Our other development blog at Argyll Communities

During the last 6 months, ARBU has been engaged in one of the most complex installations of WPMU we have ever had the pleasure of working on. With a standing 40 websites already in place on the original Argyll Communities website and requirements for newsletters, community toolkits, external search engines, a portal-wide announcements engine and sundry other items, we had our work cut out for us. But throughout it has been an utter pleasure — not only because the AVA team are feedback positive and precise about what they require, but because the work has involved working with many of the individual communities which run sites through the Argyll Communities site. To gather more insight on the process, and how we have developed the project since November last year, visit the Development blog, here.

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To Conquer or Die!

Such is the translation of the McDougall motto, which the new Homecoming Production, the Hidden Jewel is using as its strap-line! We have just completed phase 1 of this project (and thoroughly enjoyable it is proving to be too), and we’re now working on the reverse side of this ticket, including maps and terms and conditions, as well as an A4 poster and DL format flyers (all of which more later). In the meantime, here’s the ticket artwork — some of the text isn’t finalised, but the graphical side is ready for go.

To Conquer or Die

Bagpipes for Generation iPod

In piping circles one of the biggest challenges to travelling abroad is transporting the instrument. Unfortunately, because pipes are made of wood, hemp and other variable material, the changes in air pressure and moisture mean that on landing in distant parts the whole thing has to be re-fettled (or fettled or something …), otherwise it’ll play out of tune. Robin Beck of Cowal Bagpipes has produced a (truly beautiful) small Scottish Bagpipe which does not need to be re-fettled on arrival in said distant part. The reason? Because, like the latest MacBook Pro, the instrument is made of Aluminium, solid blocks of it. It is a truly beautiful object (more so than the Mac I’ll venture, because it is made by hand and is so shiny). Here’s a picture to prove it:

Even more gorgeous than the MacBook Pro

And why, you might ask, are we talking about bagpipes on this design site? Ah well, we have just produced the website, selling, not only the aluminium Small Scottish Bagpipe, but the innovative Beck Valve and sundry other piping accessories. Here’s the grab showing the conventional version of the pipes made of blackwood (the type that needs re-fettling):

Using the Kiwi wp-ecommerce to drive the cart

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I’m given an 96dpi photo from a digital camera. The shot is too blue (I would say under-exposed but this ain’t film), composition is good but it looks like this is a 2 megapixel piece of once-was-state-of-the-art camera and asked to produce a logo. Love not money is the motivation here as we’re under the kosh for a deadline, and the project is one that involves the Walking Theatre Company. Further wrinkles are that the logo should scale infinitely and I am running Leopard and upgraded to CS before I heard that there were issues. In other words, photoshop is out. Back to illustrator 10. Sheesh.

And what happens? A pure alchemic reaction. Something you just can’t mitigate for. I turn the uncorrected image into a vector graphic, get rid of the word wood background and find myself looking at an immediate logo. Saturate the colour a little, adjust cyan and magenta, sample the colour for the text and then place the oyster over the ‘e’ and the ‘f’. Immediate “that’s it!”. No tinkering. Up on AFC2 and I’ll send off the logo for approval after the fact tomorrow. Here it is.

Pearl of a composition eh?

Vista vs. Leopard

Yesterday while at a training day we were using card readers and USB connections to transfer around 3GB of sound (.wav) and video files (.mp4) to a couple of laptops. One was a brand-spanking new Dell (I think) with Vista Home Premium (or Premium Home Vista … or Home Vista Premium … ??) and the other was a three-and-a-half year-old PowerBook G4 running Leopard 10.5. Don’t even know what RAM or processor speeds the PC had on board, but it was quick. The G4 was 1.67 Ghz and 1GB of RAM.

The G4 outperformed the PC not by virtue of having a quicker data-transfer, nor by having a brighter screen (in fact it is a bit grubby) but because the card reader (brought by an independent third party) plugged in and transferred the 500MB in a snap, and then as the next SD card was emptied, it played the contents of the first from a double-click within finder (both .mp4s and .wavs). The Vista machine, had to install a driver, install quicktime, install iTunes and was then able to play that which it downloaded. Where were the crowds standing to watch the rushes? In front of the Mac of course!

OK so the operator of the G4 might have been me, and the computer has been configured to my specs, but I was only using finder for this (well, and quicktime to play the files). I was just struck by the hoops Vista and PC users jump through, and wonder whether this offers an insight as to why Vista is (apparently) under-performing. Certainly there was plenty of support for the new OS on new PCs because it “just worked” and was “pretty”, but for those who were using it on their old PC, and there were two of them, they found the upgrade, confusing, frustrating and above all unnecessary. “Why did I get rid of that lovely XP, it just worked?” one asked.

Having used em all, give me Leopard everytime!