articles tagged with: technology
Twitter was something we avoided as a company for quite a while for two main reasons:
1. Time and productivity can very easily get sucked away by hours of endless tweeting.
2. No one's really interested in the minutiae of our working days (let's face it - we're not as important as this guy).
Thankfully, we finally overcame our reservations a while back and now use Twitter both as a quick way to link through to useful finds on the web and to update followers on our latest news and blog posts. We're finding it most useful as a neat RSS feed for industry news.
Created on Sunday May 31 2009 08:03 PM
Even though a European directive has required us to recycle electronic waste since early 2007, the UK is still lagging desperately behind the rest of Europe, the BBC unveils today. Apparently fewer than half of us recycle our electronic equipment, compared to 80% of Germans.
While this is an embarrassing statistic, I think the lack of kerbside collection and inner city recycling facilities for this type of waste could be to blame. A quick postcode search for places designed to take this sort of rubbish reveals a disparate picture of sites well outside main conurbations. With households containing:
"an average of 2.4 TVs, 1.6 computers, 2.4 games consoles, 3 mobile phones, and 2.2 MP3 players,"
the case for providing more urban recycling points and kerbside collections looks very strong.
Created on Tuesday May 26 2009 01:28 PM
We've all been impressed by a new website launched by the British Red Cross this week. Its main aim is to provide parents with free, simple, trustworthy advice on emergency first aid that could one day help to save their child or baby's life.
What struck us was the level of accessibility incorporated into such a media rich site. As well as including well-known text-resizing functionality, they have also added subtitles to videos and sensible title tags on navigational links.
It's clear that they have thought about the whole range of potential site visitors, from the visually impaired to dyslexic and hard of hearing users.
What's slightly disappointing is that they fail to meet the basic validation requirements set out by w3c. Hopefully this is just a 'work in progress' glitch - it is after all mentioned on their main website that accessibility is something they are constantly trying to improve.
At a time when all web developers should be getting to grips with the new WCAG 2.0 guidelines, this site is a lovely example of user inclusivity.
Created on Wednesday May 20 2009 04:32 PM
Microsoft reported last week that the internet will soon become the most popular medium for home entertainment in Europe, surpassing the TV by June 2010.
This certainly seems to ring true at Focus! A quick straw poll found that everyone here uses the internet to view video and TV content to some degree, ranging from YouTube clips of parrots dancing to full feature films from 4OD. Some don't even own a TV set, preferring to watch programmes provided online instead.
Apart from new media geeks, it's generally young people between 18 - 24 years old who will most likely eschew the TV screen in favour of their computer monitor, preferring on-demand video to live TV programmes.
Microsoft and New Media Age both agree that the web will be accessed more frequently via mobile phones. Games consoles such as the X-Box and PlayStation will also play a part in the decline of television use.
The real challenge will be how to effectively integrate all these different devices. Web developers will need to ensure their web applications are compatible across mobile, console and computer platforms.
Created on Monday May 11 2009 03:41 PM
A message from the Queen - if you've ever been lucky enough to receive one - would traditionally be in the form of posted letter. High quality paper, HRH watermark, the Royal seal encrusting the envelope, all that jazz. The kind of thing you'd frame, or put away for grandchildren to admire.
Now you can receive emails from the Queen! Fully embracing modern culture, our beloved HRH has recently sent a bunch of adoring fans a response to their various posts on the Royal website... electronically!
I suppose this makes sense. A number of them live in the farthest flung corners of the Commonwealth possible, making postal deliveries rather difficult. A 12-year old girl living in the Australian Outback received her email after inviting Queen Elizabeth to swap Buckingham Palace for a life on a remote cattle farm 200km from the nearest town. I'm sure Lizzy managed to deal with this offer with the greatest aplomb - having a lifetime's worth of polite engagements to attend you would rather hope so!
I like the idea of our Queen embracing modern technology, although the day we see her sitting at her Mac, tapping Her Royal Feet to iPod 'choons' and emailing Philip using txt speak is still very far away!
Created on Wednesday April 29 2009 11:20 AM
I wasn't overly surprised at seeing today's leading article on the BBC Technology page. Google's Streetview project has precipitated much debate on topics ranging from personal privacy to crime since its official launch two weeks ago. In this instance, residents of a small town in Buckinghamshire physically blocked the passage of a Google streetview car, insisting angrily that the invasion of their privacy was too much to bear.
