Attended More Conferences

I managed to get to many more events this year because of the pandemic and them being remote/online. Which meant not having to take extra time off to travel to them and have all the expenses of travel, hotel, food, etc.

It worked out for me, deciding not to attend CSUN this year. It’s an accessibility conference in Los Angles. As it was scheduled at the beginning of everything, closing up related to the pandemic.

Luckily many conferences had time to switch to remote events. I used my vacation to attend more of them.

Used Vacation to Attend Some Events

A good part of my vacation had been saved by not traveling to any of these events.

In 2020 I attended many remote events. From four or five conferences, a few workshops, a few couple hour-long food classes/demos, some meetups, remote field trips, etc.

I even attended an accessibility camp in Australia because it started at the end of my workday. Which allowed me to participate for a few hours at least before heading to bed.

Events I Attended

Below is the list of events I was able to attend in 2020, with dates listed if possible. I might have missed one or two, but these are most of them.

Here’s to More Remote Events

So here is to these events having remote components in the future when the pandemic is over. Which will allow me and many others to attend that normally couldn’t.

My Plans for Three Days Off

I have the next three days off, with today being the MLK (Martin Luther King Jr.) holiday. Then Wednesday being the Inauguration, I decided to take Tuesday off too to have a five day weekend.

So I plan to use the three days like a workday and spending eight hours doing things for my projects and learning. It might be broken up more than a workday, but that’s fine.

Video Learning

Each of the days, I plan to spend an hour or two watching my Wes Bos “Beginner JavaScript” video tutorials. During that time, I  will be taking notes and attempting the code examples to get used to coding the syntax.

I plan to spend an hour or two watching and taking notes of Penn and Teller’s Masterclass “Penn & Teller Teach the Art of Magic”.

I’m not necessarily watching Penn and Teller to learn magic, but to learn about storytelling and presentation. If I learn a magic trick or two in the process, all the better.

In the evening, there will be some watching of YouTube videos.  The subjects I want to learn more about are cooking/baking, farming/gardening, tiny houses, etc.

Book Reading

I will finish reading Heydon Pickering’s “Inclusive Components – Accessible Web Interfaces, Piece by Piece”. I need to go back to his other book and Adam Silver’s book to work through the examples a bit more. Below are the other two other books I’m referring to.

Form Design Patterns – A Practical Guide to Designing and Coding simple and Inclusive Forms for the Web by Adam Silver

Inclusive Design Patterns – Coding Accessibility Into Web Design by Heydon Pickering

My next book to start reading is “Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything” by BJ Fogg.

Blog Posts

I need to start outlining a few more blog posts and maybe even start the first draft.

My more significant issue is figuring out the best way to link to all the books I read last year. I don’t want to link to Amazon. But I know money is tight for some, so the lower prices and free shipping with having Amazon Prime will help. If I would I need to figure out a code for an organization/charity, I would like the earned money would help them. So need to figure that out before posting that post.

More research is needed. Any suggestion would be appreciated.

Odds and Ends

Other things that need to get done over the three days are:

  • Sending out some bills
  • Daily walks
  • Laundry
  • Cleaning the house, especially the kitchen, to make room for new spices and other utensils
  • Etc.

I might even start some sorting or items that I no longer use to donate them or get rid of them. I know where I want to donate all the clothes and the like, to Martha’s Table in DC.

Someone from the DC Code and Coffee group mentioned they are willing to come to Northern Virginia to pick things up with their car. Since they live near Martha’s Table, it wouldn’t be hard to drop them off for me.

Lots to Due but Not Enough Time

That’s a lot to get done while also relaxing some, but at least I have a game plan. If I don’t start on things, I won’t get any of it started or any of it done. Here’s to slow and steady work at the list above.

Any suggestions to help with any of this, please leave a comment.

Canceling Accessibility Camp DC for October 11, 2014

After much thought and discussion, we are canceling Accessibility Camp DC on October 11, 2014.

We hope this does not cause too many people grief because they have already booked airfare and hotels to attend the event. I notified those I knew who were attending from out of town that we might have to cancel the event.

For those still coming to DC because you purchased airfare and hotel, we can still get together and talk abut accessibility. We could even have a wine and cheese tasting at my house, along with sightseeing if you want too.

A big thanks to our sponsors. I will look into the fastest way to get you your money back. It might take a bit with EventBrite, but I will figure something out.

Thanks for all those that did register and planned on attending camp.

We are looking into the possibility of re-scheduling the event for a later date. Most likely, the event will be in January or February of 2015.

Why I’m Building Hold An Event

I created Hold An Event because all the other event registration web applications are not accessible to those using assistive technologies, like screen readers (JAWS, NVDA, Window Eyes, etc.), along with voice recognition software (Dragon Naturally Speaking). They are also difficult to use even on smartphones let alone an lesser phones. I found this out while running my first Accessibility Camp DC back in October of 2009 and then with our follow-up monthly event, Accessibility DC. People would show up without registering because they deemed the service I had chosen not to be accessible, even though these people would be considered by most to be power assistive technology users.

After the first Accessibility Camp DC and a few monthly meetings, I started looking into event registration systems and everything I found was inaccessible in one form or other. I mostly looked at all the larger ones is all. So over the last two and a half plus years, when I have had five minutes here or a half hour there, at coffee shops, on the train, or wherever, I put notes into my iPhone about creating a web-based event registration application. At first, I used the iPhone’s built-in notes application, until a few people suggested I use Simple Note. This was because it had an iPhone application, along with a web application. By gathering all the different pieces of information you would need to create and run events over time, I had the time to really think about the roles/personas needed for an event.

