Lightquick Web Design - Elements of the past and the future combining to make something not quite as good as either

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We are just about to complete a new web shop for the construction company Wheeler Stokes at wheelerstokes.co.uk . The new site will feature a Joomla CMS front-end using a very modern corporate template which matches the character of the parent company. The new site will be easily 'moddable' so that on-going development costs are minimised.
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Elements of the past and the future combining - to make something not quite as good as either PDF Print
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The wonder of the mighty Boosh! May the Hitcher never leave us... "Elements of the past and the future combining - to make something not quite as good as either".

hitcher-300.jpgIf you don't really understand - don't let that worry you, just keep watching and you might just "get it". If you don't get it don't worry, it is not that important, just watch the video below and you might get a flavour of the ripper-type character from the Mighty Boosh.

The Mighty Boosh is a British comedy troupe featuring comedians Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding. Developed from 3 stage shows and a 6-episode radio series, it has since spawned a total of 20 television episodes for BBC Three and 2 live tours of the UK, as well as 2 live shows in the United States. 

Noel Fielding has become a little bit of a cult figure amongst a certain type of young-ish person here in the UK. He's a little bit 'this' and a little bit 'that' and the result is that he is quite appealling. Julian Barrats eems to play second fiddle to Noel acting as his 'straight man' as it were, but he is the actual genius behind the duo. Watch a few of their songs and be aware they come from Julian's brain and you'll begin to understand there is a more complex character than demonstrated in his character of Howard Moon.

The pictures you see here are modifications of originals featuring a Jack the Ripper type of person, this is a very close match to one of Julian's creations the Cockney Hitcher. Do enjoy the video and the images. 

 

 

hitcher-in-london-600.jpg

 

 

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 29 January 2013 )
 
A Steampunk Diversion - Robots in Disguise PDF Print
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Every now and then one needs a little diversion, something different from your own personal norm. Hopefully these two upstanding and fine

dee-plume-140.jpg

sue-denim-140.jpg young ladies will provide a little diversion for you with this little musical piece, composed especially with you in mind...

 

Who are Robots in Disguise?  - Robots in Disguise are an English electropunk band composed of Dee Plume (vocals and guitar), Sue Denim (vocals and bass) and a changing line-up of backing musicians. The group, formed in 2000, have released four studio albums and are currently based in Berlin and London. Despite the classification as Electropunk their music is harder to categorise than you would expect. If you listen to any of their main tracks you will find that each is very different from the last. Do not expect any of their other tracks to be drawn from the same mould as they certainly are not.

 

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 29 January 2013 )
 
A True Victorian Version of War of the Worlds PDF Print
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We still don't have a True Victorian film Version of War of the worlds. We have a couple of awful US-based versions which are seriously at variance with the original story. The recent 2005 version was really just another of those great British stories that the yanks take over, transfer to the US, add a good 'oil boy who is a divorcee (as always) and some screaming children, a baddy (paedophile in this case - can't get nastier than that) and then change the story fundamentally so it no longer quite 'works' as the original did. All these fundamental changes mean that the story is so completely at-odds with the original that it really does not deserve to have the name of "War of the Worlds". That name implies that it derives significantly from the original Victorian version. It simply does not.

bigtripod.jpg

The 1950s version can be forgiven for bastardising the story as it is basically nothing more than an effective B-movie designed to scare the 'bejeesus' out of 1950s America. In a way it is better that Hollywood changed the entire setting of the film as a director from that time would probably have been completely unable to replicate HG Well's Victorian England with any veracity. They could easily have ruined the whole idea and concept of a film of that book, think of "Little Women" coupled with the Waltons vs the Martians.

spielberg.pngThe 2005 version was a chance for Hollywood to redeem itself, I could have coped with the film transferring from British shores to the US Eastern seaboard as long as we could have done away with the awful contemporary setting, remove a Mustang or two, the divorcee and the overall corniness - but that was not to be. Spielberg forgot he has abilities in bringing the past alive and his job should have been to focus on the drama and the setting, not just to remake the 1950s version. Speilberg should not be proud of his film, frankly it is not a lot better than that of the 1950s and in some parts it is actually worse. The 2005 effects are OK - well they should be with 50 years of advances in visual effects. However the effects in the 1950s version were actually more frightening, more dramatic and more effective being imposed on a more naive 1950s audience. The 2005 film was let down by a lack of real drama, real emotional involvement. One of the most dramatic elements, being where the ironclad Thunderchild brings down a Martian or two before succumbing to the heat ray in a furious battle to the death, was simply converted to a ferry on a lake overturning. The dying Martian's appearance at the end is far less successful and far less dramatic than the 1950s version and frankly the whole film is a bit of a wash-out leaving you with a feeling of regret. You started with the initial hope that Spielberg's involvement in the film would produce a masterpiece but rather we were left with the feeling that we had all expected so much more.

