Monday, 17 December 2012

Planning Team Overview

As shown to all teams, and edited as necessary, the project plan has been created and added to Dropbox. This will allow all teams to have an understanding of what stage they should be at, as well as the other groups. Within the Gantt Graph we have also highlighted important milestones within the project. The first one of these milestones has already passed as the emphasis of the project has moved from planning to production. In the second term the important milestones will be:
- emphasis from collecting content to writing up
- website going live
- submission to the app store

Our job will now consist of weekly catch up with groups to assess if they are on track, to reallocate members of the groups whose tasks are minimal to help with content and marketing who's jobs increase in the second term. If teams are able, we will try to move the planners, budget and design to help with content and marketing with such jobs as gathering the content and any other issues that arise.

The tasks that we have highlighted as needing further assistance next term include:
- collecting content
- writing up and coordinating data
- encoding
- creating the website
- promote website and advertise

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The not-so-great productivity debate: Word processors

Currently, an overwhelming majority of word processed work on computers is done using Microsoft Office (specifically Microsoft Word). The program is so ubiquitous as to be specifically taught as part of the ICT syllabus in most schools, in spite of the fact that the software is not free or open-source, and creates documents using proprietary formats which do not leave the content in a human-readable state when examined outside of the original software.

Microsoft Office is not widely available to the private user without the purchase of a license. As a result, people are forced to pay in order to be able to use the same word processor with which they were taught. While this may seem something of a small investment when compared to the initial outlay required to buy a computer, a desk or a house to put it in, it is entirely unnecessary and also means that the users' introductions to software are to programs which are expensive and require expensive licenses, amongst other issues. One such issue is that Microsoft Office uses proprietary formats which are not designed to be used by other pieces of software. This also adds to the 'closed' nature of the software and the limitations here are obvious; while certain other programs can open these documents, the latest file formats remain out of reach.
The 'closed' nature of the software chosen by many has even more of an effect on the perceptions of the user because it is very difficult to modify the software to fit the specific needs or preferences of each user. The structure of the program is not accessible to the uneducated user and, since it is one of the main in-roads to computing for so many, does not introduce users to the possibilities of customising their software to suit. As a result, there is no motivation for a 'basic' user to attain an understanding of how their software works.
There are many alternative word processors which use formats which are either non-proprietary or are at least derivatives of other formats. The most common of these is OpenOffice, currently owned by Apache. Like many word processors, OpenOffice is freeware and is open-source, meaning that it can be accessed by anyone and also contributed to and modified by anyone with an understanding of programming. This means that many Some freeware word processors can also open file formats produced by Microsoft's programs (or other 'closed' products), along with producing files in formats which may be opened by a large number of other word processors.

So, does it matter which word processors are used by people? Of course not. As long as the end product may be read by the target audience, the role of the software has been fulfilled. On the other hand, the choice of software used to teach people how to access computers is somewhat more important, as it shapes the impressions made by technology upon the user, and it might not be entirely constructive to give an impression of software as an individual product which must be bought and may not be changed by the user or interact with software which has not been vetted by the original organisation.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

iBrum Budget Team

In our presentation on Thursday, we firstly discussed how the hypothetical funds will be allocated as it currently stands. This is as follows:

  • Budget = £1000
  • Design = £500 (Potentially £550 - depending on whether customised location pins are used)
  • Marketing = £100 (Potentially less - depending on the cost of a domain name)
At present this leaves us with £400 remaining, allowing for any other costs that may be incurred next semester. Should this not change, we plan to consult with the design team to see if there are any additional features which can be included in the app. 

Following this, we discussed budgeting aspects of the logistics of collecting and researching the information to go in the app. Working on the assumption that there will be no cost for labour, funds have not yet been allocated to the planning or content teams. 

A key question was raised, this being what the £500 budget will actually buy the design team. Having consulted with our programmer (Oliver), this will cover everything in the basic app framework, e.g. main menu leading to the respective categories, and the search bar and map function. This does not include customised pins, though at present there are funds available should we decide to go ahead with this. The reason for the greater expense is that it would take up more of the programmer's time. 

Currently we are in a very good position in terms of the budget, and whilst we are currently well under budget, we are aware that we may need to make some savings if more costs are incurred as the app develops further.