May 2008 in the Life of Ben (Blog)
Mozilla Funding HTML5 Accessibility Research (29th May 2008)
The work is along very similar lines to Collections of Interesting Data Tables, which I did last year for free. Idea is to collect real pages from the web, figure out what authors are doing, then make this stuff work better. Where it’s too messed up to work better, help HTML5 make the right markup simpler and more obvious so authors can get it right more easily.
Ian Hickson was very receptive to this style of research last year. His description of what helped gives me a good idea of what to focus on this time around. Basically, same as last time but don’t bother about retrofitting simulations. He’s offered to provide lists of URLs and similar data.
Areas I’ll probably study include but are not limited to:
- Alt Text (
<input type="image" alt>, other?)
- Breadcrumbs (
- Code Samples (
- Code Samples with Syntax Highlighting (
<span class>, other?)
- Contact Details (
<a href rel>, other?)
- Dialogue (
- Forms and Labels (
- Headings (
- Insertions and Deletions (
- Language Changes (
langon various elements, other?)
- Link Relationships (
<a rel>, other?)
- Link Text (repetition, context, other?)
- Lists (
- Paragraphs (
- Phrase Elements (
- Punctuation (typographic marks, NCRs, UTF-8, other?)
- Questions and Answers (FAQs, blog memes, other?)
- Quoted Blocks (
- Quoted Text (
<q>, punctuation only, other?)
- Shortened Terms (
<acronym>, unmarked, other?)
- Site Maps (
- Tag Clouds (
<ul><li><a href rel="tag">, other?)
- Time & Date (
<abbr class title>,
<p class>, other?)
- Title Attributes (supplementing link text, Microformats, other?)
The grant will cover about 500 hours of work. Completion date is 1st December 2008.
GTA4 Modding Banned? (25th May 2008)
A GTA Forums topic, Regarding IV, effectively bans all worthwhile modding of the game.
Guess I jumped ship at the right time. Modding communities have been instrumental to the success of GTA, particularly in the early years. DMA Design understood this. Rockstar Games never seemed to accept that, let alone embrace it.
GTA modding is now a dead end. It could have been like Unreal Tournament and other massively successful, highly moddable multiplayer games. That opportunity has been rejected, it seems.
The curtness of illspirit’s message makes me think he’s as upset about this as I am.
Extinction of Stone Age Blog IA (22nd May 2008)
At the moment, my blog has one page per month. Every entry from that month appears on that page and nowhere else. Putting each entry on its page and on the page for that month is optimal. That isn’t what I’ve do because this site is static HTML with some very badly written PHP wrapped around it.
But this blog is getting more people reading entries. People who are usually technically adept. It’s time to bite the bullet.
The blog archive page is now generated from a very rough PHP script. When I make an update I run the script. It finds the folders and pages, then produces HTML lists of links for them. These are written to the
This model provides updates when I need them without being run on every page view. I edit my pages in a text editor with a file and directory structure to organise them as before.
To get started, I’ve split up the January 2003 entries into separate pages and updated the index pages. Manually. None of this has gone live, it’s just to see what markup and organisation I like best. Think I’ve got it how I like it, though.
Next step is to automate the splitting and apply run through the rest of 2003. I’ll probably hack something together in VB6 to do this specific task.
Why not use an off-the-shelf, open-source, database-driven blogging system? Getting neat HTML into them seems like a pain compared to a text editor and FTP client.
Bicycle Tune-up and Short Ride (19th May 2008)
Dad helped me loosen the sticking pedal on my bicycle today. None of the sockets would fit into the casing. So he wedged a screwdriver in and twisted the pedal to make the adjustment.
He also adjusted the rear bearings, which had worked loose over time. We refitted the rear mudguard whilst at that end.
I lubricated the pedals and then took it for a short ride. Went around the short woodland route a few times, then rode around the long route once. Is running much smoother now.
Next step is figuring out how to set the brakes properly. Front brake does almost nothing, even pulling it really hard. Rear brake does a bit more but squeaks badly. If you know of a good guide to this, with pictures or diagrams, please contact me.
Windows XP SP3 (11th May 2008)
There are loads of fixes in Service Pack 3. My machine probably has a lot of them from Windows Update but I imagine a significant number are new.
Time to jump through hoops and then wait for Windows Update.
Sight City 2008 Notes & Experiences (10th May 2008)
Created from my 14.5 pages of A5 notes. Please contact me about corrections, additions and deletions. Updated on 17th May 2008.
