Entrepreneurship: That’s It! Badge

Lauren Wilks and myself submitted an idea to the That’s It! Business Idea competition. Our business, called nextDesign, is a design crowdsourcing website aimed at university students and small to medium-sized businesses. We presented our idea to a panel of judges on April 22nd and were delighted to hear that nextDesign was the runner-up winner.  Continue reading

Minisite 3: Glorious Korea

For the third minisite I created a series of websites that modeled the websites that North Korean citizens have access to. The design is purposefully basic, though I must admit, it was nice to have less css to do than more css to do amid all of the JavaScript. Continue reading

Industry Anaylsis: Forecasting

Forecasting: Near Field Communication

Near Field Communication (NFC) is the process of creating a connection between two electronic devices, generally when they are in close proximity of each other. NFC can work between two devices (such as two smartphones), or between one device and a tag. A tag is an unpowered object that has the capability to connect with NFC enabled equipment.[i]

Samsung currently sells TecTiles, tags that allow for one-way communication with an NFC device.

Samsung currently sells TecTiles, tags that allow for one-way communication with an NFC device.

NFC technology has been available for use in telephones since 2006 and has only become more capable of advanced tasks and available to more consumers. Far from its initial ability to communicate with “smart posters” (areas that could send basic information to nearby phones), Near Field Communication enabled devices can now facilitate electronic payments, allow for significantly more efficient inter-business communication, and interact with social media in unique and immersive ways[ii].

Devices such as the Samsung Galaxy SIII will be candidates for NFC use if it is adapted to a consumer technology.

Devices such as the Samsung Galaxy SIII will be candidates for NFC use if it is adapted to a consumer technology.

NFC differentiates itself from competing technologies like Bluetooth by its quick setup, familiar touch-based communication interface, and simple transfer system.[iii]

While NFC technology is slowly gaining steam around the world, its future is still uncertain. The technology may continue to expand and be fully accepted and integrated into mainstream society, it may be partially utilized (primarily for electronic payments), or it may never find a large market.

Many technology blogs and publications are hopeful that NFC will fully develop, as the possibilities for it are extensive. If development surges, phones would be able to pay for public transportation, act as work timesheets, and easily store and transfer files. All of these applications currently exist, but have yet to find large audiences willing to participate.[iv] The uses of stored information through NFC aren’t restricted to the business sphere. Data that can be transferred with a simple touch or movement to a specific area provides a huge opportunity for the medical industry. Patient records and visit information is stored on bracelets that act as tags for NFC devices that medical staff would utilize.[v]

NFC technology has been in existence for a number of years now, but has had trouble really catching on with a mainstream audience. If the current underwhelming trajectory continues, it is likely that the form of electronic communication may remain a partially realized technology, only serving small specific functions. This function would most likely be the use of NFC as a facilitator of electronic payments. Electronic payment companies such as Visa are already locking in mobile phone manufacturers for exclusive rights to use their company in all future NFC enabled devices.[vi] The interest and commitment by global businesses like Visa provide a promising sign for a future of some sort with this tech.[vii]

The final alternative future for NFC technology is that it will lose all momentum and fail to find any use in consumer markets.[viii] The Payments Innovation Jury, a group of payment industry experts, have voiced doubt about the tech and remains confidant that it will not find a global following.[ix] The president of PayPal, David Marcus, stated his doubt in NFC and claimed that the process of tapping a mobile phone to a NFC enabled reader is no easier than simply swiping a card. Some companies, like MasterCard, believe that NFC will disrupt their business model and are actively changing fees to discourage mobile payments.[x] The emergence of other payment technologies, such as the Square Credit Card Reader, have led to a very dense payment market and will cause substantial issues for NFC technology. NFC payments are the clear headliner of this technological movement, and the lack of interest in paying with smartphones does not bode well for the other less practical uses. In order for NFC to really take off, mobile payments will need to be the face of the movement.


[i] Electronics. (2013). How Near Field Communications work. http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/near-field-communication.htm. Retrieved March 24, 2013.

[ii] Nearfieldcommunications.org. Benefits of NFC. Nearfieldcommunications.org/benfits.html. Retrieved March 18, 2013.

[iv] Samsung. (2012). The 7 most creative applications of NFC technology. http://www.samsung.com/us/article/the-7-most-creative-applications-of-nfc-technology. Retrieved March 18, 2013.

[v] Mashable. (2010). NFC technology: 6 ways it could change our daily lives. http://mashable.com/2010/05/06/near-field-communication/. Retrieved March 18, 2013.

[vi] Fast Company. (2013). Visa’s NFC payment system will now be built into all new Samsung smartphones. http://www.fastcompany.com/3006231/fast-feed/visas-nfc-payment-system-will-be-built-all-new-samsung-smartphones. Retrieved March 24, 2013.

[vii] Mashable. (2013). Samsung and Visa take NFC mobile payments global. http://mashable.com/2013/02/25/samsung-visa-nfc/. Retrieved March 24, 2013.

