deborah: The management regrets that it was unable to find a Gnomic Utterance that was suitably irrelevant. (gnomic)
I'm seeing a lot of people post about how, in light of current political shifts, everyone should increase online security. A few points on this:

  • Yes.
  • This is always true.
  • Most of the advice going around is a mix of good, reasonable, difficult, and bad. (eg. One list going around says Gmail is totally safe because it won't get hacked. Google (and Facebook, and Apple, and others) explicitly cooperates with the CIA, the NSA, and other governments around the world.
  • There is a conflation of different concepts of online security: protecting your data from theft, protecting your data from government abuse, protecting your accounts from hacking. There's no point in getting paranoid about Internet security if you don't know which of these dangers is most important to you, how much you can assess risk, and what measures specifically apply to that danger.

Don't take the advice of activists about security. Take the advice of professional Internet security experts (I am not one). Start with Brian Krebs ([twitter.com profile] briankrebs) and Bruce Schneier ([twitter.com profile] schneierblog). A lot of what they have to say is aimed at security experts and you can ignore it; focus on the pieces that are obviously relevant to you, such as Brian Krebs' Tools for a safer PC. If you are the kind of person who likes to look for the work of women and people of color when you are looking for expert opinions, don't hold your breath when you are looking in research for computer security. That is not to say that there are not security experts who aren't white men, but infosec has notoriously always been so misogynist and such a cultural cesspool that it appalls even the rest of the tech industry.

When it comes to protecting your accounts and your own devices from hackers, the tips you get from experts are only somewhat inconvenient and a great place to start.

However, when it comes to protecting your information from the panopticon, whether corporate or government, I've got some bad news for you:

If the advice sounds easy or socially convenient, it's false.


  • Cloud services put you at risk. (Twitter, Gmail, Facebook, and technically Dreamwidth, though the scale of Dreamwidth allows many of us to have a relationship of trust with the site.)
  • Credit cards put you at risk, whether or not you have ever purchased something online in your life.
  • Using an email address in multiple places put you are risk.
  • Having ever given your telephone number, email address, or Social Security number to a business puts you at risk.
  • Having friends who know your email address or your phone number puts you at risk.
  • Not knowing the underlying tech infrastructure of the online services you use puts you at risk.
  • Browsing the web puts you at risk.

If you are going to be engaging in the kind of activism that will put you in a government's crosshairs, and you have a sincere, evidence-based belief that you are going to be targeted by a government because of your activities, and you want to protect yourself, you need to do some serious, hard-core curation of your available information online. You are not going to fix your problems by installing Tor and using two-factor authentication on your Gmail account. You are not going to fix your problems by any tip sheet that is currently being circulated around Twitter. And you are not going to fix your problems easily. It is difficult to address this kind of situation without a major life change. For most of us, resources would be better spent on lobbying the companies we do business with to mitigate the damage from these kind of practices writ large. That is to say, not necessarily helping ourselves, but trying to diminish the surveillance state as a whole.

Here's a very brief summation of the problem. Okay, not so brief. Be Afraid. )

tl;dr

If you are seriously worried and have good reason to be exceptionally careful:

  • Encrypt everything.
  • Only use cloud services where you explicitly trust the host and know their policy about government requests for information, third-party vendors, and their third-party vendors' similar policies.
  • Only use throwaway cell phone numbers, email addresses, and credit card numbers to do business.
  • Never, ever use social media.

For the rest of us, well. Here's what we can do.

  • Take a deep breath and acknowledge that any reasonably competent government and sufficiently well-off corporation already knows anything about us that it wants to.
  • Protect our devices and our accounts from explicit hacking.
  • Lobby for institutional change in the surveillance state and the industrial panopticon.
  • Stop panicking.

And seriously, folks. Install 1Password, KeePass, or some other locally hosted password manager, and switch to unique and difficult passwords for every account you have. And then install Ghostery on your browsers.

