Category Archives: Harmony.co.uk

Bitter Ruin AR

I am a long-time fan of band Bitter Ruin. Georgia Train and Ben Richards are fantastic, creative musicians. Described as “AH-mazing” by Tim Minchin, and having toured with Amanda Palmer, they are selling out performances.

Looking at good examples of how onvert Augmented Reality might be used, I put together a quick sample and filmed it as a piece of fan art.

As such, you can sample their album, Hung, Drawn and Quartered and see them in 3D with your album cover and your phone. Download onvert viewer and visit the onvert on site to do what you see in the video above.

Be delightfully Ruined.

Photography used on site and to put together the Augmented Reality was taken by Scott Chalmers, as seen on the official website

FSB Business Innovation Award

Biggleswade Chronicle

We had a photographer from the Biggleswade Chronicle visit to take a photo of the team at Biggleswade. It felt like we were at a wedding, carefully positioned to make up the shot in one end of the office where we normally receive visitors.

The photographs were following the recent Federation of Small Businesses Award for Business Innovation. Onvert, our Augmented Reality app and platform had won its category on June 13th at a ceremony at Mansion House in Old Warden, Bedfordshire.

Attached is a scan of the Biggleswade Chronicle by Sam Vernon.

L-R: Kieran Sawyer (Development), Abhishek Bose (Marketing), Jason Higgins (MD), Me (Project Management), Alex Hollyman (Development), Ljudmila Serdjukova (Marketing), Simon Newton (Design), Tony Nutley (Design), Trudie Clement (Management).

Staff at a website design and marketing firm are celebrating after they received a top award.

Biggleswade-based Harmony was given the accolade for Business Innovation at the Bedfordshire Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) awards on Wednesday last week (June 13).

Judges at the awards – which took place at The Mansion house at Old Warden Park, Shuttleworth – were impressed by the company’s new Onvert product.

The product – which is available as a free app and as a more sophisticated paid-for version – turns two-dimensional artwork into three-dimensional designs when viewed on a tablet or smartphone.

Managing Director, Jason Higgins said: “Onvert almost came about by accident really – it was something that we were experimenting with but it has really caught on. Since we launched it we have had interest from a number of blue chip firms.”

The increased demand for research and production has also meant expanding the company, based at Connections House in Station Road.

Jason added: “We now have five more members of staff here and 11 employees in total. The new staff are working one of the offices here which was previously vacant and which we were thinking of letting to someone else.”

Onvert is an Augmented Reality technology which allows users to see three-dimensional projections which designers can implement in their online advertising.

Jason said: “It really does give designers a new dimension to what they do and much more flexibility.”

David Gloven, general manager of headline sponsor Mercedes-Benz of Bedford praised the ‘amazing’ quality and breadth of entrants in the awards. The FSB is the UK’s largest campaigning pressure group promoting and protecting the interests of the self-employed and owners of small firms.

 

Internet World Expo 2012

As now reported in the official Metaio blog, we took onvert to Internet World last minute 24-26th April 2012.

Taking a large stand space just left of the front door, we put the whole stand together in about five working days. Everything from planning where the electrics would go, hiring lights, a van, getting the stand and hand outs designed and printed, even hiring a couple of staff for the three days. It was a risk, and it paid off considerably – even my patient other half had to rise at 5am with me on his birthday to have enough time to unwrap his birthday presents before driving me to the train station to get to Earls Court 2.

We travelled down on the Monday lunchtime to set up in the venue where blood was spilled (not mine, our Director’s) and electricians were spoken sympathetically to so we could get a power point moved as far as possible so our backdrop could go up. The lights didn’t fit the type of exhibition stand in use at Earls Court, so a slightly pricey hire and fitting later, we were able to head back to Biggleswade by train, happy everything was in place.

The onvert stand at Internet World Expo 2012

The stand’s design was mostly our Augmented artwork by Simon and Tony, using the three layer versions of the onvert with the original app. We held our breath that the 3G and visitor wifi in the venue was going to stay available, having hired a set of iPads for demo. Thankfully the 3G and the backup wifi were all working fine – and as visitors to our stand downloaded the app and played everything went smoothly.

