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Archive for March, 2006

8 Web Design Warm Fuzzy Feelings

Friday, March 24th, 2006

Screenshot of css code

PingMag’s 8 Web Design Warm Fuzzy Feelings

A night out in Penrith

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006

Sign for Penrith train station

A night out in Penrith.

Thunderbird email

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006

I know I really should start deleting old emails. But do you know what would be really nice? To be able to select individual folders (or sub folders) containing archive emails, zip it up and store it on the hard drive and be able to restore it with a quick command such as “Restore xyz folder”.

I don’t suppose anything like that exists for Thunderbird does it?

[tags]Thunderbird, email, software, archives[/tags]

Forrin stuff on the tellybox

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006

I don’t know why that word makes me smile but it does. A Channel 4 promo for E4 started using the word last year in trailers for “second chance Sunday”, an opportunity to catch up on new episodes of ER on a Sunday night. Useful for those who haven’t manipulated organised it so that the man of the house has his boys’ night out on a Thursday, leaving herself to wallow in ER and to catch up on anything taped during the rest of the week.

But I got to wondering earlier, we get so many US imports here in the UK (and very good some of them are too) but why don’t we get to see more imports from other English speaking countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand? I’d not expect the good old British public to accept many, God forbid, subtitled imports (and besides, the tv companies would probably dub the damn things) but surely there are some quality programmes being made out there that we’re not seeing?

But let’s pretend we can choose what we want to watch. Wherever you live in the world, what local shows would you recommend? Come to think of it, if you’re in the UK/US, which little gems should we be exporting?

And finally… if you’ve had your fill of medical dramas, reality shows and soap operas you’ll appreciate the Wikipedia list of television clichés. When I’ve a minute I might add a section for radio dramas, noting that in certain long-established radio soap operas the norm seems to be that a posh accent equals a decent, intelligent person while a regional accent indicates a ne’er-do-well with the intelligence of a jam jar.

[tags]radio, television, shows, imports[/tags]

A lazy (wo)man’s tip for Firefox

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006

If you prefer links to open in new tabs rather than a new window, you can go to Firefox settings (Tools => Options => Tabs):

Screenshot of the Firefox Tools dialog box showing the options checked.

It’s useful when you’re using a web based email (e.g. gmail) and are too lazy to use right click to open a new tab rather than the default new window. Great for pen/tablet users too.

And now for some links

Shave that dude!

Endless fun to be had with the Indian Shankar Drum Ganesh Machine.

Rember that sand artist, Ferenc Cakó, that we all loved? Well Graeme recently came across the work of another sand artist, Ilana Yahav.

I’m off to make supper.

The Dying of Delight, part 1 : The horse before the cart

Tuesday, March 21st, 2006

The normal course of a meme is for blogger A to write a post, tag bloggers B, C, D, etc. and then sit back and enjoy the results.

So I was delighted to see the lovely Gordon’s take on Clare’s meme, The Dying of Delight.

The title is taken from her book of the same name (haven’t read it yet, intend to very soon) but the questions really make you sit down and think.

Hah! You’ve all heard stories about crowded Japanese metro trains? People flying in and out, getting jammed, no room to breathe? That’s what my brain is like at the minute.

So I’m going to take the unusual step of tagging people first while I make time and space to sit down and answer it properly.

Right then, here are the questions that make up The Book Title Meme:

  1. Briefly describe an aspect of your life for which ‘The Dying Of Delight’ would be an apt title.
  2. Pick another book whose title has some resonance in your life, and write a little about it.
  3. Write one more short personal piece – one which matches the book title chosen (in part 2) by the person who tagged you.
  4. Take your favourite little-known book and plug it to your readers. Authors need incomes, and word of mouth is one of the best ways to sell books.
  5. Sit back and marvel at the magnificence of this meme. It was brought to you by an out-of-breath author, reduced (on account of her publisher having expired) to trundling copies of her book across the internet on a rusty old trolley with one wheel missing, sweating and shouting “Buy me book, Gov?” Now visit Clare’s book site and see if you’d like a copy for yourself.
  6. Tag five people with this meme.

Ah. For question 3 you’ll need that from me won’t you? Okay, it’ll be A Clergyman’s Daughter by George Orwell. It’s a wonderful book, go borrow it from the library when you’ve finished reading Clare’s book.

So I’ve broken one rule by doing it arse backwards. The next is the suggestion of five tags. Five? Are you forgetting how many great writers there are on them thar blogrolls? Do you realise how nosey we all are?

And besides, some in this list will be too busy to partipate and/or taking a writing break. So it’s over to you folks.

Ali, Allan, Andre, Birdy, Briggy, Croila, Daisy-W, Ed, Biggles’ owner, Gia, Leah, Mary, Meesh, Nancy, Richard and Toni.

Oops, The Dubious One got deleted in all that alphasorting and cut and paste linkage.

Addition: It has been suggested that the title of this post might have an error in it. It was intentional. No, really.

Update 2: It just occurred to me that in that long list of names might be folk that you’d like to tag if you take up the meme – feel free to do so.

The indispensable shoppers’ style guide

Tuesday, March 21st, 2006

Picture the scene. You’ve slept in late on a Saturday morning. You stumble into the kitchen, put the kettle on for tea and horror of horrors, the tea caddy is empty. You check the larder for those disgusting vegan teabags your father went to all that trouble to post to you but even they’ve disappeared.

