Open Source

By Mike Gifford on 01/06/2012
I just got back from a quick trip to New York and visited a number of impressive museums. Not surprisingly, one of the most amazing was the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), in which I was fortunate enough to spend a whole day. One of the exhibits used QR Codes and walking around the museum I really got to thinking about the Virtual/Physical opportunities that modern museums can now take advantage of.  The MoMA did lots of stuff right, but it's clear that they are still trying to figure out how to integrate online content in their physical exhibits.  With the prevalence of smart phones and other...
By Mike Gifford on 13/05/2012
We were happy to have supported 10 Years from GOSLING to GOOSE event earlier this month. We've been coming on/off for a long while now and have always found the conversations encouraging.  It's been a long, long struggle to get the right individuals in government thinking about how the public sector values of participation, cooperation & standards can be reflected in software.
Government has evolved a risk averse culture and so it is much easier to adopt new ideas when others inside government have tried (and succeeded), than to feel like you are breaking new ground. Having a network of...
By Mike Gifford on 28/11/2011
I was pointed to this great resource on Plains Cree (nêhiyawêwin) links but it still doesn't have much information about presenting this language on the web.
Since hearing the story about the creation of Cree & Inuit syllabics, I've been interested in how colonization introduced written language to an oral culture. Since working on several Arabic/Hebrew/Farsi sites over the years, I've been curious as to how this applies to the web.  Being a unilingual person, I can't do more than look at the characters in any of these languages and I certainly have no education in linguistics.  However,...
By Mike Gifford on 26/10/2011
Recently as we've been working on enhancements to Drupal 8, we run into several situations where we are looking at the jQuery library.  Drupal's been including the free software jQuery for the last two releases and are using it more and more as it evolves. We were hoping we'd be able to simply leverage a solid accessible jQuery UI element rather than have to continue to enhance our own javascript widgets.  
jQuery UI 1.8 has an autocomplete widget in it so why don't we just use this rather than re-invent the wheel for Drupal 8.  Unfortunately based on some quick testing by Everett Zufelt the...
By Mike Gifford on 03/06/2011
I was happy to see the AODA Compliance Wizard produced to make it a bit easier to determine when/where Ontario organizations need to act about accessibility issues.
The Accessibility Standard for Information and Communications for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was released earlier today and it's a great accomplishment that reflects the dedication of thousands of people who have worked for improved Human Rights for our fellow citizens.  It is great to see this act, which was initially received Royal Assent on June 13, 2005, finally receive the clarity about what...
By Mike Gifford on 28/04/2011
Image from FAE's Evaluation
Most accessibility articles are written for either developers or designers who need guidance on how to implement accessibility fixes.  There's a lot more to write on this subject, but I was looking for articles written for the communications professionals who are overseeing web project. In most large organizations the people directing the sites development are not the same people as those who are coding it.  
Without having specialized technical knowledge tied to accessibility, do managers have the skills required to assess if their sites are accessible?  In my experience most managers lack...
By Mike Gifford on 07/04/2011
In December 2008, OpenConcept set up a Drupal site to demonstrate that we could meet the requirements of the Treasury Board Secretariat's Common Look & Feel (CLF) 2.0. We went further than this by releasing the code first to people within the Government of Canada & second we made it available through Intellectual Resources Canada (IRCan)'s repository. We provided a demonstration site to dispel Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt about open source & government, but also to engage with the government community to extend & improve this theme.
After two and a half years of voluntary...
By Mike Gifford on 30/03/2011
I've actively encouraged NGOs to use Google Docs for real-time collaborative editing. They have a really great suite of tools which really should make emailing Word Documents between editors a thing of the past.  There have been a limited number of tools that allowed for this type of process, however we've been experimenting with a great open source tool called Etherpad which will make this process much more common, especially within government agencies. 
We've been using this interface at iEtherpad now and have been quite impressed by it's ease of use.  It's simpler than Google Docs, but has...
By Mike Gifford on 16/02/2011
We've made a team decision to proactively advocate for people to upgrade from IE6 to a more modern web browser.  We're doing this primarily because it has given designers & developers such grief, but also because we want our users to have the best, most secure browsing experience they can.  Given the huge problems in IE6 we wanted to give our visitors as many tools as we can provide to help you upgrade to a better browser.  
Now we know that most of the remaining IE6 users are within large bureaucracies that have IT staff who believe that the cost of upgrading now is greater than the cost...
By Mike Gifford on 12/02/2011
Back in November of 2010 Federal Court Justice Michael Kelen gave the Treasury Board of the Government of Canada (GoC) 15 months to make all of it's websites accessible to the blind.  This is still a landmark case even though the government decided to appeal the case on Jan 10th. I'm not sure how much longer the appeal will extend the case, but the writing is on the wall, the GoC is going to need to begin the long and difficult process of ensuring that it's millions of public web pages are accessible to all Canadians.
It is unclear at this point what will come from the appeal. I would hope...

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