Friday, 21 December 2007

Semester 1: Performance Evaluation

Now that the first semester is over, I look back upon the 3 assignments that are now completed and handed in and smile with pride. It has, by no means, been an easy ride; however, I never expected my return to education to be anything other than a challenge.

A2 – That’s the Plan!
The commencement of the first assignment saw the introduction to my first formal web plan. Whilst I have created a handful of websites in the past, the process in which I undertook during the design and creation has been completely different.

I have found it very interesting to see how we are supposed to approach design tasks such as this.

As can be expected, the referral of this assignment came as a complete shock. The marking scheme was like nothing I had ever seen before and posed quite an obstacle between a pass and me.

However, following the comprehensive feedback from Steve [the course leader], I was soon back on track. The alterations were minimal and seemingly painless; before I knew it, the resubmission was in and the other assignments were well on their way.

As ever, there is much room for improvement with the A2 resubmission; the thing to remember is that we are students and that the educational journey we are on is exactly that.

A3 – Back to Basics / A4 – Image Rights

With A2 now a distant memory, it was time to concentrate my efforts into the two active assignments, the very similar A3 and the much more creative A4. Advancements in my experience and design techniques give the dual running assignments much more of a professional feel than A2.

My creativity and ability to work under pressure has been explored in quite some depth during the last few months with timed assignments and imaginative web banners.

With every day that has passed since I started the course in September, my desire to be a designer has increased significantly. I consider myself to be a well-motivated individual who has a passion to succeed.

Whist I aim for perfection, there is still much room for improvement; in particular with my time management, or at least the planning / recording of it.

I feel that the quality of my work has and will continue to improve significantly as I progress through the course.


Short Term [Semester 2]
Improvement of my time management skills during this next semester is going to be essential. Over the Christmas period, I am going to become very familiar with the upcoming assignments, featured on the HND Interactive Media Website.

Additionally, during the upcoming semester, I am looking to ‘raise my game’ and achieve at least a merit in the next assignments.

My design and creativity skills will naturally progress over the next semester; I am willing to put in as much work as is required to further this.

Mid-Term [End of the course]
By the end of the course, I foresee myself being in a very employable position. This is based upon the position that many of the second years and previous students now find themselves.

Before the completion of the course, I predict that I will have completed some ‘outside’ work either as an individual or as part of a small team from the class.

Long-Term [Employment]
I think that everyone is of very similar disposition in that freelance / self employment is the ideal with regards employment; however, being much more realistic, I think that working for a company may be a much more practical approach as much experience is to be obtained by those who have walked the path before you.

In closing, “Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life.” – Unknown Source.

Word Count: 645

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Happy Holidays...

Following the advice of a wise man, I have altered my approach and rolls in many things since I started this course; much to my benifit.

In spite of the turbulent times I have experienced during the first few months of the course, both personally and academically, I honestly feel as though everything is beginning to make sense.

If everyone is being honest with themselves, I do not think that there is anyone who hasn't at some point questioned their position on the course; this is only furthered by the people who have left. However, four and a half months in and I really feel as though I belong.

As I reminisce about my first [and only] week off work since starting this course, I look back upon a very productive week; however, there much work to be done and every second counts.

Steve has very kindly given the class the opportunity of working from home on Monday the 17th of December [the day before the submission of A3 and A4]; an opportunity that I do not intend to miss [for clarity I will be working from home on the 17th].

During Monday [in particular the afternoon] the atmosphere in the class, for some, was surprisingly relaxed considering the impending submission[s] in a weeks time. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it shows that students have been making good use of their time planning and are either in front or on schedule.

I am now looking forward to the actual build of the A3 - Back to basics assignment in the New Year; the work that has gone into the A3 project, it would be a great shame not to see the site created and uploaded.

Quote of the week

"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance."- Derek Bok (1930-), Harvard University President

Friday, 7 December 2007

Image Restoration



Feedback please everyone... [be nice :-) ]

Thank you in advance

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

The Sky's the Limit

Hi there everyone,

This is the first of my two banners. I would like to thank everyone who has commented on the banner so far.

However, as this is an evidence based course, I would be very grateful if you could post additional feedback here.

All feedback greatly appreciated.


Once I have a good enough draft of the other banner, I will
upload that one for feedback also.


