Finishing 3D

It’s been a long time since I posted – coursework, life etc has been getting in the way. To make up for it, today I am posting everything I’ve meant to post over the last month – yay!

A while ago, I posted about the issues I was having with 3DS Max for my 3D modelling module. My original plan was to create a little animation of an origami crane being folded. This turned out to be near impossible. So after a lot of frustration and confusion I decided to alter my idea slightly.

Folding an Origami Crane

This was my inspiration. It still involved a lot of confusion but I finaly managed to create my little animation.

So, what do you think?

 

Skeleton Skills

I talked a bit before about the web development project I am undertaking for my friend Elsie in the ‘My Rules!’ post. I just wanted to give a little update as to how that is going.

I have started to build the first evolution of the website. I did this using Skeleton – a light weight framework a bit like BootStrap but with a lot less to it. It’s mobile responsive already and uses columns to make pretty layouts. It’s real easy to work with if you make sure all the CSS you add is stored in a separate file. So far, I’m liking working with it. It’s brilliant for project which don’t require the full BootStrap power and saves you time and hassle of writing the layout from scratch. Check it out.

 

Perplexed by PHP

And further adventures in Ajax.

For my Web Technologies module this semester I have been tasked with building an online book club.

The personalised interactive book club should include the following functionality:
1. A user login page.
2. 2-3 pages, to display the books.
3. Interactive method to enable users to share book reviews.
a. To be able to submit reviews for the books on display.
b. To be able to read reviews left by other users for the books on display.
The following needs to be implemented using PHP:
1. A method of maintaining state as the user is browsing the different pages.
2. Interfacing with MySQL database to retrieve and submit book reviews.
3. Interfacing with the MySQL database to enable the user login functionality. The following needs to be implemented in Ajax (Javascript, HTML and CSS):
1. The interactive user interface (creativity and use of Javascript is essential).

I’m pretty proud with what I’ve managed to accomplish in quite a short period of time. I really got into this project and I’m nearly finished with it (bit of a shame really!).

I started by designing what database tables I’d need and then creating them and adding the necessary data.

I then created the absolute basic layout for the site. Again, I used Skeleton as the main framework since it makes mobile optimisation so easy (and brownie points for that!).

I used the base of what I created for the email client for the previous semester to create interactive elements. So I used a combination of php, sql and javascript to grab the different books from my table and dyamically insert them into the webpage by interacting with the DOM.

bookClub_home

I then started working on the individual book pages. This takes the ID of the selected book and stores it as a cookie which is used to grab all the relevant data from the books table. Again, this is dynamically displayed. The same is done to grab the reviews relevant to that book.

bookClub_book

To add a review the user goes to a book, clicks submit review and fills out the form. The book ID and user ID fields are automatically filled out with information from the session variables and cookies. When the user submits the review it is added to the database and should now show up on the book page. If they have already submitted a review for that book an alert will display to tell them so.

bookClub_review

I am currently extending the project to include a ‘my account’ page which shows user details as well as all the reviews they have left. I am also considering creating a reviews page which displays all the reviews left, ordered by newest first. Another way I am considering extending it is to give an option to only show books of a specified genre. I’ll update when I’ve finished!

Freelance Projects

Last week I had two meetings with new clients. Yep, 2 new clients – woohoo! And they look like pretty interesting projects too.

The first one is for the lovely David, he is a counsellor in Brighton and Hove and wants to advertise himself independently. The key thing for this site is it has to be non-triggering  as it cannot spark a potential episode in one of the users. What does this mean? Calming images, not lots of movement or animation, no flashing images etc, very easy to read text in small chunks, a natural colour scheme and easy navigation. This all seems pretty doable.
Because of the size of the website (relatively small) I figured Skeleton might be a good approach to this, so I’m currently working on building the layout using skeleton’s lovely grid system. I’m loving the fact it comes with normalize.css too as it immediately looks like a pretty decent website even with no custom CSS added yet! Looking forward to spending a bit more time on this one.

Just in case you were curious, this is how Dave and I know each other - hitting drums. Although not sure he'll appreciate me showing off his bald spot.

