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25 June 2006  

Validity: Those Taking Up Arms

1:40 PM

Because I think it's important that validity should remain in WCAG 2.0, I've written to the Working Group and asked for it to be retained as a level 2 success criterion. I'm happy with unambiguous parsing being a level 1 success criterion, but I'd include along the lines of "Create documents that validate to published formal grammars" in a technologically-neutral way.

Of course, if I'm the only person asking the Working Group for this, I'd understand if the Working Group didn't agree with me: after all the Working Group can only listen to the people who are prepared to submit comments to them, right? This means that while Joe Clark's article is included as it was submitted, Bruce Lawson's article wasn't and therefore isn't.

So I decided to search the comments archive for anything containing "valid", "4.1.1" or "formal grammars". I accept this isn't necessarily going to catch everything, but it should give me an indication of whether or not other people agreed with me. As it turns out, they did.

Person Supports validity? Would support inclusion at level?
Jack Pickard Yes 2
Rick Hill Yes Not Stated
Andrew Harris Yes 1
Matthew Magain Yes Not Stated
Joe Clark Probably Not stated
Roger Hudson Yes 1
Greg Gay Yes 2
Masayasu Ishikawa No N/A
Melinda Stelzer Yes 1
Nir Dagan Yes 1
Catherine Brys Yes Not Stated
Tina at Greytower Yes 1
Jason White Yes 2
Robert Whittaker Yes 1
Johannes Koch probably Not Stated
Greg Lowney Yes 1
Charles McCathie-Nevile Yes 1
Takayuki Watanabe Yes 2
Kiyochika Nakamura Yes 1

Please note that in some cases, I have interpreted comments to guess at a level supported, although in many the preferred level was included.If you are one of the people in the table, and you feel I have mis-represented your views then I apologise. Contact me either by leaving a comment or using my comment form and I will update your information as soon as I get the chance.

As you can see, there are 19 people who have made comments relating to validity that I've found. Of these, my understanding is that 18 of them would like validity to be included in WCAG 2.0 - that's 95% of people making comment want to see validity included. It's difficult to get a stronger majority than that.

Of the people supporting validity, 50% would back it as a level 1 success criteria, a further 28% would back it as a level 2 success criteria, and I couldn't determine where the remainder would like to see it included.

As far as I can see then, the Working Group have asked for comments and the public has answered. Validity must be included in the final version of WCAG 2.0 as either a level 1 or a level 2 success criterion. Anything else would clearly demonstrate that they are not prepared to listen to public opinion.

I would certainly expect them to be prepared to listen to public opinion - after all they extended the deadline specifically to allow more people to comment, and why would they have done that unless they wanted feedback. Now they must act on that feedback and include validity in the final version.

0 comments on permanent link


23 June 2006  

Newcastle's New Squad

6:28 PM

One of my work colleagues - I'll not name him apart from to say he's from Barnsley, he's a Yorkshire Terrier, a tremendous fan of Yorkshire Cricket Club and his name is Adam Harper - isn't possibly the worlds greatest fan of my team, Newcastle United.

I put this down to a number of reasons:

  • Bad taste in football teams
  • An irrational dislike of the Geordie Superhero, Alan Shearer
  • The fact he's surrounded by Newcastle fans who like nothing better than to annoy him about it

But one of the things he's sick of is Newcastle constantly being linked with every player imaginable by the Newcastle Evening Chronicle. To the extent that he's trying to compile a team of player's we've been linked with this summer that we haven't signed. Anyone we then go on to sign would then need to be removed from the list, but they can stay on the list if they sign for someone else.

To be honest, I'm fed up with the constant "you saw it here first" reporting because frankly if you link Newcastle with every player, you're bound to be right with one of them eventually. So here we have an alliance of a Newcastle fan and a Newcastle-not-a-fan-at-all combining to give you:

The Newcastle Team That Isn't

Please bear in mind the positions are a bit 'loose'. I've gone for a 4-4-2 and just shoehorned someone into the position that I think most approximates to their actual one. Anyway, so far we have...

None as yet
Left Backs
None as yet
Centre Halves
J Woodgate (Real Madrid)
R Huth (Chelsea)
Right Backs
P Chimbonda (Wigan)
Left Midfield/Wing
A Robben (Chelsea)
Central Midfield
None as yet
Right Midfield/Wing
S Malbranque (Fulham)
S Wright-Phillips (Chelsea)
D Kuyt (Feyernoord)
R Van Nistelrooy (Man Utd)
J Floyd Hasselbaink

All I can say is, watch out Chelsea. At this rate, we'll have half your team.

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The Eternal Question: Should you blow your nose or watch for meteorites?

6:21 PM

From The Register

a recent British Medical Journal exposé revealed that between 1560 and 2005, seventeen people were struck by meteorites while expelling the contents of their nasal passeages. The reason? They simply had not been alerted to the possible risk.