This week has been a very productive one. Aside from the many self-study hours fuelling my attempt to regain the time lost during my referral work, I feel that the ‘college time’ part of this week has gone really well.


The resubmission feedback was delivered well. It showed us how simple errors can [and do] have a very large impact on our grades. I personally know that the feedback time on Monday has already had an influence on the direction of both the A3 and A4 assignments.

The remainder of Monday was spent working on the content of A3. I feel that for this particular section of the task, it worked well that this was done in class as many of the students were sharing references; strengthening both the groups bond and giving clarity to areas of the assignment.


With the ‘heads up’ before we left on Monday night regarding coloured pencils, we knew we were in for a bit of ‘studio time’ come Tuesday morning.

Sure enough we were welcomed with an other timed challenge [bring it on :-) ]. Today’s challenge was directly related to a one of the sections in A4; the planning and production of two static banner adverts which conform to IAB [Internet Advertising Bureau] standards [26.4].

Not such a problem? We have done this kind of thing before [with the business cards]. Think again. Although this task was similar in that, we had a strict time restriction and a limited amount of canvas in which to produce our designs.

However, working on 5 different images we had to create 2 different sized [sizes were given] static banners to be used on the web. With the motivational encouragement of Steve, we managed to produce 40 rough sketched banners within a very short period. How short? At one point we had to create 4 banner ideas within 1 minute! I was amazed how much can be done in such a short period with the correct coaching.

My sketchbook is beginning to look more like how I would have imagined a designers sketchbook to look! :-)

I do feel however, that this kind of pressure based production would be somewhat difficult to reproduce at home / without the encouragement of someone else.

Although my design skills are not fantastic [and my drawing skills are even worse], I am overall very pleased with the results [see above for an example].

From looking around the class, it was apparent that the majority of the group really enjoyed the task and as a result produced some good quality work.

The support [as mentioned in previous entries] was as apparent as ever again today. Many people took full advantage of other people opinions and altered their designs accordingly.

This week is set to be my most productive yet. Motivation and self esteem is high and for the first time since I started this course I HAVE A WEEK OFF WORK!

I will [as I am sure many others will] be posting my draft banner ideas on DasForum so please please please if you are not already an active member, sign up, log on and lets get some creative feedback and support given to each other.

Great work everyone


Thank you

Shaun Bellis

Quote of the week
“Know your limits, but never accept them.” – unknown source

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Action Time

The referral work has now been resubmitted and I am feeling quietly confident this time around. The work I have done for A2 has already played a vital part in the development of the second web plan [A3].

Even though my referral work was started on the night that my official feedback was given, I still found myself coffee fuelled and still [only just] awake and working at 4:30am of the morning of re-submission [today]. This is just another late night amongst many recently.

This week has seen a very important lecture surrounding P.A.R.C. [Proximity Alignment Repetition and Contrast] possibly the most important acronym that we will encounter this year; the explanations of which are common sense when you think about it; however, sometimes it takes someone to point it out to you before you implement for the first time.

In addition to the above, we have also had our long awaited presentation feedback. I am very pleased with mine, apart from the occasional time, my stutter did not show through and my presentation [according to all the ticks on the review form] was a success.

We ended the 'in college' week with a progression of our image restoration. After realising that I had set my image to CMYK [Cyan Magenta Yellow and Black] instead of RGB [Red Green and Blue] the restoration process became much easier.

My 'self study' time this week is going to be once again very busy. Being as I am, after reading my assignments over again I feel that there is room for improvement and I fully intend to make full use of the remaining time before submission.

If I am being honest, I am really nervous about getting the result back for the A2 assignment a failure would be devastating for me at this time. Fingers Crossed

However, looking forward, I will concentrate my efforts on the assignments in hand.

We have had our first attempt at a timed project, a business card design. We had 15 minutes design times and 15 publication time; I must admit i thoroughly enjoyed the two tasks.

Although, this is more like the reality of working as a designer [tight time scales] I saw this more as a personal challenge over anything else. Even though the designs I produced still leave a lot to be desired, overall I am very happy with the results. I look forward to more tasks like this in the future.

Quote of the week

"You cannot plough a field by turning it over in your mind." - Source Unknown

Friday, 23 November 2007

Skin Deep

Hi Everyone,

As you are aware us first years are faced with the image restoration project. An obstacle we are all going to have to face is going to be the digital reference for a natural skin tone.