It was hard to gauge how busy we would be after briefing our two assistants who came to join us for three days. Augmented Reality can be quite a tricky subject, and quite technical, but the huge advantage we had was that we could take people politely and show them. They could play and see how it worked and visually understand it. Seeing speaks far more than explaining Augmented Reality on paper, it sounds too abstract.

The stand team

The first day went by quickly, we were very busy, and lots of people stopped to talk and try onvert out. Because we were not hard-selling our service (at that point the service was entirely free, the pro version features are in development) people felt happier to come and talk, and I found myself using the skills I’d developed as a charity collector and through Girlguiding UK to engage people and listen to their thoughts. In business meetings everything is quite formal and the interactions aren’t as brief as at an expo, you don’t find yourself persuading someone passing by to draw closer and see zombies walk out of the wall…

Close up of the backdrop

By the time we reached the office in Biggleswade each evening we brought back a huge number of business cards and leads. It was incredible to discover and exchange stories of talking to companies like ASDA, British Airways, Sky Sports, Samsung and Sony. The team at Biggleswade were working tirelessly to get the prototype app with animation ready in time to demo a spinning turntable, and an album cover with lightning and rain. They also set about compiling and sorting the leads and following up on feedback and queries. It was good to see my colleagues come and visit the expo briefly during the three days to see how things had turned out in person.

A couple of the several hundred visitors who came to look

The onvert application was exposed to more than 11,000 participants at Internet World. During the three days, the app reached 100th out of 20,000 in “What’s Hot in the Apple App Store” as people downloaded the app and returned to play with the artwork and stand throughout the event.

Twitter was invaluable in those infrequent quiet moments and the commute to encourage attendees and stand owners to come by and try onvert at stand E3000, and also to attend Jason’s talk Augmented Reality – Why Super Powers Lead to Minor Injuries and Major Memory Loss. The slide art for which Simon was putting together back in Biggleswade. “Now that’s a decent title for a seminar!” someone tweeted.

Busy stand

When we managed to regroup at the end and look at the visitor stats in the end (keep in mind that we didn’t have a special scanner, so these were all leads we talked to and took notes from, and exchanged business cards with) we were pleased and surprised to find our visitors included: Sony, Samsung, ASDA, Network Rail, Waitrose, British Airways, Jaguar Land Rover, Barclaycard, Dermalogica, Panasonic, Black & Decker, Sky Sports, British Gas, KPMG, Ingram Micro, ikonami and over 200 more UK and foreign companies.

Little Book Valentine

Not so long ago at Harmony, we made the Pocket Book of Creativity

From the Harmony website in 2012 about the project:

It began as a creative exercise turned into a beautiful piece of marketing that can be enjoyed by all. Sometimes creativity strikes when you least expect it, and at other times it appears to be beyond grasp.

Creativity is the cornerstone of Harmony’s work – it is where our clever, innovative solutions for all manner of requirements and challenges shine. We dare to be bold and create solutions for our customers to give them a unique edge in their markets.

We wanted to share our love and investment in creativity – to inspire our clients, potential customers and friends to make today different, and try something new, so the Pocket Book of Creativity was born – a guide to making sure today is different.

The process was simple – as a team we discussed how creative ideas were born, how great inventors found solutions to problems and how ideas could be dashed. The ideas tumbled onto paper to create our vision on why creativity is important.

The ideas were organised into stages of decision making, to ideas of how to induce deeper creativity, and then a set of the creative people we admire through history and across many different disciplines.
“Without ideas and creativity, we lose the ability to solve, evolve and inspire. Too often, we let the needs of the moment occupy our creative minds and forget to look beyond today, to step back and to allow the idea machine between our ears to move us forward.”

“If this pocket book does anything for you, let it be to give you time and inspiration for creativity. Enjoy.” – Company Director, Jason Higgins.

The Pocket Book was lovingly designed by Sarah Francis in her freelance capacity as Creatingle. As well as being a dear friend, Sarah is a brilliant and quirky designer and a great person to put together our ideas and text. Her design was inspirational and drew from our work and her interpretation of Harmony. We wanted the project to be different – to not instantly look like Harmony, so this outside input was invaluable.