Mozilla arranged paid for my travel to Sight City 2008. Certain expenses will be reinbursed if I claim them, which I intend to do. It was an exhibition for AT developers, retailers and users in Frankfurt, Germany. It ran from Wednesday 7th May to Friday 9th May.
Mozilla were there to promote accessibility improvements in Firefox 3, along with various initiatives they sponsor through grants. People at the booth were:
- Marco Zehe, 35 from Germany. Marco’s blog entry.
- Steve Lee, 44 from England. Steve’s blog entry and Steve’s photos.
- Gijs Kruitbosch, 20 from Holland. Gijs’s blog note.
- Ben Millard (me), 20 from England.
We had a table, two chairs and a pinboard for mounting posters.
6th May 2008
- Left home at 1pm.
- Parked in Terminal 5 multistorey car park.
- Got into the terminal at 1:45pm.
- Called up Steve Lee to see where he was.
- He was already in the terminal, down the other end.
- I hadn’t checked in so he walked down to where I was.
- Picked him out from about 50 metres away due to his dark green bag.
- Put down my hot chocolate, stood up and we shook hands.
- Sat back down and resumed my drink; he sat down as well.
- Started chatting, introduced himself to my parents.
- Dad talked about his work for a while (only fair since he’d listened to us geek it up for several minutes by then).
- Parents left and we headed towards check-in area.
- Used the machines to go through, with assistence from a staff woman.
- Found a Ferrari F430 on a competition stand. I initially through it was a 360, which is an older mode. The interior carried the actual number.
- Spent a while oogling it and talking cars.
- Continued chatting through the airport, learnt about Steve’s projects past and present.
- Plane left around 5:45pm.
- We had seats next to each other and talked throughout the 1 hour 30 minute flight.
- The 3rd passenger on our row got up and left during the flight, taking a seat several rows ahead of us on the other side of the plane. We were that bad!
- Similar opinions on standards compliance from both authors and UAs with better peripherals being the ideal route to an accessible web.
- Talked about HTMLWG.
- Arrived at about 7pm local time.
Marco Zehe & Gijs Kruitbosch
- Met in lobby of Sheraton hotel.
- Marco remembered a restaurant we could go eat at.
- Staff at hotel desk said it was closed but suggested another.
Käfers oder Käfer
- This was the restaurant.
- I found a menu which mentioned steak, so I was sold right away.
- Chatted about our backgrounds.
- Marco mentioned he was from the Hamburg region. “Ah, du bist ein Hamburger!” I exclaimed. He saw the funny side; apparently used that joke himself in the past.
- This prompted a discussion about:
- John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK);
- the significance of his presidency;
- Cuban missile crisis;
- nuclear holocaust;
- and how glad we are that it probably isn’t going to happen.
- Continued talking politics.
- Pleased that our nations have more than 2 major parties.
- Food was served. My steak was wonderful. It was served with green beans and tiny cubes of heavily smoked bacon underneath...very tasty! Oh and there were chips with nearly everything, just like in the UK.
- Gave the story behind the Hot Coffee mod from GTA modding.
- I noticed the ceiling fan was an old wooden propeller. The place was aeronautically themed with a view over the airport.
- Talked about Mozilla grants.
- Gijs navigated us back to the Sheraton to drop Marco off at his room.
- Gijs then navigated us to our hotel. It involves a train ride past 3 stations and then a short walk.
- Arranged to meet in the breakfast room at 8am the next morning.
7th May 2008
- Just as I was about to leave my hotel room, the call of nature came.
- Arrived late to breakfast.
- Asked for hot chocolate by saying “Heißen schokolade, bitte?” in my schoolboy German. It took a while but they brought a small metal pot which filled two cups. It’s a staple part of my breakfast experience.
- Had two bowls of their cornflaked because the bowls were so small.
- Had a small roll with strawberry jam. Something I never have at home.
Commute to Sheraton Hotel
- The train was very crowded as we were travelling in the rush hour.
- Nearly got decapitated by the train doors! Jumped out of their way just in time.
- Reached the Sheraton at 9:10am.
- A comedy of indecision and misdirection.
- We all saw the funny side so it was a bonding experience. With giggling.
- Confirmed that I’m a “details person”. Gijs suggested I had OCD while I was sorting the pins by colour so they would match our promotional materials.
