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How does a 'National' day become a 'National' day?

How does a holiday become a holiday?

This month we have had National Banana Cream Pie Day, National Day of Unplugging, National Oreo Cookie Day, National Proofreading Day, National Artichoke Hearts Day and National Melba Toast Day... just to name a few. But who decides what day is the national day of what, and why?

We scoured the internet to find out firstly, how we find out what National Day it is, and why. The easiest way to find out is by visiting the National Day Calendar, which lists every single national day possible. They also have an application form that you can fill out, in order to put an idea forward for a National Day of your choosing.

Government-supported holidays

These holiday's are the ones we all know about. For example, Easter Holidays, Christmas and the Queen's birthday are all holiday's that are established and set by the government.

Other events such as World Elephant Day which was established by the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation, became a National day due to being initiated and backed by a company and also because of the country it came from (In this case Thailand.) The foundation's goal is to acquire captive elephants and reintroduce them to the wild in protected forest habitats, and fundraising efforts support those efforts. The day was a trending topic on Twitter recently, which naturally brought awareness to the topic, and helped the day become a recognised one.

Other days like this have been on the up rise, and have become a trend on social media platforms, either highlighting a certain issue or bringing awareness to a brand or product. 

Private groups, public days

Some events are started by companies, activist groups or even individuals. National Dog Day, for example, was established in 2004 by pet lifestyle expert Colleen Paige, who also created events like National Mutt Day, National Farm Animals Day, National Walk Your Dog Week and National Specially-abled Pets Day.

The National day of Unplugging is another national day that has gained much momentum. The National Day of Unplugging is a project of Reboot.

The brand Innocent (known for their smoothies!) have had the same idea and jumped on the bandwagon with Innocent Unplugged. The event, that takes place in May, is all about leaving technology behind and enjoying a festival without needing to be 'plugged in.'

Innocent say: "Leave your phone at home and escape to innocent un-plugged, a festival for grown-ups in a woodland clearing in Kent. Sometimes the stream of emails, whatsapp messages and Facebook notifications can get on top of you. Life’s a bit too connected these days, which is why we’re unplugging for real. No Wi-Fi, no texts, no traditional electricity. Just a load of people camping in a forest clearing with great music, real conversations and lungfuls of fresh air. So forget about Facebook. Turn off Twitter. Say goodbye to Google. We’ll see you in the woods."

Some events belong to individual people

Strong personalities and passionate people help keep events going past their inaugural dates.

For example, Earth Day has also grown well past its original founding organisers' vision. Earth Day is "promoted and shaped" by the Earth Day Network.

One that is a bit closer to our hearts is Hour of Code for example; The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics.

No matter their origins, all of these holidays are occasions to make a difference in the world. So put a few dates on your calendar and keep celebrating the environment year-round.

There is also time to celebrate the more trivial National Days too, even if they are just for fun!

Why not get involved, and select a National Day to embrace?
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Website of the Week: SJ Design and Build

This week's website of the week goes to SJ Design and Build. SJ Design and Build specialises in Loft Conversions, Extensions & Refurbishments and also provide Architectural services.

Senior Project Manager Andy, began firstly by creating a full width panel website design, using striking imagery and a vibrant orange accent colour. The home page features an easy to follow layout, with the services laid out in interactive hover over boxes.

The website works as a place for people to take a look at the examples of work and services that SJ Design and Build provide. The internal pages are a slightly more minimal layout, in order for the text to take centre stage. The bottom of the home page features an interactive Google map, for people to click on and view, or use it as GPS function on their mobile phones.

The home page has an all important accreditation logo panel, which is always a good thing to have if you have familiar and trusted accreditations to show case. Checkatrade, Gas Safe and Trust Mark are all accreditations that people know and are familiar with.

The contact page features a form for people to fill out with their contact details and enquiry. The client can manage these easily using our content management system The Toolkit.

The client kindly awarded us 5 out of a possible 5 stars and said that "Toolkit Websites' service is great!"

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The clocks have gone forward!

Daylight saving time (DST) is the biannual event when we forget whether to put our clocks one hour back or one hour forward, and whether this means we’ll get some extra sleep or not.

The clocks went forward on Sunday night, which means that in the UK we’re back on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and sunrise and sunset will be about one hour earlier than the day before – so there will be more light in the morning.

In the UK the clocks go forward 1 hour at 1am on the last Sunday in March, and back 1 hour at 2am on the last Sunday in October.

The period when the clocks are 1 hour ahead is called British Summer Time (BST). There's more daylight in the evenings and less in the mornings (sometimes called Daylight Saving Time).

When the clocks go back, the UK is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Why do we do it?

In 1905, British builder William Willett raised the idea of introducing DST.  Liberal Party MP Robert Pearce introduced a bill to the House of Commons in February 1908. The first daylight saving bill was drafted in 1909, presented to parliament several times and examined by a select committee. However, it was opposed by many, especially farmers, and the bill didn't make it into law.