If anyone has any useful links, ideas and / or examples they would like to share can do so here.

Here is a useful link I have found. [I am also going to post a discussion on DasForum]

Let me know what you think...

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Practical Magic

Good Points

Once again the practical aspects of this course are beginning to shine through. With this weeks introduction to the third part of the A4 assignment, the image restoration project, my enthusiasm for the course has increased.

Although I have undergone image manipulation in the past, I have never tried to restore a photograph which has been this badly disfigured. Whilst this kind of restoration work isn't exactly ground breaking, the level of personal satisfaction so far is high.

Whilst the lectures are a necessity to our progression to the course, the practical side of things always appears to encapsulate the attention of the class on a much higher level.

Although I wasn't present for the lecture on Monday on the colour wheel, the notes which I borrowed from James Bell proved to be quite comprehensive (thanks James). The colour wheel is something that I had heard of but never really understood until now.

It is now apparent that with each week that passes that the intricacies of the course are unveiled.

I am looking forward to the next two weeks, not only because of the practical work we are currently undergoing but also because of the resubmission of A2. This might sound strange at first, however, I feel that I have a much clearer understanding of what is required to the right side of the marking scheme.

Fingers crossed :-)

Not So Good Points

The exclusion from this Mondays lecture was disappointing. Remaining ever positive, I am sure that this will be the last time that is happens; things like this are not intended as punishment, but as a wake up call.

Aside from the missed lecture, the only real 'not so good point' would have to be the late nights involved in bringing my referral work up to scratch and for the progression of the A3 and A4 assignments. I am sure that they will pay off quite shortly though and I will be back on form.


  • Maintain strong standards with regards time sheets; this includes the comments.
  • Continue with referral correction work.
  • Further progress the A3 and A4 assignments.
  • Read through this weeks lecture notes.

Quote of the week
“I said there was but one solitary thing about the past worth remembering and that was the fact that it is past - and can't be restored” (unless its a photograph!) - Mark Twain

Seminar Groups and Pre-submission dates

Ok so no one likes the pre-submission reviews often incurred during seminar groups; however, although the cause of much frustration for myself and my colleagues, I feel that they are a very necessary part of the course; particularly for my circumstances as without these pre-submission dates, I feel that for many people (myself including) the majority of the project work will be carried out in the latter weeks of the project and the quality would suffer as a result.

The toll of having now THREE assignments to complete, I feel, is now catching up on me. The referral work is taking up much more time that I had originally allowed for it. However, because I started this work early, I now have into the second week for corrections.

I can't work out yet if this is because of the referral in the first instance, (and the associated pressures and fears of failure of the first assignment spilling into the present) or the will to succeed that is driving me on? One of my largest fears is “Am I going to be good enough to make the grade for after Christmas.

Who know's... All I can say is that I do worry !!


Quote of the week…

Progress comes from the intelligent use of experience.” - Elbert Hubbard

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Compression followed by relief...

I have really enjoyed this week.

I have had the feedback for the referred submission and to be honest it wasn't as painful as I first thought. It appears that the majority of the issues were a miss understanding on my part of EXACTLY how something was to be done.

I feel really quite positive about the feedback I have received and feel that it will give me better direction for the future.

The more practical aspect to the course is beginning to come out now and I'm feeling really into it.

The lecture on image compression today made me feel right at home. File formatting, coding and optimisation are more suited to my academic background than anything we have done so far.

I know it sounds geeky but even entering the data from the image compression tests into Excel I felt right at home.

Following Monday's class, I feel that I now have a greater understanding of the time sheets. The lecture really put time planning and the time sheets in a format I clicked with. The only real challenge now will be to keep up the positive steps by ensuring that the production schedule and time sheets are adhered to.

The seminar groups have also gone well this week. Although much shorter than hour of last week (due to assignment feedback), proved very useful. The pointers for our assignments during these sessions could make all the difference.

All this with JB's 'monkey' business, this week really has been great.

This weeks targets;

  • Make headway with the referral work for personal review next week.
  • Refinements to be made to the A4, ‘Are we designers are we artists or are we both’ essay.
  • Complete Image compression essay.
  • Complete delivery requirements.
  • Complete competitive analysis – two sites.