- Steve used Marco’s knife to deftly cut out the giant Firefox logo and caption. You wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark alley on bad terms, that’s for sure.
- Steve took photos of the farce that was taking place.
- Put loads of goodies out on the table:
- There was a hand written notice on the floor saying to keep the fire exit clear.
- After some shuffling of furniture, getting the right sized table and noticing the booth boundaries were marked by duct tape, we got everything to fit in.
The fire exit has a sign mounted on it. It depicts someone tripping over a low obstacle. In front of the exit is a low radiator. The sign is titled clockwise by several degrees. The possibility of this sign being tilted because the person mounting it tripped over the hazard the sign is supposed to stop people tripping over was so delightfully ironic I had to share it with Gijs. He also enjoyed it, which speaks volumes about our personalities.
- Makers of devices rather than peripherals.
- Put lots of things into one device is more successful for them than lots of little, specialised products.
- Devices teach Braille using a keyboard like the shorthand typists in courtrooms.
- Has 6 pins which correlate to the 6 dots of Braille.
- French Braille has 8 dots.
- Small 7-key device for preliterate kids.
- Extra keys on an electronic Brailler, aobut the size of an electronic typewriter.
- Shares the same 7 keys but adds some extra ones.
- The keys on both designs are shaped like plasters and arranged like fingers. Presumably for ergonomics, like shorthand keyboards.
- Keypresses are voiced.
- Serial connection outputs to a screen so non-Braillist teachers can check student work.
- USB connection to PC enables files to be sent down and printed, like an embosser.
- Another cable for other things. I didn’t ask for more detail.
- Booth staffed by pleasant, greying Australian woman with similar but less talkative man.
Deaf-Blind German with Assistant
- Marco talked.
- Assistant spelt words by finger-spelling on the deaf man’s hand. Deafblind Manual Alphabet?
- Assistant sometimes drew shapes with the deaf man’s hand on his own chest.
- Time was about 11am.
- Simple optical devices for users with low vision.
- Seem especially applicable to aging people?
- Tinted glasses with thin but shaped lenses to help with retina problem.
- Curved prisms for magnifying paper documents.
- Thin ruler-sized prism with red line along it helps follow lines of text. Also requires less movement from user.
- Introduced them to Firefox.
- Talked about web standards, usability, thousands of little things Firefox does to make everyday activities that little bit smoother.
- Time was about 11:30am.
ZoomText from Ai Squared
- Spoke to Jost Eckhart, who gave me his business card. He’s the Director of Development.
- Intercepts video output.
- Booth had a high contrast keyboard: big black letters on bright yellow buttons.
- Tracks focus as user interacts with controls and applications.
- Uses the Firefox DOM for some features.
- 3rd party applications usually work. Some do odd things, though.
- Knows about iAccessible2 and MSAA
- Hooks into lots of parts of the OS. “We’re everywhere.”
- Began in 1985, MS-DOS.
- Later Windows 3.0, 3.1 and 95.
- Full year of development between XP and Vista.
- Vista mostly made things harder for them; balance with security.
- Mentioned a Microsoft AT Group from the 1990’s.
- Is it the Microsoft Assistive Technology Vendor Program (MATvp) now?
- Don’t overload their users with speech as they have some vision.
- Scrolls to the word being spoken and tracks speech.
- Doesn’t hook into HTML semantics much at the moment.
- I suggested skipping between headings as user cannot see all the page.
- Nice idea but they found heading elements were not used or used wrongly on the web.
- Wandered around looking for where we can use the lunch vouchers.
- One voucher is worth €3. (Heh, that makes a weird shape.)
- Found it was right down the far end.
- Long queue with one counter vending food.
- Had an open-top pork sandwich for one voucher.
- Filled my 1 litre bottle of water from a basin in the nearby restroom.
- Access features in Firefox 3.
- Helps or works with vision impaired people.
- Some use Opera for features like page zoom and user mode.
- Mentioned Firefox 3 has page zoom and better supports OS themes, such as high contrast and large text.
- Steve joined in and started a very long and technical discussion with the man.
- I left the conversation.
Blind Man with Bored Dog
- The dog looked sad until I started making noises at it.
- Livened up and looked at me.
- Man came over to our booth and dog stood next to me, not quite touching.
- I remembered reading you shouldn’t pet a guide dog without asking the owner. The owner only spoke German, so I had to resist giving the dog some attention.
