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2018 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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What is this HTTP2 you speak of

Posted on by jordanhaines

In the past year the talk of HTTP2 has gone hand in hand with the talk that all sites should have a SSL certificate and be using HTTPS. This was mainly because Google has started saying that going forward sites that use HTTPS will get a ranking boast, This is all because Google is pushing for a more secure web. Something we can all get behind, But to explain what HTTP 2 is I think it is best to start off with what we have now HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol).

HTTP explained

HTTP is the current protocol we have now, it has been around since the start of the web and the version of HTTP we have now HTTP 1.1 came out in 1999.

Websites in 1999 looked a lot different from the websites we have today. There was of course no responsive design, There was very little CSS and JS. A website back in 1999 was just plain HTML and some images, The size of a website was also a lot smaller.

When you request a website from your browser in the current HTTP protocol, each resource which by this I mean, every image file, every CSS file, every JS file is requested 1 at a time. This means that if you have a large image file this will slow down the loading of the other files which in turn slows down the loading of the website.

Websites over the years have gotten bigger and now need to do a lot more which means that the old HTTP protocol is not very efficient in delivering websites.

HTTP 2 explained

In 2009 Google posted about a research project they had been working on named SPDY (Speedy). SPDY was not a new protocol is just modified the way existing HTTP requests and responses are sent.

SPDY addressed some of HTTP short comings with modern websites, These where:

  • allow multiplexing – This means that multiply files can be downloaded at the same time which will in turn speed up your website;
  • allow browsers to prioritize assets so that resources vital to the display of a page could be sent by the server first;
  • compress and reduce HTTP headers – This speeds up how fast your website is downloaded to the users browser.
  • implement server push, whereby a server can push vital resources to the browser before being asked for them.

SPDY was successful and became HTTP 2 which is built upon this success and in February 2015 the final spec was approved with browser support a year on being excellent , so you can start using it right now. Please remember that HTTP2 is browser and server side, This means that it is best to check with your hosting provider that they support HTTP2.

http2 diagram

Google Benefits

HTTP2 is what all websites should be using and this fact is backed up with Google pushing all sites to become faster and use HTTPS. If your site uses HTTPS today then you will more then likely be using HTTP2, To test this you can use the following website: https://tools.keycdn.com/http2-test

So what you waiting for, Go us HTTP2 now and speed up your website.

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2017 a new look

Posted on by jordanhaines

The job of redesigning my site has been on my list to do for the last two years, but as I have learned. Once you have kids some jobs keep getting pushed to the back of the que. This is what happened with the design of this site.

In 2016 I actually got as far as making a photoshop document of the site I wanted after going through the site map process and all the wireframing, but the coding part of the job did not happen. This was mainly because of another bundle of joy coming into my life with the birth of my daughter.

Now my son is going to bed much easier in the evening, I now find I have a few hours in the evening where I can do little bits of work. So in 2017 I have made it my goal to redesign and sort out my site.

The theme currently running on it is 5 years old, it looks outdated and the responsive does not work that well.

I have been working on a new responsive WordPress theme which I use as my base files so want to use this. I will also be sorting out the structure to separate out the podcast posts as I would like to start mixing again now I have the chance.

I also want to include the ability to play the podcast from the site and sort out some of the coding examples that I have given in the past which do not look that great now.

I plan to blog the process of my redesign as I go through the process. This way it will keep me on track.

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