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25 February 2006  

Animal Rights, Human Wrongs

11:03 AM

It seems that there's a bit of a kerfuffle about Oxford University's new Biomedical research lab. Animal rights group 'Speak' are holding a protest march to demonstrate against the lab, but there's a student group 'Pro-Test' which has been formed in favour of the lab. Seems fair enough, you'd think. Two groups holding opposing views each prepared to publicly expound those views.

But unfortunately, it doesn't end there. according to the BBC, a member of the Animal Liberation Front has said that some activists might see student groups supporting the lab as "legitimate targets" — although he did say it was unlikely.

Less than a week has gone by since most of the European media have been saying that we should be careful not to offend people but we should also have the right to free speech without threats of violence. I'm not saying that this is directly a threat, but I think it's a sad state of affairs if it has come to a position where someone in this country cannot protest or demonstrate about something they feel strongly about without being described as a "legitimate target".

Unfortunately, I feel this is one situation that cannot be resolved by negotiation. As I understand the opposing camps, one thinks medical research on animals is necessary; the other thinks it's unneccessary and cruel. You're unlikely to find common ground here.

I don't know exactly what research the facility is set to undertake, the importance of it, or the way in which the animals will be treated, so I am not prepared to offer a personal opinion on whether the facility itself is a good thing or a bad thing. What I am prepared to say is that violence is not, and should never be the answer. Both camps should seek to win the argument by public debate and by influencing public opinion, not by bullying tactics, threats and indimidation (whether direct threats of violence or warnings about economic importance and job losses).

0 comments on permanent link

 

 

Toon - the candidates (update)

1:13 AM

Well, press speculation seems to be that Newcastle's new manager is set to be appointed sooner rather than later. And the bookies have slashed their odds over the last day or so on it being Martin O'Neill, so much that he's odds-on favourite with virtually everyone. Do they know something we don't?

Probably not. I don't seem to recall Graeme Souness being favourite with the bookies last time round (or with the fans, but that's another story). Maybe we need to stick to the facts. What we do know is that Freddie Shepherd has been playing golf with Wigan's chairman. This does not necessarily mean that we'll be having Paul Jewell as the next manager though. I mean, I once spoke to Rob Lee in a bar on Newcastle's Quayside but I never lined up alongside him in midfield.

In case you're wondering, my conversation with Rob Lee consisted of me saying the following: "scuse me mate, can I just get past there.". I bet he still thinks back to that conversation even now.

Martin O'Neill actually seems a good candidate and one that's entirely plausible. He's well liked with the fans, he's got charisma and passion and he's always entertaining. Hopefully his wife Geraldine is continuing her recovery from her illness and we all wish her all the best. Some things are more important than football, after all. While his every utterance on the subject of Newcastle United would be scrutinised in the local press, his private life would hopefully be kept private in a way that would probably be unlikely to happen if he was England manager. After all, I still don't know the name of Graeme Souness's wife — although I do know her birthday clashed with one of our reserve team fixtures.

Also, a bloke at work told me that he reckoned Martin O'Neill would take over as Newcastle manager next week, and as we all know, the 'bloke at work' is second only to 'a man in the pub' for being in the know. As I've said before, O'Neill would be one of my two top choices for the Newcastle job, and if Freddie can deliver him — and back him — then he will have given the fans someone they want.

Of course, if O'Neill doesn't want the job, then the music starts again, and all the candidates go round and round - and round again until the music stops. Then Sam Allardyce decides against the Newcastle job again, 'cos he wants the England job, and we'll appoint some idiot nobody really wanted (like Terry Venables, Steve Bruce or please please no - David O'Dreary), and Big Sam won't get the England job, and he'll complain about it going to a non-Englishman, despite the fact that no Englishmen appear to have the bottle to take on any of the big club jobs.

Shepherd, if O'Neill is your first choice, and you can bring him in, do so. If you can't get him, do not settle for second best. Don't just look at 'what's left'. Start again. Scour the continent if necessary, take as much time as is necessary but don't bring in another no-hoper who thinks they coulda been a contender. I like Hitzfeld, but he might not want the job either. No matter. Keep looking. Don't panic just because your first (or first two, or three, or four) choices turn you down.

Bring in the right man, however long it takes.

And now for Everton. Goodness me. I'm expecting it to be dull, blowy and a little dingy tomorrow. And (cue drum roll) the weather will probably be much the same. But you've got to be able to grind out some sort of a result under these circumstances - it's another big test for Roeder and what's left of the playing squad.