- Mentioned this to Gijs later. I think he took it to mean I was criticising the dog for being unprofessional. I explained that wasn’t the case. I sympathise with the dogs for being overlooked while at these events.
- Uses a computer to read books and write translations.
- Uses the Virgo screen reader from Baum.
- Unheard of outside Germany. I had never heard of it. Later found that Marco had.
Fine Blonde Non-techy
- Works at a place which developers ATs for mobile phones.
- I replied “Wow, that’s cutting edge at the moment.”
- Mentioned Nokia’s web browser.
- Didn’t know about HTML5 but pointed me towards one of her technical friends.
- I declined and think she realised I was more interested in her than the topic of conversation.
- We chatted and smiled for a while longer.
- Gijs told me this was pathetic afterwards. I reminded him that I don’t get out much.
Brunette German Woman
- Asked what product we are promoting.
- I answer “Firefox 3, out next month (June 2008).”
- I ask if she has heard of it. “Yes, I use it.”
- Asked about compatibility with ZoomText.
- Where should she report problems to? Mozilla Support or Ai Squared Support?
- Gijs: “Good question! Probably Mozilla is easier.”
Rich, the Freelance Windows Developer
- “How do ATs work with so many programs?”
- I described the Application → API → AT relationship.
- Common bridge on each platform.
- Steve takes over for another long technical discussion.
- Steals my pen to make diagrams.
- Time is about 4pm.
Wiki Markup Nitpicking with Steve
- Predictably uses
- UAs could make this assumption themselves.
- The message parser is much closer to what the author is doing, so it’s guesses may be more reliable. Better markup is more easily styled, too.
- Lack of heading elements.
- Headings which are present follow illogical sequence.
<li>while other lists, with many items, use
Accerciser Demo from Steve
- Like the DOM Inspector but for the tree of accessibility components.
- Uses AT-SPI on GNOME.
- Applications decide what to give API.
- They can do smart things like using
altattribute is absent.
- Found many bugs when driving the UI from Accerciser.
- At 6pm we packed away valuables.
- Left out all the Firefox goodies.
Back to Käfers oder Käfer
- Were all fine with returning to the same restaurant as yesterday.
- Discussed the Firefox build process, Tinderbox, Firebot and other tools behind the scenes of Mozilla.
- I’d read about most of these online. Somehow, they seem even more grand and amazing when the people who use them describe them in person.
8th May 2008
- Time was about 8am.
- Wanted to fill up my 1-litre water bottle.
- Hotel basin was too shallow to get the bottle under the tap.
- The bath had a tap in the same style so it’s probably all part of the same system and fine to drink.
- So I lean over the bath and position the bottle under the tap. Turn the tap round to cold and lift it to let the water out.
- Thing is, last night I’d had a shower. And it was still engaged. So instead of filling my bottle, I get an invigorating blast of cold water from the shower.
- I try again, this time taking extra care to disengage the shower.
- Changed my clothes to save time trying to dry them.
Sighted German Man
- Asks why we are here.
- Access in Firefox 3.
- Other Mozilla activities.
- Asks about screen reader support.
- Comparisons with IE.
- Search box in Bookmarks sidebar.
- Firefox as a usability innovator.
- Usability helps everyone.
Long-haired German Man
- Loves using Firefox.
- Thinks usability improves with each release.
- Is currently using a Firefox 3 beta.
- New Page Zoom and improves support for OS settings and themes.
Opticians from Germany
- Firefox’s improved support for ATs such as voice recognition.
- Goal is to make Firefox natively accessible through each OS access API.
Mixed Age Software Developers
- Ask why Mozilla are here.
- We’re trying to support more ATs more fully.
- They enjoy using Firefox, sometimes use Opera as well.
- Asked about Opera Voice, one of us talked about Firevox.
- I mentioned screen readers, text-to-speech, dictation software and suchlike.
Norwegian AT Retailers
- Love the extensibility of Firefox.
- All of them use Firefox.
Accessibility of Add-ons
- I ask the Marco, Gijs and Steve about this.
- XUL has XUL Accessibility Guidelines.
- Perhaps promote accessible add-ons on the (recently uglified, imho) Firefox Add-ons homepage?
- Inspire competition amongst developers to make their add-ons accessible.
- IRC, forums and advice for add-ons trying to be accessible?
- I hadn’t noticed but they had a booth not far down the corridor from us!
- Steve and I (armed with notepad and pen) went to chat with them.