During the first world war, Germany became the first country to implement DST, on 30 April 1916, in order to save fuel for the war effort. Thereafter, other countries followed suit and the concept was adopted by Britain. DST was first used in the UK on 21 May 1916.

The best place to check, if you're ever unsure is the direct.gov website. They detail the time and date of each clock change so that you won't miss it!

Nowadays, smart phones and computers do this for us automatically, meaning it is systematised.

Does every country do it?

Daylight Saving Time is not observed in Hawaii or Arizona (with the exception of the Navajo Nation), and it’s also skipped in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. When it comes to the rest of the world, it’s a mix. In fact, only about 70 percent of countries follow Daylight Savings Time.

What are time zones and why do we have them?

Time zones are based around solar time – the idea that that no matter where on the planet you are, noon is the middle of the day when the sun is highest, while midnight is the middle of the night.

The expansion of the railway, and other transport and communications, as well as trade globalisation, during the 19th century created a need for a more unified time-keeping system, and time zones were introduced. There are countries that are a couple of hours ahead of us, and some that are full days ahead of us!

What if we had one time zone for the entire world?

If the whole planet lived by a single time, noon would be the middle of the day in some places, but it would be morning, afternoon, evening and night, in others.

Henry & Hanke argue that we should adopt Greenwich Mean Time as a universal time; a single time zone for the whole world. The same time everywhere regardless of the position of the sun in the sky. This wouldn't mean that you would go to bed during the day and wake up at night. It would simply mean that your day to day patterns would change. 11am would be day time for some countries and evening for others. 

There has been proposals and research into abolishing the time zone completely and having a universal one. Some countries have already moved toward fewer time zones. Since 1949, China has had only a single time zone even though geographically the country spans five. In 2010, Russia abolished two of its time zones, dropping the number from 11 to nine.

Let us know what you think on Twitter by using the hashtag #timezonetweets

A TED talks video below, discusses the subject.

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Website of the Week: Status Construction

This week's website of the week goes to Status Construction. Status Construction is a modern and dynamic company generated by a drive to improve and innovate new/existing systems, designs & constructs.

Senior Project Manager Lanara, began firstly by creating a full width panel website design, using the responsive platform. The home page takes the colour scheme from the clients existing logo, as well as a vibrant orange accent colour to make the page eye catching. The website features parallax scrolling, where the images are fixed and the content scrolls over it. This is a modern functionality which means the website is professional and on trend.

The website works as a place for people to take a look at the examples of work and services that Status Construction provide. The internal pages are a slightly more minimal layout, in order for the text to take centre stage. Each page has it's own full width panel image, relating to the topic of the page, also in a parallax method.

The services page has a drop down from the menu, so that you can select the service you are most interested in, and read about it in more detail. The contact page features details and a quick form to get in touch with the company, so that you can discuss your requirements in more detail.

The contact page features a Google map, which is interactive meaning that tablet and phone users can click on it to work as GPS. Desktop users can explore the map and location.

Every page has a call to action at the bottom, diverting the user to the contact page, in order to get in touch. With easy to use navigation, and the pages being laid out neatly, this website is a joy to look through.

Senior Project Manager Lanara created the website on our responsive platform meaning that it passes Google's Mobile Friendly test with flying colours.

Got a business in construction? Contact us
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Mobile scavenger hunts

Scavenger hunts. Fun right? Well this Easter you can take them digital!

Mobile scavenger hunts are a fun way to get people to help promote your company and campaign. For example, you could be attending a big Expo in London and they could have a scavenger hunt app, once you download it your first challenge is to take a picture of you entering the event and then share it on Facebook or Twitter. The next challenge is to Tweet out where you are and retweet a tweet from the event organisers. Then the final challenge is to find someone at the event and ask him or her a specific question and submit the answer to the app. Once you have completed all the challenges you get a reward, such as a bag of goodies you can pick up at the event. Having the app helps spread the word about the event and rewards users for helping with that. Having an incentive for people to get involved is the key to making a campaign go viral!

The app gets users to use their surrounding to complete the challenges, bringing a game on your phone into the real world. There are lots of different apps that use the real world in conjunction with the mobile game such as Fog of World and Zombie Run. Fog of The World tracks you gps location and shows you everywhere you have been, so with the more you travel the more of the world you unlock and receive achievements accordingly. Another app called Zombie Run is based on normal running tracking app, the more you run the more unlocks you get for the game within the app. Whilst you are running at random times you will be “chased by zombies” which encourages you to run faster for a short period of time.

Apps that use the real world are becoming more common and are very popular amongst users. Another great example is Pokémon Go. Based on the extremely popular game Pokémon an app is being developed where the app directs you to locations in the real world where you can go and point your phone at the location and the Pokémon will be there. As you explore the different locations you can catch the Pokémon as you go. So it’s almost just a huge scavenger hunt.

Do you use any apps that use the real world? Would you use a scavenger hunt app to organise an Easter egg hunt this weekend.

Senior Project Manager Lanara is giving her annual family Easter Egg hunt a digital make over this year, by using the app Goose Chase. Simply create a scavenger hunt on the website and then get your family and friends to login to the hunt on their smartphones, and let the games commence!

