Category: Techie Rant

Not breaking news this, but it did make me chuckle so I thought I’d share it. A few weeks back I was at my first BBQ of the year when a friend pulled out a solid white wedge from his pocket and professed it to be the ‘Anti Smart Phone’. It doesn’t have a camera, it can’t access the internet, it has one ringtone and can’t even send or receive text messages… The no frills design, devised by Diedriekje Bok is certainly self-aware; there is a physical address book on the back where you can ‘write’ your text messages with the included stylus pen, and even play games (naughts and crosses)…

John’s Phone‘ - “The World’s Most Simple Phone” is so anti-fashion, it’s actually quite a cool (if expensive £59.99), slightly eccentric novelty. The official website reads: ”John’s Phone is a no-nonsense mobile phone, it doesn’t pretend to be anything more: no bull****, just a phone to call, talk and hang up on.” Well, we had a good laugh at it, what do you think?

(Opinion: Jon Price ? Designer)

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Tues 12 April: Feeling the early morning chill on platform 5, I awaited the train with only a cardboard cup of tea and a luke warm bacon bap for company. This trip will be the envy of many, others may possibly even drool at the prospect, but sometimes you’ve just gotta do what you’ve gotta do…

It’s important to keep abreast of the latest developing technologies when you’re working in an integrated design and digital agency. Be it software or hardware developments, emerging new media platforms or routes to market, it’s essential to keep your eyes peeled for the next industry evolution or new standards on both developer/designer and user sides of the table.

Sadly, Tomorrow’s World was canned in 2003 and frankly just reading about new technologies doesn’t cut the digital mustard. You can’t beat hands-on interaction and demonstration. So I took a trip to the Birmingham NEC on an exclusive Press preview invitation to The Gadget Show Live Professional, the largest consumer electronics show. That’s five huge exhibition halls crammed with hundreds of stands sporting the latest gadgets, consumer tech, demos, workshops and presentations from every industry imaginable, giving an insight into technology and trends of the future… FIND OUT WHAT’S HOT!


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There’s been a lot of talk about QR codes recently and in the DNA studio it’s been no different. Here are some personal opinions from two of the DNA team… What do you think?

Opinion: Jon Price ? Designer:

A while back I read an article that shouted out loud about QR technology, and couldn?t help but get more than a little tetchy over the use of media buzz words such as ?cutting-edge,? ?interactive? and ?augmented reality? being thrown about in the context of a simple QR code.

For those who do not know, a QR code in its current form is essentially a pictorial piece of data (a matrix barcode), in most instances the scrambled mosaic simply contains a URL that needs decoding through a device with QR reading capabilities. In the case of the article, it?s suggested that the viewer of a so-called ?interactive? billboard must first download a QR reading App for their smart phone before using the in-built camera, focussing on the code before being redirected to a website (that would have taken less time to tap into a browser ? especially if it had been tiny?d). It all seemed a little backward to me but at the time I thought it not worth the rant…


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We all believe that computer gaming over the past few years has become more interactive. To date, most of the ‘so called’ interactive games, still put you as another character within the game, such as ‘Drake’ in Uncharted (PS3). However, you are never actually yourself within the game. But surely, the whole point of interaction, is the ability to truly interact with the environment and the character/s within that environment and that they can react with you. I’m not talking about wearing a headset, or some eyewear trickery. What I’m talking about is the next generation of gaming, where you can talk to characters, show facial expressions and build a relationship with a character through the TV/Computer screen. You will have the ability to have conversations and truly interact with their environment in ways that you thought would never be possible. Anyway, enough of me waffling on, take a look for yourself – be prepared to be blown away – I was.

Article by Paul Mabin – Creative Director / Managing Director

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Earlier in the week I wrote an article on the Canon 5D MKII, shooting HD content for the last episode of House. While writing that article I was interrupted by the sound of Naaa, Na Na, Na Na Naaa. Yep, you guessed it – the intro to Coronation Street. Not a programme that I generally watch, but my beloved wife Donna loves it – I wonder how many men say the same thing? Anyway, I glanced over to see the intro and noticed that, at last, it has changed after being the same intro for about a million years or so. Apparently it’s to coincide with the first episode being broadcast in HD.

Don’t worry though, you hardened Corrie fans, the cat walking across the flat roof and the image of outside the Rovers Return are still present. However, those of you that don’t like drop focus imagery are not going to like it. I think it’s a welcome addition to the Street. Let’s hope that the rest of the programme gets updated – spoken by a true ‘Enders’ fan.

Well done ITV.

Article by Paul Mabin

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As a budding amateur photographer, I always keep abreast on what is happening in the digital arena. I have recently purchased a Canon 5D MKII after much research. The reason for my purchase was to add something extra to my photography – higher resolution (21.1MP) as well as a better image sensor and full HD video capture.

I have been extremely impressed with the camera so far, after only a couple of weeks of use. However, I have been more impressed with some of the work produced by other companies using the 5D MkII.

