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Excited to put into practise some of the advice @ValuableContent gave at their workshop for @Bristol_Media yesterda… https://t.co/25ATyDykJC, posted 20 days ago

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Annette's a Rails Girl

Annette's a Rails Girl

Heard of Rails? Heard of Girls? What about RailsGirls?!

(Ruby on) Rails is, and I quote Wikipedia: "an open source web application framework written in Ruby". In layman's terms, it's what our clever web developers use to make our websites.

Girls are... well, insert your own answer here.............. (try wonderful, clever etc). But for me as a Girl, I didn't know much about Rails, or Ruby - and in fairness, I don't need to - but I was starting to want to.

Over the three years I've been here at Focus, I've seen and heard lot of code-y, tech-y stuff, like 'Gems', 'Frameworks', 'Scaffolds' and the like. I see black screens with white text on that looks like something out of the Matrix, and I am DEAD impressed. So when I heard about the latest Rails Girls event in Bristol, I signed myself up to find out more.

So a couple of Saturdays ago I headed over to At-Bristol (where loads of cool stuff was going on with kids flying drones and all sorts!), and got stuck in to a really informative, interesting and empowering day. The guys running the sessions all had different experiences with Ruby and Rails. We learnt some basic information, terminologies and the like, did some tutorials, had a yummy lunch, and then onto the highlight - building our own web application. With the assistance of several experienced helpers, I managed to set myself up a server and make myself an 'ideas application'. I made CSS styling changes, created new 'ideas' (headlines with text), I even made buttons that facilitated an image upload.

Back at work on the Monday after the event I proudly showed off my work. I think the developers sniggered into their sleeves a bit :-) but everyone was interested in what I'd done and how I'd done it.

Moreover, I now feel better informed; when talking to our developers and also hearing them talk, and seeing what's happening on their screen when I ask for changes to a website. I know what a Gem is, and what it means to create a new scaffold. And it helps talking to clients about their website work, I can better picture what might be involved with what sounds like a simple change...

So huge thanks to @RailsGirlsBriz - I enjoyed the day and learned lots of new stuff. And the fact they run these events for free I think is marvellous. Can I go to the next one?

Annette Ryske
Annette

Created on Wednesday December 10 2014 09:43 AM


Tags: website open-source web-development bristol rubyonrails ruby rails programming


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When Design is Irrelevant

No-one is going to argue that the better a site's design the easier it is to use. Understanding content, features and functionality on a badly designed website is hard. Getting excited about it is impossible. The mental hurdles your brain needs to go through to look beyond the way a site looks is too high for users to form an objective view. The same site with and without good design simply isn't the same. You can't expect people to be able to look beyond the difference.

So what to do when building a site where the branding requirement is near zero and the message is all important? We'd recommend a solution such as Twitter's Bootstrap project. It provides clean and professional styles for all the common elements a site needs. As well as this the styling is restrained enough that your message can shine through. Built to work in all major browsers to a very high standard it allows you to keep the time required to style a site to a minimum on projects for which the requirement for design is at a minimum!

Faced with this issue when building internal and demonstration sites we use Twitter's Bootstrap project.

Just because the design is irrelevant doesn't mean it's not important.

Created on Thursday February 02 2012 03:24 PM


Tags: website open-source twitter web-design


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Helping to shape Bristol City Council's website strategy

Helping to shape Bristol City Council's website strategy

I attended an event this morning, organised by Bristol Media in partnership with Bristol City Council, to discuss the plans for the complete redevelopment of the Bristol City Council website and content management system.

Primarily the event was organised as an informal discussion surrounding the future of the website and the council’s wider digital offer.

The need to consult with the local digital community on their plans at an early stage was highlighted by Peter Holt (BCC’s Service Director of Communications) who recited a story about the disaster that Birmingham City Council faced when they unveiled their new website to a group of external web developers who proceeded to pull it to pieces and then create something better in the space of 48 hours!

After an overview of some of the issues with the existing platform, the vision for the new site and the plans for some data portals for public access to information, we were split into three separate discussion groups.

The sessions were set up to discuss “What ideas do we have for quick wins, and how best can we create an open environment where the local digital community can contribute to the site’s longer-term utilisation and exploitation?”.

Although in the introduction BCC highlighted that they required feedback on things such as the navigation for the site; social media and an enhanced user experience. The feeling within our group was generally that we needed more information from BCC, about who the site is for; the objectives for the site; the results from their usability audits and their findings from Google Analytics, so that we can begin to discuss and define how things such as blogs and widgets will be beneficial.

There were also many questions raised about the ‘open environment’ and how this will work if the platform BCC decide to use isn’t Open Source?

Obviously for us, we want to continue working on sites such as Go Places Do Things and 1 Big Database, where members of the council can be creative and have (almost) free reign over the content on the site, but with far more integration and information sharing between other BCC digital projects, including the new website.

I feel that the event was a step in the right direction for the council and by bringing the digital community together for a common cause they will have access not only to the best digital agencies in Bristol but access to a wealth of ideas and experience. The key now is how they use this information to move forward!




Asus' EeePc price soars...

eeepc compared to Macbook Pro...and it looks like we bought ours just in time!

Since launching their EeePc complete with a Micrososft Windows platform back in March, Asus' profits have soared as demand has rocketed and the first affordable notebook is set to double in price.  

Having just bought ours for a snip at £239 (4GB version) from Amazon last week, we were rather smug to notice the price hike to £380 through the same outlet yesterday.  That includes a delay period of 2 -3 weeks, presumably while they frantically try and make some more to meet the demand.

Compared to £1100+ RRP of a Macbook Air or its cheaper sibling, the Pro, that'll set you back around £700, it's no suprise that Asus' pared down PC appeals to the increasingly mobile, as-yet-to-be high-earning generation.  It's also smaller (see pic) and more robust, winning points all-round.

Actually, it wasn't even a twenty-something friend who first alerted me to the Asus phnomenon, but Stephen Fry.  

 

Created on Tuesday April 15 2008 01:57 PM


Tags: microsoft open-source technology


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Farewell Pandora

 

It was sad news indeed for many at Focus Towers this Tuesday as our favourite music genome project announced its closure to the UK market.  For anyone unfamiliar with Pandora's format, you get to create your own radio stations, streaming music in the style of any artist of your choosing.  Which means you can hear Janis Joplin played next to Spandau Ballet, MIA, David Thomas Broughton, MCR or Beirut, depending on whether the track gets the Roman thumbs up or down.  I know there are alternatives out there but life shall feel rather limp here at Focus Towers next week.  Lisa hasn't been quite the same since my emo/folk/funk/world fusion afternoon...  We shall miss you Pandora. X

On a happier note, we Britons will soon see the price of downloads decrease by 10% as Apple is forced to bring UK charges into line with the rest of Europe.  It's good to know there are some people fighting our corner in Berlaymont at least.

Created on Friday January 11 2008 10:08 AM


Tags: music open-source web-radio


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