Goodbye 2013..... Hello 2014

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 Sukhwant Lota 0 Comments


Goodbye 2013, It's been another year and it's flown by, only yesterday it seems you were just born and now you're ready to leave us!

Here are some personal stats and thoughts from the year gone by

- I've seen 89 films and been to the cinema (only) 8 times

- LookASingh is still my most popular site and still growing! currently it has over 3200 twitter followers, 1920 followers on Instagram and 2375 likes on Facebook, amazing!  The site lookasingh.com has had 51,690 page views.

- I've written 22 Blog Posts.

- This blog has had 155,717 total hits all time with over 18,632 page views in the past 12 months.

- The most popular blog post was Tip: How to use the desktop version of Twitter on an iPhone or iPad Which has had 36,356 Hits

- I've taken 6575 Photos (26gb)

- I've been on the Radio! BBC Asian Network to talk about my website Look! A Singh! with Nihal

- I've been featured in the Times of India newspaper again about my website Look! A Singh!

Have a brilliant 2014
Sukhwant

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Top 2013 Playlist

Friday, December 27, 2013 Sukhwant Lota 0 Comments

Another year and another playlist, I honestly think that it's been a poor year for popular music, or maybe my taste in music changing as I'm getting older.

Anyway, here are a list of my favourite songs from the past 12 Months

  1. Lorde - Royals
  2. Taylor Swift - I Knew You Were Trouble & Goat Version
  3. Disclosure Feat Aluna George - White Noise
  4. Calvin Harris Feat Tinie Tempah - Drinking From The Bottle
  5. Flight Facilities - Crave You (Adventure Club Dubstep Remix)
  6. Daft Punk - Get Lucky ft. Pharrell Williams
  7. Robin Thicke Feat T.I. & Pharrell - Blurred Lines
  8. John Newman - Love Me Again
  9. Naughty Boy Feat Sam Smith - La La La
  10. Avivii - Wake Me Up
  11. Counting Stars - One Republic
  12. Same Love - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft. Mary Lambert
  13. Pharrell Williams - Happy
With 3 songs in my list by Pharrell Williams, I declare him Winner of 2013


To check out my previous years playlists, click here init.

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Leeds City College Social Media Avatar

Thursday, December 12, 2013 Sukhwant Lota 0 Comments

Leeds City College was founded in 2009 and was the result of a merger from 3 legacy colleges.  A new Leeds City College brand and website was created but an avatar was left behind, something I think is extremely important when especially with social media.

The current Leeds City College logo is great but it's not ideal for the typical Social Media square that has become synonymous with current Social Media platforms.

Full Logo - (2009-2010)
The 1st Leeds City College avatar was a rendition of the actual logo which I would always recommend using, but in this case the layout of the logo isn't suited for a square canvas.  

Cropped - (2010-2012)
The next avatar was a cropped version of the logo and as you can see it is better suited for square avatars and icons.  This icon was used on our Social networks and favicons throughout out website/microsites.

Circles - (2012-2013)
The Circles avatar evolved from the cropped version above and very much complying with the college brand guidelines.  It is very iconic and easily recognised as a Leeds City College avatar.  I also used different variations of this logo, in different colours for different social networks which also worked well.
Iris - (2013-)
Iris is a variation of the cropped logo above but with a few simple changes.  There is now only 1 solid colour across the 3 circles rather than a variation of different colours per sections.  

How Iris will look on Facebook

The Avatar is still easily recognised as Leeds City College and compliments the brand and guidelines perfectly.  

Iris will be launched this December across our range of Social Networking sites.



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Forgotten Classic - Matt Darey - Liberation

Saturday, December 07, 2013 Sukhwant Lota 0 Comments

During the turn of the century, Trance music was all the rage (see previous post). There was one particular song which I loved and strangely had forgotten until now - Matt Darey - Liberation (Fly Like An Angel).

This amazing tune brings back so many good memories from the good old days.

Sit back, relax and enjoy.

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Run!

Friday, November 22, 2013 Sukhwant Lota 0 Comments

We're almost set for the 50th Anniversary special of Doctor Who this Saturday and I just wanted to share this amazing animated gif by Spanish illustrator Javi de Castro

 

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The One With The 'Look! A Singh' Times of India Article

Monday, October 21, 2013 Sukhwant Lota 0 Comments

The Times of India have written an article about me and my site Look! A Singh!.  It's a very well written article highlighting social understanding of the Sikh religion.

Prejudice, says social psychologist Mahzarin Banaji, is often irrational. The Harvard professor describes the dark corner of the human brain that hides implicit biases as a 'blindspot' . What else could describe the vicious assaults on Sikhs in the US in recent times? After all, none of the faces behind any of the terror attacks in the US wore turbans or sported beards.

It is to chip away at this ignorance that a group of American Sikhs set up the Surat Initiative. Their strategy is simple: walk up to ordinary American citizens with the offer to tie a turban for them and explain what it signifies in their religion and culture. And what it feels like to stand out and be different.

Last weekend, Gurbani Suri, a student of biomedical engineering at Columbia University, was a part of the turban day in Washington. For her, the most satisfying experience was talking about Sikhism with a devout Christian. "He came up to me asking about the beliefs and practices of Sikhs. We had a 15-minute conversation about our religions," she says.

Three metres of cloth have made life difficult for many in the Sikh community living in the US. It started post 9/11 when the first victim of a hate crime was a Sikh. Last year, a white supremacist gunned down six Sikhs at a Milwaukee gurudwara. Most recently, there was the assault by about 20 men on Harvard professor, doctor and community worker Prabhjot Singh in Harlem. Before that a judge of Pike County Justice Court threw out Jagjeet Singh, a Sikh who had been hauled in for a flat tyre, from his courtroom for wearing "that rag" on his head.

Early this month the results came in of a remarkable survey, 'Turban Myths' , undertaken by Stanford researchers and SALDEF (the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund). It found that 70% of Americans misidentify turban-wearers as Muslim (48%), Hindu, Buddhist or Shinto.

The tendency, the study found, was to associate turbans with Osama bin Laden. It is to strike at this myth that last Friday, the activist group Sikh Coalition got Walmart and RiteAid to pull off their shelves a so-called Osama costume that consisted of a stick-on beard and a turban. "If you lost a loved one during the 9/11 attacks or during our nation's war against al Qaida, or if someone attacked your father in a hate crime because he wears a turban, I doubt this costume would make you comfortable," argued Sikh Coalition director of law and policy Rajdeep Singh.

The experiences of Surat Initiaitive have so far been pleasant. Not even in New York City, which Suri says is culturally diverse but reports many cases of religious bullying, did the group face any hostility. They ended up tying turbans for 700 people and talking to at least 1,000 about the tenets of Sikhism.

"One challenge in America — as in all places — is that people who look different often are subjected to discrimination from others . The Sikh identity marks them as different from what is considered normal. The same is true for people who look different for other reasons, whether it is genetic , ethnic, or religious," says Simran Jeet Singh, scholar at the department of religion, University of Columbia.

The UK has a better understanding of the Sikh identity but in an effort to highlight how much a part of its cultural landscape the turbaned man is social media developer Sukhwant Lota started his quirky web project, lookasingh! It showcases images of random Sikhs who pop up in passing scenes on televison, cinema or newsreels. It could be a scene from Harry Potter , Batman Begins, Johnny English , or a Barclays ad.

There is a story behind its name that goes back to Lota's childhood evenings on the family sofa watching EastEnders in the 80s. Every time a Sikh was spotted on the screen, someone would yell out: "Look, a Singh!" "As a child I grew up feeling proud and excited when I saw a Singh on TV, which wasn't very often in the '80s," says Lota.

The site, whose tagline is Celebrating Sikhs in Media, was initially set up as a bit of fun but the idea was to generate and raise awareness of the turban-wearing Sikh, says Lota. He began inviting screen grabs from visitors and the response was tremendous. Another offshoot of his website is the Snow Singh, the Sikh counterpart of the Snowman, pagdi/patka perched smartly on the head. The idea, says Lota, is to point out that the turban is not a marker of terror but an identity. "As a teenager I've had the odd random drunk person shout out derogatory names towards my turban . However, I've mostly just laughed it off, which seems to upset them even more as they are usually looking for an angry response. Being brought up in the UK you realize very quickly that some people are just totally ignorant to anything other than their own ways, and you just learn to avoid those people," he says.

