Thursday, 12 November 2009

New Home

My online learning jounal has now moved here:

Please update your bookmarks.


Friday, 6 November 2009

Possible Questions For A Web Designer/Developer Interview

This week’s blog entry is concentrating on opportunities for employment and putting ourselves in the shoes of the interviewer. These questions could be expected to be answered in an interview situation.

I have chosen six questions in my interviewing scenario. These questions will help me to develop my employment ability skills and confidence in the near future.

  1. What made you apply for this position?
  2. Model answer: Your advertisement appealed to me because of the job opportunities and the position you offer. I have a chance to expand my creativity skills and develop my own personal growth in this industry.

    Reason for question: I assume this question would be asked in a web design interview as much as any other interview situation.

  3. What skills could you bring to our team?
  4. Model answer: I have an up-to date knowledge of XHTML and CSS and would be able to offer many creative solutions to a number of scenarios. I have developed these skills through an intensive college course and feel I achieved well in doing so.

    Reason for question: An employer would choose a suitable candidate on the quality of their skills over someone who has none.

  5. How do you keep yourself up to date with current technologies?
  6. Model answer: Keeping up to date in this industry is key to a successful web designer/developer and to do so I spend a lot of my free time reading about and using new languages.

    Reason for question: An employer would want to see how someone would work of their own back to keep up to date in the industry rather than have to spend money sending them on courses.

  7. What are your views on web standards?
  8. Model answer: Web standards are vital in making web pages accessible to the masses. This gives business the opportunity to reach a wider target audience. I feel that web standards should be treated as such: standard.

    Reason for question: Even though a company may not be strict in the sense of standards; if you were to answer in a professional manner it would reflect better. You can always drop your standards if the employer asks.

  9. How would your friends describe you?
  10. Model answer: My friends would describe me as an out going person who takes work seriously, who is very approachable and friendly.

    Reason for question: This question is kind of a spanner in the works and seeing ones reactions to this question could be a deal breaker. Having a truthful opinion about yourself also speaks volumes to a potential employer or/and client.

  11. Where do you see yourself in five years time?
  12. Model answer: Hopefully I see my self with a wife, 2.4 children, big house, nice car and comfortable job where I can express my creativity and explorer new boundaries.

    Reason for question: A lot of employers are looking for commitment to their business. If I’m tied down with a mortgage, children and loan for a car I’m not really going anywhere for a while.

Word count: 500

Friday, 23 October 2009

A8 : iMe : Grade

A Quick Insight

Marking this assignment has been one of the most demanding things I have done on this course to date. It’s not the marking as such but being able to decipher the critical thinking behind my decisions.

One aspect that has made this abundantly easier was to keep a weekly blog stating the outcomes of my learning, which was one of the learning objectives in my Self Managed Learning Plan (SMLP).

These ‘mini blogs’ pretty much wrote there own evaluation for me at the end of this assignment and all I really needed to do was to re-word them into a final summary.

This has helped with my overall marking which is broken down as followed:

Pass Criteria

  • Demonstrate personal management skills in learning activities.
  • This goal is measured by the weekly blog entries that I have kept; the production schedule that was created; and the SMLP that was formulated.

  • Develop and follow self-managed learning plans.
  • This was achieved with the creation of the SMLP.

  • Review learning processes and synthesise appropriate methods of feedback.
  • Again, the goal was achieved through my blog assessing my progress on a weekly basis with summative goals at the end of each week.

  • Communicate and apply learning skills to a professional context.
  • To achieve this goal I created a skill bank of my learning which can be found at

  • Evaluate and communicate learning outcomes.
  • I met this goal with an evaluation that was submitted on the hand in date.

Merit Criteria

  • Relevant theories and techniques have been applied.
  • My work at has a library of techniques I have developed. This along with my commenting on my coding is the evidence supplied.

  • The appropriate structure and approach has been used.
  • This goal is met with a number of devices. shows the skills I have leant and clicking on each gives a description of the script and is commented line by line. The other place my learning goals have been recorded is on my blog that I kept. This weekly blog was broken down with summative goals that helped me plan my work load.

  • Complex problems with more than one variable have been explored.
  • Evidence can be found at It can also be found within my sketch book as I recorded what skills would be relevant to carry out my work. These were then amalgamated into layout plans to develop a website.

