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A Developer’s Perspective – S2E Challenge @ the Houses of Parliament

December 14th, 2015 by Edward

cupola view

View through the ISS Cupola of Big Ben

On Wednesday 9th December I went to the Houses of Parliament for the very first time to witness an event planned to showcase some of the work that’s gone on for the ‘Space to Earth Challenge.’ Here’s a short article about a web developer’s perspective on this space project.

First a little background. I was approached to become the projects web developer – this means my main role is to build the website, based on the teams designs. So, if you like I am they techy geek. What is really exciting for me, is that often the developer is locked in a cupboard, and fed ‘pop tarts and coffee’ until the work is finished (only kidding). In this case I have been involved as part of a large, multidisciplinary team, got the chance to visit the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, and even (deep breath) had the best part of a day teaching a small group of yr10/12 pupils who helped us gather some of the excellent resources on the website.

Visiting the Houses of Parliament was fun; being surrounded by all that history can’t be anything else really. But in a way that paled into relative insignificance.

group with space suit

Pupils, a cardboard Tim Peake, the real Lauren Steadmen and a Christmas Tree

There were too many adult speakers to mention – but highlights for me were:

  • David Morris MP, Chair of the All-Parliamentary Space Committee who hosted the special event,
  • Dr Jon Scott who spoke about the importance of exercise on the ISS to reduce bone loss and muscle atrophy.
  • Lauren Steadman, a Team GB Paralympic athlete, describe her triathlon training and how children could take up the Space to Earth Challenge.

For me though the young people stole the show. School children spoke with great enthusiasm about elements of the challenge, ranging from the different sports they had done to cover the distance to the ISS, through to working with some of the exotic materials used in space research. Their smiles and fascination shone through. Several students got to wear a space suit – how cool is that – and why do adults never get asked eh?

pupils demonstrating

Great presentations

It’s been really exciting seeing the project take shape. I have seen it go from an idea sketched out in a piece of A3,  though multiple stages of development and now we’re just 1 day away from Tim’s launch (as I write). Best of all those was seeing how the pupils and their teachers were using the work done by the S2E team, and being really  inspired about it. And I had a part, along with the team, in making that happen.

Makes all those hours in the cupboard worthwhile!

maths challenge

Maths Challenge in action

what's this then?

Wow – what’s going on here then?

graphics work

Graphics students present the designs for S2E posters

Image credit: Max Alexander/UK Space Agency

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A WordPress ‘Google dog’s dinner’

November 30th, 2015 by Edward

dog eating dinner

Recently, there was a bit of a discussion on a local social network forum. Somebody had been using one of those ‘build your own site whilst mowing the garden’ type of services (now these can be good, but that’s another blog post). Getting back to this post the person in question was asking if they should move over to wordpress. Amongst the well thought out and well meaning contributions was something along the lines of ‘google loves wordpress‘.

On one, somewhat misleading level this is right. On several others of course it’s just that. Misleading.

  • It gives the impression that if you use wordpress you’ll rank high in google. This is wrong.
  • It gives the idea that using wordpress is the best bet for your website. This can be wrong too.
  • It suggests that wordpress and google have ‘something going on’ which is also wrong.
  • It suggests that wordpress might have some ‘magic formula’ that will ‘take care of your search engine needs for you.’ Guess what, this is wrong. Probably!

So, what’s right then

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Pupil Achievement Data Analysis System

November 24th, 2015 by Edward

This is SUCH a cool job, and so EXACTLY up my street. It ticks so many of my boxes  – so when I am working on this project i am a happy little programmer.

middleton assessment login

Middleton is a small school offering specialist care. They have been using a great program, based around Excel to store all their assessment data, and produce a variety of specialist reports for a range of audience – teachers, parents, governors, Ofsted and so on. However, support for this program is no longer available, and whilst it still works its becoming less and less future proof.

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Space to Earth Challenge

November 3rd, 2015 by Edward

Space to Earth Challenge

In December 2015 (at the time of writing) a new programme for pupils in Key Stages 2 and early 3 is being launched. This is called the ‘Space to Earth Challenge‘ and its based on visit of British Astronaut Tim Peake to the International Space Station. I have been delighted to be a part of the team charged with creating this fantastic educational project.

As an ex secondary school science teacher I can say with certainty that there is only one subject in science that pupils find more interesting than space … any ideas what that might be?

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Buzzing Bees make a …

October 3rd, 2015 by Edward

Recently I have been working with the hugely talented Lydia Thornley on a new website for Sarah and Dale at Bermondsey Street Bees.
dale at Bermondsey Street Bees

One of the great things about this project was the sense of intricate planning that went into the site. Not that I don’t always plan, but for this job NO deadline or project milestone was moved, let alone missed. It was such a pleasure to have all the content when I asked for it. You know how it is with some clients – ‘Please create a timeline’ and within the first week things are slipping… To quote Douglas Adams –

I love deadlines. I love the sound the make as they go whooshing past

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ee- web is growing

April 22nd, 2014 by Edward

 

ee web design is growing and needs to get some local help!

