Summer in Missouri

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

… Excessive heat watch remains in effect from Saturday afternoon
through Wednesday evening…

An excessive heat watch remains in effect from Saturday afternoon
through Wednesday evening.

The combination of temperatures in the middle to upper 90s and
high humidity will lead to dangerous heat levels during the
afternoon and early evening hours Saturday through Wednesday.

Heat index values in the St Louis metropolitan area will hover
around 105 degrees during the afternoon and early evening hours
each day.



100 Things

SB of Watermark was bitten by the “100 thing…” meme, which she proceeded to answer in a whimsical, humorous, and charming way. As she wrote, This is a narcissistic exercise; who would want to know 100 things about a stranger on the Internet?. Rather than sit, looking into the pond, she entered the phrase, “SB is…”, into a Google search, and then summarized the results of what she found.

Speaking of 100 things Seth Finkelstein writes on the burden of a Wikipedia entry, and a recent discussion on whether his entry should be deleted. I can empathize and agree with Seth, but for opposite reasons: what if one’s Wikipedia bio sits, like an immovable stone not even gathering moss? Wouldn’t it be better to be to show some signs of wear over time than to show a smooth, unchanging face, no matter how pleasant?

There are actually far worse things that can happen to the bio of a living person than trolls saying something nasty. Come to think on it, the same thing can be said about the person, directly.


Safe for eyes…maybe

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I had pulled the colors for the Bb Gun from an old ad for Red Ryder BB guns. If you’ve watched the movie, “A Christmas Story”, you’ll recognize both the gun and the ad. I also originally had an image of the gun on the site. However, when I asked permission to use the image, the Daisy air gun company said they’d prefer that I remove it; as is their right, and I was happy to comply.

I kept the colors, though, as I thought a good strong dose of color was appropriate for the content. I had a chance yesterday, though, to check it out on a Mac where I hadn’t modified the gamma setting to be between that of a pure Mac, and that of a PC. My first reaction was, “Argggghhhh!”

Thinking that the site’s tagline starts with “Safe for eyes…”, it behooved me to make it safe for eyes. I’ve set the background color to white, for now.

Even if I hadn’t set it, I do provide full feeds at all the sites and a person could forgo the pleasure of directly reading the page at the site in favor of reading it in an aggregator. Yes, I’ve come fully around on feeds, and it was my recent book project that led to this change in attitude.

I don’t agree with the Ajax enthusiastas who say that one can blow off both valid markup and accessibility in the interests of creativity. When I was working on the Learning JavaScript book, what kept going through my mind in providing an accessible alternative to a site heavily JavaScripted and DHTMLized is to use a content management tool, like a weblog, to create multiple templates: one with ‘the goods’, one without.

(If the site was XHTML, one could also use XSLT to transform the page, but let’s face it, working with XSLT sucks.)

Still, even providing a ’site safe’ template, you can’t plan for all types of user agents. The best we can do, then, is provide a syndication feed. If we provide a properly formatted syndication feed, no matter the user agent, the site writing and the annotation that accompanies the writing is accessible. That’s the most important component of our pages, the contents of the individual posts. If all else is stripped away, this still comes through–if you use a properly formatted syndication feed, that is.

As such, I agree with DeWitt Clinton that providing type information for syndication feed consumers is imperative–especially if you have sites that provide a great deal of structured data. Where I don’t agree is that I don’t provide multiple feeds at my site. One feed is sufficient.

(And it irks me that I have to edit the default wp-atom.php that comes with WordPress in order to generate valid Atom.)

Using NOSCRIPT to add whatever is needed when JavaScript is not enabled, and making sure all content is accessible by keyboard, properly labeled, as well as logically layed out for speech-to-text browsers is the major first step in making a valid and accessible site. Providing a carefully formatted and precise syndication feed, with support for rich markup, is the second. Between the two, your word (and your metadata, and we all know how big I am on metadata) gets out.

Now, back to shopping for a new background color for Bb Gun. What think? A pale lime chiffon pie green, maybe?

PS: An good article, Reading and Subscribing to Blogs Through RSS: How Accessible is this world to people with vision loss, covers accessibility and RSS. The issue with being able to properly manage markup in addition to the recommendations outlined in this article means that if there is microformatted data associated with the post, such as calendar data, it also can be processed without undo intervention of the web page reader. An example can be to add an event to a reader’s calendar, or other such metadata related processes.

Photography Places

Keep the Faith

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

There’s a famous Catholic cathedral here in St. Louis: The Cathedral Basilica. It’s a beautiful building, with its green tiled dome and solid, hewn stone walls. What makes it unique, though, is its collection of mosaics. Only the Vatican has more mosaics.

Main church alter

I visited the Cathedral this week to scope it out for photographs for the MissouriGreen site. All visitors are welcome, with the only limitation on no photography in one small chapel to the side. They provide formal tours, but there are usually people about answering questions, providing stories of the mosaics, and the Byzantine architecture that inspired it. For instance, did you know that the balconies in many earlier churches were added so that pilgrims who traveled from afar could camp out there at night?

Church Balconies

The cathedral has three inner arches, with the main one over an inner dome with a white marble statue of Jesus Christ on the cross. On either side are chapels, four in all, and each very different from the others. There’s also a museum, though I spent my time this first visit wondering about the main area.

I didn’t take a tripod, but will my next visit. I also didn’t have strobe lighting, and as such had to use the camera flash or a fast (and grainy) ISO and large aperture. However, I’ve seen photographs of the Cathedral all lit up and it doesn’t do the Church justice. The magic of the place is the muted shadows of the simple, dark wooden pews, and the dark gray of the limestone and marble walls, offset by the color of the glass tiles–all around you, above you, high above you so that you stand staring up until you become dizzy with the effort.

(I have been reassured that if I wish to lay down on the ground to take photographs of the ceiling, I am more than welcome, and they’ll try not to step on me.)

The Resurrection Mosaic

The mosaics range from a very old Italian style created by Tiffany’s of New York, to very modern style. One section depicts scenes of the Church in St. Louis, including images representative of various Native American tribes in the area. The other sections of the cathedral portray traditional bible stories. Surrounding the scenes are geometric shapes, brilliant in color, filling in here and there: on podiums, around alters, and even on signs. Not gaudy though, because of the quiet neutral color of the stone and wood–little in the way of gold work, and that mainly in touches of gold leaf, or brass.

Mother Mary and Child

There are only two relatively colorful stained glass windows; in fact few windows at all. It’s not a dark place, though. The lighting is soothing rather than penetrating, and even that on the tiles is just enough to display the pattern without overwhelming.

It’s hard for me to say what was my favorite mosaic. Probably the more modern ones because of the unusual scenes and subtle coloring. There was one, though, in the lobby, that caught my interest. It showed Christ holding up his hands in a gesture of welcome, and surrounding him were the words:

I have fought a good fight. I have kept the faith.

mosaic of Jesus Christ

I rather liked the seal because its focus was on faith rather than religion; after all, keeping the faith extends beyond church, book, and priest.

I fight the good fight; I keep the faith. Sometimes that’s all I have in life, but I’m not religious. I like to believe that the rules, the dogma, the small and large intolerances come from religion; the acts of kindness and beauty, the serenity of place come from faith.

Slideshow of the photos


More Script, Less Teasing

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I finally rolled out the ScriptTeaser site tonight. My first writing focuses on the Dojo fisheye effect I created for the menu bar, and is titled Geegaws can be accessible. Valid, too.. In the article, I covered all of the code I created to make this particular geegaw valid, and partially accessible.

I have found with Dojo and many other of the Ajax libraries, most do not produce either accessible content, or content that validates (either as XHTML or HTML). Though I appreciate the effects, one of the mental decisions I had made in regard to my new sites was that I wasn’t going to be bringing any bad habits with me when I started again. If I’m going to start fresh, I’m going to start fresh.

This means clean and valid page source, clean and valid stylesheets, JavaScript that works with all my target test browsers, as well as accessible content. The sites are now in various stages of not meeting these good intentions, but over the next few weeks, they’ll shape up.