Category Archives: blog

NI Design Alliance: The Anatomy of Design #001

Post updated with video — 10.6.2013 

Last night I attended the Northern Ireland Design Alliance’s first lecture of 2013 and the first in a new series called “The Anatomy of Design.” As I often say I’m not a ‘designer’, but this event had much broader appeal than just to the pixel pusher or crayon merchant.

Stephen McCarthy, a native of Dublin and graphic/print designer by trade, spoke on the acclaimed work of the UK’s Government Digital Services. Focusing on the 10 design principles of the GDS and the launch of GOV.UK (or boring.com as everyone’s favourite doom merchants would have you believe).

NIDA GDS Stephen McCarthy GOV.UK
NIDA GDS Stephen McCarthy GOV.UK

The video is now live on youtube. For updates on upcoming Design Alliance events follow @gooddesignni. The next scheduled event is on June 20th and Matt Coyne will be speaking.

Thanks to Richard and Sarah from CC Skills for hosting it and having us along!

This week’s effort: wordpress twitter aggregation plugin

Extracted from and developed for a new client website I’m building I’ve finished off an ‘MVP’ wordpress plugin “DL’s Tweet Aggregator“. Its’ purpose is to ingest tweets from a collection of selected twitter accounts and display them in whatever format you’d like on your site.

Currently the output comes in the form of a widget only, but to meet the needs of the website in question I’ll be adding a plain JSON API and a [short_code] for the data.

If you have the opportunity, please do try it out and let me know if you find any problems or have any suggestions for it. Full read me and instructions on my github profile. I haven’t had the opportunity to test it out on a Windows platform, but as I’m using the underlying WP_Filesystem API it shouldn’t be an issue.

https://github.com/davidlowry/wp-tweet-aggregator

Using FreeAgent for managing invoices

Money is difficult. Making it, estimating your own time as being worth a certain amount of it, and asking for it, is hard.

There’s lots of resources online for freelancers to help work out how much other freelancers in my area are charging and how to work out what tax allowances are permitted when working from home. But how to actually handle that money.

I bought a book to help do accounting, but reading is hard too — this one is more fun.

You could make spreadsheets and put them in your Dropbox (sign up + we both get free space) and while that works fairly well, who wants to install Excel or wait for it to open? (Business people, that’s who).

Instead of all that you can pretty much do it all with FreeAgent. Budget time with proposals, time-keeping, client/project tracking, invoice generation based on time tracking, a product inventory or fixed values. Pay staff, add expenses and track un-billable time, so you know that you’ll need to account for such time in the future. You can email invoices directly or output a pdf and print. It works really well, all you have to do is do you work, send your invoice and wait to be paid.

It’s not expensive, only £15/month if you pay annually, but if you sign up with my affiliate link and give it a go then you’ll get 10% off the subscription for life, as will I. Far cheaper than an accountant, and given that I’m not planning to invest in an off-shore tax scheme any time soon, just as worthile.

Bonus: they’re based in the UK (Edinburgh) and so all of their advice is aimed at UK taxpayers and businesses, their blog is up to date on changes to HMRC policy and all that.

FreeAgent Small Business Online Accounting

Showreel: Build 2012

Jeff Veen - Design for Disaster
The 2012 Build conference videos have been published today on the Build vimeo channel. My first fully HD video editing project, I think it’s come off quite nicely! It’s the fourth year I’ve been involved in the AV production at the conference and previously produced the video for year one, handing the reins over to Peter and box42av.com in the meantime.

My favourite talk was probably Jeff Veen’s, entitled “Design for Disaster”. You should file the album URL away for a rainy weekend. Like this one. Lots of good stuff in there.

Production credits:
Camera: Ross McCartan, Chris Ross,
Sound: Mark ‘Inferno’ Kernohan,
Graphics: Matt DiVito,
Music: Tycho,
Edit and production: me.

Sales pitch:
If you are in need of any web, video or event audio visual solution don’t hesitate to drop me a line.

 

Chocolate Oranges, Permanency, Ireland, Terms and Conditions.

The following paragraphs are connected.

Ronan gave me a Terry’s Chocolate Orange for Easter. I could choose simply to eat this tasty spherical snack, but given my tendency to tweet the ephemera I’m more likely to tell my small corner of the interworld.

While giving the package a gently crack on the desk (that’s what you do) to split the segments, I came across this paragraph in a sample Terms & Conditions document that a client had been customising for their website:

Those wishing to place a link to this Website on other sites may do so only to the home page of the site (www.WEBSITE.COM) without prior permission.  Deep linking (i.e. links to specific pages within the site) requires the express permission of COMPANY.  To find out more please contact us by email  person@WEBSITE.COM Continue reading Chocolate Oranges, Permanency, Ireland, Terms and Conditions.

Something I Made Earlier: A View From The Bridge

Giants fan site and community The Kingdom Of The Giants has been up and running since the early days of the team, and their podcast “A View From The Bridge” has been going since 2005.

Recently on behalf of the webcast team I teamed up with Patrick to film the first edition of AVFTB TV and published the result last week. We spoke to Owen Bradley of BBC Nottingham, Gary Gillespie of the webcast and UTV fame, Coach Doug Christiansen and GM Todd Kelman, the guys from “The Cat’s Whiskers” (Nottingham Fanzine) and the usual AVFTB discussion panel. Hope you enjoy it!

Add automatic URL generation to your Rails App (+ a little about ActiveAdmin)

It’s easy to add a “url” or “slug” field to your rails app, and override the to_param function to report that field. A route can then look for an alphanumeric parameter, like this:

match "pages/:slug" => "purchases#show_by_slug"

But how to generate them without too much manual labour? [manual labour is a good thing, relying on well written gems is sometimes better] Continue reading Add automatic URL generation to your Rails App (+ a little about ActiveAdmin)