Tuesday, December 23, 2008

web accessibility guidelines

Has everyone heard?

"The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has announced a new standard to make sites more accessible to older and disabled people.

Version 2.0 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) will apply to text, images, audio and video."


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7789622.stm

This will give digital agencies plenty of excuses to sell in updates to previous work.

One of the things I think is a good money making idea, but also a good general idea "In particular, the draft standard recommends the involvement of disabled people in the development of websites and suggests automated tools to test for accessibility." - i.e. getting disabled people involved in user testing.

By the looks of it we should be working towards BS 8878 as well.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Photosynth

guys check this out http://photosynth.net/ it sounds awesome, though IA question for you - tell me how long it takes you to find the download link. It is there, it's not a trick, it took me over 30 seconds.

So what is it? I've talked about Photosynth before, basically it's an uber photo stitch app that brings photos of locations together to make 3D images.

The implication of this being that mash this up with things like google maps or flicker and you're going to end up with everywhere being rapidly viewable in glorious 3D.

Yes it's microsoft, and no - it's not rubbish. It's amazing.

Seriously - check it out!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mouse here to stay

Experts are suggesting the mouse is here to stay...




Well I have to say I probably agree with them.







Touch screen technology is set to be mainstream, but until it excels beyond the mouse and keyboard combo both devices will not be redundant.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Browser OS

From GigaOm
--
With the release on Monday of a software platform known as
Native Client, Google has moved even closer to fulfilling the
early promise of a “web operating system” — a
vision originally offered by browser-software pioneer Netscape
Communications.

Over a decade ago, Netscape was the technology name that made
users smile and competitors tremble. And one of the things that
kept Microsoft awake at night was the fear that Marc
Andreessen’s company might be able to turn the browser
into a kind of web OS. Using a new software scripting language
known as Java, the theory went, Netscape would be able to offer
services and features through the web browser that would compete
head on with software installed on PCs.

That fear was a big part of the impetus for Bill Gates’s
famous “Internet tidal wave” memo in 1995, and it
was also a big reason why Microsoft started pushing its own
scripting language for the browser, known as ActiveX. As it
turned out, Netscape was never able to follow through on the
early promise of a browser OS. Not only was Java too clunky,
insecure and ill-suited to the purpose, but Netscape never
really took advantage of it, and the browser wars that Microsoft
triggered with the release of Internet Explorer soon turned in
the software giant’s favor, as Netscape became bloated and
unfocused.

Now, Google is offering its own scripting language known as
Native Client, which the company no doubt hopes will be seen by
developers as a friendlier version of ActiveX. What it will
allow browsers to do is run code in the language understood by a
user’s PC, rather than having to translate everything on
the fly. In a nutshell, that means browser-based software and
services will run faster and be able to offer more functionality
than they can now. Browser-based services that could replicate
all of the features of a desktop application would become a
reality.

As several observers have noted, the combination of
Google’s new Chrome browser, its Gears software —
which allows web apps to store data for offline use and
synchronize it later — and the Native Client language
makes for something that is awfully close to being a web OS.
Applications and services could run on any computer, storing
data whenever an Internet connection wasn’t available and
effectively erasing the boundaries between desktop and web. And
all it requires, of course, is that everyone adopt and adhere to
Google’s new language and standard (both Microsoft and
Adobe have been trying something similar with Silverlight and
Flash/AIR).

Is the world ready for a Google-ized version of ActiveX? Perhaps
not. But if the company does manage to get enough support for
Native Client, the web OS could become a reality — and
the knife that Google is already holding to Microsoft’s
neck with its web apps could cut a little deeper.

http://gigaom.com/2008/12/09/google-fulfilling-netscapes-original-vision/

Friday, December 12, 2008

Playstation Home is here

Following on from my thoughts about the death in the internet it has been announced that Playstation Home has been released.

Hoorah! Home is free, it's basically Second Life on your Playstation 3, but because it's on your PS3 and not your PC it's going to be good. Amazingly good.

PS3 home hasn't acchieved much press probably because it has been so horrendously delayed but now it's here I think it'll gain momentum fast.



And this supports my point that users online activity will move away from the traditional PC browser route and instead more users will be accessing for leisure via their console. The implication being that more of the web will be controlled by the console and gaming giants, Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, EA and Activision.


If you want to read more about it check out the BBC article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7777122.stm

I know what I'm doing this weekend!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Death of the "regular internet"?

It's occurred to me that the conventional web may be on its way out.
My thinking has been sparked by the release of Nintendo’s Animal crossing. http://www.animal-crossing.com which is a cutesy MMORPG. It gives you a world to explore, mini games to play, and has a particular emphasis on making friends. The thing that strikes me is that the console is no longer a solo experience. The Wii has made it multi-player experience within the living room (the multiplayer family fun angle) and all three have made internet access core to their functionality.
I think it’s highly likely that we’ll see this trend continue: Since the launch of PS3, Wii and XBox 360 we've seen more and more games with online features. These latest gen consoles are heavily web-enabled. The games being produced for them are more and more being designed with online in mind: Halo 3 allows you to play co-operatively online (now replicated with many other games), Resistance 2 has dropped it's local co-operative campaign in favour of one that can be played locally but almost impossibly less you play online with other players to support you. Little Big Planet allows users to create levels that are shared freely with other users.
Few games are being made without at least an online death-match mode. Some games are being made without a single player mode at all; or emphasis on co-operative play (e.g. Army of two).
Hardware is coming out that lets the user interact online in easy ways, cameras, headsets, and of course USB allowing the use of keyboards to be plugged in from your sofa.
HD 1080p now means that a console’s resolution is adequate for text, and ideal for video and games as opposed to the comparatively tiny LCD computer screen.

Alternatives to Second Life e.g. Playstation home have yet to get off the ground but the power of a console means it’s more likely that users will be creating and interacting with game world content on a console than on a PC (let’s face it PC online worlds such as SecondLife and its competitors suck).

I doubt it’ll be long before we see more MMORPG’s being produced for the consoles, and perhaps some migrations – World Of Warcraft are just mad not to release a version for PS3 and Xbox.

The hard drives of these machines are so much bigger than previous generation machines allowing for frequent updates (expansion packs, downloading user-generated content, etc).

So what does it mean for the regular web? I think it means a decline in users accessing for fun via a PC. I think web and business will go together for a lot longer, but home users will become more and more likely to interact from their console or mobile than a conventional PC.

E-mail, social networking, gaming, video, video phones, shopping can and will more so be done from your console. Much of it will probably evolve; facebook will be replaced with a really great online 3D immersive world, conversations will be held using an avatar or cam as well as voice.

Users accessing more from a console than a PC of course will mean that content is controlled by the big companies, Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft , Activision, EA, etc.
Of course I may be wrong – but I know I’ll be switching on my PS3 before I switch on my PC tonight. And I know that many of you will be accessing your e-mails or reading this blog post from your phone rather than your PC.

Do you agree? What do you think it means for the web industry?

