Writing

  1. First Jobs

    In Episode 112 of The Big Web Show, Jeffrey Zeldman talks with Mat Marquis about, among other things, their first jobs. Mat did a lot of random jobs before he got started in web design, including carpentry. One of Jeffrey's...

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  2. Stamps

    I have a confession to make… I collect stamps. I have hundreds of them. Yeah, it may not be one of the coolest hobbies in the world, but give me a minute and I'll explain why I do it. I...

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  3. Google and the 3DS browser

    I recently updated my 3DS XL console's software and this evening I was having a look at what was new in the browser. It started by asking me if I wanted Yahoo or Google as the default search engine. I...

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  4. A diet of stuff

    I move a lot. When I first moved to Brighton, into a small room in a house with 5 students, I took a suitcase of clothes, a bag with my laptop and a couple of books, and 2 plastic boxes...

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  5. Business Disasters

    In this week's episode of Unfinished Business, I talk with Andy about business disasters, and we share some of our experiences. I've not had one massive disaster, but most of the little disasters I encountered, I could have avoided. Making...

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  6. Xbox One, a new console, a new console browser

    Today Microsoft have finally revealed their new console, 8 years after they launched the Xbox 360. That was in 2005, before Twitter, and when YouTube and Facebook were in their infancy. And based on what they've announced, this is it...

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  7. We get the behaviour we design for

    Personal attacks. Nasty comments aimed at individuals. I see it a lot, and most of the time, I've not done anything about it. I've not felt comfortable confronting the people doing it. I've been gradually feeling less safe working in...

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  8. On confidence

    I got an email last night referring to a bit in the latest Unfinished Business where I mention public speaking. It was a stupid comment I made to Andy about how I used to do whatever I could when I...

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  9. Unfinished Business

    Anyone who knows me well knows I love listening to podcasts. I've been listening to them since I got an iPod when I was 16. I have Boagworld to thank for getting me into the industry. I'd never even considered...

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  10. Thinking in Systems

    On Cennydd's recommendation, I read Thinking in Systems over a couple of work commutes. There's a lot of interesting stuff in there, particularly this paragraph towards the end: For example, in 1986 new federal legislation required U.S. companies to report...

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  11. Lazy developers

    I started work a few weeks ago on a project with Leisa Reichelt, a very talented UX designer who organises UX Bootcamp workshops (among many other things). I had the pleasure of teaching on a couple of her Prototyping in...

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  12. Console browser microsite

    I've got an Evernote notebook full of the results of various tests I ran on game console browsers in preparation for my A List Apart article, and I'm currently working on a little site that makes these notes public. There's...

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  13. Hindsight

    Turns out, being a freelancer can be a big problem if you want to do something like get a loan with a bank, or even rent somewhere. I want to share a couple of things I did a while ago...

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  14. Journey

    I've just finished playing Journey. I'd heard lots of good things about it and decided to give it a go. I don't have a lot of time to invest in a new game at the moment so I liked that...

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  15. Console browser testing

    After writing about the Nintendo DSi browser in July, I began exploring more of the game console browser landscape. I wrote to A List Apart to ask if they'd be interested in running a piece on it, and they said...

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  16. 7th of July

    Thursday morning I was in a chemistry lesson, the class was loud. We'd just been sitting our GCSEs and half the students were in a coach on their way to France for a school trip. We were messing about, nobody...

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  17. Using the Nintendo DSi browser

    While doing user testing with children on a prototype of an app I'm helping build, one of the questions we asked was what technology they owned. I was amazed by how many said they had a Nintendo DS. We're not...

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  18. First Friday, Innovation in Banks

    A couple of weeks ago, I attended a talk at Nixon McInnes given by Aden Davies who is a social technologies specialist at the bank HSBC. I was interested in attending this talk because I feel that banks are very...

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  19. Usability testing with children, part 2

    I helped with another usability session this week, and here are my notes on things I've learnt from this one. Year 6 (9 students aged 10) This session was in a dedicated computer suite. The machines ran Windows XP and...