I empathise, having felt a deep uneasiness at seeing my front garden two clicks into a Google search. We are all well aware of increased surveillance and presence of cameras within city centres, but for me this goes a bit too far.
There are benefits to the service though, that I shall no doubt take advantage of. It will make visits to unknown destinations much easier for a start, as you will literally be able to trace a virtual journey from your start point to destination.
The biggest question I have is what the real purpose of Streetview is. How do Google propose to monetise this new feature? I'm guessing a merge between Google Adwords and Local Business Centre (once they sort through their algorithm problems) will allow businesses to advertise their products and services from a virtual shop front, but surely this has already been done more effectively by Second Life?
With Microsoft's plans to launch a rival service later this year on beta, my head shakes with Luddite pensiveness. This new technology could either take off and thrive in a social networking fashion, or wither away under a backlash of suspicion. I'm not entirely convinced either way but will be interested to see what the general consensus will be once the launch hype has died down and people start experimenting with both Streetview and GeoSynth.
Created on Friday April 03 2009 01:53 PM
Windows 7 - Microsoft's beta version of the OS that will take over from Vista - has some promising features (easier ways to set up home networks, interact with external devices and a better toolbar to use along the bottom of the screen) but is essentially taking elements from the Apple iphone and making them available for use on a pc.
These links make interesting reading on the subject:
Created on Monday March 09 2009 04:25 PM
The W3C have recently brought out a new series of guidelines for web accessibility (WCAG 2.0) that we've been digesting here in the office. The most immediate change noticeable is the shift in how accessibility is defined. There are now four principles that all have to be adhered to for conformance, rather than a series of levels you can choose to comply with or not. The levels are whether your website is:
- Perceivable - Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.
- Operable - User interface components and navigation must be operable. (This means that the interface cannot require interaction that a user cannot perform)
- Understandable - Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.
- Robust - Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
Although there are several improvements, the language is still very jargony, and an attempt to simplify some of the terms has actually resulted in making some areas more vague.
Created on Thursday February 19 2009 05:25 PM
Last week, the BBC introduced a trial of a new web page linking technology, which enables links to be placed in the text of the article (like this one), but unlike their regular behaviour of taking you to a new page, or opening a new tab, the new method displays a summary of the article in an attractive pop-up region.
You can see a few examples in this story about NASA's Orion ship - at least until the trial finishes.
The BBC's primary reasoning for this, as far as I can tell, is to give the user relevant links in the text, without the possible distraction of finding yourself flying off to an external site in the middle of reading a sentence (possibly unlike Orion, which has been delayed.)
The technology the BBC are using (called Apture) is somewhat interesting: for example, Wikipedia articles are summarised into pages, and files such as PDFs are converted (to Flash in the case of PDFs) to retain the same look and feel as the regular links.
Whilst the overall appearance is quite "whizzy", some people have been complaining that there's nothing wrong with the traditional way of hyperlinking and that the Apture method causes (or may cause) problems with the site's accessibility, and/or older or more obscure web browsers.
The trial was announced on a blog article by Steve Herrmann last week, many people have commented, and Steve has replied, promising they will take all comments into account at the end of trial.
Whatever you may think of the technology itself, I applaud the BBC for the openness of the trial process, listening to the comments of the public, and for getting stuck into trialing new web technologies.
For the record, the links in this blog article are the good "old-fashioned" method!
Created on Friday August 22 2008 02:42 PM
or, more applicably:
These are just some of the potential urls that may come out of ICANN's latest announcement regarding top level domains.
Caving into stakeholder pressure, ICANN have agreed to open up the virtual real estate of the web by making it possible for people to select their own domain names.
Currently, internet users have a limited choice of 21 domain extensions, such as .com, .org, and .uk. By this time next year people may be able to apply for whatever they like.
A major factor behind this change was the pressure and influence exerted by non-English users of the web.
"One of the most exciting prospect before us is that the expanding system is also being planned to support extensions in the languages of the world," said Peter Dengate Thrush, ICANN's Chairman. "This is going to be very important for the future of the Internet in Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Russia." The present system only supports 37 Roman characters.
Many pundits see this move as an act of appeasement to the Chinese, who have made many moves to implement a separate internet (going further, even than their Great Firewall). Others see it as an inevitable solution to increasing web usage, much like the periodic extension of local telephone codes.
I'm personally hanging on to get first dibs at my own name extension - hands off all you other amy wilson's!
Created on Thursday July 10 2008 01:10 PM
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