We're back, baby!
WayneTaking a bite out of the Big Apple.
It’s been a little while since our last monthly update, but we’re back now with plenty to update you with and new people to hear from!
There’s only one place to start and that has to be with the growth of the team since our last update. We’ve added three new people to our team, each bringing their own character and experience. Our website development team has been bolstered considerably, adding a combined 15 years’ of experience. With that, we’ve seen fresh ideas and new approaches which have really increased productivity.
Over the past 18 months, I’ve worked hard on the structure of the company which is getting closer to my goal. I’m sure fellow business owners will join me in saying that recruitment is one of the most difficult challenges of running a business. It can be a long and frustrating process, but it sure is rewarding when new recruits buy into the company’s vision and instantly get more out of existing employees.
We’ve had a few trips out to help build relationships away from the studio. The highlight was enjoying the little bit of summer we’ve had so far, with a walk through Valley Gardens and some pizza, who doesn’t like pizza right?
Speaking of pizza, the wife & I visited New York for the first time last month. As a foodie I made the most of the options, starting off with a pizza, meatballs, and chicken wings as my first meal, what a way to start! It took just a couple of days to realise that New York is the junk food capital of the world, and as someone who is fairly careful with what I eat, I quickly missed the Mediterranean food I love so much on holidays. (Roll on September for tapas and paella…)
We enjoyed all of the big tourist attractions including the 9/11 guided tour, Top Of The Rock, Brooklyn Bridge, watching baseball, as well as geeking out at the Nintendo shop, Lego shop, and the Ghostbusters building. China Town and Little Italy were also good to explore. We had amazing weather for six days, but then on the seventh day just 30 minutes before we were due to go up the Empire State, the blue skies turned grey and filled with lightning, so we’ll save that for next time.
Away from the tourist traps, our actual favourite thing to do was walk around the quitter districts such as Chelsea and DUMBO, which we did very early due to the time difference. The real highlight was the MJ musical; the performance and the atmosphere were incredible, and a special shout out to ‘Frankie Legs’, a great little guy who took us on an informative and hilarious trip around Central Park.
A trip to New York was sandwiched between a few days in Brussels for my brother’s stag do, and the wedding which was a great day of celebrating him and his lovely wife, and my now sister-in-law.
There’s been so much more happening since the last monthly update but that’s a wrap for now. I’m terrible for taking pictures because I prefer to walk around with my phone in my pocket, so I’ll leave you with just a few from our trip to New York…
JakeA holiday romance of the feline variety.
How close have you come to adopting a cat from another country before? I ask because my wife and I came pretty damn close on a recent trip to Crete. Following a few afternoon Mythos and cocktails, we sat down at a bar for, well, more Mythos and cocktails. Whereupon we were swiftly introduced to what might be the scruffiest stray cat on the island. We were reliably informed that her name was Jenny or some other decidedly un-catty name.
We promptly re-christened her Scruffles. A few more libations later and we were looking into the reality of actually bringing her home.
Spoiler, it’s not cheap!
Sorry, Scruffles, you’ll have to remain living by the coast eating gyros, souvlaki, and octopus. It’s a hard life, eh!?
We took a day trip to Santorini, which was a great experience. A small island, but it’s not one for those who don’t like hills. Stairs on stairs, on stairs! It’s well worth the effort though as some of the views looking out over the bay are fantastic. The island itself is horseshoe-shaped, but it wasn’t always like that. Many moons ago, the island was much more circular with a large volcano to one side. When that volcano erupted, it went big and took half the island into the watery depths with it, leaving a horseshoe of rock behind. Interestingly, it’s one of the mooted locations for the fabled lost city of Atlantis. Perhaps that’s why it was €18 for a glass of wine?!
Sorry, Scruffles, there’s no room in the budget for you anymore.
Back in Blighty, and the office, June has proven to be a busy month. As you may be aware, Google Analytics is getting an upgrade and shifting over to Google Analytics 4 (GA4). To a degree, most of the process is automated by Google, but a fair amount of work is still required to ensure everything is still tracking correctly. For somebody who has grown very comfortable with Universal Analytics, the predecessor to GA4, I’ve had to familiarise myself with using a new interface and understand how the new functionalities work. I have to say, for e-commerce especially, GA4 is exceptional, it’s intuitive, leverages machine learning and information is presented to the user in a very understandable format.
Internally, the steady march of progress moves ever onward. It’s safe to say that there are a lot of irons in the fire at the moment and it’s exciting to watch the growth in motion so to speak. As I’m becoming more and more involved in quoting jobs and winning business, I’ve gained invaluable experience into how much work actually goes into bringing new business on board.
Finally, coming full circle, I want to end off with cats. Unfortunately, we said goodbye to Poppy a few weeks ago. I’m sure the local vole populous are happy, but we’re decidedly not.
Good night, Wonky.
The days are getting longer, what a wonderful month!
I had the intention to visit four different places in the month of June but I ended up visiting two places. That wasn’t too bad because I had a lot of code to write, project timelines to deal with, and just a few bugs to fix. I visited the National Railway Museum in York for the first time and the historical journey was an interesting experience.
