aled's cyfle

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Moving on...

Posted at 10:45 am. 0 comments

Just thought I'd write one last post on this blog before its shut down completely.

I realise it's been almost a year since I last posted everything, but I didn't finish things off right. Here's the latest (and last):
  • I work at Cube now, as their Lead Developer. I got the post after finishing a placement there via Cyfle.
  • We at Cube just launched a beta version of - a Welsh-language video-sharing site where the best films might be shown on S4C.
  • Orball, one of the projects fellow D10'ers made, won the interactive media award at Ffresh. The project I worked on, The House, was also nominated.
  • I now blog/keep a tumblog at - if anyone still reads this, I'm now over there.
Thanks, and goodbye.

Monday, 26 March 2007

The crazy insane last week

Posted at 3:37 pm. 0 comments

We've all just finished the course, and are all moving on to pastures new. I just want to thank all the guys at Cyfle; all the tutors; but especially to Gareth, who's been fantastic. It's a shame really that this is the last Dimension 10 for the foreseeable future. Anyway, I'd like to finish off this blog by mentioning some notible events of the last week:

1. Our graduation showcase went well on Wednesday, and we had many many industry people over to look at our work. To showcase the work for the night (and for the next year), we bought; which has a profile of each of us which shows our work. James designed it, I built it.

2. I finished my portfolio (at last) with examples of all the work I had done in the past 6 months.

3. We visited @Wales, a business incubator for you digital startups, which was very interesting; and got a visit from Richie Pugh, the Nesta Project Manager for Wales, who told us about their insight out scheme.

I might blog here a little more, but for all intents and purposes, i'm finished. I'll probably blog to tell y'all where I'm blogging next, and maybe (if I don't blog elsewhere) blog about the next six months internship I have at cube.

Thanks for listening!

Monday, 19 March 2007

Being nosy...

Posted at 9:35 am. 0 comments

I came across twitter a few months back while reading modernlifeisrubbish, and could instantly see its appeal for other people. I'd never really use it because I'm too lazy, but tom marban today found a little mashup called twittervision. It's a combination of the twitter data and a Google map to create a nice and visual way of following people's location and activities around the world.

I could look at this for hours.

Monday, 12 March 2007

Being Unique...

Posted at 12:56 pm. 0 comments

Last week, we got a visit from Jon Stethridge, Managing Director of Unique Media and Unique Media TV, which I think are two different sections of the same company. They're an established design and communications agency from the Bristol area over the border in England.

They've become specialized over the years to provide video streaming services. He came to give us a short workshop on the process of shooting, cutting and encoding video for the web.

When we finished our impromptu group chat about various aspects of the web - politics, web2 and social networking etc., we got down to business.

As I have a degree in Film and TV studies, I expected to know everything he was about to explain to us, but my expectations were quashed slightly due to the realisation that shooting and cutting film for the web is a totally different affair.

It's a little obvious when you think about it... keep long shots to a minimum (only once to establish the situation). Keep to tighter shots when filming (not shooting) a person, and avoid excessing or unnecessary zooms, pans, crabs etc.

The reason for these limitations are nothing to do with things like screen sizes or their refresh rate or a computer's processing power, but rather with encoding the video to keep its size to a minimum. The more pixels that change in every frame, the higher the file size. We were also told not to use dissolves in any video shot for the web for this reason... in the short sequence of a dissolve, every pixel in the video is a different colour, meaning that every pixel has to be encoded, resulting in a higher file size.

This, I suppose, applies to all digital film formats. It certainly was a very useful resource for when I go to Cube, who do a lot of encoding as part of their work.

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Post D10 placement

Posted at 9:23 am. 0 comments

Theres only 2 and a half weeks left until the end of the course!

However it's still a very busy time... we have another module to complete for our post-graduate diploma which is offered with the course. We've also got to finish our documentation for our recent projects, and organise our graduation show which is two weeks today!

The show is in Cardiff Bay's City Canteen Bar, but before that we've all got to design our own portfolio site, and James and I are to design and develop a gateway site to all of our various portfolios.

After the course finished, I've been offered a place on another (similar) course with Cyfle (it's already started, with Ioan, Owen and Rianne being the other trainees). It's lucky that both courses end the same time, because I'll be skipping the training aspects of the course and heading off into a 6-month internship at Cube Interactive, based in the bay.

I'm excited with this, as I've met the guys already and seen what work they do... they've mainly been providing interactive services to some of S4C's programmes, which includes not only websites, but also flash video technologies. In fact, last year they provided online video streaming services to many of the top summer festivals in Wales. They also have some interesting happenings going on over there over the next couple of months (hush! hush!)

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Work Experience

Posted at 5:23 pm. 0 comments

I spent the last two weeks at Merlin, a PR, Marketing and Events management company, based in Cardiff Bay. While it doesn't actually sound like the company does much with interactive media and web design, they provide their clients with the whole package, which includes all kinds of interactive elements.

I was in the studio with the other designers, and I must admit that the way they work is unusual (from my point of view anyway). There's about 6 people in the studio who produce all design materials for the various account managers.

Unfortunately it was a slow first week (and me being ill didn't help either), so I didn't get much to do. However, by the end of the first week I started to get involved with CSS-ifying a website Merlin had built before for the Dovey Group, Cardiff-based property developers.

In addition to this, I asked if I could keep myself busy with designing and developing a concept re-design of the current Merlin website (a 6 year old design). Its purpose wasn't to replace their current design, but to serve as a portfolio piece for myself.

I'd like to thank Paul, James and the rest of the Merlin team for the experience and support during my placement.

My conceptual site and my work on the Dovey site will be up on my portfolio site. I'll be posting about that when its finished!

