It has come to my attention that many in the web standards gang are feeling grumpy about some Full Stack Developers’ lack of deep knowledge about HTML.
many of the biggest blindness organizations are sitting atop a mountain of cash while spending relatively little on programs for the people they state they are helping.
Use & publish visible data for humans first, machines second. Hiding @, #, and other cruft in links that send webmentions.
For many years, my definition of “Democratize Publishing” has been simply to help make the web a more open place. That foundation begins with the software itself, as outlined by the Four Freedoms: ... In 2018, the mission of “Democratize Publishing” to me means that people of all backgrounds, interests, and abilities should be able to access Free-as-in-speech software that empowers them to express themselves on the open web and to own their content.
How to pull interactions from social media platforms like Twitter back to your own site, using Webmentions, webmention.io and Bridgy.
How to automatically publish content from a static site on Twitter, using Eleventy and Netlify's lambda functions.
I’ve been using Brid.gy since I started using Webmentions on this site, to get mentions from silos (Twitter mostly) back to the contents. This is an awesome service.
If you’re a GitHub user, but you don’t pay, this is a good week. Historically, GitHub always offered free accounts but the caveat was that your code had to be public. To get private repositories, you had to pay. Starting tomorrow, that limitation is gone. Free GitHub users now get unlimited private repositories.
Content creation is hard work, and I need to get back into the swing of it. I have several lengthy tutorials sitting in my drafts, and I need to finish them, and I think the only real way to get back into the swing of content creation is to practice. So I’ve decided to take up this blogging challenge so that I can do that, as well as find new content to read and absorb. There are a lot of things floating around my brain regarding business, the tech landscape, and the web development landscape specifically, and I’d like to start getting those things out of my brain and onto my website where I can flesh them out better. My plan is to not turn over all my thoughts to social media platforms and instead document them on my own site, linking to them in larger posts where appropriate, and of course changing them when appropriate. Plus this will be a really great way to share what I learn by sharing my notes on the books I’m reading, (there are several professional development as well as technical books on my anticipated reading list for 2019), as well as the articles written by others, especially experts in particular fields like accessibility. I’m looking forward to this, and I think it will be a lot of fun. If you want to sign up, I believe there’s still time left to join. No pressure or anything, but it’s a great way to start owning your own content if you haven’t started doing that already.
Until next time.
I suspect that, as a general rule, open source treats the open web the same way that corporate software companies like Apple or Microsoft treat open source: It’s existence and that there are people to take care of it for you while you do the flashy stuff is taken for granted. As a result of this and many other things we, (at least in the US), have a situation where Facebook and Twitter are treated as the web, and then we’re all subjected to displays of incompetence, stupidity, and grifting that will eventually end up defining any possible laws we end up with when it comes to web things. I’d make grifting a link, but I refuse to link to anything related to Diamond and Silk, or any of the completely willfully ignorant comments by Ben Schapiro on this topic. Plus, there’s just way too much material. Fellow hackers, I think it’s time for our typical hands-off approach to anything but our code to end. We have to get involved, because if we don’t, it’s just going to get stupider as we go along, until the stupid gets boring and/or ineffective and it becomes actual malice, assuming we aren’t already to the malice bit. I’m holding out hope we’re still in the stupid portion though because that means we still have time to get off our asses and get involved.
By default, WordPress supports png files to its media library. However, some hosts, (including mine), will block some filetypes for security reasons. In my case, one of the off-limits filetypes is png (image) files. You can change this by either employing the appropriate filter through code in either your theme’s functions.php file or a custom functionality plugin, as long as your host is not already using the appropriate filter to block said filetypes. I don’t plan on spending my afternoon trying to guess the priority I need to use to try to get around this. You can allow any filetype to be uploaded through WordPress’s wp-config.php file. If your host is blocking certain filetypes from being uploaded for whatever reason, they will likely not appreciate your using the wp-config constant, because when I say allow all filetypes, I really do mean allow all filetypes, or at least all filetypes supported by your web server software, which is quite an extensive list and really could introduce some security issues due to the way WordPress handles attachments: They’re a post type. Since I find myself in a situation where I need to upload a png file to my site for use as a featured image for a post, I needed a solution that was none of these and that was also accessible to a screen reader user.
Dealing with images is difficult when you can’t see them. Converting between image formats without compromising the quality of the original image is also difficult. If you’re sighted, you’d probably open the original file in your favorite image manipulation software, tweek compression rates and other stuff, and then re-save in the format you need. Most image manipulation software is inaccessible however, and so this method is off limits. So, I needed to find a tool I could use.
