looking for ideas/input for textkit

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Phylax
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Post by Phylax » Sun Jul 22, 2007 3:27 am

So far as the Forum is concerned, it is still 'powered' by a particular release of phpBB, and is now looking somewhat oldfashioned, and 'clunky'. There are other free forum softwares available, for example SMF: http://www.simplemachines.org/ which give enhanced functionality. I have some experience in setting up forums using SMF software; see http://www.ukusforum.com/index.php .

The problem would be to carry over to a new forum software all the postings to a new forum those that have been made to the present forum.

I'd be most willing, if a corps of experts were to be set up, to help in investigating if a change of forum software might be feasible, and if it were, to help in the migration of the corpus of the forum's postings to a new forum database in a similar structure with minimal loss.

I could do this outside my work time, and obviously, for free.

If it is thought good to wiki-ize other parts of TextKit, then perhaps I could offer my services there, too. I have recently helped a client in setting up a wiki to organize their knowledge-base. Before becoming a web-designer and programmer, I used to be a librarian, and am therefore aware of the problems of classifying stuff helpfully, both naturally and alphabetically by subject heading, and artificially and notationally by a number of bibliographic classification schemes. I think I could therefore be useful in wiki-editing.

We could re-create in small measure the Library of Alexandria!

Khairete!

Phylax.

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Post by klewlis » Sun Jul 22, 2007 9:46 pm

Phylax wrote:So far as the Forum is concerned, it is still 'powered' by a particular release of phpBB, and is now looking somewhat oldfashioned, and 'clunky'. There are other free forum softwares available, for example SMF: http://www.simplemachines.org/ which give enhanced functionality. I have some experience in setting up forums using SMF software; see http://www.ukusforum.com/index.php .

The problem would be to carry over to a new forum software all the postings to a new forum those that have been made to the present forum.

I'd be most willing, if a corps of experts were to be set up, to help in investigating if a change of forum software might be feasible, and if it were, to help in the migration of the corpus of the forum's postings to a new forum database in a similar structure with minimal loss.
Goodness. I think it would be MUCH less work to upgrade the phpbb and work with that. The structure of the forum is fine--the visual aspects of it can be adjusted without installing a whole new forum.

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Post by klewlis » Sat Jul 28, 2007 2:03 am

ok, so here is what I've gathered as a wishlist from this thread--

online instruction
revamp vocab tool
help using the books
advertising
more active agora
podcasts

If we were to follow the wiki idea of annotating the online books, we could include:
- exercises and answers
- added comments
- common mistakes
- questions and answers about the section
- html version of the section
- podcasts (how about readings of various selections from the textbooks?)

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readings from textbooks

Post by metrodorus » Thu Aug 02, 2007 11:23 am

Readings from textbooks that are in copyright will cause legal problems, unless you get specific permission from the publisher to read from their textbook. This is unlikely to be forthcoming unless the textbook is old and out of print. Apart from that, it is a great idea.


-Evan.

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Re: readings from textbooks

Post by edonnelly » Thu Aug 02, 2007 11:54 am

metrodorus wrote:Readings from textbooks that are in copyright will cause legal problems, unless you get specific permission from the publisher to read from their textbook. This is unlikely to be forthcoming unless the textbook is old and out of print. Apart from that, it is a great idea.
Since the entire premise of this website is the distribution and discussion of public domain texts (particularly those published before 1923), that shouldn't be much of a concern here. A few "modern" texts get discussed, but mostly the focus in on the public domain ones (and certainly all of the ideas of added content are intended solely for those as well).
The lists:
G'Oogle and the Internet Pharrchive - 1100 or so free Latin and Greek books.
DownLOEBables - Free books from the Loeb Classical Library

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Post by Chris Weimer » Thu Aug 02, 2007 6:01 pm

How about a more active administration?

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AgoNxRuS
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Post by AgoNxRuS » Fri Aug 03, 2007 9:16 pm

How about adding a Wiki? One to encompass all that concerns the two languages.
Imagine how cute it'll look; "wiki.textkit.com".
phpbb

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Post by edonnelly » Sat Aug 04, 2007 12:47 am

AgoNxRuS wrote:How about adding a Wiki? One to encompass all that concerns the two languages.
Imagine how cute it'll look; "wiki.textkit.com".
I think the consensus is that it should be PCbCCWlBoCK.textkit.com (assuming that's not already taken).
The lists:
G'Oogle and the Internet Pharrchive - 1100 or so free Latin and Greek books.
DownLOEBables - Free books from the Loeb Classical Library

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Post by Voxforascausa » Sat Aug 04, 2007 4:59 am

edonnelly wrote:
AgoNxRuS wrote:How about adding a Wiki? One to encompass all that concerns the two languages.
Imagine how cute it'll look; "wiki.textkit.com".
I think the consensus is that it should be PCbCCWlBoCK.textkit.com (assuming that's not already taken).
It's highly unlikely than anyone would be able to take over a subdomain without taking over the domain first.

