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How I Met Your Mother: A Retrospective

April 2nd, 2014 by Steve | Comment on How I Met Your Mother: A Retrospective | Filed in Personal

Nope, nothing at all accessibility related this time. I just watched the finale of How I Met Your Mother, and felt the need to weigh in on what’s turned out to be a controversial ending at a classic.

With each passing year I’m getting less and less interested in loyally watching TV shows, so it’s notable to me that I stuck with How I Met Your Mother from day one, nine seasons in all. I can’t think of too many shows that ran that long that I watched religiously as it ran.

I rank it as my all-time favorite sitcom (The Big Bang Theory is up there too). I was never a fan of Friends because while I liked three of the characters (Joey, Phoebe and Chandler), I despised the other three. With HIMYM, I’ve loved the entire cast for the entire run.

Admittedly, the show started feeling old about three seasons ago, and I was ready for it to wrap up. It rebounded a bit this last season, even with its weird “the whole season happens over one wedding weekend” premise.

So, on to the finale, which I just watched a couple hours ago. I stumbled upon some key spoilers earlier in the week, so that influenced my reaction to some of the swerves.

As lots of critics and fans sound off about how terrible the finale was, what do I think?

I’d have to say I have very mixed feelings. On the one hand, I’m not outraged about it or feel cheated. Having watched a bunch of whiners trash the ending to perhaps the greatest video game series of all time, Mass Effect, I have limited patience for people getting so worked up and nasty about the ending to something they otherwise loved.

On the other, there were definite pros and definite cons. It felt a little rushed, and I’m not sure it needed to be when they knew this was the last season.

Con: Isn’t This Supposed to be a Comedy?
I know great sitcoms mix drama with their comedy, and that’s a good thing when there are characters you invest time in and care about. No problem there. HIMYM did that brilliantly for nine years.

But the ending just seemed, I don’t know, too depressing. Friends going their separate ways and lamenting it; Marshall in a soul-sucking job; divorce; the titular mother dying…I get it, that’s life. But, man! The first half of the finale was particularly a kick in the groin.

A sitcom can have its moments of sadness and weight, but remember in the end that it’s still a comedy!

In Between: The Mother Being Dead
Apparently fans have seen this coming for years, and it was planned from day one. But ignorant me didn’t see it coming until that episode a few weeks ago where Ted inexplicably breaks down when the subject of mothers not being at their kids’ weddings comes up.

So maybe seeing it coming, plus having it spoiled earlier in the week, cushioned things, but I’m not overly upset about it. The mother played such little part in the series until the final season, so it’s not like I was that wrapped up in the character. It wasn’t simply about the mother; it was about the gang hanging out, going through good and bad times together.

Admittedly, Cristin Milioti hit the role out of the park and made the character memorable in such a short period of time.

It wasn’t the rosy way I would have ended the show, but kudos to the writers for sticking with a plan they had from the very beginning

Pro: Robin & Barney Make It a Whopping Three Years
That’s life. They were a fun couple, but forever and ever was hardly plausible. It would have been incredibly lame had they done a whole season leading up to a wedding that never happened, but having them marry and divorce years later was just fine. And lead to…

Pro: Ted & Robin Hooking Up….Again
If the mother was dead woman walking from day one, it makes perfect sense that Ted and Robin would wind up together. Throughout the entire run, it’s been hinted at and in hindsight, all roads led there. Some critics called putting them together at the end a ‘betrayal’.

Hard to consider it a betrayal when all the signs were there from day one. The kids make a good point at the end — is was supposed to be a story about how Ted met their mom, but he spent little time talking about her, and spent gobs of time talking about “Aunt” Robin.

Con: Barney’s Life Change
I completely get that having a child can change one’s life, but c’mon — Barney’s instant character change while holding his daughter was a bit too contrived and hokey. It was just sort of thrown there. Having Barney go through a midlife change after unexpected fatherhood isn’t the problem — the way they slapped in there was.

Con: No Bob Saget?!?
Seriously? You have Bob Saget narrating a show for nine years and can’t give him so much of a cameo? I was convinced from day one he’d show up at some point, but he made no appearance, and they abandoned his voice in the final episode. That was a complete missed opportunity.

Con: The Whole Rushed Feeling
You have a whole season that takes up a couple days, and other than plenty of hilarious moments it doesn’t really accomplish a whole heck of a lot….and then you rush your finale?

I’d give the finale a B.

And so, I bid farewell to one of my all-time favorite shows. The ending wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t an outrage either. The characters were always believable, so why not have believable things happen to them like a marriage ending in divorce, one ending in death, and another living happily after? I could have used a little more laughs and less depression at times, but hey, can’t make ‘em perfect.

And I still rank Barney Stinson as one of the greatest characters in television history.

