Archive: October, 2004

What’s all this then?

Well, I thought it was about time I let my brain float out onto the open Web, so I've started my own blog. Over recent months, I have been subjected to several ideas and projects that have spurred my own (often tangential) thoughts and theories.

So, this blog contains ramblings from Jon Gibbins – and that's about it! But who is this guy? Well, I guess I'd better explain!

The name “dotjay” is derived from a nickname I had while at university. I helped run the university band society, often finding myself on the society's newsgroup. I signed a post as “.j.o.n.” one time and it stuck. That got shortened to “.j” which then got expanded again to “dotjay”. Clear? No? Tough!

Since then, dotjay has been my handle on forums I frequent, such as Accessify Forum where I seem to spend quite a lot of time.

Anyway, last week I decided to put together a blog and began playing around with Textpattern. I had looked at MovableType, but something didn't quite click with me. Maybe I'll give it another go at some point. Having read Jon Hicks' notes on how he shaped Textpattern to suit his needs, I thought it was worth a shot.

I don't think I'm going to go into as much detail as Jon about my own tweaks to Textpattern, but if anyone asks, I might write something up. I got Textpattern up and running quite quickly. The only real changes I made were to switch to a strict doctype and add a couple of accessibility features. I just know that it's going to make Textpattern updates more of a pain in the arse though!

I had to make a few more tweaks here and there today though, as I had missed a few issues while I was tinkering with the Textpattern scripts over the last week – the layout didn't resize very happily and I had overlooked a couple of accessibility checkpoints. I expect that more issues will crop up along the way, but I'll deal with them as they come.

Anyway, I think that's all for now. Welcome to my blog! Post some comments – I feel lonely!

out-law.com Website Compliance Seminar

I got up at 5.30am today to head over to Manchester on the train to attend the Website Compliance breakfast seminar organised by out-law.com. It was odd for me to be up before dawn – it only really dawned on me (no pun intended) just how early it was when it began to get light after over an hour of sitting on the train.

Anyway, the train was half an hour late (aren’t they always?) and so I missed the beginning of the seminar. Luckily it had started later than advertised anyway, so I hadn't missed much. It was nice to have identified Accessify Forum regular Patrick H Lauke (a.k.a. redux) when I arrived and meet someone from the forum.

I was pleased to find the hosts from Masons Solicitors, the law firm behind out-law.com, were well-informed and gave a good overview of the legal issues surrounding e-commerce. Obviously, I was interested in what they had to say about accessibility, and with the seminar having a focus on legislation, I was hoping that they would be accurate and informative.

Top marks to them for clearly emphasising that fact that a website constitutes a service and are covered by Part III of the DDA which has been in force since October 1999. They further emphasised that websites do not come under the heading of “physical access” and therefore are not affected by Part IV of the DDA which came into force this month. Either way, it’s all a bit academic now that the October 2004 deadline has passed!

Another thing to note is that there was not one utterance of “Bobby” throughout the entire seminar – not even in a room full of suits.

After the seminar, another member of Accessify Forum came over and introduced himself – Nathan Briggs (a.k.a. vigo). I wasn’t sure how many people from the forum were going to turn up – I already knew that Patrick would be there – so it was nice to find that someone else had made it to the seminar as well.

On leaving Masons, we found ourselves on a mission to find an open cafe so that we could sit and have a chat over coffee. We finally found a little cafe called History – a nice little place with a poster outside with Arnie saying “You’ll be back!” – I remember thinking that there was no way I’d find this place again!

The three of us talked about some current projects, standards and accessibility (duh!), general nonsense and a variety of tangents! I think I may have spawned an idea for another of Patrick’s experiments – another Firefox extension.

We were discussing some of my recent thoughts on sonification of Web content and the possibility of rendering in surround sound, when Patrick came up with an idea for converting markup elements into pitches. This differs from my thoughts so far in that I have been considering how the content of documents could be converted to sound rather than the markup. Coming from a musical background, I guess I really should have thought of that – an HTML score! Anyway, I’d be interested to see what Patrick manages to cook up from that. I really must get around to my own experimentation with Firefox extensions!

On other thoughts, Nathan and I chatted some more over a coffee at Manchester Piccadilly station before heading back home. I put forward my thoughts on starting a resource on best practices in Web Design aimed at business executives. It would be an attempt to educate businesses on what they should be expecting from their website design teams and/or consultants. I’m not saying that business executives don’t know anything about Web Design, but I am convinced that there is a need for something like what I have in mind.

The seminar we had just been to was actually quite good at aiming at this sort of audience. Personally, I find myself getting too technical when talking about anything related to Web Design, so I’m looking to get input from a variety of sources to try to get points across in plain language. The resource wouldn’t be aimed at Web developers, but I guess it could be useful to them in explaining issues to people who really don’t know about Web Design.

Perhaps I will write about this in another entry – this one is already quite long! Projects, projects, projects! Lots of ideas and not enough time – or space on my brain drive.

John Peel 1939-2004

I just read the breaking news on BBC News that the legendary John Peel has died of a heart attack while on holiday in Peru.

I never really listened to his show on Radio 1 as much as I would liked to have. I admired him for playing band demos, and often found myself liking the stuff he put on.

He was a great mover and shaker for music. He will be missed.

Update, 15.11.2004

There is now an obituary for John Peel on the BBC News website.

It's also cool to note that Michael Eavis is renaming the new band stage at Glastonbury as “the John Peel stage”.

Reuniting Friends

This is a fairly mundane entry, but while looking at my referral log today, I found that someone has found the November 5th Web Solutions website by searching for “Jon Gibbins -Dr” on Google. My entry on Friends Reunited tells people to find me by Googling for “Jon Gibbins -Dr”, as that'll find me quite easily.

The “-Dr” bit is because there appears to be a Dr Jon Gibbins at the University of Reading.

Anyway, I think this is the first time anyone has found the site this way. So, if it was you, get in touch!

M3 RYL Evans

Audi TT with number plate M3 RYL Just a quick entry and a nod to Meryl Evans' blog, and an entry about a photo I sent her.

I found myself driving behind an Audi TT last week with the number plate “M3 RYL”. I had been reading a few of Meryl's articles last week, so I just had to get a photo and send it to her. It was probably also just another excuse to use the camera on my new phone.

Before anyone asks, I was stopped in traffic with the handbrake on and the gearbox in neutral.

And so it begins… again…

OK, so this is my second attempt at a blog, the first being an overall failure because I just didn't have the time to keep posting to it. I think it was down to my own expectations of being able to post at least every other day.

So this blog starts with a disclaimer: This is not a journal where I write something every day. I may get to that stage at some point, but for the moment, this is only an occasional blog.

On another thought, this is neither a personal blog nor a business blog – it's a bit of both – a dumping ground for my thoughts on stuff. So, it's probably a good job that I can categorise my posts!

The design (if you can call it a design – Ed.) I knocked up in a couple of days, so it's really not that awe-inspiring! As is usual with my sites, there's quite a lot of white space! I will probably get around to doing something a little more interesting at some point.

Anyway, welcome and enjoy!