Brighton SEO – keeping me up-to-date

brighton seoI’ve just got back from another interesting Brighton SEO conference. I started going to these twice yearly (April and September) events a few years ago when there were only a couple of hundred people attending. At today’s event there were about 3,500 attendees, 9 different streams and over 90 speakers all packed into the Brighton Centre. It’s a great way to find out the latest thinking in the digital marketing world and chat to practitioners from across the industry. I usually bump into current and former students and today was no exception. In terms of content, the conference has moved on from focusing on what marketers need to do to rank more highly in search results to include social media marketing, pay per click (PPC), AI and machine learning marketing applications, ecommerce and regulatory matters. I always recommend my students attend the event as tickets are free if you are quick off the mark (the free tickets normally all go in a few minutes!).

I could only stay until the lunch break but I’ve come away with some exciting ideas for updating my undergraduate and postgraduate digital marketing modules at the University of Brighton for the 2017/18 academic year. These include:

  • running workshops on implementing structured data to improve search rankings and results listings;
  • running some in-class demos of voice search using the Amazon Echo and Google Home devices and exploring what the implications of voice search are for marketers;
  • helping students understand the importance of the Google Knowledge Graph and what it means for search, particularly voice search;
  • running some demonstrations of the application of AI to search using services such as Pinterest’s “Shop the Look” and “Lens” and Google’s Translate service for images;
  • helping students understand the range of data sources which marketers can use to improve the application of analytics to market research and targeting. I think there will be some overlap here with my interest in the Internet of Things (IoT).

So, plenty of ideas to keep me busy over the next few months.

Success for MSc student

This post is from James Dunn who has just graduated from our MSc in User Experience Design. 

James Dunn

James Dunn, MSc User Experience Design

Shortly after completing my MSc in User Experience Design I was invited to submit my Major project for the Brighton University Environmental Award, for which I was delighted to receive a ‘highly commended’ recognition.

My project involved the creation of a prototype smartphone App called “Driven”.

It is designed to provide motorists with real-time vehicle telemetry geared around a variety of driving styles, including economic/sustainable motoring. Additionally, it automatically logs journeys, allowing users to build up a picture of their motoring habits over time.

It works by using a small hardware component connected to the car’s diagnostic port to read data from the vehicles systems, and transmit it to a smartphone. The App interprets this data and is presents it to the user via an appropriate interface, the design of which was the focus of the project.

The resulting information can be used to make informed decisions about driving styles, leading to more economical and sustainable behaviour. The project was conceived due to a lack of suitable existing products in the marketplace that offered comparable functionality. It feeds on the desires of users for increased information and data about the way they live their lives, extending from the number of paces they take each day, to the number of miles driven.

Motoring has for a long time been high on the agenda in sustainability conversations, with legislation being passed to encourage new vehicles to reduce their environmental impact. While it can’t force drivers to change their habits, it does provide factual data that can be acted on to reduce carbon emissions and encourage sustainable motoring.

The project was a lot of fun to work on, and concluded an excellent year at the University. Since graduation I have been working as a UX (user experience) Consultant, introducing a user-orientated design process to a software development company based in London.

You can follow me on Twitter @jdworksUX

Moodboard

Moodboard: developing the branding/look and feel for the App

User stories

User stories: capturing reqirements during a user workshop

 

testing

Testing: Usability testing of the prototype App

A Project in the Life of a Visual Journalism Trainee

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A few months ago, I completed my first big project for the Visual Journalism team at BBC News. I worked alongside another developer to create the ‘Which World Leader are You?’ piece.

I was brought into the project as it looked like one which I could learn a lot from it, buddy up with an experienced developer and, given the scale of the project, it would probably benefit from an extra set of hands.

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Computing revolution

Dr Martin De Saulles, Principal Lecturer on our computing courses, has published a book on a rapidly developing area of the computing and communications sectors which “has the potential to change how we live and work”.

The Internet of Things and Business (IoT), published by Routledge, “represents the next evolution of the computing revolution and will see the embedding of information and communication technologies within machines at home and in the workplace and across a broad range of industrial processes. The effect will be a radical restructuring of industries and business models driven by massive flows of data providing new insights into how the man-made and natural worlds work.”

Dr De Saulles explores the business models emerging from the IoT and considers the challenges as well as the opportunities they pose to businesses around the world.
He said: “Via real examples and a range of international case studies, the reader will develop an understanding of how this technology revolution will impact on the business world as well as on broader society.”