That aside I think that the subdomain you wrote is very, very clunky. That beats out PTKFGS.com in trying to remember how to spell it correctly. How are people supposed to remember that? How about something simple, like vica.textkit.com (as in Vicapaedia, the Latin Wikipedia) or viki.textkit.com (as in Vikipaidia, the Greek Wikipedia)? Perhaps both of them should be made as seperate wikis for each language.
phpbb

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Post by Sprucie » Sat Aug 04, 2007 5:01 am

How about finishing up some of the answer keys such as JWW's First Greek Book? It stands at one page and I'm sure other answer keys are in similar condition. I'd be most willing to join a group interested in working on this type of Textkit project.

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Post by edonnelly » Sat Aug 04, 2007 1:53 pm

Voxforascausa wrote:That aside I think that the subdomain you wrote is very, very clunky.
Sorry, I had assumed your post was a joke since so much of this thread had already been spent discussing the wiki idea.
The lists:
G'Oogle and the Internet Pharrchive - 1100 or so free Latin and Greek books.
DownLOEBables - Free books from the Loeb Classical Library

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Post by MDS » Sat Aug 04, 2007 2:33 pm

Firstly hello again everyone, I hope all is well! (Nice to see some of the same forum members still kicking around ;))

Back to the topic:
finishing up some of the answer keys such as JWW's First Greek Book
Sounds good, I'll work with you on that one (check your PM's)...

To any admin: If I were to PM you with the answer key in a word doc (which won't be today obviously) I'm assuming you could work your computer magic and whip it into a pdf?

The wiki idea is excellent (as is any idea that generates more discussion out of our lax member aka those like myself ;)) and I hope to have at least some answer keys to contribute by the time this is set up.

So far the discussion has taken place in solely hypothetical terms, is there any timeline behind the ideas? It seems to a computer layperson that the wiki idea could be set up almost immediately...

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Post by klewlis » Sat Aug 04, 2007 3:48 pm

MDS wrote:So far the discussion has taken place in solely hypothetical terms, is there any timeline behind the ideas? It seems to a computer layperson that the wiki idea could be set up almost immediately...
no timeline yet... first a plan has to be made and the system has to be designed and built. It'll take some time. :) Nothing solid has been decided yet.

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Post by annis » Sat Aug 04, 2007 5:40 pm

My personal feeling is that the Wiki should appear sooner rather than later. There are several projects that could start the instant it appears.

The most famous Wiki package, Mediawiki — it runs the Wikipedia — can be integrated with phpBB's authentication system, so access control is easily covered. Poor early decisions in organization can be remedied by Mediawiki's flexible category system fairly easily.

Edit: should we fork off a thread to make some decisions about wiki categories and best practices, even without a firm decision yet on the wiki software?
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Post by klewlis » Sat Aug 04, 2007 8:23 pm

annis wrote:My personal feeling is that the Wiki should appear sooner rather than later. There are several projects that could start the instant it appears.

The most famous Wiki package, Mediawiki — it runs the Wikipedia — can be integrated with phpBB's authentication system, so access control is easily covered. Poor early decisions in organization can be remedied by Mediawiki's flexible category system fairly easily.

Edit: should we fork off a thread to make some decisions about wiki categories and best practices, even without a firm decision yet on the wiki software?
cool, I didn't know that mediawiki existed... I assumed we'd have to build it ourselves. Will check into it more.

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Post by klewlis » Sat Aug 04, 2007 8:30 pm

MDS wrote:To any admin: If I were to PM you with the answer key in a word doc (which won't be today obviously) I'm assuming you could work your computer magic and whip it into a pdf?
yes, definitely (sorry I didn't answer this originally, lol)

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Post by Voxforascausa » Mon Aug 13, 2007 9:14 pm

Phylax wrote:So far as the Forum is concerned, it is still 'powered' by a particular release of phpBB, and is now looking somewhat oldfashioned, and 'clunky'. There are other free forum softwares available, for example SMF: http://www.simplemachines.org/ which give enhanced functionality. I have some experience in setting up forums using SMF software; see http://www.ukusforum.com/index.php .

