Outlook.com – neater, smoother…

With the nearly upon us launch of Windows 8, you can now subscribe to the new Outlook.com preview service.

If you have a Hotmail account, you can try out this new web version of Outlook for personal use here.

The screen presentation is simpler, with less busy, uncluttered toplines and a clear, elegant typestyle to display your folders and emails.

Social media integration is inlcuded of course…

with photos of your friends, recent status updates and Tweets that your friend has shared with you, the ability to chat and video call – all powered by an always up-to-date contact list that is connected to your social networks.

We have been using Windows 8 Release preview on our laptops for remote client work recently. On a laptop, with no touch screen, the blocky, colourful layout is easy on the eye, but the key function is the Windows button, which flips you between the front end display and your last used interface. Clicking through to a traditional ‘desktop’ environment is where the real works get done.

On balance, the advantages to Windows 8 are clear – extra boot speeds and the ability to back up mirror copies of your installation, or to refresh the Windows build simply with one click.

These new Microsoft interfaces are easy on the eye, slick to use and very nicely integrated – an advance we think.

Google Maps get on the Underground…



Google yesterday made public transport information for London available on Google Maps.

You can now use Google Maps to navigate your way around 18,000 bus stops and more than 250 underground stations. If your in town for a conference or just using some spare time to enjoy the city this is a great new feature.



Let’s say you’re at Trafalgar Square, and you want to visit Madame Tussauds. With a simple directions search, you’ll see all the possible public transport connections. In Maps, click “Get directions” in the left-hand panel, and then the train icon to see public transport directions. Enter your departure location next to A, and your destination next to B.

These can be either street addresses or names of popular places, businesses or restaurants. When you’re done, click the “Get directions” button and suggestions for your trip will appear below.

Available on both Google Maps and Google Maps for mobile, Android device users have not been forgotten. Using the new transit Navigation beta service, your device will alert you to get off the bus or train, or when to make any transfers on your journey,

See the Google Maps for Android in the Android Market here.

Liking Lytro

cameraPic77We cannot see what a Lytro camera looks like, but the image facility on our laptops when visiting the Lytro site is fabulous.

You can zoom, pan and refocus on and around an image, post capture. You can also ‘play’ the functions with one click.

if you think static jpegs on a web site are just the beginning of the digital photography revolution, then Lytro seems to prove your point.

Wherever Lytro go with their technology, then web development and image resources online are about to get a whole lot more interesting.

Have a look at the emerging Lytro web site and see what we mean.

Getting credibility on the web

GuidelinesWe really liked the Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility, which we came across recently.

They are pretty straightforward guidelines – pointers to how you should look to have your web pages configured to establish maximum effect with your visitors.

They are here…

1. Make it easy to verify the accuracy of the information on your site.

2. Show that there’s a real organisation behind your site.

3. Highlight the expertise in your organisation and in the content and services you provide.

4. Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site.

5. Make it easy to contact you.

6. Design your site so it looks professional (or is appropriate for your purpose).

7. Make your site easy to use…and useful.

8. Update your site’s content often (at least show it’s been reviewed recently).

9. Use restraint with any promotional content.

10. Avoid errors of all types, no matter how small they seem.

We build all of these elements into our practice sites, so that you can see who we are, where we are and how what we do is interlinked with our professional and pro-bono work.

It is useful to see something that we have strived to develop intuitively placed in print – although in the past either at our client’s behest, or by making our own mistakes, as human web developers we have veered from the golden path occasionally.

Still, with the plethora of social networks, platforms and web services on offer – keeping to the core, simple effective truths is no bad thing.

You can see the original research results form the Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility here at… http://credibility.stanford.edu/guidelines/index.html

Flying back in time

flightPictureThere are some things you just have to write about.

For me the return of Microsoft Flight Simulator is one of them. Dreams of earlier days sitting at my wheezing desktop, landing my plane at a California airstrip, as the hard drive and the machine RAM spluttered like the propellor.

It’s going to return, it’s called Flight and you can see the campaign vision here.

Get your goggles and gloves ready, this time we are in high-def plasma and high speed broadband.

Microsoft, I can hardly wait!

Google Chrome – stable version 3 now available

googleChromelogo22Google have just released a stable version of their browser Chrome. Speed has increased and you can now drag and drop the site snap shots in the tab zone too – much in the way of the Opera browser ‘speed dial’ function.

Chrome also sports the Omnibox – which is both search box and a web address bar. The drop down menu of the function has been improved, with the addition of small icons to help you identify your favourites.

Why Google Chrome…watch the movie!

