Archive for the 'help' Category

If My Contact Is On Your Phone, Please Protect It

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012


A recent article in the Columbia Journalism Review by Matthieu Aikins underscored the need to protect the contents of your smartphone. If the potential to have your own information stollen or generally snooped through your stuff, please consider this story.

The British journalist and filmmaker Sean McAllister was in Syriashooting a documentary for Britain’s Channel 4 about the underground there. A few he had worked with were concerned about his general lack of care about his communications and protection of the identities of those in the underground he was working with.

In October, McAllister was detained by Syrian security agents. Well detained he could hear the cries of prisoners being tortured in nearby rooms. He was interrogated and had all of his electronics seized and searched.

Upon hearing that security forces had McCallister a few individuals who had been in touch with, including the main source of the article, immediately fled fearing the brutal Syrian regime now had information that put their lives at risk. Others in McAllister’s electronic records, like one Omar al-Baroudi, were never heard from again.

The article uses the example to point to the need for journalist and the organizations that employ them to become more aware of how to protect their digital information. I hope this stark example will encourage everyone with a smartphone to consider protecting the information on it and information available to it.

If not, please consider the potential embracement of a malevolent or mischievous individual finding your smartphone and posting to Facebook or Twitter on your behalf (though I would understand that it would be nice if someone update your Google Plus account).

What to Look for when Trying to Author Accessible Content: My List

Monday, February 21st, 2011

A picture of the HTML source of this blog post.I’ve assembled my list of things to look for when preparing content for the web with an eye to accessibility. I would like to add to this advice that I’ve always found that accessible web pages are the easiest way to create content that is well indexed by a search engine – as both serve the goal of helping a machine interpret the content better.

This list is written assuming that most modern tools that help construct content directly for the web help individuals create accessible content by default, and that this is the primary way content makes its way to the web. Tools like WordPress for blogs, or Learning Management Systems (LMSs).

Multimedia content is particularly challenging, as it can require the use multiple senses, and unless accommodations such as transcription or description are added, some individuals may not be able to access multimedia content.

Evan more than with most posts; I’d love to read your comments and suggestions about this list and these practices.

My Checklist for Preparing Accessible Content

This list was created by Matt Clare with resources from World Wide Web Consortium. [1] The W3C has a simular checklist document: www.w3.org/TR/2006/WD-WCAG20-20060427/appendixB.html [2]


Simple Formatting

Web Accessibility, in the context of the AODA

Monday, February 21st, 2011

The draft of the AODA Integrated Accessibility Standards is currently posted on the Ministry of Community and Social Services web site. The section on “Accessible websites and web content” subsection 4 was what I was most interested in. There were only minor changes from what was in the last draft that I saw, but the changes were significant.


Update: Friday April 1, 2011

Looks like the link is dead, but Google still has a copy: webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:W2_8OUCWcYAJ:www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/publications/accessibility/standards_iar/part2_iar.aspx

Running key phrases through the Ministry’s search tool yields some really interesting results. Here is an example search.


What is the same is that it references the WWW Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/

The draft AODA Integrated Accessibility Standards document applies to Ontario public web sites on the internet and in intranets (university LMS’ would be in either definition) and outlines targets for NEW content to be WCAG Level A accessible and then level AA and eventually ALL content to being Level AA.

The change is that there will be exceptions for online audio and video content. That is, content that would require Captions (Live) and Audio Descriptions (Pre-recorded) as outlined in the WCAG2 specification here www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/#media-equiv

The WCAG2′s Captions (Live) and Audio Descriptions (Pre-recorded) requirements are unlike other content formatting previsions in the WCAG2 in that these are not items that content authors can simply modify how they format their content to achieve this high standard of accessibility. The Captions (Live) and Audio Descriptions (Pre-recorded) require many orders of magnitude more hours of labour to comply with than is often needed to produce the original artifact. To quote Stuart Robertson, webmaster, UofGuelph.ca and contributor to alistapart.com at the 2009 Aiming for Accessibility conference at Guelph University “[the] Transcription requirement represent a serious disincentive to publish audio/video content to the web”.

What happens when you wipe your iPhone with Exchange

Friday, January 28th, 2011

If you’ve ever wondered what happens when you wipe an iPhone via MS Exchange here’s my video.

I hope you don’t find yourself in a situation where you need to wipe your MS Exchange linked iPhone because you lost it or it was stollen, but I think everyone who has their phone connected to Exchange at work or Apple’s MobileMe service appreciates this kind of piece of mind. I know I really value knowing that if someone’s got my phone they at least don’t have my data like E-Mails, contacts, pictures and whatever else is on my most personal device.

In the case of MS Exchange 2010 here is what the confirmation E-Mail looks like afterwards.

If you don’t have your phone linked to Apple’s MobileMe service I’d recommend the Exchange based options that you might have through work (or a BlackBerry Enterprise server) or Microsoft’s hosted Exchange services or Google’s Apps for domains premium services.

PHP script to download files from GMail

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

While my wife was getting a valuable two hours of sleep before she was woken with contractions signaling the birth of our first born child 19 hours later, I was not quite tired enough to sleep. UnknowingIy missing out on my last chance to sleep for a while, I was typing away at a PHP script to allow us to share pictures of our new baby – whenever he was going to arrive – with our friends and family privately with nothing more complex than the ability to eMail photos from my iPhone.

It was important to us to be able to share these pictures of our new child, but also to protect our child’s image from the very public exposure of the public internet and the still too public (or at least, un-trustable privacy of) Facebook.

Here’s how I was able to achieve this with a web server, some PHP, a GMail account and my iPhone:

Creating Galleries
First off I created a folder with standard Apache Basic Auth settings and let our friends and family know the simple username and password. I also turned on WebDAV access for the geekier viewers. In order to construct interesting galleries I placed a copy of Qdig, a Quick Digital Image Gallery PHP script to create galleries and thumbnails on the fly (and secured it against the WebDAV access). I had to increase the amount of RAM PHP could use, but otherwise it was very easy to implement.

Getting eMail Attachements from GMail with PHP

I created a new GMail account (specifically through my Google Apps domain) to receive all of these cute baby pictures via eMail from my iPhone. The next step was to check it automatically and store the attached pictures in a specific folder.