RE: [WSG] PDF Conversion

2011-02-20 Thread Michael MD
I agree to the fact that HTML approach is the best.  I normally use Google 
docs they can open any documents - pdfs, word, excel, images etc like any 
other html document.  See the link:

It is just a sample page I have created for demonstration purposes with 
inadvertent typos!.  It is just a simple pdf file but displayed in your 
browser and requires no plugs of any kind.

Looks like it just converted it to an image 
... not really accessible to anyone using a screenreader or not able to view 

Did the original pdf have any text in it (or did it just contain an image)?

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RE: [WSG] PDF Conversion

2011-02-08 Thread Michael MD
linux pdftohtml 
(you can apt-get it)

Its not perfect (formatting often comes out a bit strange and the html is
messy) but at least you end up with something you can edit.

Unfortunately I haven't seen anything better yet,  
and absolutely nothing anywhere near good enough to use without needing to
manually edit or clean up the output.

My recommendation: If its for public release and needs to be accessible or
converted to other formats, don't use pdf to start with!

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RE: [WSG] alt text on email graphic

2010-11-29 Thread Michael MD
 If a spider could read the alt attribute, don't you think they  
 could read the href attribute? or;

 It doesn't matter where you put the valid email address, the  
 spiders will find it. However, messing with images will just make  
 it more difficult on the user.

They probably just use a regex to find anything that looks like an email
If it is anywhere in the page they will find it.

Another approach could be to use a form to send an email rather than publish
the email address on the page but remember there are also bots that will
post spam to forms.

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RE: [WSG] Touch screens

2010-11-16 Thread Michael MD
 Emulation software is never going to be 100% reliable for testing. An 

Sure, eventually I will get one (when such devices are cheap enough to buy
one outright without plans/debt/worry/etc)
...but until then I need *something* to use for testing.
(work doesn't yet understand that this is needed - so nothing I can use
there yet)

iPod Touch will give you the same interface for web browsing as an 
iPhone or iPad, while being less expensive than either and not requiring 
a phone account. It will connect to any WiFi network.

Aren't those still $500 or so? (if so it would have to wait)

 You can download Apple SDK which has iPad and iPhone simulators, it should
be a good way to test whether the spry menu really has issue. So far I 
 haven't found any inconsistence between the actual device and the
simulators, however nothing can be more accurate than testing the site from
 actual device.

Apple SDK only works on an intel Mac running a pretty recent version of OSX

There is also an Android simulator which is free and will run on windows or
linux but I found that one frustratingly slow to use.

I don't see how either if these would actually simulate touch screen
behaviour without a way to emulate the actual touch screen.

I think I need to look at what might be out there perhaps using:
Laptop Touchpad?
Multiple mice?
Home made touch screen?
...anything ... there must be a way...

However if the iPod Touch turns out to be under $150 or so I might just
consider getting one of those.

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RE: [WSG] Touch screens

2010-11-15 Thread Michael MD
Do any of you guys have experience with touch screen designing?
I looked at an iPAD today, with a view to buying, and I was horrified when
I looked at a site of mine that used a spry dropdown menu.

Does anyone know of any good emulation software for testing for those of us
who don't yet own a touch screen device? 
(perhaps making use of a laptop touchpad?)

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RE: [WSG] Mobile urls

2010-11-14 Thread Michael MD
Although the most interesting aspect of BBC mobile content esp. for complex 
script languages is the choice between a textual version and an image version:

 Since mobile devices are years behind desktops and laptops in text rendering 

Wow, thats insane given the high prices charged for data by some phone 
...but yes its probably the only way you can do it for those languages on a lot 
of devices.

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RE: [WSG] Ways of sending a HTML email

2010-01-07 Thread Michael MD

 Since Outlook is not the best HTML editor it's quite likely something will
get broken at some stage or other, so it's not fool-proof, but it produces
 results than Word.

I thought Outlook uses Word as its editor.

If you want to build html email functionality into a cms or script this may

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RE: [WSG] Outlook 2010

2009-06-24 Thread Michael MD
 We have a problem! Outlook 2010, according to Campaign Monitor [1], is
going to continue to use the crippled MS Word layout engine. They adopted
this as the status quo for 
 Outlook 2007 and promptly set rich email with CSS, etc., back a number
of years, and are showing no great sign of diverging from this path.
However, there is hope!  
 Campaign Monitor have started a website, , in
conjunction with their Email Standards Project [2] -- essentially a
standards advocacy website. 
 They need your support now more than ever.

We could also point out some of those other annoying things in current
versions that also need to be fixed!!!

1. WHY do I have to stuff around with regedit to be able to do view source
in current versions of Outlook?
...being able to view the raw source email (not just headers) is a MUST HAVE
for me!  .. this should be a standard feature in any email client! 

2. why must it force me to use curly quotes and other non-ASCII chars?  
This is VERY annoying - it insists on replacing ascii quotes with windows
curly quotes ... I normally would rather keep them as ASCII quotes !!! ...
nor do I want any of my other text to be automatically replaced by non-ASCII
(I'm starting to see other email clients copying this behavior – not good at
all! - We've all seen what happens when people start copying/pasting from
those emails into forms on websites! . . . and there are no good tools to
fix the resulting mishmash of charsets!)

3. don't force people to use html if they are replying to an email ... I am
more likely to just want plain text!  (please make plain text options easier
to find!  - plain text *should* be the default anyway!)

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RE: [WSG] Where is browser compatibility in wcag?

2009-04-08 Thread Michael MD

A user's choice of technology is not an accessibility issue. If people want
to view content on the web, they have to make sure they are using suitable
hardware and software - using a 10-year-old browser doesn't qualify, IMO.
Should I be able to view a site on my Commodore 64?

Do they have tcp/ip software and a text browser like lynx for the Commodore


If so then I would probably say yes!



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RE: [WSG] Marking up news

2009-02-22 Thread Michael MD
hAtom maybe?

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RE: [WSG] Accessibility testing

2009-02-10 Thread Michael MD

 Now, here's the thing. This software is only for PC. I'm Mac. Not very 
 accessible eh? :)

It appears to be based on eclipse ... (probably java based like other
eclipse-based stuff) 

Might it be possible to build it from source on Mac or Linux?

Has anyone here tried this?

I never really quite got my head around the Eclipse IDE for programming, and
my knowledge of java is not up to scratch to try building it myself.

 I use VirtualBox ( to run virtual Windows machines for
this sort of thing, also formultiple 
 browser versions. Bitter experience has shown me you can't rely on
simulations completely.

I tried installing Windows XP into qemu on a linux host but its annoyingly

I don't think I'd be able to tolerate the lng wait to start up a large
java application in there! - java apps take way too long to start on native

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Re: [WSG] PDFs and other non-html files opening in a new browser window

2009-02-05 Thread Michael MD
My Web team and I are discussing whether or not we should open links to 
PDFs and other non-html pages in a new window.

a big no from me
not in a new window, or ANY browser window.

Acrobat Reader can take a long time to start on some machines.
It can be extremely annoying for users to be forced to wait a long time for 
a plugin to start (with the browser locked up in the meantime) -
especially if they clicked on the link assuming it was a normal link to 
another page!

I would simply provide links clearly marked as pdf so the user can download 
them and open them with a standalone reader.

Someone cited Jakob Nielsen's argument at as the reason we should 
open in a new window. (We all work on government Web sites and they are 
about to release a new set of linking standards.)

There are a lot of people out there with very old machines and old versions 
of acrobat reader and it is not a good idea to risk leaving people sitting 
there waiting for so long with an unresponsive browser that they might think 
their browser has crashed!

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Re: [WSG] Failed A Job :(

2009-01-29 Thread Michael MD
The only way out of that was to rewrite the whole lot. I mean the guys 
who were on this project were creating empty spans with classes to push 
elements along a page (like spacers). They had an empty h1 with a 
span inside it for the logo they placed in using CSS ... that was only 
a part of the issue.

I've seen lots of misuse of h1 over the years but nothing quite as bizarre 
as that!

