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Tech-2014-1

Tech Predictions for 2014

( Image from diydays.com )

2013 saw some good tech being released and some bad tech making its way out, the iPhone 5S and 5C was launched, Samsung tried to release a smart watch which eventually became a failure, and the Xbox One and PS4 both launched, and steam annnocuned their Steam Machine PC/Console hybrid.

But 2013 has been and gone, and now its the time to predict what tech we might be seeing in 2014.

Steam Machines

This is one of things I am 100% certian on.  In fact Valve showed off the different companies creating Steam Machines with some controversial price points at CES 2014.  These Steam machines are aimed at people who just want a living room PC that can play many of the great games us PC gamers have been playing, such as Serious Sam 3.  You can see a video of the announced Steam Machines below.

(ReviewTechUSA on YouTube going over the announced Steam Machines and comparing the price to the specs)

My main concern with the Steam Machines is that the highest price point for a steam machine is $6000US (£3659.65) a really high price point for a gaming machine.  However there are lower priced options which should play many games just fine.  Some of the Steam Machine will have both Windows and SteamOS so they should be able to play any games you throw at it, which is a good thing.

The idea with these Steam machines is that you can take them apart and upgrade the hardware which is benefical but that wouldn’t be its biggest selling point.

My prediction for this is that it’ll sell small ammounts, but not as much as Valve are hoping, this is due to the fact that most of the companies are placing a GTX Ttian graphics card in them, which alone costs £1000+ which obviously puts the price up a lot.

Tablets with phone functionality

The Asus PhonePad at CES is the first tablet that can have phone functionality without an app, however it requires another phone to be docked in the back of the tablet for it to use the phone functionality.  I’m hoping we start seeing more tablets with phone functionality bulit in as standard with certain tablet models, it would be brilliant to be able to answer a phone call while using my tablet as that would be awesome for multitasking.

(Video from TechnoBuffalo demonstrating the Asus Phone Pad Mini at CES 2014)

For example say your trying to watch a TV show on your tablet and someone rings your house, it would great to just tap a button and answer that call without having to go and get the phone.

Console quality mobile games

Tablet and Mobile games are still not all that great, however with nVida announcing the X1 Tegra chip its a real possiblity that we might start seeing much better mobile and tablet games. nVida claims that this new chip is more powerful than the PS3 and Xbox 360.  This new chip could start off a chain of new gaming tablets being released.

Information about this new chip can be found this found on this article from CVG.

My prediction is that we’ll start seeing affordable tablets and phones bulit specifically for gaming that use this new chip, tablets that are portable and light weight but pack power.

Google Glass release

Google’s controversial and amazing “Glass” hopefully sees release this year at a decent price as its something I personally want to use myself. This could start a whole chain of new wearable tech, and I hope it doesn’t meet the same fate as the Samsung Galaxy gear did.

Another thing I do hope is that people start accepting Google Glass more, because for YouTuber’s like myself it’ll be a brilliant tool to use for making videos without having lug around a camera.

You can see a review of the early access form of Google Glass below.

(Video from Engadget reviewing Google Glass )

My prediction is that Google Glass will do really well but not before there’s some heavy legislation which says what people can and cannot do with it.

 

 

brand

Working with Colour

After reading this article. (Summary: Brands should utilise colour more to attract customers and to stay fresh & unique.)

I was inspired to write about my experience of working almost exclusively with a colourful brand. The Sharp Project‘s branding was designed by Malcolm Garrett of [images.co.uk], who I worked with closely on the re-design of The Sharp Project’s new brochure for 2013 as brand consultant.

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This made me realise how the colour of the brand is inherent in the building, it’s identity and also from a practical sense – all the colours apply to different areas of the building (which all serve different purposes) and are used in the way-finding graphics and colour schemes which contribute to The Sharp Project’s uniqueness.

 photo wayfindi-tsp_zps9caf93e7.jpgWorking with the brand is a bit of a double-edged sword; as on the one hand it’s nice and useful to have the variation in colour – meaning I have different attributes to draw upon and have more freedom with my designs whilst still staying within the boundaries of the brand guidelines.

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It also means that depending on the nature of the design and where/how/what it’ll be used for dictates the colours I use e.g. If we have an event in The Campus, the colours I’ll use are gold, orange and grey…

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However on the other hand it can be a challenge in that the logo has to always feature atop a white background or this fairly neutral green/grey colour [#dce2de], which can sometimes be limiting when designing a promotional piece or if using it alongside other branding. But in terms of versatility it’s very good to work with, and can be varied using a combination of the lettering and/or roundel.

I’m looking forward to working with Malcolm Garrett on future brand work for The Sharp Project, SharpFutures and beyond.

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YouTube-logo-full_color

Overview of my YouTube channel.

Before I became an Apprentice Web Developer I made a name for myself on YouTube doing screencasts.  What is a screencast you might ask? Its where someone broadcasts a recording of their computer screen for informative or educational purposes.

Where it all began

I signed up to YouTube back in April 2007, but I didn’t start making videos until much later, when a friend from school convinced me to give it a try.  I thought why not, I had nothing to lose by doing it.

My very first tutorial video was posted in April 2008.  It was a guide on how to use Microsoft Word 2007  and its makes me laugh when I see it as it makes me wonder how my videos could have been so badly produced.

I made pretty much every mistake with this video, the frame rate was poor, there was no narration, and I recorded me typing words into a word document while recording.