the_war_of_the_worlds.jpgJeff Wayne's masterly adaptation of the whole story has left many of us with an expectation that a Victorian version may some day appear. Jeff Wayne himself has commisioned several CGI short animations that tease us with the idea that one day a film will come. He has put it all this together to come up with a fantastic stage show but still the film version eludes us and I for one cannot believe that Jeff Wayne will ever get his act together and finally make it happen. I think if he was ever going to be successful in pulling a film together it would have been done by now. See the trailer below for a taste of what might have been, note the early 'noughties' visual effects, still good but better could probably be done now.

 

 

pendragon.jpgI completely discount the Pendragon version of the film. Set in Victorian times but set in the US, it had no big-film budget, poor CGI and visual effects, bad amateur acting but more importantly lacked direction and editing. The end result is not a lot better than a fan-led version and in my opinion it is SO bad that it deserves to be forgotten.

Before we forget it let us at least acknowledge that they tried to be faithful to the story itself, they tried hard on the effects and they did actually produce a film. That in itself is an achievement. I just wish it had been any good. I had high hopes for that version of the story and was quite disappointed when I finally managed to see it.

Back to the good news, the good thing is that high quality CGI technology is now available and readily accessible to the masses and if you have some significant skill and a damn good PC you can, over time create a pretty good set of visual effects that could underpin a real actor-led version of the film (see our own created version of the Thunderchild animated walkthrough here ). With that in mind I present a visually stunning fan-led creation of the WOTW genre, a walkthrough of the ironclad Thunderchild in a near-real representation of its meeting with the Martians just prior to the commencement of battle. This was created by a team(?) of budding file-makers, let us hope they complete the project and have a future in film, even if not they certainly have a future in CGI.

Do not underestimate the amount of work this took to do and the skill involved. Rendering a single frame to this level of detail and realism takes hours and hours of processing, let alone the skills involved in creating the models, skinning the frames, lighting the scene. This scene would have involved months of work and weeks of rendering.

Let us hope that something comes of this. Follow the link and view the video on youtube. Leave a comment or two encouraging the author to commit more time and resource to completing the project. I for one would love to see this succeed.

 

Last Updated ( Sunday, 16 September 2012 )
 
War of the Worlds:Goliath premiere 20th September PDF Print
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So many Steampunk films and animations creeping through the woodwork these days. A full-length feature animated film from a team deeply immersed in the War of the Worlds genre is about to be premiered in the Los angeles film festival in the US. The film is set after the Martians first invasion of the late 1890s, where subsequent human technology has been massively enhanced by man's mastery of left-behind Martian richtofen.pngequipment and designs from the failed earlier attack. This film sees the Martians return to attack a world riven with internal strife where man is still as focussed on defeating their human enemies rather than co-operating to defeat a potential second Martian invasion. If you find it all a bit unbelievable then suspend your disbelief for a short while, if you like Steampunk, battles with aliens, large calibre turret-mounted guns with muzzle recoil reducers on  articulated and balancing bipods complete with lasers, floating multi-turreted battleships and aircraft carriers, rocket-firing triplanes, then you are in for some fun. Once you've accepted the basic premise of War with the Martians in the late 1890s, then basically from that point on anything goes...

 

 

 

Last Updated ( Sunday, 11 November 2012 )
 
The Airlords of Airia - The Forthcoming Movie PDF Print
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The Airlords of Airia is a film-in-the-making by a German visual-effects expert who is attempting to bring to life a story that he has created all by himself. Having years of experience in visual-effects he has access to the knowledge and technology that is required to create and render high quality 3D visuals beyond the reachof the rest of us. His visuals look near perfect and completly lifelike. The work behind the short movie clip must not be underestimated as it would have taken many weeks to render. Bear in mind that a single frame can take many hours to render on a modern PC equipped with a powerful processor.

Well, what else can I say about this amazing one-man creation? not much at the moment except to say that it exists, so watch the video!

airlords.jpg

 

More soon!

Last Updated ( Thursday, 13 September 2012 )
 
Steampunk WOTW Thunderchild Desktop Render PDF Print
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An imagined steampunk desktop. This uses a new image created by my alter-self Orlok, the image is the Torpedo Ram Thunderchild from HG Wells' marvellous book "War of the Worlds" plus a few typical desktop items to create a theme of sorts.

steampunk-desk-500.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

   

 

 

You can download this here at Rocketdock:

## LIKE THIS ! I SAY CHAPS DO CLICK ON THE FB BUTTON IF YOU LIKE THIS ONE !!! ##

The protaganist's desktop is covered with items that indicate that he is about to flee. The necessary money is to hand and reports of the Martians indicate that their technology is superior - and that they are winning the War.

