Christian Heilmann

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Archive for November, 2006

Inaccessible by design – the dollar bill

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

Interesting court case in terms of accessibility:

A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Treasury Department is violating the law by failing to design and issue currency that is readily distinguishable to blind and visually impaired people. Judge James Robertson, in a ruling on a suit by the American Council of the Blind, ordered the Treasury to devise a method to tell bills apart. The judge wrote that the current configuration of paper money violates the Rehabilitation Act’s guarantee of “meaningful access.”

As reported by CNN.

I welcome this decision, as Dollars always confused the heck out of me – all the same size and same colour. The question is now what will be changed and how much it’ll cost.

Easy handling of data with Dishy

Friday, November 24th, 2006

I kept finding myself using the JSON output of more and more and wanted a wrapper method that retrieves the data with dynamic script tags and gives me back HTML I can immediately use.

Now I’ve got it. Check out Dishy – the JavaScript wrapper

You can retrieve your tags as a cloud, your latest links or links by tag in xFolk microformat/HTML form and you can retrieve and store all this info and cache it before the user of your site requests it.


Good-bye CSS-Discuss

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

From today onward I’ll be a follower of the CSS-Discuss mailing list and cease any posting on it.

I am simply tired of circular discussions, the same problems and (sometimes half-baked) solutions and nobody really taking the time to look for example at the amazing CSS discuss Twiki that offers good information collected over the years before asking once again why 100% height doesn’t work.

I don’t have any problems with people learning about CSS going there and asking for help and have given generously in the past, I have problems with people deliberately stopping solutions that have been proven to be flaky from dying out. The reasons might be because they have a business to defend based on these or simply don’t want to understand that web development involves more than HTML and CSS.

Another reason is the amount of religious debates about font-sizes, fluid vs. fixed, CSS hacks and so on and so forth going on and on and on and several list members showing an almost pavlovian desire to repeat what they said as the only true solution and nobody believed once again when their pet topic shows up.

I’ve had a good time during the 4 years on the list and many a good discussion. I learnt a lot and was very lucky to be able to share wisdom with Eric Meyer, Ingo Chao, Thierry Koblentz, Zoe M. Gillenwater, David Dorward, Christian Montoya, Adam Kuehn, Alex Robinson and many more. I hope to be able to still get the occassional gem from it, but it has slipped way down my daily to check list.

Hey, gives me more time to finish the new book and create some more stuff again :-)

Tip: Do not position Google Ads absolutely!

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

I was amazed to retrieve a cease and desist email from Google Adsense about my ads on this blog the other day. Allegedly I violated their terms and conditions by using advertising in a floating layer (you know the ones that cover dodgy pages before you can use them).

The reason they thought of me that way was that I had a skyscraper ad on the right hand side of this content section positioned absolutely. I also had a JavaScript in place that would hide the whole ad section on browser sizes that are too small to accommodate for it.

However, as the Google compliance testers seem to turn off JavaScript and use a very small browser window when doing their checks, my ads overlapped the content and I became an outlaw.

So remember that when you use AdSense for your web sites don’t position them absolutely but float them or use negative margins instead or else you’d also have to face being banned from the system and get three days to rectify your mistakes.

I am featured on

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

Well, not me, but the photos and videos I shot of kittens and puppies in the Macy’s window in San Francisco.