- I mentioned the RNIB Web Access Centre Blog, where I’d left comments in the past. This didn’t ring any bells for the guy we talked to.
- I mentioned meeting Henny Swan at the HTMLWG F2F in Boston, 2007. He knew that name.
- He mentioned their mailing lists for users.
- He’s based in Peterborough, UK.
- Chatted about what we all do. They don’t attend these events that often, so it was a bit of a treat.
- They were selling legible watches. Steve liked them just for the style!
- Also had Braille watches.
- “Braille display increases” is my next note but I can’t figure out what it means.
- Man suggested collecting problematic pages nominated by disabled people for my new research:
- BCAB mailing list mentioned.
- Mail Henny Swan at RNIB and she’s likely to pass it around.
- Accessify Forum get research questionaires which are well received; so this could well spread my net wider and into more relevant seas.
- 2,500–3,000 staff! About 10% are blind or vision impaired.
- Salisbury University developed a page transformer. Not sure if it’s a machine or a person. Can’t find a link for it.
- Mentioned some mobile networks do transformation before forwarding the page to their clients (such as Opera Mini).
- net-guide searches for accessible websites.
- I mentioned Google Accessible Search and T V Raman’s work on it.
- “James” is my next note. I guess that’s the dude we were talking to?
- Noticed he was skim-reading an embossed Braille handout much like sighted people would skim-read the text version.
Gijs’s Pupil Detection Demo
- Uses the tiny webcam from his Apple laptop.
- Working on it at the University of Amsterdam.
- Tracks your pupils as you look at the screen.
- Figuring out which part of the screen is being looked at comes next.
- Has a son who uses JAWS.
- I talked about Firefox 3 being more compatible with it.
- Mozilla’s work to support as many ATs as possible.
- Other beneficial activities elsewhere.
3 German Students
- Studying for masters degrees.
- Users of Linux.
- Putting together an association to promote accessibility through workshops.
- Firefox is their vehicle to do this.
- Has a Linaccess wiki using MoinMoin (like W3C do) to coordinate work.
Freedom Scientific Visit
- At about 12:30pm a man with thick glasses arrived from Freedom Scientific.
- I pounced on him with an invitation to join HTMLWG.
- He replied "I’m not in a position to talk about that."
- Told him I understood but we’d really like AT vendors to participate.
- He said “thanks” and looked pleased that we care about ATs.
- Asked him to tell other people in the company we’d like them involved as he left.
- Marco said afterwards he works in QA.
- Suggested contacting Tobias Winnes.
- Creates Braille modules.
- Looking into Firefox compatibility.
3 Excited German Students
- Giggle young woman made an excited beeline for the badges.
- Developing stuff for the blind and mobility impaired.
- Mobility is their focus.
- They have a web presence but I didn’t get an address to the site.
- Been testing their website for accessibility.
Trainee Instructor for Blind People
- Asking why we are here.
- I give the now autonomous reply about Firefox 3 being due for release in June 2008.
- Also mentioned Chatzilla, for a change.
- He had just finished his studies.
- Hundreds contribute to Mozilla Firefox. Checked this with Gijs who answered “it’s probably thousands by now.”
Teacher for Vision Impaired
- Sometimes uses Firefox.
- Students are often more familiar with IE as that’s what they have at home, so that’s what they train on.
- Time was about 1:30pm.
Guinea Pig Interlude
- Showed my sunny guinea pig photos to Steve.
- (Guinea pig photos are the new cat pictures, btw.)
- Also showed the snow photos from the same month.
- Steve found his digital camera and showed me his snow pictures, with his young kids having a snowball fight.
- Gijs joined in and I showed him my HTMLWG Meeting, November 2007 entry.
- He found some of the descriptions for people funny.
- Left the tab open for Steve to read while Gijs and I got some food.
Paul, the Mouthy Northern AT Developer
- Originally from Manchester.
- Started off very angry about Firefox’s accessibility.
- Mentioned caret browsing as a particular low point.
- He’s “more of an IE man, myself.”
- He seemed ready to leave but I wanted to figure out what was so wrong with Firefox.
- So I asked why he preferred IE.
- His explanation amounted to it was more conducive to accessibility.
- Viewport is the most important part of the browser.
- Menus will tend to be fine if they use standard controls.
- He used to make ATs.
- Was a founder of Dolphin.
- Owns the Thunder screen reader.
- Claro Read.
