Archive for May, 2005

Standards and Accessibility – navigation lists

Do Standards- based menus help accessibility?

After my crisis of faith about whether accessibility is really enhanced by standards, I read an interesting report into how blind people really surf, and was inspired to do my own investigations into the best way to code accessible navigation menus.

Here’s my report and mp3s of how Jaws 6/ Win XP reads out the different ways of presenting menus. Each test validates to xhtml 1 transitional, although only one is properly “semantic”.

Continue reading Standards and Accessibility – navigation lists

Jan’s bum

Jan is my wife’s niece, visiting us from Norway. She’s a lovely girl, but tragically she suffers from B.A.S. (Builders’ Arse Syndrome), yet doesn’t let this terrible affliction stop her sitting in the garden on sunny days.

girl with builder's arse syndrome

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Song: “Don’t Bring Me Down”

Done with my band The Lucies. A tune by Shez, which we recorded on our ever first day in a recording studio back in 1991.

I rather regret that the lyrics I wrote were pretty shit, and my multi-tracked guitars at the end are way too overpowering. Neither is it helped by the fact that the engineer managed to mic up the drums to sound like Andy Cope was hitting a wet cardboard box with a fish.

But I still quite like my trademark dirty guitar solo, with the feedback squeak as it goes back into the melody, and Shez’s bassline rocks, especially when he goes into the descending alternate riff at the end.

Music © Sherrard, Words © Bruce Lawson, all rights reserved.

Best bands with unintelligible vocals

  1. My Bloody Valentine

    My Bloody Valentine were the undisputed Kings of Noisy shoe-gazing rock. They fucked up the 1990s for me by releasing the best album of that decade, Loveless, in 1991 – thus making the rest of the decade a bit of a disappointment.

    The vocals were always buried in the mix, and were an interplay between Kevin Shields’ weedy whine and Belinda Butcher’s breathy “oohs” and “aahs”. I saw them live twice, and they were great both times – although one had to be in the “right frame of mind” for it. Ahem.

  2. The Cocteau Twins

    Fey musical collages with Elizabeth Fraser’s deliberately non-language vocals multi-tracked. There were times when you could almost make out what she was singing – and times when there were unfortunate errors of comprehension. For example, my mate Nick ruined my enjoyment of one of the tracks on “Heaven Or Las Vegas” by insisting she sings “Sit on my face”. Check it out for yourself (290K mp3).

  3. REM

    Once upon a time, REM were good, despite -or because of?- the fact that singer Stipe sang lyrics like “She’s a sad tomato” and “Singer, sing me a gibbon”. (Pippa saw them last month, and said they still kick ass, however.) Often, he was intelligble but meaningless, and thus got the reputation for surrealism and sagacity rather than someone who spouts nonsense instead of writing proper words. Yes, that is a note of envy you detect.

  4. Loop

    I saw Loop live several times in the 80s. They were buttockclenchingly loud, and stood completely still, backlit, playing and layering riffs for sometimes up to 10 minutes, occasionally breathing something incomprehensible but menacing into a microphone, before all magically stopping at exactly the same time. Criminally under-rated to this day. (And if anyone has the album “the World In Your Eyes” they could send me, I’ll love you forever; some fucker stole mine, and even Kazaa can’t help me.)

  5. Extreme Noise Terror

    Possibly, I’m cheating here, as E.N.T. didn’t really go for lyrics – more grunts and shrieks into a mic over furious grinding heavy rock. When I was a kid, there was a subterranean club in Birmingham (The Kaleidoscope?) which would host a 12 hour gig on bank holiday mondays, where I’d regularly see Extreme Noise Terror, Napalm Death, Bolt Thrower, S.O.B., Genital Deformities and other luminaries play live.

    I recall waiting outside to go in, in a line of crusties, punks and hippies, when some yuppie in a big car drove past, shouting “Get a proper job!”. As I was a pissed-off systems analyst for AT&T at the time, I took his advice and resigned to go travelling for 7 years. So, if you were a fuckwit yuppie in 1989 with a penchant for haranguing strangers, I offer my sincere thanks to you.

Disagree with this list? Leave a comment!

Standards and accessibility – sitting in a tree?

The excellent Jim Thatcher – who developed one of the first screen readers – has redesigned his site, and in his accessibility statement he writes,

This site uses CSS for layout, not tables. I do not think that that is essential for accessibility at all. Recently I believe I have seen more questionable situations with reading order stemming from CSS based layouts than ever from table based layouts.

This chimes in with some questions I’ve been asking myself lately and, as it’s Philosophy Friday today, I’ll pose the question: how inextricably linked are standards and accessibility?
Continue reading Standards and accessibility – sitting in a tree?

WordPress redesign unleashed

“A redesign?!?!”, I hear you exclaim. “It looks exactly the bloody same!”

Well, it’s not ready for primetime yet, but I got tired of not blogging, so here’s my heavily-customised WordPress-powered redesign. "A redesign?!?!", I hear you exclaim. "It looks exactly the bloody same!"
Well, yes, but my design skills are not exactly renowned, and when I checked my server logs, I discovered someone’s blog entry saying "I absolutely adore the site design of brucelawson.co.uk. So clean and simple, and yet it looks gorgeous. Fantastic stuff."

With praise like that, I decided to leave it pretty much as-is, though I’ve still work to do styling the new bits and bobs (comments, extra nav, post metadata etc).

There’s loads of stuff still to do, the biggest of which is the removal of all <br /> tags that snuck into the posts when I was copying from the notepad html source of my old site into the WordPress Post entry text box.

If anyone can donate me a PHP script that can replace <br /> with "" (only in posts), I will love you forever.

I’m enormously gratetul to Matt Mullenweg for WordPress as I now have categories, archives, permalinks, comments and all the trappings of your proper blogbloke. There were a couple of minor niggles that I’ll note in case they can be noted for WordPress 2.0:

Continue reading WordPress redesign unleashed