I started an account with LiveMocha, a social language-learning website, to learn Spanish. I’ve tried to learn Spanish two other times in the past, once at an adult learning center, and once at the hospital I used to work at that offered a trial Medical-Spanish course. Neither taught me how to carry a decent conversation in Spanish because it seems teaching English speakers about making the entire sentence singular or plural; male or female, past or present, is too difficult for English speakers to learn in the short period of time they offered the courses. Once the Medical Spanish instructor saw this happening, she at least translated many phrases important to each of our medical specialties.

LiveMocha teaches visually and with audio, using already learned words when teaching about singular vs plural, and male vs female. Plus we can learn at our own pace, and repeat lessons that are difficult. I think the way LiveMocha is set up to instruct other languages is brilliant.

But, I can’t read many of LiveMocha’s pages using Firefox 3! Here’s an example of the site menu that’s not too terrible:

I can at least read the first few lines of each menu link to know what the link is for. Perhaps this problem is related to my having configured my smallest text size to be larger than usual, but most sites don’t have a problem with this because they’re coded fluidly to accomodate visually impaired viewers.

Here’s what the message inbox looks like:

Both the message tools and the message headline are borked!

And it happens to the tools area in the messages themselves also:

But look how the page footer runs across the center of the message, including mashing up the links.

So I check out the Help link to see if these issues have already been addressed, and here’s what I get at the help section:

OMGWTH?

I did find something about FF3 issues on LiveMocha’s blog; they are aware of their site not working properly with FF3, and apparently are working on it. Someone commented on one of their blog posts that it’s also borked in recent releases of Opera too.

I’ve seen another very brilliant site that was totally borked in FF2: Associated Content, which I’m not linking to right now because AC is down at this time (I haven’t been to AC in a while because it’s so frustrating to navigate a borked site, so I’m not sure AC being down is a temporary thing or not). But, the similarities between LiveMocha’s and AC’s borkedness remind me of each other a lot. In fact, I woudn’t be at all suprised to find out LiveMocha and Associated Content used the same CMS software. If that’s the case, how stupid that a CMS programmer doesn’t know how to program for anything other than Internet Explorer!

(Associated Content was working the entire time, I had made small changes to a security program while trouble-shooting something else, since doing that only affected about 10% of websites, it took me a while to notice something was off, then backtrack what changes I had made earlier. But AC, and some of the other sites are loading again now that I changed the security setting back. And I was somewhat pleased to find that much of their site’s layout is now a bit more navigable (at least divs aren’t stacked on other divs on most of the pages); the Community page is the only one I’ve found that’s still borked (the left-menu floats over the center column, then moves around as the sub-menu is hovered, egads!).

It’s not like we’re in the last millenium when Firefox and Opera users were a small minority! You’d think CMS programmers would want to code compliantly so that their customers’ sites would work on all the major browsers, instead of just the high-risk-of-infection Internet Explorer (I’ve been infected twice since ’98 when I used IE, and I can’t remember how many infections my husband caught because he used AOL and IE for years until I finally weaned him off). From what I read on many blogs, tech-news sites, and forums, many others feel this way also, yet there’s still major websites like LiveMocha and Associated Content only working properly for a single browser.

If my suspicions about using the same CMS are even a little close, I hope LiveMocha and AC, and whatever other unfortunate sites that were suckered into buying an out-dated junk CMS get together and sue the snot out of the CMS company — not for money, but to force the CMS programmers to make the CMS compliant for all browsers, including coding it so visually impaired viewers can still use the site without breaking it when we have to enlarge the text size!

LiveMocha, I will still continue to learn Spanish from your almost brilliant site, for it is helping me learn Spanish better than short-term courses. At least the lessons pages aren’t borked (whew!)

PS: I want to clarify my visual impairment; most things start to blur if they’re more than a few feet away from me, but smaller text starts to blur at somewhere between 18-24 inches. With my monitor being aproximately 24-36 inches away, depending on whether I’m sitting forward or leaning back, most text is blurry. My glasses are too strong at this close distance, and blurs the text in the opposite direction. So if I wear my glasses, I have to sit about 4-5 feet away from the monitor before I can read the text. That’s why I turn my text size higher, so I won’t have to sit 4-5 feet away.

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