And don't panic about this. Be concerned, and be careful, but panicking is counterproductive; the cat is so far out of the bag for most of us that there is not even cat hair left. We have a lot more to panic about than whether the government can find us.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
New project DictationBridge will make screen readers play nicely with dictation software: speech-to-text working well with text-to-speech! So excited about this. The first revision will be NVDA and Windows Speech Recognition, followed by Dragon NaturallySpeaking, and eventually other screen readers.

It's being billed as for blind and VI people with RSI, but as a sighted RSI accessibility programmer I am going to love this. Also since I have a cordless headset I might become a person who full-on computes while cooking.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I dislike using ad-blockers, in general. I know investigative journalism and online fiction are both expensive to produce, and I want to support all of those content creators. To that end, I wish there were an ad broker that worked closely with the maintainers of Ad Block Plus and Ghostery, and committed to only providing ads which were guaranteed to (within reason):
  • Contain no malware
  • Contain no trackers
  • Contain no data scrapers or other hostile code
  • Not require risky tech (eg. Flash) to run
  • Not move

I know, that last one is unusual. That's an accessibility thing more than anything else; animated ads tend to use scripting rather than animated gifs for their movement (thus ignoring browser animation settings), frequently ignore WCAG, and -- my reason for loathing them -- are often a migraine trigger for me.

I used to browse with NoScript everywhere, but these days that breaks more of the web than not. Instead, I browse with Ghostery to make myself safe; I had to whitelist a few websites which break with Google Analytics off, and had to whitelist some of the A/B testing platforms and video CDNs, but otherwise that leaves the web fully functional. But I still have to use ABP to block two things: obtrusive animations, and links to clickbait sites which are disguised to look like links from the host site, and which frequently redirect to dangerous, malware-infested pages. (Actually, Ghostery catches most of those, too.)

I would be fine with ads plastered all over websites as long as they weren't highly likely to be malicious or dangerous to me! If ABP makes enough of a dent, I suppose, perhaps there'll be demand for it.

I'd kind of like to put some non-JS tracking code in my company's site to see how many hits we get with Ghostery on or JS off (though we're non-functional without JS, sigh.)
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Marco Zehe writes "Apps, the web, and productivity" about his experience with improved accessibility/usability of native apps over web apps on mobile. My experience in many ways mirrors his, although I would go further and say I have found the same thing on desktop.

For example, I honestly did assume that once I was forced by a job to use Gmail, that I would discover features of Gmail that outweigh the power and accessibility of a mail application. I understand that I am a change-averse Luddite, and suspected that using Alpine my primary mail reader in this day and age was indicative of a slight flaw in my character.

But now that I have been using Gmail with some regularity, it has become abundantly clear to me that no webmail client I've used (Gmail, roundcube, web Outlook in accessibility mode or in rich mode) has the speed, power, and accessibility for me of using the dedicated mail application.

Marco boils his reasons for switching to native apps down to less clutter and latency . I'd say both of those are issues for me as well, just as much as simply saying "accessibility" -- although they are both inextricably tied to accessibility for me.

A cluttered screen -- especially a screen with one of those damn non-scrolling JS banners taking up screen real estate -- is one that requires more scrolling, which is inherently difficult to do without a mouse. Even on desktop, my monitors are smaller and my fonts larger than they used to be, and the design of web apps has gotten less streamlined, substantially, over the last few years.

Meanwhile, the annoying wait-till-it-loads aspect of the web app is a lot more annoying when I am waiting for mouseless browsing to see all of the page elements so it can put actionable links next to them. It's a lot more annoying when I can't start interacting with the page until it is fully loaded, unlike a mouse user who can start to move the mouse towards the expected area of the page.

Ultimately, it comes down to a combination of both spoons and basic UX. Like a lot of computer users with disabilities, the extra cost of using the computer is high enough for me that every aggravation that gets thrown in my way is one more blocker that possibly prevents me from being able to work at all. And as for basic UX, well. Like a lot of techies, I'm used to the power and speed of the keyboard-based environment. I honestly have no idea how people used to a powerful, lightning-fast, terminal-based mail application become comfortable with the clunky latency of webmail.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
interesting side effect of my own adaptive tech with the adaptive tech I am currently using to test websites:

For myself, I am using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Also for myself, I have the "hey Siri" functionality enabled on my phone. (Hey, Apple, thank you so much for that functionality – it is really making a major difference in my life.) And I'm currently testing a website with the screen reader NVDA.