The problem would be to carry over to a new forum software all the postings to a new forum those that have been made to the present forum.

I'd be most willing, if a corps of experts were to be set up, to help in investigating if a change of forum software might be feasible, and if it were, to help in the migration of the corpus of the forum's postings to a new forum database in a similar structure with minimal loss.

I could do this outside my work time, and obviously, for free.

If it is thought good to wiki-ize other parts of TextKit, then perhaps I could offer my services there, too. I have recently helped a client in setting up a wiki to organize their knowledge-base. Before becoming a web-designer and programmer, I used to be a librarian, and am therefore aware of the problems of classifying stuff helpfully, both naturally and alphabetically by subject heading, and artificially and notationally by a number of bibliographic classification schemes. I think I could therefore be useful in wiki-editing.

We could re-create in small measure the Library of Alexandria!

Khairete!

Phylax.
Actually, there are converters for phpBB to change it to be compatible with SMF. They work pretty good, too. The only issue seen is that some private messages and avatars stored on the server will not be carried on to the new system. Just setup a notice on the forum for people to save their private messages if they want them.
phpbb

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Post by edonnelly » Mon Aug 13, 2007 11:49 pm

Why would we want to switch away from phpBB? textkit has always been the best functioning and most aesthetically pleasing forum that I visit with any regularity. I think change solely for the sake of change should be avoided. If there's some specific functionality that SMF has that we really need, then that might be worth discussing.

As far as the PCbCCWlBoCK W'Ooki goes, I have some content I'd be willing to share. As I've been going through Pharr I've been typing out all the forms and vocabulary and I'd be happy to work on getting what I have so far entered once things are up and running.
The lists:
G'Oogle and the Internet Pharrchive - 1100 or so free Latin and Greek books.
DownLOEBables - Free books from the Loeb Classical Library

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Post by perispomenon » Tue Aug 14, 2007 7:50 am

edonnelly wrote:As far as the PCbCCWlBoCK W'Ooki goes, I have some content I'd be willing to share. As I've been going through Pharr I've been typing out all the forms and vocabulary and I'd be happy to work on getting what I have so far entered once things are up and running.
I would like to remind everyone that the Pharr grammar section is already available in digital form: the English was OCR-ed, the Greek typed. No need to do all that work again. It just needs a decent layout.

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Post by Chris Weimer » Tue Aug 14, 2007 10:26 am

I use SMF for my forum - it's far superior than phpBB.

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Post by edonnelly » Tue Aug 14, 2007 11:46 am

Chris Weimer wrote:I use SMF for my forum - it's far superior than phpBB.
In what way? Is it superior for the visitors or for the administration? What advantages would it have for the textkit community over what is already here?
The lists:
G'Oogle and the Internet Pharrchive - 1100 or so free Latin and Greek books.
DownLOEBables - Free books from the Loeb Classical Library

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Post by Voxforascausa » Wed Aug 15, 2007 1:43 am

edonnelly wrote:
Chris Weimer wrote:I use SMF for my forum - it's far superior than phpBB.
In what way? Is it superior for the visitors or for the administration? What advantages would it have for the textkit community over what is already here?
Oh, definately. There are so many convieniences in the Admin CP phpBB is child's play.
phpbb

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Post by edonnelly » Wed Aug 15, 2007 2:50 am

We could add a wiki.
The lists:
G'Oogle and the Internet Pharrchive - 1100 or so free Latin and Greek books.
DownLOEBables - Free books from the Loeb Classical Library

Voxforascausa
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Post by Voxforascausa » Thu Aug 16, 2007 1:42 am

edonnelly wrote:Why would we want to switch away from phpBB? textkit has always been the best functioning and most aesthetically pleasing forum that I visit with any regularity. I think change solely for the sake of change should be avoided. If there's some specific functionality that SMF has that we really need, then that might be worth discussing.

As far as the PCbCCWlBoCK W'Ooki goes, I have some content I'd be willing to share. As I've been going through Pharr I've been typing out all the forms and vocabulary and I'd be happy to work on getting what I have so far entered once things are up and running.
When switching systems, you don't need to give up the template. The CMS is just the backend spitting out words, not the HTML itself, so it can look almost exactly like this forum, but with a few enhancements. Notably the reply window.
phpbb

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Post by Phylax » Thu Aug 23, 2007 5:10 am

Goodness. I think it would be MUCH less work to upgrade the phpbb and work with that.
You may think that. But what about investigating it dispassionately?

