Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Validating themes for Wordpress

George Bray has a new blog "Electric Telephone: Letters home from the high broadband future". One of the postings was on a 3G Wireless Antenna. While the content was good, the formatting of the blog was technically awful, with thousands of HTML: markup errors (inlcuyind hundreds of surplus ) and unnecessary CSS. George responded that he had used one of the supplied themes and a quick search showed there was a whole industry around fixing up poor Wordpress themes. I had assumed it was just Blogger which had non-standard poorly designed themes.

Also I found a W3C MobileOK Wordpress Plugin. It seems a shame that having a design which is quick to download, works reliably and is easy to read seems to be treated as an optional extra, rather than essential feature by the Blogging community.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

ABC Mobile Web site continuing problems

During Mark Scott, Managing Director, ABC, talk at the Innovative Ideas Forum 2009, I did a quick check and the ABC's new mobile web site which showed accessibility and HTML validation problems. Mr. Scott said he thought the accessibility problems had been fixed and he would go back to the office and check. To assist, here are some details on the test results.

I ran a TAW (Web Accessibility Test) based on the W3C - Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG 1.0). This reported 0 Priority 1, 14 Priority 2 and 1 Priority 3 automated test problems. While there were no Priority 1 automated errors, manual inspection requests were flagged, such as:
  • Human review required Suspicious text equivalent for image, can not be file name or file size or placeholder text (1)
    • Line 32: 'image'
In this case the alternate text for someone who can't see images is the word "image". This is not useful text and appears to have been inserted so as to trick the automated test process. Other inappropriate ALT text appears to be honest mistakes by an inadequately trained web designer:
alt='White Space'
The W3C Markup Validator reported 79 errors. Many of these errors were due to unencoded ampersands and are not serious problems and easily fixed. More serious is that no "Doctype" is specified so it is not clear which particular HTML standard is intended. The document seems to be a mix of different pieces of HTML pasted from different sources. The validation assumed XHTML 1.0 Transitional, but I was unable to find any setting for which the code passed validation.

Most desktop web browsers will accept invalid code most of the time. However, mobile phone browsers tend to be more sensitive and may produce no useful display. Adaptive technology used by people with a disability will tend to be more sensitive and so may not work.
Also it is not a good idea to hope the web pages will display correctly when communicating emergency information.

The ABC should be using tools to check the web pages are technically correct. They should also ensure the staff using the tools are trained in how to design web pages.

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Connecting with Audiences in the Digital Age

Mark Scott, Managing Director, ABC, talked at the Innovative Ideas Forum 2009. This was a thoughtful presentation on how the ABC is investing in digital delviery, despite limited resources. He used the example of how Twitter was used during the Victorian bushfires. Mr Scott said "The ABC is the emergency broadcaster". So at question time I asked if the ABC ws investing sufficient in the mobile service for he community to rely on it. I did a quick check and the ABC's new mobile web site appears to still not meet with accessibility guidelines and has dozens of validation errors. Mr. Scott said he thought the accessibility problems had been fixed and he would go back to the office and check. If the ABC uses the web and mobile phones as an integral part of its service it then I suggest it has an obligation to provide that service to the wide community and in emergencies. That requires funding, planning and testing by the ABC.

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Dr Summers on blogging

Dr Anne Summers, gave a thoughtful and entertaining talk at the Innovative Ideas Forum 2009, on the implications for serious writing of the Internet. She expressed concern about the loss of historical information as paper is replaced by ephemeral digital media. Dr Summers showed us her facebook page live, which was impressive. As an author, her business model appears to be to use the web to promote books for sale. As with the previous speaker I asked if there might come a time when the writing would be supported from online advertising. Dr Summers replied that she had signed up for online ads, but the revenue was minimal. She also comfortable she was comfortable with online books but hers may not suit that medium. I jokingly suggested she sign up for my ANU course on how to do it.

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Web advertising to support Austrlaian TV production

As soon as Marcus Gillezeau, stopped showing bits of the "Scorched" telemovie and started to talk off the cuff at the Innovative Ideas Forum 2009, he started to become interesting and more credible. I asked him about flipping the business model for his production from funding from TV advertising supported by Internet promotion to Internet web based advertising supported by TV. He argued passionately that as the creative person, this is not an issue for him, but for his promotional partners. He seemed to think it necessary for him to go to companies to sell the advertising, the idea that the ads would find the content automatically (as Google Adwords does) does not seem to be something he is aware of.

