Archive for July, 2006

Geek In The Park – 27 August

Geek In the Park logo
The great thing about English summers is that we pasty-faced Brits get to do communal activities alfresco. Last week I watched The Real Lady Macbeth in Stratford, in a dell between Trinity Church and the River (and got comprehensively soaked in the storm).

Last night was the inaugural gig of my band, Gaoler, on a farm in the Vale of Evesham, playing under canvas, looking across miles of green and the Cotswolds.

And on Sunday 27th, there’ll be an open-air geekfest in Royal Leamington Spa called “Geek In the Park“.

Continue reading Geek In The Park – 27 August

Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance

Web Accessibility:   Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance

Almost a year ago, Chris Mills contacted me to say that friends of ED were planning a full rewrite of “Constructing Web Accessibility” that I commissioned in 2001, and did I want to help? Partly out of sentimentality, and partly because I wanted to experience publishing from the other side of the desk (as hapless author rather than cigar-chomping fatcat computer publisher), I agreed.

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DTI responds to questions about their accessibility.

Regular readers will know that Dan Champion and I have asked questions of the Department of Trade and Industry over spending a quarter of a million pounds of taxpayer’s money on a new website that failed to meet the accessibility standards required in their own spec.

The questions were asked twenty days ago under the Freedom of Information Act. On the last possible day the law allows for them to delay before responding, they have answered our questions.

Continue reading DTI responds to questions about their accessibility.

‘The Real Lady Macbeth’ – free show in Stratford tomorrow

Just a quick note to say there’s a free performance of a play “The Real Lady Macbeth” tomorrow (Saturday 22 July) starting at 12.30 at The Dell in Stratford-Upon-Avon. The Dell is a 200-seat outdoor performance space in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s gardens, bordered by the river and Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare is buried. The performance is free (they’ll be passing a hat round after) and is part of the fringe surrounding the official cycle of Shakespeare’s Complete Works being performed this year.

The play is being performed by a group from Brussels including some great friends that we spent New Year with. It’s a four-person play about the differences between the Shakespearian villains, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, and the real people of those names (official blurb). It’s pretty funny (I directed it in 1990 with a youth theatre group that included a very young Dave Gorman).

So come on down and grab some free culture! The weather should be warm, but the river should cool us down. See you there!

Breaking news: w3c specs are not the Word of God

Pretentious introduction

In the world of religious loonies, there are two main kinds of nutter. One is the fundamentalist – someone with the attitude that a tract is the work of God, perfect and unquestionable; if it’s mentioned in the Book, it’s beyond doubt no matter how daft. The second sub-genre of nutter is the exegesist: someone who believes that extra, unwritten information may be teased out of the text with enough insight and critical reading.

Web Standards evangelist types will all recognise both type of adherent to that Holy of Holies: the w3c specs.

Continue reading Breaking news: w3c specs are not the Word of God

July 7th: Jihad in the Qur’an

A year ago today, some loonies blew themselves up on the tube and murdered 52 people. Tony Blair has recently called for moderate muslims to confront “Islamic” extremists (who actually bear as much resemblance to Islam as the IRA do to my daughter’s Catholic schoolteachers).

Dr Louay Fatoohi is an old friend of mine. He is an Iraqi Islamic scholar and published a book called Jihad in the Qur’an: The Truth from the Source after the 2001 World Trade Centre attacks to show that in the Qur’an there is no justification for such suicide bombings. He specifically notes that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about Islam amongst ill-educated muslims, and it’s therefore unsurprising that non-muslims harbour such suspicion:

Contrary to what many believe, misunderstanding and misrepresenting Islam are not associated with non-Muslims only. People who are Muslims in name yet almost totally ignorant of their religion have been major contributors to the painting of the widespread distorted image of Islam. Under the name of Islam, some individuals and groups have adopted ideas and taken actions that have nothing to do with Islam. These non-Islamic concepts and actions then get unfairly associated with Islam. Misunderstanding of Islam and phobic reactions to this religion, thus, become an inevitable outcome…

It is no surprise, therefore, to find an Islamic concept such as “jihad” the subject of such phenomenal misunderstanding and misrepresentation…

The reality about Islam is that it is the religion for spiritual development. Islam teaches obeying and satisfying Allah, and living in peace with people, Muslim or not. It is about attaining peace in this world and in the hereafter. Nothing is further from Islam than violence and aggression. Islam is a threat only to evil as it aims to eradicate it and save humanity. We all, Muslims and non-Muslims, harbor inside us some evil which spills over and contaminates the world. Islam is the peaceful war against that evil. Islam is about every action that we take to replace the evil inside us with good and become better servants of Allah and, consequently, better human individuals and members of a human society.

About half the book is available online. It’s short, rigorously annotated but simple to read. Although the book is primarily for other muslims to read, I highly recommend it to all, particularly on this day.

Blind-accessible porn

At glasshaus, we used to joke that a book on developing usable, accessible porn would sell millions of copies, but wreck the brand, so we didn’t do it.

So I’m delighted to note that there is a porn site out there marketed at the (primarily) blind, male, heterosexual market. THIS IS NOT SAFE FOR WORK! Enjoy soundsdirty.com.

And, although it uses a lot of inline CSS, it validates as xhtml 1.0 strict, and there’s a well-considered accessibility statement which I quote a little of for those whose employers frown on their visiting adult entertainment sites from work:

All content images used in this site include descriptive ALT attributes – limited to approximately 150 characters. Purely decorative graphics include null ALT attributes.

Complex images include LONGDESC attributes or inline descriptions to explain the significance of each image to non-visual users. All pictures of the models on this site have comprehensive descriptions for example in the meet the girls section the thumbnails contain a brief description, with the option to click the link to hear the full description. Due to the nature of the SD.com site certain images are deem to be of great significance and may contain slightly longer descriptions.

And here’s a serious point: the porn industry is traditionally not famed for putting moral concerns before cash generation, so if these guys think there’s a market for blind-friendly internet porn, why do so many mainstream businesses lock out the disabled customer? </hectoring and finger-wagging>

Thanks to my completely anonymous informant for alerting me to this.