I’ve been implementing more web sites recently; it appears to be one part of the technology market for which there is still demand. One of the things I push when I meet with clients is accessibility, so I figured I should test my own sites and make sure they’re reasonably accessible. Lynx is one tool to use to check accessibility (as well as being a good basic text-based browser). I was a little flummoxed when I got back a 406 http error, which usually means the user agent can’t read the character set, language, or encoding the web site uses. Even the most basic text html page was rejected.
It turned out that my ISP had
mod_security enabled (good) and configured in such a way that lynx was banned (not so good). Banning lynx seems to be a fallout from a quick way of configuring mod_security by filtering out keywords that might be used in hacking attempts. Personally I can’t see the point as lynx can be told to use a different user agent string if need be, and people who want to hack your site will likely know how to do that, and I can’t understand how people use lynx to hack a site either. Mind you, I don’t hack other people’s web sites, so I don’t know the tools people use who do. Anyway, the ISP cheerfully took out the filter causing the problem, but in the meantime my IP address had been flagged by mod_security for trying to bypass the filter too many times, so I was completely banned from my own site, as well as every other site that happens to be hosted on the same server.
Eventually we cleared up that little problem as well, and I could get back to tweaking my style-sheets and HTML to be more accessible. There’s a bit more to do yet, but I’m getting there. And I’m grateful for an assiduous ISP (Canadian Web Hosting) with a support team that works late on Friday nights.