Ms. Herr when online

collage & montage draftings

Archive for the ‘Phoenix events’ Category

PodCamp AZ: it’s a blog blast ya’ll!

Posted by Ms. Herr on 09.24.2009

PodCamp AZ

is in 7 weeks!

Be. There.

That’s all I got.

kthxbye!

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Posted in community, events, geekery, Phoenix events | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

building accessible websites

Posted by Ms. Herr on 11.12.2008

Gabe Vega of The Blindtechs Network gave a presentation on accessibility and usability at Refresh Phoenix last night (download PDF version here). The age-old wisdom is that you don’t know what you don’t know, and many of us sighted folk have probably never given a second thought as to how accessible our sites are to individuals who need screen readers and other assistive technologies to use our sites. We evaluate sites based on visual, functional and user experience aesthetics. Gabe is blind, which mean he evaluates sites based on accessibility aesthetics.

Gabe’s presentation walked through a handful of sites with various accessibility and usability issues. One example was the site of a local businessperson built using WordPress. The primary critique of the site was that blog post titles were not tagged as headers in the source code, meaning that a screen reader has no way of discerning its importance. All users skim headings to find the content we are most interested in. Sighted users look for changes in text size, font, and color. Blind users, via screen readers, look for demarcating tags. Thus, a screen reader ‘skimming’ the site completely skips over the post title to the comments section. And what good are comments if you don’t know what people are commenting on.

I mention the WordPress site because it is most relevant to my own sites, namely the one you’re reading right now. Ms. Herr when online is a WordPress.com hosted site using one of their standard theme templates. Curious if the title-not-tagged-as-header problem varied by theme, I turned on VoiceOver (fn+command+F5) and tried to navigate this site. The result: TOTAL FAIL. Katy, my reader, spoke the name of my blog, but nothing else. I’m guessing it’s one (or two) of two things:

  1. The theme I’ve selected doesn’t not include the proper tags for accessibility.
  2. I suck at using VoiceOver.

I have plans to redesign Ms. Herr when online in the near future. Even though I’m not a developer, I’m going to attempt to do it myself (wish me luck). After Gabe’s presentation, you can bet I’ll be testing the design for accessibility (assuming I can figure out how to not suck at using VoiceOver).

Bottom line, a basic understanding of accessibility and usability is important to anyone involved in the creation of websites. As a client, you need to know to ask your web designed and development provider to integrate usability into your site’s design. As a provider, you need to know how to design for accessibility.

And if you haven’t done it already, I’d encourage you to look at your own sites for accessibility. Check out W3C Web Markup Validation for one great tool (thanks @scottyj). If you don’t have the time or the know-how to make the fixes, or the time to self-teach, hire someone who does.

Posted in blogging, marketing & advertising, Phoenix events, the biz side | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

highs & lows from the Maricopa County Democratic Party election party

Posted by Ms. Herr on 11.5.2008

Tonight, I was Kevin Spidel’s guest of at the Maricopa County Democratic Party’s election party. I was very excited as I headed toward the Wyndham Hotel. I’d never been to a political party event, yet tonight was a night the media and yet-to-be-written books would consider historic. As I got there, the enthusiasm of my fellow party-goers was greater than my own. Cheers ensued each time a state was called for Obama; boos when called for McCain. As the electoral votes grew in Obama’s favor, the excitement mounted. It was so easy to get caught up in the energy.

Shortly after the election was called…

tweet tweet (1) in a room w/ Obama supporters ecstatic bout the win. one minute you say “imagine, our first African-American prez” then boo when McCain says (2) he recognizes tonight marks a significant achievement for Black-Americans. you say “why bring race into it,” but didn’t you moments ago? (3) why the hypocrisy? what makes it OK for you to say something that you would spurn McCain for? don’t be so mighty. don’t be so righteous.

Thus, hours after voting for Obama myself and minutes after the election was called in his favor, in the room of a political action organization, two statements of similar sentiment by two individuals on opposing sides soured my night. Party allegiences that open the mouth and close the mind piss me off.

Posted in events, Phoenix events, politics | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

What did I do this weekend? ummm…

Posted by Ms. Herr on 10.20.2008

This one time… at Phoenix Startup Weekend… a whole group of guys and a lone girl (that’s me), came together to create a new company called Reserve Chute. The basic concept is a personal data backup app that enables users to grab their data from online sources like GMail, Delicious, yada, yada, and save them locally on their own machices. Think about how much stuff you have online, stuff you’ve used to manage your projects, build your online reputation, and communicate with all the really cool people in the world. Thank about what you happen if any one of the services or apps went offline, temporarily or permanantly. Poof. Gone. Bye bye. Wouldn’t it be nice to know you had a money… errr, data jar… in your backyard just in case Web 2.0 becomes web two point OH NO!

The code ninjas (that’s not me) hacked some elegant sweetness for last night’s demo. We should have a working JumpBox prototype in a couple of days (see Sean’s comment below about timing), but the site is live and you can sign up for beta.

Do it. Do it. NOW!!!

Shout out to all the peeps involved in this project: Sean TierneyBrent SporeJustin CrossmanSunny ThaperJose DiazCurtis MillerBrian RoyByron BowermanRemi TaylorPatrick HarterJim Barrows

And major thanks to Adam Nollmeyer (Acme Photography) and Chris Lee for the pics.

Posted in events, Phoenix events, the biz side | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »