Archive for January, 2005

Google should do abbreviations

Monday, January 24th, 2005

Even though I don’t like the abbr element, I wish that while it is prevalent Google would let people search for them with something like abbr:HTML.

Evolution, Creationism, Schools, and the First Amendment

Tuesday, January 18th, 2005

I just have to quote Kevin Drum here:

I myself would not argue that Darwinism in biology classes is protected by the free exercise clause of the First Amendment. Rather, I would argue more narrowly that everything else is forbidden. If a school district decides not to teach biology at all, that’s fine. But if they do teach it, they aren’t allowed to include religious proselytizing in the curriculum.

The distinction here is this: creationism is Christian proselytizing, a no-no for government bureaucrats. Intelligent Design is so clearly a thinly veiled version of creationism that it’s forbidden too. Darwinism, however, is simply science. School districts are free to stop teaching science if they want, but if they do teach it, they have to teach Darwinism just as much as they have to teach Newtonian mechanics, Boyle’s law, and the theory of relativity.

The rest of the post is about something else, but still an interesting read.

Apache, Multiviews, and index.html

Tuesday, January 18th, 2005

I have Apache set up with multiviews, and it seems to be working fine, except for one thing: linking straight to a directory gives the index.html file regardless of the preferences. Linking to ./index works fine, just not ./. Can anyone help me fix this?

Yet more on abbr

Monday, January 17th, 2005

So I’ve been thinking more about <abbr> lately, and I think I’ve come to the conclusion that it shouldn’t be used at all.

First off, I don’t think it’s needed. For > 90% of the abbreviations I use, the target audience already understands them (even if the exact expansion isn’t known—but then, it doesn’t need to be). HTML, PHP, RSS, URL/URI—anyone reading one of my web-related entries would know what those mean (indeed, most people on the internet would know what at least two of them mean, even if they do no authoring themselves). On the offchance that someone reads a post and doesn’t know what one of those means, then a), they’re way out of their league, and b), they almost certainly won’t understand even if it is expanded.

Second, I don’t think it helps accessibility much, if at all. Sure, it lets a screenreader know that it’s an abbreviation, but there are plenty of other clues that can give that away. The screenreader could have an internal list of abbreviations that it knows, like humans do. Many abbreviations are typed in capital letters. And probably most importantly, most abbreviations can’t be pronounced, and if they can be, they normally are. There are a few exceptions, but they’re rare, and in most cases that a screenreader would mess up, a human without knowledge of the subject would make the same mistake.

(Disclaimer for that last paragraph: that’s just what I’m guessing, based on common sense. It’s quite possible I’m wrong, but if so, I want hard evidence.

Third, the expansions of abbreviations, if given, have always been part of the content. If you look at a newspaper it’ll say something like “The National Institute of Health (NIH) announced yesterday that…” “Later, the NIH also…”. If it’s something known by most people, the expansion might be in the parentheses, but it’s still a part of the content. Using the title attribute, which isn’t a part of the content, to say what an abbreviation means is wrong.

We don’t mark up most other parts of text (places, names, sentences) unless they have some distinct semantic meaning that’s not there without the element (em, strong, code), the only ambiguous case being q for quotes. I don’t think abbreviations should be an exception.

You may want to read my previous posts on the subject.

Comment validation and more

Monday, January 17th, 2005

Well, I got comment validation set up (thanks Anne!) so now, on the offchance that anyone wants to comment, they can. I’ll (hopefully sometime soon) go through and hack it to exactly how I please, and write the rules down somewhere. For now I don’t quite know exactly what they are myself.

I have a few other things I need to do, like going through and removing a bunch of title attributes on <abbr> tags, changing the doctype to strict, changing the layout, etc. I’ve never worked with PHP or Apache, so this’ll be a learning experience.

Ew, I just noticed how ugly the URLs here are. index.php?p=30#comments for comments, index.php?cat=1 for a category link, wp-commentsrss2.php for an RSS feed… I guess I have a lot to do to fix this up… (that or I’ll be switching to Robbert Broersma’s that Anne referred me to, once it’s complete).

Hmm… that didn’t work

Sunday, January 16th, 2005

So I’ve got this somewhat set up now, and I’m just playing around with settings and stuff. I tried importing my old livejournal entries, but that didn’t work (properly) so I think I’ll just leave them on the livejournal if anyone wants to comment on them.

I have all comments set to be moderated now, until I can get Anne’s validation plugin…

I’m still playing around with things, getting a feel for it. It should be more functional in a couple days.

Hello world!

Sunday, January 16th, 2005

Welcome to WordPress. This is the first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!