February 2007 Archive

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February 26, 2007

Leaving Clackmannanshire

@ 5:10 PM

On Thursday last week I tenedered my resignation at Clackmannanshire Council. I'll be leaving in April to concentrate on Champion Internet Solutions (external link), its consultancy and training services and some in-house projects, including Revish (external link).

I'm sad to be leaving so many great people behind, especially my immediate colleagues in Communications at Clackmannanshire - my 4 years in the team have whizzed by, which means I must have enjoyed it. But it's tempered by the exciting prospect of working closely with Ian Dunmore, Nick Hill and the other bods at Public Sector Forums (external link) - we've established a strategic partnership and the fit is close to perfect.

So on 19th April I become a free agent. Needless to say if you're interested in working with Champion IS on any forthcoming projects, or want a chat about possible collaborations, please contact me via the company site (external link).

February 8, 2007

USAJOBS vs Section 508

@ 2:24 PM

It's never truly comforting, but the aphorism "there's always someone worse off than you" can at least make you take a more circumspect view of your own place in the world, if only for a short time. In the past I've been critical of the UK government for producing inaccessible websites, both because it's the wrong thing to do, and because it fails to meet the government's own standards. But this morning I came across USAJOBS (external link), "the official job site of the United States Federal Government". For once the UK government almost shines in comparison.

Can someone please tell me if I'm missing something here? It's like going back in time. I can hear Prince singing 1999 in the background, Boo.com are burning their way through $100 million, IT contractors the world over are filling their pockets as business panics about the millennium bug. And USAJOBS is being built. At least that's what it looks like to me.

Just how can the Federal Government, responsible for Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (external link), procure and promote such a poor service? I'm not going to list the problems the site has, just go and have a quick look yourself. Treat it like one of those puzzles where they give you a target score for making words out of a bundle of letters. Your target is 6,744.

In my opinion this type of failure does more damage to the accessibility cause than anything else. USAJOBS should be an exemplar of accessible design. How can we expect businesses and web developers to take accessibility seriously when there is such a fundamental lack of adherence to standards by the very body that sets those standards?

Comment on USAJOBS vs Section 508 (2)

February 5, 2007

Revish entering testing

@ 1:20 PM

RevishAs previously mentioned, I'm currently working on a new book review and community site, Revish (external link). While the idea has been in my head since @media last year, development proper only started in October, with a 6-week break over the holiday period when I had other things on.

In the last two weeks the site has come on leaps and bounds, and later this week I'll be opening it up to a small number of users for testing, with a target launch date of March.

It's been a great experience so far, and I've thoroughly enjoyed developing something totally unrelated to local government, and something for myself rather than for a private client. I've learned a huge amount, going beyond my comfort zone in many areas and still trying to break out of it in others (like marketing!). It's going to be a little nerve-wracking letting real users loose on it - while 3 close colleagues have been helping out I know I'm far too close to the project to have an objective view!

We're almost full for testers now, but if you sign-up for email updates at the Revish registration page (external link) there will be another opportunity soon.

Highland Fling 2007

@ 1:00 PM

Highland Fling is an annual one-day conference in Scotland aimed at web developers and businesses with an interest in web standards and accessibility. This is its inaugural year, and I have to say Alan White (external link) has done a fantastic job attracting some of the biggest names to Scotland, including Jeremy Keith, Andy Clarke, James Edwards, Andy Budd, Chris Heilmann, Drew McLellan and Mark Norman Francis.

The theme of the day is progressive enhancement, and it's only 99 quid for early birds. I'll say that again. Only 99 quid!

I'm signed up, and am looking forward to a cracking day. It's on 5th April at the Symposium Hall in Edinburgh. Full details over at the Highland Fling website (external link), or at upcoming.org (external link).