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GAWDS Cracks The Whip

Relates to Web Standards and Accessibility

Yes, it is official! The Guild of Accessible Web Designers (GAWDS) makes its launch today, thanks to the dedicated work of Jim Bryne and the rest of the GAWDS members.

Accessibility goes far beyond preparing Web sites for disabled people. Accessibility is now shorthand for the adoption of core standards that benefit every user of the Internet and impact the bottom line of every business. GAWDS intends to promote these standards to instill in Web designers the high level of competence and professionalism required to unlock the full potential of the Internet. Jim Bryne, GAWDS Founder

While the public readily understands how inaccessible Web sites limit the flow of information to people with disabilities, many business owners fail to see the detrimental effects of inaccessible or non standards-based design on their bottom line. The number of user agents that still tolerate sloppy, invalid markup is shrinking. With the emergence of new technologies and devices, this means that client and consumer audiences are also shrinking for businesses that rely on old-style, idiosyncratic Web sites that make it difficult to parse content for re-use.Derek Featherstone, GAWDS Founding Member

Read the full press release to gain an insight into the objectives of GAWDS to bring Web Standards and Accessibility to the forefront of web design and development, and peruse the opinions of a number of members on the future and importance of accessibility. Then, once you have got a feel for the Guild, why not have a go at the site redesign competition to win a great prize and ultimate kudos!

Posted on May 26, 2004 at 05:00:33. [Comments for GAWDS Cracks The Whip- 0]

Google Flashback?

Relates to SEO

While performing some SEO on my mate's longboard skates site earlier this evening, I decided to have a quick play around with the -nonsense exclusion parameter on Google to see what it would bring up. This was a familiar technique during the early fallout of hurricane Florida to see pre-Florida results, which Google reportedly disabled prior to Christmas of last year. The following search phrase certainly bought up a different set of SERPs:

longboard skates -abcd

I took this further adding additional exclusion parameters to see if the SERPs changed. The surprise came when I hit eight parameters (giving the maximum 10 words allowed in a search query):

longboard skates -abcd -abcd -abcd -abcd -abcd -abcd -abcd -abcd

The top 20 results looked very familiar to the pre-Florida results for longboard skates when Still Stoked had maintained top placement for a considerable period of time. (And rightly so being not only the home of the Landsurfer, the world's longest production longboard skateboard, but also one of the first dedicated longboard skates companies in the UK.)

The recent rebuild of the site had actually been in response to the dramatic demise of the site following Florida - disappearing altogether from the top 100 results. It is satisfying to see that by following the guidelines for Web Standards and Accessibility the site is working its way back up the SERPs with each new visit from the Googlebot.

Since I am discussing Google hacks, why not have a look at Google Hacking Mini-Guide to learn some of the ways hackers can exploit Google's service.

Posted on May 22, 2004 at 01:30:52. [Comments for Google Flashback?- 0]

My Own Mini Troy!

Relates to Peregrinations

Is it mere coincidence that the day Troy opened nationwide in the UK, I start to receive regular attacks of Sokets de Trois v1. Trojan horse on Port 5000 and 5001? Perhaps some bored youth's prank or subterfuge from Symantec's own ranks - yes my current Achilles (name chosen with intent, though not bitter!?) is Norton IS. Ok the software appears to be doing its job, but how do I stop the constant security alerts from arising every couple of minutes!?

It took me the best part of an hour to track down the answer for my 2002 version, in the process discovering a whole darker realm of security settings hidden away in the Norton control panel. With the security alert for the trojan disabled, I found enabling the View Event Log in the Tray Menu tab of the NIS options beneficial - to keep a less intrusive but watchful eye on the continued attacks from Sokets de Trois.

A week has passed but the attacks still persist, although regularity seems to have diminished. I hope the film lives up to the legend!

Posted on May 22, 2004 at 00:45:18. [Comments for My Own Mini Troy!- 0]

Next Link Misleads Logs

Relates to Web Standards and Accessibility, Apache, Firefox and Co

This is a very annoying quirk that took me far too long to track down! When calling pages on my test platform using a new caching system and a package of builder classes for parsing XML based metadata a second call for a page was being made to the server. In short, the page in question was that defined as next in the relative links:

<link rel="next"
           title="Description of the page/>

At first I thought this was down to a coding error in one of the PHP classes. Fortunately browsing the HTTP headers and a timely flick through the HTML 4.01 Specification abated my growing frustration. The specification states the following for the next link type:

Refers to the next document in a linear sequence of documents. User agents may choose to preload the "next" document, to reduce the perceived load time. http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/types.html#type-links

Well it is the second sentence that is clearly significant here. The second call for a page to the server abides to the above recommendation. In fact on further scrutiny I discovered this problem is distinctive to Mozilla family which utilise the link toolbar (I did not take further time out to test on Opera).

I see a major conflict in this. The relative links have been adopted as important elements for accessible navigation and are a recommended technique for achieving several guidelines in the WCAG at level 2 and 3. Yet, as long as user-agents abide to the above statement regarding the next link type, there is a conflict of interest between attaining accessibility and maintaining reliable web server logs! This is especially so with Webalizer, the most popular open source software for producing tabular and graphical statistics from Apache's Common Logfile Format. For each pre-loading call to the webserver will register an additional page hit for that page in the access log. If the user actually visits the page via the next link a second page impression will be registered!

Fortunately for once, Exploder is beneficial here, since it has no idea whatsoever about relative links, and therefore the above over-logging will not occur. Sadly this may explain why on a number of my clients sites (this site included) Mozilla and co are falsely striving into the lead on the browser stakes! One solution may be to flush out the pre-loading entries by looking for calls for two separate pages from the same IP address within a second or two of each other. If I can find a minute may call for some Awk and Sed.

Posted on May 22, 2004 at 00:42:26. [Comments for Next Link Misleads Logs- 0]


Relates to Surfing

I have got to just boast quickly about one of the greatest weeks of river surfing I have ever experienced! I can't really say when or where I surfed, since I am sworn to secrecy, suffice to say that thanks to the mighty Wizard, and our legendary Skipper, I possibly surfed a wave previously unridden (not something many surfers can say nowadays), and over six tides clocked the best part of 15 miles (24 km), much of it carving on open faces - that's more than a half marathon!

This weekend the legs are aching…!

Posted on May 09, 2004 at 16:06:15. [Comments for Bore-tastic!- 0]

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