We are in!

Over the weekend we have been busy moving furniture out of the house into the new office at Ferneberga House in Farnborough. It was hard work and we had to rent a van to move it all, furniture, computer kit, files, accounts, a load of books and other things.

Shall step into the office tomorrow morning and get cracking on the weeks work. August is set to be a busy month with client work and some other projects I’ve been meaning to get going for some time.

I shall take pictures of the office soon and share them here on this site. Not to mention that some updates are long overdue here regarding the services we offer.

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Trading Places

It occurred to me the other day that as a developer who is entering the realms of more and more front end work, you have to become a little more – Designer. Then on the other hand more and more designers are learning how to code, as their role shifts more from the realms of Photoshop to frameworks like Bootstrap and Material Design. This got me thinking whether this is a good thing or a bad thing? I guess it depends on which side of the fence you sit.

Some people would shoot me down in flames for even entertaining the fact that everyone can now just design using Bootstrap! I can only imagine the discomfort this causes for the pure creative, the person who conceives ideas from the depths of their own imagination. Indeed there is no substitute for creative genius. We would be nowhere if it weren’t for those talented individuals.

(I mustn’t offend any of them! They matter to me as a developer when it comes to clients who want something “designed”).

I think that all of this grid stuff has stemmed from one place and it isn’t the Web. The place I am looking towards is the mobile world and the need for UI, interface design that follows a prescribed, uniform format. This has become more pronounced as the two worlds converge. Responsive websites have a lot to answer for this, they must kind of look the same-ish, otherwise the “end-user” will become lost and confused. Though of course that last statement isn’t entirely true, you can splash your own dash of veneer on top to make it look unique and that is great of course.

So returning to my question of “Good or Bad” – I am undecided. On the one hand I like it, because it means that I can pretend to be a designer (which I am not by trade, studied Software Engineering not Graphic Design) and build UIs for the web that look good. It is more like using Lego to build your house, you have a set of red bricks, some blue and one really odd green one (huh?). You chuck it together and shift things around until you go, “ah ha!”. The end client is pleased with their Lego house and it took just one day to build it. This is all nonsense of course, as James May proved on “Toy Stories” that it doesn’t really work.

I think time and budget are the thing here. That is why the answer to that question is a tentative “Yes”. It works for us and will the detractors have to get on with it and learn to love it? Who knows? The business is changing and there has never been a more exciting time, we have a great opportunity here to build wonders…

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Gone Freelancing!

I have been contracting for a long time now and every now and again I spend some time out in the freelance world. I have established enough contacts over the years that I am giving it another shot. Luckily I picked up a project straight after I left GiveSmart. I quite literally took a week off and that was it! Straight back to work again and it looks like I am going to be booked for awhile with a number of things. Contracting is always there of course, if my source of clients goes dry on me.

The other slight change of tack is that I am developing my current project in Laravel 5.1, going back to my PHP routes but Angular, don’t you worry, I will be looking to use that in conjunction with a PHP back-end again in the future.

Other big news is that Nick Lewis Ltd, which has always been run by my Wife and I, is moving out of the house into a rented office in Farnborough, and I am looking forward to cycling to work each day and being healthier :-)

Hopefully I will have time to make some more updates to this site, telling you more about what I do, what my services now and in the future are or will be.

Right now I will be interested to hear from any people with collaboration opportunities, though I am currently booked on one project of this kind. Any old clients of mine, who need a remote freelancer to work on stuff, I would love to hear from you likewise.

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CSS: E-Ticket with QR code

See the Pen xGPRzQ by Nick Lewis (@nickeblewis) on CodePen.

I have been using CodePen a lot for sketching out a web version of a designer’s idea. This is actually something I have been working on recently for my current contract role. I was later able to copy and paste this code to the relevant files in the actual app and it “just worked”, so was very pleased with that.

The QR code shown is pulled from an external source on-line but it could just as easily be pulled in from your own database.

In this very dynamic industry you have to keep up with techniques – So I am focussing on SASS at the moment.

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RHS Malvern: The Gift of Life

I took a lot of photos at last week’s Malvern show and we really liked the show gardens a lot, there were some incredible ideas there and a lot of design talent was evident. However my favourite was the garden called “The Gift of Life” which was sponsored by organdonation.nhs.uk, a subject very close to my heart, having gone through receiving a kidney transplant myself in 2008. I got talking to the people who were involved in it’s conception and they said that they had met a dozen transplant recipients over the course of the weekend. How funny is that?

It was after my transplant several years ago that I became interested in gardening, which at the time seemed strange, as I had never really been that interested. I have always liked gardens of course but having had to change many things about my lifestyle (quitting smoking for one), getting outdoors, doing some digging and just getting down to it has acted as the best gym anyone can ask for. I must get out there more and we have been planting some new things recently.

I think “The Gift of Life” was fantastic, I loved the little details such as the question etched into the corner of the pathway (see my photos), it asked the simple yet tricky question, “Can we?” – well maybe you should 😉

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Astounding bluebells

We had never seen a display of bluebells as beautiful as this, we were mesmerised by what we stumbled upon and all as a result of not really having a plan on where we were driving other than to explore the Malvern Hills.

We took a left just before reaching the car park for British Camp, an Iron Age fort (later Roman) in the Malverns. I could see that there were some wonderful landscapes down that way and we had some time to spare. It wasn’t long before we saw this spectacle, millions (probably no exaggeration) of bluebells, a carpet of violet-blue blotted across the hillside slope. We parked up in what looked roughly like a lay-by and I naturally reached for my camera.

We thought we had it to ourselves but not for long, as car after car turned up, people with their cameras were also feasting their lenses on nature’s carpet. What a sight? Never seen anything as impressive as this.

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Meet Lily your new personal flying robot camera

Source: Home page – Lily

You have got to check this out! I have recently become hooked on flying cameras aka “Drones” and here is a novel new one. Now the interesting thing is that it doesn’t have a controller, so may not appeal to drone pilots all that much but it is totally autonomous. It can follow you, it can fly around you and I also like the idea that you can record sound from the little transmitter unit that fits in your pocket.

Will I get one? Probably not. I love my DJI kit too much and if anything, will stick with that brand in the years to come. However this is a very innovative product and that is good for this new industry sector.

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