Find out more about Dr De Saulles book here.

 

First week on BBC Placement

A week or so ago, I started my placement year. I got a great position as a Trainee Web Developer on the BBC News Website, based in Broadcasting House, London.

I’m shattered to be honest. But already I’m having a great time, learning loads and actually feeling like part of the team.

I’ve ended up in the Visual Journalism Team (Yay!) which mostly creates bespoke interactive content for news articles. Things such as the Olympic Face Wall and Will a robot take your job?. This is probably the team I was hoping to get the most (well, tied with Politics) and I genuinely think it’ll teach me the most too, in regards to front-end web development.

I’m not sure how much detail I can give about what I’ve been working on but I’ve already got the basics of my first project done (and that was only my second day!). It’s a little something for the US election, I’ll share it and describe it properly when it’s published.

Since then, I’ve been mostly finding and solving problems with another project which is due to be released into the big wide world next week. Again, I’ll try and share it and give a little more details when it’s ready.

I’ve spent a lot of the time getting used to using the Mac Terminal and Git, as well as the way the team approaches and builds content. It’s very different to anything I’ve worked with before, mostly due to it being such a big organisation who put an emphasis on automating as much of the development process as possible – so we can spend more time creating and developing awesome content.

The team are lovely and haven’t hesitated to include me and make me feel welcome. They’re happy to answer any of my questions (no matter how silly) and we all go to lunch together everyday. This in itself has been why I’ve settled so quickly and enjoyed my first week so much.

Weirdly, although this has been a major week for me, there doesn’t seem to be much for me to say… I’ll try and blog regularly with any exciting updates!

ElectroMagnetic Fields (EMF) our third and final day

After a suprisingly good sleep I got up and again left the others to get themselves together whilst I started the day

VR workshop – I was super excited to get involved in this workshop. Armed with my laptop, Google Cardboard and smartphone I managed to create a very basic world in virtual reality just using HTML and Aframe.JS. This was so satisfying and defintely something I want to continue playing with! Massive thanks to Michael Straeubig for the workshop!
Realtime Web – I’m going to be honest, this workshop went a little over my head (and from the chatter I wasn’t the only one). It didn’t seem to lend itself to a workshop so well as only a few people could code at once but they did create some pretty cool stuff which affected each of our computer screens at once – such as changing the colour of a browser when a button was pressed to a colour we’d individually selected earlier.
A talk on how data is used in and from schools – This one was kind of scary in some ways. Schools are now being told to provide the government with country of birth details from students – this can’t be good. In light of the uncertainty from Brexit it might scare parents off sending their children to school in case it leads to deportation or something. Also the government have a database of details of every under 35 year old in the UK – acadmeic things from when we were at school and such like. All this can be passed on to compaines too…. Concerning eh? Find out more
Meditation for Hackers – I ended the festival with 2 hours of being taught meditation techniques. Nice. My favourite was to focus on all the sounds around you, try to focus on one particular one, then try to focus on two, then three. It’s hard and it doesn’t matter if you stop at 1 or 2 sounds, but it definitely shuts my brain up!

Unfortunately EMF Camp is only bi-annual. The next one isn’t until 2018 – booo! But for now we can satisfy that itch by watching the talks from this year here. And you can also find what I got up to on days one and two of this years event.

ElectroMagnetic Fields (EMF) Day 2

The next morning I got up bright and early (after a terrible and freezing night’s sleep) and left the others still getting themselves together to go off to a couple more talks.

Radios – A talk by amateur radio operators about how they’re involved in emergencies when the internet fails.
Socio-technical evolution – Igor Nikolic looked at Darwinism and how it is relevant to evolution today – including the use of technology by individuals and societies.
Building an open source political platform – This was a brilliant workshop. Open source politics is a system which everyone can be involved in. This version uses a Github repository and direct democracy. Anyone can submit policy ideas and then they’re voted on by other contributors. Through this repo, a politcal party was formed by James Smith (called Something New) and even had a couple of candidates stand for election in 2015 on the manifesto of the people. We got involved and added our own policy ideas too.
Badge Hack – As part of the ticket, each participant of EMFCamp was given an electornic badge. These came fully kitted out with LED screens, connected to WIFI, had snake inbuilt and even had their own phone numbers for SMS. They were incredible. In this workshop we were shown how to add an LED light to the badge and write a little python script to make a torch app on our badges. This was my first time writing python and my first time soldering something! No injuries – whoop!
Hebocon – We all know and love robot wars, awesome robots fighting to the death with cool weapons and tactics etc. Hebocon? Not so much tech and wonder, much more hilarity. A hebocon is a robot wars between crap robots. There were some fantastically shit robots submitted and 32 fought it out (or tried not to fall of the table and actually make contact with each other). One robot, for example, consisted of a Pikachu stuffed toy mounted on an egg timer. Another, was a fan from a laptop. Yet another was a wind-up penguin shieled inside a plastic cup (that one came second!). It was fantastically funny and I’m defitnely going to be on the look out for more to watch in the future.

