[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Thursday, 2006-12-14

IBM project boosts ODF accessibility

Filed under: Software — bblackmoor @ 11:18

When Massachusetts’ government decided to use Open Document Format (ODF) as the default document file format throughout its agencies, a key concern was that ODF would not allow the visually impaired to use assistive computer technologies.

On Wednesday, IBM Corp. said it has helped solve that problem by developing technology that will allow applications based on ODF to better communicate with products used by the blind to access visual information on computer screens.

Through Project Missouri, IBM developed application programming interfaces, (APIs) collectively called iAccessible2. These APIs will make it easy for visuals in applications based on ODF and other Web technologies to be interpreted by screen readers that reproduce that information verbally, IBM said.


iAccessible2 not only will help ODF communicate better with screen readers that assist blind computer users, but it will also allow charts, pictures and other visuals based on AJAX and DHTML to be discerned by the visually impaired through those readers. “It’s like a universal decoder ring,” he said of iAccessible2. The technology is based on interfaces IBM originally developed with Sun Microsystems Inc. to make programs on Java and Linux platforms accessible to the blind. […] Mozilla Corp. also intends to integrate iAccessible2 into its open-source Firefox Web browser, Fishkind added.

(from InfoWorld, IBM project aims to help blind use ODF applications)

Mutants & Masterminds recommendations

Filed under: Gaming — bblackmoor @ 00:14

Here are some books I recommend to start your Mutants & Masterminds library. These would make great presents for the role-player in your life.

Wednesday, 2006-12-13

German government considers computer characters human

Filed under: Society — bblackmoor @ 10:31

The German government is considering fining or jailing gamers for committing violent acts upon computer characters.

The new laws will mean that a new offence has been created and anyone found guilty of “cruel violence on humans or human-looking characters” could face fines or a year in jail.

New laws will mean that computer generated characters will have rights and will no longer be able to be shot, chainsawed, or hit with hammers.

German games are already censored and many are banned in the Fatherland. Even games such as Dead Rising are banned as violence against zombies is considered as being too close to violence towards real people.

Once again it is all to protect children from becoming homicidal maniacs, ignoring the fact that kids will play with sticks if they are banned from playing with toy guns.

(from The Inquirer, German government considers computer characters human)

This is so stupid that I had to double-check to make sure it wasn’t a spoof from BBSpot. It’s pretty sad when the fake news is less absurd than the real news.

Tuesday, 2006-12-12

Google Web Toolkit goes 100% open source

Filed under: The Internet — bblackmoor @ 19:30

You’ve heard the Ivory soap slogan, “99 44/100 percent pure“. Until today you could say much the same about the Google Web Toolkit (GWT).Google Web Toolkit While most of GWT was open source, a few important pieces were binary-only. Today that all changed as Google made the entire GWT 1.3 Release Candidate available, with source, under the Apache 2.0 license.

GWT was introduced 7 months ago as a radical new way to develop Ajax applications using an old familiar language – Java. It enables developers to use all their great Java tools and expertise to create “no-compromise” web applications.

(from ZDNet, Google Web Toolkit goes 100% open source)

Congress and tech: no news is good news

Filed under: Society,Technology — bblackmoor @ 19:25

Politicians in Washington, D.C., spent the last two years promising new laws on everything from Net neutrality to computer security and social-networking sites.

But when the 109th Congress finally adjourned over the weekend, ending 12 years of Republican rule of the U.S. House of Representatives, few technology-related bills had actually made it through the legislative process.


A review of outstanding legislation shows both chambers of Congress approved only a handful of technology-related items, leaving proposals on topics like data breach notification, patent reform and Net neutrality to die in committee. Here’s a roundup:

H-1B visas: Because politicians went home for the holidays without voting to raise the number of H-1B visas, tech companies didn’t get a boost in the controversial guest worker program they claim is necessary to fill critical holes in their workforces. […] The H-1B program allows foreigners with at least a bachelor’s degree in their area of specialty to be employed in the United States for up to six years. They’re currently capped at 65,000 visas per year, with an additional 20,000 visas set aside for foreigners with advanced degrees from American universities, after peaking at 195,000 between 2001 and 2003.

