Categories
thoughts

Image Maps – Ability vs. Appropriate Use

I recently made a comment on an EDU Checkup episode about how the use of image maps was a negative aspect in the code of a website.

I promptly got the following comment:

I don’t get it. What’s wrong with image maps? Aren’t they still part of the HTML 5 working draft?

http://www.w3.org/TR/html5/the-map-element.html#the-map-element

…doesn’t seem like they’re planning on phasing it out.

I wanted to take a minute to explain the difference between the official ability to use tags from the HTML spec and the appropriate use of those tags.

Yes, it is part of the standard

For me the issue with image maps isn’t their place in the standard, it’s their implementation. Tables are still part of the HTML5 standard but there are appropriate uses and uses that make the user experience far more difficult than necessary.

Let’s add some context

For example on the NEL site an image map is used to link to the social media sites. I can see the motivation behind using a single image for all the social icons to reduce HTTP requests. But that means the meta data behind the links basically is stating here is an image with some hotspots on it. It doesn’t give any insight into what is being linked on. Personally I think the better approach would be to list out each link in an unsorted list with an appropriate ID to label what the list is for. Then using CSS to display them next to each other, hide the text with a text-indent: -9999em and then use that same single social logo sprite to display the appropriate icons image for people can can actually view the site.

Image Map

Unordered List

This would allow the same visual result but add far deeper meaning to the HTML for machines and screen readers.

Just my two cents. I am interested in seeing examples of real appropraite uses of image maps, if you have any please feel free to comment.

Categories
event thoughts

TEDxDetroit Wrap Up

TEDxDetroit Logo

This last week I attended TEDxDetroit. An independently organized TED event held at Lawrence Tech University in Southfield, Michigan. The idea of TEDxDetroit is to spread positive ideas for the world from Detroit. Seating was limited and I was one of the lucky 150 hand picked attendees. Although the videos from all the speakers will be available shortly I wanted to take some time and reflect on the event as a whole.

The Event

All the speakers were either from the Detroit area or had some connection to Detroit. Charlie Wollborg along with a few others did an amazing job bringing in such a diverse group of speakers. The day was broken into four sections, powering, educating, perceiving and connecting.

The powering section started out strong with some inspiration and then got down to business with an alternative way to gather wind energy and a different way to think about electric cars. Mixed in was musical performances about Michigan and Detroit.

Educating section was a filled with local Detroiters who are really making a difference in the community. Chazz Miller stood out the most because of the amazing things he is doing with art, Detroit and the youth. He was referred to many times by other presenters as a “hurricane”, fundamentally changing Detroit with amazing force.

The perceiving section had some amazing stories about the current and future state of Detroit. Two presenters really stuck out, the first was a poem by D Blair titled “Detroit (While I Was Away)”.  You can see an unofficial recording of it at the link. It’s a view that many of us have of Detroit, it’s what makes Detroit home. Although it’s not the best view it shows the passion, drive and determination of the entire city. The second was Lee Thomas talking about his struggle with vitiligo and turning all lives experiences into positive power.

The last section connecting was also highly inspiring. PJ Jacokes talked about demanding imagination. PJ runs Go Comedy, an improv theater and encourages all of us to take time to explore our imagination. He asks “When was the last time the floor was made of lava”? A world without imagination is boring and mundane, we cannot get caught in the impression of “adulthood” and just let go and dream every once and a while. It will make you focus on the things that are really important.

Takeaways

The attendees were amazing, everyone I met was very open, friendly and doing great work. All the speakers were very inspiring and uplifting and had a very clear vision for Detroit and how to move it forward. The ideas have to start someplace and these speakers took full advantage of their time to inspire us.

I am so glad I was invited to attend TEDxDetroit and have been inspired to go forth to inspire others and move Detroit forward.

I also posted a few photos to Flickr from the event.

Categories
review

First 24 hours with the Palm Pre

Palm PreLet me just preface that I have owned Palm Treo devices in the past. I also love Apple and their products, I don’t have an iPhone because of the AT&T lock in and ridiculous pricing structure.

When Palm announced what seems like years ago they were developing a completely new phone web based OS I got excited. I live and breath the web and know the power of web devices. Finally they announced the Palm Pre and it was released yesterday, June 6 2009. Of course supplies were going to be limited so getting in line early was key. The Sprint store by my house opened at 8 am and I got in line at 6. I ended up being #19 and there were 3 people who actually camped overnight. The store ended up having about 80 of them so I easily got one. Here is a breakdown of my first 24 hours with the Palm Pre.

Feature Run Down.

Initially reading the reviews everyone said the plastic was flimsy and the phone was too light. I found none of these to be true, the phone is a great weight and doesn’t feel cheap at all. The only piece that does feel flimsy is the little cover for the micro USB port. You have to open it carefully the first few times to break it in, it feels like it is going to break if you are not careful. But after a few times opening and closing it it loosens up and I feel more comfortable about it now.

Palm Pre ScreenshotThe Web OS is Amazing! very fast and fluid. Launching applications and switching between them takes almost no effort at all. It feels very similar to the iPhone except you can use gestures instead of always clicking the center button to move back a screen. Moving between apps and launching apps happens super fast, not sure how it compares to the iPhone but it blows the Backberry Storm out of the water.

The screen is very bright and the colors, transparencies and shadows are amazing. Its almost like when someone moves from a Windows PC to a Mac. The window placement, transitions and movement are just so fluid you don’t know how you ever worked on a PC. I was scared that the feel of the screen was going to be like the Blackberry Storm, (I hate the feel of the storm screen) but its not rubbery at all, its not glass but its super solid. Very reactive and sensitive. It reacts to your fingers without effort. Only thing I could not figure out at first was how to do is take a screen shot, one thing I like that the iPhone/Tough can do in just two keys. I finally figured it out with the OrangeSym, and P keys (kind of a hassle).

