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Inside the industry and inside the agency

9 May 2013

lithuania main

Wickedweb's first international office

We arrived at Stansted late on Sunday 21st April, relaxed from the weekend and enthusiastic about our trip. Making our way  into the departure lounge, a few of us had a bite to eat and a drink to calm our nerves before the flight ahead (not me, I’m well hard and like flying). Before long we proceeded to our gate, boarded the plane and took our seats. I got the window seat which was fine by me as I like to look out as we fly, and I have the bladder of an ox so I knew I wouldn’t need to use the facilities. We didn’t have to wait long before the plane was in the air heading to our destination of Vilnius; we ordered a few more drinks and discussed plans for the trip. As we made our final approach Stuart joked that in Lithuania everybody claps when the plane lands, I wasn’t sure I believed him but sure enough we touched down and a wave of applause went around the plane, we couldn’t help but join in. It was unclear if people were just glad to be home or if they were relieved to have survived the flight.

Upon arrival we collected our bags and made our way to immigration where we were all hugely relieved to find no queues. We all agreed that it’s a shame you no longer get your passport stamped in Europe, so one by one we approached the desk and asked the immigration officer if she wouldn’t mind giving us a stamp, I think I even detected a small smile which is rare in these situations. We exited the airport and were greeted by two of our Lithuanian colleagues, Nikita and Mantas. We piled into the cars and made our way to the hotel. We checked in and made plans to meet back down in the lobby 20 minutes later.

We left the hotel and made the short walk to the Radison Blu where we proceeded to the top floor. At the top is the sky-bar which gives stunning 360degree views of Vilnius, the more vertigo prone members of the group (not mentioning any names, but again, not me as I’m double ‘ard) sat facing away from the windows. We ordered some drinks and some much needed sustenance; we stayed for more than a few drinks and then made our way back to the hotel as we had an early start in the morning to get the Lithuanian office ready for business.

The next morning, we met bright and early for breakfast. The sun was shining and, as it was a beautiful day in Vilnius, we opted to make the 20 minute walk to the office. Along the way we soaked up some of the sights and stopped for a few photos. The city is a contrast of older buildings overlooked by the modern glass fronted buildings that are popping up all over the city. We arrived at the office which was bathed in sunshine, predictably we all reached for our smart phones, or if you’re Simon your 1000gigapixel camera, and took a few snaps of the outside. At the entrance we were again greeted by Nikita and Mantas, who were busy unloading all of the new office equipment from a van which had made the long drive from our Sevenoaks office.

We headed straight into the office and had a quick tour of the kitchen, meeting room and work area. The office looked great, everything had been freshly painted and it was all very clean, so clean in fact that later that day I walked face first into the floor-to-ceiling windows that shield the kitchen from the rest of the office.

We started unboxing all the PCs and proceeded to put together various monitor stands. Before we knew it, it was back to business; we had three days of interviews for front-end/back-end developers and testers ahead, and sure enough the interviewees started to steadily flow into the office. We managed to break for lunch and we thought it would be a good idea to try some of the local cuisine. Nikita got on the phone and ordered in some zeppelins and cold borscht soup. The food was nice but the zeppelins were incredibly filling.

The next few working days were much the same as the first: IT setup and interviews. After work we went for dinner at Trakai  which has picturesque views of a castle surrounded by a massive lake which, despite the sunny weather, was still partially frozen. After dinner we took a stroll around the castle, it was dark at this point and the castle had become illuminated by spot lights. We then took a drive to one of the tallest hills in Vilnius which offered great views of the entire city; we could see the area where the new office is located twinkling in the distance.

Lithuania view main

The final day was again filled with interviews, however, there was some added excitement as Simon orchestrated the hanging of the three flat screen televisions. The office was now complete; we cracked open some champagne and posed for a few photos in the new office, before Stuart cut the white ribbon across the entrance to officially mark the opening of our first international office.

31 Mar 2010

I am sure many of you are aware of the limitations of using fonts on the internet. Traditionally websites have been forced to use a small selection of ‘web safe’ fonts which don’t exactly inspire. There have been many solutions to this problem, most of which have their own pitfalls whether it be due to accessibility issues, poor SEO, being a pain to update or all the above. The most popular solution is sIFR which is a type of flash replacement text. This works by dynamically replacing the required text elements with a flash object containing the text, because this text is now within flash it can be styled using any font. Also because this is done on the fly when the page is loaded it does not impact on search engine optimisation, neither does it affect accessibility because a ‘hidden’ copy of the original text is left in place for screen readers.

So you may be thinking that the problem has been solved? Well not exactly... Having used sIFR on a number of projects I have noticed many areas where it doesn’t play nicely and inadvertently breaks something or ends up looking wrong. And because this is supposed to be a ‘simple’ solution you can’t quite style the text how you would like in all situations.

So after becoming increasingly frustrated with sIFR and not being able to find a better alternative I decided to write my own which would do exactly what I wanted. So without any further delay I would like to introduce WWIFR (or Wickedweb Inline Flash Replacement, for the want of a better name) to the world... wide web. Actually this is not me introducing WWIFR at all, because without knowing it you have been seeing it all over this website.

The benefits of WWIFR over sIFR are many, but the biggest bonus is that it can be styled in more ways than you ever could with sIFR, and because I wrote it I can update it to accommodate any styling I desire.

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