My most challenging client ever! My wife Pui is a freelance photographer and wanted to narrow her brand slightly. I'd already built mmmpui.com but
Pui wanted to have a separate website to promote only her wedding photography. While it started as 'I just want a really simple site with some of my wedding shots on', loveohlove.com
now boasts, dynamic galleries with a CMS integrated into Pui's work flow, a bespoke photo-blog facility with comments and emailed updates, a spam blocker for the comments, password protected client
galleries and a client upload facility for sharing friends wedding photos without relying on facebook. It's all built from scratch in PHP with Pui stood over my shoulder tweaking and
Magic Breakfast is an amazing charity that deals with malnourished children in inner city schools. They deliver free breakfast clubs to almost 300 schools accross the UK.
I Carmel and Alex at the TED London Conference. At the time they were running deliveries
to all these schools using excel sheets and paper forms. Ringing round suppliers and schools to try and make the most of the resources that had available.
After talking with Alex we came up with a cloud database system that would allow suppliers, distributors, schools and Magic Breakfast staff to log in and input information about
orders, prices, class sizes etc. Though the system has now changed a lot since it's inception it's a vital part of the charity and allows less time to be spent on Excel sheets and
more time to be spent actually feeding staving children.
My work with Magic Breakfast on the database is volentary, however recently I have been contracted as the 'go to IT guy' for help with tenders for funding. While the database runs itself
more most of the year I stay in contact with the Magic Breakfast office and sometimes help out with things like batch data edits/imports and producing a-typical reports when required.
(Please click a video to see more information about Magic Breakfast)
What would you get if you sent Facebook and Expedia away for a romantic weekend? Probably Triptide.com.au.
Triptide has taken the basic social platform of Social Engine, dragged it into the garage and turned the A-Team theme up to 11.
It's come out the other side as a whole new platform. Allowing travellers and suppliers to interact and find each other accross Australia.
I was a part of the transformation due to my experience at Tradewise Insurance interfacing web services. When it was first set up there were only a handful of suppliers on the site.
Each would have to create a page manually in HTML, they would then be able to receive e-mail enquiries from interesting site users. This was not a fantasic incentive as most Australian
suppliers are already part of a site called the 'Australian Tourism Data Warehouse'(ATDW) this lists the main details about the site and in some cases allows direct booking.
I wrote various bits of code to 'trick' the social engine platform into accepting pages directly from the ATDW web service. This took the number of pages on the site from a few dozen to
over 27,000. I also coded widgets (the technical term for a module of Social Engine code) to allow the automatic booking system from the ATDW to be integrated into the Triptide pages.
The Kissing Booth is a vintage style photo booth. But it's oh so much more than that! Pui and I had seen photo booths before and new they were gaining popularity at
UK weddings and events. Most are a simple piece of kit that looks like an old fashioned train station photobooth. You squeeze people in, push the button, and get a strip
of 4 photographs of you and your friends in various poses. The Kissing booth is very different. To start with it looks like an antique piece of victorian furniture (this is
because it IS a antique piece of victorian furniture) all the magic is tucked away inside. Secondly we got rid of the tiny photo box. Our booth is 2mx2m with a 2.3m high roof.
From a programming point of view it's as far removed from a big red button as you can get. The booth is bristling with sensors, picking up motion and noise from around the booth. It
uses the information from these sensors to predict when the best pictures will be taken. We record noise levels so as people laugh more the system evolves to suit the crowd. There are
currently 6 'scripts' that the booth can choose from and these have various settings that can change the experince. It's all programmed in C#, interfaces with an SLR camera
using the API's from Canon. This allows a very fine level of control. The sensors are off the shelf webcams and the motion sensing systems are mostly bespoke. Though there are a few
open source face detection apis that are uses in the more advanced scripts.
The next challenge was networking. The booth has it's own Wi-fi router in built and broadcasts a local website showing images from the night. This cuts down the need for printing as people
can view images on their phone as long as they are connected to the wi-fi. There is a mock DNS server running inside the booth that directs all traffic to the local gallery. (and to
keep i-Phones calm there is a mock version of the Apple mothership running on the server as well).
Guests can print from their phones if they want to. This links the php website running on the kissing booth to another C# program that organises and queues images for printing. This software
handles resizing and prevents the printers cache from filling up. It also allows reporting of print statistics, important at some events where there is a pay per print price structure.
As you have probably guessed by now this is sort of 'my baby'. We started taking booking for the Kissing Booth last Christmas while I was still working a 9-5. Since then we have had lot of happy
clients. And many venues have taken us on as their primary photobooth supplier. Notable satisfied customers include
Alice Pearson from the Inner Temple
Yoshi and Melissa of Imperial College London
Hi Chris, Just a quick note to say thank you so much for the fantastic job you and your colleague did at our
Christmas Party. Your flexibility in making the booth fit with our requirements was very much appreciated and, as you can see from
the pictures, it went down really well. Thanks and I hope we can book you again soon! - Jennie Collis, The Inner Temple