Let us know how your scavenger hunts go this weekend. #ToolkitEaster
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Symbols and their representations

Towards the end of March and the beginning of April, we see a lot of chocolate eggs, chicks, hot-crossed buns and chocolate bunnies in shops, but why are these symbols of Easter? What exactly do they represent?

We’ve done a little research into the reason behind these representations and although some of the stories behind them are well known, there are a couple that aren’t so popular…

The Bible has no mention of a long-eared short-tailed egg deliverer, but the Easter Bunny has become a huge symbol of the Christian holiday. No one really knows the exact origin of this mythical creature, but it is believed that due to their prolific procreation tendencies, rabbits are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life.

It has been told that Easter eggs represent Jesus’ resurrection, as the egg is viewed as the rock tomb, out of which, Jesus emerged, just like chicks emerge from eggs in the spring.

The spring lamb is another symbol associated with Jesus, who is often referred to in the Bible as the Lamb of God. Like the chicks, lambs are also a symbol for new life in the spring.

We found a couple of stories as to why we see hot-crossed buns at Easter. The cross on the buns represents Jesus’ crucifixion, as Jesus was nailed to a cross. It is also said that hot-crossed buns are the symbol of the rock that closed Jesus’ tomb. Either way, they taste great!

The Easter Bonnet: New hats and wearing new clothes for Easter symbolises new life, offered through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Symbols are a great way of telling a long story quickly and in a way that can be remembered. In the same way that we have symbols for religious holidays, we can also use symbols in web design.

Rather than using text to indicate a link, or interactive part of the website, icons and graphics can be used as they’re a great way of visually improving your website, allowing you to use less text.

As a first example, we all associate the little house icon as ‘home’ and therefore we know that by clicking on it, we will return to the homepage of a website. As well as a ‘home’ icon, we can use a + icon to indicate the user to click here to see/read more and at the opposite end, use a – symbol to close the expanding text box.

A lot of websites have images galleries, in which, you can flick through the pictures by hitting ‘Next’ or ‘Previous’. Small arrows can replace these words, as due to a common association between forward arrows online and the words ‘next’, ‘move on’ etc and backward arrows meaning go back, view the previous.

Due to the high volume of people searching the web on their mobiles, the ‘hamburger menu’ has become a well-recognised symbol of the menu. We know that by clicking on the triple horizontal lined hamburger icon, we will be able to view a list of links, which can be used to navigate around the website.

Rather than using text reading ‘Find us on Twitter’ with a link to social media profiles, a more common practice is to use icons for each of the social media platforms, each with a link to the individual profiles.

All of these symbols allow you to show the user that there is more to see, without having to physically explain using the text ‘Read More’ or ‘View another page’. As well as allowing you to use less text and break up your site a little bit, these icons keep your web page looking really tidy and can add style and a visual element to your website.

We use icons and symbols in our day to day life. We're familiar with the girl and boy toilet signs. Our road way signs and markings are apart of our day to day life. We use symbols on our phones, for our apps and tools. Emoticons have risen in popularity on social media platforms and text messaging.  They are everywhere we look and we use them day to day.
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How technology has transformed childhood

It's difficult to think about a time that technology didn't exist. In fact, without computers or telephones, Toolkit Websites would simply not exist. Nowadays we spend a lot of time surfing the web or using devices in our day-to-day life without a second thought. But how is technology transforming the childhoods of those born in this day and age?

Below, we've put together a case study of some different age groups that we have in the office. And compared this to studies found about young children being born into this era with technology available to them from a very young age.

What was your childhood like? Did it involve technology? Does technology enhance your experience of childhood in anyway or does it cause issues that wouldn't occur without it? Let us know on Twitter using the hashtag #technologychildhood

First we take a look at Jamie's childhood. Born into a world before technology took off, he details the key points of technology entering his life below...

Jamie (Developer Liaison.)
Age: 32
Year of birth: 1983

"In comparison to now, my childhood was rather primitive but technology played a huge part. Remember this was the days where we had VHS recorders where the remote was on a lead!

Toys frequently took four D sized batteries which after a few months oozed brown fluid from the seams.

The first computer we had was a Spectrum. I am sure the changing of cassettes tapes although maybe not at the time, meant that you learnt patience and how to be delicate. I am sure I remember that some of the cassette boxes even had boosts of how many colours it had.

When I was a little older we bought a Commodore 500 (which we had upgraded to effectively be a 501). This had moved things forward with better graphics and more processing (but probably less than most kids toys now) and really was an early home desktop. Although most of my experience was playing games or may be the odd spell learning about databases (or data inputting all our VHS types as was closer to the truth). The Commodore had a ribbon dot matrix!!

We then progressed to a Windows 3.11 PC and due to Dad's job had dial up. Things then progressed with tech, through many other computers including homebuilt. During secondary school was the first time I had my own computer -or the family got theirs back?! Not too long before leaving secondary school I got a mobile phone - the ones that actually filled a blazer pocket!