So you weight up the pros and cons. Get dressed and go to the supermarket or live without tea. Easy decision eh?

You run back upstairs, clean your teeth, run a comb through your hair then dash back to the bedroom to rifle through the washing basket for something not too smelly and stand in front of the wardrobe, trying to decide what to wear. Well, that kinda depends on which store you’re heading to:

Debra Jackson [of Alexandria] said she likes shopping at the Dollar Palace because it is convenient and casual.

“I don’t have to get all dressed up like I’m going to Wal-Mart or something,” she said, adding she shops at Williams’ store “to pick up my cleaning supplies.”

Via Rhandom Rhamblings.

[tags]Walmart, dress, code, style, guide[/tags]

Talkr podcasting and accessibility

Monday, March 20th, 2006

I’ve had a bit more of a poke round the Talkr.com site and have a few notes.

  • Comments (the best bit) aren’t included, can I add an rss feed for these? Need to find out.
  • You can sign up with Talkr.com and subscribe to feeds of blogs that simply have an rss feed (they don’t have to be signed up with Talkr podcast).
  • The plugin has added the Talkr icon to every post but only recent and future posts will be available. Need to fix that.
  • Accessibility issues.

The main reason I installed Talkr was to get (the lazy man’s) idea of blog posts as they are read by screenreaders. It’s not a true version of course, I’m betting (hoping!) that Jaws and other softwares are more sophisticated than this. But it has immediately highlighted a few issues that we bloggers should start thinking about.

I’m racing against the clock now, we’re off to a birthday party tonight (full of musicians who jam at the drop of a hat, hooray!) and I need to bath, wash hair and find something slinky to adorn my sylph-like silhouette so I’ll just jot down a few notes and come back to it later. Oh and somewhere in the drafts folder I’ve a post about basic steps we bloggers can take to improve accessibility, will someone nag me into publishing it, please?

Back to accessibility. I hate to “pick on” Pam, (especially since she’s one of the funniest bloggers on the planet), it’s just that her blog was the first I subscribed to. Here is the spoken version of the first post that appears in her feed:

This story from beancounters is entitled based on a true story and was published on March 16 2006. The original story included an image with the caption ode at this point.

Eh? The written post is indeed entitled based on a true story but it contains a single image, a cartoon strip. Pam named the graphic ode.gif and uploaded it. TypePad then automatically used the graphic name as the alt attribute, giving us a useless “description” of the picture.

Oh and it’s not just Pam, my archives are full of badly presented graphics that I’m slowly trying to fix.

It really highlights a big issue that we bloggers ignore, mostly? partly? because of the blogging/cms softwares we all use. Why don’t they prompt bloggers to type in an alt attribute when uploading images? I know that WordPress does, Blogsome does but what about others? TypePad didn’t (has that changed?).

Anyway. Here’s the deal as I understand it. All images (apart from decorative ones such as icons that can be placed in the css and ignored by screenreaders) should have an accompaning alt attribute. Alt being short for alternative. That is, alternative text to describe pictures for those than cannot see them. If you’ve just posted a picture of, say, George Cloooney (mmm, yes please!), why not add a few words to describe the picture. Let your imagination run riot! I’m the world’s worst at finding ways to describe pictures but something is better than nothing.

And besides, if you’re interested in getting hits, you know what? Google will love you for it.

I’ll add more links later but Roger Johansson’s article, HTML tags vs. elements vs. attributes is a great place to start.

Back to Pam’s post. I couldn’t have picked a worst one to explain (well, I didn’t pick it, it was the first one I listened to). Not only is the text a bit wacky, it’s written in a fake French accent. My head is about to explode!

So let’s make this a team effort – what could Pam have written as an alternative text to the cartoon strip?

I realise the irony in asking for these suggestions – the image is invisible to non sighted readers so here is the text. A young girl is talking to a bird.

Eef I water, ze crab grass, she grow
Eef I do not water, ze dirt, she show
Ze conundrum, she ees brewing
Alors, Neighbour Bob,
What am I to be doing?

Wait, how about a prize? The best alt attribute text for Pam’s post gets a surprise gift.

The prize and the *ahem* lucky judge to be announced later. Sod it, is that the time? I have to run!

[tags]Talkr, podcast, accessibility, alt, attribute[/tags]

Stopgap

Sunday, March 19th, 2006

Unexpected visitors this weekend, a sort-of family member (I don’t know him terribly well) with cancer has worsened considerably so we’re looking after the grandchildren while the stepson and daughter-in-law spend some time with him.

Since Sophie (6 next week!) is an even bigger internet addict than yours truly, I’ve been digging out some of the more child-friendly bookmarks: Ferry Halim’s Orisinal, Boohbah, the on/off switch, You are my flower (songs by Elizabeth Mitchell and Daniel Littleton of the band Ida), cows of the universe and Splashback to name but a few.

Dammit, while checking those links I came back across the sinfully addictive weboggle. You have so been warned. Maybe it’s safer to check out Desktop Blues instead. At least you’ll be able to get on with something else in the meantime…

Unspoken words

Friday, March 17th, 2006

A meme.

List ten things you want to say to people you know but you never will, for whatever reason. Don’t say who they are. Use each person only once.*

Now don’t go rolling your eyes up to heaven before you try it. It’s remarkably therapeutic. In fact, I’ve got a little text file sitting on my desktoop right now with all the things I’m never saying. Starting with my infant class teacher who thought that left-handedness was a sign of the devil.

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