A tough question for activists like Singh and Suri is how to mark the Sikh's peaceful place in the western world without perpetuating the Islamist stereotype (studies show that many Americans think Sikhs are Muslims). "We aim to be recognized as a distinct religious community but we do not want to do this by hurting any other communities. Our message has been twofold: one, that Sikhism is not Islam. And two that people should not be negative or angry towards Muslims in any case. We believe that everyone should be recognized and respected as human beings, and this is the spirit of Sikhism that we try to bring out in our work," says Singh.

To read the full article online click here - http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/stoi/deep-focus/Putting-the-pagdi-in-the-public-eye/articleshow/23601835.cms




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Happy Friday

Friday, October 04, 2013 Sukhwant Lota 0 Comments


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Facebook Ad Terms & Conditions

Monday, September 02, 2013 Sukhwant Lota 0 Comments

On Friday I was starting a new Facebook campaign to promote the courses that are still available at Leeds City College with the following image.


The image is standard to the college brand guidelines but on the advert was rejected by Facebook.

Facebook gave the following reasons to why the advert was rejected, 

"Your ad wasn't approved because it uses too much text in its image, which violates Facebook's Ad Guidelines. Ads that show in the News Feed can't include more than 20% text. Learn more in the Help Center: " with a link to the Ads help pages https://www.facebook.com/help/468870969814641/


I wasn't aware of this rule but it's made me think about future adverts, maybe it is best just to show a simple image with very little text to promote an event or a story?  One thing is for sure and that's Facebook won't be changing their policy anytime soon!

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Tip: How to use the desktop version of Twitter on an iPhone or iPad

Friday, August 30, 2013 Sukhwant Lota 0 Comments


Twitter's mobile interface is great and it lets you quickly access a whole range of features on your account.

However there are still a few options that are only available on the desktop version such as change wallpaper, close account etc.

To access the full desktop version of twitter on your iOS device, follow this link.

https://mobile.twitter.com/settings/change_ui


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Top 10 Apps I Can't Live Without

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 Sukhwant Lota 0 Comments

Since the Social Media Event I attended in July we had an interesting session where we discussed which apps people can't live without. So following on from the event here are the top 10 apps and web apps that I can't live without.

1. Echofon

Echofon is a mobile app that we take for granted, it's my favourite twitter client on the iPhone and iPad.  It's simple, clean and boasts features such as being able to mute followers.

http://www.echofon.com/

2. Facebook

Facebook at the end of the day is Facebook, the native app is the best way to view your timeline on mobile devices, there are plenty of other clients but none of the others seem to naturally flow as Facebook does on the web.  It's not without it's problems mind you, but in my opinion the best.

http://www.facebook.com

3. Air Video

Air Video is one of the first apps I purchased when I bought my iPhone, it simply allows you to stream video content from a computer to your mobile device, locally and over the web.  The beauty about this app is that it just works.  You no longer have to worry about conversion rates and settings, just press play and it does the hard work for you.

http://www.inmethod.com/

4. Feedly/Reeder

Since the demise of Google Reader, like many of you I've shifted my daily reading habbits over to Feedly.  As Google Reader didn't have a native mobile app I used Reeder which is a clean a simple mobile reader.  The feedly app is great too but Reeder is the one for me.

http://cloud.feedly.com
http://reederapp.com/

5. Snapseed

I've been using Snapseed pretty much since the day it launched and I still use it today.  It's quite possibly the best photo editor on iOS devices.  It's intuitive and makes brilliant use of gesture controls that we are all crying out for.  I love it.

http://www.snapseed.com/

6. IFTTT

Get the web to work for you! if you are a fan of the website IFTTT then the mobile app is just a good, it lets you create recepies on the fly to help you automate the web for you.  I use it from simple things like auto tweeting blog posts and backing up phone photos. Brill!

http://www.ifttt.com

7. Twitterfeed

Twitterfeed simply allows you to automagically tweet from your blog, I use to alongsite IFTTT to help automate my social sites, it's simple, fast and brilliant.

http://www.twitterfeed.com

8. Pages by Facebook

I really couldn't manage my collection of Facebook pages without this app, It helps to keep work and personal Facebook accounts separate whilst making it easy to manage.  Before Pages App I would struggle to manage individual Facebook pages via the web, this app has saved me countless hours.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/facebook-pages-manager/id514643583?mt=8

9. Over

I love creating content on the fly, and with Over it's simple.  Over allows you to place sexy text over images on your mobile device, it's quick and easy and saves the images back to your phone.  With the most recent update they now boast 100s of fonts and multiple layers.

