Archive for June, 2007

I’m not part of the “elite”!

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

Molly came to Holland. She talked to about 200 web professionals, of whom none (0, zilch, not even one) were concerned with accessibility or web standards. That can happen. She also said that “about 20 people were on par with advanced developers in the UK, US or Australia”. I do wonder how she got to that conclusion – what was the definition of an ‘advanced developer’, and why does the way she writes it sound like the UK, US and Australia have 100% advanced developers?

Further down in her post she talks about the “elite”: “We forget how elite we are, how privileged to even have the conversations that we do.” That sentence, following the numbers of the (in Molly’s words) “under-represented countries when it comes to educational opportunities and resources”, makes me cringe! I so hope I misunderstood her completely, but in my understanding, she could just as well have said “We in the USA rule the world when it comes to accessibility and standards based web design, and we have a long road to go before the rest of the world will follow us.”

Well, based on that (hopefully *mis*-) understanding, here’s why I think she’s wrong.

To back up my thoughts I made up my own numerical guidelines for defining who’s on par with whom, and who’s not. First of all I found numbers of standards-loving designers per country, on (and if you care about the standards, go and add yourself and your sites now!), then I looked up population numbers on, and calculated the ratio of web standards loving designer per head of population:

country registered
W3c fans
(July 2006 est.)
United States 585 298,444,215 1 / 339,220
UK 533 60,609,153 1 / 113,713
Australia 175 20,264,082 1 / 115,794
Netherlands 114 16,491,461 1 / 144,661

Looks to me like the Netherlands are almost on par with the UK and Australia, while the US is almost 3 times less concerned with the standards 🙂

And yes, I know these numbers don’t mean anything, as it is not about standards compliant designers vs population, but vs number of designers. Unfortunately I don’t know how many designers there are in each country, nor do I know whether is equally well-known in each country. All I’m saying, is that there are plenty of standards compliant designers in the Netherlands who care about accessibility, and the reason Molly didn’t meet any of them could well be because I didn’t go to the ReMIX event! 😉

I did get the invitation, but there was nothing compelling on it to make me go. Actually, on the contrary – the text on the card said: “You’ll see the newest of the newest in the area of web- and interactive design and you can follow sessions by visionaries like Scott Guthrie, Molly Holzschlag and Koji Kato. Also, Microsoft will introduce Silverlight there, a new technology that will change the image of and about the web forever.” Which was then followed by the typical marketing speak that holds no truth at all but is designed to convince the reader to go: “As a professional you can’t miss that.”

Being that I did follow all the videos of the sessions via already, why travel to Amsterdam to see it all again? Introducing Silverlight? An introduction can’t be done twice – in my opinion Silverlight was introduced on MIX in April, not on ReMIX in June. Also, I’m not a programmer – I don’t use programming languages besides a bit of PHP and sometimes borrowed Perl, and the description of the event did not quite sound like “let us show you even more ways to make accessible web sites”. My guess is that I’m not the only accessible web designer who got the invitation and thought “not for me”. Maybe if I didn’t have two school age kids I would have gone, just for curiosity’s sake, but I certainly didn’t feel it was a ‘must go’ event.

That said, it appears there will be a ReMIX event in the UK in September (although this site doesn’t show any details yet). Maybe I’ll go there, and make sure I’m part of Molly’s statistics. Or would I then be counted as another native English speaking member of the elite? 😉

Colourful Sounds

Monday, June 18th, 2007

Some of you might find it a waste of the 7 minutes and 26 seconds this video takes, but I liked it 🙂

source: Colour Lovers

Safari 3 for Windows not quite ready

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007

RSS readers are a great invention; they let you keep up with news and blogs without needing to surf the web all the time to find out what’s new. I have quite a variety of feeds in mine and I follow personal blogs as well as technical ones, on a range of different subjects. Of course sometimes it happens that the same news hits me twice – especially when it was posted on a popular website first.

Yesterday afternoon however, it seemed there was no other news in the world than the fact that Safari is now available for Windows! As a web developer who still hasn’t bought any flavour of Mac, of course I jumped to the opportunity and immediately downloaded Safari 3 for Windows. Installation went really fast and painless, and before I could decide on where to surf first in this brand new browser, the homepage was there. Looked perfect too.