Banking

A friends wifes boss recently made these comments on how the banking system works. It's insightful:

NATIONALISED BANKS TO PAY GOVERNMENT FINES WITH TAXPAYERS' MONEY

BANKS controlled by the public which do not lend the public
money will have to pay a fine using public money.

`Seriously, I am this close to just fucking losing it!'
Ministers believe the only way to get the credit system moving
again is to give billions of pounds to the banking sector and
then threaten to take it back from them, bit by bit, in
multi-million pound fines.

Chancellor Alistair Darling said: "We will use the money raised
from the fines to recapitalise those banks that have been forced
to pay very heavy fines.

"The banks must then use that money for lending and if they
don't they will be fined.
"We will then use the money raised from those fines to
recapitalise the banks that have been fined and if they don't
lend that money they will be fined. Again."

Mr Darling said those fines would then be used to recapitalise
the banks that had been fined before he was interrupted by a
senior Treasury official.

The chancellor was then wheeled into the corner of the room
where a heavy woollen blanket was draped over his head.

Meanwhile, Tom Logan, an overdraft holder from Peterborough,
said: "By all means please do stop me if I'm being a total and
utter fuckwit, but if we control the banks and we know what the
banks are supposed to do, why can't we just tell them to do it?"

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Life after launch

Just a minor project management nugget today.

It occured to me that when costing and planning a project it is easy to do so up until launch. But websites have a life after launch; that's why you build them! You need to pre-empt this life. For example, if you're building a competition then you need to think "does it expire, will they want to take it down, extract the database, send a mail-out" etc - and of course "how much will that cost?"



Other questions you can ask, do they require ongoing support, training, back-up and archiving, access to stats, stats analysis, further development, do they expect a warranty period, would they want an SLA, etc

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Nokia N97

We were talking recently about convergent technologies - one of the things we were debating were would users want to have both laptop and mobile or would they merge into one device.

The latest offering from Nokia which seems to be getting an effective internet buzz is the N97.



It's the phone they are saying will be able to compete with the iPhone and it really does seem like a handheld laptop to me:

"Details are in, Nokia has a new flagship phone. The N97 packs a 3.5-inch, 640 x 360 pixel (that's a 16:9 aspect ratio) resistive touchscreen display with tactile feedback and QWERTY keyboard into this sliding communicator with an "always open" window to favorite internet or social networking sites. Nokia calls it the "world's most advanced mobile computer." To back up the claim they've dropped in HSDPA, WiFi, and Bluetooth radios, A-GPS, a 3.5-mm headjack, 32GB of onboard memory with microSD expansion (for up to 48GB total capacity), and a battery capable of up to 1.5 days of continuous audio playback or 4.5-hours video. 5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss glass and "DVD quality" video capture at 30fps, too" source: http://www.engadget.com/2008/12/02/nokia-unveils-flagship-n97-phone/

It seems very likely that phones like this, the iPhone, the SE-X1, etc are really going to change how we in Western society are accessing the web (with LEDC's already accessing the web primarily via mobile).

Monday, December 01, 2008

microsoft maps

Has anyone ever seen http://maps.live.com/ before?

Basically Microsoft is trying to do a Google. In some respects they've done it better, in other they've shot themselves in the face, taken a picture of the bloody remains, posted it onto the internet, added the functionality to click random elements, and somehow formed an online application that is supposed to do what Googlemaps does.

Where they've done well is they've taken the maps and added a 3D perspective; so now not only can you look at your house from above, but from an angle too. It's rather good.

When it works - it keeps asking me to download the special beta app, the equivalent of google earth. I've tried this and it's now asking me if I want to make MSN my default homepage and MSN live my default search (NO I DON'T, I pray to the google).

Still - it's good to see how someone else with millions of pounds of budget attempts this.

One thing that has often puzzled me. Why do these free map apps make so much money? I've a mate who's a map specialist, he's worked for a few companies dotted round the country. It seems to be big business. I can understand the TomTom model, but where do googlemaps and microsoft maps make the money? Surely mapping the whole nation, taking photos from air, land, sea, undergrond, at a slight right angle, from space, in UV, IR, Full-colour, hybrid, sepia, with all houses painted pink, etc - it must cost a lot. Do they really earn this money back?

Economy

So VAT has been slashed to 15% today. Now my understanding of economics is not advanced; however I understand enough to know that here is a proposal that could really help save the economy at least within the UK.

Essentially I'm asking all patriots to buy me presents; in doing so you'll be spending, which will profit the companies, who will be able to spend in industry, salaries, and allow more spending, people will be able to buy houses, food, cars - and all because of me, who will have lots of presents.

Remember the slogan. Save the economy, buy me presents

Friday, November 28, 2008

Win a Speedo LZR Racer

The Speedo LZR Racer games have a competition attached to win a LZR Racer suit. This is being drawn on Sunday so why not enter yourself and send to your friends and get the chance to win? http://speedo80.com/lzrtrials/ Just think, you could be the next Michael Phelps, or you could sell it on Ebay and buy a Playstation 3.



If you miss out - don't worry, there is a second draw in December.

Good luck!

Designer router

I was so impressed by this router design that I thought it was worth a post.



It's a router, it's also a vase, it looks good! Of course I'm not sure mixing water and electronics is such a hot idea. But finding ways to double up on devices has to be a good thing. Like BT's all-in-one router which is phone dock, router, and modem.



Check it out : http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/11/wireless-router-vase.php



I wonder what else your router could be?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'll be back... on your screen this wednesday evening

A very interesting comment from here http://www.cultureby.com/trilogy/2008/11/when-bad-things-happen-on-good-tv.html

TV is traditionally a protected domain. It is governed by the convention that governs much of children's literature: bad things do not happen here.
When bad things does happen on TV, it is merely to give the protagonistic the occasion to triumph over an antagonist. In this case, bad things exist only so that good things may flourish.
This means TV can't ever entertain tragic knowledge. TV can't ever entertain the possibility that some part of the human condition as flawed beyond the possibility of redemption or amieloration. TV Land is benign.
But on theThe Sarah Conner Chronicles, life's a nightmare, then you die. There is something fantastically dour about this show. The characters know they are doomed in the short term or the long. Even if good wins out over evil, the world will still be reduced to rubble. But the hope of triumph is slender at the best of times, and incredible all the rest of the time.
I don't remember this tone in the originalTerminatorfilms. And this might be proof of Robert Thompson's argument that TV, once the bastard child of film, is able to take on bigger question. It would also be an interesting study in Henry Jenkins' notion of transmedia.
In a recent episode ofHouse, Dr. Eric Foreman (Omar Epps) kills a patient in his effort to save her. There is a horrible scene in which he begs her forgiveness and she refuses it. Normally, of course, this is an opportunity for the exercise of "human understanding and redemption." On TV, generally this means quite a lot of string work and tears as we all take a moment to reflect on how much fundamental goodness there is in the human spirit. Not this time. In this episode, the patient says something like "You fucked up. You killed me."
In general, this sort of thing says that not only is popular culture getting more complicated. (See the argument of Steven Johnson here.) But that it is now prepared to take up seriousness and even darkness that generally speaking never made it into any of the many episodes ofMurder, She Wroteor those B movies that end with a monkey doing something comical while everyone laughs a rather too heartily.
This would argue for the argument that says that popular culture is getting more like culture.
Post script. In a recent Conner Chronicles there was a reference to a tortoise that sounds very like the reference to the tortoise that appears in Blade Runner. Can anyone confirm or elicidate?
Post post script: The Sarah Connor Chonicles is on today at 8:00. Please do check in out. It's numbers are down and, as I say, it's really just tremendously good fun.
Post post script: Anyone interested in what feminism means for popular culture must watch this show.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Coal Finger

It's the latest offering from Greenpeace in their give coal the boot campaign.