http://www.madewithover.com/

10. Evernote

Evernote is perfect for business.  I use to to help manage my work day to day tasks.  It has some awesome features like being able to record the audio of meetings whilst making notes.  Once saved they are accessable on the web and any other web device.  Sweet.

http://www.evernote.com

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Social Media Conference - LearnPod13

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 Sukhwant Lota 0 Comments



Today I attended the Social Media Event LearnPod.  This is the 3rd time I've attend the annual event at Doncaster College (The Hub).  I've always liked events like these as they tend to be a great mix of show and tell supported by plenty of talent.

There were various groups and breakout rooms, I ventured to the room with Simon England, who is Doncaster College Social Media/Web Ninja, quite similar to my role at Leeds City College!.  We discussed how Doncaster College manages it's social media presence as well as some of the problems that Simon and his team have had to overcome and deal with.  I felt that this session was the most valuable to me as it's similar to some of the issues that we face at LCC.

Next was the breakout room with John Popham where we discussed Learning through play.  This was another great session where we discussed various methods that users can learn whilst having fun.

In my final session we shared different apps and platforms, I did a demonstration of 2 of my favourite webapps, IFTTT (If This Then That) and Twitterfeed. I will be blogging about these and other of my favourite webapps in a later post.

Overall I thought the event was great, I left inspired and enthused to try and better the social media that I manage.

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Twitter and Google Mail - A Match Made in Social Media Heaven

Thursday, July 11, 2013 Sukhwant Lota 0 Comments

Users of Twitter will know that it has a 1 account for 1 email address policy, unlike facebook pages and tumblr accounts where you can have multiple pages linked to multiple accounts.  This is quite frustrating for users like me who manage up to 30 twitter accounts for different departments across Leeds City College.

The solution, Gmail!  Gmail has a relatively unknown feature which allows multiple address to be created on the fly.

If your email address is jane.smith@gmail.com for example then having the dots in the email address doesn't matter and twitter will janesmith@gmail.com and j.a.n.e.s.m.i.t.h@gmail.com as different email addresses enabling you to set up different twitter accounts this way.

With Gmail you can also append text on the end of your username using the + symbol, for example any email sent to janesmith+twitter@gmail.com will end up in the same gmail account as jane.smith@gmail.com, amazing!

Try it on your own Gmail account.  This also works with email addresses that use Google Apps.

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Stats update for April 2013 for Leeds City College

Thursday, April 11, 2013 Sukhwant Lota 0 Comments

Stats update for April 2013 for Leeds City College

Facebook 5276 Likes
Twitter 2926 Followers
Youtube 25,961 Video Views
Flickr 65,525 all time photo views
Google+ 109 followers
Instagram 32 followers

BT Infinity 3 Months on

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 Sukhwant Lota 0 Comments

.
 
Back in January BT Infinity finally launched it's long awaited Fiber to the Cabinet (FTTC) service in my area, a service which I has been looking forward to for a while.  Whilst I was an O2 Broadband customer with speeds of 4mb/s I jumped at the chance of having internet speeds of up to 76mb.

3 Months on and the service is still going strong, I've restarted my router once since launch day (amazing) and the speeds are consistently high (superb). The highest speed I've seen is 74mb/s and lowest of 40mb/s

iPhone apps now download lightning fast, I can now watch BBC iPlayer in HD without it skipping, Youtube is now instant in HD and I get constant download speeds of around 3mb/s.

Was it worth it? in a nutshell... Yes!

Will the snow ever end?

Monday, March 25, 2013 Sukhwant Lota 0 Comments

 

On Friday 22nd March we had an unprecedented amount of snowfall in the Yorkshire area, the news have dubbed this month as the coldest in 50 years!

As usual our staff and students flocked to the Leeds City College website and Facebook page to find out the latest news.

On a normal day the Leeds City College website gets around 3000 hits, on Friday 22bnd March we received over 12,000! with 590 Hits on the Weather Update Post alone.

Although some staff struggled to get into college, they we're checking their emails from external devices as the web mail page on the website had over 750 hits Our Facebook page also saw a huge spike in traffic with our snow posts getting over 7400 views and it also helps us to promote the college.