But then I looked up my own site.

And some other sites I built…

To see why my enthousiasm was gone instantly, take a look at these screenshots of my site on any contemporary browser (I call it Firefox 😉 ) vs the same site on Safari for Windows:

screenshot of on Safari for Windows on Firefox

screenshot of on Safari for Windows on Safari on Windows

Comparing various sites in both browsers shows that on some sites, Safari won’t display headings, anything between <em> or <i> or <strong> or even simple <span> tags, or certain list elements.

Thinking it was just me (comparing notes with John confirmed not everybody has these problems), I figured I must have b0rked my installation of XP or something, especially since I already encountered visibility problems in a game before, that also works on other people’s computers without fault. I nearly decided to do a complete re-install of XP today! Thanks to the fact that *everybody* seems to be blogging about the new Safari, I found this page today, where the consensus seems to be that this new Safari is really US-only, and just fails to work properly with any other OS than the US versions of Windows. Something to do with the UTF-8 encoding, which is indeed what I use on any new site I build. No idea what the encoding could possibly have to do with displaying headings in a browser, but it seems to be crucial here.

On one hand a relief that it isn’t just me, and even better, that I won’t need to do another reinstall of XP, but on the other hand a great disappointment, that even though Apple managed to get Safari out for Windows, I won’t be able to reap the benefit 🙁

Global Warming Solution

Monday, June 4th, 2007

About two weeks ago I was watching an episode of Will & Grace, in which Jack and Will are in a gym arguing about Jack’s behaviour, while in the mean time Will is doing sit-ups. Having seen the episode before (I think they’re funny enough to watch the re-runs), my mind didn’t need to pay much attention to follow their conversation, and it was wandering off: why do people go to a gym to do sit-ups – what’s the use? I answer myself: to stay fit of course. So, how come we have to do sit-ups to stay fit? Because we’re doing desk jobs, instead of physical labour like our grandparents and great grandparents and eh..even older ancestors.

At least physical labour has a purpose – after a lot of man hours involving the use of bricks and mortar a house appears, and bringing in the harvest from the land costs honest sweat. People worked hard, and they lived off the results of that physical work. It’s a shame to see a man do sit-ups, without any tangible results other than this one man staying fit (and perhaps a nice six-pack to look at). It’s basically a lot of energy being thrown away while the world has a shortage of clean non-polluting energy sources.

I figured all these empty sweat drops (as in empty calories which aren’t empty either) should be put to use somehow. And that’s where my “light bulb moment” (sorry for the Oprah-speak) happened:

Why don’t all these gyms and fitness clubs hook up their equipment to some giant capacitor or something, so that all the clerks and other non-physical-work-people can do something useful while they’re keeping fit? With the amount of gyms these days, this could produce quite a bit of electricity.

Today I discovered I wasn’t the only person thinking that fitness machines could produce electricity. Apparently there’s a plan for a snackbar (that’s what we call a fish & chips shop because here in Holland instead of selling fish to go with our chips, we prefer a whole range of other unhealthy snacks that combine nicely with our chips – which we almost invariably eat with a good dose of just as unhealthy mayonnaise by the way) in Amsterdam, where people have to ‘earn’ their unhealthy snacks by first providing all the electricity needed to prepare them. Snackbar “Mevrouw CAT” (Mrs. CAT)’s owner Jackie Simons is currently looking for a location in Amsterdam to start her business, which will have five bicycles, one rowing machine, and a stepping thing (what are they called in English?) ready for her clients. I seriously wonder if this business will take off at all, as the only time I ever go to the snackbar for chips, is when I’m too lazy or busy to cook a healthy meal, and I certainly won’t feel like cycling half an hour instead!

However, the idea behind this snackbar is not just to let people burn the calories they’re eating, but rather the same idea as I had when watching Will Truman doing sit-ups. Quoting Jackie Simons:

“In our continuously expanding society, people work up a sweat to keep their slim appearance. They’re hopping on step machines, rowing while all the time staying in the same spot, or pushing the pedals of their gym-bicycles. But up till now nothing happened with that energy.”

“If all sports centers in Amsterdam would hook up, an entire African village could be provided with electricity.”

source: Algemeen Dagblad (dutch newspaper)

And that’s exactly what I was thinking 🙂