It's nothing to do with my agency, boo, but still fun:



Sign up and show your support at at: http://www.coalfinger.com/

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Speedo

It's Speedo's 80th year, and they've marked it with a number of micro-sites my agency has been working on: http://www.speedo80.com/hub/

And I've just launched a whole bunch of games I've been project managing for them as one of these microsites: http://speedo80.com/lzrtrials/

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Apples are just a big lump of aluminium

I was eavesdropping on a conversation about the new macbooks this morning. I admit, yes, they are very sexy looking... but still no delete key (and I'm a right mouse button addict) so I'm still not convinced.

Nonetheless I thought you might find it interesting to know a bit about the ethical impact of them.

The verdict in short is, the latest model is having a better impact:

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/10/new-macbook-pro-whats-the-eco-impact-of-building-a-laptop-from-a-single-piece-of-aluminum.php

BUT obviously smelting alumnium in the first place isn't the friendliess process (remember basic chemistry lessons?) - are there alternatives? Yes is the answer get a bamboo computer which is of course made of biodegradeable elements - http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/03/asus_bamboo_eco.php.



I wonder what the average life-span of these and other laptops is? And how many people do recycle their plastic, bamboo or aluminium laptops and PC's at the end? Sadly I don't think I ever have.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I didn't write this

I didn't write this - someone else at work did; but it's insightful

The bullets below are from a report in Netimperative. They’re looking at some research commissioned by sapient (a digital marketing agency) who claim that there is a big shift to digital from traditional agencies and among marketing managers.

These are the things that they’ve mentioned on their wishlist:

Digital Marketing Needs to be Offered as an Integral Services Offering
Digital Marketing Knowledge is Crucial
Be Creative and Understand the Brand
More Use of “Pull Interactions” and Virtual Communities
Practice What You Preach

see the link for the full 411.
http://www.netimperative.com/news/2008/october/1st/agencies-of-the-future-top-five-wish-list

Friday, October 03, 2008

Nokia up, Apple down

Nokia have announced the launch of their Nokia Music service. This is a iTunes rival they've been developing across the road for about a year now (and my mate has been ranting about as part of the test team). The service, for those not in the know, is free music for a year when buying a Nokia phone (although the deal is only exclusive to the carphone warehouse which I consider a mistake). Presumably you then pay after that year. I believe there are certain advantages above iTunes; such as the DRM is different, I believe you're able to transfer the track to any device you want, i.e. your PC, PDA, MP3 Player, even your iPlayer or god forbid your Iphone (though as you already have a Nokia I'm not sure you'd do this). Read more here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7649060.stm

Interesting stat I've been bouncing around, although this is second hand information so I can't gaurantee it's validity, but apparently last year in Europe nokia accounted for 45% of the top 100 phones sold. The iPhone (surprisingly I'm sure to us niche techie market folk) did not come into this top 100.


Also, as if the fates were conspiring, the BBC has also reported that iTunes may shut down. The evil music companies are trying to charge poor sweet innocent single mum... I mean multi-national empire of evil Apple more money for the songs distrubted via iTunes. As such Apple is suggesting iTunes may shut-down. Read more here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7645537.stm

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Kylie's web feat nets her two awards

"Wow"! Is the headline for metro. Yes, yes, we all know I'm a Kylie fan (and a stereotype). But I read in metro today that kyliekonnect.com has received TWO BT Digital music awards for best for digital distribution and embracing the online world to communicate with her fans. She's also won Best Innovation. You might be asking why she "should be so lucky"?

What's impressive, and why it's relevant to Enable, is it runs a social network (successfully). It's great as you can create a profile and content on Kyliekonnect that is "especially for you". So I recommend you take a look for tips, I promise you'll be spinning around.



Sign up was easy, the "Captcha" code was legible and short (take note) and I was signed up in under 30 seconds. I'm taken straight to the profile page (which thinking about it is something common with social networks, AND makes sense). The navigation from here is a little confusing; it's very easy to find where to download ring tones as well as finding fellow Kylie fanatics so that you and they can be "2 hearts beating together". But initially I went to the bottom where there are options to do prime actions in the footer.

There are 1358 pages of profiles, 10 per page, i.e. at least 13580 public profiles!!

Monday, September 29, 2008

dot.com bubble burst

The BBC has posted a really interesting article predicting the possible decline in Web 2.0 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/technology/

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Britney Spears

She's making a comeback, hoorah - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7618196.stm


Don't you just love her

Gym

Well I've decided to do it, I'm joining another gym.

This one has everything I'm after. It's cheap, it's cheap, it's non-subscription, it's cheap, and I think it's got Gym equipment. I'm popping along at lunch time!

That's the other thing, it's so very close to work I'm hoping to be able to fit in a work out during my lunch breaks, possibly even before work once in awhile. How great would that be?




And here's my target :-)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Post-weekend blues

I miss Ibiza so much this morning; the sun, the chilled out atmosphere - why is it no one has been able to recapture that in this country? Bristol isn't exactly a small city yet most of the clubs are god-awful!

Perhaps that's the point of places like Ibiza, even at it's most commercial the overall experience is hard to recapture.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Chrome


In Google's bid for ahem world domination they've released Chrome. http://www.google.com/chrome

It's a new browser. I've had a little play with it and it seems pretty basic at this point; lots of IE features I would like to see like a links bar. (If this feature exists I don't intuitively know how to switch it on). The search/address bar is really good (it's linked to google and is all in one solution).

It'll be awhile I'm sure before it becomes widely used enough to warrant adoption in our QA testing but it's interesting to see the birth of a new Browser and certainly worth everyone having a look.

Internet Explorer 8 is also on it's way, http://www.microsoft.com/windows/internet-explorer/beta/default.aspx but I've not been able to get it working yet. It'll be a good day when that launches :-)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Google is 10

Google has turned 10 and the BBC has played a brilliant homage to it: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7598527.stm

Monday, September 08, 2008

Ibiza


I'm back from my holiday in Ibiza, I had an amazing time.

I will be going back

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Do better

I had a bit of an internal chat today about me. All very complimentary (of course) about how I'm very good at grasping top level stuff, seeing the bigger picture, understanding business needs, requirements, process. Of course (as is the nature of a sandwich) you have to put some criticism in, and it's that which is ultimately going to be the barrier to the pay rise you're after.

