Sunday, March 23, 2008

Community Rocks

Boyd and I were so focused on our Brainshare presentation we went off the grid for a day and ignored everything... that was a mistake! On Thursday Guillaume Beland posted his first GNOME Do plugin which happend to be for Tasque.

Had I paid attention to the community on Thursday I would have seen this and shown it as part of our demo on Friday. The plugin is awesome and if you can't tell, I love GNOME Do. Now it's even better!

Potato heads at Brainshare

Friday, March 21, 2008

Tasque at Brainshare '08

In the Friday keynote of Novell's Brainshare this year they did a highlight on some of the Hackweek v2 projects. Zonker recently joined Novell and did a great job introducing all of the projects. Boyd and I did a demo of Tasque and a bit more.

As we were practicing for our demo on Wednesday, Boyd and I thought it would be sweet to integrate Tasque with Giver so we could drag tasks to people in Giver to share them. The Brainshare staff wanted our presentation before we had written a line of this code so we added Giver integration to the presentation thinking it would be easier to pull it out if we couldn't get it working in time.

In the dry run, Boyd and I decided to pretend as if we had Giver running with Tasque integration so we could get our timing right. The machine I was pretending to do things on was a vanilla openSUSE 10.3 desktop with no Tasque, no updated Tomboy, and no Giver. Nothing was happening on the machine (I wasn't even touching it) as we explained this great integration between Tasque and Giver. We got through the "fake" part of the demo and several people watching in the audience started to clap and cheer. Troy Mooney (from Novell's Marketing... he's over the keynote) ran up right after looking very confused and saying that he could sort of get what we were saying but didn't see anything happening on the machines. We laughed and assured him we'd have it all up and going by Friday.

Thursday between stage rehearsals, Boyd and I hacked all day back stage. By the 5:00pm rehearsal on Thursday, we had everything working and Troy was happy to see things happening on the screen that matched what we were saying.

The demo introduced Tasque and showed how it works online against Remember The Milk. We then showed how you can highlight text in Tomboy and enable a button to create a task in Tasque. Finally we showed our Thursday afternoon hack and dragged a task to a target in Giver and sent the task over to another machine on the network.

On my way out Friday morning I grabbed a couple of Razors so Boyd and I could ride them across the stage to where we had our machines (the stage was HUGE!). It was very fun and perhaps the best Brainshare I've ever participated in. Everyone that was part of the keynote hung around and cheered backstage as each team came off the stage. A lot of these people are from teams that don't necessarily work together and it was cool to see them all united cheering each other on. Roger Levy hung around backstage to chat with everyone and congratulate them as they finished. I asked him if he was going out on stage and he said no. He said he was here to be a part of what was going on. Very cool!

The photos are all of Friday's keynote and were taken by Eric Ward.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Naming Tasky

Boyd and I created Tasky for Novell's Hackweek v2 and hacked as fast and furious as we could to get it running during the week. We didn't think much about the name and as it turns out, there are already a couple of projects named Tasky out there.

We're looking for a new name and hope you can help. Feel free to contact either of us directly or post your suggestions to the Tasky google group. There is a $100 reward for the winning name (compliments of Novell).

Monday, February 25, 2008

Is your sidewalk accessible?

Calvin points out an accessible sidewalk in Beijing

When visiting Beijing last week I noticed that many of the sidewalks have a strip down the side that has a specific pattern. I started noticing it everywhere and finally asked "why the strip?". I was told it was to assist blind people. With my recent interest in accessibility I started paying attention and found that not only do they have the strip, when the sidewalk changes or when it comes to an intersection, the strip changes from raised dashes to dots.

Dashes to Dots

I began to notice the strip everywhere and feel rather silly that I didn't notice it earlier and that I had not recognized it's purpose. Perhaps this is a common thing and I've never noticed it in other cities, but I was really pleasantly surprised by it.

Accessibility strip in the subway

As a side note, I also found that each bill of their paper money could be distinguished by it's size, something the U.S. could use some work on.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Novell Hackweek v2

It finally stopped snowing

I finally escaped a lot of manager type work and was able to hack a little. The initial UI Automation bits of code (UIAutomationProvider and UIAutomationTypes) have been checked into mono's svn in trunk/olive/class. It's minimal but it's a start to the new accessibility work going on at Novell.

Next week is Novell's Hackweek v2. For the second time Novell has allocated a full week of hacking to be done on whatever projects are of interest to their engineers. You can check out a lot of the projects on the openSUSE Idea website. It should be a good week of full on hacking and productivity!

I thought I would post a better picture out my office window. I haven't seen the sun since leaving Orlando and it's quite beautiful outside today. As you can see from the photo, my office window is most definitely north facing.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Accessible Business Cards

Business Cards

Here is a quick test for you, in the photo above there are two business cards. Can you tell who the cards are from and how to contact them? You're doing well if you can figure out that the top card is from someone at Humanware and the bottom card is from someone at Novell.