I hope that next week will be as productive as this one.

Quote of the Week
“Knowledge becomes wisdom only after it has been put to practical use” - unknown source

Monday, 5 November 2007

Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.


This week has been, so far, an emotional rollercoaster. Over the space of two days I have experianced anxiety, relief, pressure, reassurance and consolation.

First thing (almost) on Monday morning we had a well recieved and very open discussion about the previous term. I feel as though this really cleared the air and fetched everyone closer still.


Although perhaps I didn't let it show, I was a bag of nerves all morning. Will the presentation files work? Will I remember what I want to say? Will the nerves get to me?

Thankfully, in my opinion the presentation went well and almost exactly to plan. The only real concern was the fact that I went 3 minutes over. Perhaps a result of trying too hard not to rush? I am not sure.

Following the presentation and open floor discussion, I felt that my personal confidence and self-esteem was at an all time high.

The results...

The results are in not only for our first submission but also for the 'blogtastic' student of this half term and also with regards the email responses.

Being the opinionated individual that I am, I managed to post the most comments on peoples journal's with the total weighing in at 52 (20 more than the minimum required).

In addition to this I managed to come second with the email responses. However, whilst I have done well in some areas, it is evident that I have lapsed in others.

When I heard the words, "Sorry, but you have referred", as prepared for it as I thought I was I was destroyed.

I think that my body language gave me away to the other members of the group; and I apologise to everyone for reacting in such a negative way.

The Support…

Thank you everyone for the support. As I mentioned before my body language and sudden change in attitude was evident to all.

So much so that I was asked to ‘pop next door’ for one on one support. I honestly believe that I couldn’t have gotten through yesterday with the assistance that Steve gave me. Steve was open, honest, supportive and very easy to talk to. Not only did he help me with to deal with the news I had just received but also give me advice on many other aspects of my life at the moment, which may have had a bearing on my performance.

Thank you Steve.

However, the support did not end there. Upon returning to the class I was presented with the message below as a draft on my blogger account that I had left open whist I was next door.

"I need to cheer up and smile.. I know it's a bit of a set-back, but I definitely need to look at the positives and get past; then pass on the referral time! I need to not let it get to me and effect me too much, the group hates it when I'm unhappy as I am such an integral part of the group, and looked to for advice (being the granddad of the group) as people look on me as a kind of leader.. and have the generous nature to give people help and actually care.. & the group care about me

I should :]"

This coupled with overwhelming support from the rest of the class has put me right back on track. I couldn't have done it without you all.

Seminar Groups...

Welcome Andy and Greg. We have had our first seminar discussion this afternoon and I feel that it went great.

Just as I imagined we are all getting on very well.

I really enjoyed the lectu… no… discussion this morning surrounding “Are we designers or are we artists?”

This kind of activity is definitely more like the kind of things I enjoy. Andy and I, in the absence of Gary (the art connection) Benn, were intentionally tying to be controversial in the things we were saying and challenging responses where possible to fuel the fire of discussion. This again, I feel worked well.

Although an emotional one, I really have got a lot out of this week. It has been a lot to take in all at once but even still an productive one.

Quote of the week

Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.” - Colin Powell

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Working from home

Reading week journal entry...


  • Prepare a five minute long presentation to satisfy Learning outcome 4.4 (Ideas Generation) surrounding the different cultural perceptions and interpretations of the colour 'Orange'.
  • Composition and publication of this week’s online learning journal.
  • Secure personal hosting complete with professional, suitable domain name.
  • Ensure that I have posted comments on at least 32 other peoples journal entries since the beginning of the course.
  • Read and implement the communications guidelines to be posted by Steve Smith in this journal.
  • Read and annotate the next two assignments ready for next week.

Good Things

I have really enjoyed working at home. I feel as though with a little more self-discipline, my place of residence would provide me with a very productive working environment.

Though out my research into the psychological affects and cultural perceptions of colour (not just the colour I have been assigned), it has really opened my eyes to the fact that society plays a large part in how we interpret things.

It is now my understanding that the colours companies use in their corporate identity give off similar subconscious messages to body language.

I feel that people and companies should be very aware of the colours they use.

Having already had my own hosting and domain name has slightly relieved the pressures off this week.

