Town Hall Meeting - 24 May 2001
(What follows is a log of the meeting, generated by the host's mIRC program.)
[20:30] <Gretchen> Hi Janice
[20:30] <FredGB> Okay. Time to get started officially. Hello Janice.
[20:30] <FredGB> Welcome everyone to the monthly HWG Town Hall meeting!
[20:31] <Janice> Hello everyone.
[20:31] <Gretchen> Thanks Fred :-)
[20:32] <FredGB> If you have any questions or comments, just let'em rip, and Gretchen and I will do our best to respond.
[20:32] <Janice> Well, I'
[20:33] <Janice> oops, sorry. Well, I'm a new member - this is my first Town Hall meeting - and I kind of want to sit back and see what you guys chat about, if that's ok.
[20:33] <HankM> They'll be a lot of us doing that then:)
[20:33] <Gretchen> Of course it is okay. It could be really quiet though so jump in when you want.
[20:34] <Janice> What have you folks been talking about in the last meeting or so?
[20:34] <FredGB> Maybe, as a new member, you could tell us your first impressions of the Guild.
[20:34] <Gretchen> We often talk about the direction that we would like to see the HWG take - we throw around ideas and thoughts.
[20:35] <FredGB> The last Town Hall meeting was our Annual General Meeting. Board members made reports on the state of the Guild.
[20:35] <M13> I have a question...
[20:35] <HankM> Someone should post that log -- or does it need to be approved by the board first
[20:35] <FredGB> And sometimes we just talk about any old thing. :-)
[20:36] <Janice> I'm excited to be a member. I heard about the Guild from the webmaster-in-charge where I work, and she suggested I join for the classes; maybe a conference when it comes up; etc. So I checked out the website - there's a lot of really good info there. I have yet to attend a class, but plan to do so soon.
[20:36] <FredGB> HankM: Yes we should post the log. And we will sometime. Hopefully soon.
[20:36] <Gretchen> The Guild is a great place to learn because there are so many people that share a common interest.
[20:37] <FredGB> If someone hasn't posted it already.
[20:37] <Gretchen> M13, did you have a question?
[20:37] <M13> Yes....Is the W3C made up of industry groups, academics or are they a mix of the two?
[20:37] <M13> I'm a bit fuzzy about their constitution....
[20:37] <Gretchen> Good question!
[20:39] <Gretchen> The W3C is mostly a research and development organization which is largely based in education. Though not every member is academic it is largely academic. This is my understanding of the W3C.
[20:40] <FredGB> HWG is the only W3C member that represents the average web developer.
[20:40] <Janice> And my understanding, from what I've read, that HWG members are pretty much from all walks of life....although many I have interacted wtih are in academia.
[20:41] <M13> Interesting. I had the impression the W3C wase very influenced by commercial industry groups, and pretty much set into motion their "wish lists". Wrong?
[20:41] <HankM> I'm trying to picture the 'average web developer':)
[20:42] <Janice> average web developer - AWD - anybody-would-do but I got stuck with this job
[20:42] <Janice> :)
[20:42] <FredGB> Well, W3C never did put <BLINK> into an HTML standard, even though Netscape is a member (I think). :-)
[20:43] <M13> ;)
[20:43] <Janice> I've been doing a lot of reading on accessibility standards, and the more I read the more confused I become. Any helpful ideas?
[20:43] <FredGB> And there are some IE tags they've never standardised either.
[20:44] <FredGB> And we all know how much money Microsoft has. :-)
[20:44] <FredGB> Can you be more specific Janice? What's confusing you?
[20:45] <HankM> Though perhaps that shows the uphill battle an independant standards org has -- nothing stopped competing object models, and CSS1 support is only now coming in any reasonable form
[20:45] <Gretchen> Accessibility standards can be confusing. Generally, the goal is to create an environment that can be used by anyone so the page would have to be, say, screen reader friendly.
[20:45] <FredGB> Right.
[20:45] <Gretchen> Or, accessible to someone who cannot use a mouse.
[20:46] <HankM> Make is so a lynx user is happy and you're pretty safe
[20:46] <Gretchen> The challenge is to make the web work for everyone.
[20:46] <Gretchen> Lynx is a good idea but then you often end up with pretty plain looking pages.
[20:46] <FredGB> But that doesn't mean you can't use images.
[20:47] <Janice> I was brave enough to try to get through the multiple versions that WWW is coming out with; I have read national guidelines and state guidelines; our university is setting guidelines to match our state's...and it seems to me that basically I'll need to put together a website that resembles a typewritten page if I want everyone to be able to read it. I mean, every time I address one of the level 1 items, one solution seems to cause another. The br
[20:47] <Gretchen> There are ways that you can create pages that look good and can still be completely accessible to all.