I think being on/just before the cusp of the advancement of technology has made me more aware the fact I do see new technology to earn it's place. I do feel that there is definitely a generation gap between those who grew up prior to home desktop computing revolution of the early nineties. "Was I on the right side of the divide?" is another debatable as is "was lead paint truly damaging us?".

Next we take a look at Lanara's childhood in comparison. Born during the time that technology began to take off, she details the key points of her life that technology became apparent...

Lanara (Senior Project Manager.)
Age: 26
Year of birth: 1989

"My childhood occurred during the 90s. A time where the Spice Girls were storming Top of the Pops, and Furbies, Barbies and Tamagotchi's were the top items on the toy store shelves. When it came to activities it was mainly about playing outside, roller blading, cycling, skateboarding... up and down the close we would be outside from sunrise to sunset.

Technology didn't enter my life until I was about 12. I was handed a big brick of a phone called a Motorola. It had an aerial! I was told that I was to put it in my rucksack in case of emergency. My Mum would call me on it to tell me to come home from the park for dinner.

We had a home computer when I was 13 but it had dial-up. No one in the house really understood how it worked so we didn't really use it, plus you couldn't use the home phone whilst it was on either. I mainly played minesweeper on it, or used Paint to create really abstract looking pictures. I had a mobile phone of better quality by this point, a Nokia. It had snake on it, and beating my top score was my main priority.

I'd say technology entered my life properly in Middle school for IT lessons. From there, technology began to progress and become apart of day to day life. My Dad had a pager. I got a new up to date phone and begun texting my friends instead of having pen pals or ringing on their doorbell for them to come out.

Secondary school saw me rely on a laptop for school work and projects. CD players were replaced with MP3 players and then MP3 players evolved into iPods, and suddenly everyone had one.

Now that I'm in my 20's I use a computer every day. I have the first ever 4K phone on the market and I'm enthralled with it. I do all of my banking online, I keep in touch with all of my university peers online and I manage pretty much everything through the device in my pocket.

I'd say technology has improved many aspects of day to day life, but I would agree that it has caused more issues for children and teens. Cyber bullying wasn't an issue when I was younger, and there wasn't an issue with anonymous people getting in touch with you or 'cat fishing.' If you had a problem, it was dealt with face-to-face.

I am amazed by technology that we have these days. From fitness devices to cameras and phones that perform faster and better than computers. I love keeping up to date with the trends and learning about new capabilities and features. I do feel as though technology should be introduced slowly and in a controlled environment to the younger generation. Being addicted to technology is a real issue, and it can impact on studies, social relationships and become an over reliance for information.

There are pros and cons, and it must be used sensibly and in moderation."

So what about children born into this technology era?

According to a recent report by uSwitch, parents will collectively splash out over £3 billion on tech gifts for their children at Christmas, spending an average of £243 each.

“Children today are part of a digital generation that has grown up in a world surrounded by technology and the internet, and they are using mobile phones, tablets, e-readers and computers on a daily basis,” said Matt Leeser, head of buying for electricals and home technology at John Lewis.

“For some parents, this can be a rather daunting prospect, as they may have spent their childhood playing basic arcade games whereas their children are entertaining themselves with a variety of internet-enabled devices, and getting to grips with the latest technology quicker than them.” 

Other members of our team said:

"My first piece of technology was a flip phone. I was given it when I was 13 when I began walking to school alone." "My first piece of tech was my PS1. It became a part of my day to day life from then on in!"

But is technology 'ruining' childhood?

Research by web security firm AVG claims that "more small children can play a computer game or use a smart phone application than ride a bike, tie their own shoelaces or swim unaided."

However, there are also many benefits for children, with technology becoming part of the growing up process, developing an identity and connecting with friends.

According to Iain Miller, head of innovation at Rufus Leonard, "children should be allowed to embrace technology, but only as part of a broader existence, and in the knowledge that will change and shape them for better and for worse."

Psychologists on the other hand, believe that "because children's brains are still developing and malleable, frequent exposure by so-called digital natives to technology is actually wiring the brain in ways very different than in previous generations." What is clear is that, as with advances throughout history, the technology that is available determines how our brains develops. For example, as the technology writer Nicholas Carr has observed, "the emergence of reading encouraged our brains to be focused and imaginative. In contrast, the rise of the Internet is strengthening our ability to scan information rapidly and efficiently."

What are your thoughts? Let us know!
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The Luck of the Irish - Happy St Patrick's Day!

Today many people around the world are celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick, as others may know it. Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early 1600s, in commemoration of Christianity arriving in Ireland as well as to celebrate the heritage and culture of Ireland in general.

As a celebration of Ireland and all things Irish we have done a little research into luck, the supernatural concept largely associated with Ireland, and superstitions from countries all over the world

Starting with Ireland themselves, the Irish believe that owning a four-leafed clover will bring you good luck in racing and witchcraft will have no power over you. There are some rules though. To avoid a witch’s spell being cast over you, you must have the four-leafed clover on you. You may not pass the clover onto another owner and you must certainly not show your four-leafed clover to anyone.