Now let's flip the cards over.

Accessible Business Card

Can you tell who the cards are from and how to contact them now? The top card is from Kevin Hughes at Humanware. On the back of his card is printed in very large print his name and contact number (I smeared his extension because I didn't get his permission). His card also has his contact information in braille. My card is blank. The front of my card is printed in an impossibly tiny font and the back is blank. To a good number of people, my card provides no information without some form of assistance.

I need new cards.

Monday, February 04, 2008

ATIA Conference

Saturday in the Sun

Last week I had the privilege to attend the 2007 ATIA Leadership Forum on Accessibility in Orlando Florida. I can't remember the last conference I attended when I felt under dressed. I was wearing a blue polo and jeans and all around me were people in business suits. I was glad I didn't show up in a Firefox t-shirt and wore a button long sleeve shirt the next day. I'm also used to being in conferences with tech-heads and hackers. While there were a few attending, the majority of the people were from Schools, Human Resource Departments, Banks, Manufacturing, Shipping, and Retail Stores (and many others, sorry if I've left you out).

Accessibility has always been an after thought in the industry and something that was done for those with disabilities like blindness, deafness, etc. I never considered that my understanding of accessibility was extremely limited until until I heard Frances W. West from IBM speak on expanding the discussion from "disabilities" to "human ability". She had some statistics (with references which I'm not going to add) in her presentation that stunned me. To quote some:
  • 16% of the the world population has some type of disability
    • vision, hearing, mobility, cognative
  • 20% of the average working age population has a disability
    • United States
      • 21% of working age population has a disability
      • 60% of people with disabilities of working age are non-working
    • Europe
      • 14% of working age population has a disability
      • 50% of people with disabilities of working age are non-working
    • Japan
      • 65% of people with disabilities of working age are non-working
    • India
      • 21.9 million people with disabilities
    • Australia
      • 18% of working age population has a disabilitiy
Rob Sinclair from Microsoft also presented information on how the workforce is changing. He had some statistics (again with refs) that showed the trend of people continuing to work later in their lives:
  • More than 23% of people ages 65-74 were in the labor force in 2006 (19.6% in 2000)
  • Number of "Boomers" will grow to 113 million by 2017 while the 18-to-49 demographic will increase less than 1% to 136 million.
He also pointed out that accessibility is not limited to people with disabilities but represents the ability for anyone to use technology. From his presentation:

Accessibility <-> Ageing <-> Better Usability

This theme seemed to ring true throughout the conference. I heard story after story of companies rolling out two interfaces for their employee websites; one that was "modern" and used all the latest trends, and one that was accessible. In the end, the accessible sites were used more often because people could find thing easier. And to think I had always thought of myself as someone with some human factor experience.

There were a lot of other topics covered but I was mostly impacted by the discussions that made me change my approach to accessibility. I've worked with a lot of older people using computers (which now includes my parents) and I wonder how much they could benefit from improvements in accessibility. I have to think, how long before I'm going to benefit from them?

On a lighter note, the weather in Orlando was fantastic. It was quite a shock to come home to more snow than I've seen in Utah for a long time!

Monday in the Cold

Monday, January 28, 2008

Facing North

New Office
Calvin's New Digs

We moved offices a couple of weeks ago and for the first time I have an office on the north side of building H at Novell. Building H at Novell's Provo UT campus runs east to west and the offices along the south side get the sun beating in them all day. The north side offices can have the blinds open all the way and get no sun glare all year long (not that you can tell in that photo).

Another plug for some openings we have on the accessibility team. We are looking for a Project Manager, a couple of QA Engineers, and some packaging/build engineers. Check out the openings here. Contact me if you are interested!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Cambridge, MA

Back to "Normal" Cambridge Weather

Every time I have visited Cambridge, it's been wet and cloudy. I was surprised when I arrived on Tuesday to find it was quite warm and sunny. People were shedding their coats and the ice had completely melted off the river by Thursday. This morning I was returned to reality because the Cambridge weather returned to the way I remember it.

Lounge area in Novell Cambridge offices

I've been in Cambridge meeting some very talented people interested in joining Novell to become a part of the new Accessibility team. We still have openings so please contact me if you are interested. Cambridge is always a fun and productive visit and there seems to be an air of creativity in the people and surroundings that is infectious and inspiring. A large part of the team will be located here so I look forward to visiting more often.

Nat was also in town and we spent some time talking about Barack Obama (and Nat's fundraising campaign). I haven't made up my mind yet who I'll be voting for, but I know I do not want Clinton in office so I contributed.

Wake Up Alarms (part 2)

Back in January of 2013 I wrote about wakeup alarms and compared the difference between Android and iOS.  That was back on an iPhone 5 and a...