The Bramall Gallery is an unmissable new interactive experience. The Flying Scotsman journey back in time and around the world over the past 100 years was a great lesson in history. This was a multimodal experience that uses cutting-edge technology to bring Flying Scotsman’s story to life right in front of you, celebrating the technical genius and studying the science underlying steam power.
I went to a comedy show in the second week of June and it was fun. I love comedy and I enjoy watching it live. Every bit of the show was worth it!
I visited Tattu (The Moon Stand Lunch), and it was a wonderful experience. Each Tattu has its own identity, taking guests on a sensory journey from East to West through its award-winning interior design and astute attention to detail. Tattu has sourced the most beautiful natural materials from all over the world and commissioned artwork from talented artists to help tell their stories, whilst paying tribute to the character of the cities it explores.
At work, June was one of the months where I coded my life out. I spent 90% of the month writing code and solving problems. I had a lot of project deadlines with limited timelines. The development team and I spent time understanding and visualising the development process, whilst working on better architectural patterns and gaining more experience.
Finally, a lot was achieved this month and I’m very impressed with myself. There were also ups and downs but it can only get better. Sometimes life knocks you on your ass but you have to get up because happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them!
I’m looking forward to greater things in the coming months, getting things clearer, solving lots of coding challenges, writing more re-usable packages, visiting new places, and having lots of fun!
AndrewAvast me hearties!
My friends and I finally got down to London where we went down the markets and I did some wine tasting. Most importantly, we saw the HMS Belfast. This was better than I expected. My first thoughts were that we would spend half an hour on the ship because most of it will be closed for safety. Instead, nothing was off limits, and we spent over two hours looking around this ship, getting lost below deck and stopping by the café for a well needed break.
Admittedly, we did also spend a long time nerding out over the engine and all the different guns.
I have had fantastic opportunities this month to gain experience in server management and diagnosing issues. With this being a field I have little experience in, I’ve learned a lot when it comes to properly configuring servers and Apache to meet the needs of the websites being hosted. This knowledge is invaluable for keeping performance high and reducing downtime.
Additionally, I have been doing work with product feeds and Google Shopping feeds in addition to helping the production of new OpenCart sites as well as Laravel applications.
A busy month.
StephenDeath by steak.
What can I say, a bunch of stuff has happened over the last month or so. I finally got laser eye surgery ‘LASIK’ which was a total success! The only small downside is, it has left me with ‘dry eye’ syndrome which could last anywhere from 3-6 months. It’s nothing serious but it just means staring at screens can be quite tiring. Disappointingly, it also means playing video games can get quite uncomfortable as it’s hard to concentrate. I had to wait nearly 2 weeks before I could play the new Resident Evil 4 remake after its release. It wasn’t a fun experience having my friends let me know how good it was…
Aside from my eyes, I’ve had an array of exciting events to navigate including my birthday, my partner’s, and our anniversary…which I totally remembered. The highlight of the celebrations saw us visiting a lovely restaurant called La Boca Steakhouse that serves Argentine-inspired food, very tasty! As we ended up going on the weekend before my birthday my lovely partner offered to treat me, which ended up being the 39oz tomahawk steak! I can still see the look of regret on her face now, bless her.
As for the design side of things I’ve been diving a little more into web design which is fairly new territory for me. I’ve been helping out creating a few secondary design pages for several clients, which has been incredibly helpful as I get to learn little tips and best practices when it comes to designing for web. I was also tasked with designing a micro-site for a sub-brand of one of our amazing clients, Cablenet! This was a great learning experience.
Speaking of Cablenet I also got to create a bunch of new socials and assets as part of their new EnGenius campaign which was a lot of fun, mixing both brands together into a unique visual style. EnGenius is a company that specialises in commercial networking solutions.
Something cool I’ve seen this month is Adobe Illustrator’s new tool ‘retype’ that allows the user to select fonts on jpegs or flat images and Illustrator, with the power of AI, will do its very best to find the font or offer up some alternatives! Finding JPEG logo fonts has never been easier!
Starting as I mean to go on.
I’ve been working on the front end of two sites this month, preparing them to go live. This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for me, considering I just started this new role a week ago and have already been given two web projects. Within a day, I started learning the framework and standards required to ensure the website was top-notch. I began building the website immediately, and now, within just one week, it’s ready to go live. I’m incredibly proud of this achievement, as I’ve learned so many new things from working with this web framework.
There were some aspects I had never tackled before, such as creating a pipework animation for the site. I took the time to research how to build such an animation, and within two days, I gained the knowledge and skills to create an SVG animation. This new found ability will be valuable for future projects, as I’ll be able to handle any animation requirements without any difficulties.
Outside of work, we took a trip to Bempton Cliffs in Bridlington. A beautifully scenic area of Yorkshire that plays host to around half a million seabirds annually.
I came across something cool on YouTube. It was about using a tablet and pen with Photoshop installed on an Apple device while connected to a desktop. Instead of solely relying on a desktop to create designs on Photoshop, Apple allows you to draw, add text, and adjust the brush weight using the tablet and pen. This was the first time I’ve seen this technology, and I find it fascinating how Apple has developed such a feature. I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing what future products they create to make the design process even easier for people.
Joke of the Month
What do you call a spider with no eyes or legs?
Photo of the Month
And to end, here's something cool we've seen this month...
How quickly is AI improving? Just check out what you can do with Photoshop now!