The book was printed up by UK company Little Book who do different versions of their book layout, and supply many recognisable brands and events. As they send out samples to interested people, we found out that the Pocket Book of Creativity gets a regular outing in their set of samples. (Edit: Sarah went on to design some more for Autism West Midlands)

Little Book were considering their branding and asked for opinions on their old branding using red bubbles. I was surprised to discover that my comment about the bubbles had been selected as a winner of some champagne and bright red balloons on Valentines Day! Subsequently we were featured on the Little Book blog. I don’t remember ever winning a little competition like that, so it was a lovely surprise!

Anatomy of a QR Code User

700-anatomy-of-a-qr-code-user-usa-2011

 

Statistics compiled as part of research for onvert.com – an Augmented Reality platform. I pulled together statistics from two reports, one from Simpson Carpenter, UK and the other from comScore, both in 2011 to put together the statistics. QR code usage in America is slightly behind the UK, who are again behind Japan and neighbouring countries who are earlier adopters of technology.

The most surprising number for me were the numbers of QR codes seen on television – which seems to be a bit of a daft place to put it unless you manage to keep it on screen for an extended length of time. Waitrose did something similar one year, but failed to keep it on screen for very long. Whereas QRs are commonly described as a good method for viewing sites while on the move, 58% were scanned at home, where one might assume a laptop or desktop computer could be found.

UK Smartphone Usage in 2011

UK Smartphone Usage 2011

 

While studying mobile trends to better understand the market for the benefit of ReallyAppy.co.uk – a joint partnership with Harmony.co.uk and Snow Chicken, I compiled a number of statistics about UK smartphone usage for 2011. With a spare moment I decided to turn this information into an easily-digested infographic. Infographics not only break up data into a visual format (which improves the retention) but adds a bit of colour and diversity to a blog which had mostly focused on text-based entries until then.

The information listed is from Ofcom, 2011.

Project Manager @ Harmony Internet

I have worked for Bedfordshire web design company Harmony Internet, first as a trainee web developer and then as a project manager since September 2008.

I am fortunate to have worked with nearly all the clients in the company portfolio, providing support, updates, copywriting, organic search engine optimisation support, email marketing, template building, testing, researching, analysing, quotes, and simpler development tasks.

My role is very broad, as I am neither design nor development specialist, which means I have niche knowledge and fulfil and eclectic and unusual set of requirements between different projects!

Much more information about my employer can be found on our Clever Web People website.

Part of my role is to undertake copywriting requests from clients and internally for our company.

Examples of articles I have written as part of my job include:

For ReallyAppy

For Mobility Pitstop

For F C Dawes & Son

For our company website

 

Article Published in Smashing Magazine

I was very fortunate to work with Smashing Magazine, a popular online magazine in the web design industry. Writing the article for them in 2010 took research and quite a few rounds of feedback to ensure the article was of high quality, for which I thank my colleagues at Harmony Internet, and Smashing Magazine’s Editor in Chief, Vitaly Friedman for the constructive feedback and support.

The article was originally in short form for Harmony Internet, though was published with Smashing Magazine in August 2010 attributed to me with Harmony Internet as my employer:

Recession Survival Tips for Web Marketing and Online Business

10 Unusual Ways to Make Money

Written for a student employment site, while working for Harmony Internet. The project was suspended indefinitely. Image on a CC license from doug88888

There is the expression ‘thinking outside of the box’ which entirely applies to finding unusual ways to make money as a student. Not all income will be from a job during the holidays, or part time as you study. Sometimes opportunity will present itself; sometimes you need to get a bit creative. Here are our suggestions for unusual ways to make money.

1. Teach

If you have a skill, whether it be playing the piano, speaking a second language, fixing computers, advertise your services. This may be amongst fellow students (but remember they probably won’t have any money too), the university community and the local community. Even if you have no formal teaching qualification, teaching your degree subject to a GCSE or A-level standard privately for a family can be a way to make a little money. Foreign visitors wishing to improve their English could be a way to teach a language without knowing a second one fluently.

2. Catalogue Companies

If you have a little capital to allow for an initial outlay, and enjoy sales, then catalogue companies and similar may be a good way to make some money. Companies such as the Body Shop, Avon, Anne Summers, Virgin Vie and Littlewoods all have a network of representatives working from home to promote their products. Avon may involve distributing catalogues and delivering orders to homes, Anne Summers and Body Shop may involve running parties for groups, for which you may need some transport.