In Spain, not everyone shares a new year’s kiss when the clock strikes 12. Those who are superstitious believe that eating grapes at midnight will bring them a year of good luck. As well as this superstition, like the unlucky Friday 13th that we here in the UK have all heard of, the Spanish believe that Tuesday the 13th is unlucky.

Moving from Europe to South America, many Argentinians avoid the name Carlos Menem, as saying the name is supposed to bring bad luck to he/she who says it and to those who are around him or her. This reminds us of the old English superstition that it’s bad luck to say ‘Macbeth’ behind the scenes of a play. The only difference between these superstitions is that Carlos Menem is real as well as alive, but Macbeth is simply the lead character of a supernatural 17th Century play.

From Argentina to Africa, Egyptians view opening and closing scissors without cutting anything as frightfully bad luck. However, in Egypt it is also believed that scissors left underneath a pillow can cure a person of bad dreams.

Like we were all told when we were younger “eating bread crusts will make your hair curly”, women in Rwanda are told not to eat goat’s meat as it will cause them to grow beards!

In Russia, it is believed that bird poo landing on yourself, your car or your property will bring good luck and many riches. Apparently, the more birds involved, the richer you will become, so next time you fall victim to a seagull’s waste, count it as a lucky moment.

Over to Asia now, in China, the number 4 and all of its iterations (1, 24 etc) are considered to be really unlucky, as the Chinese pronunciation of the number is extremely similar to that of the pronunciation of the word ‘death’. Add this superstition to the western belief that the number 13 is unlucky, entering a sky scraper’s lift in China is going to cause a hugely confusing experience.

Here at home, most people have heard that if a black cat crosses your path it’s bad luck, but did you know why? This superstition derives from the medieval association of cats to witches. Witches could morph or transform into cats, thus a black cat crossing your path may just be a witch.

Also, we’ve all heard of the lucky horse shoe, but do you know the reason as to why it’s lucky? The belief stems from the fact that horse shoes have 7 – a lucky number – holes and are made of iron, so it can supposedly ward off evil spirits that are trying to haunt your dreams.

Whether you are superstitious or not, it is worth being aware of these different culture’s beliefs. You never know, the next time you receive bad luck could be due to having put your shoes on the table, or due to the fact that you live in flat 13 of the 4th floor...

Let us know about your superstitious beliefs and traditions on Twitter using the hashtag #mysuperstitions  

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Website Of The Week: Vintage Cars Ltd

This week's website of the week goes to Vintage Cars Ltd. Vintage Cars Ltd are specialists in the recreation and restoration of classic and vintage bodywork.

Senior Project Manager Andy, began firstly by creating a full width panel website design, using the responsive platform. The home page features a neutral colour scheme with a neutral white, and the images take pride of place as a slide show at the top, and panels lower down the page.

The website works as a place for people to take a look at the examples of work Vintage Cars Ltd have done and what they are currently working on. The images on the home page are laid out in a collage style grid, which is easy to follow, and is inspired by the Pinterest pinboard style layout.

The internal pages are minimal, and simplified, using only the white background so that the content is easy to read and easy to navigate. Each page is accessible via the menu bar, with no hidden links within pages. It's a clean and concise navigation.

The contact page features a Google map, which is interactive meaning that tablet and phone users can click on it to work as GPS. Desktop users can explore the map and location.

The testimonials page is a great idea, due to reviews being the first port of call for many clients before hiring the services from a company.

The gallery features the clients own, well taken photos, which is always a must have when showing potential clients or customers your product!

Senior Project Manager Andy created the website on our responsive platform meaning that it passes Google's Mobile Friendly test with flying colours.

The client kindly awarded Toolkit Websites 5 out of a possible 5 stars.

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The future of the Taxi

You may remember in early February of this year 8000 black cabs brought central London to a standstill, all in protest of an unfair market. To put it simply, the market is unfair because of Uber or at least that’s what a lot of cabby's think. So is this the beginning of a new era for Taxis?

Uber is an app you can download for free on IOS and Android devices. In this app you effectively order a taxi to pick you up from your location and you define where you want to be dropped off. A near-by driver then accepts your ride and will come to pick you up. The app will show you how far away they are and you can watch them come to your location. They then take you to the location you asked to be dropped off at and get out, all that’s left to do is rate the driver and then the app will automatically take the funds from your account so there is no need for you to rummage around for cash. The driver will also rate you for other divers if you wish to use the service again. A simple service that’s very effective.

The driver isn’t necessarily in a traditional black cab as they can use their own car so you might get a nice new Mercedes come and pick you up or maybe a hatchback Toyota. Some drivers aim to make their service as amazing as possible offering mints, latest newspapers and water in the back of their car.

Most recently Reading Borough Council’s licensing committee turned down an application by Thomas Elvidge on behalf of Uber Britannia for a private hire operating licence. So Reading won't be getting Uber any time soon and it is possible that other towns and cities will follow in their footsteps.