Distinction Criteria

  • Use critical reflection to evaluate own work and justify valid conclusions.
  • My evaluation here speaks for itself. It can be found with the submitted work I handed in. This evaluation pointed out both strengths and weaknesses and provided a summary as to how to avoid problems in future assignments.

  • Take responsibility for managing and organising activities.
  • My SMLP determined that my own learning would help me to achieve the goals I set out. This can be found in the work I submitted. I recorded the progress with my online evaluation.

  • Demonstrate convergent/lateral/creative thinking.
  • This is where my grading criteria failed. Because of time restrictions I had very little time to create a truly original website. I know I could have greatly improved the look of my site with more time but as it stands now I feel it does not meet this goal.


From the evidence that I have marked against I will be awarding myself merit as I have met the criteria for both pass and merit but not fully distinction.


It’s clear to see from the grading here where I need to project myself to be able to achieve a better grade. As stated in my evaluation I need to apply realistic goals for myself to achieve so I can spend the required amount of time in each field of my production schedule.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Job Advertisement - Web Designer

Web Designer

About the Job

"We have an opportunity for a Web Designer to work within a fast paced in-house marketing team. Responsibilities include the maintenance and updating of current group websites. Identify and resolve issues relating to group online marketing. Plan, design and develop new online projects for group and to interpret and develop design briefs received from Marketing department.
Essential skills include CSS & (X)HTML (preferably hand-coded), JavaScript, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash and excellent communication and organisational skills. Knowledge of Quark would be an advantage as there may be a requirement to get involved in the print design process.”

While looking at employment opportunities around the web design industry it’s quite clear that many positions are open and are unaffected by our current economic climate. The advertisement I have come across is one by ‘The Book’, a recruitment agency, or in plain English, a ‘middle man’.

The job advertised is for a standard designer from what I have read. They are looking for XHTML, CSS and JavaScript. These skills I now feel confident in writing down on my curriculum vitae and would feel equally as confident in being able to talk about these technologies.

Technologies such as Photoshop and Illustrator are skills that I am always developing and I think having a portfolio of works may help out in future interviews.

Later skills, PHP and MySQL, I am still learning so I would at least want be confident in using these technologies before I applied for a job that utilised them. Other skills that are required for the position are the Adobe design tools that seem to be de facto of the designing industry.

With a salary, £17k - £19k, which seems to be an average amount for the industry, the job seems to be basic and with other jobs advertised as ‘Senior’ with salary thirty percent greater, there doesn’t seem to be that many skills that are required.

There is one skill I am lacking though and is something that education cannot give me; experience. This seems to be an underlining requirement of what is required for people entering the industry and the only way I can think of gaining this experience is to either try and accumulate as much freelance work as possible or to do a spot of voluntary work in the industry and gain good reference through both.

From reading this job advertisement I can see skills that I need to develop to make employment more feasible. The software skills are skills that I am always developing as a designer and is something that will not improve vastly overnight. Having a good grasp of a coding language though seems to be an advantage over many. If these skills are flawless than what I lack in software will be leveled out by language.

I think a good objective to set myself is to be fluent in PHP and to have knowledge of how to update and maintain a database using MySQL. These two skills will allow me to at least get a foot in the door and to be able to apply to jobs other designers may not.

With all these facts taken into consideration I feel that knowing the skills I am learning inside-out will help me with any interviews I may have in the future. As said before Adobe CS suite skills are always in the process of development and to try and set myself a task of being a Photoshop guru by the end of the year is not a realistic goal. Having the core coding skills are both realistic and achievable.

Word count: 500

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Glad To Be Back

Well, four months doesn’t seem like two minutes ago now I’m back in the class room. It’s good to see everyone settle into the routine fairly easily and it seems like no one has been away. There was usual banter while on our break and everyone has a smile on their face.

Myself, Tim and Martyn were able to talk to some of the first years and get a feel for their tensions that I know we had on the first day of college. It’s good to see, in a way, that they all have the same expectations and feelings as our group did.

Looking ahead, I have found it quite hard to get back into the swing of things this morning as we had to prepare our SMLP. Just knowing where to start was the hard part but as time wore on it became clear what needed to be done. All I needed to do was to break down the information and chip away at it in manageable chunks.