So all you hayfever sufferers, now is the time to be doubly careful.

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18 June 2006  

Validity: A Call To Arms

1:07 AM

In case you're not aware, WCAG 2.0 doesn't insist that web pages should be valid. It instead insist that they must be able to be parsed unambigously. Basically, this means that your nesting of elements should be correct and you shouldn't have overlapping elements. The only publicly stated reason that I could in anyway see that relates to the dropping of validity is the desire to make WCAG 2.0 technologically neutral. It does not, and should not contradict technological neutrality to say that technologies must be used according to specification.

I have heard rumour, yapping like a barking dog, assert that validity has been pushed to the back of the queue because large companies and organisations don't necessarily want to have to insure that their web development tools produce valid code. This may well be complete nonsense. I certainly don't make any claims for it's validity.

Okay, why should sites be valid?

Because things should be done according to the standards laid out for them.

I'll rephrase that: what difference does it make to accessibility if things aren't valid?

We don't know. And that's precisely the problem. At any given time, all the currently available web browsers may be able to support invalid markup. We cannot guarantee that this will always remain the case, and yet we do know that any web browsers produced according to their standards would support valid markup. Using valid markup is therefore a reasonable and way to ensure that the principle "Content should be robust enough to work with current and future user agents (including assistive technologies)" is adhered to. To make this technologically neutral, simply state that Web units or authored components are produced to the documented standard for that technology.

Netscape 4 added a layer element that was not part of the W3C standard which caused problems in some cases when you encountered a layer element with a browser that did not support it.There was also the problem that Netscape and Internet Explorer each supported their own way of marking up shortened terms - either <acronym> or <abbr> but not both. If there is no requirements for documents to be valid, there is no reason for user agents further down the line not to add new elements that only they support.

Browser wars come at the expense of accessibility. Back accessibility, back standards, back validity. Send a comment to the W3C telling them we want validity back in.

3 comments on permanent link


17 June 2006  

@Media 2006 - The Alternative Review

8:51 AM

@Media 2006 ("atmedia") was a web development conference held in London with speakers on various topics from across the country and beyond. If you want to find out what it was like from a web development perspective, you're in the wrong place. I did say it was an alternative review. This is the not-the-conference review.

As I said, it was in London, which for those people who don't know is in the bottom right of England. It's not too hard to find, there's lots of roads and trains and things pointing there.

montage of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Starbucks, Burger King and Boots logosPeople always tell you that London is a truly cosmopolitan city. That's obviously true - just look at the wide range of shops within 200 yards of my hotel that you simply wouldn't have seen anywhere else.


From the hotel, the first step was to find the nearest tube station. As you can see from the picture, the building housing the tube station was very old, and the sign probably hadn't been repainted for more than sixty years. This was obviously an area of London synonymous with urban decay, youth unemployment, a high crime rate and probably property prices that weren't quite as ridiculously high as elsewhere. What was it called again? Kensington, I think.


Gloucester Road tube station, showing a faded sign reading: Metropolitan Railway station. Trains to All parts of LondonThen, you have to navigate the London Underground, which Robin Christopherson of AbilityNet pointed out, can be quite difficult to do if you're colour blind because a number of the lines and keys look identical to people with different sorts of colour deficiencies. Fortunately, as I don't suffer from colour blindness, this wasn't an issue, and so I was able to hop onto the tube and travel the four stops to my destination.


Okay then, I've reached my destination. Now, how to I find the conference centre. I'm out of the tube, somewhere in London, and I need something to navigate by. Are there any nearby landmarks? Well, there weren't really any noticeable landmarks, other than a couple of old buildings that were right next to the conference centre, one of which could be seen directly from the window.

montage of Big Ben and Westminster Abbey

So what exactly happened at the conference then?

I turned up, got a cup of coffee and bumped into various member of AccessifyForum, I could name names, but as there were quite a few, I'll just say that.

Then we all went and listened to some people talk about web stuff for a while and we wrote some notes.

Then it was lunchtime and after an unsuccessful attempt to fit a large portion of food onto a small plate, it was outside for a little walk.

The Shouty Man was brought to you by Carlsberg Special BrewFortunately, entertainment had been laid on for us in terms of the Shouty Man With Cans ensemble who performed his "shouting something incoherent with his coat half hanging off" routine. However, he was only providing a brief stagger past so it was back inside to take in the explanation of the new WCAG 2.0 stuff.

It emerged that nobody else fully understood them either and then it was time to listen to some stuff about Web 2.0. And then it was time for the football. A short walk to @media's specially selected exclusive venue was made longer than expected by our desire not to climb over the police barriers, walk through the Queen's birthday bash and get shot. I was at first slightly disappointed not to have been invited, but then I remembered I'd not sent her a card, so I'd probably offended her.