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Greenfields + Blueteeth

Posted at 3:13 pm. 0 comments

During our manic 6-weeks of non-stop work, we had a break for a couple of guys from Greenfield Media to come over and speak to us about their work with an emerging market... Bluetooth Broadcasting.

Rob and Geraint gave a presentation of the work they've done in the past few years - notably in the National Eisteddfod and the Wales Rally GB. It was interesting to find out that its been an experimental ride for them so far.

They started off by sending simple text messages to people with bluetooth on, often on a very small scale (for instance - in a tent in the eisteddfod). They also explained of the difficulties they had at larger venues, such as Cardiff Arms Park - where they had technical problems that would mean that people got the same messages over and over again. Recently, they said, they've been experimenting with sending larger files and short animated adverts.

What made the presentation even easier to digest was they turned it from simply a talk, to more of an experience. They told us at the beginning to turn the bluetooth feature on on our mobile phones, and during the presentation, we'd get humorous interruptions by the ringtones going off - showing that a bluetooth message had arrived from the Greenfield laptop.

And, bluetooth broadcasting being a relatively young field (with only about 5 companies in the UK doing it), it can only grow in popularity. The possibilites are pretty much endless, and it'll be interesting to see where Greenfield will play its part.

Friday, 23 February 2007

Another level of RSS for updated pages

Posted at 9:22 am. 2 comments

With the rise and rise of RSS, I find myself subscribing to more and more feeds. This is great for knowing when people update their blogs, but not for when they update other areas of their website.

I don't visit the websites in my feed list until I see a blog entry that takes my interest and I either need to read more, view images/flash movies that aren't in the RSS entry, or doesn't publish the links. This means that I very rarely visit websites that have good content/articles/work that aren't published in other, non-syndicated areas on the site.

Maybe its me who should make more effort to visit these websites, but after cutting my feed list down from about 500 feeds to 150 of my favorites, I still won't be able to find the time to visit all these websites to check up on their latest developments in non-syndicated areas.

Does anyone know of a way to receive notification of when a website has been updated - preferably through my feed aggregator? Or should websites ensure that every page can be syndicated - providing a simple notification and a link to the updated page?

Monday, 19 February 2007

Mygo-ing to Kazakhstan?

Posted at 10:01 pm. 0 comments

Last Thursday was the deadline for our 5-man Interactive TV brief, because on Friday morning we had the video-conference-presentation of the game with the Mygo team in Malaysia (who were 8 hours ahead and about to start celebrations for the Chinese New Year).

We had finished in time, and it was working fine. I was, however, uncertain to how the game would be received. Turns out I didn't need to worry - they were very impressed. They had minor issues with certain elements of the gameplay, and they were only small issues if the game were to go live.

Mygo are expanding their interactive TV game service to countries in the middle east, which include Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia, and they're willing for our game to go live (after making a few changes) in those countries! Not a bad accolade at all.

Our game can be played online, but won't be a massive success for one reason... we built it for TV, and there would be only one instance of the game being viewed by all who watch the channel. If many people were to open multiple instances of the game, the results of the vote would be inaccurate. Feel free to have a go anyway.

Also, with the nature of the game being for mobile phones, you can't interact with the game in a normal "online" way. We've had to create a separate interface that acts as a mobile phone emulator, so if you want to vote or guess the answer, you'd have to use that.

The House interactive game

Mobile phone emulator (opens in a new window)

10 handy online resources

Posted at 9:24 pm. 0 comments

In my time at the D10 office I've found many useful resources that I've used a few times, or haven't yet used. I'm going to list them here (in no particular order), more for my safe-keeping than for any readers, but I hope they'll come in useful for everyone:
  1. Cite Bite
    The web has become an invaluable source of knowledge, with almost unlimited citation sources. Cite Bite makes citing a helluva lot easier. Submit the quote and the web page where it was cited, and you get a link that you can use. When opened, the link takes you to the quote in that page, and highlights it. Simple and brilliant.
  2. Smashing Magazine
    Simply a blog/resource site that I consider to be superb, because it saves me from having to search the web for the best thats out there!
  3. I Love Jack Daniels
    While I'm not a fan of JD, I love this guy's writing. I'm uncertain whether its the Jack Daniels that makes the content as good as it is, but I've learned a lot from it. And there are cheat-sheets galore to make sure that you don't forget the basics of everything.
  4. Browser Shots
    Browser Shots is a website that creates screenshots of any webpage in different browsers. Never had a mac but wondered if your site still looked good on Safari? This is the site for you
  5. Video Jug
    My new favourite teacher. Videos that explain pretty much everything. Its a brilliant concept because its an audio-visual alternative to reading long, hard-to-understand written tutorials.
  6. Bite Size standards
    As it says, bite size standards are a collection of short and concise articles on how you can improve the experience of a website for your visitors.
  7. Screenfluent
    Inspiration, inspiration, inspiration of the highest standard.
  8. Developers' Home: Detecting mobile phones
    Mobile phone development, I'm certain, will soar and become more important within the next few years. But with so many different models and manufacturers, detecting which mobile can do what and deal with whatever technologies is more difficult than with the normal, larger screen browsers. This comprehensive guide gets you to grip with the different ways of detecting the mobile platform that could access your website.
  9. Before and After Magazine
    "How to design cool stuff" - not far wrong there really. Despite being a subscription-based website, they do provide various design articles that are free to download in PDF form.
  10. Uncle Mark's Gift guides
    A nice and unique idea here. Mark Hurst of Good Experience writes an annual guide to the best gadgets around and also includes handy tips for life. A very interesting read if you have some free time.