Year: 2008

Iowa Floods, 2008 – Update – Sunday June 22, 2008

June 23, 2008

I’ve finally found an image that shows me how high the water got in the Suchy Building in New Bohemia, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. My apartment was on the 2nd floor, above the HD Youth Center.

I spent a bit of time helping with the cleanup of the HD Youth Center today. It reminded me of a past summer I spent working for the Des Moines Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Iowa Floods, 2008 – Update

June 21, 2008

My cats were rescued on Thursday (June 19, 2008). I’ve been displaced for 10 days now, and I’ll be moving back to the apartment complex I left before moving downtown (but not the same unit) on a month-to-month lease until I can (hopefully) go back to my downtown digs.

Here are photos of my 3 cats in my hotel room just after Angie T and I picked them up from the animal rescue center at Kirkwood Community College:




Thanks to Angie T of Violet Island fame for the photos!

Iowa Floods, 2008

June 15, 2008

Since I’ve just moved to the outskirts of downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa, I was evacuated from my apartment early Wednesday morning (June 11, 2008) because of record-level flooding. I’m currently staying in a hotel on higher ground.

I hope to rescue my 3 cats tomorrow and bring them to the hotel with me.

If I cannot go back to live in my apartment by this Thursday (June 19, 2008), my cats may go to Iowa City, and I will hopefully be staying at a coworker’s house, mm-hmmm.

An Old Gradeschool or Junior High Drawing

May 30, 2008

Apparently I was quite into shoe design in my early days. I blame Nike and Reebok and an 80’s shoe-centric culture.

This shoe is so deliciously excessive, it’s almost guaranteed to provide extreme performance benefits:

Hurting Web Accessibility: SEO Alt Tag Optimizer & Font Resizer Tool

May 2, 2008

I guess I’ll add a web development post to this mostly art-related blog.

Today, I ran across an excellent list of 100 killer web accessibility resources. Most of these resources are quite good for reference and learning material.

However, I take offense to the SEO Alt Tag (sic) Optimizer & Font Resizer Tool link. I will not link to it here, but I will provide the URL for those interested:


As an accessibility-aware web professional, I have some strong objections to this plugin:

Alt attributes should absolutely not be used solely for SEO purposes. They should be used to convey the purpose of the image or the function of the link surrounding the image. Please see Appropriate Use of Alternative Text for an excellent explanation of the proper usage of alt text.

Alt attribute usage seems quite simple at first (with the rule that every image must have an alt attribute), but text within the alt attribute and indeed, even the need for text within the attribute requires careful thought.

The SEO Alt Tag Optimizer & Font Resizer Tool abuses alt text for the wrong intentions of possibly placing your site higher in search engine rankings by using inappropriate alt text.

Accessibility Attribute Abuse

Even though screen-reader users don‘t need to use a font-size switcher, they do rely heavily on proper alt text for images. Consider this HTML snippet from the plugin creator’s page which uses the plugin:

<img src="" alt="Decrease font size for Post - SEO Alt Tag Optimizer & Font Resizer Tool (WordPress plugin) - Uncategorised Topics - Indiana Loans Ltd" onclick="fnChangeFontSize(‘body‘,-1);" border="0" width="18" height="14" title="To reduce font size, please enable JavaScript and Trust this Site" longdesc="" />

There are 2 major problems with the above code (and some minor problems I won’t get into):

  1. The alt value of “Decrease font size for Post – SEO Alt Tag Optimizer & Font Resizer Tool (WordPress plugin) – Uncategorised Topics – Indiana Loans Ltd” does not provide any information that is useful for a screen-reader user, which is what the alt attribute was created for. Instead, there is excessive marketing language and the useless information about reducing font size (remember, screen-reader software has no concept of font sizing).
  2. There is a misuse of the longdesc attribute to point to a help page for the font-resizer plugin. The longdesc is meant to provide an equivalent to a very complicated image like a chart or graph. It is not meant to provide help text for an application or plugin.

URL Problems

Also, being nit-picky as usual, there are some problems within the URL of the plugin’s creator:

  • Who would trust a plugin from a url that contains ‘indiana-loans’? That’s pure keyword-stuffing, and not anything that would give any indication of a developer’s website. It appears to be a loan website.
  • Usage of the term ‘alt-tag’ is seriously frowned upon by accessibility experts. It’s an alt attribute!
  • optimzer’ – misspellings (when not intentional) probably do not help with search engine optimization.

Okay, I’m done. I ran across this link this afternoon and it just kinda pissed me off. I hate seeing Web accessibility techniques being abused for SEO purposes.

Skull Tree For Matt

March 15, 2008

Matt, I know this is not quite what you asked for, but here it is! You will love it.