Broken CSS on [Daniel-Schar’s-Redacted-Business-Name-Here]

This post has been modified from its original version so to redact mentions of the business name due to threatening correspondence my mother has received from Daniel Schar, the owner of the business described herein. To learn more, read the end of this post.

Tonight I spent much of my time exploring the remains of one of the two PC machines my father gave me for my up-and-coming “computer lab.” There wasn’t much of interest on the machine, but as I was looking around the apartment I realized I had more computers than monitors.

Hardware Countdown

My oldest machine, an ancient first-generation Apple iMac DV:SE (do you remember those?), obviously contains the CRT screen along with the computer hardware in one box. So for the most part I consider that one unit. I also have my laptop which falls under the same category, but then I have two PC towers, and I’m getting ready for yet another from my mother along with a G3 tower soon. All of them are headless.

I only have one stand-alone monitor. So that means up to four computers need to share one monitor. Since I’m planning on using at least one or two computers as dedicated servers, I’m not going to need those connected to monitors all the time. For instance, I could VNC in and look around on the rare occasions when I have to. The others, however, are probably going to need something more scalable. I don’t have the space or the money for more monitors, so the best solution here is undoubtedly a KVM switch.

Broken CSS Can Lead to Unuseable Sites

As I was browsing, I came upon [Daniel Schar’s Redacted-Business-Name-Here], retailers of every kind of KVM switch imagineable. Unfortunately, when I arrived I couldn’t read any product description because the bottom two-thirds of each line of text was chopped off, disappearing behind a white background. Here’s a screen shot.

Daniel-Schar's-Redacted-Business-Name-Here.com's product catalog is unreadable in Gecko-based browsers.

My first thought was confusion, but my second was to see if I could fix it. So I dived into the source and traced the problem to a <span></span> element that was pretending to be a block-level box. Their CSS had given the span a width, background and border, but no display property.

Without the proper display rule, CSS-compliant browsers treated the span as an inline element, which is obviously not what the designer had intended. So I created a local style-sheet of my own and fixed the problem for the duration of my stay on their site. Here is the style sheet I used:

.detspecs { display: block; }

Believe it or not, that’s it. That’s all it took to fix the problem. I was using Firefox to browse the site, but after a while I became curious about the other browsers. It turns out that the site looks like this on Firefox for Mac, Netscape on both Mac and Windows, and while it’s mostly better in Safari, nasty black lines cut into the text on that browser as well. Opera 7.5 on both Mac and Windows, along with Internet Explorer 6 for Windows and 5.2 for the Mac looked fine. I’ve emailed the site owner and hope that they will fix the problem as soon as they can.

This isn’t the first time an e-commerce site has had broken CSS. Not long ago I wrote about another savvy web developer who fixed the Sainsbury home shopping web site just like I did for [Daniel-Schar’s-Redacted-Business-Name-Here]. On the bright side, it’s good to see CSS being used more and more thoroughly throughout the online business world.

I still haven’t chosen a KVM switch yet as I’m still researching the topic. If anyone has any advice, I’d love to hear it.

Update: I just heard back from the site owner today (January 19th), and am glad to see that the CSS has been fixed. Good job, [Daniel-Schar’s-Redacted-Business-Name-Here]!

Business Owner Daniel Schar Threatened My Family For This Post

UPDATE: Today, May 20th, 2012, more than 7 years after publishing this, I received a call from my mother. She sounded especially emotional and pleaded with me to unpublish this post. She told me that she was frightened because her brother, Daniel Schar (my uncle and the owner of the business described above), has in the past done and is still capable of doing things to seriously harm the well-being and stability of our lives. I have heard whispers of the abuse my mom suffered at the hands of her brother, as though my family has ghost stories I’m not entirely privy to. I have every reason to wholly and unquestionably believe my mother when she speaks of her brother as an abusive person towards her for her entire life. She told me, as a mother, she feared for my personal safety if this post stayed online, that my uncle is capable of doing absurdly and dangerously hurtful things unprovoked.