[20:47] <FredGB> You just need to include (at minimum) ALT tags for the images.
[20:47] <HankM> I didn't say I'd do it -- but that's a good test to see if all your alt tags are there and your navigation isn't so burdened with ECMAscript as to be non-functional
[20:47] *** thom has joined #townhall
[20:48] <Gretchen> Hank, I agree! Lynx is a great test.
[20:48] <Gretchen> Hi Thom!
[20:48] * M13 wonders what ECMAscript is...
[20:48] <thom> Hi
[20:48] <Janice> We're academia, FredGB. Unfortunately, that means we have to do much more. We have to actually pass our websites through 12 different PCs/Macs with 12 different browser, monitor, and accessibility aid systems. Our site must pass everything.
[20:48] <FredGB> A screen reader will read the ALT attribute instead of just saying "image."
[20:48] <Janice> Hi, thom....
[20:48] <FredGB> Hi Thom.
[20:49] <Gretchen> One of the best things to do is, other than take the HWG Accessibiluty course ;-) is to create a page and then run it through the Bobby Validator.
[20:49] <Janice> I've got the alt and meta tags down; I'm having trouble with sizing.
[20:49] <Janice> Bobby blew me out of the water first try!
[20:49] <FredGB> Thom is another GB member folks.
[20:49] <Janice> <chuckle>
[20:49] <FredGB> So you have three of us to abuse. :-)
[20:50] <Gretchen> The Bobby Validator will tell you what is not accessible and the hints that it gives usually points to examples of how to improve the page.
[20:50] <Gretchen> Yes, I remember using Bobby and getting a similar result :-/
[20:50] <FredGB> Sizing? That's not really an accessibility problem.
[20:50] <Gretchen> Sizing of text?
[20:51] <Janice> I don't know. I agree that you should want everyone who accesses the Internet to be able to see your website; I want this myself, especially because I'm in academia, and we attract people with and without accessibility issues. I think I just feel defeated sometimes. -- And, we've been told that providing ALt tags and text only pages that match our content isn't enough to satisfy levels 1 and 2 of WWW's guidelines.
[20:51] <FredGB> Yeah that. I thought she was still on images.
[20:51] <FredGB> Who told you that?
[20:52] <Gretchen> Fred, no one - I was guessing.
[20:52] *** thom has quit IRC (EOF From client.)
[20:52] <FredGB> Sorry, I meant who told Janice ALT and text only pages wouldn't meet 1 & 2 Guidelines?
[20:53] <Janice> Sizing as in I create my web page using a 17" monitor; 1000x1024 pixels; and after making everything 'pretty' I get on a 15 inch monitor with 800x600 pixels and my 'pretty' website is skewed. Maybe this isn't an accessibility issue, per se, but where do you target your audience, so your website looks the best to all who access it? It's accessibility and it's not.
[20:53] <Gretchen> Janice, it can be discouraging to get it to work properly. I will plug the HWG Accessibilty course. It is how I learned about accessibile web design.
[20:53] <FredGB> Monitor size is relavent, screen resolution is.
[20:53] <Janice> I think it's our state guidelines that are taking WWW's guidelines; interpreting them; and going steps further. Which causes our webmaster to do same.
[20:54] <FredGB> Generally, you should try to design for 800x600.
[20:54] <Janice> I think you're right, Gretchen. Maybe the course would be a good start.
[20:54] <Gretchen> Sizing can be controlled somewhat by using percentages rather than absolutes.
[20:54] <FredGB> Though there are still people out using 640x480.
[20:55] <Janice> And you've hit on my point! Where's the middle ground? Do you go with the oldest browser, largest resolution, smallest monitor size, and hope it works?
[20:55] <Gretchen> I took the course because I was teaching a distance ed course and discovered that I had a blind student in my class. It was "just in time learning" at it's finest ;-)
[20:55] <FredGB> Gretchen's right. Never use absolute values if you can help it.
[20:55] *** bytegate has joined #townhall
[20:55] <M13> Some visually-impaired set their 17" to 640 X 480...
[20:55] <FredGB> For instance, don't make your font size "3", make it "+2".
[20:56] <Janice> OK I'm a litle confused by percentages versus absolutes. Maybe I'm too new to do this without the class! BTW, welcome bytegate!
[20:56] <Gretchen> My rule of thumb when creating educational sites is to gear it for technology this is about 18 months old.
[20:56] <bytegate> Janice: hello
[20:56] <Janice> Ah.....+2....and yes the aged technology is a good rule of thumb, too. Thanks, folks. (Can you tell you really have a novice here?)
[20:56] <M13> ...I sometimes am guilty of using the old 600 pixel "frame" trick so it'll look good in 640 X 480 AND 600 X 800...
[20:57] <FredGB> That way the individual visitor can use their own settings, and not be forced by the web page to see something different.
[20:57] <Janice> good idea, too
[20:57] <FredGB> Hi bytegate.
[20:57] <Gretchen> M13, how would you use the 600 pixel frame trick?
[20:58] <bytegate> Fred: hello as well :-)
[20:58] <M13> Gretchen: Well, it sets the whole page in a TABLE (not a frame! Sorry!) 600 pixels wide...
[20:59] <bytegate> Gretchen or Fred: Question please: is there an archive of past IRC #townhall chats at the HWG website ?
[20:59] <Gretchen> Okay - this is what I thought but I wanted to be sure. I tend to do this too sometimes but it is not really a great method when you factor in accessibility issues.
[20:59] <FredGB> There's supposed to be bytegate, but I honestly don't know where they're at.
[21:00] <Janice> And you would then convert tables to layers, right? My understanding is there's still some debate about using tables?
[21:00] <bytegate> Fred: thanks
[21:00] <HankM> there is, I think under the 'interact' nav -- but they are out of date
[21:00] <Gretchen> Bytegate, I have seen them - I have read them - they are there somewhere!
[21:00] <FredGB> M13: You don't want to use tables just for formatting though.
[21:00] <M13> Sorry, all, but I had only blocked in 1/2 hour...gotta go...I always learn something here...keep it up!
[21:00] <Janice> bye, m13...
[21:01] *** M13 has left #townhall (M13.)
[21:01] <Gretchen> The problem with tables is that they are read linearly - so all of one column and then all of the next column. You can control for it though.
[21:01] <FredGB> That's an accessibility no-no, and a page limited to 600 pixels won't look good someone with a higher screen resolution.
[21:01] <HankM> Till you can rely on CSS support, tables are the only way to do things sometimes
[21:02] <FredGB> Actually Gretchen...
[21:02] <Gretchen> Yes...
[21:02] <Janice> FredGB: You mean the tables are an accessibility no-no?
[21:02] <FredGB> current screen readers are better able to handle tables. It's the older ones that give a problem.
[21:03] <Janice> HankM: Believe me, CSS class is 2nd in line behind this accessibility one. I want to be up front on that one.
[21:03] *** ChrisH has joined #townhall
[21:03] <ChrisH> G'Day all
[21:03] <Janice> Hi, Chris. Welcome. FredGB: So tables-to-layers would work....
[21:03] <Gretchen> You do not need layers.
[21:04] <FredGB> Not totally, Janice. But they are definitely not recommended for formatting purposes. If written in a certain way, tables are fine.
[21:04] <Gretchen> You can give each of your cells a name such as <th id="h1"> for Header 1
[21:05] <Janice> I seem to remember an option in DreamWeaver where I can choose row-to-row or column-to-column layout for tables...? I expect you folks are actually doing your own code, but I think I saw that somewhere.
[21:05] <FredGB> But if they are used for multi-column text, a non-table alternative should be provided, for accessibility.
[21:05] <FredGB> Hi Chris.
[21:06] <Gretchen> Janice, that would be the AXIS attribute. You can group the table anyway you want using this.
[21:06] <Janice> Actually, I'm building text-only first. Gives my boss an outline to work on and I'll just go back and add in text while I build the real pages of the site....
[21:07] <Janice> OK, you folks have given me a lot to think about. Feeling MUCH better. Thank you. :)
[21:07] <HankM> Actually writing the content before formatting -- a novel concept lost on many:)
[21:07] <Gretchen> CSS is a great way to control your page (and, yes, I am biased!). But like Hank says it is not terribly consistent with all browsers beyond CSS1.
[21:07] <Janice> Yes, HankM, but I'm O-L-D and my desire to be THE webmaster at my university is only helping with that!
[21:07] <FredGB> And of course, older browsers don't support CSS at all.
[21:08] <FredGB> That's why I don't use it yet.
[21:08] <Gretchen> Janice, I think that it is great that you are taking this on. Most people would walk away.
[21:09] <Janice> NEW IDEA! All these lovely corporations involved with W3C could buy new PCs with new browsers and large monitors and the top-o-the-line accessibility stuff for everyone who gets on the Net, and we'll just have small stuff to work on.
[21:09] <FredGB> If only they would Janice!!! If only they would! :-)
[21:10] <Janice> Thanks, Gretchen. I need the support. I'll get through it. Since I only started learning web design about 3-1/2 months ago, I'm probably doing okay. I'm just under lots of pressure to get this site build and compliant in a hurry. Our state mandated accessibility -compliance effect Sept 2000, and I won't make it before December 2001 (realistically). Don't like that idea at all.
[21:10] * FredGB wouldn't mind a new computer himself.
[21:10] <Gretchen> Commodore64?
[21:11] <Janice> Maybe a Mac Plus?
[21:11] <Gretchen> Janice, the fact that you are here is evidence that you will likely succeed.
[21:11] <Gretchen> A Mac plus what? (I am kidding!)
[21:11] <FredGB> No, I still have that. Need a disk drive for it, but I still have the computer. No to Mac. Too much Windows software to switch over. :-)
[21:12] <Janice> Bless you. And I will. And one of these days I'll be in the boat you two are in (Gretchen and FredGB) and I'll be able to give sound advice, too. I look forward to the day when I can hand down the knowledge...will also be the day maybe I can do more with HWG, 'cause I wanna do that too!
[21:13] <Gretchen> Caution ... web design is addictive. Once you get started it just takes over.
[21:13] <FredGB> Oh God does it take over!!
[21:14] <HankM> Yeah, next thing you know you'll be chatting on IRC talking about it with people from around the country ;)
[21:14] <Gretchen> Can we get a disk drive for Fred's C64?
[21:14] <Gretchen> All over the world!!
[21:14] <Janice> Tell me about it. I've got no less than 100 'play sites' planned for all these free web hosting places, and am planning to file a corporation and get a REAL website too. (Outside of my 'real' job, that is.) Oh, Hank, I've been doing that since day 1! <grin>
[21:14] <FredGB> Around the world. ChrisH is our Aussie GBer.
[21:15] <HankM> s/country/world ... mea culpa
[21:15] <Janice> re: Fred's C64 - come on by; I work in the department that I swear has the oldest -- you can't possibly call these things PCs -- machines around.....
[21:15] <FredGB> And Gretchen is in Cannada, but who cares. :-)
[21:15] <FredGB> About Canada, that is. :-)
[21:16] <Gretchen> Gretchen pulls up her sleeves... and ...
[21:16] <FredGB> "It isn't a real country anyway." - South Park.
[21:16] <HankM> I see a trout coming ...
[21:16] <Janice> ...maybe a big kick off a mountaintop?
[21:16] <Gretchen> Wait! If I stand up I'll tip the canoe ...
[21:16] <Janice> bbbbbrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
[21:17] <FredGB> My mother was Town Clerk when Sorrento finally bought new computers.
[21:17] <FredGB> This was about four years ago.
[21:17] <HankM> P166 vintage
[21:17] <FredGB> They gave us the old ones. Turned out to be 286s!!
[21:17] <Gretchen> Janice, re: free webspace - have you visited this site? http://www.freewebspace.net/
[21:18] <Janice> Oh, man, and I'm complaining about DECpcs 386s w/200MB HDs....
[21:18] <FredGB> P166 is what they bought Hank.
[21:18] <Janice> Gretchen, no, but I made a little note....
[21:19] <Gretchen> Freewebspace.net is the largest directory of free sites available on the net (apparently).
[21:19] <Janice> wihoo! I'll wear 'em all out! <grin>
[21:19] <Janice> thanks
[21:19] <Gretchen> My pleasure.
[21:20] <Janice> is there a guiness book of world records for the most free sites that any one person has built?
[21:20] <Janice> yet
[21:20] <HankM> That's an interesting topic ... there is/was a long (timewise) thread about HWG offering site space for students ... never seemed to get resolved though ... what's the thinking there? For fee (nominal) of course - or is it just completely not in the cards because of the admin burden?
[21:20] <Janice> Students of HWG?
[21:21] <HankM> yes
[21:21] <Gretchen> I am guessing but I think that it is more of a server space issue.
[21:21] <Gretchen> The administration would likely be an issue too.
[21:21] <ChrisH> G'Day Hank - there was also a security issue
[21:21] <FredGB> You didn't know we offer online classes Janice?
[21:22] <ChrisH> It isn't JUST webspace - the classes also require ASP, PHP, Database interaction, etc
[21:22] <HankM> All of the above ... but that doesn't mean it isn't a good idea
[21:22] <Janice> Yes, but I was just asking 'students of HWG' or students, as in academia, that would join and thereby get this space. sorry, tired and not thinking.
[21:22] <HankM> I know ... I'm the PHP guy and I setup a server for the students myself:)
[21:22] <ChrisH> The variety of requirements outstrips our resources
[21:23] <ChrisH> If you have a server you can dedicate to that purpose fine, but some of those technologies can compromise the security of the server
[21:23] <Janice> So....you need an influx of money or of hardware to accomplish this? (Probably both?)
[21:23] <ChrisH> There was a service delivery issue involved too.
[21:23] <ChrisH> At present the idea hasn't been totally killed, but just not feasible at present
[21:24] <bytegate> HankM: Speaking of PHP, what your bias on the best Scripting language to learn to get into Web Administration
[21:24] <FredGB> That's why some ISPs won't give CGI service to members, like mine.
[21:24] <HankM> Well, the security is an issue period, so I threw them all on their own box ... a whopping 486/66 with 200MB of space ... but it serves the purpose
[21:24] <Gretchen> Chris, what exactly is service delivery? Is this like resource people?
[21:24] <ChrisH> I like PHP, but have been forced into ASP for now
[21:24] <ChrisH> PHP was more dBase-ish
[21:25] <HankM> bytegate ... I'm biased toward PHP ... but perl is a fine language and python is gathering steam
[21:25] <HankM> PHP is Cish ... that's why I like it
[21:25] <HankM> depends what you mean by Web Admin ... I develop all kinds of stuff in PHP
[21:26] <Janice> Folks, a quick line to say good night, and THANK YOU. You've made my first Town Hall a lot of fun, and I've learned quite a bit, too. Next month....
[21:26] <FredGB> Goodnight Janice.
[21:26] <Gretchen> Bye Janice
[21:26] <Janice> bye all!
[21:27] *** Janice has quit IRC (User disconnected.)
[21:27] <bytegate> whats the percentage share of Servers out there ? Win, Linux , UNX , etc ?
[21:28] <HankM> bytegate: go look at www.netcraft.com ... they've all the stats
[21:28] <bytegate> HankM: thanks for the direction, I'll definitely check it out
[21:30] <HankM> So what's the next topic?
[21:31] <FredGB> Topic? We don't need no steeking topic.
[21:31] <ChrisH> Next topic is LUNCH - brb
[21:32] <Gretchen> Hey that's right. It's Friday lunchtime for Chris!
[21:32] <FredGB> Anybody have anything they want to bring up?
[21:32] <Gretchen> Interesting comment following the lunch comment, Fred ;-)
[21:33] <ChrisH> And the BBQ is just outside my window :-)
[21:33] <HankM> I'm not going there ...
[21:33] <FredGB> Yeah. It hit me right after it came out. :-)
[21:33] <Gretchen> You are still doing it!
[21:34] <Gretchen> Is it still flooded in your area, Chris?
[21:34] <Gretchen> Was it in your area?
[21:39] <bytegate> nice being here in my first HWG townhall meeting . looking forward to be here again next mmonth
[21:39] <bytegate> see you all later
[21:39] <FredGB> Night.
[21:39] <Gretchen> Bye!
[21:39] <HankM> bye
[21:39] <FredGB> Thanks for coming.
[21:39] <bytegate> bye
[21:39] *** bytegate has quit IRC (Leaving.)
[21:41] <Gretchen> Okay guys, I think that I shall call it a night too. Early morning tomorrow.
[21:41] <HankM> So what is being asked for course wise? what's in demand? ... it's pretty big course list, do they all sell?
[21:41] <HankM> night Gretchen
[21:41] <Gretchen> Bye.
[21:41] <FredGB> Night
[21:41] *** Gretchen has quit IRC (Leaving.)
[21:42] <FredGB> Some sell out real fast Hank. Others take a little time. And a few we've had to push back because enrollment was very slow.
[21:45] <HankM> I think I'm going to tune out too - nice to meet all of you. Enjoy the rest of your lunch Chris:)
[21:45] *** HankM has quit IRC (.BitchX.: it tastes like poo.)
[21:46] <FredGB> Interesting tag line. :-)
[21:47] <FredGB> Well jrb, it's just you now. Any comments or questions?
[21:50] *** jrb has quit IRC (Bye.)
[21:51] <FredGB> I guess not. :-)
[22:00] <FredGB> Chris?
[22:01] <FredGB> Well, I'm going to turn the log off now.
End of meeting.