OKN Yahoo Pipes presentation

At the last Open Knowledge Network event on Friday 30th Jan 2009, I (Mark McAulay) gave a brief presentation on Yahoo Pipes. I promised to post the presentation for reference so here it is.

Introduction to Yahoo Pipes

What is/are Yahoo Pipes?

According to the Yahoo website, “Pipes is a powerful composition tool to aggregate, manipulate, and mashup content from around the web.”

Launched in Febuary of 2007, there was a good bit of initial excitement that surrounded the launch, and although it’s grown quite a bit in terms of functionality, for one reason or another it’s pretty much remained a “i must get round to having a look at that” item for most web people which I think is a real shame. Hopefully, for some of you, this talk will give you that “must get round to” moment and furnish you with a basic overview of what it’s all about.

If I were to tell you that you could generate dynamic content including, text, images, video and audio on-the-fly without having to do any real programming, would that interest you?

If you want to aggregate content from various sources and use that content for another purpose then pipes is well worth a look. Another way to think about this was brought up on readwriteweb.com where it was concluded that with pipes, “the web essentially becomes a giant database that can be queried and remixed in any number of ways”.

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2 comments February 2nd, 2009

Redirect your old files with a 301

Problem

Assuming there is a change in structure/page names etc, an often overlooked aspect of re-developing an existing website is to add proper redirects to let users and search engines know where to find the new versions of already bookmarked/indexed pages. The chances are that when the old site has been upgraded, the content on those pages becomes out of date and incorrect fairly quickly, the old pages may also have been completely deleted or in the case of switching to a new hosting setup, have never existed. This means that the next time your users click on that bookmarked link, or when the search engines return to crawl your site again, the pages either return out of date information or even worse, inform both your users and the search engines that they don’t exist. Needless to say, this is not the result you are looking for from your new and lovingly crafted website.

Solution

Making sure your users and the search engines remain happy when they request one of your pages is actually very simple, all you need is a list of your old pages, a list of your new locations, a text editor and FTP access to your hosting. The solution is to use a “301 redirect”, this is an Apache specific method and wont work under IIS. (If you are running an IIS server, see the link at the bottom of this post for further details)

Examples

Here are the steps to take at the most basic level:

Create a new text (.txt) document and save it as .htaccess

To redirect a single file (or list of single files):

Redirect 301 /old-file.html http://www.shiny-new-website.com/new-file.html

To redirect all of the old pages to your new website:

RedirectMatch 301 (.*) http://www.shiny-new-website.com/

Upload the .htaccess to your website’s root folder (where you’re index page is) and check that when requesting the old URL’s, you are redirected to the new URL’s

Links

Apache  - Apache mod_alias documentation

Using IIS? - IIS 6.0 Server Administration Guide

Add comment January 20th, 2009

Geoff Runcie website launches

geoff-runcie

www.geoffruncie.com has just been launched by East Coast Interactive.

Constructed with XHTML/CSS on the front end, this new website for successful businessman Geoff Runcie also enjoys a robust content management system allowing Geoff to keep all data relating to his career and achievements up to date with minimal fuss. An online email, calendar and document management solution was implemented meaning that Geoff now has his full portfolio of data and document assets with him wherever an internet connection is available.

This website serves as an online Curriculum Vitae and was complimented with a 4 page printed prospectus and matching business cards.

http://www.geoffruncie.com

Add comment January 19th, 2009

Super Sledge Challenge is a hit!

super sledge challenge screen shot

With visitors from more than 30 countries, over 70,000 plays to date, and front page “feature” exposure on some of the biggest online Flash game websites around, the East Coast Interactive sledging game has proven to be a bit of a hit over the 2008 festive period.

Overview

Super Sledge Challenge started life as an idea near the end of November 2008 as a virtual Christmas card for East Coast Interactive to send to their clients. The idea was both simple and seasonal – To sledge down a hill as quickly as possible while dodging trees and the edges of the course while picking up presents for time bonuses. Like a lot of ideas ECI have, it quickly grew wings. While the primary function of being an interactive e-card remained very much intact, it also developed into a fully fledged online flash game with a high score table. To “go that extra mile” the ability to customize the game to add a personalised festive message was added along with a “send to a friend” feature.

Created to run on the Flash platform, the online game development technology of choice at East Coast Interactive, a number of technical options were investigated and implemented to add that extra level of playability, with a 3D library being used to give a more realistic feeling of space and motion and custom sound effects recorded to add to the atmosphere.

Exposure

After wishing our clients a Merry Christmas, we released Super Sledge Challenge as a publically available Flash online game. The Community Manager for 4mations (Channel 4, Aardman Animations and Lupus Films) was seeking out festive themed games for the 4mations website and featured it on their front  page. The next port of call was newgrounds (”the original – and still the largest – Flash portal on the web”) who accepted Super Sledge Challenge to run on their site and finally the game was submitted to Kongregate. From here the game went viral, being picked up by other gaming websites and being mentioned on the pages of Digg, the feed of Twitter and even from word of mouth, the play count has continued to rise hourly.