Reading back on my Sign Of The Times blog entry it’s quite clear to see what I need to take into consideration to really push the envelope this year: get feedback and criticism. I feel that I don’t necessarily need to rely just on the people in my class and other students and I am going to try and receive feedback from as many people as I can. This may come in the form of other designers in the industry so I will need to take advantage of the many forums/blogs out there to get real insight.

I have also stated, in the said blog entry, that I am worried about group work. And as stated the time to worry is drawing closer. I think that as the year progresses we, as a group, will probably fall into roles rather than be fighting over them. The only worry is that we can work effectively as a group. But, to repeat myself, worrying about this at the present time is nothing to get worked up about.

Something I need to seriously consider for our new assignment, A9: Up Your Street, is the costing of time. I was able to scrape some work together over the holiday but drastically under charged for my time. I failed to research how valuable my time was and as a result I feel cheated. Not by the person I did the work for but by myself for not reading up on this subject. This will not happen again.

All said, I am looking forward to the little time we have together as a group. As was said in a lecture it is a time to really experiment with the skills I have developed over the first year and to really try and wow myself. There will be times in the industry, most times in fact, that I will never get to express my creativity in a way I see fit. Hopefully people feel the same way and are looking forward to the journey.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Resources For My SMLP

Stated below is a list of resources I will be using to help me manage my SMLP. These include a mixture of online manuals, tutorials and physical copies of books.

  2. The definitive resource for php. This will be my bible, at least for php coding, that will guide me through my SMLP. There are many snippets of useful information and users comments that will help me along the way.

  4. Again, the definitive resource for MySQL. This site hold all reference libraries and manuals and will be my first port of call if I am overcome by any obstacles regarding MySQL.

  6. I have skimmed the surface of tizag and from what I see it seems to be quite a useful resource in learning PHP scripting. It has a step by step suitable for the novice user leading into more advanced tutorials.

  8. PHP Freaks is a network of help resources that stem in the forms of tutorials, blogs, feeds and forums. The blogs and feeds will keep me up to date with current issues/work-arounds/news with all things PHP.

  10. This site will provide me with help topics and tutorials on both PHP and MySQL. I have used it in the past to learn HTML as a fundamental building block but I feel that I will probably use this for points of reference and 'quick fixes' as the site it's self doesn't delve into great depths with scripts.

  12. PHP Builder is forum driven site and will probably be fundamental in my learning. No doubt I will become stuck in my learning process and will need help in resolving issues that are beyond my learning at that stage.

  14. This site has many tutorials which I am sure will become an invaluable source in figuring out the bones of the code. I will be able to follow some of the tutorials and then strip them down to figure out how the operate.

  15. O'Riely - PHP Cookbook
  16. PHP Cookbook, from the preview on amazon, looks like it is in an easy to understand format and seems to be more of a reference book than a tutorial book. I feel this will be used more to the end of my SMLP as I will be able to use it for problem solving rather than learning.

  17. PHP 6 and MySQL 5 for Dynamic Web Sites: Visual QuickPro Guide
  18. Although I have yet to buy this title I have looked at the preview on and found that the introduction seems to be in plain English and easy to digest. Hopefully the MySQL portion of the book will be just as easy to follow as I do not plan on buying a book aimed purely at MySQL.*

  19. PHP In Easy Steps

    I have used JavaScript In Easy Steps in the past and know the format and think I should be able to pick it up quite easy. Hearing feedback from last years leavers have cemented my decision.

A few books I have decided not to include in my SMLP are the 'For Dummies' series. I have had an opportunity to read these books from the library, both SQL (5th edition) and PHP 5, and have decided to go on the recommendations of past students as they don't seem to have done too bad in there educations at Wakefield College.

[*] I have decided not to include any exclusive books on MySQL as one of the books stated is PHP and MySQL and I feel this will be ample for my SMLP.

Word count: 598

Thursday, 13 August 2009

My Self Managed Learning Plan (SMLP)
PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor &
MySQL: My Structured Query Language

After looking at many available languages to study for my SMLP I have decided to choose a language I feel that will benefit me as a developer and increase my chances of employment in the future.

I also prefer, as a personal choice, the use of public domain GNU technologies. I feel that our society is stemming away from commercial products and turning to the Open Source market and will more so as people become familiar with the options available to them.

A long term plan of mine is to travel again and using software I can use on any machine, without having to purchase a license each and every time, would prove beneficial to me if I could ever attain that goal.

