@Media 2005 Day 2

Well the Flickr photos are proving popular – to be honest I thought I might get laughed and pointed at if I took photos during the day so I concentrated on the extra-curriculum opportunities instead.

Anyway, before I forget I must get the Day 2 report out of my head. I’m gonna digress immediately though as it was Andy Budd who said it’s impossible to know everything about what we are involved in and that he’d google / browse for answers at times. That’s very reassuring to hear as I contemplate my own level of professionalism. I have so much stuff going on in my head that I forget things – I liken it to a need for a new hard drive in the brain to hold it all. I don’t think I’m stupid, just too much to remember. I think the key is to know what to ask, and where to look. Juggling all this with what do I need to get 30 people to the Brecon Beacons, up and down Pen-y-Fan, fed, watered and back home or what lesson plans do I need to teach bushcraft / survival skills for an Australian exped next year and I hope you can see the pressure my brain is under.

Day 2

I didn’t sleep much the night before, I definitely saw 1.30am on my watch but still got up at 6.30am and prepared for the day.

Douglas Bowman was first up and after the previous night’s party / dinner it was going to be interesting to see how we’d all cope with the first presentation of the day. Yep, and he admitted us much to me at coffee break, he was a little dry of mouth at the start ;) He started by calling out a few exceptional members of the audience. There was Faruk, Veerle and Peter-Paul Koch (PPK) who Doug was amazed he was sat next to at dinner! So what did Doug cover then? Well none other than the redesign of Blogger, the site behind this blog. It was interesting to see the processes and I came away with one tip – set line-height to something like 1.5em to increase legibility and something to try in the form of remote rollovers.

Jeremy Keith was next to give a talk about something I know bugger all about (maybe Joe Clark would like to use this Brit-term in his next presentation?) Javascript and the DOM. Jeremy was a little worried about his voice the previous night and I was worried about nodding off as I sat in the auditorium. Fortunately, he chose the comedy style of presentation and I thanked him for it later. I stayed awake, was entertained and learnt “Stuff”(tm) it was definitely “Good Turtle”. Items that made my notes include domscripting.com and the book that the publishers insisted on calling DHTML Utopia. Both resources to look into – God, not another book, I really should get shares in Amazon you know…

After a much needed coffee it was time for Molly Holzschlag to take the stage for a presentation on web standards workflow. I was looking forward to this talk as it’s something I feel I need to “get in to” in my lone evangelism at work. The typical workflow should be:

  • Photoshop layout
  • CSS wireframes
  • Semantically marked up documents
  • Client prototype
  • Production
  • Modifications
  • Sign Off
  • Maintenance

At the moment I’m only involved at Maintenance – far too late in the process given my skills so you can appreciate just how much of a task I have set out for myself.

I took quite a lot of notes, bought another book, “Web ReDesign 2.0” (looking at my bookshelf I should get shares in Peachpit / New Riders too) and a promise to myself to spend a lot of time at Molly’s web site. It was great to hear of things in the pipeline for WaSP too.

Next up was Joe Clark with his “Zoom the Web” presentation. Plenty learnt and plenty of food for thought. His discussion focussed on people with low vision and how they use the web. I shall make a point of re-reading “Big, Stark and Chunky” over at A List Apart to support this. The basic premise of “zooming” the web is to bump small fonts to BIG and switch from multi-column to single column layout to prevent scrolling to the right – the need can very easily be missed by users and hence they may miss information. Using CSS the layout needs to be simplified and prioritised because at that zoomed in scale real estate is at a premium. Sounds familiar? Yes, handheld devices need the same treatment (except for font sizes of course).

When the program said top-notch grub it wasn’t lying. Salmon for lunch? I couldn’t quite believe it. The hot food was hot and the cold food cold, not that level where it’s neither one or the other ‘cos it’s been out for too long.

Afterwards it was Derek Featherstone’s uneviable task of coping with an audience full of food this time, talking about testing accessibility. It was an interesting talk to a subject that gets minimal project time I feel. How many times have we heard the non-techs talk of Bobby like it’s the be-all-and-end-all of testing? Derek’s technical website has a list of testing tools that I shall be looking into closer once I get to work on Monday. I’d really like to get a lab of some sorts set up to treat this whole subject with a bit more consideration. I’m not talking a dedicated room per se, but at least have screen readers and differently configured PCs / Macs / browsers for user testing as well as automatic test tools like AccVerify.

Last but by no means least was Andy “Malarkey” Clarke with his presentation of an “Anatomy of a Mouse”, his renovation of Disney Store UK’s website into a web standards-compliant visual treat and excellent soap-boxing about design and standards.

Edit (Jan 2006): Someone else has since butchered Disney Store’s website unfortunately.

I’m sure everyone reads his blog so there’s no need to paraphrase it here.

With the presentations over it was time for a “Hot Topics” Q&A hosted by Molly, Andy Budd, Douglas Bowman and Joe Clark. I didn’t take any notes here, just sat back and listened to it all with interest. Joe was especially funny, he’s so dead-pan. I don’t know if he reminds me of Jack Dee? Anyway, his English is coming along nicely – he knows the “w” word and the “b” word that dogs have ;)

The conference closed with much applause etc then a dash to Clink’s Bar for liquid refreshment. I stayed just long enough to miss the rush hour and then left for the train ride home. I hope very much to see everyone again next year, if not earlier. Who knows what’s round the corner?

The End

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