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Re: [WSG] Microformats Accessibility

2009-01-20 Thread Michael MD

A timely blog post by Andy...and this marks the third anniversary of the 
same issues being rehashed

though Ben Ward's efforts are to be noted...see

I guess I should make sure my parser handles those...

...btw looking at the examples draws attention to a big usability problem 
with so-called human dates...
(which has little to do with microformats or markup .. its more a problem 
with culture and education)

If something like February 9th appears on a page is that really 
.  what year is that?   is it coming up ? ... or am I looking at an old 
page about something from last year? ...

Do you really want to hide a machine date when that may the only thing on 
the page you can use to tell what the date actually is?

It would certainly be nice if people were to learn to write human dates 
more clearly!

Lets ban those yearless dates, dd/mm/ and mm/dd/ sillyness and 
anything with two digit years!

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[OT] Re: [WSG] Fw: The Great Firewall of Australia

2008-12-03 Thread Michael MD

This just arrived in my email: 

Event: Sydney Townhall Protest to Stop Internet censorship  filtering
What: Protest
Host: ;
Start Time: Saturday, December 13 at 11:00am
End Time: Saturday, December 13 at 4:00pm
Where: Sydney Town Hall Square

list of protests in other cities from

13th of December
11am - 3pm
Brisbane Square

13th of December
State Library

13th of December
12pm - 4pm

13th of December
Parliament Lawns

13th of December
Stirling Gardens

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Re: [WSG] Fw: The Great Firewall of Australia

2008-11-30 Thread Michael MD
Don't ascribe to malice that which can be more easily explained by 
mistake. I'll take ill-informed cock-up over conspiracy any day, as I 
don't believe Australian politicians have the nous to manage a grand 

yeah a mix of very noisy religious extremist lobby groups and influential 
people with vested interests and politicians in portfolios they have little 
understanding of  leading to ill-informed cock-ups seems much more likely 
than any kind of centrally-planned conspiracy.

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Re: [WSG] Fw: The Great Firewall of Australia

2008-11-26 Thread Michael MD

Brett Patterson wrote:

1) That, I do believe is a crock of shit!
2) If he does anything like that, he will be dead!!!


3) Anyone who believes in those ideas are fucked up, stupid, and this I 
can promise, will NOT make it in this world, dead or alive!

4) Like I said, I think this a crock of shit, and possibly spam.

Very expressive. Though you might want to adjust your meds a bit :-)

And you might want to google, say, Australia firewall censorship...

its true ...   (clean feed is a misnomer - it's not optional)

It is similar to what Alston wanted to do a couple of years ago ... but 
Coonan dropped it when she replaced Alston .
(favouring a more sensible approach of people installing optional filtering 
software on their own PCs) .

Now it looks like Conroy, like Alston, is clueless and too heavily 
influenced by fanatical religious extremists.

It is sad to see Australia going down the route towards totalitarianism.

Why is the list of banned sites kept secret?

What is to stop something like this from being misused in future by corrupt 
officials to ban sites they don't agree with (that are otherwise harmless) 
or taking bribes to ban the competition?
... by the time someone goes though the red tape to get their site taken off 
the list the damage may have been done.


If there is any kind of AI or spam-filter-like heuristics involved what is 
there to prevent false positives?


like other attempts at censorship elsewhere in the world it is not kiddy 
porn sites or terrorists that suffer

(as they inevitably find ways around it) ..
It is the average person who ends up putting up with slower speeds and 
higher costs.

god knows what could happen in other countries if they see that Australia 
is able to get such a thing in place.

we will become a laughing stock... along with China, North Korea, Iran, etc 
(and all those other totalitarian governments and banana republics)

Isn't this all a storm in a tea cup? Last time I checked, Australia
was still a democracy, and while *somebody* must have voted for
Conroy, we (Australians) still get a say.

I don't think many people voted about this issue directly  they mostly 
just wanted Howard out.
That doesn't mean everyone who voted Labor agrees with everything Labor 

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Re: [WSG] First Attempt

2008-11-25 Thread Michael MD

The way to make it work is to stop writing static HTML sites.  Instead
use one of the many freely available open source CMS frameworks and
simply hand code the templates for them once (making hand coded changes
for other customer sites as required).  That's what we do with Drupal.

I would not recommend this for sites on shared servers unless they really do 
need a full-featured CMS.

Speed is important .. why add bloat if its not needed?

A mysql server in a typical ISP shared hosting environment often struggles 
to handle a large number of statements per second
from hundreds of sites  ..  especially when some of the sites are being hit 
hard by crawlers.

..most off-the-shelf CMS do way too many lookups to show even a simple page

Drupal, Wordpress and Joomla are very bad in this regard (doing around 15-40 
mysql lookups for each page!)
 ... Xoops seems better with its file-based caching but may still be 
overkill in a lot of cases.

A lot of this waste comes from storing stats in mysql, looking up user data, 
etc ...
(and in some cases attempting to use mysql even for caching! bad.. bad.. 

If you are not using user logins then why do all those extra lookups?

I think part of the problem might be that a lot of  CMS developers are not 
testing on busy shared servers or high-traffic sites.
(they are probably only testing on dedicated servers where they have mysql 
to themselves and the bottlenecks might be elsewhere)

I'm not going to tell people to spend extra cash for a dedicated server if 
all they want is a few simple static pages.

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Re: [WSG] Animated gifs

2008-11-20 Thread Michael MD

If you have Adobe Photoshop you probably also have Adobe ImageReady.

You can use ImageReady to edit and optimise animated gifs.

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Re: [WSG] Standards and Adobe Contribute

2008-11-02 Thread Michael MD
On Sun, 2008-11-02 at 08:21 -0500, Todd Budnikas wrote:
 with respect to both sides here, I have had numerous clients come to me
 requesting Contribute as a solution. I would say the reason, in every case
 i believe, is the cost. It's a 1 time fee of $99. I imagine, that if you
 can offer something comparable or cheaper to them, they would appreciate
 the  recommendation and scrap Contribute if the other product(s) worked
 better, were easier to maintain and implement, etc.
 I would guess here that the client isn't dictating technology, but budget
 for CMS. I mean, what are the chances they've used a bunch of solutions,
 and settled that Contribute is the best and meets their workflow?

I had not heard of Contribute but from what I see searching on it, 
it looks to me like a desktop application sort of like Dreamweaver... ?

regarding costs:
There are plenty of free/open source CMS out there 
(eg xoops, drupal, etc) and for basic stuff a lot of them are pretty
easy to set up so long as the web host has the required software
installed (php, mysql, etc)

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Re: [WSG] Accessibility - Scanning PDFs

2008-10-29 Thread Michael MD

I don't think a pdf (or any other format) containing only images would have 
much chance of being accessible as such.

...does anyone have any recommendations for good OCR tools?

How is scanning to PDF normally done in places that use PDF a lot for 
scanned documents (eg government sites)

Is OCR commonly used? (if so what and how?)

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Re: [WSG] div over flash

2008-10-23 Thread Michael MD

param name=wmode value=transparent / should do the trick, with 

of course.

I think this works on some browsers, but not everything

It might not be possible in some browsers or with some older versions of 
flash player.
(I guess also that there may be similar problems with other types of content 
shown by browser plugins)

I would rather try to avoid attempting to put html content over the top of 
content shown by plugins where possible,
...though there are times this is hard to avoid - eg when adding flash 
content to an existing site with dropdown menus
- in that case all I can do is to use wmode (as above) and also try to 
minimize the impact on usability in browsers where wmode does not work by 
making sure that there are other ways to get to items in any important 
navigation links that may end up under the flash..

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php4 and encoded ampersands (was Re: [WSG] google and validation)

2008-10-20 Thread Michael MD

not a third party on the planet that knows how to write a valid script tag
or encode ampersands...

I've sometimes had to modify existing php and perl scripts to handle encoded
It seems that neither php 4's $_GET or $_REQUEST nor perl's param handle
encoded ampersands in query strings
(you often end up with amp;key rather than just key) so I often have to
handle this in the script itself.

Its not hard to do but if there are are lot of scripts or messy legacy code
it can add a bit of hassle.

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Re: [WSG] Flash replace Javascript in Future?

