Accessibility Camp DC – October 9, 2010

For those that were wondering when the next Accessibility Camp DC is, it will be on Saturday October 9 , 2010, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM in Washington, DC. This year we plan on getting more people out if we possibly can and there is already a nice sized group of out of towners coming as well.

For those that have never attended a BarCamp style event, which this is, the speakers and subjects for the event are decided the day of the event by everyone in attendance. Also in true BarCamp fashion the attendees can register for the event for FREE.

Some of the subjects we are hoping people can and will talk about are the following:

  • Section 508 Compliance or WCAG 2.0
  • Practical Ways to Make Your Website Accessible
  • Accessible PDF’s
  • Making Flash Accessible
  • What is WAI-ARIA – (Web Accessibility Initiative – Accessible Rich Internet Applications)
  • Accessible Video and Transcription
  • Panel Discussion on “Issues Effecting Individuals with Disabilities on the Web”
  • Captioning
  • Screen Reader Demos – JAWS and NVDA
  • Mobile software accessibility

Please pass this information on to others so we can have as many people as possible to learn and make needed connections about accessibility.

Hope to see you all there.

Tallying the Votes

I am currently in the process of tallying all the votes.

I received them in many ways starting with the blog comments, to twitter direct messages, to e-mails, and to people telling me in person. From what I can tell the three leading web applications that you all want me to build are the technology Skills or Skill Swap repository, the mini adhoc conference information service, and finally the online wine inventory for personal use and to sell to wine stores. Most everyone I talked to personally said I need to do the wine inventory, since I’m knowledgeable and passionate about that one. Hoping to have everything them all tallied by the beginning of next week.

I am also at the same time as doing this, trying to put together one of the first AccessibilityCamp’s, which will take place here in Washington, DC, in the month of October. Going to be looking at a few places in the next week or so to see about using them. I will keep you informed about that too.

My Choices

In case you were wondering my top choices to web applications to build would have been the following in the order listed.

  1. Bookmarking – it’s such a pain with multiple computers at home and work to keep track of bookmarks/favorites.
  2. Wine Inventory – that one is a no brainer.
  3. Mini Adhoc Conference Scheduler – for things like AccessibilityCamp or BarCamp and the like.
  4. and finally Tech Job Skill Repository.

Conclusion

Thanks, again for your voting and encouragement in this endeavor I’m partaking in.

Need Help Deciding which Web Application to Build

Now that the house issues have been mostly settled I can get started on building one of the many small web applications that I have been tossing around. Some of these ideas I have been thinking about for what seems like years and others just a few months.  I have a good 7 or 8 different web applications that I want to build and I’m looking for some help in determining which one(s) I should build first.

Reasons Why

I need to get other peoples opinions on which will be useful them and more importantly the general public and might in the long run I would be able to charge enough to cover my hosting costs with ads or annual fees. I know that probably all of these have been done many times over, but there are a few reasons why I want to build them and they are:

  • Learn PHP and MySQL
  • Use the newest accessibility implementations of WAI-ARIA and possibly HTML 5
  • Use microformats were applicable
  • Test newest features in screen readers – JAWS, NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA), etc. and web based browsers (Firefox 3.5, IE8, etc.)
  • Use Web Standards
  • Test abilities for user interface design (UI or UX)
  • Create 508 compliant and usable examples for others to learn from for accessibility presentations.

But most importantly to create web applications that I would like to use personally.

Important Part

Now comes the important part, which from the following list of web applications should I build? I added a short description of what they do along with different ways I could help pay the hosting cost. I even created one page prototypes just so you could see what types of information is stored in each one. The style (CSS) and layout (UI/UX) will be changing. I just took some old CSS and put these together.

