Read RSS Feeds and Blogs in Google Reader Offline with Google Gears

Tonight I sat down after dinner to read about what was happening in the blogsphere. I opened Google Reader. After a few minutes, I noticed a new feature. You can read your RSS Feeds and Blogs with Google Reader offline.

First you download the Firefox Extension Google Gears. Second you download the latest 2000 entries within Google Reader. Finally disconnect your computer from the Internet and you can read away.

It’s pretty nice.

I’m surprised I haven’t seen this mentioned yet on the Google Blog Reader Team Blog or the Google Corporate Blog. This is a neat feature.

Has anybody else gotten this yet?

Update: Apparently this is part of a larger movement on the part of Google. Their Google Gears browser plug-in is an open source application they’re releasing with the hope that developers will use it as a platform to build more offline applications. I wonder how easy it is to develop with. When will they have this incorporated into GMail?

Update:  Chris Wetherell of Google has posted something about the new features up on the Google Reader Blog.

Lee LeFever and Common Craft’s “Video: Wikis in Plain English”

After the massive success of the video “RSS in Plain English,” Lee LeFever and the company Common Craft have put out another video, “Wikis in Plain English.” If you’re not familiar with wikis, know someone who is not familiar with wikis, or just an avid wiki user, you’ll love this video.

I hope they will do many more videos.

Shawn L. Henry is speaking on “What’s new, WCAG 2.0, and current issues” on June 5th in London

If you haven’t already heard,  the W3C WAI‘s Outreach Coordinator and recent author of “Just Ask: Integrating Accessibility Throughout DesignShawn L. Henry is going to be in London on June 5th doing  a talk “What’s New, WCAG 2.0, and Current Issues” for a RNIB Web Access Center hosted event. She is going to be covering a wide variety of topics, everything from the latest on WCAG 2.0 to WAI-ARIA.  The event is FREE but you must RSVP.

I really wish I could be at the event but I can’t afford the trip across the pond.  I’m hoping that some of you will go and take a lot of notes and pictures.

This blog is blocked in China

According to the site Great Firewall of China, this blog is blocked in China. I didn’t realize information about Web 2.0 and a copy of my resume was a threat to the Chinese government.

Update: According to a recent commenter, my blog can be accessed in China. Maybe I’m only blocked in one part of China or the Great Firewall of China test just isn’t accurate.

My blog is blocked in China

Web Community Seems a Little More Positive on the Latest WCAG 2.0 Draft

I have been keep my eyes on the blogosphere for reaction and comments to the latest draft of the W3C’s WCAG 2.0.

It has been pretty quiet. Typically the blogosphere only gets in a frenzy when they have something to complain about.

There has also been a bit of positive feedback. Jack Pickard wrote the following…

It’s usable, it’s a vast improvement on the previous draft, and it’s an improvement on WCAG 1.0 as well.

Ok, it’s not perfect, not by a long chalk — it’s significantly lacking in relation to cognitive disability for example, and I’d like to see this improved before the final release — but it’s still pretty damn good nonetheless.

I agree with Jack. I think the latest version of WCAG 2.0 is a big step forward.

In an era of Web 2.0, having a set of Web accessibility guidelines that will be relevant and current with the times is CRUCIAL. Its our responsibility as the Web community to grab a tasty beverage, sit back with WCAG 2.0, and give it a read.

What are your thoughts? Do you think its an improvement? How could it be better?

Are you using a WCAG 2.0 Accessibility Supported Technology to make your Web site?

One thing that you won’t see in the latest draft of WCAG 2.0 is the concept of a baseline.  The community in unison pretty well dismissed the idea as not comprehensible.

It has been replaced with the idea of Accessibility Supported Web Technologies.  We all use different building blocks to put together our Web pages, whether it be HTML, DOM Scripting, AJAX, or Flash.   We need to use Web technologies which are going to support Web accessibility.  Assistive technologies (screen readers, screen magnifiers, braille reader, etc) have to be able to progrogrammitically assess the meaning on content which we’re trying to get across to the user.

So the next question you’d ask is how do you know if a Web Technology supports Accessibility?  The document gives some general guidance but nothing that a layman could easily assess.   I’d assume that all W3C Technologies support Web accessibility.

Shouldn’t the W3C create a list of accessibility supported Web technologies?  I’d think so.  Well they’ve passed that job off on us.  According to the Understanding WCAG 2.0 document, “Anyone can create a publicly documented list of “Web Technologies and their Accessibility Support.”

With so many new Web technologies being created all the time, maybe the W3C doesn’t want to be in the position of holding the official list of what is and what is not accessible.  Maybe the Web Standards Project (WaSP) and their Accessibility Taskforce would be a good keeper of this list.

I just don’t feel comfortable with developers (generally people not that familiar with assistive technologies) judging whether or not a Web technology supports accessibility.  I’d like to see some other organization with more expertise in that area step up.

WCAG 2.0 is Technology Independent

One of the first things that you’ll notice when you start reading WCAG 2.0 is that it is “technology independent.”  Well what does that mean?  The guidelines and success criteria are not tied to any particular Web technology.  They apply to all technologies (HTML, CSS, Images, Flash, JavaScript).

Within the main WCAG 1.0 document, there is practical advice for how to make your Web site accessible.  For example, Guideline 5 is “Create tables that transform gracefully.”  you’re not going to see practical advice like this at this level of WCAG 2.0.

To get the practical advice that deals with one technology or the other, you have to look one level deeper at the supporting material like Understanding WCAG 2.0 or Techniques and Failures for WCAG 2.0. The main WCAG 2.0 guidelines document acts more as the foundation for the other practical techniques that you’ll find.

I think having WCAG 2.0 be technology independent is pretty smart.  It seems like every couple of months some new Web technology is announced.  There is some new way for Web content to be authored and experienced.

It would have been hard if practical advice would have been woven into the main WCAG guidelines, like in WCAG 1.0.  It would have to be ever evolving and ever changing.  Within the main WCAG 2.0 document, the guidance is more abstract and high level so that it can apply to just about everything.

What do you think of WCAG 2.0 being technology independent?