2008-10-20 Thread Michael MD

Kerry I agree with you there - while 99% of computers online may have
to flash 2 or 3 some higher (of course) I think that we would be extremely
hard pressed to find a majority of online machines with flash above flash
Myself, a web developer, only has flash 8 on my machine (I don't code in
flash, so no real need to upgrade it any further at this stage...)

I think flash players as old as 2 or 3 would be pretty rare nowdays, however
with flash lite on quite a lot of mobile phones (capabilities something like
flash 7 I think) and some linux distros coming with open source alternative
flash players (capabilities like flash 7 or 8 also) I tend to avoid using
anything that needs flash player 9 where possible and so far I haven't found
anything I needed to do that really needed actionscript 3  
...widgets pulling down xml, etc can be made to work fine using actionscript
2 and my favourite actionscript compiler (which btw was my first rather late
introduction to the flash world) - mtasc ( ) is for
actionscript 2.

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Re: [WSG] Flash replace Javascript in Future?

2008-10-17 Thread Michael MD

I think you misunderstood the article big-time. It's saying that Flash
10 is planned to not support DHTML scripting access, which means you
won't be able to control a flash video via Javascript. That just means
that a lot of interfaces where Flash is *not* currently sufficient

they introduce a very useful feature then they take it away again in the 
next version!!


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Re: [WSG] Flash replace Javascript in Future?

2008-10-17 Thread Michael MD

Read the story on that page carefully. What has happened is that flash
10 has increased restrictions over what features within the flash
plugin can be invoked via javascript. This only applies to one
specific feature (file uploads), and effects virtually no other flash
features. It does not effect javascript's abilities in general, only
the abilities of javascript to use flash in certain ways. This point
will largely become moot once video/audio/3d/canvas becomes widespread
and built into browsers, and flash as a result becomes less relevant-
Particularly on low powered platforms like the iPhone, and Android
which do not have flash- or the wii which only has an older and
underpowered version of flash.

I forgot that the Wii has a browser! (I think I was surprised to see it come 
up in the server logs here a while back)

Flash Lite maybe?
... (quite a lot of mobile phones have some version of Flash Lite - which 
is I think compatable with

flash versions up to 7 - so no AS3/flex/etc ... but AS2 is ok)

linux desktop distros often come with non-Adobe open source flash players 
which also don't do some of the newer features introduced recent versions of 
Adobe flash player.

(Firefox 3 on my ubuntu box was like this until I manually downloaded Adobe 
flash player 9 and compiled it from the shell prompt)

For me its basically horses for courses, comparing javascript and 
actionscript is like comparing apples and oranges, I don't see either as a 
replacement for the other. .. not yet anyway... ...

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Re: [WSG] FeedBack Form Spam

2008-09-19 Thread Michael MD
Human-only precautions such as a CAPTHA for form entry helps, as does some 
anti-spam features on your web server.  However, my server
gets hammered with thousands of spam a day... and I got so frustrated with 
that sort of thing that I changed my feedback form to a text field that 
saved the contents into a CSV file.

Bots and other spam bounced harmlessly away.  However, would you believe 
people HAND TYPED spam into the form?  Who has that kind of time on their 
hands?  Oh... yeah... spammers.

not surprising at all ...

I suspect that some of the bigger spammers are using sweatshop slave labour 
to sign up lots of yahoo/hotmail/gmail/etc email addresses to use to receive 
and process verification emails for bots that can actually sign up as users 
on websites.

I see lots of bots trying to register on anything that looks at all like a 
user registration form and have to keep coming up with new tricks to keep 
them out. (eg bot trap fields, passing id's across forms, javascript tricks, 
heuristics, etc).

I hate captchas and have so far avoided using them.

(btw I've even seen spam posts advertising capcha services! - very sus ... )

IMPORTANT: - if a form causes email to be sent (like a site contact form) 
MAKE SURE that your script strips newlines from any fields that end up in 
the mail header.

If newline chars are not stripped it can be very easy for a spammer to 
inject extra bcc headers and use it to send email spam to long lists of 
email addresses.
(this is very common - I've seen lots of badly-written form-to-email scripts 
abused this way over the years and if asked to check on a website reported 
to be sending email spam it is one of the first things I look for!)

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Re: [WSG] best practices for using access keys

2008-09-07 Thread Michael MD

May be a better approach would be to use a script that lets the user turn
accesskeys on.

If you are talking about any kind of client side scripting, such as 
javascript that is a big no-no ... as very few phones are likely to support 

yes the iPhone can do javascript and to a limited extent Opera Lite (as in 
running on their server rather than on the phone iteself)...
but is there much else? ... those would probably currently account for only 
a very tiny fraction of real-world mobile traffic.

... and can I trust EVERY phone browser to completely ignore scripting that 
it doesn't support?
...without the resources to test on a wide variety of phones I take the 
route of caution - though I can see myself probably having to install WURFL 
(a database of known phone models and their capabilities - browser sniffing 
taken to the extreme!)

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Re: [WSG] Google chrome... Coming very soon...

2008-09-03 Thread Michael MD

Could someone tell me if it has Google Download Accelerator or other
Google Toolbar features built in? I'm just wondering how much is under
the hood...

not sure ... but poking around its directories I saw one for google gears...

btw I tried to save one of thumbnail images it generated on its Most 
visited page

- but ...  save image as doesn't work!
(and if I try to open it in another tab it dumps it out as if it were text 
... binary gibberish - wrong mime-type perhaps? ... and save as is 
disabled )

... it looks like they have a few bugs to fix...

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Re: [WSG] Marking up a Calendar

2008-08-06 Thread Michael MD

On Wed, Aug 6, 2008 at 8:42 AM, 8bits Media

We currently have a project that includes a calendar in the design. The
dilemma I currently have, is what is the best way to mark the calendar 
Should we use tables, or is it more semantically correct these days to 

an unordered list?

A table every time. A day on a calendar recieves meaning from the
table (month), the row (week), and the column (day) that it is in, and
IMO a table is the only sensible way to reperesent such complex
relationships between data.

If you use tables make sure it still makes sense on browsers that don't 
render tables (some mobile phones, lynx, etc)

If you use css don't hide anything in css that should be in the content!
I've seen some examples of css-based calendars where there are no dates, day 
numbers, etc in the markup
(they used css and assumed list behaviour to generate day numbers) .. I 
think that is a bad idea ...
Dates on a calendar are important content that should never be hidden from 
users even if their browser doesn't support the css or behaviours being 


If its for public events you could add a bit of hCalendar ... to make it 
more useful ...

(eg people being able to import the events into calendar software without 
retyping, search and aggregation tools being able to see them as events, 

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Re: RE: [WSG] Mobile phone support of CSS

2008-06-25 Thread Michael MD

I agree, this is not web standards. However remember they could be 
following web standards with their CSS version.

and I don't think it is just in the UK, it is every where for Vodafone.
Which not only defies any effort you made to put the thing together for 
presentation standards as well.

I think it is their solution to controlling the user experience on handset 
side of things when someone accesses mobile web.

Why don't they let the community sought it out?
It seems now that if standards are to be effective in the mobile access 
space, there is now another hump to get an open standard.

are they doing this for all sites on all types of phones
or only changing it if the phone's browser can't handle the original 

The latter is nothing new...
Google has been doing it for years for pages linked from mobile search 
results allowing even ancient phones to browse pages they would not 
otherwise be able to look at.

(ie making them accessible!)

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[WSG] IE7 css float art

2008-06-13 Thread Michael MD
I was trying to work out a small problem I was having today with css floats 
and clears on a page in IE7 (page looked fine in Firefox)...

I did a google search and found this:

viewing that page in IE7 shows an *extreme* version of the problem!

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Re: [WSG] Alt versus Title Attribute

2008-05-28 Thread Michael MD

As i remember alt was short for alternative text, to describe images in 
a website.
It is als yuseful for Search ENgine Optimization as its visible for them 
to also

relate them to content, titles and other components of the page.

text-only browsers display it. ... 

It's text for people who can't see the image.

keep that in mind!

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Re: [WSG] Alt versus Title Attribute

2008-05-28 Thread Michael MD

So what's the general consensus on the use of null or empty alt strings as
per the reasons outlined in the article below?