Building an interactive online christmas card is pretty much a given for any digital media agency these days, what East Coast Interactive set out to achieve initially was no different from any other company at that particular time of year. What ECI have shown is that with a bit of extra drive, innovation and effort, it is not only achievable to get your work in front of some of the biggest names in the industry but also to get it out to a large and varied audience globally.

Super Sledge Challenge was launched mid December 2008 and (at the time of writing) continues to be very well played.

http://www.supersledgechallenge.com

Add comment January 6th, 2009

Our Christmas E-card game

Super Sledge Challenge game

To celebrate the festive season this year we’ve created a fun e-card with a flash game. The only impact on trees is virtual (if your steering isn’t very good). Our Christmas game is a 3d sledging challenge where you need to get to the bottom of the slope as quickly as possible, by avoiding the trees and picking up presents for time bonuses on route.

To play the game go here: http://festive.eastcoastinteractive.co.uk/

You can also create your own free custom version too for your friends which will display your own Christmas greeting.

1 comment December 9th, 2008

How to apply for a job at East Coast Interactive

East Coast Interactive

We have received a lot of applications since we’ve been on the go and we’ve formed some opinions about what we like and don’t like over this time so have decided to post this article as a guide for all future applicants…it’s not a list of rules, it’s not a definitive list by any stretch of the imagination, it’s simply a point of reference for designers/developers who want to join our team and have done their homework a bit. The biggest mistakes we see are the following:

  1. The applicant has not researched us in depth. Specifically, who the point of contact is, who’s currently on the team and what it is we actually do (yes, really!)
  2. Bad spelling and grammar in covering letter/email/CV
  3. No online examples of work or immediately available alternatives

Now, this post doesn’t exist only to make you aware of these things…nope, we’re cooler than that. This post is here to give you a little push in the right direction. We’re not horrible people, if you’re determined to work for us, we have no problem advising you on how best to make an impression.

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Add comment November 13th, 2008

First Photographics site upgrade

First Photographics

www.firstphotographics.co.uk has been upgraded to include a range of new features and e-commerce facilities.

Customers can now easily preview and purchase their images of private portraits, events and property photographs online. The site also allows customers to upload their own photos and select from a range of restoration, re-touching and stylising options to produce prints and wall art.

The bespoke shopping cart system and administrative back end was developed using PHP and MySQL. JQuery, Lightbox and Flash have been used throughout the site to add extra flare to the presentation of images.

www.firstphotographics.co.uk

October 29th, 2008

Snafu launched

Club Snafu
While the busy folks at Snafu closed their doors for a shiny new re-fit, we got to work on building their new website. We worked closely with them to finalise all design/development decisions before taking their gorgeous artwork, writing a lot of XHTML/CSS and wiring the lot together into a fully content managed website which doesn’t look too shabby either!

To compliment the new site, a new flash based magazine reader was lovingly assembled and rolled out in tandem with the new site.

A new look venue, new look website and new look magazine viewer…those Snafu folks don’t mess about.

www.clubsnafu.com

www.snafumagazine.com

Add comment September 29th, 2008

jQuery news

We love jQuery at East Coast Interactive, simple as that really.

We use it whenever we need a bit of magic to extend websites for our clients and because of the success we’ve had with it, we look to use it to compliment all of the backend and frontend technologies we work with. First up for the treatment were our php projects, we built our applications as normal and quickly started adding bells and whistles with jQuery…it just seemed so intuitive to work with. Next up we took a look at our ColdFusion projects and although ColdFusion comes with masses of built in JS/AJAX goodness, the code it generates seemed a bit overboard for our liking…jQuery to the rescue again, nice and easy and super lightweight. So that left one area we work with short of some jQuery lovin’…the .NET side of things.

Last night an announcement popped up on the twitter radar that both Microsoft and Nokia were now using jQuery…interested, I went on to read this announcement from the jQuery blog and discovered that not only were Microsoft using jQuery, they were REALLY using jQuery and will be “looking to make jQuery part of their official development platform” and “This means that jQuery will be distributed with Visual Studio (which will include jQuery intellisense, snippets, examples, and documentation)”…fantastic! Graeme should be pleased and it means that we can use a consistant JS library accross all our development…the fact that the library is our favourite one only makes this announcement all the sweeter for us.

Add comment September 29th, 2008

Mansell Homes website launched

Mansell Homes
www.mansellhomes.co.uk went live this morning. Constructed with ColdFusion/Flash/XHTML/CSS and jQuery, this content managed site gives Mansell the ability to edit the site content they need to in house, where as before they were reliant on a 3rd party to implement updates and adding new content. The ColdFusion backend was built bespoke for the task in hand, for maximum ease of use without any unnecessary bloat.

www.mansellhomes.co.uk

Add comment August 21st, 2008

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