  1. Online URL/bookmark storage which allow user to have X URLs/bookmarks stored online for free, charge per X items stored, set up annual fee, or show ads of some type. I started this one a while ago and stopped for some odd reason. I’m tired of having bookmarks on two home computers (MAC and PC), along with on work one. Yes, I have heard of delicious.com and ma.gnolia.com.
  2. Store individuals personal contact information and either have X individuals for free, charge per X customers, annual fee, or show ads of some type. Always looking for an address or phone number when at someone else’s house or office and would like to have it be web based.
  3. Online wine inventory – personal use hosted by me with ads for up to X entries or small annual fee for limited number, bigger ones for people with 1000s of bottles of wine. Yes, I know corkd.com is around. I started mine about the same time they (Dan Cederholm and Dan Benjamin) did, just did not have enough get up and go to get past midway with it. Once Cork’d came out I stopped for the most part. So this one is a good way completed using ASP and Microsoft Access, which only needs to be converted to PHP and MySQL.
  4. Online wine inventory – for wine stores to allow their customers to store their wine collection information and then place their (wine store) ads on website (charge monthly fee to store per customer or flat rate by amount of storage and bandwidth used).
  5. Mini adhoc conference information service (no prototype just yet), which would help groups like BarCamp create main information page about event and later at event add an online schedule of talks (allow addition of rooms, topics, speakers, etc.). Place AdSense and/or links of event sponsors on pages. I created similar conference room scheduling web application for old job so have the general idea for it already in my head of what it would need. Not sure if this one exists, but I assume it does somewhere and have not really looked if it does.
  6. RSS/XML Feed reader, which either would have X feeds free, charge per X feeds over free amount, annual fee, or show ads of some type. Created one to pull in a feeds and either display all records contained in RSS/XML, first X amount, or only display records that contained certain words or phrases. There are way to many of them around.
  7. Store multiple weather location information, which would allow you to save multiple zip codes or city/state/country combinations to keep track of home, vacation location, other friends, or families weather. Same idea for covering hosting costs as previous ideas.
  8. Technology Skills or Skill Swap repository, which would allow members to put in there different skills and then have the rights to search for others for help with questions or for projects.  Would have ability to make personal information private so as not to get spammed. Could charge fee for those just looking to find people for work or projects, charge for recruiting type ads, or just place AdSense on pages.

Conclusion

So please do me a great favor and list the top three applications in order you think I should build them so I can get an idea of what others are thinking.

Thanks, greatly in advance for your time and effort for helping me learn new things and decide which web application to build first. I will post findings in a few weeks along with the order in which I will build them in, since a few could be bundled together to make an over arching suite of applications.

Anton Peck Made Me Write This!

Anton Peck did not really make me write this article, it was after reading his blog post the yesterday about “Beating Writer’s Block that got me thinking about my lack of writing blog posts too. Anton has been having trouble being able to write blog posts as of late. In his post he goes on to say how he was working to get around the problem. I like his analogy of blog post writing to taking a road trip. Sometimes when going on a road trip at first your not completely sure where your going, but all you know is you need to be going somewhere. Which means sometimes when writing you just have to start writing something and the idea or an article will come to you once you have begun.

My Problem

Part of my problem is not the same, as Anton’s with not knowing what to write. I seem to have the opposite problem in that I have some great blog posts and ideas for them, I just don’t have the drive or ambition to do them. I have about six to eight blog posts started, that I began last year. I usually create the article by coming up with subject (title) and then put a bunch of summary information about it into WordPress, that I go back to later create the post with.

My problem with getting my blog posts done is that normally they are more technical in nature and usually end up needing some kind of technical code example. These examples take time and I’m also trying to make sure the articles are written correctly, since I’m not an English major as I have always said, I’m a developer/coder.

The other thing that slows me down is once I get writing an post it tends to be long and verbose. I never seem to write short blog post like my friend Justin Thorp. He usually writes posts that are three to five paragraphs that get right to the point, with a few sentences in each one (his last few seem to be bit longer than normal). His are still much shorter than mine.

Mine on the other hand, end up having a dozen or so long paragraphs with really long sentences. I might have to work on being more succinct with my writing for the readers sake and my own.