I don't see the point of the null alt strings.

A validator is a tool to help you ... its not the be all and end all - you 
need to interpret the results with a bit of common sense.

It seems rather pointless and silly to just try to fool the validator.

lynx (a free text-only browser) will probably help you a lot more for 
deciding how and where to use alt text ...

can you use the page? ... does what you see make sense?

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RE: [WSG] a question concering shopping cart function (somewhat usability issue I think)

2008-05-22 Thread Michael MD

Accessibility is really not that difficult to put in place - I also believe
as professionals providing web design / development services that this
should not be an addon that we charge but part of what the client should
expect too get - imagine a builder charging you to make your house
compliant. :) I have a strong belief that here in Australia a lot of
websites are going to be tested on discrimination grounds - do you want to
be the one bearing this as the provider?


I see it (and try to explain it) in much more more obvious way 
- as not wanting to exclude people ...
... for any business locking out potential customers is bad! 

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RE: [WSG] PHP Standards

2008-05-18 Thread Michael MD

The php site -
is always a good place to start for php

There are often some good snippets to be found in user comments too 

Its not as good as it was a couple of years ago though, as they seem to have
removed a lot of useful stuff that you could do in pure php because they can
now be done by extensions (often needing php to be recompiled to install -
very annoying!)

Still a good place to start though...

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Re: [WSG] Full flash websites

2008-05-07 Thread Michael MD

some BIG usability NO-NOs I see on a lot of flash sites.

intro pages (one of my pet hates - I HATE waiting ... and I'm sure I'm not
the only one! - they are pointless and should be BANNED! - if you reallly
*must* then make sure there is a non-flash way to skip it)

animations in navigation - yes flash can do animations really well - but 
don't misuse it by making navigation slow for users!

(what about people on slow machines?)

whole website as one huge swf - making people wait for the whole thing to 
download before they can see anything!  ... this is so obviously bad you'd

think it *should* be rare but sadly its still quite common out there
- split it up into smaller files and give people something more interesting 
or useful to look at than loading... within a few seconds! (even on a slow 
dial-up modem!) -

text you can't easily copy/paste (that wasn't actually really intended to be 
locked down)
  - if its something you may want people to use or pass on then it is silly 
to make it more difficult for them to copy/paste.
   eg If you want people to call you on your office phone or come to your 
store's street address - then why stop them from copying the number or 
address to their contact list?
   - will they bother retyping it and double checking to make sure they 
haven't got it wrong? probably not!

well... actually ... if the main content is text why not publish it as html?
flash can do some nice things but I don't think it should ever be used as a 
*replacement* for html or text!

also - don't assume everyone's browser has flash player.
eg: mobile phones - some of the more recent models *might* have a mobile 
flash player ... which btw might handle flash 6 content! - ok maybe an

iPhone can do better .. but honestly how many of those do you see about?
... phone models more than about two years old? ... forget it!

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RE: [WSG] Dreamweaver8

2008-04-09 Thread Michael MD

 one thing I 
miss about dreamweaver is that you can do a 'search all' and 
get a list of all instances of the thing you are searching for 
rather than cycling through a 'find...find...find...'
list. So far it's the only program I've used that does that 
and I really notice not having it.

 My favourite general-purpose text editor is UltraEdit, which does what
 you describe: returns a list of files containg your search string, and
 the entire line(s) that contain that string. It's not a web-specific
 tool, but does beat everything else I have tried to date.

Sounds interesting - I'll check it out.

Normally I use grep for searching in multiple files (returns a list of
matching files and lines) - nothing else I've seen is faster than this
classic unix command-line tool (windows users: there are windows versions of
it - or you can install cygwin, which comes with it. Mac OSX users probably
already have it!)

.. but yes ... it would be nice to be able to do this kind of thing without
leaving my text editor... some kind of regex search/replace would be nice

(but for me to use it in the real world it must start up quickly - I'm
impatient! :)

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Re: [WSG] Semantic markup for a person's name or business name

2008-03-26 Thread Michael MD
Semantic markup for a person's name or business nameI think the address tag 
is specifically intended for the author contact for the page itself (and 
only used once on a page).

for hCard markup see this page:

If you want tools that use microformats (such as the Operator Firefox 
plugin) to see it you should use hCard property names for the classnames

and enclose the whole thing in an element with the class vcard.


use fn for the person's name  (fn is required for a valid hCard)

eg: span class=fnJohn Smith/span

street-address instead of street

If you need to put something outside the vcard container that needs to be 
seen as part of that hCard (eg for something that is repeated), you can use 
include-pattern -
(only if you really need to - this does rely on parsers having DOM-like 

If you just want to mark up an address rather than a contact with a name 
there is also adr -

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RE: [WSG] Semantic markup for a person's name or business name

2008-03-26 Thread Michael MD

2. Aside from it's semantic nature, is there really any functional use  
 formatting data using microformats? I mean, if your format various content
 using microformat standards - as they currently exist - is this
 information then usable/parse-able on different devices? Or is the use of
 microformats simply an effort to make specific content blocks (content
 details, calendars, etc.) semantically coherent in html documents?

Check out the Firefox plugins 
Operator -
and Tails -

It looks like some native support for microformats may be coming soon to

and also IE8,
though they seem to be creating their own variation - Webslices which
appears to be a wrapper around hAtom - 

There are also some online services to do conversions
(such as X2V - )

Check out the implementations pages on the wiki for other
implementations - eg:

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Re: [WSG] IE8 news

2008-03-06 Thread Michael MD

How many time you guys think that will take to at least 70% of ie7 users 
update their browsers?

I estimate 2/half years ... anyone can predict?

probably longer.

when I look at the server logs here I still see almost as many IE6 users as 
IE7 users.
(the server logs are from a public events/nightlife website which gets a 
pretty diverse range of people visiting it)

How often does the average person (who is not a developer, designer or 
'early adopter') bother to upgrade their browser?

...especially when upgrading a browser often means waiting for a very large 
download, having to wait for a reboot afterwoods and often breaking or 
removing their existing browser.

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Re: [WSG] generated source

2008-02-26 Thread Michael MD
Does anyone have a preferred way to view and validate generated source 
code? By
generated source I mean after Ajax, JavaScript, and so on have done their 

I like the view generated source in the Web Developer Firefox plugin,

Firebug is very handy too 

btw does anyone know how to get Firefox 2 plugins to work in Firefox 3 beta?
for some reason I can't seem to use both at the same time on the same 
machine... (I hope Firefox isn't going down the IE route of only letting 
you use one version at a time!)

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Re: [WSG] * { display: inline; }

2008-02-17 Thread Michael MD

IE 7 does,

As do 5 and 6 (before those, don't know and don't care). After all, if

I have to care about what IE5 and 6 do ... I see from server logs lots of 
people out there are still using them!

(especially IE6 ... still very common ... and there are still quite a few 
IE5 Mac users appearing in those logs!)

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RE: [WSG] Re: Where did I come from?

2008-01-19 Thread Michael MD
Are we agreed that the back button *should* take one to the previous page?

yep .. speaking of which...
Is there a good way to fix up back button behaviour (so it behaves as
expected) on pages that do stuff like loading data by using javascript in
hidden iframes? 

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RE: [WSG] Where did I come from?

2008-01-18 Thread Michael MD

When I read that, I thought about creating a button that finds the site 
you were at before you came in here, and then keeps that the same 
throughout the site, so no matter how many pages you go to, you can get 
back out of all of those and back where you were before you started 
that. That's a bit different functionality then a standard back button 
on an internet browser.

 They could want to get the referrer for something else.

Sounds more like that to me ... actually it sounds to me more like they want
the referrer received at the first page where they entered the site to be
shown as a link on all pages viewed after that. 
I guess you would then need to store that first referrer somewhere, perhaps
in a user session if you are using a session manager. (such as php's
$_SESSION, etc)

I don't really understand why they could assume that a page they came from
(first referrer) is *always* the page they are likely to want to go back to.

