Thursday, November 30, 2006

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Monday, November 27, 2006

Dressing for winter

The government has put together a website to help folks moving to this fine province. As part of this resource, there's a section on how to dress properly for the cold weather. There's a funky flash animation showing South Park-esque kids freezing. And a PDF file identifying just how many layers you should be wearing at any given thermometer reading.

I grew up just as schools stopped teaching the Imperial system of measurement and started up with the Metric. I was right at that sweet spot where I never really learned either all that well. I know this chart is for newcomers, but I think it's going to come in handy around here!

(Thanks to Nicholas Keung for his article "Winter dressing for beginners" in the Toronto Star.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Why is it?

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Tech Notes: DIA update - Days 8 through 10

OK. So it seems I've been a little distracted since my last foray into the web accessibility world. I've completed these:

Day 8: meaningful page titles
  • easy to do with websites created from scratch
  • unsure of how to implement theory with Blogger (doesn't let you have much control over the page titles)
  • everyone benefits -- it's a basic principle of good webdesign
  • specifically:
    • some screen readers have special keyboard shortcut (INSERT + F10) which displays (and reads) a list of the currently open windows, by page title.
    • Lynx displays the page title in the first line of output, so it's always the first thing that Marcus reads in Braille.
    • For various reasons, folks sometimes gets confused and momentarily loses track of what he's reading. The page title in the window titlebar acts as a visual anchor; it stays in the same place, even as he scrolls the page. You can always glance back to it to jog your memory.
    • Google displays the page title in its search results, and it ranks keywords higher when they appear in the page title. This is a Good Thing for you, if you're interested in generating site traffic.

    Day 9: Providing additional navigation aids
    • only able to add one (home) of the three (home, prev, next) as Blogger doesn't yet do the "next" and "prev" thing gracefully

    Day 10: Presenting your main content first
    • Wahoo!! This was really easy to implement as I don't use tables for page layouts! Woot!

    • Folks using specialized readers can "see" my main content without having to endure my sidebar lists. (Many specialized readers display content in the order in which it appears in the HTML source. Which means that they have to go through a terribly long menus and sidebars to get to actual content.)
    • It also assists with search engines better able to rank your site -- some give more weight to the content nearest the top of the HTML page (not the page as it is viewed.)

    You don't have to have the sidebar on the right of the page to make the page accessible, contrary to what this page suggests. (In fact, it is possible, with a poorly configured website, to have the sidebar on the right hand side of the page and still have the sidebar content appear first in your HTML source. For a quick check, load your page without a reference to styles (or a style sheet). What you see, unformatted in the browser, is the order in which your data will appear in a screen reader.)

Time to make complete these changes: 10 minutes.


Friday, November 24, 2006

Friday Fun!

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

This week's most ...

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Dear Santa

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

No Child Without

From the Globe and Mail article "MedicAlert launches child program -- Charity to provide medical bracelets to eligible children aged 4 to 14"
"A Canadian charity is launching a bold new initiative to bolster the safety of an estimated 200,000 schoolchildren who suffer from potentially life-threatening conditions such as asthma, diabetes and peanut allergies."

"The children will be provided with a free MedicAlert bracelet, engraved with key medical information and backed up with access to a detailed electronic medical record and contact information through a 24-hour-a-day hotline."

From the MedicAlert website:
"The No Child Without program is an exciting new program developed to ensure children across Canada from Junior Kindergarten up to the child's 14th birthday with medical conditions, allergies or special needs are protected by the Canadian MedicAlert®
Foundation. There is no cost to the parent, school or Board of Education. "


Monday, November 20, 2006

Do the sleeve sneeze

(A follow-up to my Nov 6 post "Why don't we do it in our sleeves?")

Toronto Public Health has a new promotion on with this snazzy poster and this not so snazzy name "Stop the Spread of Germs Health Promotion Campaign."

Disability discrimination

Helen Henderson's article in Saturday's Star, "Why the gap between ability, job quality?" highlighted "society's inability to evaluate correctly the talents of people who move or process information differently from the decreed norm."

According to the article:
In 1998, the Canadian Council on Social Development found that 51.8 per cent of men and 41.1 per cent of women with disabilities with post-secondary degrees were employed compared with 82 per cent and 73 per cent of their respective able-bodied counterparts.

Three years later, a Statistics Canada survey showed only 51 per cent of people with disabilities aged 25 to 54 were employed compared with 82 per cent of their able-bodied peers.
Among those aged 55 to 64, 27 per cent of people with disabilities were employed compared with 56 per cent without disabilities, StatsCan said. For youth with disabilities aged 15 to 24, 47 per cent had jobs compared with 57 per cent of those without disabilities.
The mind boggles.

To learn more about what's being done to change these statistics, visit the Canadian Association of Professionals with Disabilities website.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

PSA: Chubby Bunny

"Chubby Bunny" is a game often played by children that involves the placement of increasing number of marshmallows or similar items into one's own mouth until you can no longer say "chubby bunny."

Sounds harmless, non?