The advice I was given, and it's good advice. Is to focus on the granular detail and not just be aware of the top level. It's good to have respect, but you need to have trust too.

Good ways to manage this is to keep a prioritised list, (which I do) but make sure that the small stuff you deem unimportant isn't left so long it becomes important.

A late one once in awhile is a good thing, an extra 10 minutes a day to knock a few things out can save you a heap load of time.

Manage expectations, don't forget that your colleagues are "internal customers".

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

Recession

If you're confused as me about what a Recession is then read this - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7495340.stm

Now don't you feel better? I really do think the media has a lot to answer for. It sounds like the economy is driving itself into a recession partly by media attention. Of course environmental concerns (food scacity, resource scacity) are also important factors e.g. cost of food, fuel. The fact is, shit costs more.

I say grow stuff at home, recycle, be careful, save, be sensible, spend, enjoy, get what you need, cut what you don't need, buy a bike, cycle to work, go to the gym, drink less - have a BBQ. Don't worry.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

World famous

It's been awhile since I've posted here, but why am I not world famous yet for my words of wisdom? Possibly because there are millions of others with the same idea.

I had best write something controversial to get noticed.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Spain is amazing

Hola!

I still want to learn spanish, and more so now as Spain is doing everything right. Today on tree hugger I read this:
Spain Announces Major Energy Saving Plans
This is one of those stories that sounds almost too radical to be true. We’ve already noted that bringing back the 55 mph speed limit could do a lot to reduce gas consumption and cut CO2 emissions, but usually when the idea is discussed we hear from numerous commenters that it would be political suicide. Spain’s government might not agree, as it has apparently just announced a raft of incredibly ambitious measures to help tackle global warming, including cutting the speed limit to 50mph, but that's just the beginning. According to The Guardian, other actions to be undertaken between now and 2014 include handing out 49 million low energy light bulbs, limiting AC use in public buildings to 26C (79F) and introducing a pilot program for the manufacture of 1m electric or hybrid cars! (Of course Spain is already a powerhouse for solar energy projects.) It seems the Spaniards are going to be busy.


One item I am a little confused about, from the Guardian report, is a statement that “Spaniards will be allowed to turn the heating no higher than 21C (70F)” - I am assuming this refers to public buildings in the same way as the regulations regarding AC use – the idea of police tracking down illicit heating parties that reach 22C or above just seems a little too dystopian for my liking.

Another move that is worthy of note is the announcement that airlines will be able to shorten routes by cutting through military airspace – apparently this comes hot on the heels of flight cancellations to Spain by Ryanair and Easyjet in response to high fuel costs.

While there will no doubt be backlash from some quarters regarding the breadth and extent of these moves, I must say this looks an awful lot like what I’ve been waiting for – a national government that is taking oil depletion and global warming as the grave threats they really are.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

Charity begins at home

In a trip to a certain international charity HQ today I was surprised to find what a traditional office set up they have.

 

They are based in London and have a massive, typical, office building to themselves. Admittedly it isn’t one of those posh glass new builds, but I would guess the running costs of the building alone is equal to the output of a fair few donations or charity shops.

 

The thing that got me thinking most was the paper towels in the loos and the disposable paper cups in the kitchen. Now the charity is one focused on humanitarian efforts, not environmental, so I guess it shouldn’t purplex me that much. I guess I just have an expectation that charities will lead by example right down to the  small details, such as providing glasses and hand dryers to reduce waste.

 

The building was fully air-conditioned too, which no doubt costs a bundle (although in the middle of summer, in the middle of London, perhaps I shouldn’t be too harsh on them for this). Still, I don’t know why more offices can’t be designed to have windows that open rather than having expensive air-con.

 

London in general seems to be very non-environmentally friendly (transport system aside). Perhaps I need to scratch beyond he surface, but the largest concentration of people in the UK seems to be the most wasteful, consumer focused and disposable attitude of all.

 

 

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

elephant vs mouse

Interesting article on Ecover today. http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/07/ecover-eco-factory.php

 

What is interesting about it is that it's a green product, trying to do good and completely in line with my personal philosophy that the only way we're going to do good is if it can also be profitable.

 

What's interesting is that everyone likes to focus on the negatives of a nasty polluting organisation, but also, everyone wants to focus on the negatives of a lovely eco brand like ecover (such as 1 non e friendly chemical).

 

In the article it uses the example of a mouse on an elephants bottom. Let's not focus on the mouse until we've addressed the elephant. And I completely agree. Why is it that journalists have a compulsion to report and we have a compulsion to find interesting negatives, even on those trying to do good? If wind-farms require oil to lubricate the turbines, or a hybrid isn't as efficient as a smaller run around, or if a famous environmentalist takes a ride to a conference on a plane we all focus on the negatives and forget (seemingly) the good.

 

Perhaps it's because the brands are built on squeaky clean eco lovliness and we feel our trust is violated, or perhaps we just like seeing do gooders mess up?

 

But the thing I definately like is the elephant.

 

Ok, we can bitch about hybrids not being as efficent as they could be, the expensive and dangerous chemicals rechargeable batteries use, the inefficicency of certain solar power, etc, etc - but at least someone is trying, and at least it's better than nothing. Of course I guess if there was no consumer demand for eco-perfection then the manufacturers wouldn't strive to improve?

Booking anything

I’ve just booked train tickets online. A word of advice is always think carefully before hand about your journey. Are you travelling in advance? Yes, then you are probably ok to get them delivered to your house. What if you are travelling in a few days? Well you probably don’t want to risk getting them posted. So make sure you do this thinking before pressing accept or face the £10.00 admin charge!

 

If, like me, you do press accept and then realise your error call them up and make a fuss. They will tell you the tickets are non-refundable, and that there is a £10.00 admin charge for cancellation. Make a fuss, speak to a manager, eventually someone will not have time to speak to you and give you what you want.

 

Of course, you should then not make the same mistake again.

 

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

new music

So Sky is launching a new download service according to the BBC today (22/07/08)

 

It sounds great, and Universal are also teaming up with Nokia (working across the road from me) to offer free downloads to nokia users. No doubt Virgin will be following suit shortly.

 

It’s great to see the music industry being proactive and not bitching about piracy anymore. The fact is, CD’s cost too much and why subscribe or pay when you can get it for free so easily unless there are ways to legally get music for very little?

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7519558.stm

 

 

Sky launches net music service

BSkyB is launching a new music subscription service for internet users in what it claimed is a world first.

 

The satellite television company, which also offers broadband access, is teaming up with Universal Music to offer digital access to hundreds of thousands of songs for a monthly fee.

 

Sky said other music industry partners may soon join the service.

 

The new service will launch late this year but details of subscription prices have not yet been made public.

 

DRM-free

 

 

But BSkyB's chief operating officer Mike Darcy said the aim was to reach the mass market. "Sky already has contact with one in three British homes through our television service," he said, "and we've got plenty of experience of running a subscription model."

 

The legal music downloads market is currently dominated by Apple's iTunes. Other companies have tried to offer subscription services without making much impact.

