June 2007 Archive

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June 8, 2007

@media 2007 London: day one retrospective

@ 8:10 AM

A quick take on the talks I saw yesterday at @media:

Jesse James Garrett, Beyond Ajax

He's clearly a very smart and successful bloke, and it was a tough ask to follow Jeffrey Zeldman and Eric Meyer in delivering the keynote, which is maybe why I was somewhat disappointed. Some great snippets of content and ideas, but a little lacking in focus, no clear central theme, and no real conclusion or summary. The lack of audience questions may have been a result of shock and awe, or more likely a lack of challenge.

Jason Santa Maria, Diabolical Design

Enjoyed this one a lot. Jason provided some excellent insights for non-designers like myself into the processes he and other visual designers go through when working on a design.

Nate Koechley, High Performance Web Pages

Probably my favourite talk of the day. I'm a sucker for quick-fire, technique and knowledge-based presentations, and this fitted the bill exactly. The great thing about the stuff Nate presented was that it was backed-up by the might of Yahoo! and had clearly been extensively tested. So when they say that the optimum number of hosts-per-page is between 2 and 4, you should listen.

YSlow looks like a fantastic tool (integrating it into Firebug is a master stroke), so here's hoping it will be released into the wild later in the year as Nate intimated.

Dan Cederholm, Interface Design Juggling

Dan's a great presenter: relaxed, funny, and personable. This started very well, with the genius ToupeePal (external link), but then suddenly we were into 20 minutes of Microformats. Shame - if I'd wanted to hear the Microformats pitch again I'd have gone to see Tantek's talk (and heckled about the abuse of abbr). So A+ for entertainment in the first half, D- for interest in the second half.

Mark Boulton, Five Simple Steps to Better Typography

Great stuff. Had a strong learning element, interweaved with a martial arts story culminating in a one-inch punch (external link). Delivered in a conversational style that worked brilliantly.

Joe Clark, When Web Accessibility Is Not Your Problem

Announced the release of the WCAG Samurai (external link) WCAG 1.0 errata, and two peer reviews. Go read it now, you have 3 weeks to email comments that may be considered before a final version.

Made mildly controversial statements about certain matters of accessibility, most of which I agreed with, and at least one of which I didn't, at least in the context in which it was illustrated.

This was that we shouldn't trouble ourselves to ensure link texts are unique on a page, even when they lead to different destinations, or to ensure they make sense out of context. We know the link list is a commonly used feature in JAWs, and it doesn't take much effort to accommodate, even if you want to present visually identical link texts.

Can't remember what the other point was, didn't take notes for some reason.

Unfortunately Joe over-ran: he should have been prompted to wind-up at least 10 minutes earlier, then he himself could have made the judgement call as to whether to take the time delivering, or to wrap-up and let the questions come. As it was there was no time for questions, which caused a little consternation in some quarters.

In summary

Despite the atmosphere feeling a bit flat (and it might just have been me, although speaking to some other third-timers it didn't seem to be), looking back now at my notes it was generally as high-class as in previous years. Maybe my expectations of some of the speakers were unrealistic?

The food was delicious (no mean feat on that scale), the free bar lasted a lot longer than anyone except the most tight-fisted could have hoped for, and there were plenty of networking opportunities all day and night. Music was still too loud at the party though.

Sadly due to other commitments I couldn't make any of the sessions today, so I'll need to rely on the slides and hopefully podcasts.

June 3, 2007

UK government and domain redirection

@ 3:41 PM

Here's a quick quiz question: is there any earthly reason why many UK central government sites aren't redirecting their root domains to www. sub-domains?

I needed to check the HMRC website today for some information about VAT, so I typed hmrc.gov.uk into Firefox's address field, hit return and promptly got a server not found response.


A quick check shows that the same is true for dfes.gov.uk, dti.gov.uk, number-10.gov.uk, dft.gov.uk and many others.

But homeoffice.gov.uk, mod.uk (why it's not .gov.uk is another rant for another day) and doh.gov.uk (but not dh.gov.uk) get it right. While dwp.gov.uk and direct.gov.uk serve their sites from the root domain as well as the www. domain.

Standards? What are standards?