Keith's Blog

Apps for Teaching - Learning - Research


📥  Apps, Commercialisation, Competition, Jisc, Mobile, student, Technology

A guest blog by our student Azhar Jamal who previously worked for me on some app projects. He entered the Jisc Student Ideas Competition 2016 and has now secured funding to commercialise his own app idea 'Stuiz'.  I wish him every success.  Here he shares his story.


Azhar pitching Stuiz at Summer of Student Innovation pitch day 2016 ©Jisc and Matt Lincoln CC BY-NC-ND


by Azhar Jamal

The ‘Summer of Student Innovation’ is a competition held by Jisc. It is open to all students in higher education and a competition entry has to consist of an idea, description and a video. The idea itself just has to be something techy that improves the student experience – that’s what Jisc’s about.

The Idea

My introduction came from Keith Brown – he’s really tuned in to this sort of thing (I worked for him on an app called StudySpace). He mentioned the competition in a conversation and told me to come up with an idea and to go for it. Most Sunday evenings I had friends over for a quiz. After a while I made an app that worked as a buzzer, changing the color of the lights to the color of the team who buzzed. Stuiz came from this – we loved quizzes and we were competitive.

The Entry

When I’m motivated toward a goal, there’s not much that can stop me. In this case the goal was a kick ass video.

When looking at the past entries, I noticed all of the videos were just someone talking to their webcam and I got bored fairly quickly. Camp Rock taught me “Don’t fit in, stand out”, I knew then I wasn’t going to make something like that. At the time, movies like Civil War and Batman Vs Superman had trailers out so I took inspiration from them and decided to do something that had that dark, boomy, teaser trailer feel. After firming up the idea, I started thinking about the storyboard of the video and the characters.

Unfortunately, this was smack bang in the middle of revision season so everyone felt super guilty about doing anything other than work so there was a lot of meticulous planning about where everyone had to be at what time. Luckily, I’m blessed with lovely friends; Will, Liv, Lawrence and Connie were lovely to work with as well as Georgia who lent me her camera and helped with filming. With them and the planning, we got everything for the trailer filmed in a few hours.

The closest thing id done to video editing was short animations in after effects. Once I started in Premiere Pro, I got very into it. I stuck to my storyboard pretty closely as I had a good idea of what it was going to look like – I feel due to the amount of time spent just thinking and imagining beforehand, the actual editing was a lot faster (even though it did take a while). The actual editing was nothing more than; placing shots, trimming, color grading and a little bit of adding text animations via after effects. Georgia’s advice on how to shoot (as well as her camera) aided the video in looking as good as it did.

After I created the video, I had to deal with the sound. I knew which sounds I wanted when but I didn’t have the time to download a new program and learn how to make a soundtrack – so I spoke to a friend, Beth Hall, who is a great musician and was studying Music Tech. I sent her the video and told her what sounds I knew I wanted, outside that she had creative reign and did a great job.

The part after the trailer I thought was necessary as I thought more people would prefer watch a video explaining the idea rather than reading it. This took a lot longer than you’d think as I kept messing up / it got dark / someone was mowing the lawn / my hair was dodgy. After a while I decided I was being too picky and got it done on two takes, in the final video I cut between these two depending on which sounded better at a specific time.


The Marketing

I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. I decided to go for a staggered release, this way it would motivate the people I asked to ask friends and would have given me a good idea of how many votes I needed. The first people I told were my family, who by themselves got a ton of votes. Soon after this I told the friends I lived with and then friends from different groups (some from my course, some from back home etc). The real jump came from emails, of which first went round to physics students then to other students at the university. By end of the voting period I had 477 votes, the highest. I went on to be selected for the next stage.

The Design Sprint

“Describe Stuiz in 2 minutes… aaaand go!”

Those were the firsts words spoken to me after meeting my mentors, Holly and Nadine. They were lovely and in a somewhat prophetic nature, they won the competition the year before with SALT

The Design Sprint  took place over 4 days at Aston University in Birmingham. The most helpful activities for me were; developing the idea, considering the competition, looking at user journeys and creating a wireframe. The exact activities we did during the four days are similar to those of any design sprint. As helpful the activities were (and some of them really were), a lot of the growth and development of Stuiz came from conversations with people at the sprint. There was a general air of self-motivated progress which came through in all the conversations, from providing monetisation strategies to criticising the wording of a line in a pitch.

