Work Life, Projects, and More.

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Since early July ’13 I’ve been rather busy, with a new Full-Time job and a few projects on the side it’s safe to say my personal blog has become somewhat neglected in this time. Sixteen days into 2014 and I’ve decided to find time for this site once again – I’ve tweaked and tuned stuff under-the-hood, set up a whole new theme, and even moved servers.

U-GPRV: Unmanned General-Purpose Reconnaissance Vehicle

The U-GPRV project, our computer-controlled drone, had slowed to almost a complete halt, entirely due to lack of spare time on my part, but thankfully it’s picking up pace again. The software is under development and the aircraft is almost fully assembled, we should be in the air in no time! – U-GPRV Project

Web Shop Revolution

Web Shop Revolution is a rather exciting project that came about through work. We’re working to create a really easy-to-use hosted e-commerce solution with a minimalist WYSIWYG-Style setup, but a powerful core, built around the eBay-owned Magento system. The directors are aiming to launch at the end of Q1 2014, so not long until we hit the digital shelves with our all-new SaaS e-commerce platform! – Check out Web Shop Revolution

Other Blogs

As part of the Isaac Nash SEO group, I’ve recently been contributing content to a number of sites and blogs – As a WordPress consultant,  I’m currently contributing over at Support4Wordpress, offering guides and support for WordPress, including security tips, setup guides, and discounted access to a number of support and hosting services!

OpenTicket

Working as a software developer is awesome, but there is always a need for a ticket or support system for the end product, both during development and post-sale. I’ve used a number of bug tracking and ticketing systems including Bugzilla, Trac, and I’ve even trialed ZenDesk, but what I truly wanted was a simple, lightweight system that could run on a standard LAMP (or WAMP/MAMP) stack with a modern, with a clean UI that can be re-used over and over for the software I develop. From this, I’ve decided to create OpenTicket – If the name isn’t a giveaway, It’s intent is to be an Open-Source (GPL Licensed) Ticket system. The plan is to make use of HTML5 and CSS3 browser technologies, while using Bootstrap and jQuery to make a modern, responsive ticket system, with PHP and MySQL powering the backend for a fast and interactive UX. You can find it at the OpenTicket website, or Fork OpenTicketPHP on GitHub!

Mmm, Pie… Raspberry Pi! (and Arduino, Too!)

Raspberry Pi and Arduino
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If you haven’t already, you should order a Raspberry Pi right away! (Then come back and read this, of course!).

Note: Click any Image for a full-resolution version. I’ve done a YouTube video which can be found here also.

For such a small and low-cost device, it has so much to offer! The Raspberry Pi is a small, bare-bones computer designed for kids to learn programming at home and in school without the need for expensive equipment – let’s face it, a £30 computer that you (or your kids) can play with, learn from, and enjoy without worrying too much about it getting broken or damaged like you would with a laptop or desktop computer!

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi

I got my first Raspberry Pi (or Raspi/RPi, for short) around one month ago (Model B, Rev 2 – 512Mb), and haven’t put it down since! After a bit of playing and browsing the web (Yes, on the Pi!), I’ve been working to get it to interface with my Arduino Uno (Rev 3) for various projects.

Arduino Uno (Revision 3)

Arduino Uno (Revision 3)

Logic-Level Converter for I2C

Logic-Level Converter for I2C, from Sparkfun

I have the two devices connected by I2C using a simple Logic-Level Converter to compensate for the voltage difference between the two boards. In the image to the right you can see where I soldered two Right-Angle Pin strips (6 per side, totaling 12 pins on the LLC board) to be used for connections between the devices.

Warning: Don’t try and connect the devices without some form of voltage regulation – the Arduino’s logic high is 5v whereas the Raspberry Pi uses 3.3v (or 3v3, as it is often written); Connecting the devices directly will almost certainly damage the Pi’s Processor (and we don’t want that, do we?!).

Below you can see the connection between the two devices.
Pins used on the Raspberry Pi: 1 (3v3), 3 (SDA), 5 (SCL), 6 (GND)
Pins used on the Arduino: 5v, SDA, SCL, GND

Raspberry Pi and Arduino with I2C hookup

Raspberry Pi and Arduino with I2C hookup

Can’t See the Video? Check it out the related video over on my YouTube channel, here!

Note: The Vin pin on the Arduino is unregulated, and will give whatever input voltage is being passed to the arduino (so if you’re running on a 7v PSU, the Vin pin will give 7v); be careful not to accidentally use this pin as you will almost certainly fry something!

Comic Relief: Red Nose Day 2013

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Watch the teachers with the highest bids get gunged at CTC Kingshurst Academy, Birmingham as part of the college’s Red Nose Day 2013 fund-raising efforts for Comic Relief! (Friday 15th March 2013)

As of posting this video, £6625 has been raised from the main events and donations alone – £537.84 of that was from bids for the gunging event!

For more information about what the college did to raise money for RND’13 or to donate, check out the page on the college website.

(Note: The official video should be available from the college directly)

Update: The College Raised a Grand Total of £6531.24 for RND’13

A Piece of the jigsaw – Our Marketing Flashmob at CTC Kingshurst

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So today we finally unveiled our top-secret activity, and i can lift the wool from the world eyes to give a tiny insight to the work behind our masterpiece.

For around two weeks, myself and a group of other post 16 students and a select few members of staff have worked tirelessly both in college and out on a top-secret classified project.

The Idea:
To FlashMob the college’s canteen (unexpectedly – of course!) as part of a new marketing campaign for the college’s sixth-form to show its diversity compared to other colleges – Let’s stand out from the crowd!

My Role:

As a small piece of a bigger jigsaw (metaphorically, that is), it was my job to manage audio. The entire routine and transitions between groups is precisely timed to the music, and with the help of my trustworthy PA kit (yes, my bedroom studio monitors and mixer) it was my job to ensure that everyone could hear perfectly their cues and songs, but not just performers; the rest of the students and staff (who are also unaware) in the canteen also must hear, see, and be amazed and somewhat startled by our flashmob.

Capturing The Experience
Flying Paint, Music, a Football, A Crowd-surfing Model, a Live Band… all in the canteen at lunchtime? It was awesome, messy, and a great success! But how did we capture it and why?
So you may have asked yourself how this could possibly be used to market the college? Well, not only does it demonstrate to current students of lower years what opportunities are available to them if they carry on, but (many) thanks to James Howell from Kingshurst Multimedia, we had three HD video cameras set up in precise locations so as to capture the entire performance – Start to Finish – without looking suspicious, and one HD camcorder being held by a student to allow us to publish the flashmob online for the world to see from all angles!

As i post this, the awesome videos of the flashmob are currently being chopped and spliced by the media team and this post will soon be updated with a link to the video!

Lets go viral!
Once the link is up, be sure to tell all your friends and family – post it on facebook, twitter, google+, thumb it up on youtube, and leave a comment or two here and there! Help me and the team spread the word! Who knows… if we get enough interest, we may even do something even better!

Watch and Share – It’s Awesome!

Its that time again – Work Experience

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So the time in my BTEC course has come for me to find a work experience placement. Having only done official work experience through college once before, I’m still fairly new to the process – but i know what I’m doing, non the less.

I’ve updated my personal website to include more relevant information and accurate details about myself and my skills, my linkedin profile to also contain a higher level of detail, and most importantly, my Curriculum Vitae (CV), which i am also making available for download from my website (Download my CV!).

Hopefully these essential updates to my information, along with the updates I have planned for my portfolio will assist me in acquiring a work experience placement (alternatively, if you are an employer or HR Manager reading this and want to head-hunt me for the two weeks, contact me via my website or email me – dan [at] dcscdn.com)

Straying slightly off-topic, I had a minor kitchen fire this weekend (Sunday) – Scary!

Well, that’s all i really have to say for now,
Wish me luck!

Dan

Friday the 13th (and today, the 14th)

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So yesterday was the supposed unlucky day referred to as “Friday the 13th”. I can safely say nothing abnormal happened that was not brought on by my own actions! Apart from getting caught racing an office chair (one with wheels) down a corridor, and later setting of the Anti-Theft alarm on the College’s Lap-Safe (this storage container thing which they keep laptops in) accidentally, everything went well!

Although – there was one abnormal happening; Overnight My Twitter followers grew by ~85 people… but i don’t mind! In fact, there is about another three “Friday the 13th’s” this year, so i look forward to getting more… lets hope this can become a regular occurrence!

Today i think is the day where i finally clean up a little in here (home) – i can barely see the floor, never mind the desk or chair! I tripped over a 12-meter Ethernet cable which i made three years ago – it was amongst the mess, and so i shall end this post with a nice little quote of a common english proverb,

“One man’s junk is another man’s treasure”

Thanks for reading,
Dan!