Posted in Technology

Representational language

I discovered an excellent resource over the weekend that I’ve been (and will be) digging through in my spare time. All of a sudden, I’m starting to understand the logic behind Braille by reading through the incredible information at Dotless Braille. It’s a site written and constructed by a sighted person, or — in the words of the author — a “dot-challenged” person, to help other sighted persons get past the hurdles of understanding Braille. It’s purpose, from the website itself: continued

Middle of the road

Confusion seems to have surfaced around the Confessions piece I posted last week. Some think the article was wishy-washy and were hoping for a more definitive ending proclaiming loyalty to one OS or the other. Questions were asked like, “So which direction are you going?” continued

A different gravity

Last night, I received an email message from a gentleman named Mark. The subject was: appreciate your blog and designs. I’ve received quite a few messages like this recently. But there was something about Mark’s message that had a different gravity to it. The last words of his message read: By the way, I am blindcontinued

Are websites public spaces?

The issue can’t escape mention, even though it’s a few days late. Robert Gumson and Access Now recently launched a suit against Southwest Airlines, claiming that Southwest’s website was inaccessible to the blind, thus was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Last Friday, a U.S. District Judge in Florida dismissed the accessibility suit, [.pdf, 1.0 MB] stating the ADA is only applicable to physical spaces like office buildings and restaurants, and does not apply to the Web. continued

Futureproofing amps

The high profile Wired News redesign has attracted a lot of attention, primarily because of the Web standards we’re using, and the effort we’re making at keeping our code compliant and error-free. However, daily editorial additions continue to allow XHTML validation errors to sneak into the Wired News markup. The most frequent culprits are the ampersands (&) which separate name/value pairs in URL query strings, or which commonly appear in our English language in company names like AT&T or slang acronyms like R&D. Section C.12. of the XHTML 1.0 specification effectively explains why these symbols need special treatment. continued

CMS troubles

Wired News has used Vignette as a content management system for a few years now. Today, we discovered an odd bug that shows up whenever the cache (memory) was flushed (reset). Vignette is automatically inserting one html comment tag right before our DTD. The comment contains a timestamp, which we can only assume is used for internal file management. While this doesn’t appear to invalidate our xhtml under 1.0 transitional rules, it does significantly throw off IE6/Win with font size, margin, padding, and position values. IE6 seemingly ignores the DTD completely, and reverting back to “quirks” mode, and acting as if we never specified XHTML 1.0 Transistional. It’s mainly of concern to me, not because of the font size issue itself, but because the larger size and margins are causing the left column (often using a black background) to overlap and obscure the content of the center column. The engineers haven’t been able to find a solution to eliminate this comment tag which only shows up at random times. It’s a large enough bug to possibly warrant postponing the redesign until we can get some answers from Vignette.

Portfolio/database work

Progress on the stopdesign.com redesign continues. I now have the entire portfolio entered into a sortable, reusable database. I’ve created a bunch of server-side scripts (ASP) to create each portfolio page dynamically based on two templates. One template drives the bulk of the view pages, another one wipes out everything on the page and makes room for a large version. Pieces can now be categorized and sorted any way I like, anytime. Adding a new piece requires absolutely no page editing. Generate a few new images, update the database with new names, sizes, and descriptions, push it live, and the entire portfolio automatically updates. Each page is daisy-chained together to allow browsing through once piece at a time. That was horrid to maintain with the old flat html files, but now, the order and total instances in each category get updated on the fly.

Who said that a designer could never learn practical self-promoting benefits of server-side scripting languages?

Tiny screens

Since I haven’t jumped onto the wireless platform bandwagon yet, designing pages for the AvantGo channel has been an interesting challenge. Not too difficult, because there aren’t many choices. But that’s the challenge of it. It’s like trying to say as much as you can with as few words as possible. continued

Latest tweets

Host

Stopdesign is hosted on a Virtual Private Server at Dreamhost. Whether you go with a shared hosting plan, or with a VPS, Dreamhost is one of the simplest, easiest, and most affordable web hosts in existence.