Their three main points for turning the application down were:

  • there was insufficient evidence of demand
  • no clear evidence about the number of vehicles that would be operating in Reading
  • no clear indication of how or by whom the Uber office would be manned
Another point they were keen to bring up was that they would congest streets by parking wherever available waiting to accept another job.

An Uber spokesperson said after the meeting: “Uber has been granted more than 40 operator licences by local councils across the country so we’re extremely surprised and disappointed by last night’s decision."

“In every town and city we operate we bring new economic opportunities for people who want to be their own boss and make money by being a licensed private hire driver. Millions of people across the UK regularly use Uber to get a convenient, safe and affordable ride at the push of a button."

“We remain convinced there’s real demand for Uber in Reading as more than 22,000 people in the town have opened our app in the last 90 days alone.”

Do you think you would use Uber if it were available in your town? Would you want to be an Uber driver?
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Home Photography Tips

Including images, graphics and photographs on your website is extremely important. Today the web we use is more visual than ever, what with full width sliders and image panels becoming a huge trend and the inclusion of many graphics and icons breaking up the text.

We have briefly touched on Stock Imagery VS Professional Photography previously, but with the increasing quality of mobile phone and digital cameras, it is now possible to shoot your own professional looking photos, without spending another penny!

Taking a photo for your website isn’t as simple as just pressing the shutter release button. There are so many tiny changes you can make to the way you take your pictures that can make a huge difference to the outcome of your photos.

As your photos are the first thing to catch the eye of the website viewer, you want to ensure that these photos are looking as best as they can because blurry, dark images can look unprofessional.

Tip number one: Don’t trust your hands - all of the best photos are taken using a tripod. By preventing camera shake by the operator, the tripod will assist in obtaining clear focus and ensure that the photograph is as sharp as it can be – looking as professional as possible.

Tip number two: Paying attention to light is a huge step in improving the quality of your photographs. Ensuring that you have plenty of light will enhance every detail of subject of your photo, making your photo really sharp and clear. You can experiment with light too. Different types of light will have different effects on your images, even natural light from different times of day can completely change the look and feel of your photographs. Focusing your light from different angles will completely change the look of the subject of your photos too. Light sourced from behind the camera, like shooting with the sun behind you, can create a very flat photograph, but shooting with side light can create a more interesting, mysterious look as it shows the depth and the shape of the subject of your photographs.

Tip number three: When taking photographs, shoot straight. Always make sure that any horizontal lines in your photograph are completely perpendicular to the left and right edges of your photograph, otherwise the photo may lose its dramatic effect due to looking off-set. Don’t just consider the horizontal lines though, also consider the vertical lines. Use the edges of a view finder as a gauge and once you’ve got the view finder lined up do of course make sure you don’t move around too much. Alternatively, you could use the previously mentioned tripod so that your camera always remains aligned with your view finder.

If you’re taking photos of products for your website, you definitely want to make sure that the photograph doesn’t lessen the look of the product – bad imagery could cost you a sale! Always ensure that you leave enough room around your product so that it doesn’t look too squashed within the photo. Do consider the background behind your product though. You want the background to be clean, neat and tidy. You also want the background to be minimalistic as to not draw the eye from the product.

Tip number four: Most products are shot on a plain white background. Make shift your own photo studio by simply draping a sheet over the table or unit, to have a plain background to emphasise the products in the image.

Tip number five: You can use your smart phone! Just check the settings for resolution, and more. Most smart phones these days work just as well, if not better, than some cameras on the market. Experiment and try different effects, settings and lighting.

There are millions of hints and tips specific to different subjects, for example, if you’re taking a photograph of a room, take the photo from below eye level because this will make the room look like it has come straight out of a magazine! Always remember to do a little research before snapping some photographs for your website – use books and the internet to see how images of similar subjects are taken by the professionals!
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How has technology made an impact on our lives?

Many of us have become very dependent on technology as it plays a very important role in our daily lives. Without technology for example, our industry wouldn't exist, let alone our business! We have much to be thankful for when it comes to technology in a number of ways.

How has technology impacted our day to day lives?

We are able to socialise and catch up with friends, family and colleagues online. Social Media networks join us together in a virtual reality meaning that phone calls, letter and face-to-face meetings are no longer the only options. Business meetings can be held on Skype, support calls can be replaced with video-guides and documents can be signed on the dotted line.. via email.

When it comes to things we do in our day to day life, technology has definitely taken over a number of tasks that used to be errands you'd run on a weekend. For example, a trip to the bank has been replaced with mobile banking. The grocery shopping can now be done on your supermarkets website. You can order in pretty much anything you can imagine.

How has technology been a positive impact? 

It saves time. It makes accessing information or guidance simple and quicker. You don't have to wait for your doctors opening hours, because you can fill out your patient application online or book an appointment using an automated phone line. You don't have to post off a cheque to the gas or electricity company, you can do that online or over the phone too.