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Post by Phylax » Thu Aug 23, 2007 5:43 am

textkit has always been the best functioning and most aesthetically pleasing forum that I visit with any regularity.
That may well be true for you. But your experience may, perhaps, be limited. Others may think differently, with more varied and wider experience. I suggest this with humility.

To get a measure of SMF's functionality, its Admin module, and its expansibility, visit http://www.simplemachines.org/about/features.php

I should state that I am not employed by SMF. I have in the past implemented PHP BB for a client, and am currently running another forum under SMF for another client. The latter forum software, as far as I can judge, and in all aspects, wins hands-down.

Another way to assess SMF is to google for "'SMF' 'forum'" and see what forums are out there, and how they look and feel.

Certainly, change for change's sake is not necessarily good, but is this the case here?

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Post by Phylax » Thu Aug 23, 2007 6:32 am

Perhaps I ought also to point out that the coding of this forum appears to me at the moment to contravene the UK's Disability Discrimination Act (1995) and possibly equivalent legislation in the EU, Canada, USA and lord know where else, in that it is not possible (with my browser, at least, IE7) for someone to increase the text size.

To what extent does the generated code of this forum comply with CSS modern standards?

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Post by Bert » Thu Aug 23, 2007 10:00 am

Phylax wrote:Perhaps I ought also to point out that the coding of this forum appears to me at the moment to contravene the UK's Disability Discrimination Act (1995) and possibly equivalent legislation in the EU, Canada, USA and lord know where else, in that it is not possible (with my browser, at least, IE7) for someone to increase the text size.

To what extent does the generated code of this forum comply with CSS modern standards?
I use IE7 and I can increase the size to the size that all I see on the screen is -(four dots)Home(four dots)L- from the menu bar at the top of the page. I can decrease it to about an 1.5" wide band.

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Post by Phylax » Thu Aug 23, 2007 12:39 pm

I use IE7 and I can increase the size to the size that all I see on the screen is -(four dots)Home(four dots)L- from the menu bar at the top of the page. I can decrease it to about an 1.5" wide band.
How do you get it to do that? Are you perhaps using the 'Change Zoom Level' control at the bottom right of the window to do this?

Using 'View / Text size / Largest' does nothing for me, yet I think that facility is the one supposed to be used by persons with visual disabilities.

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Post by edonnelly » Thu Aug 23, 2007 1:08 pm

Bert wrote:I use IE7 and I can increase the size to the size that all I see on the screen is -(four dots)Home(four dots)L- from the menu bar at the top of the page. I can decrease it to about an 1.5" wide band.
Bert, you might want to go back and delete that post. If the European Union finds out that you are using the wrong button to make the text more readable they may come after you (probably while they are already on this side of the ocean to pick up Jeff and the other administrators of this site).

This whole conversation has completely gone astray of klewlis's original question, which was how can we draw in new users and liven up the forum. I don't think changing forum software to one with a better administrator interface is going to have any effect there at all. I would suggest that those who think that a change of forum software is in order should better explain how such a change would have a positive impact on textkit and the textkit community, rather than linking to a long list of "features" and expecting everyone to go sift through them looking for the few that may be relevant.

Personally, I think the key is content, not window dressing, font sizes or even the intricacies of how the reply button operates. Here's klewlis's earlier post that may help re-ignite some of the more useful discussion:
klewlis wrote: ok, so here is what I've gathered as a wishlist from this thread--

online instruction
revamp vocab tool
help using the books
advertising
more active agora
podcasts

If we were to follow the wiki idea of annotating the online books, we could include:
- exercises and answers
- added comments
- common mistakes
- questions and answers about the section
- html version of the section
- podcasts (how about readings of various selections from the textbooks?)
The lists:
G'Oogle and the Internet Pharrchive - 1100 or so free Latin and Greek books.
DownLOEBables - Free books from the Loeb Classical Library

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Post by Phylax » Thu Aug 23, 2007 3:03 pm

Bert, you might want to go back and delete that post. If the European Union finds out that you are using the wrong button to make the text more readable they may come after you (probably while they are already on this side of the ocean to pick up Jeff and the other administrators of this site).
Most amusing. :roll:
This whole conversation has completely gone astray of klewlis's original question, which was how can we draw in new users and liven up the forum.
One way to put-off visitors to this site and to this forum is to continue to use old-fashioned coding methods, and font sizes which may make it difficult for those with visual disabilities to read. Regardless of what disability legislation may pertain in various parts of the world, surely it is not wrong to seek to attract those with seeing difficulties. Not all Latinists and Hellenists necessarily have 20/20 vision.