End result, sometimes me, my computer, and my telephone get into some really unexpected conversations.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
In the general pool of "people who have something to say about Web accessibility," the only reason I don't call myself an expert is because I have a deep aversion to calling myself an expert anything. I am sitting here right now trying to come up with jokes about where I do have expertise -- napping? reading? cat snuggling? -- and I am actually talking myself down from all of them.

I implement and explain the accessibility standards. I test for accessibility on all spectra except cognitive. I write accessible HTML and JS, and debug other people's code. I teach and present on the the bureaucratic, technical, and content aspects of creating an accessible web. I know where my weaknesses are (cognitive accessibility, legal aspects, mobile, etc), but I know where to turn to complement those weaknesses. All in all, I have always been confident in my knowledge in any room full of accessibility professionals.

Then I got involved with the W3C.

Now that I'm co-leading the accessibility folks for the Digital Publishing Interest Group, I'm basically floored every day my how much sheer knowledge there is on the team. Sure, I have a lot in the can about straightforward web accessibility, but there's so much more regarding the interactions between accessibility and digital publishing, and my colleagues know it.
deborah: The management regrets that it was unable to find a Gnomic Utterance that was suitably irrelevant. (gnomic)
Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day! I'm very excited about the presentation I'll be giving tonight (that's grown from this one) at Fresh Tilled Soil's Boston GAAD event. I'm looking forward to the other speakers, as well; I've been reading Kel Smith's book, actually.

I want to give a very brief overview of how I use technology, since enough people have asked. I'm including the various technologies (hardware and software) I use, as well as some of their perks and frustrations. Part one is my non-mobile experience: Windows, Linux, Mac.

For context, I used to be about 99% hands-free, and now I am more like 80% for actual coding/writing and maybe 50% for just dicking around online. Hooray, vast improvement! But I still have 100% hands-free days, and I need to be able to control the computer completely. I'm a programmer in my day job, and in my free time I sysadmin, code open source, write book reviews, and spend a lot of time on social media. In other words, I'm on a device the vast majority of my waking hours.

Operating Systems, Software, Hardware: Cut for length )
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
(There's some non-screenreader friendly text in here, because the nature of the documentation I'm pasting in includes very long alphanumeric hashes. When you get to them just skip over them.)

Sometimes, because you are not looking at two different branches or a pull request or something such as that, you don't have access to the "compare" options from the github UI. However, you can build the URL manually. The documentation gives it as

http://github.com/USER/REPO/compare/[START...]END


Where USER and REPO are obvious, and START and END are branch names, tag names, or commit SHA1s specifying the range of history to compare. If is omitted, the repository's default branch is assumed.


So https://github.com/dreamwidth/dw-free/compare/08d335399862f0557311caa4ccd530b17c1a18b3...HEAD

Can get me to a diff view of everything from the commit with SHA1 08d335399862f0557311caa4ccd530b17c1a18b3 as its label (this is the long string in the URL of any commit) to the HEAD revision, which is to say, the current revision.

Fun times!
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Free Government Infomation's Best. Titles. Ever. is back! It's now a tumblr, it's hilarious as ever, and it's managed by the amazing Aimee. Come for the lulz, stay for the muskrat meat. Thanks, GPO and Pueblo, Colarado.

This mab of the London Tube is rendered entirely in CSS! It's hasn't taken advantage of that for accessibility, but it'd be easy: a positioned off-screen header before each line, some text to announce junctions of two lines.

In response to "Of 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, just 93 were about black people":

Christopher Myers: "The Apartheid of Children’s Literature" in the NYT.

The mission statements of major publishers are littered with intentions, with their commitments to diversity, to imagination, to multiculturalism, ostensibly to create opportunities for children to learn about and understand their importance in their respective worlds. During my years of making children’s books, I’ve heard editors and publishers bemoan the dismal statistics, and promote this or that program that demonstrates their company’s “commitment to diversity.” With so much reassurance, it is hard to point fingers, but there are numbers and truths that stand in stark contrast to the reassurances.


