Friday, March 18, 2005

Books to Read

Books to Read

Design basics index - a graphic designer's guide to designing effective compositions, selecting dynamic components & developing creative concepts

This is a great book for novice and experienced designers alike. You can learn from each page as the principles are explained in a very simple , but effective, ways. Jim Krause explains the Three C's of design: Composition, Components and Concepts

Illustrator CS Accelerated - a visual guide in learning Adobe Illustrator CS. A lot of books have been sprouting similarly in the last few years.

100 habits of successful graphic designers - insider secrets on working smart and staying creative.

This is a must read if you are a graphic designer. No, I think this is just plain common sense. The concepts here are not for graphic designers only but for businessmen as well. This is a collection of what they have learned through experience, and as they say, experience is the best teacher.

This is their way of telling us not to repeat their mistakes because they have done it. Cool.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Web Accessibility

Attending the four-day seminar on Web Site Design for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) served as a wake-up call for me, a web designer, to consider stuff that I treated as second priority.

Section 508 of the American Workforce Investment Act of 1998 requires that federal agencies' electronic and information technology is accessible to people with disabilities. The Center for Information Technology Accommodation (CITA), in the U.S. General Services Administration's Office of Government-wide Policy, has been charged with the task of educating federal employees, and building the infrastructure necessary to support Section 508 implementation. Using this web site, federal employees and the public can access resources for understanding and implementing the requirements of Section 508.

This law, observed in the USA and many European countries, simply states that web sites should be accessible to PWDs as they are also contributing members of the society. Not doing so is punishable by law.

Unlike here in the Philippines, there is no such law. But there is already a Manila Declaration Pact headed by Leo Valdes – our resource person, a La Salle alumnus - that government agencies should take steps in ensuring that government web sites are PWD-friendly. He suggested that everybody should try to use a screen reader at least once, to have an idea of the surfing experience PWDs go through when visiting inaccessible web sites.

The participants had a brainstorming on how to make web sites accessible. We came up with these resolutions:
  • To enable screen reader functionality:define ALT tags of graphic images
  • use the ALT text in “fillable” forms
  • use TITLE tags in text links
  • (In effect, for us who can see, this is the text you see on images when you roll the mouse over them.)
  • Use the D-link beside a complex graphic image. The D-link is a new style in coding pages which links to a page describing the image.
  • Do NOT make links like CLICK ME, or MORE>>>. These are really annoying for PWDs who use screen readers.

PDF files are usually inaccessible, though I make an exception for Acrobat Reader 7.0 which has a built-in screen reader. However, its features cover a very limited scope.

There are still a lot of factors to consider in accessibility. Always keep in mind that what benefits the so-called “minority” also benefits the “majority”. A good example of this is the sidewalk ramps specifically-designed for PWDs in particular. Now, it is being used to move delivered items with less effort, as well as by parents with babies in their strollers to conveniently get on the sidewalk ramp.

I hope you are able to visualize the concept and contribute in your own way to make our web site more accessible to the most number of “viewers”.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

New Stuff in the Internet

Google has formally launched its desktop search application, after a comparatively short beta test period of just five months.

Version 1.0 of the desktop search application adds a number of new formats to the list of file types searched and addresses many of the privacy and security concerns raised after the release of the initial beta version last October. Check it out.

We are trying out Camtasia Studio version 2 to aid our DLSU Help Desk in making simple tutorial videos for network and dial-up guides. If it turns out to be alright, we will recommend it to admin so that we may buy a license. Here's the link to their website.

And finally, I have updated my website, digital restoration, you can now see some details of my photomosaics - for the uninitiated, mosaics are thousand of pictures carefully arranged to form another figure, oh, what am I saying, head on to my site because it is better explained visually.