And even ignoring the buffet breakfasts, 3 course dinners and steam room, it was a great experience.

The Pitch

After finishing the design sprint, I went to Malaga for a holiday before the final pitch.

It took place at the Jisc Office in London, right on the Thames. I watched a few of my friends pitch to the panel of four Jisc reps. I’m normally not too bad at public speaking but as always, the butterflies made an appearance. When it got to my pitch, I was pretty confident (despite messing up the wording once or twice). After the 5 minute pitch, I was questioned for 15 minutes about Stuiz. As the pitch is capped as 5 minutes, I chose to only mention certain aspects in the pitch so to incite the asking of questions that I had solid answers (and slides) for. Apart from these, there were a few questions I hadn’t predicted but I answered them well. If you know your idea inside and out, this bit's easy.

The Result

Jisc chose to take Stuiz forward and make it into a product. I’ll see you on it soon.

If you’re a student who’s thinking about doing it, do it - you’ve got nothing to lose and so much to gain.

Special thanks to; Keith Brown, Will Van Der Weyden, Laurence Cartwright, Olivia Jones, Connie Hogg, Georgia Keats and Jisc.


Expert Patient on Skype


📥  Skype, student, Technology, Videoconference

Credit for this project belongs to Dr Hannah Family in the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, and Dr Wali Aslam from Department of Politics Languages & International Studies. 

It is a simple but effective use of technology for teaching and learning. 

Using Skype to 'Bring In' an Expert Patient to the Classroom

A recent project involved a class around 70 fourth year pharmacy students connected to a remote expert patient using videoconferencing facilities:


Students interacting with expert patient on Skype. Photo of actual session and students, but the image of the expert patient has been replaced with a stock image @istock

In previous years the patient has attended in-person as a guest speaker for the class.

The Academic Viewpoint

Dr Hannah Family:

I’ve never used Skype in a session before – so I was unsure what to expect. I invited a guest speaker, who is an “expert patient” – who has previously joined my classes in person to talk about his experiences of being diagnosed with, and living with a long-term  health condition. Skype presented many benefits, firstly this speaker does not live that locally to the university so it meant they avoided a long journey to visit us for a brief lecture. Secondly, it meant he didn’t have to venture out in the cold, which is one of the triggers for his symptoms (of chronic asthma) amongst other conditions.

Although I could see all the benefits that Skype could bring, I was worried that we might lose some of the impact of the session because our guest speaker wasn’t physically present. However, I was keen to explore how it could work, as I knew this would help me to invite more patients into the classroom in the future.

I didn’t need to worry – the whole thing ran smoothly, and our guest speaker was just as confident and as engaging via Skype as when he had physically been in the classroom. We had just as many questions and the class ran as it had in previous years. Things that both I and the speaker felt, was he had less of a sense of how the class were interacting or reacting to what he said. This didn’t impair the class experience and we both felt that we could see how this could improve patient input into our classes in the future. What it did mean was that I could then bring  him in another day to work in smaller groups with the students – without taking up too much of his time.

Now that we have trialled it, we may also be more adventurous and try and work with pharmacists in different countries, or even patients from different countries to see how care of the same illness varies with culture and country!

The Expert Patient Viewpoint

The Skype conversation was a new experience for me and I can certainly recommend it for other speakers.  It mightn’t be to everyone’s liking if you like to get out of the house!


  • You are in the comfort of your own home/workspace and don’t have to travel which saves on petrol etc.
  • You don’t have to get up early if it’s an early morning session.
  • You can keep warm.
  • You can schedule other things for your day around your home/business ie if you have something to do in town just after you finish on Skype, you can do it without worrying about time constraints.


  • You aren’t aware of audience mood or response as much as you would be if you were in the same room.
  • External noise such as phone ringing or knocking on door.
  • You don’t see people smile when you crack a joke!

The Student Viewpoint

The following are blogs by students:

Huda Mirza:

Pharmacy, expert patients and learning through Skype

Jenny Yuen:

The Use of Videoconferencing in teaching Pharmacy

The project is part of a larger project funded by the Teaching Development Fund at the University of Bath which is lead by Dr. Wali Aslam:




Facebook Student Hub

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📥  Community, social media, student

This is a guest blog by my colleague Ellie Jones. It is a summary of a small focus group that explored options for the implementation of a social media hub for students in our department. The Visitor/Resident mapping worked well and we are now aiming to implement a digital skills audit with much larger student groups at the start of the academic year.

