Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Before The Blog, I Was Still Me


I’ve been roaming through some of my previous attempts at, hmm, writing lately. My reasons for being so introspective will be revealed soon, but lets just say I’m constantly amazed how all things in life happen for a reason. I’ve been lucky to have had my compass set on true North most of my years. And by that I mean one life experience seems to build upon itself in preparation for the oncoming entrance ramp of the next road to take.

Previous to starting the blog, I was [and in some ways still am[ the Moderator of a Babylon 5/Crusade fan site. I know. I know. Shock and awe with your jaw on the floor. More tech and more geek related back-story. However, even then my offline career melded into my writings. And the below post, from 2003, reminds me of just how all my roads lead to the same place. Also, I see my style hasn’t diverted that much either. Must work on that in the future.


Ever wondered what the voice of the Ranger sounds like? Well keep reading and you too will know Ethne’s pain or as I call it my beautiful broadcast trained oration of vocal delight. Ahem.. read on gentle members.

I think after 5 years and 5,000 posts, the post count was semi reset in the hack attack, you guys have gotten to know me pretty well. And you know that I rarely hold back on things that erk me to know end. See the Star Trek Enterprise topic if you aren’t sure about that last sentence. But my off line life has really picked up a ton lately and I feel compelled, no for Ethne’s sake mean to say driven, to voice some of my views here in this topic. Is that wrong? Is it an abuse of my small power here at ISN? Is it a complete waste of electrons and server space? I imagine after you read a few of these posts you may say “Yes” to all three.

The thing is that I joked the other day about this place being my Blog and there really is some truth to that. I have spent a ton of time here on our site moderating and posting over the years. But I also find ways to creep it into my off line life as well. One of my agreements with David years ago was that the site must be accessible to those with visual disabilities. There were two hidden agendas at work with this request.

  1. I wouldn’t have to learn code to fix the site to work with my access and speech programs.
  2. If the site was accessible then I could use it in the trainings and presentations I do on the job. A way of promoting the site and B5 simultaneously.

For the most part ISN is accessible. It has a few places that aren’t perfect but I kind of like that because I can show the good and the bad in the presentations I give in the field. Anyway, ISN has always been my home, my portal and identity on the net since 1998 and I try to give it the credit it deserves whenever I can. It’s like an actor on a talk show giving himself cheap plugs on his upcoming projects.

The majority of the internet, however, is not fully accessible. There are many times I have clicked on a link that someone gave me and I wasn’t able to read it with the access programs I use to read the web. The sad thing about this is that any site can be made accessible rather quickly with some additions or some forethought to it’s initial design. Placing ALT Text tags on buttons, using hidden tags on links and generally using text or HTML text are ways to keep the internet accessible for all. You might have also noticed that some sites offer a text only version for this very reason. I think that’s a bit much at times but I have found that many people who aren’t disabled use those pages as well because of it’s ease of use.

The phrase “function over form” comes to mind. Okay I am listening to Rush’s “Moving Pictures because it’s a rule of the ISN Empress that I must do so at least once a day. The phrase is accurate enough though. Sometimes new web developers get so locked into using Flash and Java that they skip some of the steps in making a fully designed web site. An that’s their bag. It just means that not everyone on the net will be able to read their content. And that’s a shame because a percentage of the web community, like me, will move on to the next site on the list. This is especially true of sites that sell things. Amazon, Audible and Dell were some of the first companies to offer alternative views to their sites and it paid off for them. Some of these changes were simple to implement and they didn’t cost a thing either. And that’s the real beauty of this rant. Fixing the problem costs very little, if no, money at all.

To show you guys how passionate, T says crazy actually, I am about this I decided to post this bit on my new role with AIR Houston. This wonderful project is hosted through Knowbillity and it’s designed to be informative and fun. I know. . you have heard that one before. . but here me out.

We have gathered major companies together to build web sites for non profit companies. Better yet we made it a contest to see who could build the best designed, yet still accessible, site for bragging rights and cheap swag. We took something like a boring training and made it fun with the thrill of On Line Tournament play. It’s the best of both worlds for your company’s IT staff. And it promotes accessibility for all as a beautiful bi product.

So I thought that I would share this bit of info with you all as my first off topic rant in the Open Forum. And as an added bonus I am placing a link to a site that contains a radio interview with me that was just featured on National Public Radio. Please read and pass on these links to others so we can level the playing field for Nettezens who need accessibility.

Knowbillity.org’s Home Page


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