3. Leafleting & Promotion

Clubs and bars, student union events, shops all need promotion. If you’re willing to stand on chilly street corners with a bunch of flyers in your hand promoting a club night, seek out such roles with local entertainment venues. If you’re lucky, you might get a mascot costume to wear…!

4. Get Crafty

If you’re artistically minded or inclined, get crafty. Make greeting cards, offer your services in web design, offer to take photographs for a band for a fee, sell your wares at fairs, or online at Etsy or Ebay. This may mean you have an initial outlay, but if it’s a strong talent, you could command good fees.

5. Wordy Business

Perhaps words are more your forte? If you are good at spotting mistakes in essays, offer your services as a proof reader. You could read all manner of short essays, enormous PhD papers, lab reports, or even drafts of books for overseas clients if you set up online. If you don’t fancy so much reading, turn your creative talent to writing articles and reviews for websites or publications, or write short stories.

6. Drive Up Cash

If you are lucky to have a car and a license while you’re a student, it is no doubt a bit of a drain on your finances. If you’re not using your car quite so much, consider services to rent out your car – such as Whipcar, or become a courier and pitch to deliver parcels for people at stuff2send.com.

7. Park a Pound

Perhaps you’ve no car, but a car parking space or a driveway? If you live close to the university or a busy train station where parking is charged at a premium, rent out the space for money to a commuter. Parkatmyhouse is a site to help you to do that.

8. Wash Cars

Dab hand with the bucket and sponge in cold weather? If your local market hasn’t already been saturated by the cheap valet services appearing in hardware store carparks, offer to wash cars for a fee. Get creative, consider where you’ll get the water from, what equipment you’ll need. Find a few business people who need their company cars kept clean.

9. Enter Competitions

Enter competitions and surveys asking for opinions or market research. This is a whole process known as ‘comping’ where you can strategically enter competitions and fill out surveys to maximise the likelihood of receiving a prize or cash in return. This does come with an element of risk, so be savvy how you go about this and seek advice from the existing comping network.

10. Review Music

If you enjoy listening to new music and can review it objectively, then music review site slicethepie.com may be your thing. Get paid for listening to tracks it selects for you to review. With some dedication, you might earn some fairly decent beer money.

Copywriting: Mobility Insurance & Legal Issues

NB: The copy below was commissioned by mobilitypitstop.com while I was working at harmony.co.uk. It was part of the SEO work undertaken, though was chiefly aimed to provide useful information to the site’s audience. The original article can be read at their website. Image by antphotos on flickr, CC license.

Legal Issues and Insurance for Mobility Scooters and Powered Wheelchairs

The Law on Scooters and Powered Wheelchairs

There are UK laws that cover the use of scooters and powered wheelchairs outdoors off private land. In law, these are still referred to as “invalid carriages”. The powered scooters and wheelchairs fit into two classes:

Class 2

  • Pavement vehicles
  • Cannot go on the road apart from to cross them
  • For use on the footway “a portion of a carriageway that is set aside for use only by pedestrians”
  • Limited to 4mph

Class 3

  • Constructed or adapted to go at 4mph, but no more than 8mph
  • Cannot exceed 4mph while on a footway
  • Tend to be larger vehicles than class 2
  • Often there is a switch to change from 4mph speed to 8mph speeds
  • Not permitted to drive on motorways, cycle lanes or bus lanes
  • Must have lights, indicators, horn, rear view mirror, brakes and rear reflectors

Drivers of both classes must be disabled, and at least 14 years old. Drivers of these do not need to hold a UK driving license.

Mobility Scooter Insurance

Insurance is not required by law for your mobility scooter, but it is a very recommended essential. At the very least, you should insurance yourself against claims from third parties.

Insurance will cover you if you knock someone over, run over a person’s foot, knock a display of expensive goods over, scrape a parked car, or cause an accident.

When looking for a policy, look for:

  • Comprehensive cover, including loss or damage as a result of accidental damage, fire, theft and vandalism.
  • Equipment replacement, new for old, so that if your equipment is stolen and not recovered, or damaged beyond reasonable repair, you can get a replacement, as long as the equipment is less than two years old.
  • The option of a daily allowance to cover you if your equipment is unusable following an insured event.
  • Public liability cover for you or your carer to cover third party injury or damage by using your equipment.
  • The opportunity to add cover for ongoing repairs, though the insurance cost may go up substantially if you add this

Costs vary between companies, but are usually between £40 and £90 per year, with the usual discounts for paying up front or in advance.

