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South By South West (SXSW): So much greater than the sum of its parts.

Mark Hope trying out Oculus Rift

From its beginnings as a music conference and festival in 1987, attracting 700 registrants to Austin TX, SXSW quickly established itself and grew – fuelled by the growing international interest from the creative community – with Film and Interactive components being added in 1994.

"SXSW's original goal was to create an event that would act as a tool for creative people and the companies they work with to develop their careers, to bring together people from a wide area to meet and share ideas. That continues to be the goal today whether it is music, film or interactive technologies.”

The Interactive element (SXSWi) is now a thing in its own right, attracting huge crowds to Austin every year, with official attendance doubling within the past four years to reach 32,000 for 2014. It’s the annual conference where it's expected that ‘the next big thing’ in tech will be revealed - possibly as Twitter ‘launched’ there (or at least gained traction and a lot of buzz) in 2007, and expectations are therefore high.

South By South West - like a skiing holiday only it's in Texas

Last week Mark and I were fortunate enough to head Stateside to Austin, Texas to experience the world famous South by South West (SXSW) festival for the first time and, as it heads into its last few days, I feel I have recovered enough to reflect on my own experience there last week and consider how to proceed with all the things I’ve learned and the people I’ve met.

The 10-day SXSW festival is a series of interactive, film and music conferences and events. We attended the interactive part of the festival, which this year took place between the 7-11 March. The interactive arm of the festival acts is a melting pot of cutting-edge technologies and digital creativity which featured bags of compelling presentations and panels along with stimulating networking events (read: parties) hosted by industry leaders all designed to expand delegates’ knowledge and understanding of the world of digital and interactive.

It’s time to upgrade from Internet Explorer 8

Time's up for Internet Explorer 8

On the 8th April 2014 Microsoft will officially drop support for Windows XP, and with it, drop support for the aging Internet Explorer 8 browser.

From this date we’ll also stop offering default support for IE8 in the new websites we produce here at Access.

The reason’s simple: Internet Explorer 8, which was released in 2009, lacks support for a wide range of CSS3 and HTML5 standards we’ve come to rely on for crafting modern web layouts and styles.

Until now, we’ve been forced to write additional code to patch over the cracks in IE8 and include additional JavaScript tools to simulate the behaviour of CSS media queries. Even so, it makes for clunky and faulty responsive websites in IE8 – so it really doesn’t make sense to carry on doing this.

So what can users of Windows XP/Internet Explorer 8 do?

  • Upgrade your operating system (you’re using a museum piece)
  • Do nothing and suffer an ever worsening web experience

Using another web browser?

  • Great news, you’re helping us to use the shiny cool features of the modern web
  • Internet Explorer 9+, Chrome, Firefox and Safari are all designed to automatically keep themselves updated to give you access to the latest web standards

More information

Not sure which browser you're using? www.whatsmybrowser.org

My first guest lecture (and Sophie's too)

While I was at uni, I found that some of the best classes were those where our tutor had invited in a guest speaker. I’m not sure if this was because I knew I wouldn’t be tested on the lecture’s content at the end of the module, or because these lectures were some of the most interesting, giving insight into how I could put my studies and work into practice.

With these thoughts in mind, last month our MD Simon Landi, Account Executive Sophie and I embarked on delivering our own guest lecture to first year Sports Management students at Manchester Metropolitan University, where we offered insight into agency life.

#AccessLove: The Fallout

Last week, love was in the air here at Access Towers. Well, in so much as we ran our first ever Twitter based Valentine’s competition. I’ve never been one of those overly romantic types, especially when it comes to being told when to be romantic. I prefer to be one of those off the cuff romantic types, serenading from the street via a tapedeck a la John Cusack from ‘Say Anything’ or making sure I’ve left the toilet seat down. You know, basic romantic stuff. Knowing that I am in the minority when it comes to Valentine’s Day, I wanted to play cupid for those who would appreciate it. The premise of our competition was simple. Tell us a sad/funny dating story, accompany said story with a sad selfie and use our hash tag #AccessLove.

My Manchester Talent Day experience

A year ago, I was in the exact same position as many who attended the Manchester Talent Day, as a soon to be graduate from my Media and Marketing degree at Lancaster Uni. Fast forward 12 months and I was asked to attend as a representative of Access. In my relatively short time at the company I have gone through a massive learning curve and was thrilled to be able to go and talk  to people who, like me last year, wanted to find out more about how to get into the marketing industry. I was joined on our stand by our Digital Director Mark Hope and our Social Media Executive Rob Goodswen.

Our Favourite Adverts of 2013

Adverts, we can’t get away from them, especially in our line of business. Just like everybody who doesn’t work in advertising, we all have our favourite ones. We may have analysed them slightly more than the average viewer but ultimately we’re just like everybody else. The techniques used in ads work for us in the same way. As a final blog of 2013, we as a team, have picked the advert that we felt was the best. The ones which made us laugh, sufficiently tugged at our heartstrings or in mine and Pats’ case, proud to be blokes.

You may or may not agree with the selections we have made and either way it’s fine. Everybody has a favourite which somebody else will hate. Everybody is susceptible to the powers of advertising and whilst we certainly might not like them, we definitely can’t escape them.

Have a read and then tell us your favourite, all of us have had great fun remembering these and hope you do too. All the team here at Access hope you’ve had a great Christmas and wish you a fun filled, fantastic New Year.

Are you playing the placement game?

I'm an avid gamer and recently have been spending far too much time in the virtual world of Rockstar games' Grand Theft Auto 5(GTA5). If you're not into gaming or in case you're not familiar with GTA5, it’s an open world 'sandbox' type of game; meaning you can go anywhere within the confines of its 'world' and it's world is huge. Set in the fictional city of 'Los Santos' there are hundreds of miles of highways and roads, vast expanses of cityscape, sprawling suburbs, open countryside, desert, rugged mountains, coastlines and you can even explore the open water, above and below the surface.

Advertising is everywhere in GTA5. In-game TV, radio, posters, billboards, even graffiti; but it's all spoof and parody. Mostly done for satirical purposes, GTA5's advertising holds a mirror up to the questionable sides of American culture. Analysing the in-game advertising could be the subject for another lengthy blog post, but for now, I want to talk about product placement.

A collaborative Christmas concert

Christmas is a time for people to get together and enjoy the festivities. Here at Access we are no different. Following our Christmas themed twitter feed last year, best remembered for slightly questionable turkey practises, we decided to reach out to our Twitter pals to put together an ultimate agency inspired Christmas playlist. We received plenty of suggestions and the following blog outlines who are responsible for each track. Selective readers may also watch each song in video form via the links in the song title.

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