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Re: accessibility at risk on commercial sites:

From: Matthew Smith <matt@kbc.net.au>
Date: Sat, 23 Oct 2004 09:49:25 +0930
Message-ID: <4179A38D.1030502@kbc.net.au>
To: WAI Interest Group <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

david poehlman wrote:
It is the secure side of things that most distresses me.  Unfortunately, not
all user agents are easily hackable and it would distress me to have to do
that in order to carry out my activities anyway.  I don't think there'd be
much if any added cost if developpers of commercial sites changed the
behaviour in regard to the information they recieve from the requestor.
Instead of flat out refusing, they could let you in but warn you that the
site might not behave as expected.

Matthew replies:

[Apologies in the delay in sending this - I found that I'd replied to David, but 
not to the list.]

We could be waiting for Hell to freeze over before the "big boys" stop this
obnoxious browser sniffing behaviour.  I often get these messages even though I
run the latest version of the "real" Mozilla, which means that some of these
sites must be using closed lists rather than pattern matching.

As not many people are able/willing to start hacking their user agents to get
around this, a possible band-aid solution would be to implement a simple proxy
server which performs a substitution on user agent string so that everything
looks like it is coming from the browser of your choice.

Such as solution could be quite lightweight as it would only need to do a simple
regular expression match and substitute.  I could probably knock something
together in Perl to do this, but this wouldn't be much help to users of the
monopoly operating system.  (I see a tool like this running on individual
machines rather than a gateway server somewhere.)

Would this idea help?  Is it flawed?  Any Windows(R) programmers out there want
to give it a shot?



[Apologies in the delay in sending this - I found that I'd replied to David, but 
not the list.]

Matthew Smith
Kadina Business Consultancy
South Australia
Received on Saturday, 23 October 2004 00:19:31 UTC

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