 

 

But BSkyB and Universal believe a service offering unlimited streamed music plus a set number of downloads for a flat monthly fee will prove attractive.

 

The music will be free of DRM copy protection software, so it will be available to play on any device, including Apple's iPod.

 

Pavarotti to Girls Aloud

 

The music industry has been pressing internet service providers to threaten broadband users who engage in file-sharing with disconnection.

 

It has been holding out the promise that ISPs can have a stake in the music business if they co-operate with a crackdown on customers who download copyrighted material.

 

BSkyB did not say specifically whether it now will be sending warnings to broadband customers who engage in file-sharing, but said that part of the aim of the new service is to ensure that "artists are properly rewarded for their creativity."

 

Lucian Grange, chairman and chief executive of Universal Music Group said consumers would welcome a "safe, state-of-the-art service and legal alternative to those services which exploit services without compensation."

 

Mr Grange said the service would offer everything "from Pavarotti to Girls Aloud" and would be "a lot more appealing than piracy."

 

Universal has also teamed up with the mobile phone giant Nokia to offer "Comes with Music", a service offering unlimited music to customers who buy a mobile phone.

 

But Mr Grange said the Nokia partnership was aimed at individuals, whereas the joint venture with BSkyB was targeted at families.

 

 

 

 

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/technology/7519558.stm

 

Published: 2008/07/22 13:03:16 GMT

 

© BBC MMVIII

Solar power

I’m looking after my mums dog at the moment and I keep having to get the bus into town. Public transport, blagh! But I’m only saying that because I live in Bristol and First bus is possibly the worst service in the country.

 

Of course at the moment it’s been pretty good, but I think that has something to do with the summer holidays. Perhaps if there were more busses in the winter people would use them more?

 

I keep passing this house with 8 photovoltaic panels and 2 water heating solar panels and all I can think is bravo and how every house should have them. I definitely think every new build house should have one, and why not do something with the roofs of supermarkets and warehouses? Hell, you could even build them over the car parks and then the cars could be nicely sheltered. Wouldn’t that be nice, and ironic that the panels are protecting the problems.

 

 

 

Friday, July 18, 2008

Demise of the mouse

It’s one of my favourite topics and it’s going to have an impact on design. The mouse will be dead soon. We’re going to move towards gesture, voice, touch. While I suspect the mouse and keyboard has a long life in it yet it’s going to become more and more important when specifying the architecture of a site to consider that it won’t be access just from a PC but from a mobile, tv, games console, fridge, car, and many other mediums yet to come. How users interface with those mediums will be wide and varied. Initially i imagine the technologies aren’t going to be as precise as the humble yet proven mouse. Touch for example is fine, except it’s not always 100% spot on, fingers are big and clunky compared to the laser precision cursor.

 

The future of the keyboard I just don’t know about, it won’t be long I’m sure before it too is a thing of the past but that really depends on the development of voice recognition (which no doubt will have an impact on office design and the role of the secretary). Rather than dictating to a person no doubt people will dictate to a machine. The keyboard already has evolved with some touch sensitive or projected models existing on the market already. And of course there is hand writing recognition widely used in PDA’s (perhaps we’ll see a return to handwriting, though I can’t imagine handwriting to ever be as quick as speech or the typed word less we learn short hand again).

 

Anyway, my rant was inspired by today’s BBC article 18/07/08:

 

BBC NEWS

Say goodbye to the computer mouse

By Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley



It's nearly 40 years old but one leading research company says the days of the computer mouse are numbered.

A Gartner analyst predicts the demise of the computer mouse in the next three to five years.

Taking over will be so called gestural computer mechanisms like touch screens and facial recognition devices.

"The mouse works fine in the desktop environment but for home entertainment or working on a notebook it's over," declared analyst Steve Prentice.

He told BBC News that his prediction is driven by the efforts of consumer electronics firm which are making products with new interactive interfaces inspired by the world of gaming .

"You've got Panasonic showing forward facing video in the home entertainment environment. Instead of using a conventional remote control you hold up your hand and it recognises you have done that," he said.

"It also recognises your face and that you are you and it will display on your TV screen your menu. You can move your hand to move around and select what you want," he added.

"Sony and Canon and other video and photographic manufacturers are using face recognition that recognises your face in real time," he said. "And it recognises even when you smile."

"You even have emotive systems where you can wear a headset and control a computer by simply thinking and that's a device set to hit the market in September."

"This" Mr Prentice said, "is all about using computer power to do things smarter."

Greatly exaggerated

Naturally enough those in the business of making mice are not wholly in agreement that the end is nigh.

"The death of the mouse is greatly exaggerated," said Rory Dooley senior vice president and general manager of Logitech's control devices unit.

Logitech is the world's biggest manufacturer of mice and keyboards and has sold more than 500 million mice over the last 20 years.

"This just proves how important a device the mouse is," said Mr Dooley.

But he also agreed that the number of ways people can interact with a computers were rising and that his own company was manufacturing many of them.

"People have been talking about convergence for years," he said. "Today's TV works as a computer and today's computer works as a TV.

"The devices we use have been modified for our changing lifestyles but it doesn't negate the value of the mouse," Mr Dooley explained.

Popularity

The mouse was invented by Dr Douglas Engelbart while working for the Stanford Research Institute. He never received any royalties for the invention partly because his patent ran out in 1987 before the PC revolution made the mouse indispensible.

With a 40 year anniversary planned for later in the year, Mr Dooley said Gartner's prediction for the mouse was too gloomy given that the developing world has still to get online.

"The mouse will be even more popular than it is today as a result," he suggested.

"Bringing technology, education and information to these parts of the world will be done by accessing web browsers and doing that in the ways that we are familiar with today and that is using a mouse.

"There are around one billion people online but the world's population is over five billion," he said.

Gesturing

So just how ready are people to wave their hands in the air or make faces at devices with embedded video readers?

Gartner's Mr Prentice says millions are already doing it thanks to machines like Nintendo's Wii and smartphones like the iPhone.

"With the Wii you point and shake and it vibrates back at you so you have a two-way relationship there.

"The new generation of smart phones like the iPhone all now have tilting mechanisms or you can shake the device to do one or more things.

"Even the multi-touch interface is so much more powerful and flexible than in the past allowing you to zoom in, scroll quickly or contract images."

For those who lament the demise of such tried and tested pieces of hardware, Mr Prentice did concede that the keyboard was here to stay for the foreseeable future.

"For all its faults, the keyboard will remain the primary text input device," he said. "Nothing is easily going to replace it. But the idea of a keyboard with a mouse as a control interface is the paradigm that I am talking about breaking down."

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/technology/7508842.stm

Published: 2008/07/17 07:51:31 GMT

© BBC MMVIII

 

 

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Learning

Today I learned how to spell Kyrgyzstan .

 

I’ve also had my IA hat on doing process mapping and wireframing. I’ve done this before, and don’t have a problem with it however one of the things I’ve noticed is it’s harder to do when you’re doing someone else’s work and trying to adopt their very specific style. I’ve been using the Garrett IA style – which frankly is rubbish

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I-player

How clever is the I-Player? It's got to be one of the best pieces of internet kit in the last few years.