After that I got some food and chilled out with people for a bit. We wandered around, meeting new people and taking cool light photos.

You can also read about day one and three.

Electromagnetic Field 2016 – a festival for teckies!

I was lucky enough to get myself a free ticket to this year’s ElectroMagnetic Fields Camp through a competition I found out about from Codebar Brighton. All I had to do was send them an email about why I felt under-represented in tech and then Yelp Engineering provided 4 of us with free tickets. Yay!

ElectroMagnetic Fields (EMF) is a non-profit festival run almost entirely by volunteers, and it is an incredible festival at that. I was pretty overexcited when I got a ticket and went through the line up of talks and workshops trying to prioritise what I should go to.

Here’s what we got up to on Day 1.

I was the first of our Codebar group to get there, set up camp in the middle of the festival and immediately started getting stuck in. The first day consisted of:
A mental health workshop – this was run by Andrew Gordon and took a look at mental health in a similar way to how I had done in education, there was a lot of discussion and studying of a real life case study before and twist in the narrative. A very engaging and thinky talk, if you have a chance to go to any of his stuff in the future, I would really recommend it.
3D printed sculptures of 4D things – Brain twisting and confusing, mathematically 4D shapes can’t exist but in the world of this talk they could and this was proved by 3D printing their shadows (No, I don’t really understand either). Fascinating but brain hurty. Talk by Henry Segerman
An Introduction to Mixology – Yum! Thanks to Ryan Alexander, I learnt how to make my first Old Fashioned (and yes, the bourbon was provided!). Tasting along every step really showed how each ingredient affects the flavour – an interesting, funny and rather scrummy hour!
A talk on Sex Robots – Yes, sex robots have been invented. What would you want yours to look like? a humanoid or something far from human? What will happen to the data stored in that? What if your sex-robot rejects you for the toaster? And other bonkers questions take seriously in that line of research from Kate Devlin. You can read her article on why we should be researching sex robots, not banning them, here.
Swing Dancing for Engineers – Hot, sweaty and good fun! It was packed out and there was hardly enough room to move let alon dance, but we managed it with a lot of laughs and tech jokes along the way.
After the talks it was time for a wander round the site looking at cool installations and meeting nice new people. Firepong, musical fire, LED garden, giant guitar hero with massive LED lights. Yes, basically lot’s of music, fire and colourful lights.

Check out what happened on days two and three.

Unfortunately EMF Camp is only bi-annual. The next one isn’t until 2018 – booo! But for now we can satisfy that itch by watching the talks from this year here.

3D Animation and Modelling

So, the academic year is over and my class and I are on to either placement years or 3rd year come October. For now, it’s that dreaded time where results are coming through and there’s a lot of mixed feelings going around. Personally, I think I did okay – not necessarily as good as I would have liked but I’m still fairly happy with what I achieved.

It seems like now is a good time to reflect on what we have all achieved this year and I think one example of a very successful module for the second years of Computer Science Games, Digital Media and Digital Media Development was 3D Modelling and Animation, taught by Andrew Blake.

Below is a little compilation of some of the animations that were created for this module.

The video features work from Jaime Dare, Amy Duong, Anna Wilde, Shane Smith and myself.
Other students work was also great and I would love to have included it in this little compilation.

 

Student Employee of the Year

I work in a small team of students called the Student Learning Technology Ambassadors. We work alongside the Learning Technology Ambassadors supporting staff and students with technical aspects of projects. These range from supporting lecturers using new programs in their classes, such as Nearpod or supporting students using applications for their coursework, such as studentfolio.

It started as an experiment to hire a team of students to provide this service which seems to have been deemed successful. So much so, that next year they are not only continuing the project but expanding it across all campuses – yay!

Our lovely manager Katie decided to honour our hard work by nominating our little team for the ‘Student Employee of the Year‘ award. I’m proud to announce that we achieved ‘Highly Commended’ in this category!

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