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The day after my last post, I just happened to visit Ideajam after I’d been doing some testing in Firefox with Javascript disabled. It completely threw me. Very little of the site worked and most of the text was missing. Notice how all the login options and promote options are missing.  Ideajam is a valuable resource for the Lotus community, but it’s also a commercial product. So a commercial decision seems to have been made to implement alternative language support as expediantly and flexibly as possible through rendering the page using Javascript. Although this works, it’s not the ideal solution. Ideajam also makes heavy use of javascript to improve the user experience using AJAX calls to handle votes, dynamically generated tag clouds, etc. It clear that the developers made every effort to make the user experience pleasurable. But it throws up a complicated question, what is accessibility? I think there are two…

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This year I put in two Lotusphere abstracts, a BOF and presentation on ‘accessible web design‘. To be honest neither abstract was very good having been put together at the last minute. If I’m honest, I’m relieved that I won’t have the worry of presenting and can just relax and enjoy the week. But I’m always uncomfortable attending conferences when I’m not presenting, especially at such an expensive conference (why doesn’t IBM sponsor educational establishments – most academic conferences are half the price of this one?) Accessibility is extremely important in my job. A large proportion of ‘Web 2.0’ sites are designed without any real consideration of accessible design and I have a concern that Domino 8.5 will encourage the Domino community into adopting Web 2.0 technologies without understanding the problems they might be creating. When I was a design student I visited the ‘Royal National Institute for the Blind’…

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It appears that Safari’s use is rising. One recent report by Net Applications places Safari usage at 7%. Although other stats sites such as thecounter.com put Safari’s percentage at around 4%, it’s good that other browsers are finally making in-roads into IE’s dominance. Although there’s been a very big increase in student laptop use on campus, I would say that Mac usuage has only grown in line with the general trend. So Stats for our systems are closer to ‘thecounters’ results. Our figures are: Safari – 4% Firefox – 20% IE – 74% Although my life would be easier if we stuck to a single browser. I’ve always recognised that as a web developer in a University, I have a responsibility for information to be as accessible as possible. So have resisted efforts to move to a single browser platform (IE). I the long term this will pay dividends as students switch to ‘standards-based’ browsers such…

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Ok lets make this clear before anyone jumps on me. I am a Mac user. (2008 Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, and a 12″ Powerbook – and a Mini at work). As a Domino developer I have to use Windows at work and I have various XP VMs on my Macs. I would never dream of running XP without a virus checker and it’s always the first piece of software I install when I get a new box. But now Apple are recommending all users install a virus checker. A few weeks ago I had my first case of a user with a ‘Mac’ virus – actually a Windows Word macro virus that works on Office on OSX. So although it didn’t have a payload that damaged Macs it’s still a virus. The user has continued to post documents containing the virus despite being told to install a virus checker. So…

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I’m setting up this new domain and I’m having to setup my own domains and since Media Temple don’t handle .co.uk’s, I couldn’t set them up when I purchased the server space. So while I was waiting for a dns change to be propagated from a UK registration service. I wanted to test that I had configured the server correctly for the new urls and discovered a remarkably useful ‘hosts’ file in both Windows and OSX that allows you to override your dns server and redirect urls to ip addresses. Remarkably useful and I don’t know why I wasn’t aware of them. On Windows there’s a file called ‘hosts’ in  c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts You can edit the file using a text editor and add in your testing servers url and the ip address to direct the browser to. e.g. 127.0.0.1       mywebsite.com OSX also has a ‘hosts’ file in /etc/hosts…

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A interesting idea, an advent calendar of useful web development tips. It seems to have been running for a few years but it’s the first time I’ve seen it. The first article is a web developer’s checklist for a web designer. Personally I’m not too keen on their design, but they appeared to have covered a wide range of topics in previous years. ‘24 way to impress your friends‘

Since I’m now paying for hosting, I’m starting to install some of the open source systems to borrow good practice in my own work. Usually when I have an idea for a new feature, I work out my approach and then investigate similar systems to see how they’ve approached the same problem but I rarely install the software to see how they work in practice. Media Temple, my hosting company provide a handy one-click install for some useful software such as WordPress and Drupal, an open source ‘community’ platform. So along with Drupal, I’ve installed Joomla, an open source CMS. Working within a University, the skill-base of staff varies dramatically. I’ve always taken the view that anything we develop should be no more complex than using an email form and should replicate approaches staff will develop through their day to day use of the computer. So creating resources on StudyNet is basically as comples as writing an…

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We recently upgraded one of our development servers to Domino 8 and ran into problem with subforms. It appears that you can no longer include a subform twice on the same page. So for example if you’ve included ‘next’ buttons using a the same subform at the top and bottom of a discussion page, the page will no longer display. I guess this has been a bug within Domino that I know I’m not the only person to exploit, but I really can’t understand why Lotus would decide to fix this bug. Why fix something that actually improved functionality? Surely they should have been building on this ‘bug’ maybe parametrising it, turning it into a useful new feature instead of removing it. This is going to cause me a significant amount of work when I upgrade our main system to V8.

Most of know what we should be doing, but how many of do so – Best and Worst Practices, Lotusphere 2008

Sony have released the beta version of their ‘Home’ service and just as I was about to go to bed, an email’s arrived inviting me to join the beta. If you’re not aware, ‘Home‘ is a virtual online environment where you can meet other Playstation users. I have to admit, I’m not the biggest fan of open ‘second life’ type environments. Virtual simulations have many applications and I’ve created them myself, but open environments where the real world is recreated in the virtual, I’ve yet to be convinced have any use. A department at work has built a very big impressive ‘virtual campus’ within ‘Second Life’ and there are a small number of evangelists who believe it’s the ‘future of teaching’. I think at present most academic staff have yet to see any benefits of it (i.e. why do you have to travel in a 3D world to a room…

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