 

It's just so well thought out, it works so well.

 

They've just released a new version. All the same features as before, but now the full screen doesn't close when you move your mouse and also if you stop a program and then reload the page later on, without any special software, it remembers your position in the program!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Breakups

I’ve recently split with my partner of 2.5 years.

 

I’m not going to rant on about that of course, but what I am going to mention is the Web 2.0 aspect of it.

 

He decided to change their status on Facebook the day after to “single” and I followed later on that day. Since then we’ve both had a flurry of texts, wall posts and messages of people creeping out of the woodwork offering support (and no doubt with intentions of soon to be offering other things). As well as good friends offering support.

 

I’ve deliberately decided not to change my MSN message to “Happy being single” or something like that as I know it’ll get the wrong attention and send the wrong message.

 

It’s incredible how the changing of just one little drop down reflects so much emotional angst. How changing that drop down prompts a network of friends to gossip over a number of mediums.

 

What’s weird to think, assuming we don’t patch things up, is how the next time I change that drop down will probably be at the start of a brand new relationship. How different my emotional state will be at that time!

 

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Uncomfortable feeling

This is a feeling I've had before; it comes when I'm underworked. Suddenly I notice how busy everyone else is, I realise how hard they are working and I start to get paranoid.

- why am I not working as hard as them right now? Is it because I'm too efficient OR is it because they are phasing me out?

Of course once I ask for more work I feel useful again, but if that work is monkey work I feel less valued.

I'm sure everybody loves me really, but in case they don't I'm going to try and keep busy.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Blog

Have I not learnt anything new for several days – I’ve noticed my blog posts have been somewhat lacking lately (except being 10 biggest cocks in advertising, a disappointment when you see it’s actually a comedy sketch).

 

Yesterday was a yawn fest, I’m just too efficient and had completed all my work by 15:00. Good thing for RSS feeds, a great way to do “research” aka, dossing around.

 

Monday, June 30, 2008

Another day

What glorious weather. I’m off to get my holiday scrapbook.

 

I’m still learning Spanish, and it’s a week in! So I’m pretty impressed. Next step is – will I still be interested in a month?

 

I can see that learning Spanish, and the living abroad dream, could easily become a fad I pick up and drop like dieting or the gym.

 

 

 

biggest cocks in advertising

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hola

So it's another day, and I still miss spain. It's a stunningly sunny day yet it's so cold. Of course in moaning I'm being very british. (but then you read the Metro you'd think it's the end of the world).

It's interesting to see those scrum techniques being played out, or not as seems to be the case. I'm sure it is all happening, but from the outside it just seems to be waterfall as usual. Yawn.

And why, why!!! can't clients accept no more money = no more scope.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Spanish

I’m back from Tenerife and I’m not happy. I had no idea how cold this stupid country can be.

 

I had such a great time and I’m seriously contemplating jacking it all in to work in a bar, and why not, I’m only 23!

 

Of course I’d like to learn Spanish first and I’ve started to explore the online ways of doing it. It seems there are plenty of sites ready to teach you Spanish, but how many are any good? A quick explore of You Tube has shown me that there are places there I could get free videos so that’s a start and the good old BBC (who by being the BBC makes me feel it’s a reliable place to start) offers some good links and programming I’m going to explore.

 

It’ll be great when I can say more than Hola

 

Friday, June 20, 2008

Learning

the best way to know you've really learnt something is to be able to teach it to someone else.

I was told that at school and it's so very true. Another thing I was told at school was to be selfish in your education. This doesn't mean be mean, it means take advantage of every opportunity and don't open the door for someone else if it means you are missing out. I think this applies to work as well.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Scrum

Well that was interesting.

 

I’ve just had Scrum training from Agile Bear (http://www.agilebear.com/). It has proven to be very informative; and I tell you what, Scrum seems simple and dead easy to pick up in theory. But when you actually start to practice it (in the little exercises we were doing) you realise that it’s a lot more difficult. None the less, I still think it’s a brilliant approach.

 

 

Be interesting

Russell Davies advice on being interesting http://russelldavies.typepad.com/planning/2006/11/how_to_be_inter.html

 

 

Great idea really, be more interesting, and people will be more interested.

Friday, June 06, 2008

How to scrum

Interested in Scrum, then I suggest you read (and buy) this - http://www.infoq.com/minibooks/scrum-xp-from-the-trenches. It's so incredibly informative about one person's approach to Scrum/Agile. It's an easy read which I completed in a couple of hours and covers most things you'll need to know to successfully run a Scrum project.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Wii Fit

The Wii fit is just great. In fact the Wii in general is. It just goes to show, sometimes it bodes well to be daring.

Mac changed it's image and broke away from the beige box and became hugely successful (annoyingly).

PS and Xbox thought they had market domination and that power is what the users wanted. The Wii knocked them for six

Monday, June 02, 2008

New office

Well we’ve moved office. We’re now in the centre of Bristol. It’s not bad at all, each room is a bit of a self-contained box in a refurbished building that I assume was once a bank or something similar. It’s very environmentally friendly in a not too hard to do way, solar panels on the roof, a roof garden, grey water flushing the loos, floors made from recycled tiles, energy saving lights, an environmentally friendly kettle and recycle bins. Plus plenty of bike racks.

 

Many of these things are dead easy to implement in your own home without too much conversion. And of course the long term benefit is it saves you (well in this case the people who own the building) money.

 

 

 

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Microsoft gets "touchy"

Microsoft has proposed that it's next OS will be touch-sensitive. This would replace (or supplement?) the mouse.

 

The mouse was invented in the 60's, and became widely used with windows 3:1, since then we've only really seen two major advancements, 1 - the laser replacing the ball and 2 - the introduction of the scroll wheel.

 

Touch interfaces are definately coming into the forefront, and yes, the iPhone's impact isn't lost on me. But an OS pleging to be touch sensitive is surely a major advancement and could revolutionise the way we interact with devices. I've been saying this for awhile, but I believe that once this comes in the next version of Windows we're going to see an overhaul in web-design and I feel sure web-design will become more focused on interaction with pointing fingers than a precise cursor.

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7422924.stm

 

 

Microsoft demos 'touch Windows'

By Maggie Shiels

Technology reporter, BBC News, in Silicon Valley 

 

 

Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.

 

Microsoft demos touch control in Windows 7

 

Microsoft's next operating system (OS) will come with multi-touch features as an alternative to the mouse.

 

It is hoped the successor will have a better reception than the much-maligned Vista OS, released last year.

 

Scheduled for release in 2010, the new fingertip interface lets users enlarge and shrink photos, trace routes on maps, paint pictures or play the piano.

 

"The way you interact with the system will change dramatically," said Microsoft chairman Bill Gates.

 

Speaking at the All Things Digital conference in San Diego, Mr Gates said Windows 7 would incorporate new forms of communication and interaction.