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24 February 2006  

Team Access and The British Blog Directory

8:59 PM

I've mentioned that I'm one of the members of Accessites before but I thought it was about time that I showed my pride in it by sticking a logo on my site. So I've decided to incorporate any badges this site chooses to 'wear' underneath my navigation, and Team Access is obviously one of them.

The other one is the British Blog Directory which I came across more or less accidentally on someone else's site and thought, yeah, go on then, that'll be a laugh. So I've signed up and am using a logo to point back to their homepage.

Technically I'm not using one of their logos — they've got logos for Britain, England, Scotland, Wales, even separate buttons for each of Devon and Cornwall but none for the finest place in the whole darn world — the Independent State Of Geordieland. So I've devised my own logo. I've also offered it to BritBlogs with the hope that they may wish to adopt it as one of their official logos. Then again, they may not...

So come on then, all you Brits, let's put the Great back into Great Britain, the DOM back into United KingDOM and let Brittania rule the Blogs.

Darn it, that's made me kinda patriotic. I feel like listening to God Save The Queen. I mean it, man.

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23 February 2006  

Blogger diary

11:41 PM

Was just checking out individual blog postings made by people I know, and I came across one that got me thinking. I'll not tell you who it is, because I don't want to embarrass anyone, particularly since this person has already told me they stopped blogging more or less immediately after they started. The blog reads, in full, as follows:

welcome to the 21st century version of a diary.

...and has done since the 27th October 2005. Not that I'm criticising anyone here. Just because I bombard the however many people who bother to read me with my random thoughts, doesn't mean everyone else has the necessary... um... arrogance and self-obsession .. to believe their random thoughts are of interest to others.

What I was saying was that it reminded me a lot of my diaries from the 20th century. You know, you get one of those day-to-a-page A5 or A6 size jobbies and your typical first entry is something like:

1 Jan:My new years resolution is not to get so drunk I vomit over Michelle's sofa again. Think I've blown my chances there. How much did I have to drink last night? Geez. I was out with Mikey, and Dave, and we bumped into Spud in the Lion and then we went back to Gez's, who is a mate of Dave's, and Maggie was there and Mikey copped off with her as per bloody usual despite saying that he doesn't fancy her. Anyway, there was me standing there with my can of lager when who should walk in but Sara..

...and so on. And on. Normally in a nauseatingly self-delusional, self-pitying and neurotic kind of a way. The worst examples even sometimes include (dramatic pause) poetry. I mean, Yikes.

But by the end of your first two weeks, you're down to one diary entry every few days, and that reads something like:

11 Feb: Essay on endochryne glands due in. Note: learn how to spell endocryne

And then of course two weeks later, the diary sits on a shelf and gets ignored. Well, dear blog, I promise not to do that to you. I'll not (totally) forget about you. I might fill you up with a load of nonsense, but somehow, for some reason, people keep reading.

Having said that, I'm a lot more sane and coherent than some of the blogs out there.

UUUHHHGGG-rrrrRRR indeed.

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Opera Mini

6:40 PM

What a day for tools and gadgets!

Another.. ahem ... little thing I've come across today is Opera Mini. This is a browser that's designed, as you might expect, for smaller screens. Like mobile phones, for example.

I have been able to connect to the internet on my mobile phone for some time using GPRS (or General Packet Radio Service if you really want to know), and I'm fully aware there's fancier ways of doing it than this. However, I use my mobile phone mostly to make phone calls; I use my digital camera for photography, and ne'er the twain shall meet as far as I'm concerned. At least until I need to buy a new phone, by which time it'll no doubt be a legal requirement for it to have a camera in it.

Where was I?

Oh yes, connecting to the internet with my mobile. Well, the thing that bugged me was that the phone's browser was frankly crap. I was restricted very much to sites that were specifically targetted at mobile phones... such as the network's own portal site, or http://www.bbc.co.uk/mobile. Which is all very well, but what if I want to look at the latest Newcastle United gossip? Well, in the past, the answer was simple. Wait until you get home and look on the computer then.

Now, however, thanks to installing Opera Mini I can browse whatever I like, wherever I like, using my mobile phone. Thanks very much Opera. 'Tis much appreciated.