Around October the same year is when my channel started gaining some attention and some controversy with the following video.  A lot of people watched and liked the video, but on the flip side it was criticised for having too many links, poor video quality, pronouncing “Leopard” wrong and some people were even claiming the software used gave them viruses. (Which it didn’t by the way)  to this day it remains one of my most viewed videos on YouTube.

I’ve also done other videos which are not tutorial videos.  One such series is my controversial “Name & Shame” series where I would offer a comedic response to hate comments I got on YouTube, I actually had people in real life asking me to make more Name & Shame videos, but sadly due to me getting banned from YouTube the series had to be removed, and I have no plans to come back to it.  I also won’t be linking those videos for obvious reasons.

While I still make the occasional mistake here and there my tutorial videos have improved.  One of the more recent videos can be found below.

The feedback

The feedback I get on my videos is mostly positive.  With people saying thank you, and even now there’s people sharing my videos on Twitter and on Google+, and I have over 2340 subscribers at the time of writing this post.   I always love seeing constructive feedback too, as its helped me produce better content.

What influences the choice of topics I cover?

I don’t really have a standardised system of choosing what to cover in my videos, I usually look up stuff and then if it works for me do a video about it, this is of course for the tutorial videos. For my other videos such as the video blogs are influenced by what’s going on in the technology world or if there’s something I want to talk about.

How the videos are produced

To make the tutorial videos I’ve used a combination of software packages.  The ones that I like most are Camtasia Studio and BBFlashback.  They allow me to add zoom and pan effects to videos, record my voice and webcam at the same time, and they allow exporting in HD formats, and both are really easy to use they also allow me to tweak the format so I can get better quality.  A recent example of a video made with camtaisa can be found below.

As for my gaming videos, most of them are straight uploads to YouTube, but recently I’ve had a friend of mine edit the videos for me to save time.

Future Plans

Since I am a gamer and the fact tutorial videos are no longer what people want, I’ve decided to focus on creating gaming guides and lets plays instead, there are a lot of very large open world games out there and people will obviously need a helping hand with them, I also tend to think out loud a lot when playing games too which would make for a good video.  While I have done some commentaries like the one below, I’ve not done a massive series so far.

2ndbro-img

Designing The Sharp Project brochure by Dan Walsh

I recently completed my largest project to date, The Sharp Project‘s new brochure.

I was tasked with this project near the end of August, and it came off the press last week.

I really enjoyed working on such an important and comprehensive piece of work, although it was quite daunting to begin with, especially in the profiling and planning stages as I realised how much information we had to convey.

tsp-bro-blogI found it to be a steep learning curve, where I was challenged with using Adobe InDesign [for the first time doing anything more complex than flyers]. Working with Malcolm Garrett [Images.co.uk] was incredibly useful and insightful and definitely gave me more of an idea of the precision and detail required of industry-standard graphic design.

 

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mmu-art

Manchester School of Art Brochure

We picked up a brochure for the new Manchester School of Art [MMU] at their launch, and were very impressed with their approach. The design is very minimalist, however there’s a twist; as it can be started from either end –  one side dedicated to the history of the institution and the other to the launch of the new building [represented by powerful images alone, except for a brief foreword and introduction].It also harnesses the use of textures and embossing as important mediums in physical [rather than digital/on-screen] graphic design. I think its always a good idea to look into other pieces of work as it helps inspire and spark ideas.

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CoderDojo Featured

CoderDojo #8

CoderDojo is a network of clubs that educate young people in programming and technology. There are clubs in 22 countries across the globe. CoderDojo was founded by Bill Liao and James Whelton as a non-profit group aimed at teaching kids how to program.  The first Dojo was held at the National Software Centre in Cork, on July 32rd 2011, in Sepetember 2012 CoderDojo was held in Silicon Valley in California.

The CoderDojo also bring in kids who know how to code to share their interests, teach others and collaborate on projects.

I went along to the CoderDojo last Sunday and I took my little nephew along with me. I was more concentrated on the Minecraft table and we had to set up a locally hosted server in Minecraft and then use a Python script to create a brick tower in Minecraft, while we couldn’t get the code to work, we still had fun and I even learned how easy it was to run a Minecraft server.

CoderDojo 1

Python is an open source, object orientated programing language that is recommended by people because its easy learn and implement into different projects, and has often been compared to similar programming languages like Java, ruby and pearl.

My nephew on the other hand focused on placing TNT around and destroying as much of the world as possible but he did learn a lot about Minecraft and how commands work and how to install mods and texture packs, so hopefully he will be able to do it himself in the future and make a huge Minecraft server.

There were other areas too, there was Scratch which is a tile based learning environment that teaches young people to program their own animations, movies and games which helps young people think creatively, work collaboratively and think systematically, all of these are important skills for the 21st century.

The event was ran by MadLab who provides event space and a place for people to work on their projects, which can include programming, hacking, digital art, animations and film making.

CoderDojo 2

This event helped me with my network diagnosis skills, and while I don’t consider myself an expert in the field, I’m confident enough now to help out with more basic networking issues in the future.

Honestly the kids at the CoderDojo have a really big advantage over me, as they get to learn all this stuff at a young age, this is an opportunity I never had until I was an adult and I think if kids start getting into programing now they’ll have so many doors open for them in the future, and in about 30 years time the word “Unemployment” will cease to exist.

To find out more about the CoderDojo and the various projects they teach click here

CoderDojo #8 was ran by MadLab and Hosted by The SharpProject