 

 

 Despite issuing more than 140 million licences for Vista worldwide, it's seen by many as a failure

Darren Waters, Technology editor, BBC News website

 

 

"Today almost all the interaction is keyboard-mouse. Over years to come, the role of speech, vision, ink - all of those things - will be huge."

 

Chief executive Steve Ballmer described the limited demo of the multi-touch screen at the conference as "a small snippet" of the next version of Windows after admitting he wants "to do better" than Vista.

 

Even though Vista has suffered from a poor public image and a lukewarm welcome from many firms and users, Mr Ballmer said the company had shipped 150 million copies of the program.

 

Touch-enabled

 

Industry watchers say Microsoft is hoping that Windows 7 can change the way people interact with PCs in the future.

 

"Touch is quickly becoming a common way of interacting with software and devices," writes Windows product manager Chris Flores in a blog post.

 

 

"Touch-enabled surfaces are popping up everywhere including laptop touch pads, cellphones, remote controls, GPS devices and more."

 

When challenged as to who would get to market first with a new touch screen device, Microsoft or Apple, Mr Ballmer said it was not much of an issue.

 

"We'll sell 290 million PCs and Apple will sell 10 million PCs.

 

"They're fantastically successful and so are we and our partners. But it's a different job. Steve [Jobs, Apple chief executive] can flip his hand and sell a few models and I don't take a thing away from him."

 

Website Beta News reports that "beta testing of the product should begin later this year although a lack of touch-screen devices could slow widespread trials of the new interface".

 

We walked away

 

During the conference, Mr Ballmer also talked about the company's failure to buy Yahoo, following its offer of $47.5bn.

 

"Look, we made a bid for Yahoo. It was out there for three months and there was a difference between bid and ask.

 

 

Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.

 

What does Windows 7 mean for the mouse?

 

"We thought we could accelerate our business. We were going to be financially disciplined about it. We walked away. We are talking with them about other ideas but we are not re-bidding on the company. We reserve the right to do so. That's not on the docket."

 

Mr Gates said: "I've been supportive of everything Steve has done. Totally supportive."

 

World's best search

 

While many attending the D6 conference focused on the Windows 7 announcement and comments on Yahoo, a spotlight was also turned on Mr Gates himself, counting down to his last day at Microsoft on 1 July.

 

 

At a reception earlier in the day, he chatted to reporters about what the future holds for him. He said even though he was retiring from his "daily duties" at the firm he founded, he wouldn't be letting go completely.

 

Instead of spending 80% of his time at Microsoft and 20% at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation he would now reverse that.

 

Mr Gates, who will remain as chairman of Microsoft, said he would still have an office in Redmond and spend time writing, thinking and working on a variety of pet projects, including the next generation Microsoft Office.

 

"I'm very involved in search, the internal development," he said. "We will build the world's best search."

 

 

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/technology/7422924.stm

 

Published: 2008/05/28 14:07:50 GMT

 

© BBC MMVIII

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Always have a plan

Recently we started a project without a project plan – madness you may think, but surely this is a common situation? Sometimes the pressures to kick-off are overwhelming, you just have to get going. However, in this situation we didn’t have accurate estimates (we were developing on an unknown platform).

 

The rule – always have a plan, even if it’s ideal delivery dates and milestones, have a plan.

 

Friday, May 23, 2008

Nature

If anyone knows if the BBC ever plan to release their Wildlife on one, Wildlife on two and Natural world series on DVD please please tell me. These documentaries are wonderful, and I've grown up with them but yet missed so many. It's the sort of thing I would love to own and watch over and over.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Contact reports

A great tip for writing contact reports is to write them in the meeting (if you can). Just whip your laptop out, open up a contact report template, and fill it out as you go along. You then just need to tweak it later (if you take good notes) and can send it out.

And yes, they are useful, and invaluable when a client changes their mind later on.

Contact reports

A great tip for writing contact reports is to write them in the meeting (if you can). Just whip your laptop out, open up a contact report template, and fill it out as you go along. You then just need to tweak it later (if you take good notes) and can send it out.

And yes, they are useful, and invaluable when a client changes their mind later on.

Trains

Aren’t trains great, I’m on the way to London in a very lovely First carriage.

 

They provide plus, isn’t that great – why can’t they have wireless too? I feel so disconnected. It’s like I’m missing a limb.

 

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tip for career progression

Keep your CV up to date. It'll help you remember what you've done, monitor progression, and it doesn't help to put it out there and get a few practice interviews in once in awhile to stay top of your game.

Source: me

Monday, May 19, 2008

Free stuff

BBC click (broadcast on 17/05/08, and watched over the free and wonderful iplayer) has pointed me some free stuff that useful:

 

Some of this stuff I’ve heard of before, some is new.

 

As an alternative to OSX or Vista try Linux.

 

Free browsers try Safari or IE7

 

Free virus protection for home users try AVG (I’ve used this before and it’s great)

 

Free storage try http://skydrive.live.com/

 

Remote access and control of your computer try https://secure.logmein.com/home.asp?lang=en (I’ve used this before and it’s great)

 

Free music organiser - http://www.mediamonkey.com/

 

And a free online version of photoshop - https://www.photoshop.com/express/landing.html

 

---

 

 

I’d also point you to (and this is coming from me):

-          Winamp – free music player

-          Windows Media Player – free for windows users and a great player

-          Skype and MSN – two great and indispensible instant messengers

-          Hotmail – free e-mail

-          Google’s calendar and e-mail, free and brilliant. There’s a new widget that lets your sync your outlook calendar with google’s calendar too.

-          Google earth – this is just fun. Download great images of anywhere on the planet.

Job boards

A good piece of advice a friend of mine gave me (a friend who’s well paid and in a top job) is to use the job boards often. Even if you aren’t looking for a job, just check every so often to see what’s in demand. This you can use to help steer your career. It might be that you’ve been pushing hard at Prince 2 when everyone is going over to Agile, or you find Information Architecture is where the  money is and you decide to ditch the account manager pathway.

 

In the digital sector Monster, planet recruit, jobserve IT are good. For those based in Bristol try contacting Ad-Lib or checking the Bristol Media job board, for those in London check out chinwag.

 

Project Nirvana

I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine this weekend. He runs a marketing agency in Cardiff and it was interesting, comparing notes, on how the same problems facing an agency seem to occur again and again regardless of size.

 

These are things like under- or over-scoping, being under-resourced (or over), clients not paying invoices, clients changing their mind, delivering on time, internally everyone having their own way of doing things (which can be incredibly frustrating when it’s not your way (which is obviously the better way)), long hours.

 

It seems these are challenges that face all agencies and we wondered what happens if you reach project nirvana where everything does go smoothly? Does finding the perfect process, and avoiding all these complications lead to your work not being as creative as in a more chaotic environment? Who can say!

 

Friday, May 16, 2008

Cardiff be warned

It’s my mates birthday this weekend,

 

Cardiff watch out. Hugh’s coming back for boozy times.

 

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Demanding clients

Something I’ve learnt is that it doesn’t matter how much a client is paying they will always demand the same amount of love and attention.