So how do you install this? Simple. Log onto the internet using your standard mobile connection, and get yourself across to http://mini.opera.com and follow the instructions. And then the world (wide web)'s your oyster. Go on, what are you waiting for?

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Silktide Sitescore

6:17 PM

There's a company out there called Silktide who offer a free online check called Sitescore of five pages of your website for search engine profile, links to the site, website popularity, site response times, technologies used, features available, response times, accessibility tests, and user votes to give an overall average score.

It's a nice little facility, and while those who know me will know that I have very clear views on whether or not you should rely on the scores given to you by automated accessibility testers, I do use them because they are useful tools. Also, it's important to note that there's a lot more to Silktide's tests that just automated accessibility testing, and they've also shown a great willingness to listen to the accessibility community on AccessifyForum so I've got a lot of time for 'em.

I also happen to particularly like Silktide's Sitescore because if you qualify for a badge, they don't give you a link to an icon to slap on your site the whole time, no sirree sir. What they do is they give you a link which shows your site's current ranking. So, in the best traditions of unit trusts and endowment policies, the value of your icon can go down as well as up. At the time I wrote this, mine had a value of 8.4.

Silktide SiteScore for this website

Please feel free to follow the link back to their site and vote for my site. Obviously I'd prefer it if you said you thought I was excellent...

I understand Silktide will be producing a more 'corporate' version of this system called Silktide Enterprise which is more suitable for testing larger websites. As I expect to see more of these badges once Silktide Enterprise is launched, I've also added the badge to my Accessibility Badges page.

2 comments on permanent link

 

21 February 2006  

Burn the Witch! Burn Her!

5:37 PM

I was reading The Times this morning, and as I was just flicking through idly, something caught my eye, relating to Gateshead. So I read it.

Then I stopped, and read it again. It still seemed to say the same thing. Odd.

What it said was:

Excerpts from Amnesty International Report for 2006
In Newcastle, England, a special court sentenced a Gateshead woman to be burnt to death for witchcraft. Betty Spencer, 53, was immolated in front of a crowd that had gathered in the Newcastle United football stadium. It was the sixth such execution since the year 2000.

Now this struck me as slightly unusual. I have to say of course, that my heart went out to her husband, Frank.. I was a little surprised that I'd not heard it mentioned in the local news as well...

Of course, it all becomes a little bit more clear when you read the article in full, particularly the second paragraph - which fortunately stands out a bit more in the online version than it did in the printed one.

I'm not going to spoil the surprise by telling you what the article's about — and I'm also going to leave you to make up own mind on what you think of it. It certainly entertained me this morning, however...

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WCAG 2.0

5:28 PM

Well, I finally finished it. Here's my translation of WCAG 2.0 into something more specific to HTML and XHTML and also hopefully something that is a little more understandable.

If you have any comments, either add them here or use my contact form . It is intended that I will try and keep this up to date as further drafts and/or final recommendations are produced.

1 comments on permanent link

 

19 February 2006  

Geek Quotient

9:21 AM

There's a thing going round called a 'blogger code'. Basically it's about how original you are, whether or not you put nudey pictures of yourself on your site (no, sorry for any disappointment), how often you blog, what you use to blog and so on and so forth. Yes, it's sad. Yes, it's geeky. Here it is anyway.

B2 d t k s u- f i- o+ x-- e l+ c--

What does it mean, then?

1 comments on permanent link

 

17 February 2006  

Fairtrade in Gateshead

2:14 PM

As a Gateshead resident, and someone who has been very much born and brought up in Gateshead, I was delighted to hear on BBC Radio Newcastle yesterday morning that Gateshead were going for fairtrade status.

Keen to find out exactly what was involved, I quickly found a news item on Gateshead Council's site entitled Gateshead Aims for Fairtrade status which pretty much explains it. Gateshead needs to achieve various goals, including making sure there are Fairtrade products readily available, the scheme is backed by the local council — which it obviously is — and that the council must attract popular support for the campaign.

Well, they've certainly got my support for it. I think it's a fantastic idea. I'm thoroughly behind the idea of Fairtrade, which basically says that what it's about is:

buying direct from farmers at better prices, helping to strengthen their organisations and marketing their produce directly through their own one world shops and catalogues, the charities offered consumers the opportunity to buy products which were bought on the basis of a fair trade.

The Mayor of Gateshead, Councillor Joe Mitchinson will be launching the scheme by presenting a certificate to Café Eight (just across from Gateshead Civic Centre) on a date to be later announced. Gateshead Council also plan to list local businesses who take part in the scheme in a Gateshead Fairtrade Directory, which will show where Fairtrade products can be bought.

