App Development

January 2015 [link to original article]

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User habits are changing fast, with sixty percent of online activity now on mobile platforms and most of that via apps.

In late 2014, ComScore reported the average smartphone user deploys an app to go online for 88 percent of the time, with just 12 percent using a browser. Smartphone and tablet apps are used even more than PC browsers, they rule the roost.

A well-made app can offer a superior user experience than even a bespoke mobile site, and be used more. An app can load faster even with a low signal, and may also be coded to operate offline entirely. Apps can also utilise features on the phone such as camera or NFC and must not be forgotten that as an app, your logo is always present on the users’ device.

Web Development

January 2015 [link to original article]

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Web development at all levels is a core offering from Affinity and we always dedicate a highly professional and motivated development team to every challenge, large or small.

From Apps and CMS to Augmented Reality, each one of our projects needs a web presence, either to publish information or update it, and we are experts at making that happen efficiently and economically. Affinity work in some of the most exciting areas of new technology. We develop large transactional e-commerce platforms and build web stores and high performing CMS-generated websites, all utilising cost-effective Open Source technology when appropriate.

Affinity became an early adopter of Open Source CMS offerings and have since become platform specialists. We access only the most appropriate solution for each client, using our in-depth experience of leading packages such as Drupal, WordPress, Magento and Joomla. In this way projects can be delivered much faster and at lower cost – there is no need for a large team of coders to build each project from the ground up. Instead we deploy multiple modules as building blocks to tailor the web architecture to our clients’ exact requirements.

Only when the clients are satisfied will we have achieved the right result and it is only through creativity and innovation that we can do that. We are active users, supporters and contributors to Open Source projects around the world, a hub of innovation here in the South West of the UK.

We’re experienced with other technologies too of course, such as JavaScript Node.js®, HTML5, Flash Video®, Ruby on Rails® and use them, but we believe that Open Source code and the online community are the often best option out there right now.

Urgent action needed to stop sewage ruining Cornwall’s famous ‘crystal clear’ waters

July 10, 2014 [link to original article]

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WE HAVE become increasingly aware of bathing water quality, especially in the South West where top marks in the Good Beach Guide or a Blue Flag have become a prerequisite for tourism.

The Environment Agency samples at 420 beaches for faecal bacteria during the bathing season, and most of us trust the results enough to let our children bathe in certified waters.

The UK’s bathing waters are extremely clean compared to a few decades ago. However, back then our coastal waters were just another section of the nation’s untreated sewage network, so this does not provide a meaningful baseline for more enlightened times.

The crystal clear waters of Cornwall are viewed as some of the cleanest in the UK, and they can be. However, I recently noticed ear-buds and other sewage detritus in the water and along the strandline in many areas, even in the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural beauty (AONB).

Our outdated combined sewer overflow system cannot cope with heavy rainfall, so raw sewage regularly spews into the sea and back onto our beaches. Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) advise not to enter the sea for 48 hours after rain, which in Cornwall often doesn’t allow a great deal of time in the water.

As reported in the West Briton, the mussel farming industry in the Fal collapsed last month and two weeks ago bathers had to leave the water and a surfing competition was cancelled at Godrevy due to sewage pollution. The Fal is a special area of conservation and contains several sites of special scientific interest, while Godrevy has Marine Conservation Society Good Beach Guide top marks, so why does the user experience not match the data?

Sporadic water quality testing only provides a snapshot, and only about 20 tests conducted during the entire bathing season often fail to detect the irregular pollution from sewage overflows. ‘Acceptable’ levels for faecal bacteria are also set far too low.

The EU is getting much stricter from 2015 – twice as strict – and many UK bathing beaches could struggle to comply with the higher standards.

Are our water companies to blame? A 2008 Freedom of Information request revealed unregulated overflow pipes dumping unlimited amounts of raw sewage along the coastline – more than 60 operated by South West Water (SWW).

After the Godrevy incident, where the RNLI evacuated people from the water, the head of waste water at SWW, Richard Gilpin, told the BBC: “It’s better to put it in the sea than in people’s properties”.

But would it not be better to invest in improving the infrastructure and stop blaming the Victorians? At Morecambe Bay, in Lancashire, 1,000 cubic metres of storm sewage storage has been installed to prevent any more spillages.

Cornwall is nationally famous for its stratospheric water rates, yet we see the same problems year after year. We urgently need to regulate the flow of rainwater into our aged sewer network, or all the overflows must be replaced by separate sewers for rainwater and sewage – there is no cheap option. But the longer action is delayed, the more damage there will be to our tourism industry.

■ Julian Powis is also a marine bio-logist and runs JPA Services jpowis@jpaservices.org

In praise of early winter

December 05, 2013 [link to original article]

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A WALK to the shops a couple of weeks ago was spectacularly interrupted by a pod of dolphins.

My desire for milk, eggs and bread was replaced by the need to watch half a dozen cetaceans feeding and playing in Falmouth Bay for almost an hour.

