Google Drive has arrived!
Google Drive, something I have been waiting for since oooo I don’t know… 2009. Google Docs was supposed to be the solution but it never really cut it for me. It was great for archiving files, especially when they opened it up to upload any file you want, but it never filled that gap with syncing files between machines with ease. Most people filled this void with Drop Box, the service that gave you 2GB free with the ability to earn extra space via recommendations or buy more storage for a monthly fee.
So why do people love Drop Box? It’s simple really, sign up, install on PC 1, drop files into the Drop Box Folder, install on PC2, install Drop Box, sign in and voila, those files from PC1 automatically appear on PC2. For those multi PC users (which alot of us are these days), getting those important files to computers became a whole lot easier. The added bonus was that they were also available on the web and via an app available on most good smart phones. I can think of many times when an all important file was needed whilst out and about.
So what does Google Drive bring to the table? Essentially the same thing except it is integrated with your existing Google products and it comes with a whole host of other features. The syncing feature works the same as Drop Box but there are additional benefits. One of the main features Google are pushing above the obvious are the searching capabilities. Even uploading an image with writing on, Google is able to analyse that file, perform some OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and then allow those words to be searched within your Google Drive! That is quite simply amazing. We are not talking new technology here, just old tech applied in a new and beneficial manner. To take it one step further, images will also be scanned for recognisable objects, so searching you plethora of images for the one where you took a photo of your cat has become as simple as searching the word ‘cat’.
What else is there? Oh, the ability to view over 30 different file types in the browser. So that Photoshop or Illustrator file your graphic artist shared with you can be viewed irrespective of the fact you don’t have that program installed. Wait a minute, did I just gloss over the fact files can be shared? Yes… yes I did. You can share and have files shared with you quickly and simply. Kiss goodbye to having to email files one by one (upto 10Mb of course), just upload and then share with the person you want to see them!
The sharing option is something I wanted to focus on in particular. When it comes to large or numerous files, getting them from you to your desired recipient can be tricky. I experience this personally with web design. Customers need to send me files, photos, text etc and emailing these doesn’t really cut it. Drop Box enabled customers to create accounts, copy their files to a folder in their Drop Box and then share that folder with me. Those files would then download to my computer. It is genius really. Google Drive will offer that same functionality but with enhancements such as document versioning so that 30 days worth of changes are kept to allow customers to view documents back in time. Document collaboration just became a whole lot easier and safer.
Of course, alot of people out there are happy with their Drop Box or similar services and that is fine. For me personally, Google Drive becomes the all encompassing solution that takes things to the next level. And for those worried about Google datamining and profiling you and having all your files and knowing everything about you, well simply put, go home, ring up your ISP and cancel your broadband and then sell your computer (taking the hard drive out of course) in a classifieds paper with an anonymous name and Pay As You Go mobile phone number, meet up with the seller, in a car park somewhere, with a mask on your face and insist on cash. Every system that holds your data looks at your data. The company you work for datamines your emails and browsing habits, your electricity and gas company mine your usage to predict your usage and your free email account with whichever provider you use reads your emails. You will never get away from datamining because it is a lucrative and profitable business. The best you can do is minimise it. I do this by doing everything through Google. Food for thought and of course, just my opinion!
Awesome Hammock Tent
We all know the most comfortable bed in the world is a hammock. We all know the most uncomfortable nights sleep you will have is in a tent. Combine the 2, just like this company has and you have the Tenstile suspeneded Tent, available in a version that sleeps between 5 and 8!
I think the benefits speak for themselves. Creepy crawlies, bears, snakes, hyenas, spiders, crocodiles, alligators and other bitey animals are on the ground, you are up in the air. Problem solved! That is unless they can climb. Aside from that, I can only imagine you will be the talk of the camp site, high up in your tent, looking down on the world.
I want one and I don’t even like camping but with a tent like this, I reckon I could take it up!
Images used owned by Tentstile
As You Like It Arts & Events
The greatest fear for any web designer is producing a website for someone that doesn’t know what they want and what they like but more what they don’t like. Working with Aine and Jack at As You Like It Arts in Kingston Upon Thames proved to be the polar opposite of this problem. They knew exactly what they wanted, how they wanted it to look, the colours, the graphics and the layout. Working with them to create their site was refreshing, especially being told what was wrong and what they wanted changed rather than aimlessly stabbing in the dark to get it right.
Criteria wise, content was a major concern for them. Being an events company, they had alot of things going on and wanted to equally show case each of their products. Initial speculations on site size were relatively small however the site grew substantially as the ideas flowed and the possibilities manifested themselves. Standard features such as social network integration were key however more interesting features such as combined static and dynamic pages based on content they were going to be posting really started to take a hold of the site. The site is now intricately linked with minimal onward editing necessary to keep the feel of the site alive. They are free to post articles as and when they feel necessary and the current configuration within WordPress means they don’t have to be well versed in WordPress to continue the site post production.
The website also makes use of external and internal linking keeping navigation simple and also adding to the ever so precious need for Google Juice. The images on the site, all taken by a professional photographer add a real sense of professionalism, sometime waivered by other sites in favour of using low quality, point and shoot photography.
Overall, a very interesting project and a pleasure to work on.
Am I an expert?
I always remember when I was young, I used to tell my dad that I was an expert. He agreed with me for many years until one day he decided to point out the obvious issue with being an expert. The diagram below really does explain the crux of his entire argument!
Google Drive coming?
