The Leader Guide, my Albatross

The Ockanickon Leader Guide is easily the best publication I’ve ever seen come out of any camp. Which is quite saddening considering how much it absolutely blows compared to what it could be. There aren’t many links, nothing is where it should be and the HTML is like looking at a schizophrenics attempt at Row Row Row Your Boat in around. There are giant white spaces that came from nowhere and so many fucking “MsoNormal” tags that I’m pretty sure the document doesn’t show on G5 Macs out of spite.

The document started as a Publisher document and when the webpage was produced the “export to html” function was employed to generate the page. I have two comparisons to make:

  1. Publisher converting to HTML is like the over-eager Spanish 2 student that calls himself fluent and tries to get a job translating NSA intelligence documents. You can tell that the output is HTML, but bared.
  2. Publisher converting to HTML is like taking a multiplication test but only being allowed to use addition to calculate your answers. You’ll get there, but god you’ll waste paper. So instead of Publisher coverting a 24 pt header as a H4 header, it calls it body text followed by four “make this text bigger” tags.

Over the last year, I’ve vastly expanded my knowledge of HTML and PHP from little, to like four times little, which is in the neighborhood of not much, but still more. So, I took upon the task of removing all the excess sluff and simplifying the presentation using Cascading Style Sheets. That way, I could change everything across the site by changing one page and the update would cascade across the page. Well, Microsoft once again thwarted me.
Me: Okay, Microsoft, convert all body text to size 10 Tahoma and remove bold and shit.
Microsoft: Done, I win the prize!
Me: Good job, Microsoft! Wait… the font face here hasn’t changed, why?
Microsoft: You didn’t tell me to change that.
Me: I said all body text.
Microsoft: All web pages are based inside columns, so that’s column text.
Me: It’s only in a table because you put it in a fucking table, gha…
Microsoft: Don’t get angry at me, I didn’t do it.
Me: Yes you did! You automatically put the body text in a column and turned it to column text.
Microsoft: Users tell me that what they want, I’m just doing what they asked.
Me: I’m a user, listen to me.
Microsoft: You’re a user, but you obviously don’t know what you want.

I’d switch to Dreamweaver, but that’s as easy to use as a 5 dimensional rubix cube. So, I spent 11 hours today decrapping the page and I have my first formal page done. Go to and you’ll see a relatively clean page that I made last year. Now look at the source code, but only if you’re wearing a bib as you’re about to get thrown up at. I don’t know where those white spaces came from, but they don’t do anything. Compare to the elegant simplicity of and you will be met with a melodious silence on the code side.

This may not seem terribly funny, but now the terrible irony. I just received an email from a guy a talked to a few months ago about redoing our page in AJAX and other fancy smancy web 2.0 bullshit that’d make the page usable, and useful and all that crap. Not only will he do this, but it’ll be free, and it’ll automate backend processes if it works correctly like campsite assignment and dining hall assignments.  Stupid progress.