That page could be anything with a link to that site on it, possibly search
results, etc

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Re: [WSG] Developing for Mixed Browsers - Form Buttons

2008-01-13 Thread Michael MD
Cameron Adams makes a few good points at:, and of 
course - remember that his example button looks different in IE, Safari and 
Firefox! While this article is old, it covers most salient points and 
provides a simple approach that works well. Having said that, his 
'Submit/Go' button is labelled as '', and the page options as \/, and 
these have two different effects (one shows a menu, one takes you to 
another page). Consistency is key - but remember that users usually browse 
in only one browser at a time.

also default buttons can look different on different versions of Windows... 
(there are still quite a lot of people out there still running Win98! - also 
2000/etc is also still quite common)

receive that kind of post. The cheapest way of getting a Mac testing 
environment is an older tower running OS X,

yep - that's what I did ... got a second-hand G4 tower for $100 about a year 
ago ... dual boot OSX and OS9

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Re: [WSG] Input tag - closing tag optional?

2007-11-26 Thread Michael MD

When the document's media type is changed, you will see the expected
results, i.e. your document is rendered as application/xhtml+xml:

doesn't look like IE7 recognises application/xhtml+xml  it asks if I 
want to download it!

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Re: [WSG] Firefox is a pushover

2007-11-22 Thread Michael MD

James Leslie wrote:

You could try using a plug-in such as HTML validator for Firefox that
will put a little icon on the bottom right of your firefox browser to
show you if a page is valid or not and it will show you errors too. It
uses the HTML tidy software

Tidy can be run on the command line too ... nice and easy - no install 

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RE: [WSG] AccessResearch // Page Check

2007-11-18 Thread Michael MD

 I'm throwing together a quick site to try and fund my travel to an 
 accessibility conference. I haven't had too much time to check it, or 
 think it through, but I would appreciate a page check, and general 
 suggestions/comments. Also, I don't have access to Internet Explorer; 
 does it behave /reasonably well/ in that browser?

I just had a look using IE6.
Some of the drop-caps (class=oops) are slightly chopped off at the top
(looks a little strange but still readable and the overall layout is intact)

When I make the browser window small the Contact block at the bottom drops
below the Home block (it doesn't in Firefox) but it doesn't look too bad.
(often that kind of thing in IE is a problem but in this case it looks ok)

I also had a quick look with lynx
It looks ok - quite usable on lynx.

(using lynx is good quick way to see what a page looks like on a browser
that has no css, table, image, javascript or mouse support). 

 James Jeffery wrote:
 - Class and ID names are not semantic. id=left would make no sense 
 if you moved it to the right.

Good point.

 - Why do you have your text blocks all over the place? I think they 
 would look better if they were all left aligned and keep the 
 navigation to the right.

I get the impression he did that deliberately as a statement of visual
design (which if it doesn't affect usability can be somewhat a matter of

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Re: [WSG] multilingual website advice

2007-11-02 Thread Michael MD

Another issue is graphics... if you've got any stock images of people
like some sites do, you have to think about what certain cultures
might think about how people dress.

There are also sensitivities in some cultures about photos of people who 
have passed away.

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Re: [WSG] SilverLight

2007-10-30 Thread Michael MD

In the beta process, they were doing some flipping browser detection
**from within the plugin**, and only checked for Safari or Firefox,  as 
opposed to check for Gecko.
The demos I've seen still only work half and half on Mac browsers,  except 
Firefox 2.0.0.x and Safari.

what about linux browsers?
I won't go near it if it is locked down to one or two operating systems.

I even avoided using flash for anything other than the occasional animated 
banner until quite recently for the same reason...
(it was the talk on Flex a few months ago at a WSG Sydney gathering and the 
mention of Flash Player 9 being available on linux that encouraged me to to 
actually take a more serious look at flash/swf/etc!)

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Re: [WSG] Re: worst site I've seen lately

2007-10-30 Thread Michael MD

whisperI actually quite like it./whisper

I thought it was pretty cool too. A bit of experimentation shows that 
there's actually been a fair bit of work put into font-previewing 
interface. Definitely nowhere near the worst site I've seen recently.

I didn't think it was so bad - *except* that there is a lack of text for 
browsers without flash or frames

(and yes - search engines won't see much there either)
... but that is something lacking on a lot of flash-based sites out there so 
it's hardly the worst...

... visually it even looks kind of cool...

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Re: [WSG] CSS display: none has SEO impact?

2007-10-30 Thread Michael MD
Google is not about to ban you, however if this is used in combination 
with other known black hat tactics, then you will.

Google will check your CSS but once again, if you are using this technique 
to excess, then you should be worried.

There was talk via a different email thread, and someone raised the same 
SEO concern, people have been using hidden and the CSS off-page described 
regularly for accessibility, and there haven't been any stories to date on 
those using these techniques legitimately and been banned by a search 

I don't see any evidence in the server logs here of googlebot even looking 
at css files (despite thousands of hits by googlebot on pages that return 
however I am sure that if someone complained or someone at google comes 
across suspicious or spammy data they will manually check on it.

So I don't think legitimate use would be a problem. 

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Re: [WSG] CSS display: none has SEO impact?

2007-10-29 Thread Michael MD

I highly doubt that presentational styles will effect SEO.

When you use display:none you are not removing the
content from the source, you are just hiding it from
users viewing the web page.

If you was to remove the element from the source using
DOM that would be different.

not if you are talking about client-side scripts ...
for the robots not to see it it would have to be removed from the html they 
fetch from your web server.

Most of them would just ignore css... except maybe google to check if 
you are hiding something :-)

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Re: [WSG] SilverLight

2007-10-29 Thread Michael MD

The Silverlight build process produces a .dll. You need the Silverlight
plug-in to render the resulting html page. Also, from a quick test, it 
only render in IE and the Gecko range. Forget Opera, Safari for windows, 

If they are really serious about getting people to use Silverlight they need 
to provide the plugin for a wide range of popular browers and operating 
systems.. (definately including Safari, Opera, Mac browsers, Linux browsers, 
etc )
...until then I can't see why I should bother with it...  (of did I miss 

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Re: [WSG] how a href with javascript pass in A level

2007-10-23 Thread Michael MD

The problem is that the test pass in level A, and some links doesnt
work without javascript but because of a existense of a noscript the
test pass.

I think this should get a manual check or warning.
because almost noscript that i see just tell, this need flash plugin
or this site need javascript or simple tell me that javascript is

This it's not alternative information! So all clients that require
level A, still gona have a inaccessible site, right!?

That means it would also fail my old favourite accessability test going 
right back to the old days ...
- view it in lynx to see what the page looks like without images, plugins, 
javascript, css or tables

lynx was also the first web browser I ever used back in 1994 (I had a 386 
back then with 2MB RAM and a shell account on linux bbs - so running 
something like Mosaic or Netscape was not possible!)

I guess thats why I knew about hx tags, the alt attribute, unordered lists, 
etc before I knew anything about tables, fonts, etc...
because until a couple of years later when I bought a new computer I wasn't 
very interested in markup I could not see on lynx!

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Re: [WSG] Encoded mailto links

2007-10-18 Thread Michael MD

Well, the best way to let visually impaired people see your email, is 
just do something the spambots can't get and the ones you want to gets the 
email will get it. Simply put it as an audio file. Record yourself reading 
your email, the spambots can't get it and the people using screen readers 
will simply click on the audio file and listen to the email, just as if it 
was written there.

not much good for someone using a device without sound

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Re: [WSG] introducing a prompt to download or open a pdf

2007-10-17 Thread Michael MD
My pet hate is people forcing pdfs to open in browser windows with 

A plain old ordinary link at least lets you right click and download - some 
of us hate having the browser locked up for ages locked up waiting for the 
slow pdf plugin to load.
I think anything that takes more than a few seconds to load should NEVER be 
used as a browser plugin ... its just too annoying..

Maybe one day browsers might load plugins as seperate processes so that they 
can be killed if they take too long to load ... ...? well I can hope for 
this... :-)
because there will always be someone out there inconsiderate enough force 
such a plugin to be used!