The type of people I came up with could be people putting on the event, the attendees, paid attendees if that applies, sponsors, speakers, and even event staff. These roles work if you are holding a simple birthday party, the monthly book club, a tech event, or even a large conference. So we are talking a great amount of information, and I really had to think this through.

At times, I was like this is way too much work for just one person or I had other things to do and would do nothing about it for weeks or even months. No matter how hard I tried, the problem never seemed to go away and kept coming back to me. So after reading a lot of books, articles, etc. about start-ups, web applications, usability, and the like, as most would say I just needed to start and see where it would go.

When I Started

So over the summer of 2011, I finally started building the prototype to make sure I had the correct process, flow, and usability of the web application down before really starting the difficult work of making this a true working application. I even started with the mind-set of Mobile First (great book), which some are great ideas from Luke W. and others. My guess was that if I started coding the web application using web standards and accessibility in mind from the start, and if a person could do everything they needed to on their phone, then it should work wonderfully in a browser or on a tablet.

I started out simple and built a few of the needed input forms, which got me playing with responsive design and media queries. I made a concerted effort to get those few main screens right before building out a ton of pages. Once I got most of that complete, I moved on to the next set of forms.

My goal was to have the ability to make Hold An Event’s web application to seem like it was processing real information such as a search for events, to registering for an event, etc. This was done by passing parameters in the URL to tell each page what static content to place on the page. This idea seems to be working fairly well, since when showing friends lately what Hold An Event looked and acted like, they asked what kind of database, etc. I’m using. I would then explained what I had done to make it a look like a fully-functional application.

By the middle of October 2001, I had a bunch of pages that worked well enough to start showing people at that month’s Accessibility DC event and then more people at my annual Accessibility Camp DC event. Once those events were over, I didn’t do any more coding until New Year’s Eve 2011, sitting at my parents kitchen table coding from like 11 PM to 1:30 AM, because everyone else in the house more or less had gone to bed by 10:30 PM. Since then, I have been doing something to improve the Hold An Event web application just about every night and on the weekends too. Sometimes it was a little tweak here or there; other times it’s been to add a new page.

At one point, I added a few different smaller non geek/tech events to be able to show people different types of events types and how the process worked. I also had to add in some code to display the different navigation paths people used, depending on what type of user they were. For example, is the person running the event or attending the event, which are the two types I’m worrying about now.

How You Can Help

The next step is to let people play with Hold An Event themselves instead of me demoing it on my iPhone, which means making it look and act better on a tablet or in a computer browser. Currently it’s not the prettiest thing in a web browser, but it will do as a prototype.

Other big tickets items I’m going to have to think about are the security of peoples’ information like name and e-mail address to start, along with taking money, once I get to that point, which is far off in the future. I’m only working on this a few hours some nights after work and then 6 hours max on the weekends, for a total of 10 to 15 hours a week.

So here’s to making more progress over the next few months.

Where to find the Hold An Event Prototype

For those wanting to look at the current prototype, start by using the “tab” key on the Hold An Event’s home page, doing so will let you find the link to the demo/prototype web application. Remember this “prototype will not save” anything you place in it at all. So please don’t try and create an event to invite people to it and think it will work because it won’t. Once you’re there, use the search box to find events in “DC”, which will currently give you a list of nine events to view.

If you want to sign in to see the process of creating and viewing current events you’re running, your past events, or ones you’re attending, all you need to do is make sure you place at least one character in the user name and password fields. It doesn’t matter what they are, just as long as there is something there.

Feedback Welcome

P.S. Have fun and please send me feedback about what needs to be done, improved, etc. I’m a big guy and can take the the bad with the good. I’m mostly looking for ways to improve things.

I’m Not Dead Yet (In a British Accent)

I know a few of you have asked if I had written anything on my blog in a while and I have had to say no I have not. After reading @Nacin‘s blog post yesterday about it being months, since his last post I figured I might as well work on one myself.

After checking I found the last time I blogged was on September 19, 2010, and it was about “Accessibility Camp DC – October 9, 2010”, which was a great time in case anyone wanted to know. I had wanted to write a blog post a month or so ago, but it probably would have been about Accessibility Camp DC 2011 and it would have looked like I only post when I’m pushing one of my own events, which I actually need to do more of so we get more people attending. By attending the monthly event was so people can learn from each other as well as make new friends.

For those wondering how long it’s been, since I blogged last it has been 443 days or 1 year, 2 months, and 17 days.

To give you a better idea of how long it’s been, we have had our third Accessibility Camp DC, started our third year of monthly Accessibility DC meetings, and I even started working on my web based event registration prototype “Hold An Event”.

Information about Hold An Event

Hold An Event” is going to be an accessible web based event registration application. The most important part of the application is that it will be accessible as possible when completed, since the event registration system we are currently using now is not accessible. Need to make sure this web application is usable by screen reader users, those, using voice recognition software, voice over (iPhone and iPad), and any other assistive technology.

I’m starting by building the mobile part first. I figured if you can register for an event or even create an event on your cell phone, then it should be even easier to do those tasks in a browser or on a tablet. I have spent most of the last two plus years gathering information about the different people that are likely to use the system and what types of functions they will need from the start and those that can wait until later.

More to come about “Hold An Event”, once the prototype is a bit further along, so I can get feedback on it from others.

Events Attended

During 2011 I attended the following events/conferences:

That’s enough for now.

P.S. For those that don’t know the blog post title was a play on the Monty Python skit “Not Dead Yet”.