Here’s to hoping Agents of Shield gets renewed and they get Cobie Smulders on there as a regular, now that she’s in theory available. And no, I won’t watch the unnecessary How I Met Your Dad or the uninteresting Friends with Better Lives.

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Random Thoughts

March 26th, 2014 by Steve | Comment on Random Thoughts | Filed in Disability Facts

I haven’t had a whole lot to say this month, so I thought I’d get a post in.

Just some random thoughts and discoveries…

H&R Block Filing for Greater Accessibility
Tax preparation heavyweight H&R Block is taking measures to make its website and mobile experiences accessible to the blind. They are settling litigation and working with the National Federation of the Blind to up their accessibility across all mediums.

Like so many other things, taxes do not differentiate between those with disabilities and those without.

(Credit: Block to Ensure Web Accessibility to the Blind)

mkeUX Returns, and That’s no April Fool’s Day Joke
My good friends and colleagues, Michael Seidel and Mike Kornacki, are holding another mkeUX session on Tuesday, April 1st, at Braise in Milwaukee.

The speaker will be Kate Gomoll, who will be sharing ways people can incorporate effective field research into their user experience arsenal.

It’s Neither UX nor Accessibility Related, but…
Baseball starts next week! Hope springs eternal, and that’s always true in baseball too. I’m cautiously optimistic that the Milwaukee Brewers will at least be competitive and put on a good show this year.

And hey, if nothing else, we’ve got the awesome new Brewers mascot, Hank the Dog, to cheer for!

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More Stadium Accessibility

March 5th, 2014 by Steve | Comment on More Stadium Accessibility | Filed in Sports

Continuing on the subject of the accessibility of sports venues, this time I thought I’d look a bit into football.

Here’s a few random and notable discoveries that caught my eye.

More kudos to our friends across the border
Minnesota Vikings logo
– Check out St. Peter man works to make Viking stadium more accessible. It’s from last September.
– The new Minnesota Vikings stadium, due to open in 2016, is going to be considerably more accessible than its predecessor, the Metrodome, thanks in part to a quadriplegic man serving on the Minneapolis Multi-Purpose Stadium Accessibility Advisory Committee.
– Some of the accessibility features include: not only meeting the required number of bathrooms per floor but exceeding it by 8-9; far more accessible seating plus accompanying seats for those attending a game with a disabled friend or family member; 12 elevators instead of 1

ADA Guidelines
ADA Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division logo
– I’m assuming (and hoping) this is updated but here’s a page on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) site outlining accessibility requirements for all new stadiums – Accessible Stadiums (PDF)

Aid4disabled logo
– In reading about the accessibility of Wembley Stadium, I found Aid4disabled, a great resource created by Patrick Burke, a gentleman with multiple sclerosis who shares his own struggles with his disability and provides insights on everything from restaurants and sports venues to household products.

Most every website for a sports team, college or professional, has a page detailing the accessibility standards of its venue. I’m of course still interested in hearing from people. What places stand out for their accessibility? What places are sorely lacking? What would you like to see stadiums overall do better?

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Baseball Stadium Accessibility

February 12th, 2014 by Steve | Comment on Baseball Stadium Accessibility | Filed in Sports

St. Paul Saints logoI stumbled across an article about a new minor league baseball stadium going up in St. Paul, Minnesota, that is looking like it’ll be one of the more accessible professional sports venues in the country.

Check out St. Paul Saints ballpark’s disabled accessibility plans lauded to learn more about it.

That got me thinking about yet another interesting accessibility topic – the accessibility of sports venues.

The last few times I’ve been to Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, I noticed some accessibility features such as a captioning on two of the video displays that recapped everything spoken, from the announcer to the national anthem singer.

That got me thinking about how well (or how poorly) sports venues make themselves open to people with disabilities. I have no idea at this point where Miller Park ranks, but I’ll find out.

I’ll stick with baseball for this post and call out an interesting blog I just found. All the Ballparks recounts the author’s quest to visit all the Major League Baseball ballparks.

Particularly interesting are the Accessibility Reviews of various venues. I’ve barely scratched the surface but will checking them out, as well as other stadium accessibility findings.

I’m definitely going to stay with this topic for awhile, and branch into other sports like football. Stay tuned!

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AbleGamers Charity Annual List of the Year’s Best Accessibility Achievements

February 5th, 2014 by Steve | Comment on AbleGamers Charity Annual List of the Year’s Best Accessibility Achievements | Filed in Video Games

Once again with some AbleGamers news this week…

The AbleGamers Charity recently unveiled its selections for Best Accessibility Achievements.

Head on over to read Accessibility Awards for 2013 Including Mainstream Accessible Game of the Year.

It’s a really nice cross section of the gaming industry, not just focused on games but assistive technology, individuals, and game makers.

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