Social Media Focus Group

by Ellie Jones

Wednesday 1st June 2016

In Attendance: Ellie Jones (Department Administrative Assistant), Keith Brown (Learning Technologist), Meghan Doran-Rowe (Marketing Assistant), Lucy Bennett (First Year Pharmacy Student), Jack Symonds (Second Year Pharmacy Student)

Results from Grid Exercise:

To gauge usage of social media, we used the Visitor/Resident (VR) cross grid:

Visitor and Resident Grid

Visitor and Resident Map

The students were asked to map out the social media sites and apps they used on the grid, deciding whether they were a resident (a regular user who actively makes use of the site and interacts with the content) or a visitor (someone who visits the site infrequently and simply reads the content without any further interaction). They also had to consider whether their usage was personal or institutional (only used for work or educational purposes).  For further info on VR please see

Each student completed one grid for themselves as well as a grid which they filled out with their theoretical opinion of their year group (not shown).

Lucy VR Map

Lucy Bennet's VR Map


Jack Symonds VR Map

Jack Symonds's VR Map

The findings were as follows:

  • Moodle was very much a visitor/institutional site. Although the students described this as ‘Read-Only’, there was a desire for more opportunities to contribute
  • Where Moodle has been used in a way to promote residency, the students had enjoyed the experience and found it to be useful
  • The students acknowledged that for Moodle to be useful, academics must monitor and provide feedback to any forum/discussion; this was due to uncertainty amongst the students and reliance upon academics for accurate information
  • Picture-based updates were suggested as preferable to a lot of text by both students
  • Whilst picture-based social media apps such as Instagram and SnapChat were described as more for personal use, the students agreed that of the two Instagram was better suited to institutional usage
  • The students felt that Facebook was the most widely used; this was the case both in terms of frequency of usage and engagement
  • The students felt that Facebook could easily be adapted from personal to institutional use and had already set up groups for institutional use.

Results from Questioning:

Though many questions were answered through the Grid Exercise, students were also questioned for further information in a few areas.

The results were as follows:

On average, both students believed they checked social media sites about 12 times a day though admitted that at certain peak times of the year their usage increased to a number much greater than this

On the whole social media sites were used by the students for personal matters such as keeping in contact with friends; though one said they used it for ‘everything’

YouTube is a growing medium of obtaining information amongst both students as they can make use of educational videos during their revision periods

They both felt ‘disconnected’ to both the University and the Department in terms of social media and expressed a desire to become more connected; they would specifically like to obtain a greater understanding of the research done by lecturers and PhD students. There was a desire to find out ‘What lecturers actually do’.

Whilst they both expressed that they would not be interested in a Twitter feed for their year group or department, they said they would definitely make use of a Facebook page as long as reliable, verified information was there (NB: This interestingly notes with their comments on Moodle; if the students believe information to be trustworthy and accurate, residency becomes much more likely)

With regards their digital identity, neither of the students felt that their social media usage would impact upon their job prospects negatively as they agreed that they are now ‘much more aware of what [they] post’ due to increased public awareness of privacy settings etc.

They both however felt that social media usage could impact positively on their job prospects if they used it sensibly and innovatively, referring to how they would evidence this in a job interview.

Going forward

The results of this focus group indicate that Facebook is likely to represent the way forward for providing a student hub.

This is reinforced by evidence that indicates Facebook has achieved more penetration than other social networks:

Social Media Penetration

Social Media Penetration

The preliminary plan is to set up a Departmental Facebook page which the students have agreed to aid the launch of. These will be linked to the groups for each year that are currently being run by students independently.

The main idea is to provide an inclusive and reliable information source for:

  • Departmental updates
  • Events
  • Reminders
  • Departmental news stories
  • Highlights from both teaching and research
  • Room changes
  • Information on option choices



Study-Space App

📥  Apps, Community, Mobile, Peer Assisted Learning, Peer Support, social media, student

Study-Space is a small-scale experimental social-media type app, implemented as a forum, but with a few extra features.