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Are hoax web sites ethical and legal?

The more Marcus Gillezeau, talks about "Scorched", a Channel 9 telemove, at the Innovative Ideas Forum 2009, the less I like it. The TV show created a character "Cassy Hoffman" inspired by the Lonelygirl15 hoax. While a creative person might decide that such a hoax is okay as a work of art, it is worrying that this was funded by a government body, the Australian Film Commission. While it is one thing for someone to spend their own money creating hoaxes for commercial gain, it is not acceptable for my taxes to pay for it. Marcus was also proud of having carried a "faux" (that is hoax) news service. About the only saving grace of this material is that is is of the poor quality of the script, acting and production should make the more than casual viewer that this is a hoax.

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Back the book

In her welcome to the Innovative Ideas Forum 2009, Jan Fullerton, Director-General, NLA, emphasised that the library has embraced new digital technology while not forgetting the book. There are about a dozen people in the audience blogging (tagged "iif2009") and twitering (hashtag #iif2009). Unfortunately Marcus Gillezeau, Producer/Director, Firelight Productions' keynote is disappointing so far. This is about "Scorched", a Channel 9 telemove. Marcus talked about how the movie was supported by online extensions. Unfortunately the video he played made it clear that this is just old fashioned soap TV dressed up with some minimal web base content. Perhaps this will help Channel 9 sell more TV advertising, but does not do much for genuine use of the technology or Australian culture. However it is a useful warning of how old media will try to hijack the new media to cynically exploit it.

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How high the lectern

It is organised chaos at the National Library of Australia, with last minute preparations for the Innovative Ideas Forum 2009 . My bus was cancelled (the ACTION Canberra bus service changed the timetable) but the alternative bus which arrived turned out to be quicker (shame it was dangerously overloaded with public servants). I turned up at the reception desk for the forum gave my name, got a strange look and was asked to go down and help with the IT for the event. There were a half dozen A/V people, speakers and Warwick Cathro, the MC organising flash drives with presentations on them. I decided there were enough people and my help would not help. The biggest issue seemed to be if the lectern could be raised high enough for Mark Scott, Managing Director, ABC. I decided to retreat to the Bookplate cafe in the library foyer, where I could watch the passing parade of people and blog in comfort.

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Worshipping at the temple of information

The Innovative Ideas Forum 2009 is in Canberra today at the The National Library of Australia. The library building is a 20th century interpretation of a Greek temple, raised on its own artificial granite acropolis. At first glance a building full of books may seem a strange place to have an event about 21st century media, web-based social networking and digital content. But the NLA is one of the world centres for expertise in digital media. You can walk into the library with nothing, not even a pencil, use the computers there to research and write on a topic, publish your work online and walk out again (after lunch and a coffee). The library collects Australian online publications in its Pandora Archive, including some things companies and government would prefer were forgotten. The ARROW Discovery Service has Australian research outputs. Picture Australia has a catalogue of images from cultural institutions.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Innovative Ideas Forum 2009

The National Library of Australia is hosting the Innovative Ideas Forum 2009 in Canberra, 27 March 2009. The venue has free wireless internet access and the Library is encouraging blogging and twittering, with blogs tagged "iif2009" and tweets with hashtag #iif2009. Mark Scott, Managing Director of the ABC is a speaker and I might ask him about deficiencies in the accessibility and emergency features of the ABC's mobile web site. Here is the program:

Chair: Warwick Cathro,
Assistant Director-General, Resource Sharing & Innovation,
9.30am Welcome: Jan Fullerton, Director-General, NLA
9.40am Marcus Gillezeau, Producer/Director, Firelight Productions
"21st Century All-Media Storytelling - The freedoms and challenges of a multi-platform universe"
10.30am Dr Anne Summers, Author and Columnist
"The implications of web-based social networking for cultural heritage institutions"
11.15am Morning Tea
11.45am Mark Scott, Managing Director, ABC
"Connecting with Audiences in the Digital Age"
12.20pm Rose Holley, Manager of the Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program, National Library of Australia
“Enhancement and Enrichment of Digital Content by user communities: The Australian Newspapers experience"
1.00pm Lunch
Chair: Mark Corbould,
Assistant Director General, Information Technology, NLA
2.00pm Darren Sharp, Senior Consultant with Collabforge
" Library 2.0: Citizens Co-Creating Culture"
2.45pm Jillian Dellit, Director, The Le@rning Federation Secretariat
"Creative Tension? The Challenges of Social Networking for Schooling in our Federation."
3.30pm Jo Kay, Freelance Geek, Designer, and Facilitator
"Virtually Creative: Exploring Innovative Arts and Educational Communities in Second Life"
4.15pm Closing remarks: Jan Fullerton