PHP is also cross platform and is not limited to one operating system which is also beneficial in the market place as installing/using the software will not require any major rewrites/training. Other languages, although rather an amalgamation of languages, such as ASP have draw backs, in that they need to be used with defined platforms such as Microsoft Internet Information Sever (ISS). This limits its availability to Win32 based servers.[1]

PHP is also extremely versatile and can communicate with many other languages such as MySQL, ASP, Ruby and Python. It can also be used as a stand-alone product and an inline command based program.

Aside from these facts, PHP is probably one of the easier languages to pick up and because it has many similarities to C, Java and Perl[2] it will let me skim the surfaces of other languages such as XML, JavaScript and JQuery.

The language enables developers to create more interactive pages that in turn create a more user friendly experience through interactivity. It can also make use of WordPress which is rapidly becoming a standard for up and coming web developers. The possibilities with PHP are limited only by ones mind.

While searching for employment that covered PHP I was happy to see the range of pay average out to around £20k - £30k which, if I perfectly honest, is the fundamental reason I came on the course; to do a job I like and get paid well for it. Although I fully understand that, like any job, you have to start at the foot of a mountain and build up experience through practice.

To recap on why I feel PHP would be suitable for inclusion in my SMLP I have summarised them as follows:

  • Quite fast to pick up the basics;
  • Branches out into other languages;
  • The language is part of the GNU and is cross platform;
  • Lets developers create more dynamic web pages;
  • Can be used, along with MySQL, to access databases;
  • Employment for PHP programmers/developers is in high demand;

N.B: Through further discussion I have found that I will find it beneficial to study MySQL as a side-line to PHP for my SMLP. This will open up more avenues of interest and employability in the future as I will be able to create and access databases.

This will enable me to get into the social networking side of PHP through use of forums and shout boxes which are becoming a major part of the internet as shown in advertisements for the current job market.

Word count: 550

[1] [2009-08-13 14:12]
[2] [2009-08-13 13:57]

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Sign Of The Times

It’s hard for me to imagine that one (academic) year has passed already. It’s even harder for me to imagine that by this time next year I will be finishing my education at Wakefield College.

I doesn’t seem like two minutes ago that I was getting paid peanuts working in a job I had no interest in. This, however, has made me want to excel all that much more. There is no way on Earth that I am going to let myself, if I can help it, fall into that routine again.

There have been a lot of ups and downs over this year. Mostly ups I’m please to report. Looking back over the year I can see that my assignments have all had their pleasures and disappointments.

I can definitely see progress in my work as I have progressed in this short time and my grades have reflected this. I started this course with no skills whatsoever. And the grades showed this with the first assignment.

Criticism/feedback is what I have needed for a long time and is helping shape me into a more positive person. The skills that I am picking up on are more social and ethical above all else. Some of the assignments I have undertaken have really tested my endurance but with determination I have proved to myself that I am capable of doing the work presented to me.

Our latest assignment, A7: Rasterised, has been the most pleasurable out of all the assignments this year. I think that many people on the course feel the same way or will do when the look back.

I was able to produce a better production schedule, and to stick with it, than previously. I think this was helped by the way in which I had set goals in my previous assignment evaluations. This helped my work flow considerably and proved a lot more beneficial to my mental health.

Each time I hand a piece of work in for submission I start to feel a little more confident. With less stress I was able to switch on and off when it came time to work; and when it came time to relax.

This hasn’t always been the case, in life generally. I have spent my time in the past floating around never letting it touch me and as a result it had made me quite lazy. This course has given me a much needed kick up the back-side and made me put effort into something I want to do as a career.

Hopefully with these skills I am developing I can broaden my horizons in the sea of employment and choose what I want to do rather than be left with what most do not.

With the second year brings more responsibilities, mostly revolving around my self management learning plan (SMLP). This, I am sure, will be a goal I should be able to achieve. One thing that does worry me is the bulk of the last half of the second year. This will be assessed as a group and will put copious amounts of pressure on people to act accordingly. This could be quite good for myself, if I were to take a more managerial position, and could prove quite useful when an employer looks at my curriculum vitae.

I have been in employment in the past where people have no skills in group work. All it takes is one person to fall out of sync and then the whole machine breaks down. This could be catastrophic for, not just one, but several people. Worrying about this at the present time though is nothing to get worked up about.