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Re: [WSG] Encoded mailto links

2007-10-17 Thread Michael MD

Fix your spam issues at the mail server + mail client end, not at the
web page end, would be my advice.

not a solution ... we all know how hard it is for any filtering software to 
determine whether something is spam or not...
...and any machine-readable version of an email address on a page could 
unfortunately also potentially be read by harvesters.

my approach is usually not to put the email address on there and instead 
provide a contact form,
but even that has its problems nowdays as there are an increasing number of 
spambots out there that post to forms!
(and I hate captchas!) 

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Re: [WSG] Encoded mailto links

2007-10-17 Thread Michael MD

Why not simply display the email address as a simple mailto only when the
browser is a screen reader?

If you mean by CSS (display: none -- or similar -- for aural media
types), I'm not sure that would work because AFAIk spambots just look
through the source code of the page for mailto links. The fact that the
text is hidden when it gets to the browser is neither here nor there, 

most spambots don't look at css or javascript

If you are talking about actually hiding markup from certain agent
types, I'd certainly like to know your method.

Is there anything in agent strings (or any other header sent to the server) 
for any commonly used screenreaders?

I'd love to know!

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Re: [WSG] How to make DHML cover flash

2007-10-16 Thread Michael MD

I have a  page where there are some dhtml menus with drop downs across the 
top of the page, and a large flash object in the body of one of the pages.

However the drop-down menu items are going underneath the flash object so 
they can't be clicked on. I thought I should just put the flash into a 
div with a z-index lower than the z-index of the drop down list item, but 
that doesn't seem to work.Can anyone please tell me how I ought to deal 
with this?

I had a similar problem the other day... after a little searching I found 
out this useful tip:

set the wmode parameter on the flash embed or object to transparent

(I think this might only work in Flash Player 9 though)

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Re: [WSG] source order

2007-10-09 Thread Michael MD

An endless debate. And this is before opening up the other aspect of the
debate... How source order affects Google rank  :)

also .. what about users of small-screen devices like mobile phones where 
lots of scrolling quickly becomes a pain?
then to make matter worse there is the issue of widely varying (sometimes 
limited or none at all) support for css on different mobile devices...

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Re: [WSG] Cost of Accessibility

2007-10-05 Thread Michael MD

Are you implying that shopping is a luxury? As horrible as you may find 
it, shopping is actually necessary for human survival in a capitalist 
society. It's the only way we can acquire goods.

Target is not the only place where people can go shopping ...

I think everyone here at least agrees on one thing ...
we want to see more websites out there become more accessable.

If a company shuts down their website because they are being sued does that 
make it more accessable?

I think not.

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Re: A: [WSG] Target Lawsuit - Please Make Yourself Heard

2007-10-03 Thread Michael MD
A private company should be able to do whatever the hell they like. Suit is 
without merit and frivolous. What's next, suing vehicle manufacturers for 
not providing a braille manual? I'm all for accesability, but there is no 
reason it should be mandated, and lack of is in no was discriminatory.

Not every website or even company is run by a large corporation ... not 
everyone has lots of cash to spend on lawyers...

Opening the door to yet more lawsuits may be promoting another form or 
discrimination which is not often talked about but just as bad as any 
other - discrimation against people who can't afford lawyers!

What is actually needed here is education ... so that the people at Target 
understand that it is also in their own interest that everyone can use their 
site properly.

If people can't use their site they can't buy anything ...
Excluding people from being able to use the site means less customers
... could it be put in a simpler way than that?

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Re: A: [WSG] Target Lawsuit - Please Make Yourself Heard

2007-10-03 Thread Michael MD
Speaking only of businesses int he United States, no government entity 
should be telling a private business what it must do and that includes 
telling a business
it must provide health coverage, or spend a certain percentage on it and 
what the covereage must include.  If that business accepts government 
monies, then
the ball game changes.  Of course the private businesses should do some 
things,  accessible websites may be one of them but it is not the 
governments job to

force it.

The Target website is probably a case of ignorance in management there
I think the best response to ignorance is education ... not lawsuits...

(yes it is probably different if there is government funding involved - but 
even then I think education should be attempted first and perhaps 
accessability could be made part of the conditions for getting the funding)

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Re: [WSG] Standards friendly 'page tagging' web stats

2007-08-27 Thread Michael MD

Patrick, reports based on server log files are considerably limiting.
For example, visitors are generally identified by IP and Session ID.
This doesn't tell me if the person is a repeat customer, or how often
they frequent the website, and also provides more accurate filtering of
non-human user agents (as UAs don't tend to render the HTML or executive
the JS).

yes ... but you also won't see any browsers that don't have javascript (such
as most mobile phone browsers) so if you want to see EVERY browser that
people might use to look at your site you will still need to get that
information from the server logs. 

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Re: [WSG] designing for handheld

2007-08-05 Thread Michael MD
As John said, phone browsers vary as much (actually, more) than their 
desktop counterparts.

much more actually ...

On the phone, there are a few different environments I'd test in:
1. Safari (WebKit is the primary browser on Nokia S60 devices, as  well as 
the iPhone of course. There are some compatibility  differences, but it's 
the best way to check, short of actually using  the device)
2. Opera Mini (has quite significant market penetration on mobile 
devices. I believe I read somewhere that it was the number 1 browser,  but 
that may not be true)
3. IE on a Windows Mobile device. I have no idea how to test this  other 
than on the device itself. I'm not aware of how it differs with  IE/Win.

Those are the high-end of mobile browsers ...
Currently only a small proportion of phone browsers in actual use out there 
would be using those.

What about UP-Browser, etc?
... and those rather limited and very diverse browsers that come with phones 
... phone users are more likely to be using the phone's built-in browser 
than something they have to install themselves such as Opera Mini.

If the only mobile devices you are seeing in your logs are the high-end ones 
you mentioned perhaps it is because it is not really a truly mobile-friendly 

The way to go for phones made in the last few years is mobile xhtml -

- if you want to support older phones you will need a wml version as well.
(you will need both wml and xhtml versions because some of the newer phones 
no longer support wml and many old phones ONLY support wml - yes its a 
standards nightmare!)

Remember that phone users are usually using very small screens - keep 
navigation simple - and try to avoid creating situations where the user has 
to spend a lot of time scrolling to get to what they want!
also - try to break long pages up into small ones (some older phones will 
not handle long pages due to memory restrictions)

Avoid using flash or javascript - not many phones in current use support 

some links that may be useful:

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[WSG] IE7 and iframes

2007-07-25 Thread Michael MD

I'm trying to fix some pages that use iframes that are broken in IE7

are there any good tips for fixing broken iframes-related javascript in IE7?

This is NOT a cross-domain problem. 

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RE: [WSG] Re: please avoid forcing people to open pdf in browser!

2007-07-20 Thread Michael MD

Like I said, blame the messenger - blame the people who created the PDF 
for not making it accssible and easy for the users. Don't blame the PDF 
itself - it's innocent and in fact in my opinion, a beneficial 
technology Adobe has invented.

My earlier complaint was not about whether not pdf should be used  (there
are places where it is quite useful  - such as long e-books, catalogues,
manuals, etc that are downloaded for offline viewing - or invoices, etc
designed to be downloaded).

I was just trying to draw attention to the issue of some sites forcing
people to open pdfs in a browser window rather than giving the user the
choice to download them (thereby causing frustration for users who are then
stuck with a locked up browser while waiting for the browser plugin to
start) and also that pdf should not be seen as a substitute for html content
on a website.

On some of the sites that do this, the pdf's are mostly short public press
releases. I see no reason why there could not be alternate html versions of
those (perhaps even created by using a conversion tool? - the rendering and
html may not be perfect but surely this could help).

I wonder what Google uses to do those the view as html when you see pdfs
in search results. 
... maybe there are some server-side conversion tools around that could be

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please avoid forcing people to open pdf in browser! was Re: [WSG] To target or not

2007-07-19 Thread Michael MD

I'm all about web conventions.  I didn't realize having a blank target
didn't follow web standards.  Is that documented somewhere?

This one still bothers me ...