Remember, unlike a car, there is no recovery service you can call out if your equipment goes wrong while you are out. However, some insurance offers you to cover yourself for the cost of getting home, if you are stranded by breakdown or accident.

It is good practise to protect yourself from accidents by wearing a fluorescent waistcoat while driving your scooter outside, especially near or on roads. By hanging one on the back of your seat will increase your visibility to others, especially vehicle drivers.

Drive your scooter with care and attention, wearing your spectacles and hearing aid if you need them. Look out for small children, those with limited mobility and the visually impaired in pedestrian areas. Be considerate.

Always avoid leaving your equipment unattended, as equipment thefts do occur. If you do have to, ensure it has a key operated switch, and that you take it with you when you park up. Another way to secure your equipment is to use a cycle lock to secure it exactly as you would a bicycle. If you fail to do this, the insurers may not pay out for theft of vandalism, as they will claim you have not taken proper precautions to prevent an incident.

Copywriting: Mobility Scooter Buying Guide

NB: The copy below was commissioned by mobilitypitstop.com while I was working at harmony.co.uk. It was part of the SEO work undertaken, though was chiefly aimed to provide useful information to the site’s audience. The original article can be read at their website.

Writing about mobility had to be done with care – its very easy to think that only ‘old people’ use mobility scooters, but its simply not the case. The project included a couple more articles which were released periodically and remain part of the website’s advice section.

Photo by TempusVolat/mrmorodo at Flickr on CC license.

Choosing the Right Scooter for You

Anyone struggling to carry out their daily routine due to limited mobility can benefit from a scooter, whether it is to move around their property and garden, visit the local shops, visit friends or explore places further afield independently. Mobility scooters are easy to use, economical to run and require low level maintenance to look after them.

Before you look at a range of mobility scooters, you will need to consider quite a number of factors to find the best fit mobility scooter for your needs. Always compare prices of scooters, and services such as maintenance contracts. Compare many scooters, and always test the stability of the machine yourself, and read the manual before you make the important purchase.

Here are some useful questions to help you decide the type of scooter you should consider.

Where will you be using the scooter mostly?

If you will be using it mostly indoors, it will need a small turning radius, be easy to manoeuvre, and compact. You may also want to consider a scooter that folds down for easy storage if you haven’t got much space. Consider portable scooters with low speed.

If you will be using it mostly outdoors, it will need to be a stronger scooter than a portable one, so it can handle the uneven ground outside. Stability and speed is important, so go for a scooter with 4 wheels. It may be worth choosing puncture proof tyres if you know you will be covering stony ground regularly.

Outdoor scooters come in two types, the 4mph version, which is suitable for driving on pavements only, and the 8mph version, which can drive on pavements at 4mph and on roads at 8mph as long as it is fitted with headlights, indicators, rear view mirror, horn, brakes and rear reflectors.

The disadvantage with outdoor scooters is that they are larger, and have bigger turning circles making them harder to manoeuvre. However, they will go longer distances, over more challenging ground.

How far do you wish to travel in your scooter?

The further you wish to travel in your scooter, the longer your battery life and power will need to be. Small, fold away scooters will not go as far as a larger, 4mph outdoor scooter, or even a 8mph scooter.

If using your scooter outside, will you need to go up hills or up and down curbs?

If you need your scooter to do either of these, you will need 4 wheels and extra power. Test your scooter out before buying it to check it can handle the slope to your front door, or behind your house on the route to see your family.

Will you need to drive your scooter where there are no pavements, such as on the road?

Check your local laws. A scooter that drives on the road must be able to travel at 8mph, have working headlights, tail lights, indicators, horn, brakes and rear view mirror before it can go on a public road. You do not however need a car driving license, just be over 14, and entitled to use a mobility scooter for health reasons.

Does your home have restrictions on the scooter & where will you store it?

Look at the width of your front gate, and avoid buying a scooter that you will not be able to access your property with, unless you plan to widen the gate.

Look at the width of your front door, if you plan to keep or use the scooter indoors and the garden. Can you fit the scooter through the front door? If you don’t plan to use it inside, where will you store it outside, do you need a secure container?

Are there steps up to your front door? Will you need a ramp, or will it be more practical to store the scooter in an outdoor, secured location out of the weather?

