Archive for December, 2004


Google Suggest

I was wondering when they’d start doing this, given the address completion in Gmail (which admittedly has a much smaller scope): Google Suggest. Very nice indeed. If you’re curious how it’s done, Simon Willison gives a quick rundown. I think he’s right: this is just the tip of the iceburg.

Google is raising the bar on what people can expect from a web application. Until a year or two ago, when someone asked me to write something like this, I said no. Just no. It was possible with available remote scripting libraries, but inconsistently enough that it wouldn’t be worth it to the people asking me to build the feature. When asked more recently, I’ve hemmed and hawed. Yes, I could do it, and believe me it would be fun and I’d like to, but again: not worth it for what they asked me to do and the timeframes in which they wanted it done. The few times I did suggest remote scripting, it was turned down. No one expects that from a web application, after all. :-)

Now, though, Google is demonstrating to the world the sort of thing that can be done. Others like Oddpost have paved the way, of course, but a large company like Google is bringing it to the masses. Good thing, too, since I’m now in a position of having to demonstrate that yes, a web application can be responsive and do more than most people have seen.

And you know what else? It’s making me excited to work with JavaScript again.

Good times.

Update: Drew McLellan expands on this idea far more usefully than I.



Fangs is a screen reader simulator for Firefox that generates a textual representation of a page similar to how a screen reader would read it.

I am of two minds on this. On the one hand, because Fangs is a simulator, for many issues you’ll still need to test with real screen reader. We know about problems with Fahrner Image Replacement only because of testing with actual screen readers. For issues that don’t require a real screen reader to test, what does Fangs offer that we can’t get with a text-only browser like lynx or a tool like WAVE? It’s early yet, maybe we’ll see. It’s an interesting and potentially useful project.


Use JAWS with Firefox.

Good news for JAWS users: a JAWS Screen Reader Adaptation for Mozilla Firefox.

Objective: The goal of the Sharkware Development team is to create compatibility between Freedom Scientific’s JAWS Screen Reader and the Mozilla Firefox next generation browser.

The JAWS Screen Reader Adaptation project is aimed at making JAWS more compatible for the Mozilla Firefox Next Generation Browser so that users of JAWS and those dependent on low-vision tools have a choice other than Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Description: This project has resulted in a JAWS script and a Firefox extension that enable JAWS to function with Mozilla Firefox in a similar manner to how JAWS functions with Internet Explorer. Our product gives support for simple navigational functions as well as more complex functions that allow for alt text reading, link recognition, etc.

Excellent. Truly excellent.

Via Tristan Nitot [fr].


Quick Links

Quick links:


Thunderbird 1.0

With all the hullaballoo about Firefox, you may have missed that Thunderbird 1.0 has also been released. I haven’t tried Thunderbird for a long time, might just give it another go.


Phone to Flower

OK, this is just too damn cool: “Scientists said on Monday they have come up with a cell phone cover that will grow into a sunflower when thrown away.”

Materials company Pvaxx Research & Development, at the request of U.S.-based mobile phone maker Motorola (MOT.N), has come up with a polymer that looks like any other plastic, but which degrades into soil when discarded.

Researchers at the University of Warwick in Britain then helped to develop a phone cover that contains a sunflower seed, which will feed on the nitrates that are formed when the polyvinylalcohol polymer cover turns to waste.


Jackson Street Roundhouse

Sam and Owen in a train We took Owen to the Jackson Street Roundhouse on Saturday, a cool little railroad museum not far from downtown Saint Paul. Funny how after years of living in Saint Paul, I had no idea that it existed. Not that I would have been terribly interested before I had a kid to take there. They have a number of restored / preserved railroad cars on display, an impressive Lego rail village, a number of wooden train sets set up, caboose rides … lots of fun. Last Saturday and next they’ve got some Christmas activities, which is what drew us there. Owen’s really into trains, so he was in heaven.

Tip: the caboose ride is cool, but if it’s busy enough for them to add a passenger car, ride in that. You can’t see much from the caboose unless you’re lucky enough to snag a spot in the upper level.

The Vulcans stopped by while we were there, spreading the warmth and handing out buttons & coloring books. I believe that next Saturday the Winter Carnival royalty will be there around noon.

Owen and Santa While there, we passed Santa a couple times. He beckoned to Owen, who by now knows who Santa is but wasn’t willing to just rush up to him. After a while, he warmed up to the idea and sat on Santa’s lap while Kiara took a picture. I think how we’re handling the Santa thing is just deal with it matter-of-factly, sharing stories and songs, taking advantage of the happy merging of fantasy and reality that kids at this age are blessed with. We’ll see how far that takes us. :)


House of Flying Daggers

We don’t see many movies in the theater anymore, but we’re sure as hell going to see House of Flying Daggers. Zhang Ziyi? Andy Lau? Takeshi Kaneshiro? (we named our cat after him) Directed by Zhang Yimou, who brought us Hero?

Wow. I don’t think we have a choice in the matter.

On a related Hong Kong film note, the original Infernal Affairs is at the Oak Street Cinema this week. Not that you’re likely to care unless you live here.


Another Scene From My Life With Kiara

Kiara and I are sitting on the couch, drinking tea. Every now and then I hold a small bag in her direction.

“Jelly Baby?”


Quick Links

« Prev - Next »