Speaking from my own experience since writing this post, I have found my uncle to be a classic bully. He has shown himself to me to be someone who believes he will get his way because he can push other people around.

When my mother called me, sounding worried and very concerned for my physical safety, she pleaded with me to acquiesce to my uncle’s demand. My own brother also urged me to consider the detrimental toll our uncle has had on our family’s life to date. Here’s the thing: as a classic bully, my uncle will simply find some other excuse to push me, my family, or someone else around. So I am not willing to simply let this be because I believe it’s time for my uncle to realize that this post is not, in fact, some kind of threat to his business and that more people will stand up to his bully tactics than he thinks so he will actually leave the rest of us alone.

At the same time, I’m happy to follow the letter, if not the spirit, of his email (our full, if terse, exchange is published below), and that’s why I’ve removed the name of his business on this blog post.

Your emotional and moral support is greatly appreciated.

Following is the email exchange I had with Daniel Schar last week:

From: [Daniel Schar] <REDACTED>
Subject: [Daniel-Schar’s-Redacted-Business-Name-Here]
Date: May 8, 2012 4:11:46 PM PDT
To: Meitar Shefer Moscovitz
Delivered-To: meitarm@gmail.com

Hi Meitar,

Please remove all mentions of [Daniel-Schar’s-Redacted-Business-Name-Here] in your publications, such
as this one: http://maymay.net/blog/2005/01/10/broken-css-on-[Daniel-Schar’s-Redacted-Business-Name-Here]/

Thanks,

– Daniel

From: Mr. Meitar Moscovitz <meitarm@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Daniel-Schar’s-Redacted-Business-Name-Here]
Date: May 8, 2012 5:19:55 PM PDT
To: [Daniel Schar] <REDACTED>

Why?

-Meitar Moscovitz
Personal: http://maymay.net
Professional: http://MeitarMoscovitz.com

From: [Daniel Schar] <REDACTED>
Subject: RE: [Daniel-Schar’s-Redacted-Business-Name-Here]
Date: May 9, 2012 5:10:01 AM PDT
To: Mr. Meitar Moscovitz <meitarm@gmail.com>

Because it reflects negatively on [Daniel-Schar’s-Redacted-Business-Name-Here].

Thanks,

– Daniel

From: [Daniel Schar] <REDACTED>
Subject: FW: [Daniel-Schar’s-Redacted-Business-Name-Here]
Date: May 10, 2012 8:37:03 PM PDT
To: Meitar Shefer Moscovitz <meitarm@gmail.com>

I haven’t heard back from you.

From: Mr. Meitar Moscovitz <meitarm@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Daniel-Schar’s-Redacted-Business-Name-Here]
Date: May 10, 2012 10:58:09 PM PDT
To: [Daniel Schar] <REDACTED>

You won’t anymore.

Cheers,
-Meitar Moscovitz
Personal: http://maymay.net
Professional: http://MeitarMoscovitz.com

2 replies on “Broken CSS on [Daniel-Schar’s-Redacted-Business-Name-Here]”

  1. I honestly can’t decide if the fact that you’re related makes this whole thing more or less gross. Maybe he’s the sort of guy who would behave this way with any customer and/or blogger, I don’t know.

    If he is, he’s a terrible businessman, if he isn’t, he’s a terrible brother/uncle.

    Plus, where you left this in the first place, with an update that the code had been fixed, MADE THE COMPANY LOOK GOOD! That’s how it’s supposed to work, customer raises an issue, you fix it, way to show how much you care. Beyond the shocking level of assholery involved in this whole new mess, I honestly can’t see how Mr. Schar felt the post in question made his company look bad.

  2. I’m sure the Better Business Bureau and the Attorney General of the state in which the business is incorporated would love to hear about a businessperson in their state steamrolling defenseless people who do them professional favors.

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