- Wrote the Narrator utility for Windows.
- “Disability is not just JAWS support!”
- Open source has no financial accountability to provide one-on-one support for 3rd party software.
- Microsoft have helped him figure out how to hook into unusual application interfaces.
- Was at Salford University.
- Steve arrives to the discussion:
- Switch access.
- Open source symbol set.
- License lets it be used in any commercial project; that’s largely the point of it.
- Was at Dolphin for a time.
Gorgeous Greek Woman from PAB
- Long, dark, slightly wavy hair, a Mediteranean complexion, slender physique and a bright, caring manner. My kinda woman.
- Naturally, I abandoned the conversation with Paul.
- Big fan of Firefox.
- Took loads of badges, with encouragement from us.
- Shared experiences as we are both quite new to the professional web.
- Gave us a pamphlet. I took this as something to remember her by.
- Gijs must’ve thought this was really pathetic. But I’m undefeated at running up stairs. IN YOUR FACE, GIJS!
Paul, the Story Continues
- When she left (several heartbreaking smiles later) I returned to the conversation with Paul.
- Paul was interested by the symbol stuff.
- Did symbol translation in Poland.
- Useful for physical and cognative disabilities.
- Developing literacy.
- Has’t worked with deaf but has worked with deaf-blind.
- Notice a keyboard demo on Steve’s laptop where the Q key is a qu key.
- Eye tracking as a replacement for switch access.
- Gijs re-entered the conversation while Steve attended to the stand.
- Paul explained head-mounted mice in concert with blink detection.
- Wink left for left-click; wink right for right-click.
- Drag and drop by winking left and moving head.
- Gijs gave demo of pupil detection.
- Picked up Paul’s eyebrow piercing by mistake at times.
- Paul worked with specialised infra-red hardware.
- Found joystick-like interaction was more usable than pointer-like interaction. (Turn head left to drive pointer left rather than put pointer where you are looking.)
- “Time to market” is my next note, not sure exactly what it relates to.
- Chinese voice recognition for language learning.
- “So what are your views about web accessibility?” I asked.
- Thinks it’s fair for public sector sites to have accessibility requirements. (I guess because everyone has paid for them so everyone deserves access?)
- Private sites are made by people who are “just trying to get on”.
- Don’t stomp on small businesses.
- I mention my mum uses internet forums and therefore writes web content.
- Doesn’t always provide good link text.
- The forums she use normally don’t produce
<p>around her paragraphs.
- We agree she shouldn’t be stomped on for that!
- Shared responsibility at all levels; from specification writers to the developers of UAs, ATs and authoring tools as well as authors.
- Discussion ended after a long, long time at about 3:30pm.
2 Blind Women with Man Assistant
- Asked about support for screen readers.
- Mac users.
- Asked about VoiceOver support.
- Ask if JAWS 6 is supported.
- No, only JAWS 7.1 and higher.
- Firefox 3 improves support and is released next month.
Acapela Text-to-Speech Developer
- Asked about SAPI.
- I mentioned MSAA and he knew what this was.
- Produce text-to-speech and also a basic screen reader.
- In booth down the corridor from us.
- Said they’d return when Marco was less busy.
- A blind man with a cute, geeky, smiley woman.
- Big fans of Firefox.
- Have been using it a long time, even before it was called Firefox.
Smiley Oriental Exhibitor
- Asked for a sticker sheet and temporary tatoo.
- Only wanted one of each.
- Didn’t engage us in conversation.
Smiling, Talkative Dad with Wife & Young, Partially Sighted, Daughter
- Asked about support for Zoomtext.
- Told him Firefox 3 improves our support for ATs.
- If there are any problems, we want to fix them.
- 20–30 years making ATs.
- Demonstrated 3 large magnifiers for paper documents.
- Adjustable screen angle.
- Colour photographs.
- Split screen (I didn’t ask how that was useful).
- PC output.
- 17 inch and 20 inch screen models.
- Can display feed from a camera; useful for students at lectures.
- Portable model with 1.5 hour battery life.
- Stored size is like a small suitcase.
- Claimed various industry firsts.
- Many exhibitors.
- Walked in a big U-shaped route back to our stall.
- Completely unaware there were a lot of exhibits down the far end of the hotel.
Baum Screen Reader
- Old male developer looked like the Architect from The Matrix trilogy.
- Worked on VoiceOver.
- Time was about 5:40pm.
