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 !!