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I had a great time at the Middlesex University Scholarship and Awards Event 2016. This was held in the Ricketts Quad – certainly a place to shock and awe.Ricketts Quad at Middlesex Uni

First Year Challenge Winners 2016
Franco Raimondi, Timothy Cole, Nicholas Fitton, Russell Weetch

Systematic sponsors the First Year Challenge Award which is awarded to the winning team of first year computer science students who take part in a challenge building robotics applications. It was a pleasure to meet the winners again, Timothy Cole and Nicholas Fitton who won the award for their smart house project. I’m always impressed by the keenness of the winners of this award and the amount of work that they put in, as well as the staff who support the project Dr Giuseppe Primiero and Prof Franco Raimondi.

This year we shared a table with the winner and sponsors of The David Tresman Caminer Award which provides funding for a PhD project on the history of computing. The award is named after one of the pioneers of the LEO computer that was developed by J. Lyons and Co in the 1950s and widely acknowledged as the first business computer in the World. This year the award,

First Year Challenge Winners 2016
Mr. Peter Byford (LEO Computers Society), Ms. Elisabetta Mori, dr. Giuseppe Primiero and Mrs. Hilary Caminer (LEO Computers Society)

sponsored by the Association for Information Technology Trust, was won by Elisabetta Mori and I look forward to seeing the results of this research.

 

 

securityThink you do enough to remain secure while online?  Password security has been a hot topic recently (a subject we will return to in a later blog) but you need to be ever vigilant as more sophisticated threats emerge on an almost daily basis.  We’ve put together the following checklist to ensure your data and systems are never compromised:

  1. Install hardware and software firewalls. One can catch problems the other may miss.
  2. Install antivirus software. Your computer needs to be infected with a virus only once to realise the value of this step. After installation, make sure to always install the updates as they become available.
  3. Never run .exe attachments or downloads unless you are sure of their authenticity. Doing so makes it way too easy for hackers to load a Trojan horse or execute malicious code.
  4. Consider encrypting sensitive data on your computer. If your machine is compromised, your critical documents will be unintelligible.
  5. Be wary of emails from people you don’t know or trust. Delete any emails you think are suspicious. Delete the email from your ‘Inbox’, and delete it again from your ‘Deleted’ folder, or ‘Sent’ folder if you have forwarded on the email
  6. Never click onto a link or an attachment in an email, obtained from a source you don’t know or trust
  7. Before entering any personal data, make sure that the address in the URL begins with https: to ensure a secure connection and that your data will be encrypted.

 

Last week I was at the Arts Marketing Association Digiday where Carol Jones made the comment that “… it’s not about the tech, done properly you don’t even notice it”.

Immediately my thoughts jumped back to our first brochure (about 1990!) which started with a quote that “… the true test of successful implementation of IT … will be when we do not notice it is there”.

Believed it then, believe it now.

Russell

Personally, I would say yes!.

Let’s start by explaining some things.

Back in the day we accessed the internet via a desktop computer, or maybe a laptop, screen sizes and computer speeds were pretty low, slow and inconsistent. But at least we knew roughly a few things about our potential visitors.

They would probably be viewing our sites either at 800×600 or 1024×768 (and there are some here who actually remember 640×480!), or as screen sizes increased and TFTs became common place, most users began to view our sites using 1280×1024 screens, this was fine. I could design my site to fit.

Now, things have moved on, once a mobile site would and could only be simple text, maybe a little colour and a couple of tiny pixelated images. Now mobile is here, tablets, netbooks and other strange net connected devices are cropping up. So where does that put me when designing a new site?

Now we  have to cater for a whole range of devices. Previously there was no choice in the matter, M.website.com or www.website.com. One pretty basic site and another rigid one.

We’re talking websites here, so if you’re wondering about when to make a mobile site or app, you’ll have to come back for that.

This is where Responsive Web Design comes in. Instead of developing a website specifically for one screen size, we can now detect the browser/device/tablet/phones viewable space, and adapt the design to fit.

Take a look at our new site built in this manner.

On my beloved 27″ iMac, instead of seeing a postage stamp, I see it in its full glory, then on my mobile I get the full experience, just nicely folded down.

Same site, same code. But with a little thinking it scales up and down gracefully.

Should we?

So, when you are next developing your website, think about the bigger picture, as well as the smaller one. If you have no need or the budget for a native app, I would say build a responsive site.Check out this website, pop in the address for your site,  or ours 🙂 and see how it renders at different sizes http://www.studiopress.com/responsive/

I think of technology as anything that is developed to make our lives easier and more productive (although not necessarily better). However, not all technology developments are successful. Some fail to be adopted and vanish into the blue yonder, possibly even some good ones. Some get remembered as a quirky or amusing anecdote, most disappear without a trace.

Technology becomes successful when we no longer perceive it to be technology, in fact when we cease to see it at all. When we stop wondering about how it works; when we use it without worrying about whether it will or not; and just use it without really thinking about it – that’s when technology can be thought of as truly successful.

In the early years of any technology several things stop it moving into the realms of general usage and it is addressing these that moves it in the right direction:

  • Cost – new technology costs an arm and a leg;
  • Reliability – it usually breaks down and breaks down often;
  • Usability – it is new and no one really knows how to use it and if you do you really need to know the nuts and bolts;

Part of the usability problem is that the new technology often tries to emulate existing technology – the first motor cars really were horseless carriages; television was radio with pictures; the website was a brochure on a computer screen.

This is a two edged sword: emulating existing technologies is probably essential to give users a frame of reference without which it maybe very difficult to get the technology adopted. Replicating the interface to the technology may make it easier for new users to get the hang of it, but it stifles the potential of the technology.

Technologies take time to grow into themselves – it took many years for the car to move away from looking like a carriage; television took decades to develop dedicated formats; mobile phones have only recently started developing functionality that the connection method enabled; the web is only now starting to develop into its own persona.

A technology takes time to develop into a unique application – and only become successful when we don’t realise that they are there.