Klewlis asked for comments about how "textkit can be improved and developed". If you, Edonnelly, feel that your own are the only ones worth considering, then clearly the rest of us are wasting our time. It seems as if you also think some of us are wasting yours.
expecting everyone to go sift through them looking for the few that may be relevant.
I regret that you have not the patience or motivation to do this.

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Post by edonnelly » Thu Aug 23, 2007 3:23 pm

Phylax wrote:
expecting everyone to go sift through them looking for the few that may be relevant.
I regret that you have not the patience or motivation to do this.
Sorry, I agree your link to the SMF features without any mention of which would specifically be an improvement here was a very useful post. Here's why I think we should stay with phpbb:

http://www.phpbb.com/about/features/
The lists:
G'Oogle and the Internet Pharrchive - 1100 or so free Latin and Greek books.
DownLOEBables - Free books from the Loeb Classical Library

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Post by annis » Thu Aug 23, 2007 3:34 pm

Some comments about phpBB:

1) Textkit is hosted by a service provider which offers a canned set of standard packages. Reliable support may be restricted to that canned set.

2) Reading the forum at SMF does not inspire hope in an easy conversion from phpBB to it, especially the use of UTF8 here.

3) There is no doubt the current forum could handle having some rough edges polished down, but is this really a major problem?
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τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;

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Post by Phylax » Thu Aug 23, 2007 4:40 pm

Sorry, I agree your link to the SMF features without any mention of which would specifically be an improvement here was a very useful post.
Absolutely no need to apologize! :wink:

And thank you for your link: it was good to be reminded how 'feature-rich' the new release of PHPbb is, particularly in comparison with the version I had to implement, and with the version which is running this forum.

but is this really a major problem?
Possibly not to some. To others, who knows? It was presumably one of the purposes of this topic to find out what people felt was 'major'.

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Post by Bert » Fri Aug 24, 2007 1:48 am

While the last part of this discussion may have some usefullness, I don't think this is what Klewlis had in mind.
For instance, making a change so that the vocab tool works is more worthwhile than changing to a more pleasant font.

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Post by Bert » Fri Aug 24, 2007 1:50 am

Phylax wrote:
I use IE7 and I can increase the size to the size that all I see on the screen is -(four dots)Home(four dots)L- from the menu bar at the top of the page. I can decrease it to about an 1.5" wide band.
How do you get it to do that? Are you perhaps using the 'Change Zoom Level' control at the bottom right of the window to do this?

Using 'View / Text size / Largest' does nothing for me, yet I think that facility is the one supposed to be used by persons with visual disabilities.
I use the Ctrl key and the scroll wheel on the mouse.

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Post by klewlis » Fri Aug 24, 2007 4:38 am

Bert wrote:While the last part of this discussion may have some usefullness, I don't think this is what Klewlis had in mind.
For instance, making a change so that the vocab tool works is more worthwhile than changing to a more pleasant font.
I was just looking for ideas... all ideas are good... ultimately any major changes are Jeff's decision... my aim is just to help make his life a little easier. :)

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Post by Kopio » Fri Aug 24, 2007 4:48 am

I would really like to see an RSS feed for the forums. I'd love to be able to see all the active posts at the click of a button. I realize it's really not too difficult to navigate through the forums, but I love the Yankees RSS feed, I pop over to it everyday.

Granted, I don't know how difficult it would be to do though.

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disability issues

Post by Diane » Fri Aug 24, 2007 7:10 am

I am disabled and pretty intense about making sure that web sites I frequent meet the W3 conventions for the disabled.

For IE Textkit meets the W3 conventions in the Roman alphabet and in the Greek alphabet but not both at the same time.

This is probably a function of the fact that I do not use a customized style sheet for the accessibility features in IE. Or it may be a problem of unicode. I have the same problem at Perseus.

I don't know of a screen reader or brailler that does read ancient Greek, would love to have one. I consider this lack to be the number one disability issue on Textkit.

Would the other forum software work with standard screen readers to read Homer to the blind?

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Post by Gonzalo » Fri Aug 24, 2007 8:34 am

Kopio wrote:I would really like to see an RSS feed for the forums. I'd love to be able to see all the active posts at the click of a button. I realize it's really not too difficult to navigate through the forums, but I love the Yankees RSS feed, I pop over to it everyday.

Granted, I don't know how difficult it would be to do though.
Hi, Kopio, it would be fantastic. I subscribe your idea.

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