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  20. Usability testing with children, part 1

    Over the past few months, I've been working with Anthony Lewis and Andrea Vaughan on a web app for children. We're not ready to explain what it is or does (you'll understand when you see it), but it's a really...

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  21. Barebones

    Paul Lloyd has an excellent style guide which I'm frequently sending to people who are looking at creating their own. Now he's just released his first version of Barebones on Github. It contains a style guide like the one on...

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  22. nth-of-type and media queries

    At the moment I'm refreshing an old site and adapting some code I wrote 3 years ago. A few of the pages have lists of teasers to full articles which are displayed in a grid. They use nth-of-type to remove...

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  23. Chrome transform:rotate bug

    I just wanted to quickly write up about a bug I've found in the latest build of Chrome (18.0.1025.142), just in case anyone else experiences the same thing. I've filed a bug report on Chromium (Issue 120846) and have found...

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  24. Style Guide Roundup

    Last year, I started bookmarking front-end style guides for an article I was writing for 24 ways. When the article was published, I got loads of great recommendations of others to include in the list. So I just wanted to...

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  25. Responsive Summit

    I was at Responsive Summit yesterday, where we spent the day discussing the experiences we've had and challenges we've faced with responsive web design projects. We discussed a lot of things during the day and I'm missing out a huge...

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  26. Computer Science curriculum to be taught in schools

    Today I got the news I thought I'd have to wait a lot longer for. The Education Secretary is announcing that ICT in schools is to be replaced by a computer science and programming curriculum. Back in September, I gave...

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  27. Tiling textures in Fireworks

    I've been using Fireworks pretty much every day since around 2005, yet every project opens up the opportunity to learn something new. Perhaps this is one of those "well, duh" posts, but I'm writing it up anyway in case it...

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  28. Prototyping with CSS Flexbox

    Since giving my first UX Bootcamp workshop on Prototyping in Code, I’ve been looking at ways to make it easier to teach CSS layout. I’ve tried demonstrating floats in a fish tank and how positioning works using diagrams and sketches,...

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  29. CreativeJS workshop

    I’ve just attended Seb’s CreativeJS workshop in Brighton. After seeing Seb talk at last year’s Full Frontal, and this year’s Update Conference, I was inspired to learn more about what new and exciting things can be done with Javascript. I...

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  30. Running code workshops in schools

    During Brighton’s Digital Festival, I ran 2 Hackasaurus workshops in local schools for students aged between 13 and 15. I did this with Aral Balkan who taught the concepts of programming using Scratch. The workshops I ran taught how to...

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  31. Hackasaurus Game Sprint

    At the moment I’m in Toronto visiting Mozilla’s new offices and helping with a Hackasaurus sprint. This week we’re concentrating on games as a code learning experience, and had a group of kids aged between around 8 to 11 in...

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  32. Experiments with Adobe Edge

    A development version of Adobe Edge came out today, and I thought I’d give it a quick play to see whether it would be useful for any of the projects I’m working on. I’m trying to keep an open mind...

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  33. Firefox on a stick

    I ran my first UK Hackasaurus workshop on Friday at the University of Birmingham for the Computing at School teacher conference. Most of the attendees were IT teachers from secondary/high schools, and the session was designed to be adapted by...

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  34. Google Zeitgeist 2011

    A few weeks ago I got a call saying I'd won a competition to attend Google's Zeitgeist conference. I'd submitted a 1-minute video for the talking about Scrunchup for a Young Minds contest, and it had been picked for the...

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  35. This changes everything

    This week I’ve been planning Hackasaurus workshop venues. I’ve been looking for IT suites in schools and libraries where I can hold hour long workshops teaching kids how to remix the web using the Hackasaurus tools such as the X-Ray...