Just in case you were curious, this is how Dave and I know each other – hitting drums. He’s the one with the green flowers.

The other website is for Andrew The Artisan Craftsman. Oooh. He started off by telling me that what he wanted was ‘really simple’. An hour or two later he realised he had maybe underestimated the project and what a website would need to include for him to be a successful freelancer.
This site is going to predominantly feature a filterable gallery. This is one where the user can click on aa category and those images will show up in a little menu, with the first one being displayed full size. The user can then click on the thumbnails to see each image properly. Here is a mock up I quickly did of the basic layout:
mockUp of filterable gallery
I’ve started working on the gallery, attempting to code it in javascript from scratch. It’s going pretty well so far, but obviously work still needs to be done. I’m actually quite enjoying this, its a good challenge! I should probably save it for when my coursework is done though… Anyway, I will then need to integrate it into a fully fledged website, which again I may use skeleton for. As Andrew will want to upload new photos when he finishes a project I’m probably going to need to implement some sort of CMS too. But I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

Interview Results…

The wait to hear back from my interviews has been excruciating. Then I heard back from them all in pretty quick succession.

7th Sense got back first, asking me to come in for a second interview. After spending a while thinking about this, I decided to decline – the other jobs were more my thing, and even if I didn’t get those I had decided I would prefer to pursue a web focussed placement.

Then I got a call from the lovely Katie at Shop Direct. “First of all, I just want to thank you for coming up for the interview” We all know what that means, but I was prepared for it. I had been expecting to be rejected after that practical test. “You did really well in every section of the interview process and you probably know what’s coming”

“We’d like to offer you the job”
Nope, that’s definitely not what I was expecting to hear. Stunned. And immediate panic. I still hadn’t heard from the BBC. I told Katie that I was still waiting to hear back from other places and she gave me the weekend to think about it.
I emailed the BBC recruiters who said interviews were still being conducted and they would get back to me in approximately 3 weeks. Cue major dither and panic.
Katie called back – “Actually, can you let us know by the end of Friday”.
Less than 2 days. Shit.
I did some frantic googling in the hopes of trying to find the email address for my interviewer at the BBC to see if I could get some clarity on the situation. I managed to find it on Github and fired off a quick message explaining my position after 5pm on a Wednesday I didn’t expect a reply and tried to get my head sorted out. Wrong again.
‘New mail’ notification. Deep breaths.

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Seriously?!??

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The next morning I received this:

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And that is the story of a manic emotional roller coaster of a day in my life. 2 prestigious job offers in one day. Wow.

I took the BBC one as you can probably guess and am super excited to start in August!

Shop Direct

This one was all the way up in Liverpool, it was a mad train journey up with delayed and cancelled trains and flooding on the tracks in Rugby.

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Train tracks submerged in water – they weren’t joking!

 

Once I finally got there and found the house where I was staying, I wandered round Liverpool for a little bit.

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Landmarks, Liverpool Pie and Formby Ale – oh and a funny toilet seat…

The next morning I managed to get lost on the way to the interview, getting there just in time in the end (lucky I had left an hour early just in case!).
The actual interview went fairly well – there were 3 of them with standard questions to ask me. All seemed to go fine – nothing special particularly but well enough. I was then taken up to the open plan office to sit and do a coding task. That bit went a little wrong. I managed to overcomplicate the task, and waste most of the time trying to accomplish something that wasn’t being asked of me. Ah well. I headed home, accepting that shop direct wasn’t to be and just relieved that the BBC had gone so well.

Interviews!

2 down, 2 to go.

It’s been a pretty and hectic week in the word of Rushlet. I’ve had not one but 2 interviews for my placement year – both at pretty exciting companies!

The first was 7thSense, a company who produce media servers to serve lossless projections for massive projects – think theme park rides.
I had no idea what to expect when I prepared myself for my interview on Tuesday morning. I set off, google maps in hand to try and find their offices in the middle of nowhere via 2 buses, since my original cycling plan had been thwarted by the grim rain.
I found the offices, pretty damp and cold – not neccesarily the best first impression, but not terrible either. They showed me around the building, showing me what they do and then proceeded to have a short interview with 2 of the owners of the company. They were super lovely and it was a very informal interview, mostly just chatting about my previous experience and what the placement role would involve. Less than an hour later I ventured back out into the rain to try and find m way back to the city – easier said than done i turned out and I ended up getting very lost and soaked to the bone in the horrible English weather. Overall, I reckon that interview went pretty well and hopefully I should find out by the end of this week.