 

If a client pays you million pounds they should get star treatment, presentation should be supurb

If a client pays you a thousand pounds they should get star treatment, presentation should be supurb

 

A clients money is their money no matter how much they are paying, and if they don’t feel they are getting the star treatment they will kick up a fuss. It’s much easier to put in the extra for everyone as you’ll save time, have happier clients, (and get more of the ones willing to pay millions)

 

Costing

It's so easy to miss stuff when costing, you might think you've remembered the project management, the IA, the developer, the moodboards and interface design, but whoops, I forgot about QA, upload, I forgot about a few key documents which while they don't seem much still add several days on to a project.

The solution is to add to and always use a checklist. This checklist will be a list of everything you could possibly need for any project ever, and you ask yourself on each item ... do I need this? If yes, what times, what resource, and you build your estimate up with this.

Functional vs. Technical spec

What's the difference?

A functional spec outlines the functionality of a site, it could include the wireframes and IA.

The technical spec includes the technical detail, i.e. hosting, etc.

To show or not to show

A thought I've had is should you show a client the schedule? The answer is no, this is an internal document. There is too much detail and it just causes confusion, particularly if there are large gaps because one of your resources is on holiday. Instead issue a milestone document which identifies all the points where the client should get involved.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Scheduling idea

If you run a master schedule I've found it's useful to add enough detail that you know what that person is doing. i.e. Project - interface designs. It's also useful to note the time e.g. 7 hours, AND how much time remaining e.g. 1st day of 3, 2nd day of 3, etc.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Difference between task and activity

It may seem a subtle difference but I wanted to know what that difference was when I saw a project costed with two columns, 1 for task and 1 for activity. The best explanation comes from: http://www.english-test.net/forum/ftopic9495.html

 

generally, as I think, 'activity' has a wider sense.
Activity can consist of tasks.”

 

“It also may depend on the context field. This from psychological research:

"The distinction task vs. activity is particularly relevant to
task analysis and usability evaluation. A reliable measure
of the distance between what is prescribed (task) and what
is actually performed (activity) could lead to refinements
in the task model and (re)design decisions."”

 

 

 

 

I just can't wait to be king

I'm listening to the lion king soundtrack,

and loving it!

Useful tip

Book trains in advance! It saves money and stress.

Google breaks down the barriers (and earns a buck?)

Google helps the web to go social
Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter BBC News Silicon Valley



Friend Connect is Google's new offering

Google has joined the drive to make the web more social by introducing tools to enable people to interact with their friends.

Friend Connect follows plans announced last week by the world's two biggest social networking sites, MySpace and Facebook.

Data Availability and Connect let users move their personal profiles and applications to other websites.

"Social is in the air," says Google's director of engineering David Glazer.

During a conference call at Google's California headquarters, Mr Glazer told reporters: "Google Friend Connect is about being the 'long tail' of sites becoming more social."

"Many sites aren't explicitly social and don't necessarily want to be social networks, but they still benefit from letting their visitors interact with each other. That used to be hard."

Charlene Li, principal analyst at Forrester, told BBC News: "Google is tapping into the 'all things social' heat of the moment, but it's adding a different perspective, not as a data source and social network 'owner' but as an enabler."

Gamut of uses

At the heart of Google's service is the use of Open Social which will allow third parties to build and develop applications for the site.

Social networking is going mainstream

David Glazer
Google

The company says with Friend Connect, any website owner can add a snippet of code to his or her site and get social features up and running right away without any complicated programming. This will run the gamut from invitations to member's gallery and from message walls to reviews.

In an example of how it will all work, Google cited fans of independent musician Ingrid Michaelson who can now connect with other fans without having to leave the site.

Visitors will be able to see comments by friends from their social networks, add music to their profiles and see who is attending concerts all at Ingrid's website.

"Social networking is going mainstream. It used to be proprietary, but now it's going to be open and baked into the infrastructure of the net, not just one site or one source," says Mr Glazer.

Walled garden

MySpace was first out of the gate when it announced plans last Thursday to loosen its grip on the estimated 200 million personal profiles its users store on its site.

Data Availability will allow members to share select information with four partners, Yahoo. PhotoBucket, Twitter and eBay.

Google doesn't do anything without thinking about... how can it benefit Google

Charlene Li
Principal analyst, Forrester

Essentially the user will still be tied to MySpace which aims to put itself at the centre of the web by encouraging users to store all of their core data at the site to begin with.

One day later Facebook entered the fray with a service called Connect.

With its 70 million users worldwide, their plans differ from MySpace by allowing users to take their personal profiles to any website that wants to host them and not just the sites that have partnered up.

So what's driving this move to dismantle the so-called "walled garden" where social networking sites have jealously guarded their users profiles?

Charlene Li, principal analyst at Forrester told BBC News in the end it all comes down to money.

"It's a smart move by Google which is trying to play the role of United Nations secretary general by making sure everyone talks nicely to one another, getting the data to where they want to move it back and forward, and participate in open standards.

"Remember Google doesn't do anything without thinking about, not only how can this benefit the larger community, but how can it benefit Google."

As 99% of sites are not currently socially enabled, Friend Connect has a big potential market in front of it and Ms Li says the route to all things profitable in this space will be through tapping into "the deep profit and user data flowing through Friend Connect."

In other words, mining that information through advertising.

Google is being cautious about approving sites to use the new code and is creating a waiting list for requests to use Friend Connect. It says it expects to give the go ahead to a few dozens sites in the next few days.

As to opening out to a wider audience, Google says it estimates that will happen over the coming months.

Meanwhile MySpace and Facebook anticipate rolling out their offerings over the next few weeks.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7397470.stm

Monday, May 12, 2008

Blogger

I’m really loving Blogger,

 

Did you know you can set it up so that you can send posts to an e-mail address and it’ll post these up for you?

 

Wow!

 

MoSCoW

I've given myself an aim of learning something new everyday. Today I'm posting about MoSCoW

MoSCoW is a method that is used in business and particularly in software development to get an understanding with the customer on the importance they place on the delivery of each functional requirement. It originated as part of the Dynamic Systems Development Method. Sometimes called a MoSCoW list or a MOSCOW Analysis. MoSCoW stands for:
M - MUST have this.
S - SHOULD have this if at all possible.
C - COULD have this if it does not affect anything else.
W - WON'T have this time but WOULD like in the future.

(Source wikipedia)

Just to confirm, a must priority is a showstopper, a project failure if not executed.

“Must
Anything labelled as “MUST” has to be included in the project delivery timebox in order for it to be a success. If even one “MUST” item is not included, the project delivery is considered a failure. “MUST” is also an acronym for the Minimum Usable SubseT” from wikipedia.

To put this in context if we take one of the items, RSS feeds, its reading if BCC cannot offer RSS feeds of community users’ blogs, you view the project will have failed.

The MoSCoW prioritisation process is to weight the requirments to assist in executing the project. It would be great if we could have a chat and go through these. Mainly need to get a bit more balance across the prioritisation.

(source - wikipedia and someone I work with)