R.I.P. Google Reader

Saturday, March 23, 2013 Sukhwant Lota 0 Comments

Google reader has been one of those web tools which I've always taken for granted. It's so integrated into my daily life with keeping up to date with news that I was shocked to hear that Google are killing the service on 1st July as part of their Spring Clean, presumably to concentrate on their less successful applications such as Google+

As I've been using Reader since it was 1st launched back in 2005 and I had to find a replacement which had some of the features of the Google service.

Hello Feedly

As I like keeping up to date with popular and new iOS apps I had already downloaded Feedly a few weeks before Google's announcement but I initially found it to be less intuitive then my current iOS Google Reader app called Reeder

Reeder has been great, it's simple and intuitive to use and easily integrates with Google Reader so making the switch to Feedly wasn't going to be easy (until I had no choice!)

As Google had left me with no choice I persisted Feedly and I now enjoy using it, yep it's totally different to the Reeder app and an added bonus is that the Feedly Firefox plugin is very similar to the web Google Reader interface with even going to the extent of keeping the same keyboard shortcuts (j + k) brill!

Once Google switches off Reader on 1st and Feedly takes over, everything should carry on working as normal (hopefully).

I've even started to use Feedly now even though Google Reader is still active, I guess there's no point in waiting for the inevitable.

So in short,
If you use Google reader as much as I do then I would wouldn't hang around and make the switch to Feedly now.

Feedly website

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Stats update for February 2013 for Leeds City College

Tuesday, March 05, 2013 Sukhwant Lota 0 Comments

Stats update for February 2013 for Leeds City College

Facebook 5166 Likes
Twitter 2742 Followers
Youtube 24,365 Video Views
Flickr 62,662 all time photo views
Google+ 81 followers
Instagram 33 followers

Leeds City College Facebook Page

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 Sukhwant Lota 0 Comments


Over the weekend the Leeds City College Facebook page has passed over 5000 likes, a huge milestone for us.  When I started as the Social Media Developer last September we had 4256 likes and this number has increased significantly recently partly due to to the snow.

Here's to the next 5000!

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There's no business like snow business

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 Sukhwant Lota 0 Comments


Monday 21st January 2013 has been chaos for Yorkshire, over 10 inches of snow fell over night.  As most of Yorkshire ground to a halt, cyberspace was booming more than usual.

On an average Monday, the Leeds City College website usually gets around 3000 visits for the entire day, on the 21st we had just over 13000 hits! with over 300 realtime active users.  most of the traffic was in the early hours of the day as staff and students wanted to know if the college was open.

It was great to watch the live stats on the site which adds the emphasis how important Real-time Analytics are to us.

The Snow hasn't just had an impact on our website analytics but our social profiles too.  Our facebook page has seen an increase of 300 new likes over the past week with 200 new followers on twitter.


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Leeds City College Blogs

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 Sukhwant Lota 0 Comments

blog 

After much tweeting and fiddling the Leeds City College blogs are now live. so far we currently have the Marketing blog but there will be many more to follow. leave a comment and let us know what your think.

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January Leeds City College Stats

Friday, January 11, 2013 Sukhwant Lota 0 Comments


Another Stats update for January 2013 for Leeds City College

Facebook 4774 Likes
Twitter 2322 Followers
Youtube 26,045 Video Views
Flickr 57,940 all time photo views
Google+ 66 followers
Instagram 30 followers

as my previous post, I've decided to no longer support Pinterest for Leeds City College.

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Time to deactivate Pinterest

Monday, January 07, 2013 Sukhwant Lota 0 Comments

Pinterest for Leeds City College has been used for a about a year now, even before I started this role.  I think it's the right time to deactivate the account as I feel that's we're not really gaining much from it at the moment, not to say that this won't change in the future.

Pinterest make it very easy to deactivate your account, maybe a bit too easy with a huge deactivate button on the settings page, it's almost as if Pinterest want you to deactivate your account.
 

During the deactivation process they inform you that all your pins will be removed and that your username not not be freed up.  This has it's good and bad points.


It means that cyber-squatters can't hog your username but it also means that I won't be able to re-register the same username in the future.

after taking this into consideration, I've decided to keep the Pinterest account active but remove any corrospondance to the fact we use pinterest from our website

Pinterest may still be useful to us in the future, maybe for our cookery or hairdressing courses, but I guess that's something we'll have to wait and see.

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