With the A7 assignment out of the way, providing there will be no referral feedback, I am going to try and branch out to find work in this industry I am learning about. Well, depending on the financial and economic climate. I have a few web sites to build for a few clients I have managed to round up and one CD album, which ties in nicely with the assignment just gone. I know, with the social skills I have accumulated, that I can rely on sound constructive feedback using the likes of Das Forum and other social networking devices. This will keep me in-check with work loads and such ready for when I need to return to college.

Looking towards the future I think there are definite goals to set myself, some to brush up on and some to try and excel at. Some of the goals I can set myself are:

  • To attain at least half my marks merit or above;
  • to try, where possible, to help people along the way and to ask for help if I need to;
  • to do a lot more preparation work for any activity I will be undertaking;
  • to learn a new language, possibly Ruby on Rails, depending on what is required; and
  • to be more in depth on my time sheets.

These goals are my personal goals and if I am to succeed in excelling in any of these I will need to put in the effort. Unfortunately I will not be able to really measure these until the time is upon or passed me.
I am sure I will be able to achieve these and any failings will only contradict what I have written here.

I am looking forward to next year and the challenges that I will be facing along with everyone on the course. I think, as I have said before, that working along side like minded people is both encouraging and inspiring and helps me to grow as a person by developing my work ethics and social skills.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Final Stages

Since my last entry I don't think that my head has stopped spinning. There is very little time left and I have still an advert and a web page to design.

This said though I have created my logo and album cover, both inner and outer, and finished putting together the postcard for the Moo order that will be sent out today.

I nearly fluffed this stage as I had problems with InDesign. As a result I started to rush things. This did me no favours and the more I panicked the more mistakes I started to make. I ended up deleting the file with my work in and had to start from scratch.

Apart from this minor set back I have had another few problems along the way. I initially met the client who stipulated that they liked two of my designs and wished to see them incorporated into one. Great!

Turns out when I met the client again last week I had misinterpreted what they had in mind. They were looking for the grungy design using the colour scheme from clouds artwork. This is something I thought I had nailed.

I had to work hard to keep up-to-date with the production schedule so that I could start the next section of work on time. I am still in a bit of a predicament though as I spent the last meeting with the client being told I need to re-think the concept. Hopefully this time I have it right.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

A Reflection Of One Year

As we approach the end of the first year I can look back and say that I have accomplished more than I would have ever thought possible. It’s scary to think that one academic year has passed already and I am sure the second will fly even quicker.

I have had a mixture of results from the assignments handed in and I can honestly say that I am pleased. Well, all but one. I feel I may have been able to do much better in the typography assignment. I managed to pass first time, by the skin of my teeth. This is one of the assignments I wish I could take again but there is little I can do about it now.

The new assignment underway at the moment is more of reward than actual work. I think everyone on the course has a buzz about designing a CD package as everyone is constantly working and encouraging each other to work.

Hopefully I will be able to finish this year with a bang and receive another grade I will be proud of. I am on track with my production schedule and hopefully this two week break will not provide too many distractions as others have done over this course.

My main concern with the holidays is that my hard work will be diminished if I put it on the back-burner to catch up on social activities. I am going to try and avoid this and be stricter with my time.

All this aside I am looking forward to finishing this year and to hopefully be able to put my skills to use by developing a few web sites for potential clients over the holiday. This will keep the skills I have learnt fresh in my head ready for year two.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

R-N065: Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto - Insen

From start to finish Insen is a journey of experimental sound bound together with the harmonies of mellow piano chords and the unique, extraordinary one time chorus of bird song.

Alva Noto has pieced together an experience of deep basses and ambient beats together with the help of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s perfected piano pièce de résistance to help elevate the listener to a higher state of consciousness throughout the forty-one minutes of listening pleasure.

The album breaks down into sections of a hypothetical journey and carries their presence in each giving the listener seven tracks of distinctive moods.

Glitches, pops and fizzes make for slow rhythmic percussion that are boosted by compressed kicks in all the right places. As samples are built up the layers are penetrated by phrasing and enveloped chords from a gate trapped grand piano.

With so many moods on this silver sliver of encrypted audio it is hard to pin point an exact feel for the music presented to us. Each section incorporates the same structure as the last but manages to distance its self completely from the previous.