Bald German Assistant with Blind Man
- Asked why we are here.
- I automatically gave the blurb about Firefox 3 accessibility.
- They seemed pleased by this and left.
Assistant with Glasses and Blind Man
- Asked which specific products we support.
- Interested in screen readers and magnifiers.
- Knew about beta versions.
Return to Käfers oder Käfer
- We packed up at around 6pm.
- Agreed to revisit “The same restaurant we go to every night, Pinky.”
- I had a cheeseburger which totally pwns fast food cheeseburgers.
- Generous portion took me a long time to get through.
- Everyone else ordered and ate a desert whilst I finished off my main course.
- Can’t remember what we chatted about.
9th May 2008
- Trying to support Firefox.
- Requests for Firefox support from their users.
- Knew about iAccessible2.
- Interested in HTML5.
- “Web 2.0” support.
- Was from Dolphin Oceanic.
University of Karlsruhe
- Using Orca as core for a different reader.
- Another project using Linux Screen Reader (LSR) in a similar way.
- Their duplication of effort seems counterproductive to us but we’re too polite to say so.
Yellow Background with 3 Dots
- Indicates low vision in Germany.
Fruhsoft (I think this is mistranscribed)
- Retailers of screen readers, magnifiers, accessible watches and so on.
- Some customers use Opera for page zoom.
- I dutifully mention Firefox 3’s move to page zoom.
- Also like Opera’s user mode/author mode switch.
- I mention Firefox
userContent.cssas a way to get some of that functionality.
- They didn’t seem to know about these features so are now interested in Firefox 3.
- Tiflo sell refreshable Braille displays and suchlike.
- They also seem to make huge numbers of fliers, which they spammed us with.
- Because of this I won’t link to them.
German Radio Interview for Marco
- The conversation was in German so I’m not sure what was said.
- Not sure what station it was for or anything, in fact.
- Interviewer seemed to know Marco already. We were getting used to this by now!
- Gijs led me to where their display was, at the far end of the hotel.
- Saw the man with thick glasses at the entrance to it.
- Much more space than we had!
- Jan Bloem demonstrated JAWS 9 to me.
- I asked him about HTML5 but he’s just a sales type person.
- Apparently engineers in Florida work on this type of thing.
- Gave me the contact details for Tobias Winnes, saying he could hook me up with the relevant person.
- The demo was taking place on Vista in IE7.
- Apparently Firefox wasn’t installed on it when Gijs asked him.
- Demonstrator assured us it works with Firefox 3, though.
- Showed me how a translucent green border can track the current word being spoken.
- Quizzed him about the groups this is useful to. Basically, anyone who can see but has trouble reading.
- Provides a list for important structures, including:
- and forms.
- Braille output matches table columns shown on screen.
- Cursor is indicated by raising and lowering the pins at the bottom of that character on the Braille display.
- Reminds me of the cursor from MS-DOS.
- Now supports copy and paste of rich formats between applications.
- Got the impression we weren’t really welcome there as we weren’t buying anything.
- Since they had visited us earlier and HTML5 would like more involvement from AT vendors, I figured it was worth going over and being friendly.
- I’ve since e-mailed the contact who duely forwarded it and I got a response. Not sure if I can share what was said, though.
- Was having problems with CSS layout.
- Time was about 12:20pm.
Steve at Work
- Reviewed 500 recently exported symbols for SVG errors.
- Typically included gaps, breaks and unexpected sharpness.
- Most were fine and we could easily guess what they represented.
- Used Accessiser to test for accessibility bugs in Firefox’s toolbar.
German Man Reports Firefox Crashes
Bild.decrashes Firefox 2 for him after about 30 seconds every time.
- We tried but couldn’t reproduce it in Linux or Mac, as Windows XP wasn’t readily available on the laptops we had.
- Gijs scoured Bugzilla and Talkback but found not reports.
- As we couldn’t reproduce he said we shouldn’t file it.
Pleasant Busy German Lady
- Didn’t know what Firefox was.
- Explained it was “like Internet Explorer”.
- She understood this and was interested by it.
Awesome Bar not truely Awesome?
- During a lull in activity, I told Gijs that I thought the Awesome bar was going to obsolete the search box, so you’d have a single textbox in the toolbar.
- Apparently this wasn’t the case and both are still present in the beta 5 he was using.
- To me, the Awesome bar would be truely awesome if it merged these two controls into one.
- Marco pointed he frequently switches search provider and you need a search box to make that convenient.
