University of St Andrews 600th anniversary website

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After last month’s almost-a-post-a-day, I’ve hardly blogged at all this month. And there’s been a pretty good reason for it: I’ve been working most of the last three weeks on coding up the designs for the University of St Andrews’ 600th anniversary website, which went live yesterday.

Eat, breathe, sleep code

And I really do mean “most of the last three weeks”. I’d get home in the evening, help put the boys to bed, and then crack on with more code until sometime after midnight each night. I’d crash into bed for about 4 hours’ sleep before booting up the PC again and working for a couple of hours until the boys woke. Then it was breakfast and back to the office for… oh, more coding.

Design

The design was by Edinburgh graphic design company Project and was the first web project that we’d worked on where an external company had mocked-up the design and passed it on to us as Photoshop ‘comps’. We were essentially coding up a design from photographs of a web page, which is a bit like handing a builder a photo of your dream home and saying, with a wave of the hand, “Make it so!”

It’s not our preferred way of working, if I’m honest. But they were brilliant at getting updated proofs to us. Anything involving image work takes hours so it was great having professional Photoshop-meisters on the other end of an email.

I’m going to blog about our experience of the project very soon on the St Andrews Web Team blog.

Development/Alumni

…and if that wasn’t exciting enough, I also had the Alumni pages to code up too.

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Tonight was my first night off in weeks from working on the code. So I chose to blog about it instead!

Two days at home

Reuben, Gareth and Joshua in the snow
Reuben, Gareth and Joshua in the snow

Thanks to #uksnow I’ve spent the last couple of days largely indoors.

Yesterday

Yesterday morning, I was due to preside at the 08:00 Eucharist at All Saints’, St Andrews. I got a phone call around 06:50 from Fr Jonathan while I was out clearing the snow off the car… using a mop.  Needs must.  He told me not to come in to St Andrews, as the roads were too dangerous.

A JCB did a circuit of our street yesterday lunchtime. For about an hour afterwards you could see that the road wasn’t white.

Then a car crashed into our neighbour’s parked car.

Then we built a snowman in the back garden.

Gareth's desk
Gareth’s desk at home

Today

This morning the roads weren’t any better. In fact, if anything they were worse.  While I was fairly confident that I could probably make it safely to St Andrews I really didn’t want to add one more car to what were obviously dangerous roads.

In this kind of weather the less traffic there is on the roads the better.  It reduces the chances of accidents, doesn’t block the roads for vehicles that really do need to get through, and doesn’t potentially endanger the lives of others who might otherwise need to come out to rescue you if you do get involved in an accident.

No thanks!  I’ll stay and work from home.

Besides, thanks to the wonders of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection and a job that requires me to be connected to the World Wide Web, I can do pretty much anything that I needed to from the comfort of my own PC at home.

Before I got stuck into work though I installed Input Director on my laptop and PC. Input Director enables me to control both computers using only my PC’s keyboard and mouse. It also shares the clipboard, so I can copy something on my laptop, for example, and paste it into a document on my PC.  Fabulous!

What a productivity boost that was, I effectively had 3 monitors.

Of course, as soon as I connect to the VPN… I lose connection because I’ve switched to a different network.  Something to remember next time.

I wonder if I’ll get into work tomorrow…