Recorded in 2003 and voted “Record of the Year” 2004 in the electronica field of music by “The Wire” magazine it is easy to hear why. Starting with the first segment on the disc the journey begins with rhythmic distant fuzz that encapsulates movement from section to section in an ordered fashion.

The next passenger that boards the journey is confused and isolated from the original traveller and is a surprisingly pleasant break between its predecessor and forerunner. The sounds that are stifled still have presence but are amplified into an uplifting, almost heavenly, ambience as soon as the next track falls from the sky.

There are many warm elements that protrude from the speakers as slowly the sounds turn to face another direction and kicks into a more rhythm based familiarity that is recognised from the opening track. The rhythms produced are recognisable from day-to-day activities and slowly blend into an almost terrifying six minute array of pre-war tension.

Again we see a break appear in the clouds and the tingling sensations of phantom rain are felt as the mood changes direction one last time. There are many elements of aquatic noise that fill the mind with imagery of oceans and coastline. With the album near completion the last track is the more subtle member of the family and its progression is almost entire in its length. The imagery of ocean is returned to land via transportation of rain and warm elements, again, wash over the mind to finalise into a euphoric ending.

This epic recording takes the listener on a mellow journey of sand, sea and air without the hassle of leaving your armchair only to arrive safely back in the comfort of ones mind that each listen will produce time and again.

Word count: 480

Monday, 2 February 2009

Building The Big Picture

Our two new assignments (A5 Builder & A6 The Big Picture) have been handed over and we are now two weeks in.

I am looking forward to the coding side of A5 as I have some experience and should be able to keep on top of things. A6 on the other hand is new territory to me. The program we need to familiarise ourselves with is Adobe Photoshop. And then give a presentation.

As someone who loves open source software I have always used GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program). The software has similarities with one another but I seem to be spending more time learning the different routes to accomplish things I could probably do faster in GIMP.

This is only a minor set back and I’m sure I will pick up speed over the next couple of weeks.

I was lucky enough to get a half decent mark with my last assignment and surprised myself. I didn’t have to worry about any referral work and thus was able study at a ‘leisurely’ rate. Mostly reading and some preparation work.

I shouldn’t take this as a signal to slack off or think that I can take it easy. I’ve set the bar for myself and if I want to improve on my previous efforts I really need to knuckle down with some work and try to figure out where and how I can improve.

We have also been given a little insight into our next assignment; A7 Rasterised. Juggling this work load is starting to grow on me and a good job it is too. Reading forum posts it’s actually one of the requirements. “...juggle several projects at the same time.”

Only time will tell if I have put, not enough, but the right quality of effort into my work.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Act II

It’s been a crazy four months since I enrolled on the HND media course. I feel like I have absorbed a lot of information some of which has been taken on board and some that still needs my attention.

My initial thoughts concerning the HNC course, the one I applied for originally, was that it would give me a general taste for this industry. I'm glad I ‘upgraded’ to the HND course as I now understand that to do well in this world of web design you actually do need to cover all the bases.

Getting into the swing of things was a bit of up and down as I hadn’t actually done any intensive learning and studying for quite a period of time. I thought I had truly made a mistake enrolling when I was handed my first assignment back, with a referral. This, as it turned out, wasn’t the end of the world and I think I understand that the referral was given back so that I would open my eyes to the details I was over looking.

The second assignments handed out really hit home to the amount of work that would be required from me. I feel I may have not have done as well as I should have with these assignments as my time management became an issue. It didn’t help that the work over lapped with holidays either. But this is an excuse and I should have constructed my time more efficiently as most people managed to do this.

I felt more relaxed doing sketch book work for these assignments as drawing is something I feel comfortable with.

This new semester seems a bit more, I think, relaxed. Everyone seems to know which direction each person is taking on this course and what point they, themselves, are up to in terms of quality of work and confidence.

I am hoping to utilise my time more efficiently this term and to really put some effort into recording my time on the tasks I do at home.

Our new assignments are now underway and I was quite shocked when we were told we needed to plan our seven weeks for this portfolio. I do, however, feel confident that I can manage this aspect and achieve what is required of the assignment and of me.

Working in a group will also be a new experience for me. I think it will help me to keep a stricter track of my time as I am sure I will be banging on about it every chance I get. I want to do well this semester to make up for my lack of effort in the first.

