HTML/CSS Characters
February 24, 2004 7:26 AM   Subscribe

HTML/CSS: Damn it Jim! I'm an architect of buildings, not of the web! I've been working on the web site for our chapter of the AIA in Europe. I've been trying to learn as much as I can about HTML and CSS -- looking, reading, trial and error. Our new site is coming along but I have one vexing problem. On the front pages of two directories, some browsers exhibit three odd characters at the upper left hand corner of the page: . Links are inside...

Main page is okay.
Events calendar has the pesky characters.
Member finder has the nefarious characters!
About | Join is okay.

I've run the syntax checker in BBedit and online but find no reference to this problem. I've turned on invisibles in BBEdit and also have seen nothing. I've seen this in Camino 0.7 and Mac IE 5.2.3.
posted by Dick Paris to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
Oops. Forgot the question. What are they and how do I get rid of them?
posted by Dick Paris at 7:29 AM on February 24, 2004

They're in the source. What editor are you using?
posted by signal at 7:33 AM on February 24, 2004

Are they dynamically generated or static pages? Are they generated from a templating system such as Movable Type? It seems weird that those characters keep showing up, but I didn't have to tell you that.
posted by plemeljr at 7:38 AM on February 24, 2004

I get them too using Ultraedit, CVS, and SSH to transfer files between a Windows machine and a UNIX server; it's an issue with whether the file is Unicode or not. The intricacies of the problem escape me, but twiddle with BBEdit's file input format settings (where it lets you select between DOS, Mac, or UNIX formats), and see what possible combinations work.

Also make sure that your browser's encoding is set to Automatic Selection, and that your pages declare a charset (which they do).
posted by brownpau at 7:41 AM on February 24, 2004

(off topic) you may want to remove the plain text email contact addresses from the comments in the source, given that their presence makes the large chunks of email-obfuscating javascript rather pointless. putting the addresses in <!-- comments --> won't hide them from email harvesting spiders.
posted by quonsar at 8:10 AM on February 24, 2004

Planeljr, Signal:

They are static pages; one might have been generated as a 'save as' from the other but I can not say. The main page, which does not display the characters, is updated through blooger but the template came from work in BBedit. Looking into Brownpau's comments...
posted by Dick Paris at 8:10 AM on February 24, 2004

Thanks Quonsar! I had no idea. (I had included that so I knew what the javascript pertained to without previewing.) /off topic
posted by Dick Paris at 8:12 AM on February 24, 2004

Brownpau, that did the trick. The two files were encoded in Unicaode (UTF-8) (disclosure: I don't know what that means) and the others were in Western (Iso Latin 1). Thanks everyone for the help!
posted by Dick Paris at 8:22 AM on February 24, 2004

I don't see the characters on the pages you linked to... but here's what I would do: under TEXT in BBEDIT choose ZAP GREMLINS. This should take care of the problem.

Off Topic: That is a handsome site, Dick... one suggestion, though: on my Mac the font is so small that I can't read it at all. Remember, Macs tend to render screen fonts at about 3/4 the size as you see them on a PC.
posted by silusGROK at 8:23 AM on February 24, 2004

Thanks Silus: what browser/screen set-up are you using that made the fonts too small for reading? I've had some problems with font sizing and thought I had the problem licked.

I should have been more clear in my last post: the characters are gone now that I changed the encoding. But what the hell, I'll zap those gremlins anyway.
posted by Dick Paris at 9:07 AM on February 24, 2004

A little after the fact, but those strange characters are an optional signature some programs (especially Microsoft's) put in to identify the rest of the document as Unicode. Programs that recognize the signature won't display it, but those that just try to read the file as plain text will display those strange characters at the beginning.
posted by hashashin at 11:16 AM on February 24, 2004

(Mac OS 9x, IE 5x)

Zapping gremlins is a good habit to get into, as it catches smart quotes and other garbage that sometime shows up in text imported from a word processor.
posted by silusGROK at 12:35 PM on February 24, 2004

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