Bad Things

Whilst I have thoroughly enjoyed this weeks tasks, I have found that it is quite easy to become distracted at whilst working from home. I have been fortunate that for the majority of it I have had the house to myself.

In closing

I am happy that we are going to get our first presentation out of the way as I believe that we all need the practice; the first is the worst.

I am pleased with the level of productivity produced by myself when working from home.

I feel that the group is beginning now to really bond. Almost everyone made a real effort to ensure that we were all in communication through today and yesterday and that people knew what they were supposed to do.

Well done to everyone who managed to do everything they were asked.

Quote of the week...

“People can have the Model T in any color - so long as it's black” - Henry Ford

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

A much welcomed break

Two days into the half term break and I am feeling much more relaxed. Now fully recovered from my life threatening episode of 'Man Flu', I can appreciate the small break we have.

I am a little anxious for the 'reading week' task we have been promised. The uncertainty of what its going to be has left me a little uneasy, perhaps tainting the break a little.

I am hoping that everyone is going to remember to do their half term blogs; mainly because I do no think that everyone should be punished for the minorities mistakes, even though this seems to be what has being happening.

I am however looking forward to getting my grade and feedback, regardless of the result. From talking to many of the first and second years I can now see that even a referral could still be conserved as a positive (however not desirable) result.

Only time will tell.

Quote of the week

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time - John Lubbock

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

A weight off my shoulders...

Now that the assignment is in I must admit, I feel much better in the knowledge that there is now nothing else I can do to it.

The pressure, that I didn’t think was there has suddenly gone. Replacing it is the excitement and apprehension of things to come.

I am undoubtedly worried about the grade I will receive for my work, but the ignorance of not knowing is filling me with the optimism of at least a pass.

As daft as it sounds, handing my work over to the receptionist (particularly my sketchbook) I felt almost like a parent leaving their child at school for the very first time.

It’s strange the attachment that has grown between me and the book that at first I had little understanding and respect for.

The presentation on… well, presentations, I found, was very useful. Little tips like, keep you hands out of your pockets, maintain eye contact and a strong voice makes me feel as though I have been told some kind of inside secret.

Although during school I did suffer badly with a stutter, I have since developed a technique of almost improvisation acting.

By taking on the role of a confident, outspoken person, I find it easier to deal with situations like presentations and such.

Having not done many presentations I am again a little apprehensive but as Steve said, it is perfectly normal to feel like this.

Being truthful, I am looking forward to doing the presentations, particularly if they are group to class presentations; this would in my opinion be a good way to ‘break us into it’.

I am pleased that we now have half term to clear our heads before the next project; this should give us an opportunity to hit the ground running.

In addition, I am looking forward to working with Andy and Greg in our new seminar group. I am sure that we each have different skills to bring to the table which would should be interesting.

Quote of the week
The way to learn to do things is to do things. The way to learn a trade is to work at it. Success teaches how to succeed. Begin with the determination to succeed, and the work is half done already.” - Source unknown

A2 - Evaluation


Good points

I have now successfully completed my very first web plan. The creation of the web plan has given me an understanding of the importance of planning and strong time management.

I have a real sense of achievement as the transition from full time employment to student who has a job has been quite difficult for me.

Through out the duration of the project, I have felt more and more like I belong. Although the course is still in its infancy, I feel as though my planning and design skill have improved four fold.

The realisation that I am not as good a the preconception I had of myself before I begun is not necessarily a bad thing as I now have a clearer idea of where I am and where I am going.

The introduction to software such as PageMaker and Photoshop (I had previously used Fireworks for all image editing) in both class and self study has proven invaluable; however I do feel like InDesign would be more suited to my requirements from now on.

I am now reading more books, which can only be a good thing. The book I have most enjoyed has to be ‘Don’t make me think’ by Steve Krug; a web usability guide.

I now feel much more confident presenting my work and emotions online (in this instance

The two major presentations we’ve had have proven invaluable. The levels of motivation following were at an all time high. To know that the now second years were going through exactly what we did was of great reassurance.

The visit from The Design Mechanics again provided much enthusiasm; I think that this is mainly due to the fact that some of us could potentially be employed by David in the not too distant future and it was inspiring to know that two students from this very course have entered the design world and are working doing what they enjoy.