It opens up brilliant business connections that wouldn't have existed before. You can have clients from all over the world and keep in touch via phone, email and conference video. There is technology in place that means you can run a business smoothly and professionally without having to be client facing. You can create a business online. You can create a presence for your business, market it, get traction from potential clients and customers all online.

You can use modern technology to find your way somewhere, using Google maps for directions. You can use your phone as a flash light to find the keyhole in the door, you can read all of your favourite books and magazine publications on your preferred device. There are a multitude of things at your fingertips, and you don't have to wait. You can have it now!

How has technology been a negative impact? 

Some say technology has meant that people have lost interpersonal skills. Groups of friends get together only to spend their time on their phones. Some studies have looked into how people prefer living in a virtual reality than the real world.

Technology has opened up a risk of scams and viruses. It's invented cyber bullying and 'trolling' online. There are a number of security risks it has brought into modern day life for people to be aware of.

The rise in internet addiction has risen over the years, with young children having a tablet or phone of their own at the age of 7 or younger. This in turn can lead to less exercise and interests in hobbies.

Social media sites are also cited as the most common reason for separation in marriages also. With social media connecting so many people together, and being able to keep in touch and be in contact regularly without much effort.

A Conclusion:

As with anything, technology is a great thing in moderation. It is a brilliant tool. Whether it's for information, networking, organising or other, it's revolutionised the way we live day to day life.

How has technology changed your life?

Let us know on Twitter. @toolkitwebsites
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The Coin

Coin is a new little bit of tech that promises to make life a bit easier. When new tech comes around it ether solves a problem or makes something faster/easier. 

Coin solves a problem as well as making something easier. It's all about stopping you from having to carry all of your bank cards around with you and having one payment method.

“Coin is a secure, connected device that can hold and behave like the cards you already carry. A single Coin can help lighten your wallet by consolidating your debit cards, credit cards, gift cards, loyalty cards, and membership cards. Multiple accounts and information - all in one place.”

Is this a product that you would consider purchasing? Currently, Coin is selling at $124 (around £90).

So let's analyse: All that Coin achieves is making your wallet/purse smaller or not needing one at all. If you are someone that prefers to handle cash, then perhaps it's not for you. For card users, with a number of cards, Coin offers a solution. However, what if the place you want to purchase from doesn't accept Coin as payment? Is it secure? How is it better than other contactless payment methods? There are a number of questions you would have before using Coin.
Coin 2.0 is the latest version and the Beta version was released to pre-order purchasers. It's had its fair share of bad press. The Beta version of the Coin often failed according to some users, with some saying it only worked about 20% of the time. That sounds like a product that just doesn’t work, but on the other hand some users had a great time with it and rarely had a failure. For this product to be worth it, it can’t ever fail. If it fails you would need to have your physical card on you to pay instead of the Coin, defeating the objective of the product. When it comes to innovative ideas about payment methods or money, people want to be certain it is safe, secure and reliable.

Contactless cards are becoming more common and that is just a quicker way to pay for things, so is Coin just another “contactless” idea? You can also compare Coin to other services, even one of the FAQs on their website is “How does Coin compare to Apple Pay?”. To which their answer is:

“Coin is currently compatible at millions of locations - not just at specific enabled locations, like Apple Pay. Coin can be swiped like a regular credit card at gas stations, ATMs, restaurants, to your favourite local stores. Coin is a standalone device and can be used independent of your mobile device. 

Think of your mobile device as a companion to your Coin. Coin works on both iOS and Android devices.“
Having easier ways to pay for things seems to be the way things are going and that’s great but is it worth paying $124 to save several seconds every time you pay for something?

What do you think?
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The Oscar Awards... for websites!

If you're a fan of the Oscars, you'll know that it was on recently and Leo finally won an award! (about time!) The whole event hit the news for all the right (and wrong) reasons this year, and was as usual a trend on most Social Media sites.

We've decided to do our own mini-Oscars... and award some websites an award for certain categories.

(Please note, these are just plucked out by luck for fun!)

The Most Innovative

It was a hard one to call but Black Radley won this one with it's responsive nature, huge visual backdrop images and modern design.

Each page has a different "style" in terms of back drop images, which makes it a very striking and innovative looking design.

The Most Creative

It's not often you get to push the boundaries of design with cool and wacky graphics, because most branding comes from the clients branding. That's where Wild Thing differ from most companies. Their branding is fun and quirky, meaning that the design was able to be a little less formal or corporate looking.

Bright colours like the yellow used here are really punchy and striking, meaning that the website really 'pops.'

Modern Business Award

These days, even corporate companies are looking to make their brand more visual and eye catching. Inkwazi step up to the plate here with a clean and professional design, but using a full width panel layout. This modern take on a design that could normally be seen as being quite 'stiff' or 'straight laced' means that it has a more relaxed edge, without being too casual.

The fore-runner of one page websites

This was hard, because we've done so many great one-page websites recently. But Halliloo Beef are top of the list due to being the fore-runner in the one-page design parade. The website features brilliant visual imagery and parallax scrolling. Amazing!