The second was the one I have been stressing out about for about a month now. The BBC.

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Wednesday started off a lot better than the day before had – it was Sunny in Brighton, I knew what I was wearing and I had been frantically preparing for weeks for this interview. It was The BBC – who wouldn’t be excitedly nervously terrified?!
I headed down to the station, had time to buy a coffee and then got on the train, sitting opposite a friendly woman at a table so I could carry on with my interview prep. This turned out to be the best decision I could have made. After a while the lady started chatting to me about what I was doing, she was very impressed that I was on my way to an interview at the BBC (which she had seen from the mess of papers I was writing on) and wanted to know more. I took out my headphones and we got chatting. Turns out she was an ex westminster lawyer who now works with the UN. And she was just as incredible as she sounds. She was great, asking questions about the job, helping me prepare for difficult questions and just giving general tips. The journey was a lot quicker thanks to her and I was far less nervous after having such a nice train journey. It was raining in London and I didn’t have a coat, but I was so happy by this point it didn’t matter.

I headed straight to Oxford Circus, surprisingly remembering the way without checking from when I used to head to Broadcasting House for radio shows. Deciding to make sure I knew where the entrance was before having a second coffee to kill the hour I had to wait I headed up to New Broadcasting House. Turns out there’s a coffee shop right outside the entrance. I headed in, thinking this was as good a place as any to chill for a bit and finish my interview prep. The lady in front of me in the queue got chatting with me (the perks of not having headphones in). It transpired that she was the head of Music Television and she took pity on my pre-interview nerves and bought me a coffee! My morning was just getting better and better. We had a nice little chat in the queue and then she had to run to a meeting. To top it off, as I was sitting there psyching myself up Johnny Vegas was just standing outside the window having a smoke – I guess that’s what happens when you work in showbiz….!!

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After meeting a few lovely ladies, each very kind and supportive I was feeling quite confident as I entered the BBC for my interview. I was complimented on my CV and application by the interviewer on the way up to the room which was reassuring, and shown ‘the news pit’ where news and weather are recorded (and was walked through the back of shot just for giggles). We took the glass lift up to the 7th floor (slightly nauseating) and went into a little meeting room where the other interviewer was waiting and we got started.

The interview had been booked for 2 hours though they said it would probably take only 1.5 hours. That still felt like a long time.
There was the talky bit – where they asked predetermined questions and we had a good chat about the role, the departments and teams, and obviously my experience. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting and we just seemed to click. I immediately relaxed.
Then there was the writey bit where they left me alone with a codey test for 20 minutes – only interrupting to bring me a coffee. They came back we talked about the last question in the task they had left me – about multidimensional arrays. Turns out I had managed to do it pretty well and understood it much better thanI had thought.
Next was the typey bit – yes these are the official terms they use for each section. In this bit I had 3 tasks to complete in half an hour in CodePen using HTML, CSS and JS and could refer to google and the interviewers for help. I was warned that I would probably only be able to do the first one or two, which put my mind at ease. I finished the first in less than 10 minutes, the second pretty fast too and even managed to finish the 3rd one. We were all surprised! Apparently I’m the 2nd peron to get to the last task and the first to finish it. Yay! That boosted my ego a bit. It was just a really relaxed time and we were laughing a lot, so I was very relaxed and happy by this point.
I then asked them some questions before we realised that we’d run over by half an hour. The interview had last 2.5 hours but was very enjoyable and went pretty fast – and I never thought I’d be saying that about an interview!
Overall, it sounds like a fantastic department to work in and I enjoyed my time there a lot. I should hear back in the next couple of weeks, so fingers crossed!!

I then met my buddy Cai at Victoria who had also had an interview for his placement at another company and we went for some cocktails to debrief and celebrate. Pretty good day all round. Sorry for the long post, I just wanted to share the small happy things that happened to make the day even better – chatting to strangers might seem insignificant but it can really make your day.

2 down, 2 to go – just EdenSpiekermann second Skype interview and ShopDirect up in Liverpool next week. Feeling fairly good about myself at the moment – which I needed after a rough week – never thought interviews would be the way to boost self confidence!

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More cocktails happened when we got back to Brighton – happy times with Andrew, Amy and Cai

Battling the BBC Application Task

After taking a week off to chill and hang out with my friends again post exams and coursework deadlines I came back to the BBC task today. And I think I’ve done it! Woohoo!

bbcTask

It doesn’t look like much but this is the table I managed to create using HTML, JavaScript and JSON. And I pretty pleased with it! I can’t share the code due to other people attempting the challenge too but I ended up taking a lot simpler an approach than I first expected. My biggest issue was understanding JSON after only working with XML before.

I then had a little play with D3 to see if I could figure out how to create a visual representation of the data. I think I need to do some more but not bad for a first attempt methinks:

D3

 

So, now I’ve done the majority of this task I think I better get back to general interview prep – oh and the next semester of uni coursework…

Conquering Codecadamy

Well in prep for the impending interview at the BBC I have been losing my life to Codecademy. I just love the style of teaching and how easy it is to use.

So far, I have completed courses in JQuery, AngularJS, Git and Command Line and I’m halfway through PHP.

I’ve also started attempting the challenge they set me – turn out to be a lot trickier than I expected, and JSON is a bit more confusing than I was led to believe after dealing with XML. Determined to do it and do it well though – watch this space!

I’ve also been advised (and I think this is a fab idea) to create my own little reference sheet of all the terms in the job spec with definitions and stuff to make sure I understand them and can talk about them even if only a little bit. So, after Codecademy PHP the thesaurus is next, alongside the coding challenge and general interview prep of course!

http://quotesgram.com/job-interview-funny-quotes/#FdUC7ESLWY

Interview at the BBC

Umm… wow. Okay, so yesterday I got an email saying that my application for a traineeship in web development in the BBC News department had been successful. I h ave an interview coming up this month. Cue 5 seconds of excitement followed by fear and anxiousness and panic.

Let’s take a look at the job description….

You will ideally be undertaking a degree in Media Technology, Computer Science or a related discipline. This is a sandwich year placement role, which is designed for undergraduates returning to university. You will be on target to get a minimum of 2:1 degree and have a passion for front-end engineering and web development.

It is essential that you will have knowledge and experience of client-side technologies, namely HTML, CSS, JavaScript (including jQuery) and an advantage if you have knowledge of JavaScript based tooling (i.e. NPM, Grunt, Gulp, Bower), PHP (including frameworks like Zend, Cake or Codeigniter), Ruby, Perl and other programming languages and an advantage of experience of using version control (SVN, Github), working with agile project management methodologies and have an interest in web-design and current affairs.

Okay so the first bit – yep, that’s me. I’m studying Digital Media Development and looking for a placement year for a sandwich degree. I am passionate about web development – hence why I do freelance work etc… And yep, so far I’m on track for a 2:1 or a first. So, that’s all sounding brilliant right?

Errr, let’s look at the next bit. HTML (tick) CSS (tick) JavaScript (tick). jQuery (not so much), JavaScript based tooling (no), PHP (tiny bit), PHP Frameworks (zilch). Ruby, Perl… no. Github – a little bit yeah. Agile (sort of), Current affairs (yes) web-design (yep)

Hmmm.

So, the prospect of an interview for this is now terrifying. I have decided to be proactive though! I am researching and cramming and learning as much as possible in the run up to the interview (no confirmed date yet). Luckily I’m a quick learner, very interested in front-end development and really want this job!

Instead of having the lazy-post exam week I’d planned my time seems to be going into Codecademy to solidify my JS, jQuery and Git knowledge and get a firm foot on PHP and maybe Ruby.

Oh and I also need to complete the task they’ve set me – luckily this looks quite similar to my AJAX email client. But with extra stuff using graphical frameworks that I need to learn…

Busy week ahead I think.

Wish me luck!