Useful Links: OpenAIR, Queer History, Lucidpress

If you’ve never been on a team designing a site in one of Knowbilities OpenAIR events, it’s a great experience. You learn a lot about accessibility and have a good time. They still need 3 teams for this year’s event.

A Queer History of Computing at Rhizome is the first of five posts in a series. The first post is about Alan Turing, an English mathematician who is considered by many to be the father of computer science. This is a fantastic project, I hope educators find and use all five posts in the series. The series will be all men. A similar project on queer women would be wonderful, too.

Collaboratively Create Multimedia Documents With Lucidpress. This multimedia tool works with Google docs but is “slicker” and is free for students and teachers.

Useful Links: Girls in IT, wearable tech, early edu

Why schoolgirls are not interested in studying IT is an essay by a 13 year old English schoolgirl.

This bracelet could replace your passwords, your car keys, and even your fingerprints. This is the ultimate in cool and something a forgetful password keeper like myself thinks is a great idea. It’s also the ultimate privacy invasion. Since it can be anything, how long until its baked into something like Google Glass or whatever comes after Google Glass?

3 Tech Skills Every Kid Should Learn at School (but doesn’t) is right on the mark.

Useful Links: Hate your CMS? Student Reps, Mobile Guidelines

I am so angry at computer

The Real Reason People Hate Their CMS brings up a lot of points worth pondering.

Adobe spreads the love on campus. If students are willing to become Adobe student reps they can get free Creative Cloud memberships.

The BBC Mobile Accessibility Standards and Guidelines (pdf) are available in draft form. Listen to this very interesting interview with Henny Swan, BBC accessibility specialist, about how the guidelines were created.

2 Excellent (and Free) Text Editors

Since any basic text editor can write HTML, CSS, and various scripting languages, I like to let my students know which I recommend and why.

I have two favorites. Both are free. Both use color coding and indentation to make reading and troubleshooting easier. Both provide line numbering. One is for Mac and one is for Windows.

For the Mac, I like TextWrangler. TextWrangler is a “lite” version of BBEdit. Many Mac users may already own BBEdit, but if you aren’t in that position, you should get TextWranger.

For Windows, I like Notepad++.

Both these editors allow you to have multiple tabbed windows open at once a number of helpful functions for dealing with code and for general editing. I’m not sure about Notepad++, but I know that TextWrangler has FTP built in.

I consider a good text editor an essential, even if you use a tool like Dreamweaver to do most of your work. I find, for the way I work, that I often open up pages in a text editor for various chores instead of using Dreamweaver – or in addition to using Dreamweaver.

Useful links: Accessible Aesthetics, Social media, CMS

Making websites accessible without sacrificing aesthetics. This is from nomensa.

Improving the accessibility of social media in government. Tips for Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Why do organizations hate their content management systems? I wanted to link to this just so I could quote this wonderful sentence: “A typical CMS is like a digestive system with no capacity to poop.”

The Whys and Hows of Two-Step Verification


I spent the weekend in Chicago at BlogHer13. One of my jobs there was to do a couple of sessions in the Geek Bar on two-step verification. While I have the information at my fingertips, here are the whys and hows of two-step verification


Why is every big company bringing in the opportunity for users to sign up for two-step verification? Horror stories of hacked accounts, mostly. All these companies have made it possible for you to use two-step verification.

  • Google
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • WordPress
  • Evernote
  • Apple
  • Dropbox

Two-step verification adds a layer of security to your account and makes it harder for your account to be hacked.

Once your account has been breached, it can be used to broadcast spam or malicious links. Your password can be changed. Your information can be changed or removed (and there’s no way to get it back). If it is a Twitter or Facebook password that someone has figured out then all the sites that you sign into using Twitter and Facebook have been compromised as well.


You still need a strong password, even if you opt in to two-step verification. Remember that.

If you use two-step verification, here’s how you do it.

  • Sign in to your account on Facebook or Gmail or whatever service you are using. Find the settings in your profile.
  • Sign up for two-step verification and provide your mobile phone number
  • Now, when you go to the site and enter your password to sign in, you may be required to enter a second access code, which is sent to your mobile phone

On Facebook, for example, enable ‘Login Approvals’ from the ‘Account Security’ section of the account settings page

facebook opt in

On Twitter, visit your account settings page. Make sure you have provided a phone number. Check the “Require a verification code when I sign in” box

twitter opt in

Unless a hacker has your phone in his hand, he may have guessed your password, but he won’t have the code that gets sent to your mobile phone.

It depends on which company you are using whether you are asked to enter the second code every time you sign in. If you are signing in from a recognized device, you may not be asked for the second code.

4 Useful Tools for Testing Page Load Speed

When it comes to maximizing the user experience, the importance of speed cannot be overstated. A slow website, no matter how great the content, no matter how aesthetically pleasing, will test users’ patience. Speaking of which, if there’s one user whose patience you don’t want to test, it is Google.

The search engine giant made it official in 2010 when it announced “we’re including a new signal in our search ranking algorithms: site speed.” Indeed, there is a direct correlation between page load speed and time spent on site. All things equal,the faster site will achieve higher rankings. For anyone whose business model depends on high search engine rankings, speed is an absolute must.

Fortunately, there are 4 very useful tools for testing page load speed.

Firebug’s Net Panel

Firebug is a preferred tool for most web developers, and one reason for this this awesome little plugin makes life so much easier when it comes to analyzing almost any aspect of a page, including load time.

To test load time with Firebug, navigate to the page in question. Next, enable the “Net Panel” by selecting the “Net” tab and then clicking “enable.”

enable net tab

Now reload the page and watch as Firebug displays load times sequentially on a graphical timeline, be it for CSS, JavaScript or image files.

page load speeds

You can click the “+” sign to the left of any item to drill down into other sub-processes, such as headers, response, cache, cookies, etc.

plus menu

PageSpeed Firefox Plugin

PageSpeed is a Firefox plugin that extends the functionality of Firebug. Once you’ve installed PageSpeed, access it by opening Firebug and then clicking on the “PageSpeed tab. Next, navigate to the web page in question. Once it has finished loading, click “Analyze Performance.”

page speed

Once the process is complete, you’ll see a list of performance affecting factors, each hyperlinked to a “best practices” help page for developers. A PageSpeed score is assigned to the page as a whole.

page speed score

Click the triangle to the left of each item to expand it.


YSlow, by Yahoo!

YSlow is a tool developed by Yahoo! that suggests analyzes webpages and ways to improve speed. Once installed, the YSlow icon will appear in your Add-Ins bar at the bottom of your browser. Click to launch YSlow.


Once launched, the panel expands. Click “Run Test.”


YSlow will crawl the DOM to find all page components, such as images, scripts, CSS stylesheets, and so on. It looks at the HTTP response headers and then crunches page load data according to built-in rules. It then assigns a grade to each rule, in addition to an overall grade for the page. An “Overall performance score” is represented as a numeric value. You can click on any rule to learn why the page received a particular grade.

overall score


WebPageTest is a web-based tool that tests page load speed from
multiple locations around the world using real browsers. It displays results in
a waterfall chart format, and provides diagnostic information, as well as suggestions
for improvements. Grades appear at the top of the Performance Test Results,
which you can click on to access a Full Optimization Checklist that goes into
detail about the specific findings.

web page test

Waterfall results are displayed, in addition to pie charts that show a content breakdown represented as percentages of requests made, and bytes sent.

results charts

Guest author Mike Woods is a part-time author and real estate broker specializing in helping buyers find homes for sale in Indianapolis and the surrounding area, and understand the complex home-buying process.