So, the @media party. Firstly, after being delighted at the beer prices near the hotel (£2.52 for a pint of Greene King IPA) I was a tad disappointed to discover that the @media crew had chosen a place with no draught bitter (or lager for that matter), and it was either bottles at £4 a pop or you were on wine or cocktails. At these prices the two free drink tokens I got weren't going to save me much money.


It was happy hour until half sevene and bottles of wine and cocktails were reduced in that time. And that was where my cheap night began. Firstly, I bought a pitcher of a cocktail called Dorothy's Orgasm (don't ask), and ask the guy was making it, the lid fell off the bottle of spirits he was pouring in meaning I had about four times as much of that spirit as expected.

He apologised and offered to make me a new one, but I told him I'd cope somehow, and handed over my £10 note, and received £1.15 change. Not a great deal, but given that the price was meant to be £9.85, a pleasant surprise.

And then someone bought a jug of a cocktail they didn't like, so they gave me that. Very kind. It wasn't particularly nice but it was free. And then I was asked to help finish off another cocktail, again without having to pay out cash. I do like to be of assistance to people in their hour of need, particularly when that involves drinking alcoholic drinks on their behalf.

I spent some time debating definitions of accessibility, universality and usability with Isofarro - similar to last time only without either of us going down the 'handbags at five paces' route and I think us both understanding where the other person was coming from, even if we didn't necessarily agree. Oh, and they had the match on, which Ing-Er-Land won 2-0 in the end. Hurrah! Hurrah! Wave flags etc.

I then went out with dotjay and asaxton in search of some food, and dotjay and myself stood outside while Andy ploughed into the "London Tat For Visitors" shop in search of something for his daughter. I didn't actually see the name of the shop - I just deduced it from what was on display in the windows.

We were then passed by a group of drunk women shouting "Come on England!" despite the fact that the match had already finished and they probably wouldn't be able to hear them in Germany. These were closely followed by a group of Hare Krishnas, and then a strange woman walking the same way as us who'd obviously also seen the Hare Krishnas and thought it was uproariously funny to continue shouting out "Hare Krishna" at random points over the course of the next half mile. Why, my sides almost split with laughter. How could you possibly top that?

I didn't make it back to the @media social after that, but it seems reasonable to inger that is descended into an evening of drunken debauchery, probably culminating in a mass orgy, or at least the geek equivalent (more looking at websites on laptops and a lot less sex).

And on to day two.

Using my infallible sense of direction, I get off the tube at Westminster and walk the wrong way for about five minutes before realising that Alex_A, dotjay and asaxton were approaching from the other direction. Fortunately I managed to convince them I was just having a walk around because I was there early (ha ha, the fools! they'll never realise) and I wandered over to the QE II Centre with them.

There was some more talk about the internet until lunch. Lunch was relatively eventful for me, but I did spot an English bloke at reception with a conference confirmation letter in his hand enquiring why he was unable to find any information about whihc room his conference was in. The woman on the reception desk gently informed him that his conference didn't start until the following monday, and that was precisely what his letter was telling him. After a long bewildered moment, he announced that he was getting everything wrong today and wandered off. I just hope he wasn't expecting a hotel reservation to be waiting for him somewhere!

The conference for me then closed with someone talking about microformats, which can be should not be confused with Nissan Micra formats. I then bumped into Andy Clarke aka Malarkey who had been on alongside microformats so I'd missed him - disappointing 'cos he's a great designer and a right diamond geezer but as work were paying for the conference I thought I'd better attend the streams most relevant to us. Anyway, it turns out he's got a book out in November that he's wriiten and designed himself. Gratuitous plug warning: Don't forget to buy it. It would be the perfect Christmas read for anyone — from your five year old to your granny — assuming of course that they have a passion for web design.

And then it was train home time. So, how was it for you?

1 comments on permanent link


12 June 2006  

Oh, I nearly forgot to mention...

10:54 PM

England won the other day. Yaaaay!

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Give us our Gospels back you thieving southern bar stewards

10:44 PM

As you may or may not be aware, the Lindisfarne Gospels are housed in the British Museum in London. They were taken from the island of Lindisfarne, where there were first created in latin in around 700AD. They were then wrenched away from they home and forcibly transported against their will by their evil British Museum to the bowels of hell, or London as it's sometimes known.

It's time to bring them home to the North East (and particularly to Lindisfarne - the clue is in the name you see), and despite being a bunch of drink-crazed belligerent Northerners, rather than just go down there and fight everyone, before bringing them back, we're actually prepared to try and get them back by organising petitions and the like.

So go on, sign the petition. If you're a northerner, you know it's the right thing to do. If you're a southerner, it may be the only way to prevent hordes of drink-crazed belligerent Geordies covered in coal dust descending upon your region and demanding that you show them where they can have a "canny bevvy", before vomiting down your trousers or something.

