Profile cover photo
Profile photo
Matt May
Matt's posts

Post has attachment
(I'm speaking on my own here, without my company's approval.)

So here's the thing about this Amazon/Kobo/Sony letter on the CVAA.

It's actually kind of reasonable. And shouting to the rooftops that they're anti-accessibility for saying what they're saying is really counterproductive. What's upsetting is how immediate, loud, and ultimately wrong those calls are.

The first page of the brief states what they are asking about:
"The Coalition proposes that the waiver expressly apply only to devices that have the following features: (1) The device has no LCD screen. (2) The device has no camera. (3) The device is not offered or shipped to consumers with built-in email, IM, VoIP or other similar ACS client applications and the device manufacturer does not develop ACS applications for their respective device. (4) The device is marketed to consumers as a reading device and promotional material about the devices does not tout the capability to access ACS."

("ACS" is "advanced communication services," and basically encompasses pretty much anything a user can do over a network.)

So here's the thing. The Kindle is an e-ink reader. (We're not talking about the Kindle Fire, which is an Android device, and in the letter, Amazon clearly isn't talking about it either.) It doesn't have a camera. It can't* play video (if it did, the CVAA would require it to have closed captioning support). It's not sold or marketed to do IM, or browse the web, or run Skype, or whatever. It's an extremely low-power device, even going so far as to go to sleep between page turns. Even shopping for books on it kind of sucks. It does precisely two things very well: displaying text, and running forever on a charge.

You can argue that the Kindle et al. should display text accessibly, and I will agree with you. But my understanding of the CVAA (as a non-lawyer, YMMV, etc.) is that it doesn't say anything about that. It does say something about video players and web browsers and IM and stuff. Kindle has a (let's be honest) crappy little web browser that's not very useful. And if we asked Kindle users how often they use it, maybe 90% would not know that it exists, 8% would make a face like they drank sour milk, and the other 2% would gush about how this one time they looked something up over 3G and it didn't cost them anything. It's pretty much a throwaway.

Kindle's operating system doesn't have accessibility support. If the CVAA applied to the classic Kindle, then Amazon would have to build an accessibility API and a screen reader and probably Braille support for it, including its crappy little browser. More to the point: because of its crappy little browser. What Amazon/Kobo/Sony are asking here is, did you really intend for us to drop everything under penalty of law and build a robust accessibility architecture for this device that isn't even meant do anything the law governs, because we threw in a crappy little browser?

We know what will happen if the answer is yes. They'll pull out the browser. That's the cheapest solution. Is that a win for accessibility? Is it worth picking up the pitchforks and torches? No. It's a visceral, uninformed, counterproductive stance that distracts advocates from places where a little pressure can actually do some good.

Amazon, in particular, has come around fairly quickly to improving its accessibility support. Only last December, the National Federation of the Blind protested its offices, and had their petition turned aside. Since then, they've added accessibility support on their iOS app, and while they reportedly have a ways to go, that's a big step in the right direction. Now they're going to get knee-jerk responses from people who are uninformed about what CVAA actually does, and the message will go around that Amazon is against accessibility. This is everything that's wrong about accessibility advocacy. I'll be adding it to my Accessibility Summit talk next month.


* Yes, technically it can play video, if you are insane like +Jesse Vincent and hack it to run custom code. But I'd love to see the person who does it un-ironically.

Finally logged into G+ after months... to block someone I don't know who was "sharing directly" all of his posts. Guess that's one way to do it.

Post has attachment

First, this guy doesn't seem to be able to tell the difference between the Web and the Internet, much less work his way through the OSI model, so this article doesn't deserve much more than a "lol noob" were it not in the WALL STREET JOURNAL and were the guy not a former publisher of same.

