Friday, July 28, 2006

Blogher: Thoughts on the journalism's future

During a podcasting "how to" session led by Susan Kitchens, who blogs at, I recorded a short interview with San Jose Mercury News reporter Elise Ackerman.

Here's a link to my first podcast, a seven-minute discussion of the future of journalism with Elise Ackerman.

Making blogs more accessible

At this morning's "Primp Your Blog" session at BlogHer, presenter Skye Kilean spoke about ways to make your blog more accessible to users with disabilities. Kilean writes the Flooded Lizard Kingdom blog. She had some good info, especially for those of us in education.

Kilean described her presentation as "how we add 'wheelchair ramps' to our blogs." Here are some of her suggestions:

Using text, links, colors: avoid uninformative links (such as click here, click on this, etc.). It's better to use a bigger click target (that is, more words, especially descriptive words such as "story on endangered bats"). Links that automatically open a new window can be disconcerting to visually impaired users. Make sure links change color when once they've been clicked so people can keep track of what they've already viewed; also remember some people are colorblind so use other cues, like boldface not just color change, to indicate visited links.

Images: Label photos so visually impaired people get information on key images they can't see. Use brief informative text to label images; remember, screenreaders read the "alt" label, but don't always read the title info. To make a screen reader skip a non-vital image, use alt=_ (leaving a space "_" tells the screenreader to skip this image). includes an "alt" area to describe pictures; edit them in the "edit html" tab.

Spam: Anti-spam measures to stop spam comments can make things difficult for people with visual impairments. Blogger has recently added an audio option for this.

Template-related stuff: Put sidebar on right so visually impaired people get your blog content read to them first, not your sidebar info. Put text size in percentages (Blogger already does this), not specific point sizes, for those who need larger text sizes.

For further information, Kilean recommends Bulletproof Web Design, a book by Dan Cederholm. She has also posted this information and more on her blog, with links to good and bad examples and additional resources.

Basking in BlogHer

After weeks without blogging (my summer vacation, I guess), I am back. It's BlogHer time!

The second annual BlogHer conference in San Jose is just now getting underway. And the thing that is so amazing is being surrounded by so many geeky women wielding laptops. Wow! Some men are here too, but they are so outnumbered. It's fun to be in the majority for a change.

The first session I'm attending is called "Primp Your Blog." Let's see if I can find out how to make my basic blogspot baby a little more 'purty ' and user-friendly.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Bees are Back

The bees are back and buzzing around the eaves of DBH again. The next thing you know, we'll have honey dripping from the upstairs ceilings again too.

Last July, when JMC staff found a puddle of honey in the Update News office, and a telltale ooze of honey from the ceiling, they called the Bee Man, David Williams, for help. I happened to be on campus the day Williams set up his extension ladder and climbed up two stories worth of rungs to spray DBH's eaves and rout the swarming bees.

Here are some shots of the Bee Man at work at DBH, clad in his protective white suit and bee hood:

I was reminded of this today when I read in the Mercury News that the Bee Man had died recently of colon cancer. He was just 58.