100 Days of Beautiful News

Information Is Beautiful: 100 Days of Beautiful News

Happy Birthday Beautiful News! We’ve just published the 100th graphic in our project celebrating good news, positive trends, uplifting statistics and facts.

To celebrate, we’ve compiled a few uplifting statistics about the Beautiful News project itself.

There are some amazing and inspiring data visualizations here. Whether you are an information enthusiast or a designer, you owe it to yourself to look over the great work here.


Aqua Screenshot Library

512 Pixels: Aqua Screenshot Library

Stephen Hackett provides Ann incredible stroll down memory lane. I especially appreciate the screenshots from the Mac OS X Public Beta. I went full in on Mac OS X on my PowerBook G3 during the beta period, and I’ve never looked back.


Captivate 2019 and Older Versions of JAWS

One of the clients I support has JAWS 16 installed as the default screen reader on all employee computers, so our accessibility testing for that client has to work with that specific JAWS release. On the other hand, we’ve been investigating migrating to Captivate 2019 for better HTML5 output and the other improvements it brings. However, we have run into a serious snag.

Captivate 2019 and JAWS 16 seem to be entirely incompatible with each other. Here are the things I’ve been able to test and the results I’ve seen:

  • HTML5: Auto labeled buttons, text, and objects reliably do not read.
  • HTML5: Manually labeled buttons, text, and objects only sporadically read.
  • HTML5: Manual slide accessibility reads inconsistently.
  • HTML5: When JAWS 16 is active, buttons only respond when you press Shift along with Spacebar or Enter.
  • HTML5: When JAWS 16 is active, keyboard input lag may become unbearable.
  • HTML5: If you accidentally tab out of the eLearning frame, you may never get back in without mouse input.
  • Flash: Buttons don’t read.

All of this is leading to every Captivate 2019 module failing accessibility compliance testing. Right now, I have no solution except to avoid Captivate 2019 if you have a client on an older version of JAWS. The good news is that one of my testers has informed my team that things are better in JAWS 19 and newer, but I don’t have an official report about how much better.

Of course, my pie-in-the-sky hope is that a future version of Captivate will export to HTML5 using standards-compliant code, which will solve a myriad of accessibility hurdles. Until then, we have to work with the software compatibility that we have. At this time, that means I have to recommend avoiding Captivate 2019 if you are tied to JAWS 16 for any reason.

I will post updates as I learn more.


  • Most of the issues are specific to a combination of Captivate 2019’s HTML5 output plus and outdated version of JAWS plus Internet Explorer. Tests with JAWS 16 were marginally better in other browsers like Edge and Chrome.
  • Keyboard accessibility saw the biggest improvements when switching browsers. Text reading was still flaky but more manageable.
  • Knowledge Check slides and cookie cutter interactions like drag-and-drop were still almost entirely inaccessible.

Bokeh background by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash


Highlighting Forgotten Women

highlighter ad highlighting NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson for her contributions to the Apollo 11 mission

AdAge: These Ads for Stabilo Boss Highlighters Cleverly Emphasize History’s Forgotten Women

The ads, by DDB Germany, take black and white historical images and then use a highlighter pen to pick out the woman in the photograph: for example, Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician responsible for calculating Apollo 11’s safe return to earth, is highlighted in the corner of a room full of men.

Another woman highlighted is Lise Meitner, the discoverer of nuclear fission whose male partner was awarded the Nobel Prize. There’s also Edith Wilson, the First Lady and wife of Woodrow Wilson, who took over his responsibilities after he had a stroke, pictured just below her husband, who is the subject of the photo.

I kind of love these.


Office Depot Tech Support Scam

Ars Technica: Office Depot Rigged PC Malware Scans to Sell Unneeded $300 Tech Support

Office Depot “tech experts” told customers that PC Health Check would “optimize” their computers, but in reality the software “did not run complete diagnostics on consumers’ computers,” the FTC said. Some later versions of the software did some “limited optimizations… such as removing junk files and reconfiguring certain settings.”