You can now also add themes to your installed version of Chrome. Get some stars or bubbles today.

Download page for the latest stable release of Google Chrome browser.

You can visit the home page of Third Sector Web here.

Open access publishing on the web…

gatewayPicPlacing documents in the public domain is giving them away – often seen as an illogical position for a commercial entity to take?

Or should it be better put that placing information online in order to spread that knowledge as widely as possible, is best achieved by offering users of that information clear signposting that copyright and license of the material has been waived.

This is an Open Access argument. If you create information, articles or images that you wish to be freely available to others why not ‘mark’ them accordingly for others to use the material with confidence.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation has been working recently to provide researchers and information users with standardised sources of open access information.

The Creative Commons movement have also posted a set of tools online that can help you generate html to help signify the accessibility of information sources that you have published as original material.

These Creative Commons tools are clearly intended as markers for original content that has not been licensed. Delimiting material already prescribed by copyright is a cautious matter for the original content owners.

You can find the original blog entries from the Open Access Movement that inspired these thoughts here.

The Creative Commons tool kit or code generator can be found here on this Creative Commons web page.

If you are interested in reading more about the Creative Commons as a non-profit organisation you can find a Wikipedia article here.

There is some debate online as to whether the Creative Commons approach is really able to be aligned with the concepts of free software or images, or comparable with Open Source. Surely the point is that the creator of the work has a framework of possibilities available to him or her – deciding which right she or he wishes to devolve themselves of, or not.

We create content for access by the public and in our small way think any framework that helps information users or distributors to be clear about how material can be used is a good thing per se. What do you think?

You can find the Third Sector Web home page here.

Digital Europe – digital world!

digitalgrowthPicThe EU Commission released it’s annual digital survey – Digital Competitiveness Report 2009 – this month (August 2009).

In it the Commission highlight the comparative development of broadband/dsl connections across European countries, as well as the use of web technologies by business. The results are surprising – using 2008 data as comparisons.

The UK now does well in it’s broadband/dsl coverage overall. We lie 5th in the Commission league tables with some 99.8% of the whole UK population having access to broadband services.

We do relatively well now in the coverage of rural areas too – with the UK services reaching 99.4% of the population in rural localities. We are beaten by France, Demark, Luxembourg and Belgium who offer better coverage to their rural residents.

In terms of the percentage of all households with broadband connection the UK lies 5th with a take up of 62%. A surprisingly low figure perhaps?

Overall users of the internet in the UK is registered by the Commission as 70%, placing us in 7th. place overall in the European competitiveness chart. Of those 70% of the population who use the internet, some 53% the survey declares define themselves as frequent users.

Of UK enterprises who have a fixed broadband connection we lie in 8th. place, with 87% of enterprises having a fixed connection. Interestingly the economies of Malta and Lithuania have higher business broadband penetration.

The comparative tables in the survey highlight the surge of development needed to still hit the government’s e-business targets. Slightly over half of all UK broadband connected businesses use the internet for form completion and filing (51%), but only 12% of the total broadband user population connect to e-government services. This puts the UK in 15th. ranking for business e-government, but at 12th. place in Europe for overall e-government population users.

This latter figure is very low for a global internet user population of 70% overall in the U.K. with Ireland, Estonia, Lithuania, Finland and Portugal all enjoying more e-government literate populations.

The full survey also has interesting things to say about the percentage of employees with ICT skills, or rather those employees who are recruited specifically for their I.T. skills.

To read more abstracts of the research, or to see the Commission Digital Competitiveness Report in full you can find the page here, on the European Information Society portal pages.

You can reach the Third Sector Web home page here.

Google updates image search…

b&wTreepicGoogle recently began a program of updating the search function for images. Recent additions to the advanced image search function include the ability to search by creative commons licence, colour and size.

Micro-stock sites with similar search functions are available, but this addition by Google is a useful adjunct when you are searching for that black and white image, that can safely be re-used in a project document or press release, for example.

The image of the tree above is from Flickr – a Creative Commons licensed image of a tree in Old Wood Lane, near Bingley from Tim Green.

You can find the Third Sector Web home page here.

Google translator toolkit (beta)

translatePicWe love translation – building our web sites with machine translation facilities and using Google online translation services to publish printed material in other languages to support our clients and community organisations.

Google have recently lanched the Translator Toolkit. You can play your part in improving machine translation at Google, helping to correct automatic translations in a simple editor.

You can compare and contrast translated pages, search past translations for new words or publish the translations themselves directly to Wikipedia or Knol.

Translation – better with Google.

You can find the Third Sector Web home page here.