I’ve long been worried about the accessibility of microformats, so experimented and found that the way that dates are marked up is inaccessible to users of the big two screenreaders, and began writing an article to that effect.
James Craig, who is 97 times more helpful than I am, decided to research a better way to embed machine-parsable dates in content.
We jointly wrote up our results in an article called “hAccessibility“, which James published today.
The DTI is spending £60,000 on building templates for a website launched under a year ago at a cost of £200,000.
The £60,000 is part of the money to be spent ensuring that the DTI website meets the standards the department specified in the original requirements for their site, despite the suppliers of that site being made fully aware of those requirements and failing to deliver them.
The DTI is employing Fujitsu, the very same company that received the lion’s share of the £200,000 spent on the original site, to meet the standards they were contracted to deliver in the first place.
The £60,000 covers only one half of the first step in a three-step process.
When I was a kid, I had an inspirational English teacher named Robert Brush, who gave up lots of his own free time to show me poetry by Dylan Thomas, Pound, Eliot, Brian Patten, Marlowe. He was the reason I had the guts, as a working class lad, to be the first in my family to go to university – and I studied English literature. Continue reading Calling Bob Brush
Ah, London. Galleries. Theatres. Ethnic enclaves. Parliament and Big Ben, tourist traps, and carnivals; the Tube; Black taxis and red buses; medieval streets and hideous 1960s brutalist developments. Finest city in the World (if you don’t have to live there!)
the English countryside
The English countryside is gorgeous. Across the Vale of Evesham in the spring, the beauty of the Yorkshire Moors, the Lake District, the Cornish coast, the Severn Valley in autumn, we don’t have towering mountains, glaciers, or rift valleys. The English countryside is varied, but moderate and dependable. Just like English people are.
Even the animals that populate our countryside are the same. You don’t get malaria from our bugs. We have no poisonous spiders, and no large animals which can eat you. Our single venomous snake – the Adder – is only as nasty as a wasp sting (and I’ve never seen one, ever).
The Beatles, Stones, Sex Pistols and The Clash
For a small country, we’ve produced a lot of world-changing music. We rock. Nothing more to say.
They’re chocolate box-perfect English towns. They’re a bugger to live in, as you can’t put a nail in the wall without someone from the local Council making sure you’re not damaging the character of the area, but they’re damn gorgeous. There are houses in Henley that are older than many countries.
Pubs and proper beer
Pubs – not bars. They don’t need to be all thatched roof or horsebrasses. They don’t need to be picturesque, but do need to be authentic rather than brewery-mandated “English Pub Experience”. They need a sense of community, a character behind the bar, some grumpy regular drinkers, proper beer and probably a resident dog.
People think English food is just fish and chips or curry – and there’s nothing wrong with either of those. But real English food can’t be beaten, and is rarely encountered by visitors. Take great cuts of meat, fresh vegetables like parsnips, sprouts, roast them all and lightly season, serve with a rich gravy and a pint of proper beer and you’ve got the best Sunday family meal in the world.
World War 2
We English bang on about the war a bit, it’s true – but it’s because it’s deeply embedded in our psyche. OK, it was sixty years ago, but the reason it stays there is because, for a couple of years until the yanks could be arsed to help out, England and our Gaelic cousins Scotland, Ireland, Wales stood alone: we mobilised our entire workforce, turned civilian factories to making armaments, ploughed up parks to grow food on, and tore down metal railings as raw material to make guns.
We evacuated our children, split up our families and sacrificed our men, while the rest of the world sat on their hands or laid down their arms, because fascism so repelled us. And why shouldn’t we be proud of that?
Jan 2 2007: It’s been pointed out to me that I may not know my history, and the UK may not have stood alone in quite the way I wrote. So don’t listen to what I say…
The National Health Service
I’m always astonished when I read that in other, allegedly civilised countries, health care is based on ability to pay. God knows, our NHS isn’t perfect, but get this: if you fall sick in the UK you will get treatment of the highest possible quality that the NHS can provide, free at the point of delivery, regardless of whether you’re a millionaire or a vagrant. Now that’s a civilised idea.
Jane Austen and George Orwell
Both used the English language perfectly to celebrate and satirise the England that they loved. Orwell, in particular, is a hero of mine with his fierce promotion of clarity of language, his love of fairness and his defence of the weak. I reckon he should be the eponymous St George today.
I’ve a mix of Scottish and English extraction with a dash of Italian too. My wife is a naturalised Brit, from Thailand, so my kids are utter mongrels, which is itself quintessentially English. Everybody is mixed race here.
We live next door to Naz, a British-born muslim of Pakistani background, and our other neighbours are the Murphys, of Irish descent. Across the road are the Singhs and the Cohens and the Smiths. It’s a crappy grubby urban English proper street, full of proper English people.
I must apologise to PPK, whose book is before this one in my queue for book reviews, but I found myself pulling this book off the Shelf Of Truth a couple of days ago to look something up, and decided to record my experience.
I don’t want to pick on poor old IE so I’d like to know, why do you use the browser that you currently use, whatever it is?
I use Firefox and Opera for developing – Opera because it’s fast, I believe it follows standards very well and is good for checking the increasingly important mobile market, Firefox because of the Web Developer and Firebug extensions, both of which are absolute must-haves.
On the Mac, I only use Safari for testing – I dislike it immensely for some weird reason (the odd way it renders forms, I think) and so use Opera/ Firefox for surfing there too.
Do you use your browser because of inertia (it’s a drag to move all your favourites), or because you love it?
The news came as a bit of a surprise to the web accessibility community, as it was rumoured that the last draft received a considerable number of comments that needed addressing before the guidelines could become a recommendation.
The Swedish accessibility expert, Olaf Pirol was appointed by the the WCAG working group to go through them. After a 48-hour stint on the guidelines, checking comments, removing a couple of success criteria, and adding two or three others, Olaf declared WCAG 2.0 good to go.