Web censorship and filtering: Politicians’ concern about children and sites like MySpace.com reached nearly a fever pitch in 2006[…]. A Web labeling requirement stuffed into a massive spending bill was narrowly avoided after Congress delayed a vote on it until February. Similarly, Sen. John McCain’s plan to force Web sites to report illegal images is expected to resurface in the 110th Congress next year.


Copyright and digital rights management: After the Supreme Court’s ruling last year in the Grokster file-swapping case, neither the computer industry nor the record labels and the Motion Picture Association of America have shown much desire to seek new laws.

One exception has been the so-called broadcast flag, which started out as a controversial form of copy-prevention technology for digital TV broadcasts and then was expanded to digital radio. Copyright owners would like politicians to make those flags mandatory for hardware makers, but no final votes on the legislative proposals took place.

The broadcast flag for digital TV has, however, been inserted into a telecommunications bill that’s expected to resurface in the spring.

(from ZDNet, Congress and tech: Little to show)

Pretty much any tech-related law is a bad law. They are either the result of special-interest lobbying or the result of gross ignorance on the part of the legislature. Some, like DMCA, are the result of both. All of the bills mentioned above are perfect examples of horrible legislation that would have benefited a few companies at the expense of the entire rest of the USA, as well as hurting our descendants for gods-alone know how long. We should all be applauding that these bad bills were not voted into law. We should also make sure our legislators know that we don’t want them passed next year, either.

Another day, another knockout punch aimed at SCO

Filed under: Linux — bblackmoor @ 19:15

Last week saw the end of most of The SCO Group’s claims that IBM contributed Unix code to Linux.

Now, Novell has filed a motion that undercuts all of SCO’s contract claims against IBM, based on a “silver bullet” clause in the original sale of Unix to SCO.

In its latest legal move against SCO, Novell on Dec. 1 filed for partial summary judgment against SCO in its own case. In this motion, Novell is asking the U.S. District Court to rule that the Unix APA (Asset Purchase Agreement), which sold Unix from Novell to SCO, gave Novell the right to waive SCO’s contract claims.

(from eWeek, Another Day, Another Knockout Punch Aimed at SCO)

Let’s hope this is the stake in the heart for SCO.

Graded browser support

Filed under: The Internet — bblackmoor @ 15:45

In the first 10 years of professional web development, back in the early 1990s, browser support was binary: Do you — or don’t you — support a given browser? When the answer was “No”, user access to the site was often actively prevented. In the years following IE5’s release in 1998, professional web designers and developers have become accustomed to asking at the outset of any new undertaking, “Do I have to support Netscape 4.x browsers for this project?”

By contrast, in modern web development we must support all browsers. Choosing to exclude a segment of users is inappropriate, and, with a “Graded Browser Support” strategy, unnecessary.

Graded Browser Support offers two fundamental ideas:

* A broader and more reasonable definition of “support.”
* The notion of “grades” of support.

What Does “Support” Mean?

Support does not mean that everybody gets the same thing. Expecting two users using different browser software to have an identical experience fails to embrace or acknowledge the heterogeneous essence of the Web. In fact, requiring the same experience for all users creates a barrier to participation. Availability and accessibility of content should be our key priority.

(from Yahoo! UI Library: Graded Browser Support)

I particularly like this line:

“Support does not mean that everybody gets the same thing. Expecting two users using different browser software to have an identical experience fails to embrace or acknowledge the heterogeneous essence of the Web.”

I have tried repeatedly to hammer that into the heads of various clients who Just Don’t Get It. It’s about the content.

Monday, 2006-12-11

Still life with nanites

Filed under: Art,Movies — bblackmoor @ 00:21

VerjeerCheck out these cool paintings inspired by Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Sunday, 2006-12-10

Screenwriting Expo 5 — Pixar Storytelling 1

Filed under: Movies — bblackmoor @ 16:25

Check out these notes from a Pixar lecture at Screenwriting Expo 5. Very cool stuff.

Saturday, 2006-12-09

Free To Choose

Filed under: Society — bblackmoor @ 10:51

In honor of Milton Friedman, Idea Channel is streaming the ground-breaking Free to Choose series as it originally aired in 1980 as well as an updated 1990 version. Also watch for a biography, “The Power of Choice” which will air Monday, 2007-01-29 on PBS. This date has also been declared as Milton Friedman Day.

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