The Thunderchild image is taken from a forthcoming CGI rendered video that will be ready to display soon. Imagine, if you will, the scene zooming in upon the photograph and the thunderchild coming to life in the photo frame. Zooming further in we are transported into the actual battle itself.

You can see a quick 'n dirty render here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_ixIQuj1qg

or simply click on the youtube play button below:

 There will be updates soon so keep an eye on the same channel.

Last Updated ( Friday, 02 November 2012 )
 
Some out of the box testing of Joomla Facebook plugins PDF Print
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Just doing some out-of-the box-testing on a few joomla extensions, namely plugins to implement facebook "like this" functionality on Joomla 1.5. There is more to it than just installing an extension because there is some hidden 'extra' stuff that needs to be done under strange-facebook-icon.pngthe hood. This involves implementing open graph functionality that supports the FB 'like'. You can see the FB like plugin working here, top right. To allow the FB look to work properly you need to have various "og" tags defined as follows:

<meta property="og:type" content="website" />
<meta property="og:site_name" content="Lightquick Web Design - High Quality, Low Cost" />
<meta property="og:description" content="Lightquick" />
<meta property="og:title" content="LightQuick Web Design" />
<meta property="og:url" content="http://lightquick.co.uk/lightquick-web-design.html?Itemid=" />
<meta property="og:image" content="http://lightquick.co.uk/images/stories/step1.png" />

These tags define what FB will do with the 'like' when it is presented. If the og:image tag is defined then FB will display the image that you provide, if you don't define it then it will simply take what it can find on your website and that image may not be appropriate. By defining these tags correctly you have the chance to ensure that FB displays the information correctly on each FB link across. There are other og: tags that can be defined, each relaying a pertinent bit of information relating to the subject of the article/page. Other FB tags can be defined that connect your website to a related Facebook API key. This API allows other FB functionality that you might care to implement, such as logging in using a Facebook id. This tag allows the API connection to be identified.

<meta property="fb:app_id" content="284396941601658" />

A site that has Facebook "like this" functionality is signigicantly enhanced if these tags are defined, so you'll need a plugin or two to achieve this. I have written a Joomla 1.0 plugin to do exactly this on this site and a few others and I was prepared to rewrite it in Joomla 1.5 but I didn't really have the time so it was time to have a look at a few pre-done plugins from the JED. A quick out of the box review of a few plugins follows, firstly a plugin that purports to be the ultimate Facebook Like Button.

Ultimate Facebook Like Content Button

facebook03-167.pngThe plugin is easy to configure and use. The version I had previously downloaded stopped working altogether due to a change at Facebook where a spurious 'width' parameter stopped the thing from displaying anything leaving a mere empty space where the FB 'like' should be. I blame Facebook for this, not the dev. as clearly FB had changed something at their end causing the previously good plugin to fail, although the devs slightly crap code had allowed the problem to manifest itself... Note: just one simple error in the code provided to Facebook can stop FB from working - I must remember that. I fixed this myself by removing the offending width code. I tried the dev's site to report the problem and to get an update but it is a little impenetrable if you can't understand Greek, even his translate button still gives you a page full of Greek. If not for these two problems it would have had a 4 star rating.The Dev responds that he does have a support area, all you need to do is to open a ticket at web-expert.gr/clients/index.php to report the issue (I don't need to as my fix means it is now working).

N-System Facebook OpenGraph

strange-facebook-icon-126.pngThe old version of this plugin created incorrect meta name tags and the new version 1.4 supposedly fixed this. Unfortunately it still does not create meta property tags as it should, they are still meta name tags... I cannot report this problem to the dev. as his site has no contact nor support area and is entirely in German (nothing wrong with that, but it means that it is harder for me to navigate as mein Deutsch ist nicht gut). Can't recommend this until the problem is actually fixed.

 





MBV Open Graph

round-screen-handles-126.pngI tested almost all the non-commercial plugins to generate open graph meta tags and almost none worked. This was the first to do the job, it generates "meta property" tags whereas all the others create "meta name" tags which are incorrect. Not sure if this plugin generates all the meta tags you will need. Test it out yourself to see if it does the job for you.