And père. Walter Dean Myers: Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books?

Simple racism, I thought. On reflection, though, I understood that I was wrong. It was racism, but not simple racism. My white co-worker had simply never encountered a black chemist before. Or a black engineer. Or a black doctor. I realized that we hired people not so much on their résumés, but rather on our preconceived notions of what the successful candidate should be like. And where was my boss going to get the notion that a chemist should be black?



deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Tressie McMillan Cottom isn't a techie; she's an academic specialising in "education, inequality, and organizations". I've been fascinated by her blogging on her research topic: for-profit education. Tressie has worked in both for-profit and non-profit, so she has a bigger grasp of the distinctions than many of us who are advocates for one side or the other.

Anyway, today -- presumably not for Ada Lovelace Day; Tressie's not, as I said, in tech -- she coincidentally posted: "One of These Things is Not Like The Other: Speaking While Black."

On the trip from the ballroom to the lounge I was stopped by three black hotel staff workers. I’m used to this. They are often older, but not always. Either way, they’ve worked in places like the Hilton for many years and they have rarely, if ever, seen someone who looks like me — like them — on the stage. They want me to know they’re proud of me. I’m a good southern girl so I mind my manners and my elders. I say yes ma’am, I’m in school. Yes, sir, my momma sure is proud of me. Thank you for praying for me.

Even my colleagues make a point of telling me that they are proud, of acknowledging my existence. A loquacious, entertaining, generous senior professor from Illinois bee-lined towards me as I found an empty seat. He didn’t even bother with introductions, as family is liable to do. He just started in with, “i sure did like seeing you up there.” I know what he means but he wants me to be clear. He goes on to tell me how long he has come to events like this and how rarely he has seen a brown face at the front of the “big room”

He asked what, by the end of the day, I was asked about half a dozen times: “how did that happen?!”


We're making excellent (if slow) inroads into getting more female representation of speakers at tech conferences. I hope we're ready to make similar inroads with the vast racial disparity (at least at every tech conference I've ever attended, in the US and in Europe).

Tressie's post is illuminating. She's a model for me, even though our fields of interested don't overlap at all.

Happy Ada Lovelace Day, everybody.

And, hey, just to make this an official Ada Lovelace Day post, here's to Kimberly Bryant, founder of the amazing Black Girls Code. I don't know that much about her that I haven't read in press for BGC, but that's impressive enough:

Kimberly’s daughter, who is currently in middle school, has been interested in technology and an avid gamer since the age of 8. Several years ago, after realizing her daughter would frequently get bored with videogames, Kimberly wanted to show her how to make one and enrolled her in a summer game development program at Stanford. “It was a great experience for her,” explains Kimberly. “But there were only about 3 girls out of approximately 25 students and she was the only person of color enrolled.”

As a result of these experiences, Kimberly decided to launch Black Girls CODE, a nonprofit that encourages young minority women to pursue a career in technology by providing them with workshops and after-school programs focused on a wide range of tech-related topics. “Our goal,” Kimberly explains, “is to address the gender and diversity gap in technology and to feed girls into the STEM pipeline as early in their development years as possible.”


--"Kimberly Bryant, Black Girls Code"
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
For a project at work (CIDER) we're using git pretty extensively, with an adapted version of the git-flow model. For all that I'm finding myself becoming a release engineer all over again -- not a career I intended to move back towards, but what can you do? -- I'm really enjoying our development model so far.

Our model is that people do all their work on spot branches, except for ongoing subtle improvements to template toolkit files, which has been happening on a single long-lived branch. When a fix is made the developer makes a pull request. One of the other two of our three core developers -- in practice always me -- does a quick code review, and tests it in our development environment just by doing git checkout --track origin/[branch] (or, in the case of the long-lived branch, git checkout [branch];git pull and running the Web server against the new contents of the directory. When it's tested in the development environment, we just accept the pull request and do a git pull in the production directory.