I think this is all an absolutely fantastic idea, and for someone like myself with a passion for web accessibility, this ties in with what is basically the key concept — fairness. I would urge local residents and businesses to join publicly promote the scheme. Come on, let's make ourselves a Fairtrade Town.

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16 February 2006  

Molly and Malarkey

4:49 PM

I was at the North East Usability and Accessibility (NEUA) meeting last night. I'd actually never heard of it before, until Gareth posted on Accessify Forum that Molly was going to be in Newcastle at this meeting thing. Molly, in case you're wondering is Molly E. Holzschlag, co-author of the Zen of CSS Design, as well as about fourteen billion other books. She's the webs answer to Catherine Cookson, I guess. Wow, I thought, keep me a place at that. So I duly kept checking the information and then discovered that Malarkey was also going to be attending, the event upgraded itself from a 'must see' to a 'must must see'. Malarkey is the alter-ego of Andy Clarke, a designer who is somewhat passionate about standards and accessibility. More of that later.

Anyway, both Gareth and Tom who had mentioned the conference had said that it would be between 5 and 7pm, and they also thoughtfully gave the location. So I finished work in plenty of time to get across, arriving at the venue at about ten to five, to be told that the event wasn't actually going to start until 5:30, and indeed Gareth was still at work. Cheers lads. Anyway, at least I arrived in time to watch Malarkey and Molly fighting with the projector and trying to get the wi-fi to work. They got the projector running, which gave them a 50% success rate. Obviously no one was able to provide much help — we're not hardware people, are we — it's not like we're the IT Crowd, is it?

Eventually, after we'd all turned up, settled down, Molly started off the talk. Unfortunately, we were left in the dark. This was because someone decided at this precise moment to fiddle with the room lighting to try and highlight the speakers, but instead switched off the front lights. Still, Molly's silhouette continued to give the talk until normal service was resumed.

Molly talked us through the history of the web — from the first text based browsers, through Mosaic, foundation of the W3C, the Browser Wars between Netscape and Internet Explorer, WaSP and gradually brought us up to the present day. She also explained what she actually does, which so far as I can tell is amble around the world giving talks on things, attending numerous events and no doubt writing a few more excellent books.

Okay, that's a very brief summary of what she talked about, and this doesn't get across what it's actually like to see her talking with such passion and conviction — and wit — about her subject. The same goes for Malarkey's talk. It's obvious to me that they're both pretty much naturals at the game, seeming very comfortable standing up in front of a group of people and giving a talk. I would recommend that you take the time to see them in action, if they're appearing anywhere near you!

And on to Malarkey...

Andy talked more about the specifics of accessibility, showing us example sites and coding that had been used, and comparing the accessibility and usability of websites to the difference between driving hundreds of miles up the A1 and trying to navigate similarly between from Heaton to Nortumbria University (about 2 miles apart).

He also explained why he saw 'accessibility' as a dirty word, despite his homepage saying he's "passionate about web standards and accessibility" and also that he "regularly educates web designers in web standards and accessibility". But it wasn't as odd as I'm making out, he was merely trying to make the point that to call it 'accessibility' adds an unneccessary mystique, when all you're trying to do is make your site usable by everyone.

At the end of the talk, after taking questions, we all tucked into the bottles of wine provided by Northumbria University. I had rosé. Well actually I had two glasses of red and one of white, which is much the same thing. There was also a draw for copies of two of Molly's books, but this was unfortunately a sad and dispiriting affair, as I won neither of them. I did get to draw one of the tickets out, but I thought it would be bad form to go looking round the box for my own...

Molly, Andy and the organisers then went off to get some food, promising to meet us back at The Bridge Hotel at half past nine (although it's possibly fortunate they didn't visit its website first). A few of us more hardy souls decided to fill the intervening time by wetting our throats at O'Neills, and after somehow squeezing myself and Ben into the back of McSkiver's car — which claims to be a four seater, but this is probably assuming that the people in the back are either under five or don't have any limbs — McSkiver kindly dropped us off there before going back to drop his car off so he could come out for a proper drink.

