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2019 Review

Posted on by jordanhaines

The year is nearly up and I guess it’s time for the annual year review blog post. This will be the first blog post from me in a very long time.

So let’s go back to the start of the year. Last Christmas I had to work over the holiday close down with my digital director as we had two major projects on. The project I was working on was a very big multi WordPress site for a very well paying client and I was the only developer on it. A Challenge I did not mind, but it did mean some late nights.

The other project started well but could only be described as a massive cluster fuck which saw us bin off a Freelancer that had been brought in because he kept going quiet on us. It also pushed a new developer at the time to the limit and made us realise that he probably was not as good as he had led us to believe.

That set the tone for the rest of the year in regards to work. I felt very static this year, I have had a few coding challenges this year, but it had to be said this year had been mainly sorting a lot of shit out and fixing stuff left by our now ex developer and fixing legacy systems from a time where the developers could just run free.

This year as also reinforce my belief that hiring freelancers is the worst idea going and I hate it, It grinds my gears now that we have to hire a freelancer, But hopefully 2020 I can get the changes I want. I know many people disagree with me on this, but I have yet to be convinced.

2019 was the year I started working with Leanne our new front-end developer, Someone near my age (Sorry Leanne) but also has my level of sarcasm. I found that I developed a brilliant working relationship with her and we seem to be on the same page, I look forward to working with her in 2020.

I am also hoping to find 1 or two more developers to bolster our little development team so we can rebuild from the developers that have moved on.

In my personal life, It’s been all go with the kids and helping my oldest learn how he should act in school. If I am honest this takes up most of the weekends with him and also teaching my youngest not to follow him.

We did manage to have a huge family holiday to Egypt this year, which I loved and would love to go back soon. It was my first holiday in over two years and the first plane trip for the kids, it was a very special moment.

2019 has been a very busy year, which has also meant the year has gone very quickly. I did not cross much off on my list this year. I guess I feel that this year was a bit static was because my career progressed very quickly in 2018. So this year was trying to prove myself and implement systems that I know work and also clean up the mess left over.

I am very much looking forward to 2020.

Happy new year folks.

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2018 Top 5 Christmas Gifts for Geeks

Posted on by jordanhaines

The time of good will and present buying has come around again so its time for my top 5 list of presents for the geeks in your life.

iRobot Roomba 890 Robot Vacuum Cleaner with Wi-Fi Connectivity, Works with Alexa

I robot Roomba

As geeks we do not have the time to get the vacuum cleaner out, We are far to busy programming or playing games.  The robot vacuum has improved over the year and although still not perfect it can do the job in the “Geek Den”, plus its controlled by Alexa. The massive downfall is it’s not a cheap gift at £529 from Amazon.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 76042 The SHIELD Helicarrier

Superheros Lego

There are not many geeks that are not a marvel fan. This SHIELD Helicarrier is gigantic and will make any Marvel fan feel proud to display in their home, it will also keep the geek in your life entertained for a few hours which the build process is happening.  Now again his is not cheap at £460 from Amazon, but think of the smile on your geeks face when they see this.

PlayStation Classic

Playstation Classic

The older geeks will remember the first Sony PlayStation,  With the huge success of the Nintendo Mini this is a must have for all the older geeks out there. It comes pre loaded with the classic playstation games so they can relive there child hood.  Its not expensive either at £89 from Amazon.

Logitech 5.1 Surround Sound Speaker System

Logitech Surround Sound

Perfect for the living room or geek den. This surround sound speaker system has great reviews for its sound quality at a very good price.  This one is certainly on my Christmas list from my living room, although my wife does not know it yet. This is available on Amazon for £197.

Back to the Future 30th Anniversary Trilogy

Back to the future movie

An all-time classic that will have a special place in the heart of any geek who loves science. This indelible futuristic science adventure is a geeky essential and will make a great addition to any movie collection, it available on Amazon for only £18.

Thats it from me,  I hope this gives you some ideas to help you buy for your geek.  I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a Happy Christmas and hope you enjoy your time with your family.

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2017 Top 5 Christmas Gifs

Posted on by jordanhaines

Christmas 2018 is fast approaching which means it’s time for my top 5 list of geeky things I would like this year. Let’s get cracking:

1. Amazon Echo Dot

We start with the Amazon Dot, the small smart speaker which is around £40. This is the entry level smart speaker in the Echo family. I have held off buying one as I did not have a need for one and did not see the point. But I have smart lighting and heating systems at home which get used all the time and recently Damon one of the developers I work with got one and said it’s amazing, but does take some getting used to.
I have now decided to try it out. With two kids this could be really handy and convenient without having to pull out my phone all the time to operate the lights and the heating.

amazon-dot

2. Nintendo Switch

When the Nintendo Wii came out, I was straight to the shop with my money to buy one. I loved it because it was so different to what was out there at the time and it was cheap. Ok the graphics where not amazing, but that was not the point. It was family friendly and for many Christmas’s was the entertainment after we had stuffed ourselves of food.