It is no secret that I am a Google fan. They have many products which I subscribe to, either freely or pay for them. The tools they have are valuable in allowing me to get done in a day what I need to get done. They are superior in what they provide and whats more, everything is available on any of my devices, where I want, when I want.
Google Drive is the long anticipated storage service from Google. Google Docs initially only allowed for storage of documents and images but was opened up a few months (years?) back to allow the storage of any file. It was at this point people thought the Google Drive had finally arrived. Sadly though, it hadn’t. And whilst Google Docs does allow for storage of your documents and files online, it is a bind to get them up there. Dropbox kind of filled this gap with their service, something I am also an avid user of. The only problem for me is the storage space is limited, extending it is expensive and I already have a load of storage on Google sitting waiting to be used. Dropbox however stores my frequently used files and syncs them between my home and work machines.
Google Drive is looking to bring all the benefits of Dropbox to my Google storage and I have to say I am excited. Obviously this is all rumour and hear say but in my experience, it generally proves true. So keep an eye out for this service in the very near future and relish the positive effect that it could have on your digital lives! And for those using Dropbox, will your loyalty’s remain even though Google will be able to offer more for less?
PC on a USB Stick?
For those of you who love this sort of thing, the age of making things that used to be really big really small, it has finally produced a very cool piece of kit. The FXI Cotton Candy (see left) is a computer the size of a USB thumb drive. It has a 1.2GHz Cortex-A9 processor, 1GB RAM and a Mali 400MP GPU! It comes with bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and wireless b/g/n, MicroSD card slot for up to 64GB storage and it can run Ubuntu or Android 4.0 ICS as standard! And the best part of all this? It only costs £139 excluding shpping and taxes.
This cool little device is powered by a USB plug and outputs video over an HDMI 1.3 connection. I can think of a million applications for this type of technology. For example, the security conscience out there might use this to do all their online transactions when out and about, the tech savvy can use this as a portable computer between work and home and for everyone else… it is a computer for £139!
They have limited availability for release and are taking pre-orders as we speak. If it is half as popular as the Raspberry Pi, I would think it would sell out pretty quickly so get in quick if you need this in your life! Check out the video below to find out more!
Photograph and video by FXI
Welcome to the NEW website!
Charismatic Duck has been going now for just under a year and ashamedly in that time, the Charismatic Duck website has fallen woefully short of what it should do. We can only attribute this to the fact mechanics drive badly maintained cars, builders houses are mainly unfinished and electricians have electrical installations still on display… they just don’t have the time to do their own work. Well we have taken the time to make sure the website is representative of the kind of work that we do. And even we have to say, we are pretty impressed.
The thing about web design is that on the surface of it all, it appears to be such a simple process but in reality, it isn’t. Amongst all the problems, the real issues lie in making the site appear correctly in the plethora of different web browsers on the market and the ever changing screen resolutions coming out. The answer to all of this is…
you can’t make it right on all browsers you can’t make an awesome website look right in all browsers. What you can do however is make it looks its best in the majority of browsers.
The main problem lies in the web browsers interpretation of HTML which is the basis for websites. For example, to make text big in HTML you can specify a <H1> tag around the text and close it with a </H1>. This is simple, simple HTML. If you forget to close the tag with the /, then it has an ongoing affect to the remaining text on your site and it will look awful. Internet Explorer will display it this way no questions asked, however Chrome predicts that this error has been made and will close the tag for you. So in Chrome it will look right but Internet Explorer won’t. We can all say clever Chrome but has this really helped you? No! 50% of your audience are still going to be met with the wrong screen. The lesson? Check your site in as many web browsers as you can. This way, you can avoid problems.
Anyways, rant over! Please enjoy the new site!
B Squared Connecting Steps V4
For the release of B Squared’s new software, they needed a website that represented their new colour scheme and house style for the company and to incorporate custom graphics designed by Furious Lemon graphic artists. They also needed a count down clock to the release time of the software at the BETT show 2012.
The site colouring was matched to their current house style and images were enhanced to complement the dark background. The site was also optimised for search engines to allow for greater web presence. The image slideshow also contained some custom graphics for the site with others being obtained from stock photography.
The final site is a stable and validated site which is both professional and exciting accurately portraying the feeling towards their imminent software release.
MG Sports Management
The design remit for this site was very clearly laid out with specifics set such as colour, layout and the general vibe of the site explained through examples and comparisons. Alex knew exactly what he wanted and conveyed it in such a manner that I was able to interpret his vision.
The site proved very interesting to develop, with the use of many technologies to get a smooth and vibrant site. One of the major specifications was that the site be social media friendly. This was accomplished with the use of floating social media bars both side and bottom. There was also options in-article to share content. The usual twitter feed integration was utilised keeping the page up to date with the latest company tweets.
All site graphics were created in house from images provided by Alex. Buttons and menus were created to complement the sites intended colour scheme. The site was then optimised and assessed via W3C to maintain greater compatibility on the internet. To take a look, head over to www.mgsportsmanagement.co.uk.
Claire and Roy’s Wedding
Roy and Claire came to me one day having looked through my own wedding web site. Inspired by the site, they asked if they could have a wedding web site of their very own. They were determined to take an active participation in the design and development of the site, providing and adding their own content.
After deciding the initial layout and design, the site was set up and Roy added all the text to the site. When he had finished this, I went through the site and started to add some of the fine intricacies to it, such as social network integration, countdown timer, slide show, Twitter feed from a popular wedding magazine, Google Maps and Street View and a few minor back end tweaks.
The final site has proved very popular among family and friends, all commenting on how much easier it is to find the venue when it is put on the map so clearly.