PNG2JPG meets all my requirements, and it might meet yours as well. It has a very simple interface, including a traditional browse button for uploading files, and it will handle all the background compression for you and return a jpg file which perserves the quality of the image. You can then upload the returned file because it’s likely your host isn’t blocking jpg files since that’s the most common image format and they’d likely lose customers hand over fist, even if they could claim a security reason for blocking that format.
If you find yourself in the same position I did, this tool should hopefully save you a lot of time, at least if you’re converting png files to jpg and you don’t feel like pinging a sighted person who’s good with images and has the right kind of software. Enjoy, and I hope you find it useful.
There are a couple of things which stood out to me in this episode. First, the discussion about online versus offline identities. The idea that online and offline are somehow separate is an idea that I think is pretty common, and if I understand Greg correctly, he’s basically saying that there really isn’t a difference between online and offline. I have to agree. In my experience, the separation between identities is usually maintained by people who are particularly rude or trollish to other humans, and then when called on it, come back with, “Oh, that’s just online” or “that’s just Twitter”. Still going with my understanding of what Greg is saying in this podcast, I have to agree. There’s no difference between the online and offline you. If you treat people with little respect online, there’s a good chance you’ll treat those same people with little respect offline as well, and I don’t think the arbitrary separation between online and offline should be allowed to remain.
The second thing I found interesting in this episode is that Greg’s son uses a screen reader to read CSS and other code documentation because he’s in the third grade and therefore reading that kind of documentation is still difficult. I think there are a few things to be gleaned from this. First is the reminder that not all people who use screen readers are blind. I’ve always understood this on an intellectual level but I don’t think I’ve ever run into a real-life non-blind human who also uses a screen reader, so I’m somewhat fascinated and I think I want to pick Greg’s son’s brain and/or watch him work with the screen reader so I can learn if there are any differences between how I use it and how he uses it. Also, out of pure curiosity, I’m interested in which screen reader he’s using.
I think it would be interesting to find out whether or not there might be some room for documentation, (for accessibility related topics and otherwise), that is geared toward a younger and possibly less technical audience. I’m aware of efforts which focus on educating high school students, but nothing for younger generations, and at the risk of coming across as one of those “code solves everything” people, I think we need to focus on groups younger than high school students as well. I have no idea how we solve this.
I’m also curious as to whether or not accessibility as a field could glean something from the generational approach Indieweb takes when it comes to onboarding new community members. This isn’t me trying to start an accessibility fight, or even necessarily criticize what’s come before, I’m just thinking out loud. We know that in order for designers and developers to bake accessibility in from the start of a project, they have to be trained at every level on the intricacies. I think it’s obvious that this is not happening, and I’m not sure the lack of knowledge on the part of designers and developers can solely be chalked up to laziness on their part. OK, I suppose that last is maybe slightly controversial. We also know that people who are not traditional designers and developers are building websites, and, barring the tools they use doing everything possible to output accessible markup and generally guide them through creating things which everyone can use, expecting that they are going to be trained on the intracacies of accessibility when designers and developers aren’t is, I would say, quixotic at best. I think Gutenberg, (the new WordPress editor), can play a role in at least this part of the problem, provided it gets its own house in order and is itself able to be used by everyone.
But anyway, back to the generational thing. The idea behind the indieweb generations is this:
Generations in the context of the IndieWeb refer to clusters of potential IndieWeb adopters in a series of waves that are expected to naturally adopt the IndieWeb for themselves and then help inform the next generation. Each generation is expected to lower barriers for adoption successively for the next generation.
(Full discussion of the “Generations” concept here, with links to other resources.) I see a parallel between this and things like the work that Microsoft is doing through its Microsoft Enable group. That’s not an exact match, because I don’t believe you should build webpages with Microsoft Word, for example, but I think it’s a pretty good template for doing things like making it easier for end-users to make things accessible, and I would like to see this mindset ported over to the web. The important part here though is that they’re also focusing on making it easier for people who use assistive technology to use their products, and I think that’s critical to all of this.
What I’m mostly thinking of though is making it easier for designers and developers to make the things they build accessible to everyone. The work Deque Systems began at this year’s WordCamp US is a really good example of this, and I’m excited to see how this plays out. I think the principle of “Manual until it hurts” also finds a home in the accessibility space, and I believe that ideally designers and developers would do all the accessibility things manually by learning HTML, CSS and the like until they completely understand the foundations of the web. I also know however that we aren’t living in an ideal world, and as much as those of us in the accessibility space scream until we’re blue in the face about learning foundational technologies deeply before learning the stuff that sits on top, this doesn’t seem to be scaling very well. I don’t know why that is and I don’t have a solution for the problem, but it seems to be where we are.
Anyway, that’s all the stuff that bounced around my brain while listening to the third episode of “My URL is”. If you’re interested, even mildly, in the idea of an open, independent web, I think you should check out the podcast.