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SyncHerts Launch event – sponsored by The Technology Studio

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Yesterday SyncHerts held its launch event in the Business and Technology Centre Stevenage. Our vision is that SyncHerts becomes a thriving technology community and enables local business growth in Hertfordshire.  We were delighted by both the number of people who attended the inaugural event and also with the level of engagement, ideas and networking.

A huge thank you to MyIncubator for organising the venue, arranging the logistics and providing the marketing. We also would like to thank the speakers who invested their time to speak at the event.

More than 40 people fought their way through the local traffic chaos (caused by the Sonisphere festival taking place nearby) to attend the day the event showing their genuine excitement at the prospect of a technical meetup in Hertfordshire instead of traveling to London or Cambridge where these events seem much more common due to the businesses located there.

Over tea and coffee at the start of the event, conversations were struck up and there was a real ‘buzz’ in the air. The main sessions then kicked off SyncHerts with a presentation from Matthew Andrews, a developer at Financial Times Labs. Instead of developing native mobile applications, FT Labs are creating websites that look just like web applications and work on all screen sizes. We learned a number of tricks about what to do if a website suddenly loses Wifi connection and about caching issues.

Matthew Andrews

During the break pizza and beer were consumed and Brian Norman, The Technology Studio’s CTO, offered anyone interested a chance to have a play with a Google Glass.

The meetup continued with another great speaker – Tim Wilkinson, senior product manager at UNEP-WCMC. Tim offered a different angle on agile development and the challenges of implementing a true ‘agile’ approach. This sparked animated discussions from people who have tried it before and have experienced challenges on their individual journeys with agile.

Tim Wilkinson

Even though the meeting officially finished, people kept networking and went off for drinks afterwards. We are really looking forward to the next event about User Experience on Thursday 7th August 2014 at 6.30pm at the Business and Technology Centre in Stevenage. Sign up HERE and also watch this space for further details. We would love to see you there!

More awards for GoLearnTo!

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

We are delighted that the website we’ve been involved in developing for the past 5 years GoLearnTo.com continues to go from strength to strength and this year has been nominated for no less than 3 British Travel Awards.

The categories are:

1) Online tour operator of the year

2) Best specialist singles tour operator

3) Small tour operator of the year

GoLearnTo.com are learning holiday specialists and sell a wide array of inspired holiday courses where you can learn anything from yoga, photography, painting and cooking to surfing, horse riding, languages and even gladiator fighting.
It’s great to hear that a website we have been involved with developing for 5 years now has made it into such prestige award categories and we wish them every success.

Winning relies on votes from the public and if you like the website we would love any support you can offer. In addition, if you register to vote you’ll automatically be added to the prize draw to win some amazing holiday prizes.

To vote for GoLearnTo.com (and we really hope you will!), please follow the steps below…

1. Click here to open the British Travel Awards website

2. Fill in your details

3. Our categories are the FIRST and THIRD boxes you see so please click on them to expand the sub-categories…


Under here you’ll find a sub-section for ‘BEST SPECIALIST SINGLES HOLIDAY TOUR OPERATOR” (its the last one in the list)
Please vote for GoLearnTo here…


Expand this box and the first one you see is ‘SMALL TOUR OPERATOR OF THE YEAR’
Please vote for GoLearnTo here…

The third box you see is ‘ONLINE TOUR OPERATOR OF THE YEAR’
Please vote for GoLearnTo here…

4. You can either skip the rest and scroll down to the bottom to click submit for your chance to win or if you have some time, feel free to run through other categories and fill in your favourites…

Thank you for voting!

Gadgets and Gizmos blogs about Pufferfish and the Eye of Sauron

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Thanks to Richard Sharp at Gadgets and Gizmos who wrote a great blog article about us being at The Gadget Show Live.

He wrote …

“Neil from Earthware admitted that the ‘Eye’ is really just a party piece and not what the puffersphere was built for. It’s actually a high end advertising ‘orb’ used at tradeshows and events. Neil showed us another interesting use for the Puffersphere, a complete video of the earthquakes leading up until the fateful one that caused the Tsunami and beyond. Although watching the events on the sphere was a little eerie it does show the power this type of tech could bring to research and development and educational institutions.”

I hope Richard’s prediction of the future uses of the PufferSphere hold true – the future is bright, the future is spherical!


A boy’s own guide to building a giant creepy eyeball that follows you round the room

Friday, March 18th, 2011

You will need:

  • 1 x PC (which I assume you already have)
  • 1 x Microsoft Kinect (about £120)
  • 1 x Puffersphere (worth quite a lot, but you can hire them from Pufferfish)

Total cost: more than a few week’s pocket money…

There was a lot of excitement in the Technology Studio this week when a nice man with a van dropped off three large flight cases containing something rather special: a spherical display system called a Puffersphere. Pufferfish, the company which invented them, has been kind enough to lend us one for a week.

