Tech

Round-up: Accessibility References for Non-Tech People

Elizabeth Galle tweeted a request today for accessibility references that a team of not-necessarily tech savvy people would get some use out of. Twitter responded with some great links almost immediately, and I wanted to collect those replies here in one place to serve as a starting point for any others with similar needs.

The tweet that started it off:

@Tawreh makes an excellent point that web accessibility can be likened to a book, and that you should give your readers a sense of “I know where things are” immediately rather than trying to reinvent the wheel and inevitably confusing them (or frustrating them to the point that they just give up).

Others presented links to basic guidelines from the W3C and WebAIM groups, the authoritative sources for web usability and accessibility. Continue reading “Round-up: Accessibility References for Non-Tech People”

Personal

Your House is Burning – What Do You Grab?

A thought experiment, if you would. Your house is burning. What do you take with you? Let’s assume for the sake of discussion:

  • You wake up in your bed and realize there’s a fire you can’t put out; you need to get out.
  • You have a safe exit, but not for long.
  • You have some kind of small bag handy, like a backpack or a pillowcase, that you can throw stuff into.
  • You can only make one trip. Once you’re out, you’re out; no going back in for more.

What do you grab? Continue reading “Your House is Burning – What Do You Grab?”

Personal

Five Things I Wish People Knew About Me

Amber Naslund had a great post a little while back, “What I Wish More People Knew About Me” in which she lists a handful of things about herself that maybe weren’t that well known to others, but should be.

Social media can create really superficial vantage points. We can see a few tweets or a blog post or a Facebook status from someone and think we’ve got them all figured out. So much nuance can be lost in the midst of snippets of electronic and fleeting communication.

Absolutely true. We live with a stream of constant tweets, check-ins and status updates, and yet how much about these “friends” do we really truly know? And how much about ourselves do they know? My guess? Not much. And so Amber lists a handful of things about herself that help us get a better sense of who she is, then in true internet fashion issues a call for the rest of us to share alike.

So, doing my best to avoid sounding narcissistic, here are a handful of things I wish people knew about me. Warning: candid revelations below.

Continue reading “Five Things I Wish People Knew About Me”

Personal

#nerdhumor

So, um, this happened yesterday:

'Today is 4/04, TODAY NOT FOUND.' Over 1200 favorites so far.

It was posted totally on a whim; I expected maybe a handful of people to star or retweet it. Instead it took off and got massive visibility. As of the time of this writing it had been retweeted 1231 times using Twitter’s native retweet function and – according to a quick search via the Twitter API – over 600 times by people copying and pasting it, retweeting others who had commented, etc.

I’ve never had anywhere near this kind of widespread attention to any of my tweets in almost a year of Twitter activity. I’d love to spend some time analyzing the various non-native retweets to figure out the progression – who commented on it, whose comments got retweeted the most, and how the tweet evolved as it went. Surprisingly, the vast majority of these stayed in the original form. A few people posted it as a “via @tomhenrich” tweet, etc, but most of the retweets I saw kept it as a proper “RT @tomhenrich” format.

Nerdy highlights: I got retweeted by both @charliejane and @bonniegrrl! Mostly I’m just happy to see there are that many people on Twitter that appreciate a good nerdy HTTP status code joke.

What’s really weird is how many people kept retweeting it today, when it’s no longer 4/04. Date-based humor knows no bounds, apparently.

Tech

Up and Gone; Or, The Ease of Relocating in the Digital Age

I recently had the pleasure of dogsitting for my parents while they were out of town, and in the process of temporarily relocating myself to their house, I realized something.

It’s extremely easy to pick up and relocate ourselves in an age where everything has gone digital.

This isn’t really a surprise. There are lots of books and blogs extolling the virtues of a location-independent lifestyle. Even for those of us who aren’t globe-trotting, it’s become remarkably easy to just… leave. For the two weeks I was living at my parents’ house taking care of their dog, I packed a single bag with a few changes of clothes and basic toiletries, a couple books, and my laptop. (Plus my phone, but that’s always on me and thus not really counted as packing.) That’s it.

All my other possessions were unimportant.

Granted, I wasn’t packing for a survival trek. I knew there would be food on hand and a kitchen to prepare it, a bed to sleep in, and functioning utilities. But it was interesting to see just how few of my own things I needed in order to be away from home for two weeks.

  • Mail was not a concern – all my bills are handled online, and personal letters have long been replaced by email, texts, and the social web. The sum total of my physical mail for two weeks was a pair of Netflix envelopes and a handful of unwanted marketing flyers and catalogs (which go straight to the trash).
  • Netflix and Hulu were at the ready for movies and TV. iTunes holds my music library. A couple books, which could just as easily have been library loans, and a very active dog sufficed for most of my entertainment.
  • Two weeks’ worth of clothing really doesn’t take up much space and can be packed fairly quickly. A few pairs of jeans, several t-shirts and overshirts for work, and some sweatshirts, plus a coat and gloves, all of which fits well in a moderately-sized duffle bag.

My laptop and my phone are undoubtedly my two most important possessions. Those two devices have replaced (or at least could replace) my mailbox, my media center, a bookshelf, paper notebooks, my alarm clock, and a phonebook, among other things. Digital storage is cheaper than ever, so I could easily back up all my DVDs to a portable harddrive.

Obviously there are some things I can’t digitize. My couch, for one. And as easy as it might be to order a pizza online, I like cooking, so my kitchen is here to stay. But the rest of my stuff? That’s just it – it’s just stuff. I’m planning to overhaul my belongings, going by the rule of “If I had to move right now and could only take one car, would this go with me?” My guess is that the answer will consistently tend toward “no.”

What else in my life can I digitize to reduce my clutter? Moving to a monastery and renouncing all worldly things is out of the question, but I’m open to suggestions.