Bad points

As I mentioned before the transition back into to a student as been a difficult one for me. The has, at times been the source of much frustration to me as I am used to having much shorter deadlines involving multiple projects at once.

One area which has largely let me down has been my time management skills. The weekly time sheets and production schedule (in this form) are very foreign to me and have taken an amount of adaptation of my working habits to get them to work for me.

During the project I had a personal problem which basically cost me a weeks worth of actual production time and has been the source of much bewilderment and emotional discomfort to me.

Whilst I do not feel that the week away from the project hindered its development, I do feel that my state of mind has been altered.

Key things I have learned

  • How to create a web plan
  • CSS is not just used for text formatting but also for layouts, etc
  • The importance of documenting all my work
  • Introduction to new, industry based software applications
  • Resources extend further than the internet
  • Do not trust everything that you read – always get a second opinion
  • My design skills are not a good as I will be

Things to avoid next time

  • Start the intensive time management from the beginning of a project and stick to it, as this was of much help once it had ‘clicked’ into place for me.
  • There has been a few needless ‘run-ins’ with the tutor. Simply doing what is asked of us, first time, could have easily avoided these issues.
  • Ensure that work is completed as early as possible and that there is plenty of ‘padding’ in the time planning to accommodate for any unexpected circumstances; such as what happened to me this time around.

Targets for the future

  • Improve time management skills
  • Improve design skills
  • Make the transition from PageMaker to InDesign
  • Continue improvements in software knowledge / expertise


To say that this project has, in my opinion, gone well in spite of the person problems and adjustment issues wouldn’t be quite right; I feel that because of these difficulties I have had to work a little harder to achieve the same result. However, I now feel in a stronger position to approach the other projects in the future.

On the whole I have enjoyed the project. I have learned a lot in the few weeks I have been on the course and met some very talented and supportive people along the way, whom without this course I may never had the privilege to meet.

Quote of the Week

Uncertainty and mystery are energies of life. Don't let them scare you unduly, for they keep boredom at bay and spark creativity.” - R. I. Fitzhenry quotes

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Now that possibly the worst week of my life is now behind me, its time to crack on with the job in hand.

The pre-submission submission date has worked well. The combination of been a bit behind (mainly due to last week) and the was then impending deadline had a very positive affect on my motivation and productivity.

I am half way through reading 'Don't Make Me Think' by Steve Krug. I truly recommend this book to anyone. The best way I can describe the book is that its like taking a really cold shower first thing on a morning, it distinctively awakens you and opens your eyes.

One of my favourite parts is where Krug states that users tend to treat websites as billboards rather than as the intricate masterpieces that we all like to believe we create. Its not so much the realisation that this is the case that sticks in my mind but Krugs reaction to this. He states that we have to make great billboards.

This furthers my belief that in life you have to do the very best you can with the cards you are dealt.

Motivational Quote of the Week
"Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve." - Dr. Napoleon Hill

Screen Design

Hey everyone,

This is my finial screen design for the A2 That's the Plan! What do you all think?

The resolution is low and so doesn't really do the banner any justice but you get the general idea.


Wednesday, 26 September 2007

A Much Valued Experiance

The Design Mechanics (such as great name)

Big thanks to all who attended today's presentation, this includes the students as well as the three representatives from The Design Mechanics and of course Steve and John.

The Design Mechanics
were very informative and I found the experience to be invaluable. The presentation consisted of very good questions leading to equally good responses.

It was a reassuring to see both the company owner (Dave) and the former student (Oliver and Gemma). This ensured that the presentation had a good balance.

The question and answer section, I feel was the most revealing. During this Dave gave an insight into the qualities that he, as an employer, would look for in perspective new employees; the frustrations of working with real clients and some of the common pit falls.

Gemma and Oliver appeared very happy and confident in what they do, and that is reassuring.

As I expected, once the presentation was over and I was driving home, a whole multitude of additional questions were running through my mind; such is my personality.

In conclusion, The Design Mechanics seam very good at what they do, however, I am not sure that the 'stack em high, sell em cheap' approach is the right career path for me - but you have to go where the work is at the end of the day.


I’m not sure if its me. I’m not sure if it’s the environment. I’m not really sure what it is but with each week… no with each day that passes I am feeling more and more like a designer. My attitudes and whole method of thinking has been turned on its head.