Is there much room to store the scooter inside? Do you need to fold it down or dismantle it to fit it into the space?

If you live in shared accommodation, or a block of flats, and plan to keep the scooter in the hallway, will your landlord consent, or can they help with alternative storage solutions?

Does your storage location have a mains power point?

Does the place you will store your scooter have a nearby power point for recharging the batteries? Is it suitable to install one, if not?

Will you be comfortable sat on your scooter and while driving?

Make sure your scooter has enough leg room to accommodate your legs, particularly if you are tall, or cannot bend your legs very far. Consider a model with a swivel seat to help you get on and off the scooter, or improved suspension for your comfort when travelling over uneven ground.

Consider your height and weight. Don’t sit in a position that will cause you extra aches and pains. Can you turn tight corners and still be in control of the scooter with your hands? Do the controls need moving to help you reach them or use them?

Will you need to transport your scooter in the back of a car?

Foldable scooters will fold down into the back of cars, or dissemble for reassembly at your destination – without the use of tools.

Seek advice from your supplier on the suitability, ease of assembly and size of the scooter with respect to transporting it. Scooters that dissemble will often come apart in pieces such as the chair, rear wheels, front section and battery, not only making it easier to fit, but reducing the amount of weight that needs to be lifted.

Decide who is most likely to be dismantling and putting the scooter into the car. Is it manageable for them, and are you still able to safely get into the car? Will you need a small hoist fitted in the car boot, or would it be better to have a ramp?

Do you want to take the scooter on public transport, such as train, bus, tram or taxi?

Scooters are unlikely to be accepted in taxis or on public transport, unless the user can demonstrate they can fold or dismantle them to go on the transport, and the user can sit in a standard seat. A powered wheelchair is more widely accepted on public transport, within size restrictions. Seek professional advice if the use of public transport is important to you, and you are considering a mobility scooter.

New Harmony Takes Shape

British Computer Society Membership

I strangely found myself renewing my BCS membership for £48.00 tonight. Its been on my Rememberthemilk list for about a week, as it expired at more or less the same time as my young person’s rail card. However, that cost £26, and I always see it as a valid investment. The BCS, each time they survey me, I wonder if I’m really getting the full value out of them.

Its always somewhere down my list to do, that I rarely pay high attention to, to the point I somehow maintained my student membership after graduating, and eventually after several letters from them asking if I wanted to upgrade, rolled it up to full MBCS membership.I’m the only one in the office who is, as far as I know. My course was partially accredited by them, which is why we all joined as freshers.

Puzzling Business Card Results

At work, our sets of business cards were printed without any titles or qualifications after them (not that this bothers me). Unfortunately they are too thin, and the spot uv wasn’t great either. For the sake of the few that most of us may give out, we ended up sticking them together to double the thickness. We were each issued a whole box full, which was a surprise.

Taking one over to the folks (look at the shiny thing and my new job title!) the first thing my family remarked on was not the lovely logo, not the thin card, but the fact my degree status and MBCS status wasn’t on there. This made me chuckle over priorities. We’d been typically more preoccupied with presentation, given our industry.

Changing Rooms

Our rebranding is finally reaching the office (we worked from outside to inside).  What with the news that we have some land in Biggleswade (nearest town) which we plan to build an office on from scratch, if all goes well. [Update March 2011, it is going well see: Office space in Biggleswade ] I’m not holding my breath, there’s been enough 80% jokes already (80% being the point a lot of projects in web/software development gets stuck at).

Its brilliant if it does happen. In the existing office, we’ve had more furniture than IKEA stocks arrive in the last three weeks. Lovely cupboards for upstairs so we no longer see a pyramid of archive boxes. Just a bit more light up in our loft, and our designer might be able to stop sitting by the window on a regular basis to stop his creative talent wilting (he’ll get used to it soon enough – the light I mean)

Retrospectively, it would have been more useful to have photographed other areas of the office, but a lot of the more impressive additions are still being settled or rearranged downstairs where clients are received. However, we have all been issued with bright orange chairs.

 

Orange chairs

It will be good to see the meeting area settled. At present, you can see the elements of it like jigsaw pieces, but the puzzle is not completed. Of course, being web people, not DIY or interior designers, we’re not flying along with the changes as quickly as we might otherwise. Here was the upstairs office about two weeks ago:

 

Upstairs Office

Though, its an awfully long way from where it used to be, when half of this room was used for storage.