Based on previous experience with Facebook groups and the input and encouragement from students, an app was implemented for iOS and Android.

An over-riding issue for students was convenience:

‘if you make it easy enough, then we will use it’

The internal nature of the app alleviates some issues privacy that have caused some concern amongst students in previous studies using mainstream public social media. [1]

In a nutshell, the work is an experiment to determine if a homegrown app could be a viable platform to support a closed community of students helping each other. The closed context provides a secure area for users to experiment in the course of their learning, and does not directly impact on an individual's public or mainstream online identity.

The trial

The pilot ran mid-February to mid-May 2016 with a cohort of around 140 pharmacy students.

Some of the key features of the app include:

  • Private – only available to a small cohort of 140 students
  • Focussed - one programme unit
  • Anonymity – most students have chosen to post anonymously
  • Quick and convenient – it is available as an iOS or android app, or a web-site
  • Simple – a forum of text posts combined with some special types of posts for academics:
  • Voting competitions
  • Questions/Surveys in MCQ format

What happened

Although the app is an optional supplement to the unit, is has been used by around 60% of the cohort. There has been a good level of activity, mostly based around various questions and answers posted by students such as shown below:

Study Space running in a web-browser

An example of a student answering a question from another student

We have yet to properly evaluate the app because the students are revising and taking exams right now. However, the feedback so far:

The Academic View

Dr Albert Bolhuis

As convenor for PA20024, the Study-Space app has provided a convenient way to engage with students outside of lectures, and enables staff to monitor how well students have understood the material that was taught. The app is easy to use and the workload is minimal. Importantly, students are not only asking, but also answering questions that have been posted, and the app thus facilitates a lively peer support community for the unit.

Dr Julie Letchford

As an academic delivering lectures, practicals and workshops on this unit, I’m always keen to obtain student feedback. The voting element built into this App provides a really useful way of easily achieving this immediately after the session.

The Students View

Student comments from the end of unit evaluation include:

Feedback via StudySpace has been very useful.

The app was a great idea for getting feedback to us.

I think the app has been a very good improvement to this unit and the lecturers are always there to answer questions as well as us

I think the idea of the Study Space app is good!

... and the app has been very useful as people can ask questions and get replies extremely quickly

The studyspace app which was trialed during this unit is really useful and I feel it would benefit being used in other units too

Study Space App is really helpful; I hope it can be rolled out in other units (it would have been of even more use in 242/Drug Met perhaps?)

Future Development

Based on the evidence so far and interest from academics, it now seems likely that further trials will take place across the university in the next semester. In particular, one area for exploration that hasn’t been tried yet is synchronous use during lectures.

Please let me know if you are interested



  1. The role of social media in undergraduate pharmacy education

Alyson Brown @alyjbrown and Brian Addison @BrianAddison75 –
Robert Gordon University

Social Media for Learning in Higher Education Conference 2015


Copyright Essentials

📥  Copyright, LITEbox

Reflecting on the excellent LITEbox Copyright event yesterday, I wanted to provide some succinct guidelines for academics regarding copyright and the use of third-party materials. Many thanks to Lisa Slater, Legal Adviser, for her comments and advice. For further details about copyright please see


  • Academics own the copyright in their scholarly materials such as lecture slides and publications
  • The university has a licence to use these materials (see IP policy for detail)

Using Third-party materials

When used internally within the University by students, third-party materials incorporated inside an academic’s materials are unlikely to entail substantial risk, and we can very often rely on an educational exception or ‘fair-use’ provided that

  • the amount taken is reasonable
  • proper attribution is included (e.g. a Harvard type reference)

When third party materials are included inside an academic’s materials that are available externally to the university then the risk of infringement is substantially higher. Examples include publishing on a web-site, blogs, a post on Facebook or slides that are published on a conference web-site.

The safest and risk-free way to licence third party materials is to go through the library, or AV for video oriented issues such as using BOB.

Extracts from books:

Using extracts or images from publications such as books and journals require that you scan/obtain the copies though the library to meet the terms of the CLA licence administered by the library. The library can be contacted on:

Hosting behind SSO (Single Sign On)

Any risk of infringement action is reduced by hosting material that is restricted by the university single-sign-on. This includes Moodle and the Wiki.