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  36. Working on Mozilla's Hackasaurus

    Since launching Scrunchup back in 2009, I've been looking for a way to incorporate my love of web development with my passion for improving the state of web education. When Matt Thompson asked if I'd like to work with Mozilla...

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  37. How to be terribly British

    In a couple of weeks, everyone in Britain will be taking a day off work to heartily celebrate The Royal Wedding. People in other countries will be celebrating too because the Royal Family is absolutely marvellous. To get the most...

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  38. My first SXSW

    I first heard about SXSW Interactive on the Boagworld podcast when I was 16. Paul and Marcus interviewed some people while they were there for the show, and I thought it’d be pretty cool to go one day. I’ve had...

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  39. The Gentlewoman

    Way back in November, I got an email from a magazine saying I’d been recommended for an interview. As I skim-read the message on my phone, I assumed it was for a job. Although, I thought it was a bit...

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  40. Naace Curriculum Review Think Tank

    Today I attended a Think Tank organised by Naace. We were discussing the curriculum review, and ICT's role in education. I was invited along after Naace picked up on the blog post I wrote; Help keep ICT in our schools....

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  41. Marking up relationships

    A couple of weeks ago I was encouraged by Jeremy Keith to put some rel values on links in my website, so I read up on them to find out when it's appropriate to use them. I was particularly interested...

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  42. Starting out in the Big Wide Web

    The audio for my talk at Heart and Sole has been published. I spoke about starting out in the industry, discussing my experience of setting up, and some of the mistakes I made along the way. I also talk about...

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  43. Help keep ICT in our schools

    If we believe children should be taught to write as well as to read, they should learn to program as well as to use ICT — NAACE’s Response to the Royal Society’s Call for Evidence on Computing in Schools Photo...

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  44. Speaking at Heart & Sole

    Last Friday, I had to confront two of my biggest fears simultaneously; public speaking and heights. The title slide for my talk I was giving a talk at Heart and Sole, an evening event at Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower, about starting...

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  45. Silent Night

    Before I got so into web design, I used to write a lot of music. I’d often churn out about 5 to 10 pieces of music a week. I don’t have a lot of it left, but when I really...

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  46. Talking on the state of web education

    A couple of weeks ago I gave a talk at London Web Standards on Web Education. It’s a topic that’s very close to my heart and I’m trying to spread the word about how poor the teaching of web design...

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  47. IE9, vendor prefixes and future-proofing your CSS

    The public beta of IE9 comes out in a few days, so this is a good time to check the lovely CSS3 transforms, border-radii and box-shadows you’ve added to your CSS files are future-proof. Browsers like Firefox and Safari require...

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  48. Nifty CSS buttons

    I was messing around with making buttons in CSS and thought I’d share the code I wrote. I discovered that using an inset shadow gives the button a little glow on the top. button { background: #333; /*old browser fallback*/...

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  49. All change

    2 years ago, almost to the day, I left school and registered as a sole trader. I’d been unsuccessful in finding anywhere that would give me a job due to lack of experience, and the recession had just reared its...

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  50. FOWD10 Freelancer Survival Guide

    On the 19th of May, I gave a talk at Carsonified’s Future of Web Design London on Freelancing. I’ve just been sent the video of my talk if you missed it. – Video no longer available. :( Photo by Marc...

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  51. Parallax Illusion

    On Saturday, inspired by Paul Annett’s Channel 4 logo, I decided to build a parallax illusion in the browser. Here’s the end result: http://maban.co.uk/sandbox/parallax-illusion/ How it works To build this you only need 2 images. One is the stripes (mine...

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  52. Comparison of the UK's political party websites

    Government and political party websites are some of the worst designed out there, which is a shame because they often have a lot of important information to communicate. Last year we saw how a strong online presence so positively benefited...

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  53. An open source sketchbook

    Here’s a picture someone drew when the supply teacher we were assigned that day entered the classroom and announced “Funtime is over.” Today, while doing a bit of sorting through old stuff, I stumbled across some pages from notebooks I’d...

