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Pepper Robot
Pepper Robot
Pepper

Meet Pepper. Pepper as you can see is a robot and robotics is a major element in technology education at Middlesex University. Having Pepper, along with Nao and Baxter, allows students to get to grips with programming robots which is a key future skill.

Although these 3 are the popular image of a robot most robot’s are designed for specific purposes so don’t have quite the humanistic appearance they do. Designed to accomplish specific tasks they can vary considerably.

MIRTO
MIRTO

The students start with an Arduino based robot called Myrtle. More technically know as The MIddlesex Robotic plaTfOrm (MIRTO). This provides the framework for developing increasing complexity in robotics, which is the basis  for the more advanced work that follows. If you want to know more about MIRTO take a look at Franco Raimondi’s Introduction and Version 3 update articles.

Smart Factory Lab 2
Smart Factory Lab

Of course not all robots move around and the facilities in the Middlesex robotics and haptics lab are enviable featuring over 100 workstations with equipment and software including CAD/CAM equipment, an integrated flexible manufacturing system, state of the art automation devices, LabView and Multisim tools as well as associated hardware such as NI-ELVIS training equipment and Compact Rio control systems.

Baxter in action
Baxter in action

We have always been impressed with the work that we see coming out of Middlesex through our sponsorship of the First Year Technology prize. There have been some excellent entries (take a look at last year’s winners) and check more info here.

Ritterman Building
3d pottery
3d Pottery
roller coaster icon
roller coaster

You know that you are only moving a few centimetres at most but you really, really do want to hold on! This is project in the basement (along with some other interesting stuff) which links up an Oculus Rift 3d headset with a seat from a flight simulator. With a clever bit of programming you really feel you are on a roller coaster.

And here I am trying to look like I know it’s hardly moving – but really feeling like I’m on the real thing!
me trying to look like I know it's hardly moving - but really feeling like I'm on the real thing!

 

 

 

 

Ritterman Building
3d pottery
3d Pottery
Pepper
Tweets that are printing a pot

When you enter the Ritterman Building the first thing you are likely to see is the 3d pot maker. This is an excellent example of integrating different technologies . While the pot is created using the 3d printer the shape of the pot is governed by the number of tweets that mention Middlesex University – so an intense period can be seen as a bump on the pot.

 

Of course it is not just tweets that can be used, music is another medium that was used to create a pot for Dame Janet Ritterman to celebrate the buildings opening.

3d Pot Wireframe 2
wire frame
Top down view
Top down view
printing a pot

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ritterman Building
Pepper
roller coaster icon
roller coaster

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.

 

How are you getting on with the new requirement to submit Gift Aid claims electronically?

Our latest software, GiftAider  makes submitting your claims painless.  It fully integrates with your existing system and is very simple to use.  It manages the whole process whether you submit 1 or 500,000 donations at a time. As well as keeping the submission records for audit purposes you can validate the data before uploading to HMRC to save time. All data is encrypted for security – (just don’t forget the password as there is little we can do to help in that case!).

Click here to request a free trial, or let us know if you’ve got any questions.

One of the issues in data collection is how we use it. I have always prescribed that data is used as an aid to decision making, but all too often is used as a method of control and apportioning blame.

A recent report on the use of, and future direction for, data in the US cultural industry (don’t let that put you off, there’s a lot to learn from it even for commercial organisations) identified 6 factors that influence the gathering and collection if data and provide some preliminary suggestions for making better use of data. All make sense, but, as you might expect, the one that grabbed my attention was:

“Shift the conversation from data’s value as an accountability tool to data’s value as a decision-making tool.”

But As Barry Hessenius comments in his blog on the report:

“The question that always looms is “how”? How do you refocus all the data, research, information and input that is out there from being merely a tool to prove, after the fact, that a given program, project or approach has met its objective to information that informs decision making in the first place?”

An excellent question indeed.

I’d be interested in hearing how you approach this in your organisation, leave a comment.

Read Barry’s blog post.

The report can be downloaded here.

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/