Wednesday, 30 October 2013

October scare stories

Eeeek! An Exhibition!

Our client CIPR will be hosting the first dedicated PR show, aptly named PR Show 13 on the 26th of November, and not only did we brand the event and much of the collateral; our good selves will be exhibiting! It's free to register so there are no excuses and throughout the day there are also education streams, workshops, advice hubs and even more. So why not drop by and say hello!

Wicked Wordpress

WordPress, one of the world's most popular website Content Management Systems (CMS) celebrated it's 10th birthday earlier this year. It's rapidly maturing into one of the most flexible and easy to use platforms to build anything from a simple blog to a fully functioning, content heavy website. To date there are over 72 million Wordpress based websites (about 19% of the web) and this isn't slowing down at all.

It's just been updated to version 3.7, bringing with it a few nice new features. Of particular note is the new background update process. Wordpress can now handle automated maintenance and security updates - to keep sites automatically updated to the latest version of the software. Security has been further enhanced with various additional checks – including much improved password recommendations – and the system also supports better localisation for languages other than English. Version 3.6 (which brought with it enhanced media management and a built-in HTML video player) was only released a few months ago, so at this pace we expect the next version to be out by the end of the year.

If you'd like to see some of the rather cool sites we've created using the Wordpress platform, just head on over to our new digital site at:

» read more (TNW)

Grand Guignol Google

Fresh on the heels of Google Reader’s demise, iGoogle – Google’s browser dashboard is about to close down. If you’re still using the service, it will go the way of everyone’s favourite Monty Python parrot on November 1st.

First introduced back in 2005, iGoogle has been my de-facto homepage for well over 5 years, so I’ll really miss it when it’s gone. This is all part of Google’s so called ‘spring clean’ – and is just one of many smaller projects and services they’re shutting down (here’s a few more) – apparently in order to have greater focus on the things they want to concentrate on.

For those who’ve never used iGoogle and are wondering what the heck I’m talking about – it’s essentially a tool for creating an ‘at a glance’ homepage based around your own interests and needs. So, for instance, it may show you: the latest news or sports results, the weather in your area, your twitter/facebook feeds, your ‘to do’ lists, useful notes or reminders, your email inbox and your online calendar – all on one page and accessible anywhere on any computer once you’ve logged in. You can easily change the layout and add new content whenever you want.

So, if you’ve never tried a dashboard homepage and fancy giving one a go, or if you’re looking around for an iGoogle replacement, here are my top 3 suggestions:

» iGHome

» iGooglePortal

» NetVibes

Whispering wallets

This nifty little creation brings your wallet to life, yes you heard right! The living wallet is paired with an app which monitors your spending habits and hopes to help the user save money. The wallet starts off by running away from you, moving on to crying for help when it's captured and as a last resort it'll send a text to your parents! It's a little spooky, but of course we're so in control of our money, it's wasted on us....(it's pay day soon right?)

Little Print Shop Of Horrors

Now, I know we shouldn't promote the work of a "rival" design agency, but this is all for a good cause! Manchester based Creative Spark have opened their Little Print Shop Of Horrors again this halloween. They are selling limited edition prints inspired by famous horror films, and to top it off, all proceeds go to charity.

Terrifying Tesco

Another month, another Apple product release - this time they've graced us with updates to their iPad range, a new iPad Air (the bigger one) and iPad mini (the smaller one) - both sharing the new iOS7 look and rather spiffy 64bit A7 processor. The iPad mini has had probably the bigger of the two upgrades, not only significantly faster than its predecessor but now sporting a full 'retina' screen too. But with Google, Amazon, and even Argos getting in on the small tablet act - is this the best one to go for?

In short, yes it is, but with a proviso. It's probably the best tablet around right now on everything apart from the price. And at £319 for the base model it's certainly not cheap. For those wanting a email/facebook/iPlayer tablet that will handle most casual demands but won't burn a hole in the bank balance, it's worth checking out the new 7" 'Hudl' tablet from Tesco.

A brand hardly known for its cutting edge hardware, Tesco have just launched a rather nice new entry to the mini tablet market - and whilst it's not the thinnest, fastest or highest resolution tablet around, it probably offers the best value (every little helps right?). At just £119 it's a very decent bit of kit that compares favourably with anything else on the market. Perfect for those who find themselves wanting to try out a portable tablet but put off by the price of an iPad. If you're willing to go up a bit on cost to £189, then the Nexus 7 (2013) is almost on par with the iPad mini - but the iPad still holds the crown as king of the hill simply due to the tablet app support.

» Hudl review

...and while everyone else is trying to corner the 'mini' tablet market, Microsoft... well, they seem to have got their measurements a bit mixed up!

Scary skipping

Business In The Community (BITC) have recently launched a campaign highlighting the difficulties that ex-offenders face in the job market, with their goal being to have the previous convictions tick box removed from applications form. The ad features a clever use of the Skip Ad button to highlight how potential employers will skip over an applicant with a previous conviction, often without a second thought. It's a touching ad, and a very clever use of technology.

Read more (Creative Review) 

And finally...

It's Halloween again, and we had to end with some sort of spooky themed story. Although we tend to associate the carved, candle-lit pumpkins with a more 'American' version of Halloween, it's actually a tradition thought to have started in Ireland during the 19th Century (although using turnpis rather than pumpkins).

Of course, even if they didn't invent the tradition, American's always have to do things bigger and better and this years 'Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze' - a 25 night event held in New York is no exception. Still, they've really outdone themselves this year creating all manner of glowing pumpkin statues - from dinosaurs to sea monsters - see them here.

And if you're like us and feel your pumpkin carving skills could do with a bit of polishing you'll be happy to know that the Telegraph have put together a video to help you do just that!

In fact, if you've got a halloween creation you'd like to share with us – do send us photos of your pumpkins and we'll put them up here on our blog! We may even send you some treats for the effort! No tricks....

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