The most celebrity-filled website

This was hands-down the winner. Julie Kendrick has worked on the set of hit shows such as Game of Thrones, and legendary films such as Les Mis. It's so packed with celebrity and fame, that it practically glows. The visual site is a hat tilt to the modern full width background website style, and looks great with the gold text.

Charity website with a twist

The Ubuntu Mission win this award for their creative, visual and punchy colour scheme. The twist of African colour tones, make this website a joy to navigate and it's all for a very good cause...

Redesign to be in awe of

Scott's Travel have a website that is not only modern, responsive and visual, but the content is engaging and interesting. Showing all companies' exactly how it should be done! Bravo.

The website with pizzazz

Some recruitment websites can be information overload with lists of vacancies and forms to fill out. Not Hawkeye. This website has some real pizzazz. A bright blue and yellow colour scheme, strong branding, responsive pages with parallax scrolling and full width panels... what more do we need to say? Check it out now!

Best website imagery

Choosing imagery for your website can be difficult. Not all industries have a choice of visual imagery to use on their website. However, this shouldn't stop you from getting creative. First Line feature some brilliant images that touch the soul. The website topic is about the lives of vulnerable children and how they work to transform their lives and help develop social work managers. For a topic so sensitive, it was important to choose images that were soft, heart warming and relevant. And they've got it spot on.

Tune in next year folks ;)

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Mother's Day is approaching

Mother's day is around the corner. In fact, it's this Sunday. Are you prepared? If not, fear not! We have some solutions and top tips up our sleeve.

Sometimes, all you need to do is have your fingers ready at the keyboard to find brilliant solutions to the Mother's day conundrum.

1. The perfect Mother's Day Card.

You can always get arty, and make your own D.I.Y cards. Get down to your nearest arts and crafts store, stock up on cardboard, pens, glitter and anything else you can get your hands on and get creating!

If you don't have the time, or you don't feel like you're the artistic type, then thank goodness for Moonpig.com.

There are other websites that do the same service such as FunkyPigeon.com.

The perfect thing about these sites is that you can add gift options alongside your personalised cards including flowers, soft toys, photo frames, chocolate goodies and more. 

2. A personalised and thoughtful gift.

Anyone can grab a bunch of flowers or a box of chocolates from the supermarket. Why not put some thought into your Mother's day present this year? There are some fantastic websites such as gettingpersonal.co.uk and Etsy to browse.

One of our personal favourites is Boomf. Marshmallows with your selection of photos imprinted onto them. Nice!

If you have some extra cash to splash, booking your Mum in for a spa day, a city break or a day trip to London for a cruise along the Thames are all perfect gifts. Places like Virgin Experiences and Red Letter Days provide a variety of unique and exciting days out and gifts.

There are some brilliant last minute deals all over the place, all you've got to do is sniff them out!

If you don't have the budget for something fancy, why not put together an Easter basket style present? Fill it with bits and pieces including photos, little messages or cards, chocolates and more. Get the kids involved with hand painting and colouring... it could get messy but it's the thought that counts!

3. Of course, there is something REALLY special that you could get your Mum this year...

A website! With us, Toolkit Websites of course! We have a range of websites that we've done from a number of different industries. Does your Mum have a hobby that she could turn into a business? Well, she may well need a website. Does your Mum's business website need some TLC and a bit of modernisation? We're the company for you.

Find out more about our website design service.

These days, nearly every solution to last minute gifts can be found online. The world is at your fingertips. Now the race is on to get it to your Mum in time... Good luck!
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Website of The Week: Devon Floor Care

This week's website of the week goes to Devon Floor Care. KPL's Devon Floor Care specialise in providing a range of flooring services, restoring tired floors back to their former splendour.

Senior Project Manager Lanara, began firstly by creating a full width panel website design, using the responsive platform. The home page features a simple colour scheme with a neutral white, with yellow accent colour.

The website works as a place for people to get an idea of the services that are provided, in what areas and to sign up for a free quote. The easy to fill out form on the home page works inside a fancy box pop up, which looks really modern.

The services page discusses the type of work that Devon Floor Care do, but the three main categories that they service include Commercial Properties, Village Halls & Churches, and Gym/Sports Hall flooring. These three categories are clickable boxes on the home page that make it easy for the customer to pick the one they are interested in to visit more information on that subject.

The areas page features a map that shows the areas in Devon that Devon Floor Care provide service to. The news and bookings page shows latest events and the amount of work that the company have taken on to give clients an idea of what happens behind the scenes.

Senior Project Manager Lanara tested the website's responsive nature, and it passed Google's mobile-friendly test with flying colours.

The client replaced their old site with this new one because it's a much more modern and stylish looking site. Because people are viewing websites on the go a lot more often than they used to, the importance of mobile and tablet responsiveness is paramount.

The client said: "Toolkit are Great, Professional they put up with me!" Devon Floor Care kindly awarded Toolkit Websites 5 out of a possible 5 stars.

Do you have a large website project that you would like to get started? Contact us!
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