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  54. One way to make your invoices less scary

    If you’re like me, you always feel a twinge of guilt when sending an invoice to a client. It’s not that you feel you’ve done a bad job, you just find it hard to ask for money, especially when it’s...

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  55. The Ultimate Chocolate Cake

    I’ve had a few people ask me for the recipe of the chocolate cake I made for the 200th Boagworld. I wasn’t going to post this on my blog because it’s not really about web design, but to justify that,...

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  56. Inspired by affordance on a vacuum cleaner

    I’ve been looking a lot at the use of colours in physical objects recently. Often you’re asked to work on a site where the brand colours are some hideous combination of yellow and blue or red and green, and you’re...

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  57. Pre-Development Website Planning

    While working at Clearleft, I learnt the importance of thorough planning before site development. Planning how you are going to write the code is just as important as how you are going to design the site. It makes you really...

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  58. CSS Nuggets

    At Barcamp London 7, I gave a presentation on some CSS tricks I learnt while building Scrunchup. I’m planning on doing a full write-up for an upcoming issue of Scrunchup.

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  59. Innocent Smoothies

    A lot of the clients I work with who have just set up a web presence for their company think it’s a good idea to start a mailing list and a blog. Everyone else is doing it, so why shouldn’t...

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  60. Selling Poor User Experience

    While on the train to Future of Web Apps, I saw some adverts for Dixons displayed in the carriages. Here is the text from one of them: “Step into middle England’s best loved department store, stroll through haberdashery to the...

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  61. Using nth-of-type to create grid blocks that clear

    So this is what happens if the content in some blocks is longer than others. Yeugh. Problem: You want to create a grid based layout with floats, but you don’t want to wrap things in extraneous divs to force blocks...

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  62. A Teenager's Guide to Effective Freelancing

    Yesterday, I gave a talk at a web conference called Tomorrow’s Web. I gave a summary of some of the conference talks here. The reason I did this talk is because I am concerned that young web designers and developers...

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  63. Tomorrow's Web

    Today I gave a talk at a web conference called Tomorrow’s Web, which was organised by Rob Day, 16, and Grant Bell, 17. My talk was about how to be a good freelancer, and I’ll be uploading my slides, notes,...

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  64. What is a Front End Developer?

    Trying to explain to old school friends what I do. I'm a front end developer... I make, like, websites... fuck it, I'm an astronaut.— Anna Debenham (@anna_debenham) June 19, 2009 Whenever I am asked what I do by someone who...

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  65. HTML5 fix for IE

    I’ve been rebuilding my site in HTML5 as a practice run for future projects to see what problems I come across. When I tested my site in IE, I noticed all the elements that the browser didn’t recognise were not...

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  66. My Iron Lung

    In 1992, Radiohead released their first single; Creep. The song became very popular and they had to play it at every gig to satisfy their fans, and it wasn’t long before the band became sick of their creation. They brought...

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  67. Interview for Techettes

    I’ve just been interviewed for Techettes, a site for tech savvy girls. You can see my interview here http://techettes.com/2009/07/interview-with-tomorrows-web-speaker-anna-debenham/

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  68. Chessbrook Education Centre

    Chessbrook is the second school I have worked with. It was a really great project to work on because it was quite challenging. The school is an education centre for students who have not been able to cope in mainstream...

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  69. Writing your Service Contract

    This week I finally finished writing a contract I am happy with giving to clients. I thought it might be useful to give you an overview of what is in it, as I know there are a lot of people...

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  70. dConstruct 2009 (Clearleft)

    I worked on the HTML and CSS for Clearleft’s dConstruct 2009 website, using microformats to mark up the schedules and locations. The navigation was a bit of a challenge. The selected state was quite fiddly to develop because I wanted...

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  71. The Portland Arms Pub

    The Portland Arms pub website was commissioned by the landlady to provide information to locals about events at the pub, as well as an up-to-date seasonal menu. The pub dog, Buster, updates his online blog with his perspective of life...