The last episode of House aired on 17th May and was shot entirely on a Canon 5D MKII. The House director Greg Yaitanes was available after the programme to answer any questions viewers may have had by using twitter. One of the questions asked was “how was the quality compared to the cameras traditionally used?”. Gregs’ response to this was “I loved it and feel it’s the future – cameras that can give you these looks”.

Greg also used the entire range of Canon Prime lenses as well as Canon 24-70mm and Canon 70-200mm zoom lenses. The effects are amazing. By combining the use of such a competent camera, twinned with Canon prime lenses, the style of imagery created is simply stunning. The subtleties, the use of depth of field, the clarity and colour help make this episode a visual treat.

The outcome was as engaging as any other House episode. I don’t think this will be last time we’ll see a Canon DSLR camera being used in the same way for TV film production or for movies. You may even see a film from me in the future – if I ever find the time!

Article written by Paul Mabin

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The recently launched Apple iPad may not instantly deliver the commercial impact of the iPhone, but it represents another important step towards the inevitable convergence of the personal computer and the publishing industry. Whether we like it or not, the way we design is going to change forever.

Before long, graphic designers (and photographers) will have to start working in a different way. Using devices such as the Apple iPad, the consumer will be able to access all kinds of ‘publication’ electronically – which will undoubtedly feature both still images and, increasingly, video content and animation. Not only is video more engaging, it is also easier and faster to consume – an important factor in today’s ever-busier society. Like it or not, most of us that don’t currently ‘do’ moving pictures are soon going to have to learn. (There are already professional cameras on the market, such as the Canon 7D, which can capture both stills and full HD video. This is no accident.)

Currently, many agencies deal with, say, press advertising entirely separately from digital, television and video; indeed clients often use a different agency for one than they do for another; but increasingly there’s a call for integrated campaigns and for agencies that can deliver value across multiple channels. Promotions are becoming multi-dimensional, which adds complexity (and an interesting challenge) for the agencies that dream them up. Ultimately the agencies that will gain an advantage are those that can become truly media agnostic – those that can combine static content with rich media and whose ideas can work across all types of platform.

It’s up to the design and photographic industries to embrace new technology and to guide their clients on this fascinating journey we’re all taking. Sure, this will mean investment and upskilling for many of us, but the benefit will be the ability to offer a more holistic approach to corporate communications and, with it, client retention and loyalty (not to mention how interesting all of our jobs will become!).

The iPad is another signal that the publishing and design industries are in the middle of a revolution.  We wait with bated breath to see where it will lead!

[Opinion: Paul Mabin - Creative Director]

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There are many ?Web Design Myths?, usability and design constraints that clients request having once heard that this is best practice. Most of these have come from the good old days of web design or even from constraints imposed on printed media. It is very often the job of a web designer to gently dispel these myths and dissuade clients from forcing them upon their site designs.

One such myth is the myth of the page fold, the point at which a user needs to scroll down to access content on your site. It was said that users would not scroll the page down meaning all content on your homepage should sit above this virtual line. The term originates from newspapers where the attention grabbing headlines would appear ?above the fold? so as to be seen on the newsstands.


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“Everybody who knows what they’re doing in web development and web design is now pretty much on board [the web standards] train even though not everyone [...] shares exactly the same understanding.” Jeffrey Zeldman.

Anyone thinking of going into web design or development should watch this video of Jeffrey Zeldman, one of the people credited with founding web standards. Click here.

(Si – NOW I understand why you keep banging on about AA this and AA that! Jim)

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Before Christmas, I decided to share my slightly perverse reason for buying PG Tips (the bags throw better – click here if you’re curious).

And then something very interesting happened…

I received a parcel, which I assumed would be a chocolate ‘thank you’ from a grateful supplier or a Christmas gift from a hopeful prospector.

But it wasn’t. It was a box of tea bags….

Look at that lovely kitchen furniture


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OK, well this might be a bit of a techie rant against the Microsoft machine and its shoddy, market dominating browser, Internet Explorer, but firstly its a valid one and secondly its more about recognising the huge achievements of a lesser known browser, Opera. There are a myriad of different browsers and different browser versions being used all with different capabilities and different ways of displaying the same website content, this makes our jobs as web content creators very tricky.


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As you can imagine, an agency such as ours generates huge amounts of data which is stored on a central fileserver. Documents, artwork, images? all of these files are vital to our business and to our clients. But could we afford to lose any of this data?

Simply put, no. Hard disk failure, fire or theft could wipe out many irreplaceable files as well as requiring many hours of studio time to re-create lost artwork.

Our first line of defence in this respect is that our fileserver uses a RAID system to protect against hard disk failure. This uses an array of separate disks where the data is spread across all disks in such a way that, should one fail, a new one can be installed without loss of data. Click here to read the full article >>

(Opinion by: John Dawkins ? IT Manager)

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