I am now looking at advertising / promotional material and thinking… “…well that’s good… but it’s not how I would have done it”.

With the introduction this week of ‘Page Maker’ it reiterates the fact that I do not know everything. Far from it in fact.

Inspirational Quote of the week...
Don't wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.” - Mark Victor Hansen

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned...

Wow... another week over. The realisation of how fast the last three weeks have gone is now upon me and as the ever more pressing submission date is closing in, I can only see the situation amplifying. The importance of strong time management is ever more evident. I am pleased however, with the level of work I have done so far and feel on schedule. Following my second ever seminar group, I have realised that I have adopted a slightly different direction with my work to what is required of me; however, as quickly as the realisation was upon me, ideas for alteration and improvement and redirection were brewing.

The low point for me this week is realising that I have taken a slight miss-direction with the approach to my work; however, remaining ever positive, I see this as a learning curve and take it on the chin.

The highlight of this week for me was the purchase of a football for use at dinner time. Not course related I hear you say; however, I have found that after the physical exhaustion of playing football in the afternoon, everyone has worked out their 'wiggles and fidgets' and seam to get on with their work really well upon the return from lunch. Partly due to this interaction, the group as a whole, both socially and professionally, I feel is beginning to grow together; this can only be a good thing.

Its seams that I am now finding inspiration from just about everywhere, taking into consideration both attractive, well constructed design work and web site structures, and equally poor work for things to follow and as important, things to avoid.

The Google based 'Web Developer Toolbar' is proving ever more useful with every day that passes for assessing both your own and other people work. It is interesting to see just how many large websites do not comply to the relevant web standards.

In conclusion, (pardon the cliché), "Work Hard - Play Hard". The balance of the two will make for a very health and productive working environment.

Inspirational Quote of the week...
“Time is free, but it's priceless. You can't
own it, but you can use it. You can't keep
it, but you can spend it. Once you've lost it
you can never get it back.” - Harvey MacKay

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Week two

What Happened?

This week we have been given our first assignment, ahhh!! This is the first piece of formal work I have been assigned in 5 years, so as you can imagine the apprehensions running through my mind, ‘Do I still have what it takes to produce course work to a high standard?’, ‘Can I amend my attitudes and approach to suit the requirements of the course?’.

The first sign’s, although still only early days, are pointing towards ‘Yes I can’. The class as a whole are very supportive with good, positive attitudes towards the work and each other.

Following my first ever seminar group session, which I enjoyed, my motivation and self confidence is high. Steve kindly showed the group last years sketchbooks, which I feel lifted the air of tension and uncertainty surrounding them. I found it reassuring to see, as with the presentations done by the second years, that we are not alone in the emotions and fears that we have and that progression is made quite early on.

My only piece of creative criticism surrounding the seminar groups is that they are in my opinion too short. I do however, feel that as we progress this will not be so much of an issue.

The timesheets / production schedules are a totally new concept to me. In my working life I have been used to been given a ‘pile’ of work and told to get on with it; which of course is the wrong approach. On reflection, the time sheets and production schedules will certainly form a large part of ensuring that each section of the assignment gets the time is deserves and consequently be a huge help to me.

Worst Part

The worst part for me has to be the realisation that I am not as good at planning my time as I first thought; however, this is not just a negative as it has given me a benchmark in which to improve. People say that ‘practice makes perfect’; this however it not necessary the case, ‘perfect practice makes perfect’, to which I have a way to go.

Best Part

The best part for me I feel was the seminar groups. Although they could have done with been longer, I feel that the one on three worked well. It gave me enough time away from the class in a more, personal and individual environment but without the ‘interview’ / ‘on the spot’ feel of one on one. After seeing the previous year’s sketchbooks, it has given me direction and the feeling that I can expect to see personal development quite early on.

Key learning / development points

· Seminar Groups – my first.

· The importance and practical uses of the sketchbooks.

· The importance and practical uses of the bl.. I mean, online learning journal ;-)

· Research from only one source is not definitive.

On the whole this has been a very productive week for me and I am happy with the outcome. I hope that during the next few weeks my personal and professional progression continues.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

From the beginning...

Where do I begin?