This reads like a typical libertarian revisionist history: in this case, Xerox PARC plays the role of John Galt, generating capital through his own genius and hard work in spite of the oppressive yoke of government and all those dumb brainwashed hangers-on. But I'll bet you dollars to donuts that what sweet sweet Internet nectar Xerox PARC did bring in was mostly due to DARPA projects and NSF grants. That is to say, even if PARC was the driving force behind the Internet, which I still won't take as a given, especially coming from this yutz, it was kept alive mostly by government money both in terms of research at places like Stanford (oh, where is that again... right! Palo Alto!), and in dollars.

This also reads as an attempt at saying the government couldn't find a way to monetize the Internet. Of course it couldn't. That's not their mandate, dumbass. And if it were, you'd have been right there on the other side, arguing they shouldn't be trying to make money that should by right belong to the first rich guy to crib all that research.

But the biggest problem I have with this whole line of thinking is that I'm a Buddhist, and if they beat nothing into you in Buddhist basic training, it's that nothing happens independently. That's the prime conceit behind libertarianism: that you can claim credit for all the good that's happened to you without ever thinking about the the causes and conditions of how you got where you were when you got that great idea. It's the product of your upbringing and your education and the resources that were made available to you and the demands of the market and of society and lots of other stuff like not having to wake up in the woods hoping a wolf didn't find you that morning. PARC played a valuable role in advancing the technology, not least by giving money to engineers for food and wolf protection. But they couldn't have done anything without the fundamental research which was going on in numerous locations, both private and public, or without the market for internetworking hardware and software, which through the 70s and 80s was driven – ta-da! – by the government.

There is no call to re-legislate who invented the Internet. There's a lot of credit to go around. Gold stars for everybody.

The discussion we really need to have is what kind of environment will best feed the inventions of the future. Exalting corporate titans by acting like they created the market independently, especially when it's a setup to give them tax cuts and absolute control over the stuff they "invented"? That ain't a good start.

Thanks, Google, for adding all of my Gmail contacts in with the people I actually talk with on Google Talk.

And by "thanks," I mean "die."

Post has attachment

"T-Mobile's owners, Deutsche Telekom, may have a different idea. Their plans to merge with AT&T rely in part on a theory that T-Mobile has no chance in our market, so it can't run the company too well, or it would help sink their merger. But they can't run the company too poorly either, or they'd face shareholder lawsuits. So they're taking the tactic of keeping their child undernourished enough to be sad and slightly dizzy all the time, but not enough for anyone to call the cops on them."

This is for all the people who keep saying things like "800k 4Ses shipped on day one. What a failure."

First, you sound like a ersatz version of Gruber, who already had that one cached halfway through the keynote.

Second, if you had heard for months that the newer version of the thing you lusted after was coming on such and such a date, and therefore that the one that is presently available will be less shiny after that date, which by the way is 2.5 weeks from now, then either you put in your order for the new shiny and wait, or you deal with the old and busted version for the next 2 years.

My guess is that any version of the iPhone that was released today would have sold 800k units just based on the fact that that many people buy them every week anyway, and they knew the new one was coming, so that demand got pushed back a couple weeks. You've also got 3G/3GS owners who are out of contract and were waiting, so that's a guaranteed stream of new customers they'd get with any new release. Plus there's the Sprint availability, so now the people who used to chirp and talk into their phones like they were walkie-talkies can have one too.

It's not a sign that the iPhone 4S is a remarkable achievement in and of itself. It's that the iPhone is the most-desired consumer electronics device ever. Which is a bigger deal overall, and not one that you have to get all passive-agressive about.

Post has attachment
Wow. Hey HP: How's the Leo Apotheker Era working out for you?

Just wrote this to an intern:

"Don't feel bad about doing things that don't turn out the way you want them to. Trying new things that may or may not work out is not just what you should be doing as an intern, it's what you should be doing as an engineer."

Does anyone think the Dow and NASDAQ would each have dropped 7.5%+ in the last 15 days if Congress had just passed a clean debt ceiling increase months ago like they'd done without fail for decades?

Since I've got about 10 people I don't know following me for every 1 I do, I have to ask you all: who are you, and what would you like me to talk about in my public stream?
Wait while more posts are being loaded