Things got even better when the man from Pufferfish turned up the following day, helped us put it together and took me through a slightly mind bending set of information about how to use the thing. He brought us some donuts though, so that made it a lot easier to deal with.

Although the brief I was given was to come up with something we could use as part of our upcoming appearance at the 2011 Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry Annual Conference, the inner geek took over and we quickly decided the first project would be a massive eyeball.

To get an image onto the Puffersphere you start off with a panoramic image and use a polar distortion to get it into a form that the projector’s super-special Super Umami lens can then display onto the inside of the sphere. Before and after look like this:

world-original            world-polar

I’ll post some more technical detail on this later – but the short version is that the top of the origin rectangle ends up as the centre point of the circle, and the bottom of the rectangle ends up as the outside of the circle.

Once you have the image it’s a simple matter to get it into a full screen WPF app, which can then be displayed on the sphere. The centre of the image ends up as the top of the sphere, and the edges converge on the bottom. This means that to get the image on the sphere rotating in the horizontal plane is as easy as applying a WPF rotate transform to the image.

For the next step, the Kinect. The process for getting this up and running on the PC, using OpenNI is well documented elsewhere, so I won’t repeat it. The OpenNI framework includes a user generator that uses the feed from the Kinect’s depth camera to detect individuals within the scene. Once that’s all in place, you can effectively convert the real-world co-ordinates of the user (given in cartesian co-ordinates) into polar coordinates, and use the angle to rotate the eye correctly.

As has been pointed out – not the most ground breaking use of a Kinect ever, but it does show how putting two pieces of technology can be combined to create something new, interesting and – although not immediately apparent – with genuine commercial applications.

For the interested, I’m keeping the code I write for this in the Earthware Github account. You can run this without having a Puffersphere, but you will need a Kinect. I’ll be putting up some more posts in the next few weeks about this and other cool and useful things we do with the sphere and Kinect.

We also took some video of the eye in action:

After we posted the video, we were very happy to see that it was picked up by Engadget. Many of the comments echoed something the more geeky among us had been thinking from the start: “we want the eye of Sauron”. And we’re nothing if not responsive to our customer’s requirements:


GoLearnTo website design gets an update

Monday, March 7th, 2011

The award winning GoLearnTo website has had a design update recently and we think it looks great – even if we do say so ourselves!Screenshot_GoLearnToNew

After some market research GoLearnTo decided that their website needed to be more focused on their target demographic. In addition they wanted to widen the site from 800 pixels wide to 1024 pixels wide, considering that now less than 1% of people use 800×600 displays. Yes, that’s less than 1%!

See more information about browser display statistics.

There are now a  lot more jQuery effects, such as slider panels and more aesthetic and functional photo galleries. These kind of things are great as they give more information to the user as well as being relevant for search engines. They can also add a bit of flashiness to a site which a lot of people generally like!

Check it out and see what you think!

New Bizspace site proves that getting SEO, usability and a professional design working together is what counts

Monday, March 7th, 2011

We were recently approached by Bizspace to completely redesign (in their words!) their old, tired and basic website!

Their previous site was falling well below par on all three of the most important things that a website needs to get right…

SEO (Search engine optimisation)

Unfortunately the site was built with minimal search engine optimisation consideration in mind. There were very few pages with a serious lack of detailed, relevanScreenshot_Bizspace_At content, as well as some other more serious issues such as using images for text headers. Without spending the required time and effort on SEO you are negating much else of what you do on a website – because nobody will ever find it!

Website Usabillity

Clarity is the name of the game here – not making people have to think! Unfortunately the navigation through the site was not clear and neither were the most important calls to action on each page. Always remember to keep things simple and clear and ensure the things you want people to do on each page are easy to see and understand.

Website design

Aesthetically the design was below average. I say it all the time but people will make up their mind within seconds of visiting your site on who you are, what you stand for and whether they trust you. A clear professional design is extremely important to instantly reassure their subconscious that you are worthy of their trust.

But, it’s all of them working together that’s the key!

Getting one or even a couple of these things right is a good start, but it’s the combination of all three together that we here at The Technology Studio believe is the real goal. It’s not good enough to have a fantastic looking site if nobody knows how to use it. There’s no point having  a site with search engine optimisation tuned perfectly if it looks unprofessional and shabby as people will go elsewhere. You see where I’m going here!

With our help the new Bizspace website has released to much praise in each of the areas above. The proof as always is in the pudding however! Their previous site achieved half of the visitors that the new site achieves, but it’s the site goals that are really interesting. Previously the old Bizspace site achieved an average of just 4 contact forms per week. It is now achieving an average of 40. That’s a ten fold increase!

Pharmaceutical Humour ?!?