Of course, at nine thirty, there was no sign of anyone other than me, Ben, McSkiver and a bloke from the DWP. 'Oh no, we're on Gareth time again', I thought. But shortly after we'd sat down and seemingly frightened a much larger group away, the others turned up again and we took over the recently vacated space to enjoy another drink or four.

autographed beermat

Conversation by this time was becoming less coherent, and more sweary (or at least mine was) and after Molly autographed a book for someone, I thought it would be nice to get an autograph on something for me. I didn't have a book, but I felt a beermat would be pretty much appropriate for me, and Molly and Malarkey (bless their little cotton socks) were good humoured enough to sign it for me. Drinking continued and I seem to recall having an enjoyable conversation with pretty much everyone - I just hope they all recall it the same way...

I must say though, it was very nice to meet both Molly and Malarkey in person, and I hope to see them again at @media later in the year, and if either or both of them pass through the North East again and feel thirsty, I'd be happy to show them when they can quench their thirst.

2 comments on permanent link

 

11 February 2006  

Banksy

11:03 AM

So what is Banksy?

Banksy isn't a what, he's a who. Banksy is a graffiti artist who produces very spectacular art. For those of you who visit this site looking for web accessibility, please bear in mind his site is designed specifically as a visual medium. You have been warned.

But isn't Graffiti vandalism?

Hmm. Well, I know where you're coming from, but it is good, so er... Banksy! Banksy! Is graffiti art or vandalism?

That word has a lot of negative connotations and it alienates people, so no, I don't like to use the word 'art' at all.

There you go. That's cleared up

Banksy, Banksy. Haven't I heard of him somewhere before?

Probably. This is the man who has exhibited at the Tate without of course the Tate being aware of it. He's provided a list of cuttings of his exploits for you to enjoy. And a wide selection of his art is also available on his website. Enjoy.

3 comments on permanent link

 

10 February 2006  

Toon - the candidates

7:44 PM

Who is the right man?

Who can take Newcastle, an overspent, overgrown and sadly neglected former giant back to glory? Who would want the Newcastle job ahead of the England job?

Who cares? What's important is who gets the Newcastle job. The England job can't rule out all of the candidates.

Assuming that I'm not allowed to bring in Roman Abramovich — not so much as a manager, more just as a cheque book, then I'll run through who I consider the candidates are as follows:

  1. Martin O'Neill has the gift of the gab, and has the charisma and passion we need. If you read the papers — and we all do — he seems a likely candidate for the England job. I remember him as Wycombe Wanderers manager and he's come a long way since then. I was also impressed with him for putting his family first. Plus I've always enjoyed his post-match interviews. One I'd be extremely happy with.
  2. Sam Allardyce is big, strong, and despite an unfortunate resemblance to Mike Bassett has actually done a very good job with Bolton. Little money spent, got the best out of big egos, and has a team who will play pretty football against inferior opposition and attempt to out-muscle and out-fight everyone else. Again, if you read the press, a likely candidate for the England job. If you listen to his Chairman, he's not interested in coming to Newcastle. But then his Chairman would say that, wouldn't he? One I'd be happy with.
  3. Chris Coleman. Look, I happen to like the guy, okay? I remember him as a player for Palace, I think he's got passion, and he's certainly done pretty effectively on a shoestring budget. He may not be as lauded by the media as that Paul Jewell or that Stuart Pearce chap, but he's been around for a couple of years now. One I'd be happy with.
  4. That Paul Jewell chap or that Stuart Pearce chap. I'd worry about the relative inexperience, particularly of Pearce. Other than that, they seem to be doing a fine job. Maybe not this time, though, lads?
  5. Gus Hiddink. Well, apart from the fact that the Ronnigan say he's already ruled himself out, and he's the favourite for the England job (yes, as is O'Neill, Allardyce etc), he's got a proven pedigree, he speaks English and he's got a very good reputation. On the minus side, our last Dutch manager wasn't a runaway success. For me, a non-runner as I think he's going to the FA.
  6. Ottmar Hitzfeld. Seemingly a very popular character, given the banner appearing in the Leazes and the Hitzfeld For The Toon website. Having won World Manager of the year twice, the Champions League twice and more than a dozen other trophies as manager, he's got quite an impressive track record. He speaks English, although whether he could understand Geordie or not is maybe another matter. I'm quite happy to give my backing to this campaign. Available. Another one I'd be extremely happy with.
  7. Glenn Hoddle. No, no, you're taking the piss. The Wolves messageboard also seems to think it's because Associated Press got "Roeder" and "Hoddle" mixed up when they announced who was taking over first-team affairs. I really hope that's true. What a fantastic story. Although I quite like the deliberate hoax story too. As for him coming to the Toon, like the Kaiser Chiefs, I would indeed predict a riot. Not the man for us, sorry. We're more brewery than Drewery.
  8. Big Phil Scolari. Well, if winning the World Cup and handling the egos of the Brazilian national team — as well as the Portugese — doesn't qualify you as big enough for us, then I don't really know what would. His lack of English and/or links to the England job count against him though. If he was learning English and doing well enough at it, then I'd be happy with this man.
  9. Kevin Keegan. He has been talked about, and seriously, by some. I think it's a mistake to go back. Look at Howard Kendall at Everton. A huge success first time round, a teensy bit not so good after that. Keegan did a great job before, but the time was right to step down. Having said that, if we were in dire need of someone with the requisite coaching badges to tide us over until the end of the season, then I'd happily have him back on a temporary basis. Just not permanently.
  10. Alan Shearer. No experience, no coaching badges, no chance. Sorry Al, you've been a great servant to the club but despite everyone who doesn't know the first thing about football wanting you to be the next man, it just ain't going to happen. I would ask you one favour though. Let the new guy make his own space. If he wants you on the coaching staff, fine. If he doesn't, because he's worried about your influence (and lets face it, like it or not, you are influential), then back off and let the man do his job.

