Escape From The Browser – Drone – Node.js – Hello World

Node.js, a drone and a momentary escape from the browser

almost outside

almost outside

IOT has been a buzz term within web development circles for the last 24 – 36 months. As web developers find new and innovative ways to make web and native applications, some innovation is progressively funneling from the main river of code advancement to real-world non-browser hardware. Could this movement towards hardware and IOT be a sign of something more profound ? It is a rebellion against a development industry that promotes ill health melded with a society that is almost reaching the point of screen addiction. Some brave souls may be finding ways to escape…Image result for tunnel to the sky

How To Drone With Node.js For Under $100.00 US Dollars:

Nasty little sh1t. Watch out when he's airborne

Nasty little sh1t. Watch out when he’s airborne

Shopping Items:

  • Bluetooth 4.0 capable USB adapter (You computer may have this already) $8.00 NZD
  • Parrot minidrone – $96.00 NZD on special, ordered online
  • Computer

The Software:

  • Node.js 6.0 +
  • Solid text editor
  • Fetherston npm-parrot-minidrone
  • Command line

Let’s fly:

2. Bluetooth 4.0 headaches on Windows 7

The most challenging part of this process was setting up the bluetooth usb dongle on a windows machine.  I  was using windows 7 which required me to use Zadig. I went to options, “list all devices” then selected the relevant usb bluetooth device and selected Replace Driver. I take no responsibility if this destroys your bluetooth hardware or usb environment // Do this at your own risk after researching correctly for your system and requirements

zadig

 

zadig-b

3. NPM-parrot-minidrone, node.js – All we need is the demo code

All props to fetherston and their creation. This node package allows us to code with js to control a drone. The repo has a hello-world ready to go. All code is based on Featherstone’s provided demo code an api:

 

feth

Fetherston drone library on Node Package Manager – So Cool!!!!

Time for the videos:

4. Take Off & Please Land

5. Integrate the keyboard

Flight with keyboard

Laughter at end of video due to the unseen crash landing

And there we have it. A fairly simple way to interface with a drone via node and js. The first thing I learned was that the stakes are much higher when coding/debugging in the physical world.  Exciting times, what other interesting ways (no blinking LED demos please) can we easily explore IOT node.js development?

Jared Neems is a software developer and Teacher from New Zealand who works for Veratech.

Adventures Of A Lucky Guest In Thailand – Trip to Amphawa Floating Markets

On my recent trip to Thailand I had the privilege to experience some great company from a group of locals. They were kind beyond measure and had a care-free attitude that was refreshing. This blog is in memory of the fine young ladies who showed me the true essentialities of Thai culture.
Anpawah Floating Markets - Mural

Anpawah Floating Markets – Mural

 Jared, we have an idea!

My phone rang on a weekday and my new host and life manager PGolf was on the other end to inform me of “a plan”. I was recovering from 2 nights of food poisoning in Bangkok hospital after being somewhat liberal during the yearly Song Kran festival (Thai New Year). A night on which I drank, walked, danced, and was somewhat awestruck by the colors, smiles, flesh and tattoos that coerce during Songkran. Where the hell am I again?………….. Thailand.
PGolf continued: “We have a place that we want to take you. Can you meet me at my work at 5.30pm?”. I was now out of hospital and living in luxury at PGolfs family residence. I felt rejuvenated enough to accept Pgolfs offer and to venture back into the surprisingly massive Metropolis that is Bangkok. “Sure” I replied.
man laying in big city - Bangkok

man laying in big city – Bangkok

Asiatique

Our first adventure was a soft introduction to the finer side of Bangkok. Asiatique is an open plan outdoor night spot that has many restaurants and shops. It sits alongside the river and has a relaxed touristy feel. I really enjoyed the location. My 3 friends PGolf, Jaeb and Pum all took photo’s of themselves, me and each other while the sun was setting by the river.
what lays ahead

what lays ahead?

nice to meet you

nice to meet you

portrait

 

In stark contrast to some of the food options in Bangkok, Asiatique is very modern and western in style. However this does not reduce it’s appeal, the river location and massive array of eateries and shops make it a must for those with cash and time to burn. We had a great meal at a Chinese Hot Pot restaurant and then went to the ferris wheel.
many restaurants to choose from at Asiatique Bangkok Thailand

many restaurants to choose from at Asiatique Bangkok Thailand

ready for liftoff on the ferris wheel

ready for liftoff on the ferris wheel

 

