Genii Weblog

Competence is a precious commodity

Tue 21 Oct 2003, 02:06 PM

by Ben Langhinrichs
There are only a few things that I am really good at, such playing with small children, baking bread, manipulating rich text.  There are a great many that I am horrible at, such as playing basketball (or baseball or hockey or football or...), ordering wine, picking out birthday presents.  Finally, there are a great number of things that I muddle through without any great competence, such as, well, everything else.
One great pleasure I have is finding in other people the things they are really good at.  You can usually tell quite quickly just by the way they sit up and pay attention and ask pertinent questions about their area of expertise.  Then, the mind whirrs for a moment, and BAM! the answer is there.
I was witness to this today, and it was fortuitous, because the area of difficulty was JavaScript and Notes development in general.  Notes development may fall into the third area I describe above, but I'm afraid JavaScript falls into the second.  Anyway, I've been having a nagging problem with the Midas Help database integrated into the website that I described before.  I was getting a JavaScript error when I went to one view and not to the other, and it seemed to have something odd to do with the IFRAME I was using and the frameset in the Help db, but I was lost.  Not just ordinary lost, like driving down Vine when you know you are supposed to be on Sycamore and the pizza place must be somewhere.  No, this was lost like hiking into the woods in Alaska and losing your compass and twisting your ankle, without a map and with only rancid bacon to keep you company.  That kind of lost.
Anyway, I called my various sources, who mostly shrugged, and finally Andrew Pollack pointed me towards Rich Schwartz.
"Are you sure he'll know?", I asked with significant doubt (not due to any worries about Richard,  but due to my fear that fate was on my side).
"Trust me, he'll know in a heartbeat.", Andrew said (or something like that.  I'm not a reporter, so I don't carry a little pad of paper to make sure I am misquoting people properly).
So, I called Richard (because we are both in Penumbra, so I have no shame about begging a bit of free advice), and I described the situation.  I must admit, I held out little hope.  He didn't have the design of the database.  He didn't have a person with a clue on my side describing the situation (just me).  I sighed, and I swear the rancid bacon sighed with me.
But a couple of incomprehensible (to me) questions later, and Richard, without anything in front of him but the source in HTML and the basic problem described, said (and again I paraphrase), "Your view has an onLoad on the $$ViewTemplate for that view and it is conflicting with the frameset".
Huh?  That view doesn't even have a $$ViewTemplate, or so I thought.  And even if it did, what are the chances it has an onLoad event?  Well, what do you know?  There really is a $$ViewTemplate, and it really does have an onLoad event, and when I got rid of the pesky bugger, the whole thing worked perfectly. Wow!  I'll say it again. Wow!
I just have to say that next time I am stranded in the Alaskan wilderness, I'm leaving the rancid bacon at home and taking a volleyball along, as I hear they make better company.  And on that volleyball, I'm writing Richard Schwartz's phone number, because you never know when a web will be strung across your path, and Richard is one heck of a wizard when it comes to web stuff.

Copyright 2003 Genii Software Ltd.

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