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  72. Scrunchup

    Today, the holding page for scrunchup.com was launched. Everyone involved in the project has been stunned by the overwhelming response it has had. An hour after it was published, we’d had 100 subscribers to the mailing list. So what’s this...

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  73. British Band Instrument Company

    The British Band Instrument Company website was launched as an online brochure of instruments being sold to across the world, specifically in the Middle East. I added a translation feature, and made all the text editable so it could be...

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  74. Review of CushyCMS

    A few days ago, I came upon the CushyCMS website www.cushycms.com I’ve tried using WordPress, Drupal, Joomla! and Mambo, and I’m not going to pretend this is better than them all. It’s not, it just meets a different need. Whereas...

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  75. Positive Discrimination

    On Thursday, Harriet Harman the Equalities Minister in the UK put forward plans to allow organisations to discriminate in favour of candidates who are female or of ethnic minority. You can watch her speech here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7475470.stm I would not want...

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  76. Exams!

    I will have to be brief because I feel riddled with guilt whenever I spend time doing anything other than revision. So this is the second week of exams. Last week I did my Module 4 ICT exam, which was…...

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  77. User Experience on the web, fast food style

    In this year’s Future of Web Design conference, Andy Budd gave a fantastic talk comparing User Experience on websites with the hotel industry. He described the need for a good first impression, and the importance of going the extra mile...

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  78. Revision Woes

    It’s tough this time of the year when everyone seems to have gone in hibernation for exams. It feels like the times I am in school, I only see my friends briefly, and I’ve been spending way too much time...

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  79. St Albans Girls' School

    St Albans Girls school is my secondary school. While I was studying there, I wrote to them asking whether they would consider a redesign of their website, which they agreed to. The old website was ‘not fit for purpose’ as...

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  80. A 7-year-old's picture of me

    There’s a really sweet girl I babysit, and last night, she drew a picture of me. It took her about 15 minutes, and I was so happy with the result that I thought I’d post it up here. So the...

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  81. Raiesa's Secret Garden

    Today my friend Raiesa took me to see a little garden she had found. She’d been telling me about it for a while, and I hadn’t had a chance to see it with all the coursework I was working on....

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  82. Highlights of FOWD '08

    Future of web design is a conference hosted by Carsonified. The speakers are all influential designers, specialising in fields such as User Experience and Branding. This year’s event took place from the 16th to the 18th of April. As much...

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  83. Proidiomas

    A few months ago, I was asked by the head of the Spanish department at my school whether I could make a preloader for some Flash audio lessons he’d made. I guess word must have got round the staff room...

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  84. I can haz a Mac!

    Yesterday, after months and months and months of saving, I finally bought a Mac. I think I've been saving for over a year now, so it's hard to describe how I felt when I was able to take my baby...

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  85. How Can Technology Improve Literacy Skills?

    I spend most of my lunchtime in my school library with my friends. It’s a lovely place to be, warm, cosy and it doesn’t smell bad like the common room. The other day was a bit weird because most of...

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  86. Biscuits!!!

    Today I’m going to talk about something vitally important and close to my heart… biscuits! The following is a constructive analysis of my 5 favourite biscuits, weighing out their pros and cons. Isn’t it obvious that I’m putting off doing...

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  87. Lemongrass - Thai Takeaway Design

    Had a nice surprise this week. A friend who had asked me to look/play about with a menu she’d made for her dad’s Thai takeaway contacted me to say the logo I’d done for it was being used as their...

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  88. Breaking the Mould - Women in Leadership

    A few weeks ago, a group of sixth-formers including myself were asked to sing at a conference in London. We were given few details, (except that 250 headteachers, and Madonna might be there) and very little time to rehearse for...

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  89. The Making of maban.co.uk

    This website has been up and running for over a year. However, I was so ashamed of the last design that I didn't tell anyone about it. And what's the point in having a website that you don't want anyone...

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