Pum, Jaeb and PGolf

Pum, Jeab and PGolf

 

ferris wheel time

ferris wheel time

Amphawa Floating Markets

The following Saturday the same team invited me on another mission. We ventured approximately 1 hour out of Bangkok to the famous Amphawa Floating Markets. We were joined by Pum’s friendly and helpful husband for our journey. The Amphawa floating markets are unique. The food, smells and sights are prominent and wonderfully Thai. So many colours require pictures rather than words:
boat shops in Anpawah Floating Market Thailand

boat shops in Amphawa Floating Market Thailand

 

Anpawah Floating Markets - food and colour

Amphawa Floating Markets – food and colour

 

Anpawah Floating MArkets - seafood galore

Amphawa Floating Markets – seafood galore

 

 

Anpawah Floating Markets - crab

Amphawa Floating Markets – crab

Anpawah Floating Markets - fresh seafoodAmphawa Floating Markets – fresh seafood

Anpawah Floating Markets - prawns and hotpants - deadly combination

Amphawa Floating Markets – prawns and hotpants – deadly combination

Anpawah Floating Markets - cool TShirts
Amphawa Floating Markets – cool TShirts

Anpawah Floating Markets - Curry

Amphawa Floating Markets – Curry

Anpawah Floating Markets - Boat Time

Amphawa Floating Markets – Boat Time

Anpawah Floating Markets - River Cruise With Large Statue

Amphawa Floating Markets – River Cruise With Large Statue

Anpawah Floating Markets - Temple Outside with Jaeb
Amphawa Floating Markets – Temple Outside with Jeab

Anpawah Floating Markets - Outdoor Cafe

Amphawa Floating Markets – Outdoor Cafe

Many thanks to my 3 kind friends from Thailand. I will endeavor to write about Chiang Rai, and Thai culture in my upcoming posts.

Jared Neems is a software developer and Teacher from New Zealand who works for Veratech.

 

 

 

 

 

The Martial Way – 5 Reasons why a Martial Art will improve your life and career.

martial

For the last 2 and a half years I have been practicing the ITFNZ Chan Hong style of Tae Kwon Do in New Zealand under Masters Paul Mcphail and Steve Pellow.

Primarily a learning system, Tae Kwon Do is a Korean Martial Art that offers fitness, strength and mental benefits.

If you have ever considered taking up a martial art, whatever the style, now is the time to take action. 

Self Confidence:

Practicing a martial art will teach you about the secrets of the human body. You learn how you walk, think and adapt in any situation. With the knowledge to overcome an opponent one also gains the knowledge to overcome inherent fears and self doubt. This external and internal self knowledge helps us to see that the real enemy is often within. Martial Arts training helps us to nullify these external and internal threats which can lead to salvation and personal preservation.

Overcoming Fear:

As soon as you begin a Martial Art you have already made the most difficult step. The inaction of not starting is now behind you. This victory and the experience of beginning a martial art allows you to take more steps that you may have previously thought were not possible.

Stress Release:

Hitting, striking, kicking and physical expression is incredibly healthy for the body and mind. Our daily lives in the 21st century require our bodies to be placed in some of the most unnatural positions. Think of the drive to work or the hours spent at a desk. A good martial arts class will allow your blood stream to go into hyper flow. This means toxins are flushed and the mind is cleansed. The outside world falls into the background and the practitioner can re-energize and recover through an intense workout.

Focus:

This is the key to performance and one of life’s most underestimated secrets. In our daily lives we are bombarded my media, family, friends and colleagues. A good martial arts session will allow you to focus on a particular task. Martial arts allow the practitioner to re-connect with his or her own sub conscious for true performance and fulfilment. This focus can also be re-applied in business and life. Focus is one of the greatest gifts of Martial Arts and it is also the most illusive.

Balance:

It is important to have a life. If you practice a martial art you will have a reason to focus beyond your career. Martial Arts allow practitioners to de-prioritize remedial tasks and hindrances of every day working life. A practitioner of martial arts will develop a greater perspective of work life and this will improve their performance and general outlook.

I would recommend martial arts to all people of any age or gender. There are various large organisations for Karate, Tae Kwon Do and Tai Chi in your local area. Do some research on any martial art you may be interested in and then go and watch a class (which most instructors allow). Take the first step and you will discover a world that promotes safety, knowledge and health.

You will not regret it.

 

Jared Neems is a Web Developer and Business Development Manager at Veratech Web Solutions

 

 

Veratech Presents The Vemmys: Tech’s top performers in 2013

Gravity: 2013′s Quiet Masterpiece

graveImage Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures 2013

There are so many movies that claim to be “groundbreaking”, and in a sense the term can be obtuse and somewhat overused when associated with big budget cinema. This is not the case with Alfonso Cuarón’s Sci Fi masterpiece “Gravity”.

Here is a quick fire list on why 2013′s Gravity is so unique:

1. Planned digital precision

During the spacewalk scenes the actors faces were filmed. Everything else on screen was digitally created. This required a unique lighting scheme that mimicked the effect of the sun and it’s reflection off Earth into space.

“The requirement of realism, paradoxically, compelled Cuarón and his team to pre-visualize the entire film, shot for shot, long in advance of bringing Sandra Bullock and co-star George Clooney onset.”
http://www.space.com/23073-gravity-movie-weightlessness-alfonso-cuaron.html

gravg
Image Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures 2013

2. Animation was literally turned upside down. Cuaron elaborates:

“It took a lot of education for the animators to fully grasp that the usual laws of cause and effect don’t apply,” Cuarón said in a press statement. “In outer space, there is no up; there is no down.”

http://www.space.com/23073-gravity-movie-weightlessness-alfonso-cuaron.html

gravcImage Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures 2013

3. Out of the box:

A Light Box was created. Made of 196 panels which each contained 4096 LED’s. Actors and props were placed inside and imagery could be instantaneously created to stimulate the actor’s performance and simulate the environment.

grav

Image Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures 2013

“Imagine yourself as Sandra Bullock or George Clooney, hanging on an intricate 12-wire rig, inside a small house made of flat-screen TV’s. Not only can the Light Box make instant and interactive changes of light falling your face, your costume, your props; it also can show you the scene to which you are supposed to be reacting.”
http://www.space.com/23073-gravity-movie-weightlessness-alfonso-cuaron.html

4. Cuarón’s signature tracking shots were used to “full” effect:

“Getting these shots required precise choreography, over several years, between pre-vis, live action and laborious tasks of final animation.”

http://www.space.com/23073-gravity-movie-weightlessness-alfonso-cuaron.html

gravi
Image Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures 2013

5. 3D modelling was heavily used to make things look……….used.

“Much of this work was done with computer modelling of surfaces, including spacesuits” – “The film’s art director painstakingly recreated the look of spacecraft and tools, which many of us have seen and could quickly judge as phony if not near perfect. Then they added a layer of distress, wear and tear to reference the continuous occupation of the International Space Station and other craft.”

http://www.space.com/23073-gravity-movie-weightlessness-alfonso-cuaron.html

gravhImage Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures 2013

6. Warner Brothers took one giant leap of financial faith:

Gravity’ was written by the father and son team of Alfonso and Jonás Cuarón, who had to invent new technology for filming zero-gravity. Because of this, Warner Bros. allowed the film’s budget to soar to $100 million without seeing a single frame until six months after filming was complete.

7. Ode to the Apes. Coincidence or hat tipping?:

The landing scene was filmed at Lake Powell, Arizona (incidentally where the astronauts’ landing scene was filmed in Planet of the Apes).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravity_%28film%29
gravmImage Courtesy of 20th Century Fox 1968

8. Sandra toughed it out:

“Most of Bullock’s shots were done with her inside of a giant mechanical rig. Getting into the rig took a significant amount of time, so Bullock opted to stay in it for up to 10 hours a day, communicating with others only through a headset.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravity_%28film%29
gravl
Image Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures 2013

9. Methodical and metaphorical:

The director wanted the film to be a metaphoric examination of re-bitrh. The opening shots include Bullock in a fetal like position. ****Spoiler alert*** The films ending reinforces this underlying theme.
gravb
Image Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures 2013

10. A tough environment for thespian creativity:

“The timing was written in stone. The positions were written in stone. It was like, At that exact moment, [Sandra], you reach out with your hand like that. Everything was so millimetric. It was a testament to Sandra and George how they went through with all these technical, psychological limitations around them, how they make it seem effortless”
Director Alfonso Cuarón
http://www.vulture.com/2013/10/alfonso-cuaron-answers-your-gravity-questions.html

11. If at first you fail, try try again:

“Months and months and months of developing technology. Then you realize it’s not working. Then always, in the last minute, you make it work.”
Director Alfonso Cuarón
http://www.vulture.com/2013/10/alfonso-cuaron-answers-your-gravity-questions.html
gravdImage Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures 2013

12. The secret Kubriconian title that didn’t make the final cut:

The original screenplay title was “Gravity: A Space Adventure in 3-D”.
gravk
Image Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures 2013

 

Gravity showed movie goers a new standard in CGI and 3D emersion. A definitive example of tech excellence.

Join us next week as we wrap our final Vemmy awards for 2013.
Coming Up: The free app that took the stigma out of online dating.

 

Jared Neems is a Web Developer and Digital Marketer for Veratech.

 

Veratech Presents The Vemmys: Tech’s top performers in 2013

GTAV Incriminates The Planet

GTA5

Image Courtesy of Rockstar Games

On the 17th of September 2013, gamers (predominantly male) aged between 15 and 45, mysteriously vanished from planet Earth. Sick calls were made, commitments were broken and roads were slightly emptier as the greatest ever video game was consumed on-mass. The rest is history. A very lucrative one as GTAV was undoubtedly 2013′s golden goose.

GTA5d

Image Courtesy of Rockstar Games

There’s nothing quite like an unadulterated raging success that comes in the form of gang affiliation, sex addiction and serial killing. Its the kind of formula that tends to be unstoppable. The Grand Theft Auto series is unashamed and undoubtedly the “big daddy” of the gaming world. GTAV loomed as a financial monolith before it even hit the shelves. It teased, taunted and eventually saturated the marketing landscape.

For all of the online post-launch buzz, no one really knows how much money GTAV has generated. Some basic facts and figures have been splashed about including:

  • $137 million to produce the game
  • £500 million in sales, first day
  • 125 million copies sold to date (reported end of October 2013)
  • Fastest ever entertainment property to gross $1 billion (3 days) (The record for feature films is “The Avengers”, which reached $1 billion dollars in 10 days)
GTAcImage Courtesy of Rockstar Games
“This blog’s author decided to come out of gaming retirement and experience GTAV first hand. After 7 days of gaming bliss the console was re-sold in order to escape the possibility of losing months of reality. I still miss the world of high stakes crime but I am grateful to be driving under the speed limit without homicidal tendencies.”

No matter what people believe, GTAV has made a staggering amount of money. All the while its 2 original creators, Sam and Dan Houser, maintain a low profile as their latest cultural nuke goes skyward. Bahamas anyone?

GTA5b
Image Courtesy of Rockstar Games

More than a game, GTAV isn’t good, it’s scary. A dominant, undisputed, psychotic, murdering phenom – with style.

Follow us in the last days of 2013 for the Vemmys.
Next up:
The Movie That Turned The World Upside Down.

Jared Neems is a Web Developer and Digital Marketer for Veratech.

 

Snapshot: The 24 hour SEO strategy (A word to the wise)

miyagi

Image Courtesy: Karate Kid 1984 Colombia Pictures Corporation

After talking to a friend about how to generate better Google ranking I thought it might be a good idea to put together a list.

At Veratech we promote the idealogy of playing hard but fair. Stay focused, follow the rules, lay the platform, be methodical and the results will follow.

Here are 13 SEO must haves for 2013:

Word to the wise for Kiwi businesses: For a quick improvement jump to number three and register with the NZ directories provided in the link.

SEO Must Haves:

1. Have a Clear Key Word Strategy that aligns your business with its target market.

2. Relevant web site page Meta Data and Page Titles.

  • Keyword based HTML Metadata (Meta Description/Meta Keywords Etc)
  • For page titles, avoid using: “Home – Company Name etc” Instead use specific search and keyword phrases: “Best Auckland Chiropractor located close to Epsom”

3. Get your site linked to on other web sites (The REAL currency of Google Search Ranking)

4. Google Plus For Business Page

  • Place content on your Google + with constant reference to web site address and keyword strategy

5. Google Places for Business registration (Google Maps location for Business)

6.  Google Webmaster Tools (Linked to site)

  • Site Map (Posted through Google Webmaster Tools)

7. Google Reviews

  • Get some posted immediately. Phone a friend/client.

8. Google Analytics (Linked to site)

9. Blog (Blogger or WordPress)

  • Backlink to sites
  • Link to article directories
  • Assign to Google Authorship (If possible)
  • Place content with constant reference to web site address and keyword strategy

10. Twitter, Youtube and Facebook accounts

  • Place content with constant reference to web site address and keyword strategy
  • Link to accounts via your website

11. Clean Code (W3 validated as best as possible with no 404 errors)

12. Image Tags

13. Bing and Yahoo site verification/registration

 

googlogo

Jared Neems is the business development manager for Veratech Web Solutions. Veratech is a web design and digital marketing company in Auckland New Zealand.

 

 

 

 

Snapshot: 5 Reasons Why The HTC ONE Is Turning Heads

“Look at all the smart phones of note today. The consistent change is screen size. They keep getting bigger. Today’s Iphones, S4′s, Galaxy Notes are all an expression of what was first promoted by the Samsung P1000 36 months ago. After all, who enjoys squinting?”

The new HTC One has been on my desk for the last 2 days and the initial signs are promising. The HTC One is definitely a suave little number. Here are the 5 reasons I chose it:

htc-box

Design

A great looking device. Thin, smooth, curved and metallic; the HTC One feels like it is worth the $1000.00 it retails for. Resembling the OneX, HTC’s latest edition has gone a step further in sophistication. The back mount camera has been minimized to adhere with the minimalist styling that dominates the new model’s aesthetic. The One has a unique look and feel that sets it apart from other Androids and/or manufacturers.

HTCb

 

HTC’s Rep:

HTC phones first came to our attention when they released the Sensation in 2011. Their devices had a great sense of style and speed. Since then HTC have cleverly crafted an admirable level of brand reputation and perception. This perception is reminiscent of Sony’s glory days in the 80s and 90s. HTC marketing understand the value of perception and are pushing further in a more literal sense. Brand perception is the most lethal subliminal marketing asset. A huge motivator when it comes to selecting a device in a crowded and competitive market.

HTCmovieHTC have recruited Robert Downey Jr for their latest Marketing Drive

Image courtesy of www.htc.com

Camera:

This was the closer. The Sony Xperia Z was my preferred choice until I discovered its camera speed. The Xperia had a delayed shutter action. This is a bane if you want to use your smart phone for quick fire imagery. All Iphone users will know and appreciate the feeling of an immediate shutter response that rifles off snaps as fast as your finger can tap. The HTC One has a very responsive shutter action.

HTC’s camera is a staggering 4 megapixels! (This is not a typo). HTC have used new tech called “Ultra pixel technology” which, according to the HTC web site, has “The largest available smartphone camera aperture, it lets in 44% more light than the iPhone 5.” Early reviews say that HTC have a winner. This lower-megapixel-camera approach may start a new trend when manufacturers prep new devices for the future.

HTCcA refined and advanced camera

Speed:

Chipset    Qualcomm APQ8064T Snapdragon 600

CPU        Quad-core 1.7 GHz Krait 300

The One is awfully quick and this shouldn’t be a surprise considering the price bracket. Users undoubtedly require apps and upgrades over a 24 month term. A fast device will easily see out this period. Such speed also helps to maintain re-sale value if a user decides to upgrade and sell there current device.

snappySnapdragon chips are very quick.

Android = Freedom:

If the HTC One was not available I would have bought an Iphone. The Iphone is still an incredible and alluring device. The reason we didn’t go the Apple route was due to the practical power of Android. Android’s plug and play open source approach suits my working style and computer setup. I like the fact that I have a device that can literally do anything my PC can do. Transferring files should be as easy as connecting the device and opening a folder. Android delivers this functionality with ease.

droidAndroid: Free and easy, for now.

What about the S4?:

The S4 lost out due to being the popular kid at school. Everyone has a Samsung Galaxy these days. This shouldn’t matter if one were to make a choice based on logic and performance alone. However, style and brand affinity are a constant and hidden force in the smart phone world. Some people cringe at the fact that phones are perceived, by designers and users alike, as a very personal choice. Some cringe further knowing that we spend more time with our phone than any other personal device, or person, for that matter.

Today’s smart phone purchase trends reflect a level of conformity (Iphone and Galaxy S4). This illustrates a mass consumption teething process that will soon subside. Like fashion, customisation and technology may eventually combine to allow for a more personal product that caters for self expression.

The HTC One looks different. This fact may have been the real closer.

HTCa

 

Jared Neems is a Business Development Manager for Veratech Web Solutions.

 

 

 

Twitter Bootstrap. All you need to know.

Twitter Bootstrap is a mobile responsive framework for cutting edge web sites.  Here are the reasons why your next site should be on the amazing and formidable: Twitter Bootstrap.

Looks, style and substance.

“I don’t mind making jokes, but I don’t want to look like one.”
Marilyn Monroe

Seasoned visual designers might say that Bootstrap sites are a “little tired” and contrived, however the average user and web site owner would probably disagree. The truth is that a web site doesn’t need to look brilliant, it needs to look good. In most cases, looking “kosher” will suffice. It can even be the preferred approach.

From my experience web site’s that suffer from “style vanity” end up hurting themselves. They usually falter on multiple browsers, have excruciating download times, lack strategic focus and ultimately struggle to eventuate. The style vs. substance argument will continue forever but Bootstrap conveniently balances the scales. Bootstrap sites “tick all the boxes” and look professional.

The Veratech web platform, built on bootstrap: www.veratech.co.nz

verasite 

These sharp looks are partly due to the simple infrastructure of Twitter Bootstrap. The Bootstrap grid style framework (currently on a 12 grid system) allows for simple design strategies. Designers can map out a basic plan to execute an online platform. The grid layout is undeniably easy. If you can play noughts and crosses, you can design the layout of a new Twitter Bootstrap site.

Bootstrap Scaffolding provided by: http://getbootstrap.com/2.3.2/

scaffold

“If you can play noughts and crosses, you can design the layout of a new Twitter Bootstrap site.”

Bootstrap also ships with CSS3 styling, built in Jquery, icon platforms like http://fortawesome.github.io/Font-Awesome/ Font Awesome. This creates a framework that allows a developer to build a very clear and impressive site. Networking also comes into play. You don’t have to be Roberto Cavalli to design a great site. If you have $20.00 in your account just visit a template provider and your home free.

Mobile Responsive Capabilities

Sausage Fingers and the folk in Korea town

korea

If Koreans can use sausages to swipe their smartphones in cold weather, developers can at least build sites to make it easy for them. You will be glad to know that Twitter Bootstrap is 100% Mobile Responsive. This means that you can customize the look of your site for different devices. A Bootstrap site will automatically re-size to push key information clearly to the end users on different platforms. Here is an example on our company site on mobile:

verasitemob

Bootstrap sites re-size to promote key info on tablets and smartphones 

This multi device format requires a little more planning by the owner and/or developer, however, it creates a very convenient system of pushing users in the right direction when they come to your site. It is a marketers dream as different or similar messages can be constantly promoted, no matter what device the user is on. In case you wondered why this matters check out these stats:

” More than half of New Zealander’s are now accessing the internet via their mobile phone” 
Statistics NZ

“A report by Nielsen found 45 per cent of the 1.8 million Kiwis who shop online researched their purchases on a smartphone or tablet”
NZ Herald

” 80% of Smartphone users have looked for local information and 88% have taken action” 
Google research data

 

Speed

“Because in a split second, it’s gone.”
Ayrton Senna

As a developer the most amazing part of working with Bootstrap is speed. The speed factor when building on Twitter Bootstrap occurs on multiple levels.

Veratech is currently building Twitter Bootstrap sites from $799 +GST. This is an insanely cheap web offer. The reason we can do this is because Veratech can churn one of these puppies out within 5 days. We really mean it. You can have a 5 – 7 page site, that looks professional, is 100% mobile responsive and built within a week. The nimble HTML, CSS Twitter Bootstrap framework is forgiving, immediate and pliable. This means lower prices for clients, a faster turn-around and more effective outcomes.

wrapstrapb

 A basic Bootstrap site draft from a recent Veratech Project. Bootstrap allows for faster build times and faster performance.

The second key factor concerning speed is Twitter Bootstrap’s load time. Since the framework has been professionally mapped out by the wizz kids at Twitter; Bootstrap behaves accordingly and presents your Web Site at pace. Add to this, the fact that the client has made the smart decision to avoid a CMS, and you have a lightning fast site that looks incredible for a reasonable price.

Lets be honest, CMS’s like Joomla and Worpress drag their rear ends along the gravel on a good day. This can be embarrassing. You’ve spent 2 to 4 grand on a slick new CMS site that takes an age to load. The old adage is true: Speed matters and users care.

Some savvy developers will argue that, with correct implementation and hosting credentials, WordPress and even Joomla sites can be very quick. I don’t care for this nonsensical dribble. As a development company we do not have time to investigate the mysteries of making Joomla or WordPress run faster. Why would we, when we can build a better, faster HTML/CSS site on Twitter Bootstrap right now with no hassle. More importantly Twitter Bootstrap sites promote work with real mark-up whilst avoiding CMS backends that require developers to click, then wait, then click….and so on.

Joomla, WordPress and Twitter Bootstrap = All together now?

CMS implementation:

All the CMS lovers out there can rest well knowing that Joomla 3 ships with Bootstrap. Veratech recently built a site that used this technology for Impact Research. In contrast, our own Company Web Site used Bootstrap in combination with a WordPress Blog. WordPress allows for bootstrap implementation/combination. So if your really keen on having a CMS on Bootstrap, it is possible.

impact

 Impact Research is a Bootstrap site built on Joomla3.0

Sadly the templates are far more expensive for CMS systems like WordPress and Joomla. Additionally, some Bootstrap features do not co-operate so willingly within the confines of an additional CMS framework. This means that if Veratech has a client who has their heart set on a Joomla enabled Bootstrap Web Site; more expenditure will be required and the CMS build time will be extended.

For the record: Veratech’s Take on CMS

“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”
John F. Kennedy

Twitter Bootstrap is not a CMS. This needs to be understood and celebrated. The widespread use of CMS systems is partially driven by managers who require a false sense of security. You may have heard this around the workplace “We just built the new site, it’s on Drupal/Joomla/Wordpress, have you heard of it? The new intern is learning how to use it.”.

cmsdollar

What approach really is the cheapest? Logos courtesy of Bootstrap, Joomla, Drupal and WordPress. 

In truth, most small to medium enterprise businesses struggle to use CMS systems. When and if they finally get past the login, they tend to break things, require additional training or end up adding content and styling that is detrimental to their own web site. All this time, money and fuss is poured into a CMS so organizations can avoid paying a developer $50 – $800 annually. If one were to calculate the money spent on training, fixing errors and the overall decrease in output and efficiency, the previously mentioned attempt at avoiding expenditure seems illogical.

Take our advice. If you do not require an E-commerce site or a blog, build an HTML/CSS Twitter Bootstrap site and get your developer to make any adjustments. Your stress levels will remain minimal and your web site will be better off. Just make sure the adjustment/content management fees are viable.

Hesitation’s opposing force is action:

With a new site built on Twitter Bootstrap your business will have a clean platform to build on it’s Google ranking. If this is combined with good design and the effective use of Google’s affiliated services, you will have a very formidable tool for online commerce and digital marketing.

Make the smart decision. Build a Twitter Bootstrap Site and get your Google Identity sorted. If you take this step today and develop it over a 6 – 12 month period your business will dramatically improve. It doesn’t cost a small fortune and the entire site build process can be executed by Veratech within 2 weeks.

Check out our latest offer at: Veratech’s Winter Warm Up. Also look out for our next post revealing the emerging market of Google Identity Services and how these basic online methods can draw customers and generate revenue with SPEED.

veraoffer

Jared Neems is the Business Development Manager Veratech Web Solutions.

Snapshot: Web barriers and how they harm your online business

2 simple tips to remove barriers and increase revenue

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This morning I came across an enticing online ad that was promoting a local micro brewery. The ad had all the right elements. It was beautifully designed, had a clever catch line and finished with a strong call to action. This looked like the perfect combination for online advertising, but sadly, the wheels fell off.

This ad suffered from what many people overlook in digital marketing campaigns, barriers. A barrier is a block or required action that the user must comply with to gain access to the content that is being promoted.

The Brewery advert linked to a Facebook page. This meant that viewers had to login to their Facebook page in order to see the promoted content. This may not sound like a major as most of us log into our Facebook every day. However, requiring users to log in to Facebook after clicking an ad is the wrong way to market online.

“Consumers online want information quickly. People do not want to wait or work hard for access.”

If you are lucky enough to get a user’s attention, make it as easy as possible for them to access your content or message. This is why it is still best practice to have a www.website. A Facebook page is a good option for small and large businesses but is not suitable for all forms of online interaction.

Remember that not all people use Facebook. Many of us hate to login when we don’t feel like it.  These barriers are deterring factors that need to be removed. Try to link to a web site rather than a Facebook page. The brewery ad promised to show a product video.  A Youtube video page would have been the better option as all users would have had easy access to the content in question.

Unlike Facebook a Youtube video has no barriers or required logins

Email Forms

The best place to analyze a web sites’ “ease of use” is it’s contact page. If your contact form requires more information than is necessary via it’s contact page change it immediately. Below is a prime example of barrier overload:

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This email form has too many required fields. Does your web site contact form require too much of your visitors?

Keep barriers in mind for your online content. Have a quick look at your organizations online contact form.  Reduce all barriers that are not required. This will help to create more leads and will generate more conversions for your online marketing campaigns.

Make it easy for your customers.

Veratech is a Web Site and Digital Marketing company that creates value. Check us out at www.veratech.co.nz.

Internet killed the television star

All you need to know about internet television in 2013

With Sky Television NZ recently feeling a bit short due to English Premier League football’s subversion to BT , people are curious. How long will the black rectangle under the telly last? 

Here is brief rundown on what may appear in New Zealand living rooms in the not so distant future.

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Apple TV:

Steve Jobs was ahead of the pack and proved this with the launch of Apple TV in March 2007. 5 years later the platform is more relevant than ever. Apple TV allows users to access services like Netflix, Youtube, Hulu, Vimeo and Itunes to name a few.

The streaming player connects via the HDMI port to your television. It has a compulsory Ethernet port (which connects it to the internet), a power supply and an optical audio port.

So what does it do?

It essentially allows your TV to use Apple Apps. E.g. You can sit at your television and watch Youtube. You can also rent a movie from Itunes without having to use your Mac. The Apple TV system uses a custom remote for such tasks.

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Roku:

This brilliant device is the big seller in America. Extremely cheap, $50 USD in some instances, Roku is like Apple TV without the Apple hang-ups. Much like an Android to an Iphone, the Roku appears to be more expandable and allows users more access to services. It cannot access Youtube (a major let down) but sill boasts an impressive 750 channels as well as basic video games for the kids. Its no PS3 but is a well designed free flowing streaming media player that reputably has one of the best interfaces for selecting channels and services.

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 The Japanese word for the numeral 6.

So what does it do?

Same as Apple TV but minus Youtube and Itunes. (Normal consumers in mind)

Google TV

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“Google TV” sounds exciting right? Wrong. This platform is essentially Android on a television diet. The only thing interesting with Google TV at present are the devices that carry it (see Asus’s rendition of Darth Vader’s Chihuahua “The Cube” or Sony’s late 80s inspired  “NS-GZ7″)

Apart from the retro form factor, Google TV hasn’t really hit it’s straps. It may kick into gear soon as more big names begin to provide internet television access.

So what does it do?

An android phone on TV in a big, pretty way.

Android HDMI sticks:

androidonastick

These HDMI devices are rather nifty. You can currently find one on Trademe for less than $100 NZD. The Android HDMI option is essentially a mini computer/plug and play version of a fully functional android operating system. This means that when plugged into your television via the HDMI port your TV can be turned into an android enabled PC.

Unfortunately Android HDMI’s are not consumer friendly. Many require a wireless mouse or keyboard for practical operation and come from low budget no-name Chinese manufacturers (who would have thought). The cool part is that they are compact and extremely powerful. If you want a cheap and easy way to get Youtube, emails and other Android possible activity to your TV, this is the ghetto way to go about it.

So What does it do?

Puts Android on your TV.

Get Smart?

Smart TV's are the new PC?

Smart TV’s are the latest item to plaster every weekend newspaper in New Zealand. All the devices listed previously (Apple TV, Roku etc) turn “Dumb” TV’s into Smart TV’s. The other option is to buy a new TV, which is “Smart”, and you wont have to worry about it being dumb.

Translation: You can buy a Smart TV and allow it’s inbuilt hardware to provide some of the services listed in the streaming media players above.

Smart TVs are on the pricey side. At the cheapest end of the spectrum you are looking at north of $600.00 NZD. This is a significant sum considering the modest prices associated to the streaming media players ($60.00- $150.00 NZD). It seems that half of our population has recently purchased a cheap LCD “Dumb” TV. This rush on big screen “Dumb” LCD’s means streaming media players may be the best choice for your bank account and the environment.

Providers are the key

Kiwis get their internet from greedy ISP’s who, in many cases, charge for a fixed amount of gigabytes. The world laughs at our broadband pricing structures but the Vodafone’s and Telecoms of this world are not necessarily the central figures in the net TV saga. They may though, decide the final outcome.

Hulu, Netflix and the rest

Internet television has spawned a growing list of reputable content providers. Hulu, which is available on both Apple TV and Roku, provides a hangout for the ever mature Larry King and also boasts hundreds of other shows. MTV, MSNBC, Fox, Netflix, Disney, Youtube, UFC, NBA, Angry Birds (Roku and Android only) and HBO prove that online TV has the content to be an emerging threat to satellite and digital.

The catch

Many services such as Netflix and Hulu are not readily available for New Zealand users. This online content is restricted to geographic regions that are classified through our ISP’s (Internet providers). So sadly, Kiwis get denied when it comes to some of the coolest online TV services. A lot of options still work such as Youtube or Itunes (on Apple TV) but Netflix and Hulu are major, and almost necessary, providers of content for the net TV platform. So for now, Kiwis are left hanging.

Or are we?

Slingshot recently made headlines by promoting “Global Mode”. It’s a smart move and Slingshot can obviously smell blood from the sudden up-surge in domestic internet television interest. The company stated that the “Global Mode” service, which allows access to foreign services such as Hulu and Netflix, is primarily for tourists and guests to NZ. There is apparently nothing to stop domestic users from utilizing the service. The window for kiwi customers is wide open, for now. Slingshot have Global Mode currently as the main advertising banner on their website. “Tourists” are obviously their new target market.

This type of behaviour could be the crack before the dam bursts or Sky may move to shut down such operations from NZ ISP’s in the future.

So what should the consumer do?

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If watching Rugby or League undisturbed is important to you then it is best to stick with the tried and tested. NZ broadband speeds may be getting faster but the medium can still be inconsistent when compared to satellite transmission.

The good news is that more options are surfacing and Internet television will undoubtedly be the entertainment medium of the near future. The consumer will benefit and there will be more diversified choices at a lower price.

For now, figure out what shows are important to you. If your favourite shows are available via the services offered on the steaming media players’s you may want buy one and see what happens. It could save you from paying that routine sky bill that gently robs you of dollars and days each year.

 

Veratech builds mobile responsive web sites and creates digital marketing campaigns. For more info go to www.veratech.co.nz