I am a freelancer, mostly with too much work! I am looking to work closely with someone in the North London area to our mutual advantage. I have always found my best work is done in teams and I want to expand mine.

Do you think it would be helpful to have more people in your network that you could share the load with – pitching, designing, building, optimising and so on and on.  If you think this might be you I’d really like to have a chat. No obligation, no pressure.

At this stage I am not talking about financial partnerships or new companies, although who knows what the future might hold?  Face to face is important in the way I work, so that’s why you need to be local(ish).

You can find out more about my philosophy by browsing around my site.

Next step. If you’d like to explore the possibilities then get in touch and we can take it from there.

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Voluntary Sector Training – a re-build and a re-fresh

February 11th, 2014 by Edward

 

Since November 2013 (approx!) I have been involved with a really enjoyable project based in Great Dunmow, Essex. Voluntary Sector Training (VST from now) had an existing site which was based around an “Off the shelf template” and an old version of joomla. VST offer training services for the voluntary sector, and while the old site did enable them to take bookings, it was quite old, had a few layout problems and wasn’t responsive.

Read what VST thought about ee-web

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Decorative Supplies – website launched

October 10th, 2013 by Edward

At last, its launched.

Decorative Supplies is a cornucopia of delight, based in Chase Side Enfield. If you have any interest in cake, and lets face it who doesn’t’, you need to check this out. It’s an Aladdin’s cave selling everything you could possibly need for decorating cakes. Just take a look  at what Liz’s happy clientele make on her brand new spanking website. What they don’t know about cake decorating isn’t worth knowing,.

This was a pretty quick job – about 8-10 weeks, and over the summer too. Liz, who works hard (!) at Decorative Supplies was keen to get a “Brochure” type site which adapted to mobile phones. I particularly enjoyed this job because Liz was able to give me a strong steer on the colour – oh yes, it had to be purple (have you seen the shop…) I decided that a “Sweetie Shop Awning” effect was the way to go, so I made up various versions of the graphics and logo and we ended up with what you see.

The only potential snag was getting the pictures for the site. Mobile phones are good, really they can’t handle studio photography. In the end I did the pictures using a light box and a number of white reflectors.

Here’s what Liz had to say:

We’re very pleased with the appearance of the site and the layout – it really does make it feel like “us”.  Our customers have also commented on how great it looks, which is, of course, the whole point.

We have been very happy with the service from ee-web design – no unusual requests from us seemed a problem and the patience shown in helping to set up e-mail and teach us how to use the site was very useful. We would definitely not hesitate to recommend ee-web design to anybody or organisation looking to set up a website.

Can ee-web design help you?  Advice is free!!!

Drop me an email at edward@ee-web.co.uk or give me a call on 07760 392284.

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Writing for your website – 001 – Five Reasons why its Hard

August 3rd, 2013 by Edward

Many clients appear daunted by the prospect of writing their copy, the “Words” for their site. Few of them have the option of employing a copy writer” or the luxury of a “media department”.

This post is the first in a short series, currently planned at being four in number, aimed at helping my clients to write the copy for their site.

Why can it seem like climbing a Mountain?

writing text is like climbing a mountain

Writing the text for you website can be quite an uphill climb. I have know clients who have absolutely agonized over it, spending hours (yes hours) over their 200 homepage words, tormenting themselves over every phrase. I can’t think of a example of the other extreme to be honest. Most clients are aware that its important, but seem a bit, well “Scared” of it.

Why is this?  I’d be interested to know what you think? Did you find it really easy? Did the words just “flow”?

Here’s are my top 5 reasons why writing web site text is not viewed as a walk in the park! Its not meant to be exhaustive though! In later posts ‘ll look at ways through the problem.

Don’t want to get it wrong. This is a biggie. The agonized client I mentioned above was almost petrified of getting it wrong. What if I say the wrong thing about  my business? What it people who come here simply leg-it because I messed up the text? I can understand this, you’ve given a lot of time and commitment to your business, you want to reflect it accurately. We’ll look in a later post at just “What is wrong” anyway.
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Quenda Story – Science for Senior Citizens (and me)

July 15th, 2013 by Edward

Some time ago I went on a tweet meet in a local pub. I continue to see the fruit of this evening some 18 months later.

Science for Senior CitizensI met a copy writer and blogger called Sally, who introduced me to a contact of hers called Quenda Story from Michigan in the USA. Quenda was seemingly having difficulty finding someone to help her with her blog.

I really liked this job for several reasons. Its great when you “Meet” new people, especially when the are recommendations and in exotic climes (relatively speaking). The work itself turned out to be really interesting too – Quenda’s blog is all about science, and there’s lots of great physics and cosmology in there – black holes, dark matter, Higgs boson and so on. Since Quenda not only writes abut interesting topics, but does it with unusual clarity I had to take great control over myself otherwise I’d have read every post and never got the work done!

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