[viii] NFC Bootcamp. (2013). Why 2013 will not be the year for NFC. http://www.nfcbootcamp.com/why-2013-will-not-be-the-year-for-nfc/. Retrieved March 23, 2013.

[ix] Venture Beat. (2013). Payment leaders: NFC and digital wallets are overhyped, Asia will lead innovation (while Europe lags behind). http://venturebeat.com/2013/03/11/payment-leaders-nfc-and-digital-wallets-are-overhyped-asia-will-lead-innovation-while-europe-lags-behind/. Retrieved March 24, 2013.

[x] NFC World. (2013). MasterCard fights back against new payments players with increased transaction fees for digital wallets that don’t share data. http://www.nfcworld.com/2013/03/20/323195/mastercard-fights-back-against-new-payments-players-with-increased-transaction-fees-for-digital-wallets-that-dont-share-data/. Retrieved March 24, 2013.

The Revenge of The Howling Witch

My costume changing mechanic took quite a few steps, but was easy to create thanks to the duplicate function.

My costume changing mechanic took quite a few steps, but was easy to create thanks to the duplicate function.

My initial reaction to Scratch is that I like it! It is a great tool to set up basic games and animations. I think that the visual approach that it takes is very effective. From my understanding of ActionScript (and I believe this applies to other languages as well), the building block idea that Scratch employs is a perfect way to “get” the way that coding works.

The only question that I have at this point about Scratch is how to stop an animation for a particular sprite based off of a score that is tabulated with a separate sprite. I know that there is a way to do this, as I have seen Scratch games that employ it, but I tackled this issue at the very end of my time with the game and decided to attack it another day. I was able to figure it out! I had been trying to place the stop motion command in a separate chain of commands, but I should have just added another if block to the bottom of my main chain. My game has now gone gold and is ready to be sent to the distributor!

I would like my game project to be a basic “dodge the ball” kind of game where the player tries to avoid the enemy. I was able to accomplish this in my initial game, but know that there are ways in which I can advance the mechanics some and add more depth.

My basic game screen features two characters, the protagonist (Wizard) and the antagonist (Witch).

My basic game screen features two characters, the protagonist (Wizard) and the antagonist (Witch).

CSS Blowout: The Movie

This was quite a rough assignment for me. It seems that I lost my basic understanding of CSS when I ventured into the world of CSS frameworks. To fix this, I plan on watching multiple tutorials and doing some basic exercises, but for now I am stuck with one ugly website.

The sad creature that my website has ended up as. I am keeping an older version of the site online in order to preserve my dignity.

The sad creature that my website has ended up as. I am keeping an older version of the site online in order to preserve my dignity.

Continue reading

User Experience: Mobile Interfaces

For my second badge in the User Experience category I chose to work with mobile interfaces. I got the idea to work on this badge after my Uncle brought up user interface with me after some Challah french toast. He mentioned to me that he was worried about the usability of the Witte’s website and asked me to think of ways to improve it. This badge gave me an opportunity to investigate some of my ideas within the context of the mobile world.  Continue reading

Programming: CSS Frameworks

For the Programming category, I chose to tackle the CSS Frameworks badge. After hearing Felice’s glowing review of the templates I felt that I needed to check out what all of the fuss was about. I did not have an easy time learning 960GS (or general frameworks at all) and had to utilize a multitude of different resources to find an explanation that really made sense to me.

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Entrepreneurship: Domain Hosting

For the domain hosting badge I created the website, travishalff.com. I had purchased the domain name this past Septermber and was finally able to get some use out of it. I used Host Gator as my hosting service and utilized the site to create a new email address from my website, contact@travishalff.com.

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Mini-Site #2: Recipe for Web Design Success

The second mini-site project took approximately 6 hours for me to complete. Most of the time was dedicated to creating unique pages for the different categories, a task I become frustrated with relatively quickly. Figuring out the layout for each type of page (the overview pages and the recipe pages) was fairly entertaining and I enjoyed getting to experiment with different css commands.

The top part of one of my cake pages, dedicated to the practice of making basic funnel cake.

The top part of one of my cake pages, dedicated to the practice of making basic funnel cake.

The cooking theme appealed to me as I enjoy making desserts on occasion, but I would recommend slightly altering the assignment for future classes. Perhaps students could make the basic pages for each template (overview and recipe) but only create the recipe extensions for one of the categories? The assignment could be just as rigorous, as more could be required for each page created, but it would concentrate on depth rather than quantity. With that said, I see the merit in repeating something over and over until it become habit.

My primary issue had to do with creating special tabs. I reread the material in the text, but still felt extremely lost. After searching online for alternative sources, I stumbled upon HTML Dog. The site did a good job of breaking down how to use lists to create tabs (though they used the in-line method, which is different from the textbook’s block method), but I would love it if we could quickly go over it again in class.

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