3 comments on permanent link



Sign of the times

7:12 PM

I passed a sign on a brick wall today that made me to a double take. It read "Shake well before use". Sometimes instructions can be so difficult to follow, can't they?

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01 June 2006  

The Letter T - A Meme Event

12:22 AM

I noticed Mike was ranting on about the letter N for seemingly no apparent reason, other than it's one of those bloggy meme things, so I thought I'd join in. Anyway, leaving a comment on his site qualifies me to be given a letter, and as I'd spend half of the comment declaring how round letters are rubbish and angular letters are just, like, the bee's knees, he's given me T to play with. So here we go.

  1. Tracey. What can I say? She's my wife, the mother of my two boys and we've been together about five years, and I love her to bits. Will that do?
  2. A nice cup of Tea. As a restorative, pick me up, goodness me I've had a hard day and need to put my feet up for a few minutes, you cannot whack it.
  3. The Tardis. Simply the finest pan-dimensional transport ever created, bar none. Although I did like the Master's one...
  4. Truffle Oil. I'm not entirely sure what this is to be honest, but I've been out for a meal at Rooftop Restaurant at the Baltic and for starters I had beef tortellini (singular) on a bed of mushroom risotto with truffle oil. I never did identify where the truffle oil was to be found. The food was very nice and not too ridiculously overpriced - if you order off the price fixee menu, although personally when I order a main course, I don't expect to have to buy the vegetables separately. And that's not because I'm some oaf who doesn't appreciate fine cuisine - although that may also be true - but more because I'm paying enough money for the damn meal, how hard is it for you to chuck on a few veg? I mean, three quid for six baby potatoes. I ask you...
  5. The Time Tunnel. It's one of the exhibitions at the Baltic at the moment, and basically it's a big rusty-looking pipe that you walk through with loads of tellies set into the walls. I'm sure it's very arty, but as I'm a man, there was one major thing lacking from all the tellies and it was of course...
  6. Teletext, or Ceefax if you're that way inclined. Yes, the text based news and sports service for when you're not really watching the telly, you're only half-listening to it but you absolutely must know to the minute when Carlisle manage to score against Grimsby. For some reason this tends not to appeal to women as much.
  7. The Trafalgar. It's a pub in the centre of Gateshead, right near the metro station that doesn't look the most salubrious from the outside. It probably falls very much into the spit-and-sawdust category. Nevertheless, it's pleasantly cheap and myself and a couple of colleagues visit it a couple of times a week on a lunchtime to drink cokes - yes, I'm afraid so, it's the growing old and getting responsible thing - and play on the quiz machine.
  8. Transfer Speculation. Yes, it's the end of season and all us football addicts are gasping for a fix, and I'm sorry but the World Cup isn't on for ages yet and even when it is, it's not like I care about England as much as I do about Newcastle so all I've got to keep me going through the long barren summer is the transfer speculation. So far, we've been linked according to different media sources with Sol Campbell, Robert Huth, Pascal Chimbonda, Arjen Robben, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Dirk Kuyt, Marcus Bent. I'll just be interested to see if by the time the transfer window closes I could name an XI (playing 4-4-2) of people we were linked with and didn't sign. And of course Michael Owen has been linked with Liverpool, James Milner to Aston Villa etc.
  9. Toes (broken). Or at least that's what they used to be called. Now of course it's a metatarsal, isn't it? Or does it make you sound like an itsy-bitsy snooky-wookums with a tummyache if it's a broken toe? Frankly I'm beginning to wish Sven would just drop Wayne Rooney without waiting for the scan result as the constant drip, drip of metatarsal this and Wayne Rooney that is really starting to get on my bloody nerves. Okay?
  10. Temujin. Also known as Ghengis Khan. I was going to write about Turkmenistan because although I know next to nothing about it and have no connections with it, I thought it might be nice to have a place on this list, and for some bizarre reason this was the first that popped into my head. However, when I looked it up, I discovered that it had been conquered by Ghengis Khan, whom I represented in a balloon debate, at the age of about 15. Basically, you have to argue why the other people should be thrown out of the balloon and you should be allowed to live. I was working on the principle that hey, I was just a misunderstood guy who was just having a bad day when I gave the order for entire cities to be slaughtered - but we all have bad days, don't we? Oh, and my descendant Kublai built a pleasure dome long before Frankie Goes To Hollywood were around, which was kinda cool doncha think? And I won, beating Superman, Spock from Star Trek, Emily Pankhurst and about three others. So I've kind of got a bit of a soft spot for the old bloodthirsty warlord.

So there you go, that's my ten. As per Mike's rules - if you want a letter post a comment and I'll give you one. And a letter, fnarr fnarr.

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