This week is in grace but there is still plenty of work required from myself and my group partner so that we can hit the ground running on our return next week. Hopefully we will be able to crack on with the work and rustle up a good presentation in four weeks time.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

¼ Finished

As I anticipated the deadline for these two latest assignments have crept up. I feel a lot more confident at present then I did the previously. I only have a five-hundred word evaluation and a few references to complete on one assignment.

I probably will feel nervous handing in my work as will everyone else but I think what I have done should suffice for a pass. I don’t think it will be possible to attain a merit or distinction this time around as I didn’t take my time sheets as seriously as I should have done and some of the entries are bland at best. I plan to change this practice as of next week.

I have to admit I haven’t done nearly half as much work as I would have wished to and I haven’t been staying up-to-date with forum posts over this holiday. I am literally ready for another holiday to recover from Christmas. Hopefully I will be more settled next week when the new assignments get underway.

With the last mini-assignment finished this afternoon I now feel I could have vastly improved on the first, if given the chance. It has definitely been a learning experience using InDesign and I am still finding out/being taught new tips and tricks. I now have the software at home and I feel that I will be able to navigate my way around the software a lot quicker at college.

I seem to have found a good working relationship with another student as we share help with each other on technical and grammar scenarios that arise in our day-to-day activities. This help is invaluable to me as it’s not always easy to ask for help in a large group. I hope this trend continues as we progress on this course.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Talks, Time and Terminology

My head has been crammed with a lot of new information since my last entry. With the new assignments we are now undertaking there comes a lot of new terminology and techniques. Some of the lectures, especially Colour Theory, really opened my eyes to how much I don't actually know. I have nearly filled a sketch book already on notes alone.

This trend is getting easier to follow but the work is now piling on. I have a deadline in the pipeline and I know it will be hear a lot sooner than I anticipate. Planning my time is as important as handing in the assignments and it shows in the finished article.

Some of the mini-assignments we have been given on Tuesday afternoons have been very energetic. I was unorganised with time management, again, and had to rush towards the end of the day. I have found that I utilised my time more effectively and for the second assignment I was able to construct a more efficient work pattern. Slowly but surely I am learning to use my time efficiently.

Another big event was giving a presentation on contrast, part of the proximity, alignment and repetition (PARC) fundamentals. Nerves were factor and it didn't help that I fluffed the putting together of the PDF file. I didn’t feel uncomfortable talking to the class but I did feel embarrassed. I think a dry run with the group might have been in order before hand would have help dramatically.

I was also relieved this week to find out that I pass, with a referral, our first assignment. It was good to find out that everyone had passed and there was a definite relived ambience in the group. At least now I can put this behind me and learn from the experience.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Referred But Not Deterred

It’s been a hectic fourteen days. There have been two new assignments to consider on top of one ongoing and one referral.

Receiving the referral didn’t come as a shock as knew I had made a mess of presenting the information on the CD that was required. What was a shock was the amount of other things I had done wrong or simply not addressed. I felt quite stupid when I was told and a little embarrassed that I was unable to follow instruction. I think this may have been reflected in the group as most received the same feedback. I suppose it gave me a bit of relief when I found out I was not alone.

The referral has done no favours regarding time management. It’s increased my work load and stress. I’m still pretty nervous about handing it in again. I will be reading, trying to get others to read and reading it again before I hand it in for the final time. I have taken the opportunity of going into college out of my scheduled time this week as it will give the chance ‘crack on’ with my work.

Receiving feedback on the eCard project has also increased my confidence this week. I’ve just found out that I, along with a few others, have been shortlisted for the final design. So I must be doing something right.

Our new assignments have been interesting this week. I’ve enjoyed working on ‘thought processes’ and sketching frantically to develop ideas. I think I may have missed instruction at one point as I took too long on the second development stage. It’s becoming clear to me that I need to understand what is being asked of me and not to just say I know. The result can be catastrophic.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Industrial Insight

I was fortunate enough to be enlightened on the ins-and-outs of the industry I have chosen to pursuit. Two people, Dave and Craig, from The Design Mechanics gave their views and practices they have encountered while working in this field.

The information presented before me hit home and mapped out just how much work is ahead of me to succeed in the future. I was shocked to learn that designs take less than a week to produce from initial brief to final draft. A very short time frame to produce a large quantity of work is frightening but this is now what I should expect to be able to cope with. No questions.