After displaying fake scan results to consumers who had checked any of the four boxes, PC Health Check “also displayed a ‘view recommendation’ button with a detailed description of the tech services consumers were encouraged to purchase—services that could cost hundreds of dollars—to fix the problems.”

In some cases, store employees checked the boxes themselves, guaranteeing that the software would produce a warning, the FTC complaint said. “Defendants trained Office Depot and OfficeMax store employees on how to utilize the PC Health Check Program and instructed store employees to check any of the Initial Checkbox Statements that applied based on the consumer’s responses,” the complaint said. “Consistent with their training, Office Depot and OfficeMax store employees read each of the Initial Checkbox Statements once the program began and selected the corresponding box based on the consumer’s response.”

This is an old story now, but running back across it makes me think about how hard it is to get people who struggle with technology to trust tech companies at all when supposedly trusted resources do things like this.



Unshaky for Butterly Keyboards

Unshaky: A software attempt to address the “double key press” issue on Apple’s butterfly keyboard

File this under: software that shouldn’t have to exist but does. It’s helped with my flaky keyboard. Perhaps it will help yours too.


Helvetica Now Helvetica Now

This is the first major update to Helvetica in 35 years.

Helvetica® Now is a new chapter in the story of perhaps the best-known typeface of all time. Available in three optical sizes—Micro, Text, and Display—every character in Helvetica Now has been redrawn and refit; with a variety of useful alternates added. It has everything we love about Helvetica and everything we need for typography today. This is not a revival. This is not a restoration.

This is a statement.

Dieter Rams’ 10 Principles of Good Design

Dieter Rams is one of my all time favorite designers, and I try to return to these principles in everything I do.


John Williams and Stephen Spielberg Collaborate on E.T.

This is a wonderful peak into the collaboration process between Spielberg and Williams. I love this score, which makes this clip all the more delightful.

Personal Notes

Victor Hugo On Notre Dame

Vox pulled this passage from book three, chapter one of Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) to illustrate the importance of all that the cathedral of Notre Dame represents.

Great edifices, like great mountains, are the work of centuries. Art often undergoes a transformation while they are pending, ~pendent opera interrupta~; they proceed quietly in accordance with the transformed art. The new art takes the monument where it finds it, incrusts itself there, assimilates it to itself, develops it according to its fancy, and finishes it if it can. The thing is accomplished without trouble, without effort, without reaction,—following a natural and tranquil law. It is a graft which shoots up, a sap which circulates, a vegetation which starts forth anew. Certainly there is matter here for many large volumes, and often the universal history of humanity in the successive engrafting of many arts at many levels, upon the same monument. The man, the artist, the individual, is effaced in these great masses, which lack the name of their author; human intelligence is there summed up and totalized. Time is the architect, the nation is the builder.

However, all these shades, all these differences, do not affect the surfaces of edifices only. It is art which has changed its skin. The very constitution of the Christian church is not attacked by it. There is always the same internal woodwork, the same logical arrangement of parts. Whatever may be the carved and embroidered envelope of a cathedral, one always finds beneath it—in the state of a germ, and of a rudiment at the least—the Roman basilica. It is eternally developed upon the soil according to the same law. There are, invariably, two naves, which intersect in a cross, and whose upper portion, rounded into an apse, forms the choir; there are always the side aisles, for interior processions, for chapels,—a sort of lateral walks or promenades where the principal nave discharges itself through the spaces between the pillars. That settled, the number of chapels, doors, bell towers, and pinnacles are modified to infinity, according to the fancy of the century, the people, and art. The service of religion once assured and provided for, architecture does what she pleases. Statues, stained glass, rose windows, arabesques, denticulations, capitals, bas-reliefs,—she combines all these imaginings according to the arrangement which best suits her. Hence, the prodigious exterior variety of these edifices, at whose foundation dwells so much order and unity. The trunk of a tree is immovable; the foliage is capricious.

Victor Hugo, Notre-Dame de Paris, Book 3, Chapter 1

To Victor Hugo, Notre Dame was a monument to human accomplishment. All the more important, it was a call to rebuild and restore the great cathedral fallen to disrepair and vandalism. It was rescued once from the brink of destruction. I have faith it can resurrect from these ashes once more.