The App Catalog is limited at the current moment, I really hope Palm releases the SDK soon because it looks super easy just from the apps I have downloaded. I downloaded 6 so far and they have all been pretty good. Tweed could use some more options but it works, I am sure someone will create a better Twitter client once the SDK comes out.

The audio quality is amazing, both in the ear piece and on speaker, I think better than my Blackberry. I love that there is a full headphone jack at the top, a great position for it and the iTunes integration is awesome. The Pandora app lets you stream music right over the air (no need to be on wifi, but if wifi is enabled it will use it) and can even keep playing in the background. Something the iPhone cannot compete with.

The notification system is really cool to say the least. It comes through at the bottom of the screen with tiny icons or one line text till you touch it and all notifications expand and moves your application up a little, no need to quit your app it just keeps running. Clicking on a notification launches the app and still keeps your old app running in the background.

The battery life is good so far. It came about 40% charged and playing with it the battery was going down quick. After charging it to 100% it only went down 10% in about 4 hours. Its hard to say how good the battery life is yet, I will post an update in the next few days.

Palm Pre ScreenshotThe browser is solid and loads pretty much any web page, zoom happens with the normal two finger actions. One thing I was disappointed by was the lack of Flash. I really hope it comes in a update soon. Updates get pushed through in the background and looks like they are going to be updating the OS often. There already is an update for Web OS to 1.0.2 and it updated without issue. The Sprint network is amazing, I was getting 358 kbit/sec with 0.215s latency data transfer. Site Used: DSL Reports Mobile Speed Test

The keyboard I heard form reviews was hard to type on and the keys were too small. I did not find this to be the case. The only issue I found with the keyboard layout is how close the “back” and “enter” keys are to each other. Without looking I often went to click the back button but ended up clicking the enter key. Bummer but totally possible to get use to.

The network integration is awesome. No need for the Google Sync app its all built in. The only downside is that Google Sync allows you to pick your “My Contacts” instead of “All Contacts” by default in the Pre. So it pulled in 500+ contacts and a lot of them I didn’t even know I had in my book. Took me a little bit but I finally cleaned up my addresses and now all is good. Adding Facebook contacts only complicates things further, wow there is a lot of people in your phone now. I ended up removing Facebook contacts for now.

Wrapup

Overall the Palm Pre is a pleasure to use. It makes using a phone seem effortless and fun again. I really hope they release the SDK soon so they can get more Apps in the catalog, this will be the make or break feature for the phone. The features and positives definitely outweigh the negatives. If you are looking for something different the Pre is definitely for you, its not your run of the mill phone and hopefully will compete for some of the iPhone’s market share. Competition is good and this phone will definitely keep Apple and Google on their toes.

Categories
thoughts

Zombies? Yellow pages in print is the living dead

Seriously? These things still exist?

If you’re reading this I am going to assume you have not picked up a printed Yellow Pages to actually look up a phone number in the last five years. But last week, like clockwork a car was driving down the street delivering Yellow Pages on each doorstep. It made me kind of mad, I wanted to return the book right to them, I just took it from the porch and placed it in recycle. Why is this not an opt out delivery? It is, you just have to look for it, the opt-out is available at http://www.yellowpagesgoesgreen.org/, they should be promoting the opt-out option instead of delivering these zombies each year.

The Living Dead

Imagine the number of trees being cut down, the ink used, the plastic wrapping and the gas for delivery that are being used to create these books that a large majority of people are not even going to use or worse not recycle. The amount of litter and waste these book create is almost incredible. Checkout the stats at the Paperless Petition Web page.

I think of these books as zombies, no one I know with an internet connection uses them but they just keep coming, they are relentless. “Dead” in the eyes of the community but apparently thriving because of ad revenue produced. Its sad because they are obsolete withing days of bring printed, they are non-adaptable and non-scalable.

Environmental Responsibility

It amazes me that a company can be so wasteful and irresponsible. Although it probably keeps thousands of people employed and suppliers employed. Is the waste it creates worth all the jobs? What are the consequences of stopping the production of this book? Do the consequences of all these jobs outweigh the environmental benefit? Should companies be rated or rewarded for their overall environmental impact? I think so.

How you can help

Go to http://www.paperlesspetition.org/ to view and sign the petition. Be responsible and think about what you consume and how it impacts your world.

Footnote: I just opted out but since they only deliver every year have not had the chance to verify the opt-out works. If anyone can verify please do.

Categories
doteduguru thoughts

Becoming a .eduGuru Blogger

The past two weeks have been interesting. If you have not heard already the site .eduGuru, a higher education web marketing blog was looking for a few new staff bloggers. They held a contest for prospects to submit a guest blog post and the community would vote.

I submitted the article Tracking Flash Interaction with Google Analytics and after the week of voting I was one of the three chosen to becoming .eduGuru staff. Entering the contest I didn’t expect to win, just being part of the awesome higher ed web community was worth it in itself.

Now that I am in the pressure is on. Working with the bigger names and great thinkers I have to step up my game. I have a few post ideas already in the queue and broke the ice with my first staff post that expanded on my guest post. I explained Tracking outgoing clicks with Google Analytics, giving an insight to where your visitors are going when they leave your site.

So far everything has been great and the bloggers are super supportive. This is the first blogging “job” I have had, so it is a little different. I am use to working on my own schedule and ideas, but this structure will give me great foundation for consistent posts that will benefit the high ed community.

I want to thank everyone who follows me and has given me feedback, I truly appreciate all of you.

Try to keep up with us

Follow everyone at .eduGuru via the site, rss, or twitter. Or you can follow just my posts or my updates on twitter. Feel free to @nickdenardis me anytime.