Tuesday, December 23, 2008

web accessibility guidelines

Has everyone heard?

"The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has announced a new standard to make sites more accessible to older and disabled people.

Version 2.0 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) will apply to text, images, audio and video."


This will give digital agencies plenty of excuses to sell in updates to previous work.

One of the things I think is a good money making idea, but also a good general idea "In particular, the draft standard recommends the involvement of disabled people in the development of websites and suggests automated tools to test for accessibility." - i.e. getting disabled people involved in user testing.

By the looks of it we should be working towards BS 8878 as well.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


guys check this out http://photosynth.net/ it sounds awesome, though IA question for you - tell me how long it takes you to find the download link. It is there, it's not a trick, it took me over 30 seconds.

So what is it? I've talked about Photosynth before, basically it's an uber photo stitch app that brings photos of locations together to make 3D images.

The implication of this being that mash this up with things like google maps or flicker and you're going to end up with everywhere being rapidly viewable in glorious 3D.

Yes it's microsoft, and no - it's not rubbish. It's amazing.

Seriously - check it out!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mouse here to stay

Experts are suggesting the mouse is here to stay...

Well I have to say I probably agree with them.

Touch screen technology is set to be mainstream, but until it excels beyond the mouse and keyboard combo both devices will not be redundant.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Browser OS

From GigaOm
With the release on Monday of a software platform known as
Native Client, Google has moved even closer to fulfilling the
early promise of a “web operating system” — a
vision originally offered by browser-software pioneer Netscape

Over a decade ago, Netscape was the technology name that made
users smile and competitors tremble. And one of the things that
kept Microsoft awake at night was the fear that Marc
Andreessen’s company might be able to turn the browser
into a kind of web OS. Using a new software scripting language
known as Java, the theory went, Netscape would be able to offer
services and features through the web browser that would compete
head on with software installed on PCs.

That fear was a big part of the impetus for Bill Gates’s
famous “Internet tidal wave” memo in 1995, and it
was also a big reason why Microsoft started pushing its own
scripting language for the browser, known as ActiveX. As it
turned out, Netscape was never able to follow through on the
early promise of a browser OS. Not only was Java too clunky,
insecure and ill-suited to the purpose, but Netscape never
really took advantage of it, and the browser wars that Microsoft
triggered with the release of Internet Explorer soon turned in
the software giant’s favor, as Netscape became bloated and

Now, Google is offering its own scripting language known as
Native Client, which the company no doubt hopes will be seen by
developers as a friendlier version of ActiveX. What it will
allow browsers to do is run code in the language understood by a
user’s PC, rather than having to translate everything on
the fly. In a nutshell, that means browser-based software and
services will run faster and be able to offer more functionality
than they can now. Browser-based services that could replicate
all of the features of a desktop application would become a

As several observers have noted, the combination of
Google’s new Chrome browser, its Gears software —
which allows web apps to store data for offline use and
synchronize it later — and the Native Client language
makes for something that is awfully close to being a web OS.
Applications and services could run on any computer, storing
data whenever an Internet connection wasn’t available and
effectively erasing the boundaries between desktop and web. And
all it requires, of course, is that everyone adopt and adhere to
Google’s new language and standard (both Microsoft and
Adobe have been trying something similar with Silverlight and

Is the world ready for a Google-ized version of ActiveX? Perhaps
not. But if the company does manage to get enough support for
Native Client, the web OS could become a reality — and
the knife that Google is already holding to Microsoft’s
neck with its web apps could cut a little deeper.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Playstation Home is here

Following on from my thoughts about the death in the internet it has been announced that Playstation Home has been released.

Hoorah! Home is free, it's basically Second Life on your Playstation 3, but because it's on your PS3 and not your PC it's going to be good. Amazingly good.

PS3 home hasn't acchieved much press probably because it has been so horrendously delayed but now it's here I think it'll gain momentum fast.

And this supports my point that users online activity will move away from the traditional PC browser route and instead more users will be accessing for leisure via their console. The implication being that more of the web will be controlled by the console and gaming giants, Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, EA and Activision.

If you want to read more about it check out the BBC article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7777122.stm

I know what I'm doing this weekend!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Death of the "regular internet"?

It's occurred to me that the conventional web may be on its way out.
My thinking has been sparked by the release of Nintendo’s Animal crossing. http://www.animal-crossing.com which is a cutesy MMORPG. It gives you a world to explore, mini games to play, and has a particular emphasis on making friends. The thing that strikes me is that the console is no longer a solo experience. The Wii has made it multi-player experience within the living room (the multiplayer family fun angle) and all three have made internet access core to their functionality.
I think it’s highly likely that we’ll see this trend continue: Since the launch of PS3, Wii and XBox 360 we've seen more and more games with online features. These latest gen consoles are heavily web-enabled. The games being produced for them are more and more being designed with online in mind: Halo 3 allows you to play co-operatively online (now replicated with many other games), Resistance 2 has dropped it's local co-operative campaign in favour of one that can be played locally but almost impossibly less you play online with other players to support you. Little Big Planet allows users to create levels that are shared freely with other users.
Few games are being made without at least an online death-match mode. Some games are being made without a single player mode at all; or emphasis on co-operative play (e.g. Army of two).
Hardware is coming out that lets the user interact online in easy ways, cameras, headsets, and of course USB allowing the use of keyboards to be plugged in from your sofa.
HD 1080p now means that a console’s resolution is adequate for text, and ideal for video and games as opposed to the comparatively tiny LCD computer screen.

Alternatives to Second Life e.g. Playstation home have yet to get off the ground but the power of a console means it’s more likely that users will be creating and interacting with game world content on a console than on a PC (let’s face it PC online worlds such as SecondLife and its competitors suck).

