aled's cyfle

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.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Climate Justice

Posted at 11:00 pm. 1 comments

About a week ago, we finished Phase 1 of a little side-project we at D10 have been working on... a website for a student-led campaign for Contraction and Convergence.

Climate Justice
I was quite involved in it, mainly for hacking away at the Wordpress engine that we used to power it. I also did a lot of the CSS and Javascript programming (thanks JQuery) that's seen on it.

I'm very pleased with the website, which (according to project co-ordinator and host, James) has had over 1GB in traffic since its launch! Pretty good stuff, then.

It's located proudly at Hopefully in the near future, as the campaign gains ground, it will be used by many people to co-ordinate an earth-changing campaign.

I'm quite surprised with how easily it all came together in the end - the real pain came with choosing which forum software to use... I think we made a very wise choice with Vanilla.

The site's got some nice touches:

  • Clicking the sitemap link at the top of any page takes you to the generic sitemap we placed at the bottom of each page, but to highlight where it is, we added a little nifty piece of javascript to highlight it.
  • Besides each blog entry, there's a little image with a plus sign on it, and when you hover your mouse over it, it shows a couple of buttons to share the blog post with social bookmarking websites (unfortunately, IE6 messes it up - what a shocker!)
  • The rounded corners at the top of the page utilizes a JQuery plugin written by Dave Melthin - it doesn't use any images - its all code!

However, the most impressive thing on the website is Tom's game: Emission:Impossible - absolutely superb work. Beautiful... Play it and get on the high score!

Phase 1 was basically getting something up for them to be able to show off at their launch - not everything is implemented, and its far from perfect, but we'll have more time to tweak and complete Phase 2 after we finish our other 2 projects.