This same spectacle can be seen in summer, but not for nearly as long. Daytime summer pods are quickly surrounded by watercraft.

November is one of my favourite months; the days may be shorter but when the sun shines it does so with a brilliance that fills you up – it’s even possible to get a little sunburnt.

Of course, we need tourists all year round and VisitCornwall is heavily marketing the “shoulder season”, but to find yourself all alone on a beach or able to watch dolphins uninterrupted is pure joy.

It feels like being locked in the toy shop or sweet shop after everybody else has gone home. To watch dolphins behaving naturally, leaping from the water and chasing prey without human interruption, is a heavenly experience.

The other natural delight of this time of year is the changing quality of the light. Sandy beaches take on warm autumnal browns. The gunmetal grey of a cloudy sky hints at dark reds and deep blues; shades and moods often hidden from us in the warmer, summer months.

The coast path begins to take on a bog-like quality in places; where once deck shoes and sandals may have sufficed, now wellingtons and waterproof hiking boots rule. On these walks, trousers may only be worn once before going in the wash.

Perhaps it is the complicated relationship between human beings and mud, but walkers appear to bond more at this time of year. Smiles and hellos between strangers are more frequent, and conversations above mud-caked dogs are more forthcoming. Perhaps it is the shared knowledge that we are the lucky few around to enjoy this lovely walk, or that we all secretly like mud.

And it’s into December now across the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Bathed in bright sunshine or wrapped in dark storm clouds, our landscape is at its most picturesque and dramatic in this delicious part of the world.

And there is still deep winter to come. Frost on the fields as we wake. A touch of snow perhaps dusting the skeletal trees. And wood fires and crumpets to follow, of course.

The turn of the seasons brings a much greater pleasure than a constant diet of sun and blue skies (however much we may think otherwise on occasion).

For now, we have the landscape largely to ourselves. We band of muddy-bottomed brothers, we happy few.

This series of environment-themed articles is available on the Cornwall AONB website cornwallaonb.org.uk

Multiple Wins at the YCN Awards

Friday 27 June 2014 [link to original article]

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Falmouth University was the most successful institution at the 2014 Young Creative Network (YCN) Student Awards, with no less than 8 winning students.

The YCN Student Awards is an international scheme based around a collection of creative briefs. These are written each year by 18 partnering companies and organisations, ranging from Domino’s Pizza to Marriott Hotels. Each brief is judged by leading designers and industry specialists, and the best work receives the coveted ‘Commendation’ award. Multiple Commendations can be awarded for each brief.

The winners from Falmouth University are:

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These winning entrants will be awarded at a London ceremony in September, and all the commended work is showcased in the YCN Student Annual. 15,000 copies of which are distributed across education, and across the creative industries.

Falmouth Student Wins ‘Paint Like You Mean It’

Friday 27 June 2014 [link to original article]

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BA(Hons) Fine Art student Ed Hill has been declared joint winner of the inaugural ‘Paint Like You Mean It’ prize. Ed has also been long-listed for a publication by the same gallery for his work Jumping Cholla (oil on linen, 2013).

No stranger to such awards, three of Edward’s paintings were shortlisted for Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2014 earlier this year.

200 applicants made up the long list for the first Paint Like You Mean It, of which 57 were long listed. This biennial painting prize was set up by Interview Room 11 (IR11), an artist-run gallery and project space in Edinburg, with the aim of showing how contemporary artists continue to engage with painting.

Edward, who also completed his Foundation in Art and Design at Falmouth, said, “I aim to make atmospheric paintings, imbued with an elusive mystery and warmth. Sketches from life, personal photographs, found photographs, references to painting history and memory can all inform an idea. An ongoing theme references faraway places, be it in memories of childhood pursuits or from travels. I am drawn to subjects which contain strangeness or a humour/tragic-comic element.”

Falmouth Lecturer Writes Guide to Illustration

Thursday 26 June 2014 [link to original article]

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BA(Hons) Illustration lecturer Dr Karenanne Knight has released a guide to writing and illustrating picture books that are aimed at young children. 

Titled: ‘The Picture Book Maker – The art of the children’s picture book writer and illustrator’, the book offers an historical understanding of visual literacy and provides a hands-on guide to creating a picture book.

Dr Knight said, “I take my readers through the processes behind creating a picture book from start to finish. I begin with the idea for a story, show how to develop the plot, decide the format, write the narrative and dialogue, bring the characters to life in words and illustrations, and show how to enhance it all with endpapers and other devices”.

The author draws on her original research into children’s views on picture books and offers information on writing and illustrating picture books through to through the steps required to present their work most appealingly to a publisher. Falmouth’s Professor Alan Male has illustrated more than 170 books, he commented, “It must be included in all essential reading lists for both undergraduate and post graduate study of this discipline”.

As well as paying tribute to the great storytellers and illustrators for young children over the decades, the publication also features the work of a number of young authors and artists. Karenanne commented, “My aim is to anticipate and tell you everything you need to know to have a go and to inspire and support new creators of joyful picture books for children for many years to come”.