It's nothing fancy or unusual -- basically git-flow without continuous integration. But over the years of using CVS, RCS, subversion, and perforce, only perforce has given me anything close to as much satisfaction in the release management, and perforce wouldn't work for our current model (where one of our developers is a remote contractor).

Of course I also like using the same environment and tools for work and for dreamwidth, because it takes away the cognitive cost of switching when I come home and decide to work on dreamwidth.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (loc)
I'm used to thinking of myself as having an invisible disability, because out in the real world, I do. It just occurred to me that in the Internet, where nobody knows you a use a wheelchair unless you tell them so, my disability has a tendency towards the visible. I probably let through about 5% of my dictation errors in blog posts but 40% of my dictation errors in online chat; people who regularly interact with me chatting online have learned to decipher the bizarre word salad that sometimes comes through. If I'm communicating (chat, Twitter, e-mail) on a mobile device, my recognition errors get even weirder, because the mobile recognition has its own strange features.

So to people with whom I communicate online, I have this big obvious disability. But in person, I pass for able-bodied. Sure, I'm usually carrying this very strange bag around my waist, and I'm usually not clicking away with my laptop in public, and sometimes I'm wearing one of those Bluetooth headsets that has a big flashing light in order to make you look like a jerk who spends all day on a Bluetooth headset. But I don't look not able-bodied, I just look strange.

It's just odd that most people pass on the Internet, whereas for me, the Internet is one of the only places I don't pass. (Technically I could pass if I proofread better, but proofreading is really difficult in IM/IRC.)


On an entirely unrelated note, I just registered for my first ALA Annual. It seems terrifyingly large, but I'm required to go for the Odyssey committee. (Odyssey Committee FTW!) Booking my flight on Egencia was a wonder of accessible web design, where even the seat selector was fully keyboard accessible. The ALA Annual scheduling website, however... Not so much. I suppose it's no surprise. Every few years ALA redesigns all of their websites to be worse than they were before. :(
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I've been involved with a lot of non-profits over the years, and as I watch the current round of drama around the OTW elections and code rollout, I can only think how normal, even minor, this drama seems as non-profit drama goes. I know that's cold comfort to the people who are miserable, piled upon, abused, or what-have-you, but it comforts me, because I know there's nothing unusually wrong.

Some observations from the peanut gallery )

I do wish I had participated in one of the candidate chats, because I would have asked whether all roles are expected to be volunteer indefinitely. I don't know of any organizations who have managed to do systems administration in a completely volunteer way. Naomi, I think, understands the difficulties of why systems is so difficult to do as volunteer, and I'd like to know what she and the other candidates think about possible solutions to that problem.

In any case, everyone I've worked with at the OTW has been great: the angry people and the placid people, the burnt out people and driven people, the people who focus on the Archive as the flagship of the organization and the people who think the Archive already draws too many resources away from other projects. Like many nonprofits, the organization's biggest source of friction is that there are too many bright people who care passionately. I'm not going to downplay how very real a problem that is for sustainability. But on the other hand... Well. I think I've absorbed too much business-ese lately, because I'm thinking that if I were going to do a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats analysis of the OTW, the "too many bright people who care passionately" would be both Opportunity and Threat.




As a side note: The AO3, from the inside, does a better job of automated tests (in that it has them) and QA than most other software projects I know, and yes, Dreamwidth is nowhere near as good at the OTW at these, I saw you people over there claiming that DW does it better. I've seen inside both sausage factories. Software development is hard, yo, Anyone who thinks crappy releases never see the public has never used Windows Vista.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I love Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I couldn't be employed or a member of online communities without it. But that doesn't mean there aren't things about it that make me gnash my teeth. Here are my top three quality-of-life-affecting bugs which have been introduced in the past couple of versions:

  1. The newly introduced inability to use "spell" commands in the flow of normal dictation. It used to be that an utterance could be "And the characters are named Bob, Lily, spell echo india lima oscar november whiskey yankee, and Ahmed." Now there has to be a pause-for-command on either side of the spelling command: "And the characters are named Bob, Lily, [BREAK] spell spacebar echo india lima oscar november whiskey yankee [BREAK], and Ahmed." Unless you dictate all the time you might not realize how incredibly disruptive it is to thought and flow to have to break like that. In my daily life there are any number of words I have to dictate with spelling commands which are just not worth adding to the dictionary, because I might dictate them three times total. The way it used to work was perfect. (Version 11 change, I think. It might have been version 10.)

