blog - page 3

Recommendation - Wired UK

Ah! I missed a day, it probably didn’t help that I was working from home. Anyway I am back so on with today’s post.

Today a simple recommendation, I have mentioned their podcast previously, now it is the turn of the magazine, Wired UK. Every issue without fail, since I first started buying them roughly 8 years ago, has been interesting and informative. There have only been about 5 issues which I have not bought, the first 4 since I only discovered Wired UK in WHSmith when issue 5 was out and maybe 1 or 2 since then.

What I really like it that every story is interesting and presents a solid informed point of view, whether you agree with it or not that is another thing, but every story has been throughly researched to present a cohesive opinion of a subject, tell a unique story or even just reveal the latest businesses, product or ideas. Generally magazines have never interested me, I have flitted through the pages, idly looking at the pictures, reading the occasional short article, however with Wired I have read every issue cover to cover like a book. Granted this might not be the best for retaining all of the information contained within, but I have certainly not regretted it one bit. Actually, I need to go catchup on the latest issues so will leave you dear reader with one command, go check it out, I doubt you will be disappointed with your purchase be it in paper or tablet form (I still prefer reading the physical copy).

#wired #business #tech #cover2cover #magazine


Well today I am just writing, I have been sitting here trying to decide what to write, but nothing is ‘jumping out’ at me, my mind if completely blank on a specific topic to write about. But since I ‘need’ to get something out by 9am, I have just started to type…

Blankness is terrifying, it’s like standing on the edge of a cliff about to jump but not quite being able to do. When you do jump, all the correct thoughts will come flooding back (ie that you do have a safety system like a parachute so you will land safely while enjoying the falling). Staring a blank screen feels the same, once a topic comes to the fore and the words start to flow then becomes a simple matter of ‘pen to paper’, but before then my mind is darting around trying to work out which topic to pick (I do have a list of potential topics), then for each how to attack each topic of which specific bit of the topic to broach. This can be all very confusing & stressful with the clock ticking towards a deadline, hence why today I just started writing.

It has been a nice experiment (one which I think I will repeat in future) but let’s hope that tomorrow a spark it kindled so I have a topic to write about.

#blank #noidea #offtopic

Tabs vs. Whitespaces

A really short post today as I have a lot todo today! This amusing medium article popped up in a weekly newsletter I subscribe to, and thought it was worth a share here.

Apart from being amusing and settling one of the oldest scores for software engineers, it really shows the power of BigQuery & open data sets to work on. All that was really required of the author was the idea and relatively small amount of free time to create and run the queries. If you haven’t played around with BigQuery I would recommend having a go either with some of the example datasets they have or start putting in your own data (eg web logs).

#tabs #whitespaces #battle

Wedding Websites - Tools of the trade

So having recently gotten married, a website is very useful when it comes to updating guests on the latest information, gathering RSVP’s and generally building excitement towards the big day. Initially I looked at using one of the many services available but most of the free ones are very limited in functionality or you have to pay an huge fee to get the decent features. I then figured that I do it myself for much cheaper using existing resources I had at my disposal.

The website itself is another Jekyll site with a bootstrap based theme. The site structure was controlled by configuration in the _config.yml file, and content was from markdown files (although I did write a lot of html and some javascript). The site is hosted next to this one using nginx, with the only extra was to add a .htaccess file and associated configuration to have a password protected area on the site. All other backend requirements were fulfilled by using Zapier. This is a hugely useful service for businesses and personal alike, they very simply join internet services together without any coding required from the user. Initially I used it to take Typeform responses and add them to a Google Sheet, again I cannot recommend Typeform enough a beautiful, easy to use service (although a bit pricey if you need to pay and are just one person). Then I used the inbuilt Zapier webhooks in combination with a ReactJS UI to take process the more complex response (multiple guests from one submit) of the RSVP to email a confirmation and again add them to a Google Sheet. All of the above allowed for a very smooth interaction on the site with minimal costs ($40 for 2 months of paid Zapier while we took RSVPs).

The other main task when organising a wedding is emailing out information or reminders and allowing people to email you. Luckily I have a Google Apps account from when it was free so it was incredibly easy to setup a new user with the domain we have purchased and then forward emails to both me & my wife. For those that do not have the fortunate access to Google Apps and would like to use a custom domain I would recommend Mailgun (check out this post for details). Finally for emailing everyone we used Mailchimp. With their list management you can organise each guest into groups making it easy to target specific guests with relevant reminders. Also given each email is wrapped up in a marketing campaign you can (in a slightly creepy way) track opens & clicks of links making it super easy to follow up individually when needed.

One thing that I have left todo is use flickr (and if possible Google Photos) to display photos of the day on the site and if guests still remember submit their stories from the day (still working out how to do this easily…!)

#website #wedding #zapier #react #mailchimp

Meetup & Website Improvements

Two smaller topics for today!

Firstly I attended the London React Native Meetup, it was an excellent event with 2 very interesting talks, good food and location (many thanks to the fine folks at Theodo & Masabi). The first talk explored how to plug the gaps in React Native with the Native Modules API and the second explained about a boilerplate project called Pepperoni as well as giving a very swift tutorial on React+Redux. Both were very informative and filled some gaps in my knowledge.

The second topic for today is that the website is getting an small upgrade. Tags that have been appearing at the bottom of each post are now links! These links will take you to all posts related to that tag. I am now also posting to Twitter as well as Linkedin when I publish a post.

#meetup #mashup #upgrade #website #reactnative