In short, it's OOO for my first choice. Ottmar Or O'Neill.

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Titan Internet II

7:43 AM

Another shout out to the guys at Titan Internet. I always think the signs of good service, particularly in IT are how someone reacts when things go wrong. In this case, their ODBC connections weren't working.

By the time I pointed it out to them, they had noticed themselves and it was fixed within about ten minutes. Really can't complain at that.

And no, they don't pay me. I pay them. Of course, I'd be happy to consider any sponsorship...

But more seriously though, a specific hello to Keith at Titan. I sent him the details of my problem initially, including my site address. It got fixed. I sent him a thank you and told him I'd have to give them credit on the blog again. He then asked for the website address... cue slaps around the head and much shouting of D'oh! So, like I say, many thanks to Titan for fixing the whole thing, and Keith for providing much amusement.

0 comments on permanent link

 

02 February 2006  

Be My Anti Valentine

1:16 AM

...as opposed to my Uncle Mick.

Anti Valentine? So what's this about then?

Well it's basically a concept that allows you to choose and generate an anti-Valentine card to send to a loved one, or indeed anyone that you know the email address of. It allows you to cut through the commercialised crap and produce a more truthful take on the annual "My God How Much Does A Rose Cost These Florists Must Be Coining It In Day".

Simply fantastic. I urge you all to send one.

My personal favourite is this one:

I have feelings for you but thought I'd let this card do all the work because I haven't got the imagination or energy to let you know in my own words

And if you're wondering where on earth I came across this, it's perfectly simple. I was having a look on my site stats at the start of the month and found someone had found me searching for 'Pickard'. Reasonably enough. Out of sheer pointlessness, I decided to see where I appeared in the google ranking for Pickard.

At the time, I think I was about 18th. Next to me was another site called Little Red Boat which sounded interesting, so I went and had a look at it. It was. I would recommend you go and have a look at it now. Go on, I'll wait.

Anyway, after reading about why she didn't have a mouse in her house, I sent her a little note saying how entertained I was by the story. She politely replied and pointed out we know someone in common - Pixeldiva. Small world, eh?

So, anyway, there I was looking at the Little Red Boat site tonight and I spot a post titled Yay! VD! which sounded a bit odd, so I had to read it. And that led me to her sister's site, where you can find the Anti-Valentine stuff.

No, it doesn't sound horrendously convoluted to me, either.

0 comments on permanent link

 

01 February 2006  

Souness, for the love of God, go.

10:53 PM

In recent weeks I have watched as our manager insists publicly that he can't be expected to do better when certain players are not fit. This argument held no water with me then - man for man we had a better team than Wigan Reserves in the League Cup or Blackburn at home in the Premiership. Yet we lost both. Why?

Simple. A lack of organisation. No plan. A lack of spirit. The fact that the heart's been ripped out of the club by the simple fact that the fans are becoming apathetic because they've got nothing to cheer about. I'm not complaining Laurent Robert and Craig Bellamy were shown the door: I understand the reasons behind this (whether or not I agree), but the simple lack of anything resembling passing, skill or organisation on the pitch is far beyond a joke.