Seeking out the beauty of Cornwall on two wheel

June 06, 2013 [link to original article]

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SOMETHING strange and physical happens to a brain when the body comes into possession of a bicycle.

A previously unassuming part of the cerebral cortex begins to squish its way to the front babbling about adventure and being an explorer, and before long a chap can find himself in the middle of nowhere staring at cows.

Perhaps this experience has more to do with location – I had bikes in London for years and never once felt the urge to go observe a cow. However in Cornwall, the possibilities revealed by the presence of a bicycle are far more alluring than a wearisome urban commute.

I didn’t need a car in London and, for sustainability and financial reasons, don’t have a car in Cornwall. Getting outdoors means mostly walking the coastline – nearly all of which is designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB). From the South West Coast Path the view is nearly always beautiful, with very few roads and little chance of getting lost a long way from home. With my sense of direction, being able to simply turn around and walk back is a bonus.

The bicycle has changed the way I look at a map, realising how much I’ve been missing out on the stunning inner beauty of Cornwall. Suddenly woods, valleys and lakes look enticing and accessible. I’ve never felt more like a tourist, and I like that very much.

However one thing I still dislike above all else about the outdoors is busy roads. I avoided them as much as possible as a pedestrian and, happily, doing so by bicycle is much easier than expected. Maps are full of bridleways and byways. For every destination I have looked at, there exists a spider web of off-road trails to take me there in a more interesting manner (albeit with less certainty).

The Cornwall AONB recently commissioned the survey and mapping of over 400km of such trails, revealing new cycling routes all over, on which I intend getting horribly and happily lost. An AONB project officer and I have been fixing small signs to existing footpath signposts. No bigger than a beer mat, these let people know they live in or are visiting a special place, nationally protected with the same status as a national park.

Most are narrow footpaths through private farmland which are unsuitable for cyclists. But some are tracks and bridleways. Thanks to some decent maps and a box of signs, I now am able to spot a potential cross-country or circular cycle route fairly quickly. So this summer I shall forsake the crowded coast path, and set off on my bike for a refreshing tonic of beautiful inner Cornwall.

For more on this environment series visit: http://www.cornwallaonb.org

For details of the new cycling routes check out: 1 South West Adventure Cycling Map: http://map.1sw.org.uk

Sustainable Fashion on Show

Tuesday 3 June 2014 [link to original article]

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Second-year BA(Hons) Fashion student Chloé Wright has exhibited some of her sustainable designs at the Hay Festival.

Chloé was one of ten students chosen to join the Just Fashion Workshop, a joint project between the Hay Festival and the Environmental Justice Foundation. The Workshop was led by sustainable fashion experts Jessica Mor and Martina Spetlova, the students had just 5 days to produce outfits with the focus on ethical production.

On the last weekend of the festival, the students designs were modelled on stage as part of a discussion about the future of sustainable fashion with designers Katharine Hamnett CBE and Dilys Williams of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion.

Chloé produced a coat made from recycled furniture fabric in traceable wool with a silk lining, and organic cotton blouse and up-cycled tartan trousers. One of Chloe’s main influences is Stella McCartney, “She doesn’t scream and shout about her ideas of animal welfare … she just says it should be the norm and I like that.” Chloé says she would love to have her own flock of sheep to produce her own wool.

Contemporary Crafts double win at Pewter Live 2014

Wednesday 28 May 2014 [link to original article]

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BA(Hons) Contemporary Crafts students Victoria Andrew and Hanny Newton have both secured wins in the 26th Pewter Live Open Challenge.

Second year BA(Hons) Contemporary Crafts student Victoria Andrew won first prize in the national Student competition within the Interior, Architectural & Furniture section for her glass and pewter entry ‘Slump and Grind’.

Third year BA(Hons) Contemporary Crafts student Hanny Newton was a joint winner of the Giftware Association Prize for her Bespoke hand embroidered pewter bow ties.

Pewter Live is an annual European Design Competition organised by The Worshipful Company of Pewterers, a 600-year-old guild based in London. Entries can be made of mixed material provided that they are predominantly made of pewter.

All the pieces entered are displayed at a 3-day public exhibition held at Pewterers’ Hall in central London in June. It will be opened by the Lord Mayor, and in previous years the prizes have been presented by Deyan Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum in London, HRH The Prince of Wales, Tom Dixon, Sir Terence Conran, The Marquess of Queensberry and Sir Christopher Frayling.

Student Background

Victoria Andrew is a conceptual artist who is inspired by the historic landscape and geological configuration of Cornwall. Her interest in minerals and local mining data has resulted in a piece which is concerned with simplicity of form alongside detailed textual imprint. The rocky pivot cast in pewter acts as a counter balance to the slumped glass form.

Hanny Newton explores and questions traditional stitch learnt during her training at the Royal School of Needlework. This work uses technical stitch methods with pewter thread to create a raised three-dimensional relief on a traditional black bow tie.