The alternatives I've seen invariably require javascript and some of those 
javascript methods give the user less choice and are also not well suited 
for user-generated content (often created with wysiwyg editors)

I'm seeing a very annoying trend lately where quite a few sites are forcing 
pdf's to open in a new browser window with javascript.
I do not think it is acceptable to force people to wait over a minute with a 
locked up browser for a slow plugin to start without warning!
- at least give them the option to right-click and download it for offline 

(or better don't use pdf - use html! )

Government-related sites seem to be the worst offenders - They seem to have 
almost everything as pdf

Until they fix browsers to not lock up while loading slow plugins or they 
fix acrobat reader to start more quickly I'll continue to regard sites that 
force people to view pdfs in a browser as being about on about the same 
level as those nasty porn sites with endless chains of popup windows.

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Re: [WSG] Robot meta tags

2007-07-04 Thread Michael MD

Although meta tags are depreciated,

I was reading yesterday, you can still include meta information for 
specific spiders, like only telling yahoo spiders to go away

I think Google and Yahoo also see  rel=nofollow on links
(to prevent the link from being counted for a page's ranking - such as for 
user posts where people might try to post link spam)

but I don't think that stops the pages from being indexed

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Re: [WSG] Who's A Front End Developer?

2007-07-04 Thread Michael MD

requirement to know 'everything'. The datastore/backend guys will just
make sure the data is in a nice format (JSON or something) and that
its accessible from a url - their job is done my friends. User

people who know about something JSON (or any other such method of 
trasnsporting data between the server and the client) are likely to be 
people who do a bit of both front and back-end stuff - the lines ARE 
how many datastore/backend guys would know what JSON is (or see any point 
using it) if they have never written client-side javascript?

I think it is risky to seperate these roles too much - each should have a 
least a little understanding of the other...

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Re: [WSG] Back to the Future

2007-06-13 Thread Michael MD

Nope, it's genuine. This is an extranet system that financial services
companies will be connecting to. Did you know that Norwich Union has
thousands of users still in Win3.1 and NN4.03 (so I've been told)? And 
of the other insurance and mortgage companies aren't much better. Then 

are many who are using thin clients (Citrix), and a few with more modern
systems. It's a real hotch-potch.

doesn't surpise me at all - a friend told me about a year ago that a bank he 
was working for was only just replacing a whole lot of win3.1 machines.

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Re: [WSG] Back to the Future

2007-06-12 Thread Michael MD

My initial tests show that NN4.03 handles some CSS (float, background,
border, font etc) but not some important things (list-style, margin and
padding on lists). Is there a source for information about CSS support on
old browsers?

if you are going to use css with netscape 4 I suggest you do lots of testing 
... it's buggy as hell on that browser... and errors often cause the content 
not to be displayed at all! - I'd probably go for just basic html for 
netscape 4...

In fact it was Nestcape 4 that scared me off from using CSS for a few years! 

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Re: [WSG] Safari now on Windows

2007-06-11 Thread Michael MD
I recommend it to all those developers that are stuck in a Windows 
environment - I have already fixed a few bugs I would have had to use my 
bosses Mac to find!
My only concern is that at the moment, I can get away with It might not 
look 100% in Safari, but it still works... With Safari on Iphone, 
something which is almost guaranteed to be a raging success, I'm pretty 
sure I wont be able to use that defense forever.

I bought a second-hand Mac G4 from a friend last year so I could test with 
Mac browsers.

On most things I checked I did not see much difference in the rendering of 
pages in Safari compared to Firefox... I normally have much more trouble 
with IE.

iPhone might be a different thing altogether ..
just because a page renders nicely in Safari on a desktop machine doesn't 
necessarely mean it is going to be very usable on a tiny screen!
(I haven't yet seen an iPhone but I assume the screen would be small like a 
mobile phone screen...?)

Speaking of Mac browsers -
a friend called me on the weekend and said he can't find anything newer than 
IE5 for OS9 but won't upgrade to OSX because it would be way too slow on his 
G3. (and he doesn't have the money to buy a new machine)
now that is something to think about! 

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Re: [WSG] Safari now on Windows

2007-06-11 Thread Michael MD

Speaks volumes for the longevity of Macs, if you ask me. It's equivalent 
to saying, 'I can only run IE 4.x because I only have a 386 (486? What do 
I know?) processor and Win 95.' Or whatever.

win95 on a 386 - forget it!  you are probably talking about win3.1 :-)

I had a 386 in the early 90s my first web pages were created using qEdit 
(dos text editor) and to see them I had to upload them to the server and use 
lynx to view them
- with 2MB RAM I could not use Mosaic or Netscape1.1  and Arachne 
( did not exist yet , which is why I didn't use images on 
anything until I got a pentium in about 1995 -  lynx was for me the browser 
of choice for about 2 years!

How many 386/486 machines do you still see out there?

probably not many in this part of the world ... but elsewhere who knows?
You still see heaps of Russian fidonet discussions gated to usenet... so who 
knows what people might still be using in that part of the world!

regarding the friend using OS9... I think there may be other reasons he 
won't upgrade - such as other software he uses. 

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Re: [WSG] Use of PDFs - Accessibility issues

2007-06-07 Thread Michael MD

Here is the thread that discussed making PDFs accessible:

The effort involved in creating the PDFs in an accessible format will be

Handheld users frequently avoid opening PDFs since they are often a large
file size - bandwidth and cost being the limiting factors here.

how many mobile phone can read pdf? .. I suspect not many yet  ... (I have 
yet to see one which can)

btw does anyone know of anything that can export html (even if it is crap 
html) from a pdf ?

(apart from Acrobat Pro itself  - I can't justify spending that sort of 
money for just the occasional attempt to extract useful content from that 
occasasional pdf sent by clueless media publicists which would otherwise 
just be deleted)

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Re: [WSG] Keeping state of behaviors

2007-06-07 Thread Michael MD

Is the iframe important to the functioning?

It looks to me like it is using the behaviour of the browser history (back 
and forward) for the iframe.
(you hit back and the iframe goes to the previous url that was loaded in 
- in this case 
plus a query string which changes)

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Re: [WSG] What does Semantic mean?

2007-06-06 Thread Michael MD

Maybe I used a poor example.

Microformats would certainly be my first choice for this. I just wish
there was *more* software that could use it. And a plugin to add
microformat data into a groupwise client. That would be nice :)

I have no idea what groupwise is but could a user script could be created 
for the Operator Firefox plugin to add the data?
The latest version of it allows you to add your own scripts (javascript) to 
do things with the data it finds.

There is also some talk about including future native support for 
microformats in Firefox 3

Microsoft's Live Clipboard also uses microformats!FB3017FBB9B2E142!285.entry

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Re: [WSG] What does Semantic mean?

2007-06-05 Thread Michael MD

I too would love to see the results of this experiment.

Any takers?

I suspect that the following code...

fieldsetlegendstaff details/legend
dtemail/dtdd[EMAIL PROTECTED]/dd

perhaps ... but for the purpose of marking up contact details in a 
meaningful way why not use hCard?

...there are lots of other people already using hCard out there and there is 
software that can use it...

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Re: [WSG] address semantics

2007-05-28 Thread Michael MD

I want to put an address on a site, but I'm put off by the limitations 
of the address tag. (but attracted to the semantic value).

microformats - hcard, adr

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[WSG] another image maps question

2007-05-25 Thread Michael MD
I was trying to do something as an old-style ISMAP (server-side) image map 
and noticed some wierd behaviour

Is this type of image map still supported properly by browsers?

I can't do it client-side because the coordinates that were clicked on need 
to be sent to the server to be compared with the image

(also generated by a script on the server)

The imagemap is to be used on other websites (and no javascript can be used 
in this case ... must be just plain html)

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Re: [WSG] Mocking up web interfaces

2007-05-24 Thread Michael MD



- but I'm a developer normally dealing with code rather than visual 
design - 

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Re: [WSG] stand alone blog software

2007-05-24 Thread Michael MD

I *want* to like Drupal. I really do.

same here

When it's working, it's a beautiful thing. But I've recently had a lot
of trouble installing the recent version. So much trouble that I gave up
on it :(

I gave up because it was too slow on a high-traffic site on a busy shared 
server where the bottleneck is the mysql queue.
.. way too many mysql statements run to do anything...  and using mysql for 
caching is a very bad idea - slows it down even more.

drupal is not unique there ... almost every off-the-shelf cms I've looked at 
has the same problem.