I doubt it’ll be long before we see more MMORPG’s being produced for the consoles, and perhaps some migrations – World Of Warcraft are just mad not to release a version for PS3 and Xbox.

The hard drives of these machines are so much bigger than previous generation machines allowing for frequent updates (expansion packs, downloading user-generated content, etc).

So what does it mean for the regular web? I think it means a decline in users accessing for fun via a PC. I think web and business will go together for a lot longer, but home users will become more and more likely to interact from their console or mobile than a conventional PC.

E-mail, social networking, gaming, video, video phones, shopping can and will more so be done from your console. Much of it will probably evolve; facebook will be replaced with a really great online 3D immersive world, conversations will be held using an avatar or cam as well as voice.

Users accessing more from a console than a PC of course will mean that content is controlled by the big companies, Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft , Activision, EA, etc.
Of course I may be wrong – but I know I’ll be switching on my PS3 before I switch on my PC tonight. And I know that many of you will be accessing your e-mails or reading this blog post from your phone rather than your PC.

Do you agree? What do you think it means for the web industry?


A friends wifes boss recently made these comments on how the banking system works. It's insightful:


BANKS controlled by the public which do not lend the public
money will have to pay a fine using public money.

`Seriously, I am this close to just fucking losing it!'
Ministers believe the only way to get the credit system moving
again is to give billions of pounds to the banking sector and
then threaten to take it back from them, bit by bit, in
multi-million pound fines.

Chancellor Alistair Darling said: "We will use the money raised
from the fines to recapitalise those banks that have been forced
to pay very heavy fines.

"The banks must then use that money for lending and if they
don't they will be fined.
"We will then use the money raised from those fines to
recapitalise the banks that have been fined and if they don't
lend that money they will be fined. Again."

Mr Darling said those fines would then be used to recapitalise
the banks that had been fined before he was interrupted by a
senior Treasury official.

The chancellor was then wheeled into the corner of the room
where a heavy woollen blanket was draped over his head.

Meanwhile, Tom Logan, an overdraft holder from Peterborough,
said: "By all means please do stop me if I'm being a total and
utter fuckwit, but if we control the banks and we know what the
banks are supposed to do, why can't we just tell them to do it?"

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Life after launch

Just a minor project management nugget today.

It occured to me that when costing and planning a project it is easy to do so up until launch. But websites have a life after launch; that's why you build them! You need to pre-empt this life. For example, if you're building a competition then you need to think "does it expire, will they want to take it down, extract the database, send a mail-out" etc - and of course "how much will that cost?"

Other questions you can ask, do they require ongoing support, training, back-up and archiving, access to stats, stats analysis, further development, do they expect a warranty period, would they want an SLA, etc

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Nokia N97

We were talking recently about convergent technologies - one of the things we were debating were would users want to have both laptop and mobile or would they merge into one device.

The latest offering from Nokia which seems to be getting an effective internet buzz is the N97.

It's the phone they are saying will be able to compete with the iPhone and it really does seem like a handheld laptop to me:

"Details are in, Nokia has a new flagship phone. The N97 packs a 3.5-inch, 640 x 360 pixel (that's a 16:9 aspect ratio) resistive touchscreen display with tactile feedback and QWERTY keyboard into this sliding communicator with an "always open" window to favorite internet or social networking sites. Nokia calls it the "world's most advanced mobile computer." To back up the claim they've dropped in HSDPA, WiFi, and Bluetooth radios, A-GPS, a 3.5-mm headjack, 32GB of onboard memory with microSD expansion (for up to 48GB total capacity), and a battery capable of up to 1.5 days of continuous audio playback or 4.5-hours video. 5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss glass and "DVD quality" video capture at 30fps, too" source: http://www.engadget.com/2008/12/02/nokia-unveils-flagship-n97-phone/

It seems very likely that phones like this, the iPhone, the SE-X1, etc are really going to change how we in Western society are accessing the web (with LEDC's already accessing the web primarily via mobile).

Monday, December 01, 2008

microsoft maps

Has anyone ever seen http://maps.live.com/ before?

Basically Microsoft is trying to do a Google. In some respects they've done it better, in other they've shot themselves in the face, taken a picture of the bloody remains, posted it onto the internet, added the functionality to click random elements, and somehow formed an online application that is supposed to do what Googlemaps does.

Where they've done well is they've taken the maps and added a 3D perspective; so now not only can you look at your house from above, but from an angle too. It's rather good.

When it works - it keeps asking me to download the special beta app, the equivalent of google earth. I've tried this and it's now asking me if I want to make MSN my default homepage and MSN live my default search (NO I DON'T, I pray to the google).

Still - it's good to see how someone else with millions of pounds of budget attempts this.

One thing that has often puzzled me. Why do these free map apps make so much money? I've a mate who's a map specialist, he's worked for a few companies dotted round the country. It seems to be big business. I can understand the TomTom model, but where do googlemaps and microsoft maps make the money? Surely mapping the whole nation, taking photos from air, land, sea, undergrond, at a slight right angle, from space, in UV, IR, Full-colour, hybrid, sepia, with all houses painted pink, etc - it must cost a lot. Do they really earn this money back?


So VAT has been slashed to 15% today. Now my understanding of economics is not advanced; however I understand enough to know that here is a proposal that could really help save the economy at least within the UK.

Essentially I'm asking all patriots to buy me presents; in doing so you'll be spending, which will profit the companies, who will be able to spend in industry, salaries, and allow more spending, people will be able to buy houses, food, cars - and all because of me, who will have lots of presents.

Remember the slogan. Save the economy, buy me presents