Antibiotics Guardian App

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📥  Alumni Assisted Learning, Apps

Our Contribution to Fighting Antibiotic Resistance

Alumni Adam Norman has really pulled out the stops to finish this latest Alumni-Assisted Learning (AAL) app. In just three weeks, in his spare time, Adam created the educational content.  The app was released to students last Thursday, in-time for Global Antibiotic Awareness Week 2015, and so far 50 Pharmacy undergraduates have already given it a go and completed an on-line survey. Currently, the app is only available internally, but we will be modifying the app according to student feedback and will be working towards a version that will be suitable for Apple App-Store and Google Play.


The app aims:

1. To introduce and review the basics of bacterial infections and how they are treated

2. To introduce and review the concept of antibiotic resistance and why it is important

3. To introduce and review the strategies being proposed to reduce/prevent the development of resistance

4. To motivate the app user to sign up for the Antibiotic Guardian scheme


A Student Survey

The survey will remain open until the end of Antibiotics Awareness Week.  So far we have collected responses from 50 students and the results are fantastic! They found it easy-to-use, useful, and it increased their awareness of antibiotic resistance. Please check out all their comments:

Evaluation Results







Placements App

📥  Alumni Assisted Learning, App Factory, Apps, Peer Assisted Learning, student

A new app has been completed for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. Created by recent alumni Adam Norman, the target users are students in every year of the pharmacy degree course. It aims to to provide comprehensive information about getting the most out of practice-based learning in the degree and work experience, in order to help the student successfully apply for (and complete) the pre-registration year.


The app is the first output from the App-Factory Alumni Fund project, and incorporates slideshows, videos and quizzes. It covers topics such as:

  • Preparing for a placement
  • Personal skills, attributes and values
  • Communication, teamwork and leadership
  • Professionalism and ethics

The app is currently undergoing quality checks by academics, and initial feedback is very positive. My colleague Julie Letchford commented that 'there's loads of detail here which will be very useful to students going on any placement in pharmacy or indeed any subject area'

It is hoped to release the app in the near future, and to evaluate with students from each year group of the MPharm degreee.

placements2 placements3 placements4 Alumni Fund LOGO Long Dark-on-Light




Apps for Promoting Research

📥  Apps, Mobile, Research, student

Light-Activated Sun Cream App

Small Poster Light Activated Sun Cream
May was Skin Cancer Awareness month, and on Thursday 28th May a small group from the department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology set-up a display in the Lime Tree Cafe at lunchtime.  The event was organised by the central Research Marketing team under the umbrella of 'Research Rocket on Tour' which promotes research straight to the student body.

For us, there were two specific aims:

  • to promote our research around Light-Activated Sun Cream
  • to raise awareness of the dangers of Sun-Light

In order to help achieve this aim, we decided to trial the use of app that could be demonstrated on tablets and installed on students mobile devices.

An App for Disseminating Research

I've already evaluated custom apps for teaching and learning, and discovered that this medium is very popular with students. This is hardly surprising, given that young people are increasingly using apps and mobile devices, and that they belong to an 'App Culture' that pervades every aspect of their lives.

Although we started building the app just a week before the event, it was possible to adapt both existing materials (powerpoint slides) and new material (an animation and quiz) into the app.

The new animation was created using VideoScribe. This took a couple of hours to create and was very last minute, so it still requires some refinement. However, it does clarify how our sun cream works.

The Results

The real stars were the team, who took their iPads or Android tablets and directly engaged with students. I was particularly impressed with Ali and Sharareh who mingled and promoted the app to the customers. The app provided a good vehicle that made it possible to actively engage with young people and it seemed to work really well as a promotional tool.

In all, 28 feedback questionnaires were received from students in the cafe. Most of these were completed between noon and 1pm when there was the most traffic in the Lime Tree.

Ali demonstrating the app on a tablet

Apart from anything else, there was a real buzz and excitement amongst the team. At the time, it certainly felt that the app was a success. The evidence also supports this:

Evaluation Results: Survey-Lime-Tree-2015

Although it is a relatively small sample of students, the results indicate that the team did a fantastic job promoting our research, and the main message appears to have been conveyed:


The Team


The team from the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. From left to right:

Ali Miri, Olivier Reelfs, Kunal Tewari, Ian Eggleston, Charareh Pourzand, Sharareh Houshmandyar, Keith Brown, Ruggero Dondi

Also, many thanks to Maree Perkins from the central Research Marketing team for her support and laughter!