  2. The brand-new feature of the sleeping microphone to hear random background noise as a "wake-up" command. It's become comical how frequently I'm speaking with a friend or coworker and I suddenly have to indicate silence while I say "go to sleep. Go to sleep. Go to sleep," while meanwhile my computer processes whatever utterances at has heard in the interim, often to exceedingly disruptive effect. If you use a computer hands-free, using the "microphone off" command instead of the "go to sleep" command is pretty much impossible, at least without some kind of foot switch. I really hoped this bug was going to be fixed in the first NaturallySpeaking 11 patch, but instead they just introduced new commands for direct tweeting and Facebooking. (Version 11 change)

  3. The dropped letters/doubled letters in non-Select and Say windows. This didn't used to happen. If you complain about it to Nuance, they just say they don't support non-Select and Say windows. It's really bad, and happens non-deterministically. Sometimes the first character of a dual-key sequence gets dropped, so, for example, "select all" turns into "a" (since "select all" is "control-a"). (Version 10, I think)


Aside from the bugs, here are my top Dragon feature requests:

  1. A couple of versions ago, Dragon introduced the ability to operate (e.g. Select, bold, delete) on a word which is repeated multiple times in the window. You say something such as "bold Dragon", and a number appears next to all of the incidences of the word "Dragon". Then all the dictator needs to say is "choose 2" to choose the second incidence of the word "Dragon." This is fabulous. Now, Nuance, could you add this feature that when I say "choose 2" Dragon hears me uttering the command "choose 2", and not the dictated text "choose 2"? Four times out of five, Dragon thinks I am saying anything other than "please select the item with the big red 2 next to it". (I'm calling this a new feature, not a bug to fix, because it never really worked right.)

  2. I would love a revamp of the advanced command editor and the Command Browser in general. It is, ironically, fairly difficult to navigate all of the features of the Command Browser via voice . It's also difficult to do any kind of nuanced sharing of commands between two different computers. And while revamping the Command Browser/advanced command editor interface, is there any way the documentation could get a revamp as well? Those "advanced command editing with Dragon version #" books are pretty basic, and don't get into the rich features in any depth.

  3. Could there please be the ability to press the Windows key in an advanced command? The Windows key is not the same as CTRL-ESC, although both of them pull up the Windows start menu. It is a single key which sends its own key binding, and multitude of programs require the Windows key in particular.

  4. Could you consider working with vendors who make other accessibility tools (e.g. JAWS, NVDA, Qwitter) for better interoperability? Right now, it's impossible to use any of those tools entirely hands-free with NaturallySpeaking, unless you buy the $900 J-Say package to interface with JAWS.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
It looks like dreamwidth really wants to make a final decision (well, final for now) on what to do about alt and title attributes on userpics. As of right now there are only two users of screenreaders or other non-graphical browsers participating in the poll and conversation. Please, especially if you are a screenreader user or have other accessibility needs which give you opinions about mouseover and alternative text, take the poll, join the conversation.

And it's my bug, so then I will code it. In my copious free time. *grin*
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Along with Anne Sauer and Eliot Wilczek, I've just had a new paper published: "Archival Description in OAI-ORE", in the Journal of Digital Information, a free, green open access journal. This is a version of a paper which we presented last year at Open Repositories 2010, and mercifully, has been greatly improved since the draft of the paper I wrote while running a temperature of 102°.

This paper, by the way, is our attempt to COMPLETELY REVOLUTIONIZE ARCHIVES AND CHANGE THE LAWS OF PHYSICS. Sort of. Revolutionize archival description using new technology, anyway. Changing the laws of physics will have to wait until we get grant funding.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
An open letter to those implementing mobile device accessibility:

I know that hands-free mobile device control is difficult, and I am grateful for the amount of voice control which has been implemented so far. The ability to dial a number, send a text, send an e-mail, or leave a memo are all useful. Now here's what I would like to see next:

  • A microphone which stays on until turned off, rather than tap-to-speak. I understand this could have implications for users who don't know how to use it, but then, the same goes for having a telephone in the first place.

