Validate This!

I have come to the conclusion that I have a serious personality deficiency. This of course is not news to anyone who knows me or my wife Trina. Trina has been telling people for years that I have a lot of defects but I had until now chosen to ignore her comments. This of course has led to numerous occasions where I have ended up sleeping on the couch because I happened to ignore the wrong comments. In this case I am here to publicly admit that I have an issue. For some unexplainable reason I am a complete-ist. It doesn’t seem to matter what it is, it has to be completed and consistent. It was first brought to my attention by my lovely wife Trina who expressed her frustration with me and light bulbs. I cannot deal with the fact that a light bulb has ceased to work. I don’t know why but that really bothers me. I have to immediately replace the defective bulb. That’s ok if we happen to have a spare bulb in the house. But if we don’t, I can’t rest until a replacement bulb is gotten and the bad bulb eliminated. That may not sound like a bad thing but light bulbs seem to choose the most inopportune times to die. For example, you get up on a Sunday morning where you have promised your wife you will go to church with her. You turn on the bathroom light to get ready and a vanity light blows out. You go downstairs and find that someone used the last spare bulb leaving you without a new one to put in the socket. You can no longer even think about church as you have a light that needs assistance. You therefore run to the store leaving your wife at the door thinking she was going to church but instead ends up at Home Depot in the bulb department as you try to decide if the longer life bulbs really do last longer or is that just a ploy to make you buy more expensive bulbs. At that point is where Trina is most apt to bring up my “issues” which she is now documenting in their own special notebook.

I’m not here to talk about light bulbs though. That is just one example. I could go through countless others such as song lyrics or album art for the music in my iTunes library or having to have all socks matched up. I seriously cannot deal with the idea of one of my socks being lost and unable to be with its mate in the sock drawer. I have found a new area to focus my insanity, code validation services.
I am not exactly sure who decided it was important to have perfectly formed (X)HTML code or who deemed it important that a Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) conform to a specific format. I am not even sure I know what would happen if you chose not to conform to these. I mean Microsoft has been non-standard for years with their Internet Explorer browser and Netscape long ago decided it would be better to define their own standards rather than conform to those of the W3C. Why then should I care if the code on my site gets the green checkmark that lets the world know that the code is accurate? Until I found the code validator my life was carefree and the code didn’t seem to matter. Since I found the code validator I have been consumed with the notion that all code no matter what the browser must be completely error free. It’s no longer just a nice to have, it is a requirement of extreme magnitude.
I recently installed Joomla! 1.5.3 on a test server to begin evaluating it to determine what I will need to do to deploy this technology into production. Since this was a test system I naturally installed the test data so I had some content available when I began testing the system. As I typically do, I absent mindedly clicked the validation button and was taken to the code validator. I was shocked to find that the system gave multiple errors. This was a fresh installation of Joomla! 1.5.3 with no modification and it was giving me errors. I dropped everything I was doing and began devoting WAY too much time to try and figure out what was going on. This led to several days and a multitude of messages back and forth on the Joomla! forums as I explained the situation. I narrowed down the issue to one where the system was not properly forming links that included the ampersand “&” within the URL. I went back and forth trying to understand what it was within Joomla! 1.5.3 that was causing this problem. Things were further complicated when others noted that they were not getting the same problem on clean installs on their server.
This was beginning to look like a server configuration issue. I went through the Joomla! documentation checking my server configuration against what was listed as minimum requirements. My system met all of the criteria but still something was amiss. After several tests and a lot of research I narrowed it down to the version of PHP that was loaded on the server. My ISP was using PHP version 4.3.7 which was within the guidelines specified as minimum requirements. Other servers I had were using PHP version 5.2 and I wondered if something was different. I moved my test site to a system that was running PHP version 5.2.3 and ran the exact same configuration through the validation service. This time it came out perfectly clean. So five days later I am back to square one but at least now I am starting with what I know to be clean code. Not even a light bulb has caused me this much trouble.

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