I believe this is part of the same reason I have been fiddling with a few web application ideas/prototypes off and on for like almost two years. I tend to get them started and then find a better way to do them, by making them more accessible or more efficient from new techniques I have learned. I have even started to re-write one so I can start to learn PHP, being that I have been a classic ASP developer that uses XHTML, CSS, and bit of JavaScript for the first attempt at them.

My Burnout

Another thing that might be putting a damper on my blog post writing and enthusiasm for doing other web work after hours was also brought to my attention again from the A List Aparts article about “Burnout” by Scott Boms. Over the course of my technology career, I think I have been burned out or at least darn close, probably a good half dozen times. This is not something to be proud of at all. It first started while I was in college trying to finish large school projects while working 20 to 40 hours a week.

It also happened a few other times over the last 20+ years while working on projects for work and being responsible for making sure the production mainframe nightly jobs worked and ran smoothly. Because of this I now believe I try and spend more time away from the computer after work, besides checking e-mail and twitter, so I have a better life balance.

Life Balance

To have more life balance, I seem to spend more time watching mindless TV, keeping up with friends on Twitter, and just a lot of time reading others blog posts, instead of spending my time DOING real work and getting things done. As of late I have been doing a lot of reading and thinking about ways to help myself get over these issues so I can get back to building and creating more blog posts and finishing my web applications.

The sooner I can do this the more likely I will be able to help others with them and maybe if I’m lucky make some money to at least pay for themselves (hosting costs). And if they really get going I might be able to do one or all of them full time. My other big issue is which web application should I build first or at all, instead of trying to work on all of them and not making any real progress.

Conclusion

If you have any suggestions on ways to help me or others with any of these issues I would be glad to hear about them. Here’s hoping others will help you write that much needed blog post or build the next big thing.

Thanks, Anton Peck for making me write this blog post!

BarCampDC2 – October 18, 2008 – 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM

As you may have heard the registration for the for the BarCampDC2 event will open this evening (September 22, 2008) at around 8:00PM.

Here is some of the important information before registering you will need to know.

When

Saturday, October 18th, 2008, 8:00 AM6:00 PM

Where

Center for Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University
1055 Thomas Jefferson Street NW
Washington, DC 20007

Please make sure to only register if you know for sure that you can make it, since space is limited to the first 180 – 190 people. Also at time of registration you must choose your t-shirt size. The shirts should be American Apparel as I have been told and we will have women’s and men’s shirt sizes. For us larger guys, like myself we are planning on having sizes up to 3XL.

The ONLY place to register for the BarCampDC2 event is at the EventBrite website. Putting your name on the BarCamp wiki will NOT get you a seat at this event. Currently we have panel suggestions and will be adding more stuff there as time gets closer.

We are planning to have the panels be 45 minutes long and then have 15 minutes between sessions to get to the next room or mix and mingle with other BarCamp participants. Some more information to keep in mind.

  • Registration at 8:00 AM – 8:45 AM (submit panel talks at this time to help move things along)
  • Welcome BarCampers at 8:45 AM – 9:30 AM
  • Panels – 10:00 AM -6:00 PM
  • Lunch – around 12:30 PM
  • Event Ends at 6:00 PM
  • Clean up 6:00 PM -7:00 PM
  • Bar hopping afterwards 7:30 PM

We are looking for a few people to help set up Friday night (Oct 17) from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM (?). Along with others to help out with registration, handing out t-shirts, helping with food, people to monitor rooms that others are not bring in food or drinks into the rooms, lunch, clean up after, etc.

So if you want to help please e-mail me at jfciii [at] jfciii [dot] com or on direct message me on twitter – @jfc3.

If we have not contacted you about sponsoring part of the event (max $250) and you would like to please contact me. For your sponsorship you will get your name on the back to the t-shirt (if payment in t-shirts are sent to printing), plus like two minutes in front of one of the panels about you or your company.

Hope you all will enjoy the event that a bunch of us have been working really hard to pull off.