Very good Steve. Ok so the beginning, I was in McDonalds getting a quarter pounder meal with cola when one of my friends, Steve, ran inside shouting "someone has crashed into your Saxo!!". Thinking that Steve was messing around, as he does, I went outside only to find that someone had reversed into the rear quarter panel of the car that I had spent 18 months and £6,000 on, (not including the £3,000 to buy the car). The Saxo VTR in deep blue was my, at the time, most valued possession.

After a month or two arguing with the insurance, I decided that I would never build a car like it again and decided to sell the 17" alloy wheels, the custom made straight through, dual exit exhausts, the PlayStation and custom made, one off fiberglassed 7" widescreen tft monitor in the dash, the CD changer and very expensive head unit and so on...

The problem I had then was that I needed a car, I had a limited amount of time before the insurance company wanted the 1.2 16v Clio Extreme (an overstatement to say the least) back. As I was driving to my fiancées house I noticed a Suzuki Vitara, Wide Boy (huge 255 x 55 x 16 tyres and body kit to match), convertible, and it was only £1,400!! I had to have it!!

Cash in hand I bought the car. Shortly there after I had my first day driving to work in the very slow, noisy and uncomfortable Vitara... I loved every second of it!! Once I had gotten to work and parked up, some of the lads from the factory (I worked in the office) approached me saying that they also had 4x4's, many of which were purpose built (lift kits, winches and so on). The lads asked me if I wanted to go 'cogging' with them; which I later found out meant off roading, I still to this day do not know why it means that.

After my first time off the tarmac and into the dirt, I was hooked!! So much so that I decided to have my first ever go at making a website showing the great times that me and my friends were having. Camera in hand I set about taking picture of the cars in very risky situations, I quickly got myself the tag of the photographer. The images were plentiful and the design of the site was well on its way, but what to call the club? Names such as "zuki-boys" and "fuddy-muckers" were on the tongues of some of the members. Then seemingly from no where my now fiancée, who is now in the final year of her teacher training degree as an 'Early Years Specialist', whom I am very proud of, came up with the name 'Sludgepuppies'. BRILLIANT !! All the members agreed instantly that this was the way to go. Later that night I went home and purchased from my very first hosting and a domain name ''.

Pleased as the proverbial punch and with the enthusiasm of a child after eating a whole pack of blue smarties I was away. What started as a 'I think I'll give that a go' ended up in all the cars brandishing the website and external companies approaching me with special offers for the club and the promise of banner exchanges and advertising deals.

Once I realised that I can use the same hosting to erm well, host more than one site I then purchased Then I was away, following that came a very basic site for which was a none paid site for a friend who did mobile mechanicing / car modification. The site never really amounted to much as we were too busy in the pub to worry about anything like that.

Things then got a little bit more serious when I was approached to do (currently located at This was my first serious 'outside' work. After starting this site, I decided that this was something that I really wanted to do for a living and the only way I was going to be taken seriously was to get some serious qualifications and guidance.

After some time going over what each course had to offer me, taking into consideration things such as pass rates and location, I decided upon Wakefield college under the tuition of Steve Smith. Very early on after making contact with Steve I had a new found respect for him not only as a tutor but as someone to look to for advice and guidance.

After some deliberation with my current employer and direct manager (whom I consider a close personal friend) and my fiancée and family, it was decided that my best course of action would be to pursue my career as a web designer / developer by means of the HND in Interactive Media with the option of furthering that to a degree.

Before I knew it, it was my first day as a student again after 5 year (since I completed my 'A' Levels). It felt like it was my first day in 'big school'. The nerves were intense and I was shaking like a Christmas tree coming up to December. To make matters worse, when I entered the classroom of what I can only describe as being full of people of the same age my younger brother, I felt like I was the tutor been quick obviously the eldest member of the class. The chairs were arranged in a circle, never really a good thing for a first day as for anyone who has been in that position before, you just know its going to be some kind of awkward ice breaker in which you attempt to learn other peoples names and for them to learn yours. However, it really wasn’t that bad. My new classmates proved to be very friendly and supportive, I no longer felt like the guy dressed in blue in the middle of a Barnsley home match crowd.

Within no time at all Steve had us in seemingly (to the untrained eye) random groups enabling us to work with every member of the class, very subtly breaking the ice will all members of the group.

Seamlessly I am no longer the odd one out and am now one of the group, having dinner with the lads and so on.

More to come... watch this space !!