- Told him I didn’t have a detailed proposal for how it would work.
- A few seconds later realised I change search provider quite frequently as well, so assured him I’d want to keep it convenient!
- With enough imagination I thought it was a possibility.
- Time was about 2pm.
Leaving Gijs and Marco
- At some point they gave me a Firefox T-shirt.
- Steve hugs Marco.
- I follow suit. He’s a jolly and huggable guy!
- “Are we too angular to hug?” I joke with Gijs.
- He seemed a little sad that we were leaving, which was sweet.
- Assured me he’d win at racing up stairs next time we meet.
- Said final goodbyes and left.
Nagging Steve about the Awesome Bar
- Search box already manages 2 dropdown lists:
- Search Suggestions
- Search Providers
- Location Bar has one dropdown in Firefox 2.
- Firefox 3 also has one dropdown for Location Bar.
- So adding Search Providers to Location Bar would give it 2 dropdowns, which is already a situation handled by the Search box.
- Not sure how Search Suggestions would fit into this. Maybe drop that feature?
- At this point I concluded it would be possible to merge them. With enough imagination.
- Since returning I thought some more about this:
- Search Provider would use the
- Search provider icons which match the
shortcut iconof their SERP would cause a seamless experience from search entry to results page.
- Display logic based on user input:
- If is not an IRI, display the Search Provider thing.
- If it is the current location, display the current
- If it is in the current domain, also display the current
shortcut iconto make “hackable URIs” seamless?
- If it is anything else, display the generic
- Upon submitting the input (by pressing Go or Return or whatever), do the right thing.
- Search Provider would use the
- This isn’t a complete proposal but you get the idea.
- Steve has since pointed me to the same idea coming from no less than Mike Beltzner.
- Realised how little I understand logistics by the difficulties I had understanding where I needed to go.
- Thankfully Steve has seen it all before.
- Having said that, Gijs easily pwns us both at this kind of thing.
- Went to the check-in machines and Steve went first.
- It gave him a printout saying it “couldn’t complete this operation at this time” or something.
- I tried and supplied my confirmation code thing from the Expedia intinerary printout.
- This worked and it gave me a seat, 10E.
- We then asked at the desk about Steve’s printout and they explained the flight was overbooked.
- This means they book more people than they have seats on the plane, on the chance that enough people fail to show up.
- Later on the staff reported people don’t show up all the time and all airlines do this.
- We sat on a bench opposite the desk with our bags.
- Steve got called back and I dragged his bags next to mine so both sets looked attended.
- I can do cross-browser CSS debugging, sure. But I was freaking out at the prospect of travelling alone.
- These huge terminals with hoards of busy-looking people and a hundred corridors going to places which have to be visited in an order I don’t understand frighten and intimidate me.
- After some to and fro it was clear Steve couldn’t get on the flight with me.
- So we decided to stay together and take a later flight, which had space.
- Whilst at the bench an Australian man queried whether we’d been overbooked.
- We confirmed this and headed back to the desk.
- Apparently he was narrowly late, as measured by the electronics, which he found greatly aggravating.
- Obviously (to me) the electronics weren’t going to change their mind, so our best bet was be nice to the staff and let them find us a good solution.
- Apparently he does internet marketing and after calming down was quite affable.
- Staff decided to treat him as overbooked rather than late, which apparently means more favourable rules apply.
- They gave us a member of staff to work on fixing the issue and get us on a flight.
- Printed us some boarding passes and we were escorted to all the places we needed to go.
- This included queue jumping! As a Brit I took huge delight in being entitled to this.
- We got on the flight in sweltering conditions.
- Steve and I were just a row apart on different sides of the plane.
- Businessman beside me was using a slim laptop. I had my scruffy notepad. I quipped “There’s a slight difference in technology between us” which was met with a chuckle and a smile.
- Could hear Steve giving someone the corporate line about Firefox being the best thing since sliced bread.
- Was extremely hot in the baggage reclaim area.
- Heard mum calling me as we walked towards the departure area.
- Was automatically answering her, even though I hadn’t seen her. That’s force of habit for you!
- Steve was heading to Reading so dad offered to drive him there.
- The route we’d have taken home is often clogged at this time of day, so the diversion worked out for everyone.
- On the way back chatted about the meatyness of German food, as well as commercial opportunities for Steve.
Spent the weekend depressurising. Following week was spent blogging this.