I'm hoping the new version is better but haven't tried it yet.

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Re: [WSG] Mocking up web interfaces

2007-05-24 Thread Michael MD

On Behalf Of Nick Fitzsimons
Being Just a Coder, my usual workflow is:

1. Receive Photoshop files created by client's graphic designer, who
has no knowledge of web technologies, no understanding of usability,
no interest in accessibility, and thinks everything is the same as
print media;

2. Tear my hair out whilst ranting and raving about the ignorance and
incompetence of these people;

3. Decide that I'm not going to be beaten by these b4st4rd5;

4. Rack my brains for days or weeks working out how to achieve the

5. Achieve the impossible;

6. Realise that I've learnt or invented a whole load of useful CSS
and HTML techniques;

7. GOTO 1.

love it ... couldn't have said it better myself! :-)

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Re: [WSG] dl v table for form layout

2007-05-22 Thread Michael MD
there is also the issue of how it will display on a minimal browser not only 
without table rendering but also without css rendering ...

It should still be possible to use the form.

.. at the end of the day I think that it what it comes down to - making it 
work on any browser with any type of display!

It should degrade gracefully when some display features are not available.

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Re: [WSG] wa state guidlines question

2007-05-09 Thread Michael MD

 how do you make the pdf accessible???

I guess it probably depends if it has unencrypted text in it... 

some pdf's might only contain images or other stuff...

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Re: [WSG] wa state guidlines question

2007-05-08 Thread Michael MD

I have a page that has links to a pdf and the client wanted to know
whether it can be linked to a new window or not. They dont really care
about best practises etc but rather what the state Internet guidlines
are. I have looked through the 107 page doco but cannot find anything.

no idea about state guidelines ... but I hope the page warns people that 
they are pdf's before they click!

One of my pet hates is acrobat reader opening in a browser unexpectedly.
It takes a long time to start and the browser is completely locked up while 
it waits for acrobat reader to start.

(acrobat reader had the same problem a decade ago and they never fixed it!)

Its especially annoying when looking at government sites - they seem to use 
pdf for almost everything

(including a lot of stuff that could have just been put there as html)

If it's a pdf I prefer to just download it and open it in acrobat reader 
without using the browser -
much less hassle and I can still browse while waiting for acrobat reader to 

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Re: [WSG] Template Review

2007-04-30 Thread Michael MD

I strongly suggest you
1) mark up the DTs as hyperlinks that reload the page with the selected 
item expanded, then

2) add javascript that converts the links to show/hide DOM switches

That way the page will function correctly whether javascript is enabled or 
not, and when javascript is enabled it will work faster  more smoothly. 
Everybody wins.  [Google 'progressive enhancement']

didn't realise there was a name for this kind of thing!

I would never make something rely totally on javascript (or anything other 
than html) to see text content... but will use javascript to enhance the 
user experience if it is available.

I guess lynx (the text-only browser) was always my base-level test if I 
can't use a site in lynx it isn't accessible enough!

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Re: [WSG] What do we say if we don't say click?

2007-04-19 Thread Michael MD

interesting discussion

I get a lot of mobile phone users here.
click would definately not be a suitable word to use on any page mobile 
phone users are likely to look at.

...however I might use that word on pages that require javascript such as 
those that use an external api to display maps.
The only people able to use those pages are people using a web browser that 
can execute javascript... and 99.99% of such users would be using a mouse or 
a pointing device designed to emulate a mouse!

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Re: [WSG] What do we say if we don't say click?

2007-04-19 Thread Michael MD

John Foliot wrote:

semi-credible stats showing that 4% of users cannot (do not?) support
JavaScript []

Granted, this appears to be more reliable than 99.9% - but isn't
javascript required in order for to gather stats, or do
they use web bugs?

good point...

btw that 99.99% was never intended to be used as some kind of reliable 

so please don't quote it as such!
- it was only a guess about something - perhaps I should have just said 
something like most... :-)

I think it is (semi) safer to say 4% of visitors to sites using counters do not have javascript enabled =)

I think I was talking about mobile phone users who in total would probably 
only barely be noticed by such web counters...
(if they work by loading an image not all mobile browsers would display it 
on a page load and if it needs javascript then it would be a lot less 

btw it seems that there are quite a few people out there who browse on their 
phones but do not often browse on a PC...
so I don't think we can expect them all to be familiar with many of the 
conventions we might take for granted!

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Re: [WSG] Layout Check Please (Linux / Mac)

2007-04-16 Thread Michael MD

In future, you should consider installing a virtual machine with a
flavour of Linux so you can easily test your websites yourself, rather
than rely on someone elses perception.

any recommendations for a good no-hassle virtual machine?
(I hate waiting to reboot so I would much prefer a virtual machine solution 
rather than a dual-boot setup)

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[WSG] opacity

2007-04-11 Thread Michael MD

For a little while, I went down the path of  opacity: 0.5; but
quickly found that nothing could be done to reverse the effect for
children of the object - they all went wishy washy too!

actually I've been having problems with opacity with text too... fine in 
Firefox but IE doesn't seem to recognise it.

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Re: [WSG] sIFR : Rich Accessible Typography

2007-03-28 Thread Michael MD
sIFR is meant to replace short passages of plain browser text with text 
rendered in the typeface of choice, regardless of whether or not your users 
have that font installed on their systems. Read more about how it works 

When I first saw this my initial reaction was  I hope this is not another 
thing encouraging people to use images to display text
(I personally dislike people doing that... I think text should be 
represented by text!)
 however reading further it seems that the replacement is done 
client-side by javascript, so in other words the text is still in the 
page... its probably not so bad non-flash and non-graphical browsers might 
still be able to display the text.
- it might even be a good thing if it can persuade some people out there who 
are using images to display text to use something like this instead.

It might even pass my old favourite test - the lynx test!

lynx was the first web browser I ever used back in 1994,
(back then I had a 386 with 2MB RAM and a 2400bps dialup modem and could not 
run Mosaic or Netscape 1.1)
- so I guess that set my baseline standard for many years ... if you can't 
use it with lynx, its no good!

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Re: [WSG] Simple to use page layout 'tool' ?

2007-03-12 Thread Michael MD

At  my  company,  the  business  groups often use Visio to produce the
wireframes  that  the  design  groups  then work toward. They also use
Powerpoint  to  produce  light specs. I can't say I am fond of these
tools  from a web development perspective, but they do allow those not
familiar with the web to quickly produce wireframes that can be easily
manipulated  and  toyed  with.  There is the  added  benefit that many
business folks are already familiar with these programs.

I've never seen any such tools used for this... maybe that happens only in 
the rarified atmopshere of large corporations or government departments...

...wirefames? ... only ever seen that in animation programs...
...maybe someone's been watching too many movies?
...doesn't sound at all like the real world

Never even seen Visio.. and don't have a clue what it actually does.
Just did a Google search on it and ended up at a page about Microsoft 
Office... I guess this is something new they just released .

.. but I can't quickly figure out from that page what it actually does!
...but if there is any tool in existance that could help a non-technical 
person describe to me what they want more clearly I'd like to know about it!
(but if the language it uses is business-speak then I'm still going to have 
trouble understanding it :-)

It would be nice to have something better to go on than what we usually get 
in the real world
eg a photoshop image and being told to do something like that (I'm a 
developer not a visual designer - I need some idea what they want it to do!)

(the most common scenario) ... a very vague verbal description from someone 
who isn't actually sure of what they want!


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Re: [WSG] Javascript to check for Handheld Devices

2007-03-01 Thread Michael MD
No idea if it would execute in whatever handheld browser is needed, and my 
brief research indicates this style grabbing in javascript is a bit flaky 
cross browser even on the desktop, but you might be able to hack something 
together that works a lot of the time.

flaky would be an understatement...
what if the browser can't execute javascript?

what proportion of mobile phones can execute javascript?... I don't think 
many can

Some phones do support css but a lot don't ... so the page should be 
designed to be usable without it.

(and I am talking about phones new enough to be able to read xhtml - not 
older models that can only do wml) 

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