Tag Archives: technology

Beware the Automatic Update!

Here at New Options, we manage several websites for our customers on the WordPress platform.  It is stable, easy to use, and our clients find that they can add new informative posts quickly.

WordPress is updated frequently with new features and to fix nagging small issues.  But the last update, 4.8.1, has wreaked havoc on many a website.  Fortunately, our preferred web hosting company, Network Solutions, takes frequent “snapshots” of hosted websites, allowing customers to restore data back seven days.

So…even though you might be able to recover from disaster, here are a few tips for updating your version of WordPress:

  • Update any “plugins” that you actively use on your site.  Be sure that the plugin details indicate that it will be compatible with the new version of WordPress.
  • Backup, backup, backup!  If things get wacky, you will want to restore your website to the same condition it was in before it imploded.
  • After a successful update, check those plugins again.  You may need to do a little tweaking to be sure they are active and functioning properly.
  • Check each major page of your website, i.e., the homepage and the major menu pages.

Running your own website can be fraught with danger!  Fortunately, there are New Options consultants ready to help you.  If you need a new website, or just need to get out of a jam, give us a call!

Lost Database is Not Insured

Database“If you can’t reach out and touch it, it is not insured.” That was the gist of a court’s ruling in a lawsuit brought by a company that lost a large amount of electronically stored data when an employee inadvertently pressed the “delete” key on a keyboard. The company looked to its insurer to cover the expenses for restoring the data and to recover lost income caused by the disruption. The insurer denied coverage on the basis of policy language that limited coverage to a “direct physical loss of or damage to” covered property.

The language from the policy was meant to be interpreted in its ordinary and popular sense. Thus, “physical” means “tangible” or capable of being touched. The information in a computerized database, in and of itself, has no material or tangible existence, unlike a storage medium for information, such as a disk, tape, or even papers in a file cabinet. The court concluded that when the employee sent the data into thin air with an unintended keystroke, there was no direct physical loss within the meaning of the insurance policy. (The court distinguished this case from another case in which the loss of a computer tape and the data on it were covered under a policy covering “physical injury or destruction of tangible property.”)

Recognizing that the dictionary was not on its side, the company that lost its data also argued that public policy should weigh heavily in favor of insurance coverage. After all, loss of information in the same manner as occurred in this case is common, and our economy unquestionably is highly dependent on computers and the intangible information that they contain. However, the court declined to use public policy as an “interpretive aid.” There are plenty of useful legal principles for construing insurance contracts, but using public policy to redefine the scope of coverage agreed to by parties to a contract is not one of them. The lesson: Questions of insurance coverage are to be answered solely in the language of the policies and, therefore, careful drafting of policy language is critical.

 

Does the ADA Apply to Websites?

I Can ConnectIn 2006, a federal trial court in California’s 9th Circuit became the first court to find that a commercial website must be accessible to the disabled, and to blind customers in particular, because of the prohibition against disability discrimination by places of public accommodation contained in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The retailer argued to no avail that the demands of the ADA do not apply, because a website, since it is not really a physical place at all, is not a “place of public accommodation” within the meaning of the ADA. The court reasoned that the ADA requires full and equal enjoyment of the services “of” any place of public accommodation, not services “in” a place of public accommodation. The ADA is not only about physical access to places.

The court found that the retailer’s many brick-and-mortar stores constituted the “places” of public accommodation. The retailer’s website serves as a “gateway” to such stores, especially for blind customers. If the website is not fully accessible to them, it impedes those customers from coming through the gateway, that is, from having the “full and equal enjoyment” of the stores’ goods and services that the ADA mandates. The court drew an analogy to a case in which a telephone screening process for prospective contestants for a television game show violated the ADA by discriminating against the hearing disabled, even though the discrimination took place away from the studio where the show was produced.

Since this first ground-breaking case (National Federation of the Blind v. Target Corporation, 452 F.Supp.2d 946 (2006)), federal courts around the country have been split regarding the application of the ADA to “places of public accommodation”.  Significantly, the court in Nat’lAss’n of the Deaf v. Netflix, 869 F.Supp.2d 196 (D. Mass. 2012) held that web-streaming services offered by Netflix are subject to Title III of the ADA even without a “nexus” to a physical place of accommodation.

So what is a webmaster to do?  The Department of Justice, which is responsible for enforcing the ADA, is developing regulations pertaining to commercial websites.  Unfortunately, we won’t even see the draft until April of 2016.

In the meantime, there is useful information available.  The DOJ’s recommendations for state and local government websites is chock full of tips for upgrading a business website.  You can find the recommendations here.

The Worldwide Web Consortium, a private organization, has also drafted useful technical guidelines for complying the ADA.  You’ll find their webpage at http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/.

But why go it alone?  New Options Business Services has terrific website designers and consultants ready to help you get your message to everyone.  Call us today!

Technology

Technology, Support and Innovation