenge. The problem

was on a very well-known Canadian corporation's Web site,

which several people inside our company use on a regular basis, and

who knows how many thousands in the real world. It was happening in

Netscape but not Internet Explorer.

Here's the code that was generating the error --

  <input type="text" name="origin" size="10" value="">

  <img src="/images/nav/home/down_arrow.gif"

    width="16" height="22" align="absmiddle"

    alt="Choose a City" border="0"

    onMouseDown="setMouseDown(event, self);"

    onMouseUp="openWindow(event, self,



     390, 140);">

"Wow," I opined. "That is so cool!"  

"Shaddap, Rudy. You're talking out loud again,"

came a voice from over the cubicle partition.

This was the first time I had ever seen anything like this.

It's a combination INPUT TEXT field and a

special "down arrow" gif, and together they look just like a dropdown select list.

When you click on the image that looks like the down arrow of

a dropdown list, a small window pops up which contains --

are you ready for this? -- a dropdown list! You pick an entry from the list,

and it gets populated back into the text box.

(How do I know this? Because it works fine in Internet Explorer. However,

Netscape is our company standard.) You have to close the popup window

using the Close button, but that's a minor quibble. Alternatively, if you know

what you want, you can type it right into the text box. Not a bad idea,

a combination input/dropdown control. Too bad it throws an error

in Netscape, eh?

"Okay, I'll get to the bottom of this," I said -- to myself, this time.

There's a Contact page, I'll write to the webmaster.

Here's what transpired.

Note that I've changed the domain to because

they did not give me permission to post their emails and make fun of them on

a public site, although I daresay they probably would never know it.

2000-10-03 15:47

  hi webmaster

  several people in our company are reporting javascript errors using your home page

  "JavaScript Error:, line 705: init is not defined."

  plus a couple others (possibly related)

  seems to be only certain versions of netscape (not sure)

  internet explorer 4.01 works okay

  rudy limeback

It was ten (10) days before the answer came back:

2000-10-13 10:13


  that will occur with older browsers.

  Our website is compatible with versions of 4 +


Duh. No it's not.

2000-10-13 11:25

  thanks for the reply

  the javascript errors are occuring on netscape 4.04 specifically (our company desktop standard) and other 4+ versions of netscape

  there must be something wrong with your netscape 4+ version detection script, because i'm still getting these errors --

  JavaScript Error:, line 913: IsBrowser is not defined.

  JavaScript Error:, line 713: init is not defined.

  JavaScript Error:, line 625: function does not always return a value.



  just thought you should know


Only four days to get an answer this time (two if you don't count the weekend):

2000-10-17 11:04


  You will need the latest version, Netscape 4.75. 4.04 is an older

version. You need only upgrade the browser version.


I don't believe it. Let's see if I can get this person on the phone.

Notice that he or she has still not identified himself/herself.

2000-10-17 11:19


  thanks for the reply

  could you please give me a quick call? please?


  416 864 8268

This time a fairly quick response:

2000-10-17 12:05


  Please call 1-800-xxx-xxxx for assistance.

  thank you

Getting warm, eh? I thought so too.

2000-10-17 13:43


  i tried that number but all i got was a generic recording

  there was no option like "press 4 to speak to the webmaster"

  i want to actually discuss the javascript with you

  do you have a problem with discussing the javascript with me?

  i won't bite, honest

  i would like to help you fix it

  i think telling a client to upgrade their browser version is, um, very lame to say the least, but i also understand that perhaps you do not have the authority or autonomy to discuss this with me

  if you do not wish to discuss it, could you please pass me to one of your superiors?



Now the kicker --

2000-10-17 14:33


  I've forwarded this to our technical experts. I am not authorized to

call customers.


Is that a riot, or what?! The person who

responds to the emails from the Web site is not authorized to

actually speak to the customers? Time to send them over to

They just don't get it.

I have still not heard back from them, but it's only been a week.

My involvement with goes back to 1998, as one of the original founders. I'm an SQL consultant who dabbled in web development for several years, in the "golden age" between HTML 2 and XHTML 1.1. My web sites are and I live in Toronto, Canada, and you are all cordially invited to come and visit and play a round of frisbee golf with me.

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