"The game is insane," said John Fish to the Globe and Mail. "You have these esophagus-sized plugs and you're not allowed to chew them or swallow them, but your saliva's acting on them and making them slippery -- I mean it's inevitable that someone is going to die." (Mr. Fish's 12-year-old daughter died after playing Chubby Bunny at school in 1999.)

Also from the Globe and Mail article:
"You breathe in at the wrong time and you draw a huge airway obstruction down into your airway that is essentially self-sealing," said Chris Darby, duty manager for Thames ambulance."It's like spraying Styrofoam in there."
For more information, see this CBC news article, the Wikipedia entry or this article on

Friday, November 17, 2006

World Kindness Week

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Friday Fun!

OneLook's reverse dictionary!
"OneLook's reverse dictionary lets you describe a concept and get back a list of words and phrases related to that concept. Your description can be a few words, a sentence, a question, or even just a single word."

Brilliant! If you could link it straight to my brain, I'd buy a life-time subscription! (Am I the only one noticing they're losing words since they became a mom?)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Club Penguin

According to this recent Globe and Mail article, has emerged as an unlikely Interweb phenomenon. Three fellows from British Columbia launched this social networking site for the preteen set over a year ago.

It's a type of or for eight- to 14-year-olds.

To date, Club Penguin has resisted the temptation to cash in on their success.

Quoting from the Globe and Mail:
"Advertising is a great model for a grown-up world," explained Mr. Merrifield, who has two children of his own. "But I wouldn't want my seven- or eight-year-old being pitched all day long. I wouldn't let my child watch an hour of advertising on TV. So why would I on the Web?"
Very cool. I wonder how long it will last.

Chicken soup for a mother's soul

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Monday, November 13, 2006

PSA: Tips for parents

And now for a Public Service Announcement (PSA). (With thanks to Andrea Gordon for putting together the original article.)

Dr. Vito Forte, chief of otolaryngology at the Hospital for Sick Children, has a few tips for parents:
  • Don't try to remove something from a child's ear, nose or throat yourself. Chances are, you'll push it in further.
  • Go to a hospital, where you'll have access to a specialist if needed.
  • If you notice discharge or a foul odour coming from your child's nose or ear, or if they complain of pain, have it checked out. They might have stuck something in there.
  • Heed the warnings on toys with small pieces that indicate they aren't recommended for the under-3 set.
  • Watch for tiny button cell batteries found in electronics. They leak alkaline in contact with moisture, and should be treated as a medical emergency.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Tech Notes: scanner software

Note to self: in case you ever need this again! (Can you tell I'm having a productive weekend?)

Thank you HP Support, for putting this out there so I could find it!

HP Scanjet Scanners - Resolving Internet Explorer Script Errors in Line 114

An Internet Explorer Script Error in Line 114 displays when opening HP Director. This is caused when the file hpqdirec.exe is not properly registered with the System Registry.

Manually register the file, hpqdirec.exe, by following the directions below:
  1. Click the Start button, then select Run.
  2. In the Run box, type c:\program files\hewlett-packard\digital imaging\bin. Then click OK.
  3. Locate the file hpqdirec.exe in the opened folder. After verifying that the file is there, click the Start button, then select Run.
  4. In the Run box, type command. This will open the DOS command prompt.
  5. Type CD\ and press Enter.
  6. Type c:\progra~1\hewlet~1\digita~1\bin\hpqdirec.exe /RegServer and press Enter.

    NOTE: There is a space between "hpqdirec.exe" and "/RegServer"
  7. Close the Command prompt, and turn the computer off.
  8. Turn the computer on, and run HP Director. The program should open correctly.

Your new version of Blogger is ready!

Or so claims the dashboard on my Blogger account. The real question is, am I?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday Fun!

ThinkGeek Bluetooth Retro HandsetThe perfect gift for analogue people (like me) in this ultra digital world! The "ThinkGeek Bluetooth Retro Handset."

Now updated "to connect to your cell phone using Bluetooth technology. That's right! No more tangled up phone cord. Now people will think you're really crazy talking into a old-time handset connected to... nothing."

Now all I need is a cellphone.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

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Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Tech Notes: DIA update - Day 7

After years of procrastination, I'm finally working my way through Dive Into Accessiblity. Last night, I completed Day 7.

For those of you playing along, that means I've read about Jackie, Michael, Bill, Lillian and Marcus's issues.

I've ensured that I've identified DOCTYPEs on each of my webpages. And lastly, I've declared language on each of my pages.

All of that took less than an hour. I may be able to get through this by the end of the year after all!

Monday, November 6, 2006


Not seven minutes after I posted "Why don't we do it in our sleeves?" , someone from the Health Canada office swings by for a visit.

Now that's spooky.

Why don't we do it in our sleeves?

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Saturday, November 4, 2006

Bonus fun!

Nothing quite like the sound of a giggling baby! (With thanks to

Friday, November 3, 2006

Friday Fun!

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Thursday, November 2, 2006


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This week's most ...

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Wednesday, November 1, 2006