Learning that the company had just started to generate profits in the last two years (within a period of ten) definitely gives me perceptions about where to aim my focus when I complete this course. I thought it would be a walk in the park going straight into a freelance type job or setting up a business but listening to Dave speak has put this into perspective.

Being able to speak with Craig also gave the opportunity to seek out how the industry works for the employee. I found it interesting that several briefs will be juggled at any one time and that works, not excuses, are expected on time and to satisfaction of the client.

I shall use the advice given and set personal goals to meet the standards of a professional manner at all times. This is paramount if I am to ‘make a name for myself’ in this field.

I’m sure I will hit snags along the way and feel like I could have done more or approached a situation differently but this will mold me into a more prominent designer in the future.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

ITC Bauhaus

Bauhaus is of German origin and is roughly translated as Building House. The name was also given to the institute that ran in Dessau, Germany from 1919 until its closure by the Nazi regime in 1933. The Bauhaus produced works in a variety of fields such as art, design and typography.1

The font 'ITC Bauhaus' was developed by Edward Benguiat and Victor Caruso in 1975. It was developed on a prototype designed by the Bauhaus designer Herbert Bayer he created in 19252 named Universal.

The family itself is considered Linotype as it was used by the Linotype machine3. It is now available for use in five styles: Light, Medium, Demi Bold, Medium Bold and Heavy. The heavy version of the family was originally meant for display purposes only along with, the now redundant, outline typeface.

Bauhaus font

A free version of the font can be found on most up to date computers (running Microsoft Windows) named 'Bauhaus 93' and differs little from the version created in 1975. There are also other versions of the family: Blippo, based on the original 1925 design and ITC Ronda, similar to Bauhaus’ work with a few distinguishing characteristics.4

The font uses geometric shapes to produce a robust, clean type face that is easy to read and art deco in feel. Its use shows in industry such as media. Examples of this font family can be seen in the credits of American TV sitcom 'Roseanne'5 and, in recent times, used by Adidas on the back of their sponsored football shirts.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

A Journey Of Six Weeks…

I don’t think I have done as much work in these last six weeks as I have done in a very long time.

A few issues with time keeping have cropped up while progressing over this time period, which is something I drastically need to change. I realise that the work load from now will be greater as an eighth of the time available has been used and we’ve only completed a sixteenth of the work required!

My first assignment has proved to be awkward. I feel that I planned my work effectively and completed it to the best of my ability. My downfall was with the deadline as I relied on someone else to bring a vital piece of work for me on the said date.

It turned out that this person was late and, consequently, I frantically had to recreate this item in minutes. I managed to hand the item in (with fifteen seconds to spare) but feel that the presentation was meagre. I now fear I may receive a referral for this first assignment.

I think the lesson here is do not rely on anyone but yourself to do tasks regarding your own work. I can say that I will definitely be the only person involved in my own work from now on.

It hasn’t all been turmoil. I have immensely enjoyed collecting pieces of design inspiration and commenting on why I feel they deserve recognition. It has helped me get back into a learning mode and use my brain, which is something I haven’t done in a long time. And to be in an environment where everyone is working towards the same goal is quite a new experience for me. I feel this is definitely more constructive than anything I’ve ever done in the past.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Hindsight Now Developing

Over the last three weeks I have had two assignments presented to me. One I am enjoying thoroughly and the other not so much. The latter is purely academic and is probably the reason I am loathing it as such.

Reverting back into the learning mode has proved more difficult than I anticipated. But I am slowly adapting to my environment and the work seems to become more natural as I progress.

I am also struggling to ‘find’ the time, although I have more than most, to sit down and complete tasks at home and be strict with my learning away from college. This, I feel, is just a phase and I will feel a lot happier once I receive feedback from the first assignment (A2) and have a clear picture of what I am doing and what I should be doing.

I have had to restrict my social life by a considerable amount and decline offers to join in a house share with friends due to fact that I know I will never get any work done. I know this is the right decision as I will be able to strategise my time more efficiently.

There are plenty of resources available for to me check my progress as I continue this assignment and future assignments. And the people on my course all seem to be pulling in the same direction which is really helping me with my motivation and confidence. I actually enjoy coming to college which is something that I have detested in the past.

I think my next step is to keep on top of time keeping. Both at home and at college.