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Friday, October 03, 2008

Fake blogs make Blog search risky

IT World reported a comparison of rival Blog search engines ("Is Google Blog Search a Techmeme killer? No way.", by Ian Lamont, October 2, 2008), so I did some ego surfing to see who said what about me. But the search resulted in so many scam blogs, it makes blog searching a risky business and not very useful.

A search for "Tom Worthington", taking out the references to my own site and other well known people of the same name (in the USA there is an attorney and a fish seller who frequently feature in news web sites), left only 122 references. Some of these were by me, others were just relays of posting from my own blog, but some were thoughtful, if not always positive, comments on my work. Some are from people I know, but most from people I don't. Even from people I know I was not aware of the postings.

One worrying aspect is that about one quarter of the postings seem to be pieces of random text copied from web pages to produce fake blogs, mostly on These are then used to lure people to web sites packed with dubious advertising, re-directions and pop ups. One which seems popular with scams is Jim Byrne's summary of the web discrimination case "Bruce Maguire versus Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG)", in which I get a mention. It is not clear why this would be used to promote sex web sites, but perhaps the document is very popular and so useful to attract web traffic.

The blog search engine designers need to improve their algorithms so reduce the risk of recommending fake blogs. The problem does not seem to occur with normal web searchers, so a solution should not be too difficult. The blog hosting sites, particularly, need to put in tests for such sites. This a serious problem which makes it so likely to end up at a dubious web site that it is not worth using a blog search at all, until it is fixed.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tag Cloud for Australasian Journal of Information Systems

This Tag Cloud shows the frequency of phrases used in the Australasian Journal of Information Systems:

It is generated dynamically by Zoom Clouds and can be applied to any web site which has an RSS or Atom Feed. If you can't see the generated version, here is how it looked when first created:

adoption (10) algorithm (8) australia (3) borders (4) business models (3) business value (3) communication perspective (3) consensus (5) chronic conditions (4) conceptual model (3) comparative analysis (2) ccm (2) chronic condition (2) conflict (2) diffusion of innovation (4) dynamic databases (3) electronic commerce (2) formal education (2) fulfilment (2) gps (3) healthcare workers (2) health solution (2) industrial survey (2) integrator (3) infrastructure business (2) logistics (2) longitudinal study (3) model curricula (5) negotiation (5) online shopping (6) organisational performance (3) patch management (4) perspectives (2) paradox (2) path expressions (2) requirements elicitation (2) research strategy (3) requirements engineering (11) software project success (2) small and medium enterprises (3) smes (6) service requirements (2) storage (3) small business (4) shopping experience (3) software projects (2) transformation (2) virtual presence (4) virtual shopping (2) xml query (4)

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Tag Cloud for Net Traveller Blog

This Tag Cloud shows the frequency of phrases used in my Net Traveler Blog:

It is generated dynamically by Zoom Clouds and can be applied to any web site which has an RSS or Atom Feed. If you can't see the generated version, here is how it looked when first created:

amazon (3) australian government (3) actors (2) anu (2) australian universities (2) best practices (1) crucible (3) china (5) citizen journalism (3) chinese equivalent (1) controversy (1) canberra (7) constraints (1) dey alexander (2) development organisation (1) energy grants (2) eco (2) electricity (2) exception (1) folding bicycle (2) first episode (2) fedora (4) google (5) have signed (2) interchange format (1) international covenant (1) jobs (2) journalism research (2) microsoft research labs (4) national library of australia (3) nick craswell (2) photovoltaic (2) private cars (2) renewable energy (2) rubbish removal (2) research job (3) sml (3) standards australia (1) storage technologies (2) standards development (2) standardization (1) sydney (3) scholarships in australia (2) w3c (2) web ir (2) water energy (2) web standards (1) web accessibility (2) world wide web consortium (1) world wide web (1)

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Corporate social networking with web 2.0?

The IT business media seem to be taking Web 2 seriously, so perhaps it is time to look at it. But there seem to be several concepts mixed up together (or perhaps "mashed up"?). Sorting this out may solve some problems in corporate document management and academic publishing.

One is the use of AJAX and similar technology to provide a more interactive interface via the web. Another is traditional office applications provided via the AJAX interface (such as word processors and spreadsheets). The third is on-line meeting places, such as MySpace.

There is also YouTube, a video sharing web site, which usually gets mentioned in the same articles but does not seem to have anything to do with social networking or corporate applications, but just gets included because it is popular.

Capitalizing on Interactivity, Mobility and Personalization by Donna Bogatin, January 22nd, 2007:
Categories: Business Models, Web 2.0, Culture, Google, Blogs, User-Generated Content, MySpace, Social Web, Amateur Content, Self-Promotion, Google Software Applications, Social Networking, Social Media

Is MySpace coming to the enterprise? According to Business Week it is.

On what does Steve Hamm base his assertion? IBM's announcement today of “Lotus Connections.”

IBM describes its offering as “the industry's first platform for business-grade social computing”:

Lotus Connections facilitates the gathering and exchange of information through professional networks, provides a dashboard-like view of current projects and connects users to like-minded communities. In addition, Lotus Connections removes the need for multiple social software applications, providing businesses with a single destination for building professional communities. ...
Corporate social networking is name of game with Lotus Connections, By Stan Beer, 24 January 2007 :
While Microsoft has been trying to win Web 2.0 corporate hearts and minds with Sharepoint Server, IBM threatens to steal the show with a new corporate tested offering called Lotus Connections. Web 2.0 in the consumer space is all about social networking as exemplified by sites such as MySpace, YouTube and FaceBook. Users of these sites with common interests can network, share ideas and provide each other with information that builds upon their mutual knowledge base.
The idea of using more interactive web applications makes sense in the corporate environment, provided you have the bandwidth and processing power to do it and accept its limitations. In some ways this is a step back to centralized mainframe computing, with the web application running on the server. If the central application stops, no one can do any work. This would be a good way to go if you have a new application to introduce across a wide network.

The extreme case seems to be to run your corporate service on someone else's web server. Google have a service called "Google Apps for Your Domain" which provides online tools for email, instant messaging and shared calendar. The idea is that the same tools used for Google's Gmail and others are available for use by companies, educational institutions and other organisations. They use the Google system in place of their own in-house software.

Google are not charging for these services, but presumably are doing it to make people more familiar with Google's services which have advertising on them:

Google Apps for Your Domain lets you offer private-labeled email, instant messaging and calendar accounts to all of your users, so they can share ideas and work more effectively. These services are all unified by the start page, a unique, dynamic page where your users can preview their inboxes and calendars, browse content and links that you choose, search the web, and further customize the page to their liking. You can also design and publish web pages for your domain.
I remain a bit skeptical of online meeting places as a business tool. Any form of collaboration requires skills from the participants. Not everyone has these skills and corporations will need to invest in training and staff to make them work. As well as cooperation, workplace involve competition. Perhaps rather than a social network, an information market would be a better model for the on-line workplace. Also much social networking takes place outside the organisation.

Are companies prepared to formalize and document online the process by which their staff trade information with other organisations? In many cases these contacts take place verbally and informally, while tacitly endorsed by superiors. If the contacts took place via a computer system, all transactions would be recorded and could be used in evidence in court. Much of these contacts would be considered unethical or illegal, limiting the scope for using a formal system.

What has this to do with corporate document management or academic publishing? Organisations, particularly governments, are having difficulty with staff filing electronic documents properly. Academia are having difficulty over the role of academic publishing. In both these cases the problem is that the records manager or librarian sees the document or publication as an end in itself.

But the office worker or academic author sees them just as part of a process; a byproduct of doing some work or some research. By incorporating the social network process in the system used to produce the document, keeping good records or publications will be a natural by product of the work. This is more than just an automated work flow which prompts you for some keywords before you can save a document.

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