The Future

Dissemination of research is now a common requirement imposed by funding bodies. This is often achieved by the use of twitter, blogs or web sites. The use of apps in this context represents a new approach that could appeal to a different type of audience and extend the reach of existing provisions, both for public engagement and to enhance the international reputation of the university for world-class research.

Our Suncream app is currently only available from the internal app-store that is private to staff and students. However, the placement of apps in the global app-stores such the Apple App-Store and Google Play also represents an opportunity for further exploration and evaluation. Given that the App-Factory makes it quick and easy to create apps, I am keen to further exploit apps for the promotion and dissemination of research, both internally and externally.

Based on the success of this event, we are now aiming to repeat the experience later this year with an enhanced version of the app. Our awards winning alumni Cristina Dumitru has agreed to do produce some additional animations that will be incorporated into the app over the summer. I can't wait.




Top 5 Apps Requested by Students

📥  Apps, student

App Ideas Logo

I've just received the results for the App Ideas Competition, which have been filtered to only include votes from students with email domains  So, I can officially announce that 'Boris the Bus Tracker' has won, and that Ellis Nugent has won a £200 Amazon voucher.

40 ideas were suggested by students, and over 400 people voted. Although there were a range of different ideas, the most prominent were for:

  • Transport - Buses and Car-Sharing
  • Education - such as lectures available on phone, and facilitating note-taking, peer assisted learning, task management, etc
  • Information - Guides for prospective/current students and ways to streamline booking facilities or finding the available computers/seats etc

Ian Robinson, Chief Executive, Students' Union said:

"The App-Ideas Competition highlighted  a number of ideas for improving aspects of their university life. The Students' Union is looking forward to providing help and support to promote and implement some of these excellent apps.''

The Top 5 Apps were as follows, including a short summary of text as submitted by the authors:

Boris the Bus Tracker
by Ellis Nugent


Where is the bus? Just ask Boris the Bus Tracker! Open the app and he will pinpoint the exact locations of your bus!

You will visualise the bath area just like GOOGLE MAPS and Boris will pinpoint the exact locations of the buses!

You will see exactly what road the busses are on IN REAL TIME!

Lecture Companion
by Alex Davies


Every student is tired of having to trawl through Moodle to find their lectures. Lecture Companion streamlines the process by synchronising the lecture content directly to your phone or tablet.

Saving time, effort and frustration, you will be able to bring up the slides for your lecture as soon as it starts. From here you can make notes however you want; annotating diagrams, highlighting important facts and adding your own text to the slides.

By Ting long Hui

Have you ever tried to reserve a football pitch, a meeting room or even a book in the library?! If you do, you probably have realized that the platforms you use to book them are not integrated,or it takes you ages to reserve the facility.

What if there is an app in the uni like "one-click-buy" function on Amazon, which enables you to book whatever you want with just clicking several buttons, the process which used to take minutes would be reduced to seconds.

The Queue
by Aleksandar Penev


The app will have a live feed from a camera mounted on the bus stop to allow users to see how long the queue is. Rather than waiting outside in the harsh meteorological condition that England has to offer, students will be able to wait for a shorter queue somewhere indoors, where they will also be able to complete some extra work.

Guide to: University of Bath
By George Mclean


This app is a complete guide for students and all those interested in the University of Bath. It will include all the essential information for life on campus, bringing together all the information available from word of mouth, the internet, and Facebook into one app.




LITEbox Launch

📥  App Factory, Apps, LITEbox, Mobile, Research, student, Technology

How fantastic to bring together all the aspects of how we are using technology for teaching, learning and research across the university! It was good to see so many people at the LITEbox launch on Wednesday, and I really enjoyed presenting my work around apps for teaching and learning. So many people have been commenting on Cristina Dumitru's video so I've posted it for everyone to see:

My colleague Charareh Pourzand also presented our work on a Research App for Light-Activated Sun-cream which has also been causing a bit of stir. We've also now had the opportunity to talk about this app with Jane Millar and demo the App-Factory to her.

I've got a good feeling about LITEbox - to find out more go to: