Category Archives: News Roundups

Welcome Barry!

Barry Woolgar, Ruby on Rails developer and PHP pro, has just joined our team here at Storm and we’re all thrilled to have him on board.

Barry is a talented programmer who studied Computer Science and eBusiness at Loughborough University. He joins us from Wired Media in Bristol where he was a senior web developer, leading development work for the company’s ecommerce platform and maintaining its hosting infrastructure.

At Storm Barry will be working on a whole range of interesting projects in both Ruby on Rails and PHP. He’ll be involved in the development of CiteAb, a new spin out biotech company Storm has developed with the University of Bath, and will support our other developers on client projects.

Adam, our Technical Director, said: “Barry is a great addition to our team, he has a lot of experience and has already made a great contribution to the projects he is involved in. His knowledge of developing complex online systems builds our capacity in this area.”

When Barry isn’t at work he can be found hanging out on skates with the Bath Roller Derby Girls where ‘Safety Barry-er’ is a top notch referee. He also drives a classic mini, spins fire poi and heads to Edinburgh Fringe every summer.

Our team here at Storm has plans for many new exciting projects in 2014, and we’re always on the lookout for outstanding developers. If this is you, do get in touch with us on hello@stormconsultancy.co.uk.

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Welcome to New Bond Street Rupert & Buckley

We were recently approached by ‘Rupert & Buckley’, small independent retailers using a pop up shop space over the road from us. They wanted to use our wifi, because they are only staying for a few weeks. Obviously we’ve been happy to help, as many others have helped us when we’ve needed it in the past.

Rupert & Buckley is run by James Buckley Thorp, and sells a great range of ‘university inspired’ clothing. If you’re looking for stocking fillers for teens or students you really can’t go wrong, so do support our new neighbours.

Welcome, James, to New Bond Street! Rupert & Buckley

Feeling festive

Everyone at Storm Towers enjoyed the Christmas lights in Bath being switched on by Mary Berry this week – our new office gave us a perfect view up Milsom Street.

We broke out the fizz and mince pies to toast the start of the Christmas season. Liam even made a new friend when, as he precariously leant out of the window, Mary Berry shouted up to him to be careful not to fall!

We wish you all a very merry Christmas, and hope you have a good break. We look forward to seeing you in January 2014!

Click here to see Mary Berry shouting to Liam!

 

We’re building Sirona’s new website!

After recently delivering a brand new and very successful intranet for Sirona Care & Health, and working as the company’s web tech advisors, we’re thrilled to announce that we’ve now been appointed to redevelop its public facing site.

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This time around we have far more stakeholders to consider, as Sirona’s users come from a wide demographic. We’re currently engaging with these stakeholders to get a really good understanding of how they use Sirona’s services and what they want from the company’s website.

Our strategist, David Kelly: “The team at Sirona was particularly pleased with our work on their intranet, which their staff  have really liked. They have chosen to work with Storm for their external website because they know we can turn the tide on the tirade of poor public service websites that exist.

“We’re taking what we know about their organisation, then conducting in-depth user studies with the public around usage of this type of site. As we’ve delivered above expectations in the past, Sirona trust us to get this challenging project right.”

The team at Storm has already got started on the project, and we’re looking to deliver in early spring. We’ll be ensuring it is nice and mobile friendly, that it is simple and accessible but also very informative and interactive. We’re also paying a lot of attention to the design, bringing it right up to date to give a really modern, clean look.

Dave added: “Working with the team at Sirona has been a fantastic experience and we’re all really pleased to have the opportunity to do so again through this project.”

Dave on data!

Last week Dave spoke at Future Of Web Apps (FOWA) in London on data. If you don’t already know, he has spent the last month tracking our every move here at Storm, from the number of cups of tea we drink to when we take breaks and even what we think of the buskers outside!

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Dave found some entertaining insights into our business – who would have guessed that those of us who have an early cup of coffee end up being less productive?

We’re also a fairly happy bunch, based on the data we input over the month. We tracked the individual perceived mood and perceived productivity of each member of the team, and overall we came out pretty well.

There were some entertaining outcomes – as the buskers outside deteriorate, so does our mood – until they get so bad that it’s either funny or we stick our headphones on, and suddenly we get a lot happier again!

While the results have been quite funny, there is also a serious outcome of this monitoring. As Dave shared with his audience at FOWA, having data is useless if you can’t interpret it and use it to improve a situation.

At Storm we’ve been lucky, we’ve just moved offices so we’ve been able to make some really simple changes that will have an impact on productivity. We’ve created social spaces, so our team can get away from their desks at lunchtime, we’ve got a better heating system so we can boost the temperature of rooms in the morning (we found warmer days were more productive) and we have even got music in each room now to cancel out the buskers!

We have also installed an intelligent phone system so that no one  has to answer too many calls in a short space of time, and we have 11am standup meetings to get the teams’ day into sync.

The feedback from Dave’s talk at FOWA was great, and those of our team who went to the conference had a really good time. It almost made having our loo breaks monitored worthwhile!

House warming

Yesterday we held our official ‘house warming’ – welcoming our friends to our new office for the first time. Many had seen it when we first took over the building, and we hope they like the rather large transformation that has taken place!

The opening was a great evening, and much wine was consumed. We enjoyed showing our friends around the building and seeing everyone enjoy the space made the long hours choosing fixtures and fittings finally seem worthwhile.

Our staff dining room was the wow factor of the evening – we decided that we’d decorate it with Georgian-style splendor, with rich wallpaper, chandeliers and antique furniture, making it stand out from the other modern, sleek rooms we’ve created.

We’re very grateful to Bath artist Perry Harris who supplied us with some great prints of his work at very short notice. They look absolutely fantastic!

If you couldn’t join us yesterday and you’d like to pop in and see us and have a look around please do – we’d love to see you for a cuppa.

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We’ve moved in!

You’ll know that we’ve been stripping back and completely redecorating new offices for a couple of months now, so we’re really excited to say that we’re finally finished and moving in tomorrow!

The office is next door to our current space, so we don’t have to move far. We’ll have a lot more space in the new office, with a new boardroom, meeting rooms on each floor and even a staff dining room.

We’re looking forward to our official opening next week, and hope to see many of you there!

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The rip out

At Storm we’re really good at programming, and online business. We’re not so hot at DIY. That’s why we have a team of builders in our new office, making sure everything is done properly, and its not going to all fall down!

When we took over the building there was 15 years worth of legacy wiring running around every room – most of which didn’t connect to anything. Old wires had been painted over, the walls had ten players of woodchip wallpaper, and there were enough ethernet cables to run internet to the moon.

We (or rather our builders) have stripped everything out, right back to the brick work. The rooms feel ten times larger after layer upon layer of wallpaper was removed, and they’re brighter too.

Now the walls are ready to be plastered, painted and the whole building will be rewired. There was huge excitement in the office yesterday when a new server cabinet arrived – and who said we were geeks?!

We have lots of plans for the new space, and now that the old, fousty rooms have been transformed into a blank canvas it is much easier to envisage what we might be able to do. We’re really excited to get decorating, and we’re hoping to move in this autumn.

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Storm news roundup 13-01-12

Our favourite web(ish) stories from the week…

Adam:

“The Raspberry Pi has started to be manufactured – in the Far East. The start of manufacturing is an achievement to be celebrated. The device, which will cost around £16-23, packs some serious punch:

‘HDMI for connection to a TV, USB for the keyboard, SD card for storage, and runs Linux on an ARM chip, with OpenGL ES 2.0 for the graphics. Its 700MHz ARM-11 processor is supported with 128MB of on-board memory.’

(source: reghardware.com)

The more expensive Model B chip will also come with 10/100Mb/s Ethernet. However, the fact that a UK charity is having to build a UK designed piece of hardware outside of the UK is not to be celebrated. They tried, boy did they try, but there was one significant stumbling block:

‘Simply put, if we build the Raspberry Pi in Britain, we have to pay a lot more tax. If a British company imports components, it has to pay tax on those (and most components are not made in the UK). If, however, a completed device is made abroad and imported into the UK – with all of those components soldered onto it – it does not attract any import duty at all.’

Now to my mind, that is just about as backwards as a tax system can possibly be when you want to encourage a resurgence in manufacturing in the UK. If you agree, please sign this E-petition.

Paul:

“The Education Secretary Michael Gove announced to broad acclaim (often from those of us unaccustomed to agreeing with him on anything much) from those in the software industry that the ICT curriculum is going to be overhauled, with a greater concentration on the fundamentals of computer science, logic and programming, rather than teaching people how to use products like Word and Powerpoint.

Gove summed it up pretty well: ‘Instead of children bored out of their minds being taught how to use Word and Excel by bored teachers, we could have 11-year-olds able to write simple 2D computer animations using an MIT tool called Scratch. By 16, they could have an understanding of formal logic previously covered only in University courses and be writing their own apps for smartphones.’ “

Mike:

“The Google ‘Search, plus your world‘ feature (put simply: Google+ network activity pops up as search results) has dominated lots of tech headlines this week. One of the most interesting pieces about it was this one on The Daily Beast which suggests that Google is actually doing this to break into Facebook’s walled garden, albeit in a fairly spectacular roundabout route…”

Felix, Liam and Andrew all picked up on the SOPA blackout story:

Felix:

“Reddit and I Can Has Cheezburger will be closing their sites on the 18th January in protest of the SOPA internet censorship bill, and Wikipedia editors are having a fierce debate whether to join in”

Liam:

“Next Wednesday, the ‘front page of the internet’, Reddit, will be turning off for 12 hours, to protest the proposed US law known as SOPA. They hope to encourage more websites to join them, with a few names stepping up to make a stand.”

Andrew:

“In news that can only further galvanize the growing anti SOPA coalition, the latest internet juggernaut has chosen to side with the likes of Reddit and Mozilla to send a message of defiance to the proponents of the impending ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’.

In what is being hailed as one of the most monumental days in the internets history, internet comedy auteurs ‘I can haz cheezburger’ has allied itself to the anti SOPA cause, choosing to blackout all aspects of it’s hilarious meme-based original content on the 18th of this month.

I can only say i’m glad that i can one day say to my future children that I witnessed it – the day the Berlin wall fell, the day Nelson Mandela was freed from his years of incarceration, and the day icanhazcheezburger.com went dark in protest to SOPA”


Storm news roundup 06-01-12

Our favourite web(ish) stories from the week…

Adam:

“Windows 8 is going to have a very sexy new feature called Storage Spaces. This is effectively RAID for the masses – hiding all the gnarly details while still offering a wide range of powerful features. They are offering mirroring and parity redundancy as well as the ability to bolt together heterogeneous disks to form a storage pool. That basically means you can take you internal hard drives, external USB drives or SAS drives, all of different speeds and capacity and have them act as one big hard drive. If they pull this off then it’ll be awesome. You’d no longer need a £500 Drobo to provide a convenient, reliable way to handle multimedia, just a bunch of USB external drives!”

Paul:

“In probably one of the most extreme examples of why you should be careful of using Paypal when selling, they instructed an unsatisfied buyer to destroy an antique violin worth thousands of dollars before they would issue a refund”

Dave:

“My news for this week is about the much-anticipated ‘http://hasliamgladdywatchedstarwarsyet.info‘. It may come as a shock to many of you, but our very own Liam Gladdy has not watched any of the Star Wars films.

We learnt recently that Liam was motivated most by earning achievements and unlocking badges. As such, the http://hasliamgladdywatchedstarwarsyet.info website comes with a progress saber where you can keep up to date with Liam’s progress. We hear that v2 is in the pipeline, and comes with unlockable badges and achievements.”

Mike:

” ‘…the action figure comes with a pair of black socks, some glasses, a leather belt, two apples (one with a bite taken out of it), a bar stool and a ‘one more thing’ backdrop’.

Yes, it’s a Steve Jobs action doll, and Apple aren’t too happy about it – apparently claiming that they own the rights to the likeness of the late Apple founder.  And no – this isn’t in The Onion, it’s in The Telegraph.”

Liam:

“It’s CES time again! Yup, the biggest week of the year for consumer electronics starts next week, and we’re bound to have a bumper crop of news and gadgets to be tweeting about. You can follow all of the latest news from CES at http://www.theverge.com/ces or read their preview of the event here.”

Andrew:

“SOPA is becoming more and more of a toxic entity to be associated with, as Sony become the latest target this week, with Anonymous announcing that they plan to target the company for their continued support of the Stop Online Piracy Act. In the light of the mass Go Daddy exodus, who will be next to distance themselves from the controversial proposed legislation?”