  • A 36-item vocabulary, probably native to the phone, of the letters in the alpha-bravo alphabet and the digits 0-9.

  • The ability to start an app installed on the phone by saying "start [app name]". E.g. "start Angry Birds". (No, I have no idea how to control Angry Birds by voice. I just don't know the name of a lot of mobile applications, as I don't have one, because I still can't use one. Hence this post.)

  • A seven-item vocabulary, probably native to the phone, that can be used in webpages: page up; page down; back; forward; show numbers; go to address; press enter. "Show numbers" would put a number next to every clickable or selectable element (much like the Firefox extension mouseless browsing), allowing those items to be selected by dictating from the digit vocabulary.

  • The command "microphone off".

  • The command "dictate here", allowing the user to open up a remote-processed standard dictation window in any field or application.


Now, I will admit that I have never done any mobile programming, and I have no idea what the limitations are for vocabulary recognition. Am I mistaken in my belief that adding another 46 items to the local-to-the-device vocabulary (on top of the ones that already exist such as "send a memo to") is something a contemporary mobile device should be able to handle?

As a bonus, I see in the Android accessibility best practices that all applications should be designed to pay attention to the directional controller as well as just the touchscreen. Great, that opens up the possibility for four more voice commands: up, down, left, and right. That brings us up to 50 desirable items in the native vocabulary.

Can your phone handle that? And if not, can the next generation of your phone handle that? And if not, why not?



(Geeze, I'm starting to feel like I should add HV1569.5 to my default icon.)
deborah: The management regrets that it was unable to find a Gnomic Utterance that was suitably irrelevant. (gnomic)
I'd like you to meet my new friend, who is totally 1337. Her name? BARBIE.

Many images behind the cut, as well as description. )

I do understand that computer engineer Barbie is kinda subversive, kinda hegemonic. If nothing else, she's still Barbie. But right now I'm focusing on glee. She's not a pretty pretty princess or prom queen: she's a hacker extraordinaire.

Besides, with two older sisters, this is the first time I've ever had a brand-new Barbie before.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
There are two tools I really wish libraries had, and would pay for as services. Somebody needs to build them. Are you listening, OCLC or LibraryThing?

  • NetFlix for ILL. I'd like to be able to queue up a list of books (like my list of books I need to read at worldcat) and have a system where one of them would be ordered for me through interlibrary loan, and each time I returned the book, it would automatically order the next thing on the book for me from interlibrary loan, no more effort from the required.

  • I'd like to have a system where other people could add books to that list. In fact, I'd like to have a system where I could subscribe to certain people who recommend books, and everything they recommend would automatically get pushed onto my queue. That way I wouldn't have the system where I leave the tabs open for months and finally add all of the recommended books, slowly and painstakingly, to my queue.


Come on, future. Make up for being a sketchy, racist place full of dying corals and failed drug wars by giving me convenient tools for checking out books from the library.

... When I put it that way, I am clearly an extremely shallow person.
deborah: The management regrets that it was unable to find a Gnomic Utterance that was suitably irrelevant. (gnomic)
The Norton Anthology Contest


Between September 15 and November 15, college and high school students worldwide are invited to submit an original online video, between 30 seconds and 5 minutes in length, depicting a work from a Norton Anthology. Creativity is encouraged! Students may choose to act out a scene from a play, compose a song based on a favorite poem, even create a claymation movie or puppet show of a short story.


I'm assuming this is a very US-centric description, despite the "worldwide" element, and by "college" they mean "student in an undergraduate degree program". (Why yes, I am sensitive about once having had it explained to me that the explainer's children were better than me because they hadn't gone to college but university.)

Anyway! This is wonderful! And yes, Norton anthology of children's literature is one of the eligible anthologies. :D
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