Christian Heilmann

Posts Tagged ‘Add new tag’

TTMMHTM: Reflows, real tetris, enabling design, swf checking and micnosing

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Marco Zehe, Micnosed

Another amazingly useful web site:

Friday, January 9th, 2009

Sometimes you come across web services that are so amazingly useful, you wonder why nobody has done it before. One of those is Is my computer on? sent to me this morning by Tomas Caspers.

While the usefulness of the service is indisputable the lack of RSS feed or API is actually annoying (let’s not discuss the HTML quality of the site, I am sure this is because of performance reasons as it is the case with other big players). Likeminded web dwellers like Dion Almaer bemoaned the same fact which is why I’ve taken matters into my own hand and used YQL to turn this service into a JSON API:*’%2F%2Fcenter%2Ffont%2Ftext()’&format=json&callback=isiton

This version wraps the resulting data (in my case “yes”) in a JSON object and calls the isiton() method. You can try it out for yourself.

If you want to change this simply rename isiton at the end of the url to your function name of choice. If you use alert() as the function name you could even turn this into a useful bookmarklet.

Of course you should never forget to support the library followers if you have a system like that and Mattias Hising came quickly to the rescue and built the system as a jQuery plugin.

On measuring evangelism success

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

I am right now in Santa Clara, California for the end of the year wrap-up and planning sessions of the Yahoo Developer Network. One thing I am realizing is that it is very tough to measure the success or really the impact of what an evangelist does. As my company does not have any commercial programs that tie with the offerings I talk about (all the APIs are free but some are limited to a certain amount of hits per day and there is no way to “buy” more – BOSS is working on that though) I don’t make the company any money.

What I do though is go out there and tell people about the things we have. On the flipside I get feedback from the outside world and see implementations of our work to feed back into the company. This is worth a lot – you cannot determine the quality of a product if you are the one who did it.

This is the same for every evangelist/advocacy role in any of the companies out there. The problem is that when reporting what you’ve done up the hierarchy in a company a lot of things get lost. Measuring the success of a company is a very tough job and it increases with the size of the company. This leads to terrible decisions being made (there will be another post about this here).

As an evangelist/advocate the hardest job is to tell people exactly what your impact was. A lot of what you do is planting mental seeds and inspiring people to work differently – that can’t be measured in hard figures. Other companies measure the success of an event for example by how many business cards were collected and have a department that follows these up by contacting people. I don’t like this much, first of all because a lot of the people I meet don’t have business cards but follow me on twitter instead and secondly because they gave me the card and not the company.

So in order to measure the success of any developer network we need your feedback and success stories of how what we’ve explained and shown has impacted your work. A blog post like this one on Yahoo Pipes makes me happy, as do tweets like this one.

While I am happily scrounging the web for these gems it is annoying that I need to do that. The biggest problem is that people are not commenting any longer. I don’t know why – personally I love to give a comment on where I found out some information. It keeps my concerns and the original message in context. When I twitter my personal view on something the 140 character limit and lack of original text will lead to information loss.

So my wishes from all of you on behalf of all the people in big companies organizing and supporting developer events (yahoo, microsoft, adobe, sun, paypal, ebay…) are following.

If you enjoy free information, swag, being able to directly reach internal experts and being able to network with a select group of like-minded people:

  • please leave comments on the blogs/announcement pages of the events (in our case the YDN blog and upcoming – a lot of people only look there and don’t have time to scrounge the web for all the info.
  • Use tags we provide at events to tag your photos, blog posts, tweets, videos…
  • Tell us about cool implementations and changes in your company based on what we talked about – we are happy to feature those and send you link love and there is nothing cooler than telling the world how someone else but us have done something cool with our stuff
  • If you sign up for an event – show up (or send a colleague). I am getting terribly sick of spending a lot of money to hire locations and have 150 sign up to the event in the first 10 minutes – effectively blocking out people that should be there – and then 20 show up! This is wasted time and money – and in the current climate that is not a clever thing to do.

I love my job and I am doing quite extensive work to make the IT industry understand that tech evangelism is not a waste of money but that there is a massive need for it. Marketing and PR departments just cannot reach geeks and internal geeks have neither the drive or the opportunities to talk to the world about the great things they do. I am very sure that innovation and change in IT is not coming from top down but from people who dare to talk to the right people to initiate change. As I put it in my talk at accessibility 2.0 geeks that care are the drivers of innovation and I don’t want to lose the opportunities we have right now.

When I started in IT events were massively expensive and I had to negotiate for months with my managers to get tickets. We are past this – thanks to developer networks and evangelists. I’d hate to see this go and developers falling back to being deliverers and not allowed to go out and play.

AEGIS – Sun sponsors open source solutions tailored for accessibility

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Just got this via the webaim mailing list:

I am very pleased to share with you news about the AEGIS project, a 12.6m investment in accessibility, with the vast majority of it focused on open source solutions.
Rather than repeat here all that I have written about AEGIS already, I will instead invite you to read about it in my blog: or check out the AEGIS website at: I have worked in the field of accessibility for nearly 17 years, and on open source accessibility almost a dozen of those years. In that time, open source accessibility has become a deep and abiding passion.
I’m very proud that the techniques we have pioneered in the open source community have since been adopted by Apple with the Macintosh & VoiceOver, and are being adopted by Microsoft with UI Automation. These same techniques are enshrined in the report a 42 member committee delivered to the U.S. Access Board earlier this year (and which at this very moment being reviewed by them as they work on their refresh of the Section 508 accessibility standard). And these techniques are at the core of the AEGIS project. With AEGIS, over the next 3.5 years we will attempt to bring programmatic accessibility more fully to the web, and to the mobile world. With AEGIS we will also address a number of issues that still remain inaccessibility on the open desktop. And while we’re at it, we will bring a bunch of new and talented people into the open source accessibility community (you should start seeing them showing up on our mailing lists and wikis in the coming months). We will also fund a number of the experts who have already made tremendous open source accessibility contributions – to enable to them to continue and to do even more. I’m sure they will shortly make their voices heard on these lists and in the blogosphere. And we will explicitly fund a number of European disability organizations. These organizations and many dozens of their members will be providing their expert input on our work, and thoughtfully evaluating our prototypes, and perhaps adopting the solutions we come up with because they do a great job of meeting their needs. Oh, and we’ll also write a bunch of open source accessibility code.
This Sunday the 19th of October marks the 8th anniversary of the GNOME Accessibility Project. AEGIS helps bring a fantastic 8th year to a
close, and also serves to inaugurate the next 3.5 years!
Peter Korn
Accessibility Architect & Principal Engineer,
Sun Microsystems, Inc.

How cool is this! It is great to see that the open source world is going full steam with accessibility and now we need to make sure that what they do reaches the people that need what they built and doesn’t get lost in IT department red tape.

I’ll get in contact with Peter and see how we can collaborate