Accessibility, Ajax style

My editor, Simon St. Laurent, and I both agreed that with the new book, Adding Ajax, the work would all be valid and accessible. Some of this effort is easy; much is not.

One particular area has to do with updates. When using a screenreader, or when using a screen magnifier, if the data in the page is updated, the web page reader may not be aware that such updates have taken place. You then need to provide some form of cue, and I don’t mean the color fade (which if you think on it, is about the most unaccessible Ajax effect there is).

As has been discussed elsewhere if screenreaders didn’t support JavaScript, life would be simpler because the readers would then get the no script version of the page contents. Screenreaders do support JavaScript, though, and that plays all sorts of havoc.

Anyway, while researching the current state of accessible Ajax (which threatens to be an oxymoron), I came across some resources I thought might be of interest.

Regardless of whether you’re a web developer or not, it’s a good idea to test your page as it appears in screenreaders. I use Apple’s VoiceOver, which is built into Mac OS 10.4 and up. Unfortunately, its behavior differs from other screenreaders, such as JAWS.


Johnson, one last time

I visited Johnson’s Shut-Ins one last time this year, as the park is going to be closed next Monday to attempt to repair the Taum Sauk Dam break. It was too sunny at midday to get much in the way of photos, but I managed a couple.

I passed others out for a last look and we’d usually stop and say hello; repeating to each other how beautiful the Shut-Ins still looked, despite the damage. None of us was very convincing, though. In all honesty, the park isn’t beautiful: not with the debris field like a miniature desert, construction trucks, wire fences, and a river still buried under silt from the flood. There was a lot of green, but none of the tranquility I’ve come to associate with the Shut-Ins. They just looked tired.

It was a good idea to close the park to finish the work. They don’t have to worry about us being underfoot and can take down the fences in order to start clearing the river. Then, in the Spring, they can have a ‘Ta da!’ moment when everyone is allowed into the newly restored park.

There’s a lot to be said for working quietly, out of the eye of the public.



Just Shelley

This door swings both ways

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Sometimes the iTunes store is spot on when it makes a recommendation, and that’s how I can to download Herman’s Hermits Retrospective–the group’s best songs, very nicely re-mastered.

I’ve enjoyed this CD immensely, with its reminders of hip-huggers, tight sweaters, and big bright posterboard flowers, shaggy hair, white lipstick, and color! Color was very big at that time. It’s odd but I’d never noticed before that among the flower-power pop-rock songs, the band had some rather non-trivial lyrics, such as The Door Swings Both Ways:


Everyones life is bittersweet
It’s a door that opens wide
And no man can call himself complete
Till he’s seen it from both sides

This door swings both ways
It’s marked ‘In’ and ‘Out’
Some days you’ll want to cry
And some days you will shout

This door swings both ways
It goes back and forth
In comes a southern breeze
Or a cold wind from the north

This door swings both ways
Lets in joy and pain
In comes the morning sun
And then the evening rain

This door swings both ways
Lets in dark and light
Every day you make the choice
To let in wrong or right

When shadows fall
You must prepare yourself for sunshine
For everything there is an end
And so my friend you must be brave

This door swings both ways
Which one will it be
Will we live in happiness
Or dwell in misery

This door swings both ways
Lets in earth and sky
Make the most of livin’
If you’re not prepared to die
Make the most of livin’
If you’re not prepared to die.

I agree with this reviewer, it’s some of the less well known songs that have better stood the test of time, including the lovely East-West, My Sentimental Friend, and Here Comes the Star. This was the last of this type of music, before pushed aside by the edgier, grittier music inspired by the increasing anti-Vietnam War sentiment and movement.

The time is ripe for a newly mastered collection of this lesser-known group. Looking at the popular Web 2.0 web sites, most would have felt at home back in the mid-60’s: big, curvy flowers, bright pastel colors, and plenty of bubbly optimism made more piquant by knowing that the hammer’s about to fall.



You say agile I say chaos

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I skimmed through Steve Yegge’s “Good Agile, Bad Agile” piece and was thinking of responding, but luckily Dare Obasanjo responded first and said all I’d say and more–especially as regards to the ‘star’ treatment accorded to developers at companies like Google, and the employees gratitude back for being ‘so well taken care of’.

Dare writes:

I remember interning at Microsoft five years ago and hearing someone say how grateful he was for “the things Microsoft has done for me” and thinking how creepy and cult-like that sounded. A company pays you at worst ‘what they think they can get away with’ and at best ‘what they think you are worth’, neither of these should inspire gratitude. Never forget that or else you’ll be on the road to heartbreak.

We should respect the companies where we work or, at a minimum, respect our responsibilities as employees; but gratitude and loyalty, both, will eventually lead to heartbreak.