Friday, February 4th, 2011

As I am sure you will be aware from our site we have lots of friends and clients in the pharmaceutical industry and one of our best friends (who will remain nameless to protect the guilty) sent this joke through this morning.

Here’s the joke ….

The British Medical Association has weighed in on the new Prime Minister David Cameron’s health care proposals. The Allergists voted to scratch it, but the Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves.  The Gastroenterologists had a sort of a gut feeling about it, but the Neurologists thought the Administration had a lot of nerve.  The Obstetricians felt they were all labouring under a misconception.  Ophthalmologists considered the idea short-sighted.  Pathologists yelled; "Over my dead body!" while the Paediatricians said, "Oh, Grow up!"  The Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness, while the Radiologists could see right through it.  The Surgeons were fed up with the cuts and decided to wash their hands of the whole thing.  The ENT specialists didn’t swallow it, and just wouldn’t hear of it.  The Pharmacologists thought it was a bitter pill to swallow, and the Plastic Surgeons said, "This puts a whole new face on the matter…."  The Podiatrists thought it was a step forward, but the Urologists were pissed off at the whole idea.  The Anaesthetists thought the whole idea was a gas, but the Cardiologists didn’t have the heart to say no.  In the end, the Proctologists won out, leaving the entire decision up to the a*******s in London.

However, if you want a serious view on the British Medical Association’s view on the government’s plans, please refer to the article on the BBC website – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12203000

30 free iPad applications

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

As The Technology Studio launch into developing iphone and ipad applications I was recently given an iPad to play with. I made a point of trying to find good applications that are free. Here is a set of micro reviews complied for your pleasure.

Out of the 30 applications one is for the iPhone, but works on the iPad and two are web addresses that you have to add from the browser to your home screen, but then ‘look’ like applications.

[Disclaimer] any views are my own and are not be representative of the company. All copyrights and trademarks remain the property of their respective owners. Neither the company or I take any responsibility for damage or misuse arising from installing applications listed here. Some applications may not be available in territories outside the United Kingdom. Some applications may have changed price/functionality since the review was conducted.

Dragon Dictation: Voice based dictation for notes. Very basic but does do dictation without any training. Needs a training mode ! *FREE* 3 stars

Epicurious: Recipe book. In one word ‘lavish’, it is beautiful/responsive and has everything you need. Nice layout/options images, reviews and can store all the required ingredients in a shopping list. *FREE* 5 stars

Dictionary.com: Dictionary/Thesaurus. Just works, no obvious niggles. *FREE* 5 stars

IMDB: Internet Movie DataBase. Just works and looks brilliant. *FREE* 5 stars

AudioMemos: Record audio from the microphone. Although heavily ad supported it does do a good job. Just hit record, and rename your recording after. *FREE**AD Supported* 3 stars

The Guardian Eyewitness: Slide show of the best daily global photography. Stunning, must have. *FREE* 5 stars

Beatwave: Music creator: very fun, simple and has some useful configurations. *FREE* 4 stars

SkyGrid: News consolidation app. Bit quirky, nice way to waste five minutes catching up with news about things and stuff you might otherwise have missed. *FREE* 3 stars

Google Earth: Planet visualiser. Does exactly what you expect, fun and easy to use. Pinch zoom seems to rotate the image every time. *FREE* 5 stars

Toy Story: Interactive story book, with games and sing-a-longs. Kids adored it, great graphics easy to use, intermixes actual film and audio clips. *FREE* 5 stars

Saturation: Colour visualiser for the kuler Adobe community. Show the micro palettes either interactively or in a screen saver type experience. Fun but not very useful. *FREE* 3 stars

VAInfo: System information reference. Find your IP and MAC address, CPU type, OS, memory, battery, location, kernel etc etc. For geeks, it just works. *FREE* 5 stars

VTrace: Visual tracer. Enter an IP address or web server and get a route described by pins at the data centres the data travelled. For geeks, it just works. *FREE* 4 stars

Wink Target Clock: A full screen arty analogue clock. Imagine a shooting target composed of colourful concentric circles and then add hands and a second mechanism that changes the colours. *FREE* 3 stars

PCalc Lite: Calculator. Demo for more fully featured product. Very clear and easy to use, wish it had base 2 and base 16. *FREE**DEMO* 3 stars

Implode Nature!: Physics game. Demo, containing 10 levels where you place explosives and try and decimate chalk drawn structures. Completed the demo in less than 10 minutes. *FREE**DEMO* 3 stars

Bub Wider: Tilt game. Control a bubble by tilting the iPad collecting art and avoiding sugar babes. No indication it was only a demo. Basic premise, collect objects and avoid enemies,  but looks really nice. *FREE**DEMO* 3 stars

RJ Voyager: Audio mixer. Fun interactive audio toy for mixing up sounds. Comes with eight ‘scenes’ that are a collection of samples each with their own parameters such as volume, echo, reality and filter to name but a few. For acid house, trance dance types. *FREE* 5 stars