I was very excited to see the Nintendo switch when it finally got released. With the TV being taken up by the kids and the wife, I could now play my games still but on the small screen. The controllers are also small enough that the kid’s small hands would be able to hold them with ease.

This console can still be family friendly but this time you get the great graphics so I can’t wait to see if I get one. I am not a fan of the price but that is not going to change anytime soon so will have to accept that and just pay it.

nintendo switch

3. AfterShokz Trekz Titanium Bone Conduction headphones

When running I like listening to music but I do not like having in ear headphones on. I find they become uncomfortable very quickly once you get hot and sweaty, I also do not like the fact that it blocks out all other noise. I like to hear what is going on around me mainly for safety especially running next to the road.

I have been following Bone Conductive headphones for a while now and only this year after listening to some reviews have I been convinced now is the time to buy a pair.

A lot of the reviews say the sound is now really good, but it does take some getting used to. The fact you can hear your music and still hear everything around you. I am very much looking forward to getting a pair of these to try out and get back into running.

aftershokz trekz bone conduction wireless headphones

4. Fitbit Alta HR

I love my Fitbit Flex but it has to be said that is starting to feel old now, I have gone through about 5 straps it takes some persuading to charge up and the charge does not last as long as it used to. As a geek, I can’t be dealing with old tech. So, I am moving up to the Alta HR, Wait!! But why not the Apple watch 3?

Good question and its simple really. I am not a fan and this is coming from an Apple fan boy , I like the fact that so many of my friends own a Fitbit so I find it keeps you motivated seeing how low down you come on the weekly step count list I can end up if I do not exercise. The Alta HR is not even half price of the Apple Watch 3 and does everything I need it to, which is mainly count steps.

fitbit alta hr

5. FOBO Bluetooth Tire Pressure system for cars

The last item on the list is for the car, I am always forgetting to check my tyre pressures. These Bluetooth Tyre pressure caps send the pressure of your tyres to your phone. The app will alert you when your pressure drops below a certain level, just what I need.

They are not cheap, but I look at it as they could save your life by warning you of under inflated tyres.

fobo tyre pressure

So, there it is, My little geek Christmas list. It’s not the all-out geek dream list that you see but just a little list of tech that would help me out.

Merry Christmas all.

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Washed out colours in Google Chrome

Posted on by jordanhaines

I wanted to write up a quick fix for a Google Chrome issue which I have noticed for a few weeks now but have only just gotten round to fixing.

While developing some new sites at work I noticed that the colours displayed on my screen while using Google Chrome looked washed out compared to other websites.  An example is shown below.

Chrome Washed Out Colours

After doing some research online and reading some forum posts, I could see that I was not the only one having this issue.  It turns out that I needed to turn Color Correct Rendering off,  The steps below will show you how do this.

  1. Enter chrome://flags in to the address bar and press enter
  2. Now search on the page for enable-color-correct-rendering, You should see the screen shot below

Enable color correct rendering default

3. You need to change default to disable like the screen shot below

Enable Color Correct Rendering Disable

You will then need to save and restart Chrome.  You should notice the colours on your website and a lot more brighter now.  Below is a screen shot of the same website header after I turned off enable-color-correct-rendering

Website header with colour correct disabled

I hope this helps a few people out.

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Variable Fonts

Posted on by jordanhaines

I want to talk about variable fonts, Yes you heard me correctly. A developer is going to talk about fonts. Right about now the designers I know have got there head in there hands saying “Please don’t”.

What I want to tell you about today is not the design of a font or anything like that but the way we deliver a font to a website is going to change.

Currently the way a font is delivered to a website is in multiple files. So for example you could have a font file for normal weight, a font file for bold weight and a font file for italic styling. 3 files are needed to deliver 3 variations of a certain font.

With so many font files needed, this added to page weight on a website which in turn slows down a site if you have many custom font in use.

Back in September 2016 it was presentated to the world that for the past year the companies of Apple, Google, Microsoft and Adobe have been working together on a new OpenType format called variable font.

Type designers can now use only 1 file to hold all the information needed for a font, This is instead of having multiple files for each different variant on the font. From a web developer point of view this is brilliant, 1 file for 1 font and then you can use any type of styling you wish. Serving less files is always a good thing in modern web development as our quest for speed goes on.

Today you can play with variable fonts here: http://www.axis-praxis.org/

This is already in the development builds of browsers, but is not fully supported as of yet. With Apple, Microsoft, Google and Adobe all working on this there is an expectation that this variable font format will make its way in to the operating systems for Mac and Windows based PC’s. But only time will tell on this.

Variable fonts is still really new but is progressing at a very fast rate, Its worth following this as in web development we could be using this within the next two years.

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