 

   


AutoOpenGraph

facebook02-126.pngTesting out of the box did not go well. Installed it, enabled it and my site died immediately due to a PHP error. Not a lot of reason to allow the test to go further, so I simply removed the plugin and the site worked again. Not the best experience for an out-of-the-box test. I checked and confirmed that the plugin was compatible with Joomla 1.5 and it was... I have no idea what caused the error as I had no time to check it and fix, I was merely testing. I cannot recommend this plugin for your site but it may well work on yours. If I were you I would test it on a less important site first.

 

 

 

 

 

 


strange-icon1-126.pngTesting out of the box and the plugin installed was enabled and immediately started generating og tags. Unfortunately it does not create the correct "meta property" tags, instead creating "meta name" tags. Not the best experience for an out-of-the-box test. Needs some changes to replace the appropriate text on a page "after render". The developer states that it definitely does create the "meta property" tags, but I did not see this on my test.



 

 


iBualoy OpenGraph

facebook01-126.pngI tested a few of the plugins in this category of the JED. Almost all incorrectly generated open graph meta tags of the type "meta name" when they should be "meta property" tags. In a small pit of despair I was going to convert my old 1.0 mambot to do the job when I found these two plugins from this rather good developer. They do the job exactly as expected. The two plugins generate the correct meta tags for article pages, main page &c. They will become my main Open Graph plugins for all my 1.5 sites. they do offer the opportunity to create a few 'extra' og tags such as the following:

<meta property="og:locality" content="Wallingford" />
<meta property="og:region" content="Oxfordshire" />
<meta property="og:postal-code" content="postcode" />
<meta property="og:country-name" content="GB" />
<meta property="og:email" content="email@lightquick.co.uk" />
<meta property="og:phone_number" content="tel.no.here" />


Facebook does not really use these and regards them as spurious tags so I am not really sure why they are options in this developers offering. Otherwise very good indeed.

 

Finally a review of a non-Facebook related plugin :

Googlemaps Plugin


stonehaven-map.png I've used this plugin for years with the old google maps API no problems whatsoever. Since installing the new version of the plugin and since the old (and simple) google maps API has been deprecated I find that getting this plugin and the Google API information together are just far too complicated. I tried and tried and failed miserably to get this plugin to do anything at all, no errors but nothing. I do NOT blame the developer, I blame Google. Mr. Reumer, the developer gets four stars for the way the plugin has worked over the years. Loses one star for the way it interfaces with the new google map API. I have simply abandoned Google maps. The developer is a friendly chap though and I am sure he will assist in getting it going for you. As this is an out-of-the-box test.

 

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 01 January 2013 )
 
On the Night Boat to Cairo PDF Print
(2 votes)

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I needed cheering up and this did it for me, perhaps it will do the same for you. Some Madness is always good for the soul especially when it dresses up so well.

 
Professor Elemental says Thankyou! PDF Print
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On the 26th of April 2012 The Chronicles of Professor Elemental goes into production thanks to the goodwill and generosity of fans and professor-elem2.pngfantastic organisations who have sponsored the Professor! The Chronicles of Professor Elemental will be released very shortly - we hope... but for the moment here's a little something from the Professor.

 

 

Last Updated ( Friday, 02 November 2012 )
 
A Mention in Steampunk Dispatches PDF Print
(2 votes)

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Just drawing your attention to a couple of recent mentions that our widgets have solicited from other parties, in particular these two sites:

The Traveler's Steampunk Blog

Regardless of being spelt incorrectly (traveller's being the accepted English usage, so the site must be of Yank-persuasion) the site is generally very good. They certainly rave about our widgets describing them as virtual jewels. I ask you to please visit their site in return of their kindness.

travellers-blog.jpg

Gaslight and Gilt Blogspot

Another site that has been good enough to mention us is owned by a new friend by the name of Rhissana who runs the http://gaslightandgilt.blogspot.co.uk/. She has been kind enough to write another article about my latest icons here

banner-for-gg.jpg

Please take some time to visit Rhissana's site. It is eclectic and interesting as all steampunk blogs should be.

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Noupe

We also received a mention here at Noupe's Showcase of Unique Steampunk Web Design & Resources, she mentions our site and some of the stuff we offer such as our widgets. Thanks Noupe! Please visit their site here :

If you are wondering what thet tree thing is above, well, it is the closest we could get to finding a steampunk image that related to their site. Couldn't find anything so a bit of wood will have to do.

Last Updated ( Friday, 24 August 2012 )
 
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Steampunk Yahoo Widget

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Steampunk Yahoo clock/calendar widget download

LightquSteampunk Stamp Widgetick have a nice little Yahoo widget for you to download. Click on the image above.

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