Labyrinth 2 HD Lite: Tilt maze game. Demo containing 20 levels, some easy, some hard. Amazingly well presented and lots of fun, but I got neck ache looking down at the iPad as it had to be flat as neutral. At £4.99 I will consider purchasing the 300 level complete version. *FREE**DEMO* 5 stars

Pocket Pond HD: Interactive pond. Play with the fish in this relaxing interactive pond environment. Ambient sounds play, you can annoy the fish by touching the water or add lily pads, the only other thing is to drag through the water like all those water demos before it. Simple, beautiful, but a bit basic. Not really a demo but a new more advanced version called iPond with fishing, frogs and dragon flies is available. *FREE* 4 stars

Clinometer: Spirit level and bubble level. That’s it, a nicely presented bubble level (when the iPad is on its back) and spirit level when stood on end, very sensitive (a good thing). *FREE* 5 stars

Doodle Buddy: Drawing. Lots here for the kids, from multiple backgrounds to stamps with sound effects. As well as having the normal draw a colour pens, it has a smudge and also allows finished art to be saved as the iPad background. *FREE* 5 stars

PreSchoolMM: Memory match game. Another on for the kids. Match the pairs with colourful illustrations and when they match get a sound and/or voice over. At the end of each level you get three wacky sound toys to play with. Lots of variation on the cards, from animals to instruments to vehicles. *FREE* 5 stars

IdeaSketch: Mind mapping. Very simple, not very many options, but allows you to create simple lists with associations in either list or graph view. *FREE* 3 stars

WorldClockPro: Clock. Show multiple clocks from different time zones. Very few customisations and the LED view is not very readable. However the analogue clocks look very nice. *FREE* 3 stars

Hexius: Hexagon matching game. High speed touch matching with funky explosions sounds, graphics and fun power-ups. *FREE* 3 stars

Trundle HD: Rolling physics game. Tip the iPad left and right to get your ball rolling, tap the screen to jump. One of the better and more devious physics games. *FREE* 4 stars

Rafter HD: Drawing physics game. Draw blocks and balls at the top of the screen and let them fall down and activate the mine. Bit limited and hard in places. *FREE* 4 stars

BBC iPlayer: BBC catch-up service. Not an app but a URL that you can add to your home screen. Select programs from BBC channels from the previous week (or so) and watch streaming. *FREE* 4 stars (UK only)


TVCatchup: Live streaming TV. Not an app but a URL that you can add to your home screen. Select one of 37 channels and watch streaming live. So not really any kind of catch-up service. You do have to register but its free to use. *FREE* 4 stars (UK only)


I hope you enjoyed the list. Let us know your thoughts on these or recommend any others you have found.


Travel Innovator GoLearnTo continues to be recognized for leading the way in online marketing

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

We love sharing the success stories of our clients who partner with us to create fantastic solutions that are recognized throughout their industry. In the case of travel website GoLearnTo.com, the accolades just keep on coming with no less than four awards and nominations in the past month which include…


Now you’re talking…

The International Association of Language Centres (IALC) have voted GoLearnTo.com agency of the month recognising them as a leading language travel agency with a range of courses where you can learn Spanish in Spain or learn French in France and over 14 more languages worldwide.

The public have spoken…

For the 2nd year running, GoLearnTo.com has been nominated for a British Travel award in the category ‘Best Holiday Experience Provider’ proving that the trend for learning holidays continues to get the public’s vote.

School’s have their say…

Language Travel Magazine readers which include language schools from over 30 countries worldwide have nominated GoLearnTo.com for ‘Best New Agency’. GoLearnTo.com have found a niche with language travel and are inspiring more of us to learn a language by combining languages with a unique range of fun activities such as cookery holidays in Italy, yoga holidays or even surfing and much more.

Guiding the way…

Last but not least, GoLearnTo.com has received a nomination for The Good Web Guide’s Website of the Year Award recognising websites that not only function well but inspire.

This proves once again how an aesthetically pleasing, functionally rich and easy to use website designed and developed by The Technology Studio with maps by Earthware can do for you.

Calling all Silverlight Developers

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

The Technology Studio’s sister brand Earthware is an entrepreneurial company specialising in developing online mapping solutions and websites using the latest technologies. Silverlight is proving to be the future direction of the company which is why they are looking for a developer with experience in this technology but with a hunger to learn more both here and in other technologies and to apply this throughout the planning, designing and development process. Other required skills include strong full life cycle Asp.net, C# and WCF, whilst experience with Ajax frameworks, XSLT / XML and unit testing is desirable.


If you fit this description and are interested in applying for the position please email your CV explaining how you meet our requirements and giving example projects/URLs to recruitment@earthware.co.uk.


All applicants must be eligible to work in the UK. No contact from agencies please.