Reviews: Kaushik, Moll

Web Analytics: An Hour a Day, Avinash Kaushik

I’m still reading Kaushik, though he’s been invaluable to dip in and out of to read up on subjects. We freecycled a lot of books recently from work as part of our clear out to move upstairs, and this book singularly replaced all the ones in the collection. It not only deals with commerce, it discusses SEO for blogs amongst other things which was different to other books.

Yes, it was cursed with being a little behind with things because of publishing and the time it takes to write books (hence my supreme lack of purchasing IT course books during my final years at university, because they got out of date so quickly for their expense). It not only discusses the previous version of Google Analytics, but Overture and other enterprise implementations that I’ve not met yet – GA does the job for us, and our previous stats provider which Microsoft bought and terminated isn’t a patch on it.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying you couldn’t find the information in this publication elsewhere – it has revised a fair deal for me and can sometimes be heavy going. However, because I dip in and out of it as I need or have time for, its a little more manageable in smaller chunks.

Recommend it for someone with a basic knowledge in the stats, who wants to take it further than visits and top pages, or a non IT person who has business knowledge instead and wants to get a grip on it for their company. I wouldn’t recommend it for a beginner, there are plenty of web resources for that.

Mobile Web Design, Cameron Moll

Read in an hour or so (hah, that’s what education does, makes you into a skim reader) the book was written on the cusp of the iphone’s entrance to the marketplace. Moll is a very respected writer in the field, and I picked the book out because of this – and because the marketplace was full of books due to be published, or with little reviews or discussion on them, which makes me weary.

The most useful thing Moll does is discuss the different tactics one can take with making a website web compatible and their drawbacks – from leaving it and hoping it will just render, to the lack of support for mobile specific stylesheets, maintaining a second set of html or sniffing. He highlights even further how many different and non standard browsers there are.

The book left me feeling even more confused on where to start with mobile sites! Then, I drew out a diagram of the different techniques to more accurately weigh out the pros and cons while summarising it to colleagues. We all had differening experiences of web browsing on phones, and indeed in the past month, I’ve upgraded to the same handset as a colleague (see previous Katigori entry), while another has a jailbreak iphone and a third an android OS phone. The last two can connect to a local wireless network, support much more rich content.

We were amused when comparing the supported content of a colleague’s personal DJing website on each of the phones. Mine refused to display at all, and the other two did, with varying success. Incidentally, the site’s not complete yet.

Video Blogging, Rebranding, Book Purchases

Why is it that youtube and your video editing software always manages to thumbnail your videos when you are pulling an unfortunate face or have your eyes shut?

Video Clip Captures - Me at my best...?
Video Clip Captures – Me at my best…?

007 has to be my favourite.

I have been a bit sporadic in fiddling with video editing. I’m a novice at this, so it is a little bit hit and miss. Doesn’t help that I only have windows movie maker to use, after a favoured open source editor I tried royally fell over. If I could recall the name, I’d mention it.

WMM falls over on export, and gets out of sync quite often which infuriates me. Today’s two video logs which are part of a project I am undertaking to try and record 100 Guide songs for the centenary (Edit: sadly abandoned due to time) were just shot in one take and uploaded. I got a good quality – the 4-5 minute file was over 100mb, which I stupidly hadn’t realised until I came to upping them on YouTube. Pity about the sound, though it is just a handheld photo camera, rather than camcorder.

I’ve also just made some geeky book purchases. Firstly, Web Analytics: An Hour a Day, Avinash Kaushik and Mobile Web Design, Cameron Moll.

The recommended product that keeps coming up is The Web Designer’s Idea Book: The Ultimate Guide To Themes, Trends & Styles In Website Design: The Ultimate Guide to Themes, Trends and Styles in Website Design which we have two copies of at work now, and I feel a waste of money when you have so many directories and showcases on the web.

I will aim to review these and write about them here, so remind me if I don’t.

We’re currently rebranding our company, as its 13 years old and needs to be future looking right now. So on Monday, we have an afternoon of rebranding round the boardroom table, which the boss has been getting very excited about. Looking through all the various vector and non vector logos and styles out there inspired me to play with vectors again soon.