Pop ups are bad enough anyway…

….but this one beggars belief! It’s on top of my web-mail inbox (BT Yahoo for anyone wondering!) and didn’t seem to allow me to close it down, my only option was to close the browser window. I guess this is one film they really really want you to see.

Screenshot of an advert pop up

Screenshot of a pop-up advert overlaying my web-mail inbox (apologies for the redactions!)


Alphagov – doing things differently

What a breath of fresh air the Alphagov project is. The project launched a prototype concept website for Government earlier in the week.

This is a web project doing things differently in Government, although on the project’s own blog they say they “… are not the first to tread this path” [in Government], they’re certainly one of the most high profile.

Aside from the agile approach, which has often been suggested as poorly suited to Government, what I love about this project is the openness. The frequent tweeting, ‘huddle-ing’ and sharing of details about the project, even before the site went live. It is a project not shrouded in mystery that seems not to be scared to take criticism and comment. They have fully adopted the concept of ‘open’ not just through using open source technology but also through their open engagement and collaboration with the public.

I love the ongoing conversations taking place on the project’s Get Satisfaction community, not only are the project team responding to comments and problems but the users themselves are finding solutions through dialog with each other.

Obviously, this approach makes logical sense, it is the public whom this website is supposed to serve, this is the ultimate model of a user-centered approach.

There is no doubt a long way to go with the project, but the initial stages have been very positive.

What’s up with Google…

or down in terms of the search ranking of some sites I’ve built!

Is it me or has the quality of Google’s search results dropped off recently? It seems many of the results making the top rankings of the SERP are dominated by link-building ‘fake’ sites.

It doesn’t have anything to do with trying to encourage users to click on the paid-for ad links I suppose?

Come on Google, sort-out your algoritham to pick up and promote the natural links a bit more, thereby encouraging the (few badly behaved) SEOs to act a bit more responsibly, in-turn ridding the web of some of the horrible content that is out there.

Your famous for your good search results, we wouldn’t want people to search somewhere else now would we?

I may be a geek….

…but that doesn’t mean I know everything about things with wires.

I was reading this comic from theOatmeal.com which illustrate really well what happens when people find out you work with computers.

It also shows peoples un-willingness to learn, for some reason, people have a mental-block to getting to grips with the tool that (i would estimate) over 50% of us now use on a daily basis at work. In 2005/2006 65 per cent of UK households owned a home computer [1], this must be well over 70% now. Why are all but the few (who are derided as ‘geeks’) willing to get to grips with using computers?

Is it to do with their usability or how complicated they are perceived to be? How many of the endless number of features do you use in Word or Excel for example?

I have often suggested Microsoft creates a Word light, containing only the basic features and formatting options, in particular it could do away with the fonts option and ‘force’ people to use styles.

Anyway, it is nearly Christmas so I’ll stop my moaning and wish you all a happy New Year. God Bless. Here’s an image to get you in the christmas spirit:

[1] National Statistics News Release 18 January 2007: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/efs0107.pdf [PDF document, 130KB]

Lift accessibility

I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to the accessibility of web sites and don’t really get too tired explaining to people why a PDF of a scanned-in document is a no-no. I always assumed that the accessibility of web-sites was still in its relative infancy compared to other industry’s.

Take lifts (elevators!) for example, according to wikipedia:

The first reference to an elevator is in the works of the Roman architect Vitruvius, who reported that Archimedes built his first elevator, probably in 236 B.C.

Yes, you read that right, the lift was invented in 236 B.C.

Obviously lift technology has moved on somewhat and advances and additions have been made over the years since 236BC. Once such advancement is the addition of the audible announcement of the direction of travel, door status and floor position. The reason for this is for visually impaired lift users, who cannot see the electronic display indicating where and in which direction the lift is traveling.

In our building we’ve recently had some of our lifts replaced, it is these new lifts that I have noticed a change in the order of the announcements. They start by announcing the direction of travel and floor number before the lift doors have opened. The only people who can hear these announcements are the people already in the lift, surely they’re much more useful to the people who may be getting on the lift.

I’m probably being a bit picky but I would have thought lifts would come with a standard configuration which had been tested.

Have we learnt nothing in over 2000 years of lift design?