Never mind a plan B, I can't remember when we've looked like we had a plan A.

I can't seriously imagine Graeme Souness will still be in employment at Newcastle by tomorrow lunchtime. Whether or not he does, Shepherd must still carry the can. He picked him and he backed him at a time when most fans could see what he was doing to the team. He has continued to avoid sacking him for reasons best known to himself.

Souness himself can't escape criticism. Not only has he transformed 'the best team he's ever had' - a team which had finished in the top 5 three seasons in a row - into relegation battlers, but he's too pig-headed (or greedy) to do the decent thing, admit he's not up to it, and walk away. That saddens me. Despite my dislike of Souness the manager, I had always had a certain amount of respect for Souness the man, and the apparent greed motive that is preventing him from doing the decent thing (which even Gullit did) just spoils that.

The cynical part of me wonders whether the decision has been delayed so long simply to avoid needing to hand a new manager money in the transfer window to try to transform the shambles currently left behind. Cynical? Maybe... but I bet I'm not the only one who thinks this.

Shepherd needs to ensure that the right man is employed. Someone capable of man-management. Someone capable of getting the best out of players. Someone adept at spotting good players available cheaply. As opposed to Souness' tactic of spotting donkeys available for a smidgen under £10 million. The right man also needs to be backed in the transfer market - it's wouldn't be the new guy's fault Souness was allowed to waste so much money in the transfer market.

In fact, let's think about this. Souness has identified his targets, and Shepherd has tried to sign them. So the amounts of money paid out must surely be because Shepherd thought the players were good enough. So not only has he chosen and perpetuated the employment a manager who has trashed the team, he's the one who's wasted the club's money. Thank you very much Mr Shepherd. Thank you very much.

If the right man is not found and backed, then I suspect even fewer fans would be willing to forgive Shepherd next time, and "Shepherd" will quickly replace Souness next to the word "Out".

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Accessites

10:33 PM

I should really have mentioned this earlier, or at least more than in passing, but I'm one of the Team Members of Accessites.

The obvious next question is who are they and what do they do? Well, the mission of Accessites is to showcase and provide awards recognition for good quality well designed sites that not only look good, but are accessible. Both criteria are mandatory.

Each site that is looked at has to pass certain initial criteria before it will even get as far as the grading process. Part of this includes an automated accessibility test. Because we are aware that automated testing cannot test everything, may miss errors and may generate false positives, a site which does not achieve all the automated priority 1 tests may still be accepted into the full grading process, if the failure is appropriately justified.

The full grading process is slightly different. Each site is checked by more than one team member against the publicly available checklist in order to manually test accessibility, check the functions available on the site and assess the site's design strengths. The overall grades are then averaged to give a final score. Note that the initial criteria pay no part in this overall score - only the manual checks count here.

If your site was good enough, you may end up in the showcase with one of the different levels of award - from the 'Notable Universal Design Award' all the way up to the 'Timeless Universal Design Award'. So far I'm not aware of anything scoring better than 'Quality Universal Design' (the second level) but there will be sites up there which are better. If you're the person or team behind one, submit it!.

We know we're not perfect, we know we will make mistakes, and we will admit it when we do. What we are trying to do is to learn and improve. Feel free to contact us if you feel we're getting it wrong.

We're also interested if anyone would like to help...

We're always interested in meeting new people who'd like to be Team Access Members. If you have what it takes, a well-rounded sense of design, and a proper site construction ethic, mixed with a good amount of knowledge and desire, please be sure you make Contact to let us know. Not just anyone will be invited, and openings may be very limited, but if you don't tell us, we will never know.
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Malware Is A Bad Thing

10:23 PM

Also known as No Shit, Sherlock?

That said, it has come to my attention that there's a new site out there called Stop Badware, designed to help people report on any kind of malware - spyware, adware, viruses and so on. What they are seeking to do is to provide an independent guide to downloadable applications, so you don't have to just take the word of the people who are offering you the software.

They want reports of any spyware or adware you've had, they provide a list of guidelines for people who offer downloads to prevent them being termed 'bad' and they are hoping to act as a clearing house for news and so on, as well as linking to sites which may help people get rid of this crap.

It's early days yet, so there's not much on there, but it's a sound idea and I applaud them publicly for it. Keep up the good work, guys and gals.

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