Make Royals Pay

When we’re told there isn’t money available for the most vulnerable, for our schools, for our hospitals, for our essential local services, spending £369m of *OUR* money to renovate the home of an unelected, unaccountable, obscenely wealthy family is not only an insult it’s an overt affront to the principle of equality that one family, by only their birth, should be given such fantastical special treatment over people who are in real, actual need.

Sign the petition to make the royals pay now.

Join Republic and demand an end to the injustice the monarchy represents.

Sorry, you were born in the wrong place

Dear EU citizen,
Thanks for your interest in the UK as your home and place of work.

We have reviewed your application and unfortunately it appears that you were born on the wrong bit of the earth.

You see, we (‘humanity’) have, over the years, divided up the various bits of mud, grass, forests and mountains and declared it to be ours. An awful lot of effort has gone into making sure that our bits of land remain our bits of land, and we’ve also put a lot of effort into trying to get more bits of land.

As it happens, us Brits (that’s what we call people who happen to have been born on this bit of the earth we decided to call “Britain” and declare ours) used to claim quite a lot of the earth as ours. We don’t have as much now, so we’re a bit protective about what’s left.

Rather foolishly your parents decided to give birth to you on a bit of land that we hadn’t claimed was ours. So you can’t come to our bit of land. A short holiday would be fine, but you’ll have to go back. You can’t stay.

If you’d been born on our bit of land you’d be one of us, do it be fine. But you weren’t, so it’s not.

Please stay on your own bit of land.

Yours,

Britain.

Feeling RESTful

A month ago I took a (relatively) short train ride into the beautiful Derbyshire countryside to spend a week coding in the middle of nowhere.

I was attending A Week of REST – a training event put on by the excellent folks at WordPress agency, Human Made.

Part of a group of about 20, we descended on Darwin Lake near Matlock, a beautiful set of holiday cottages set around a lake and right next door to the Peak District National Park – one of Britain’s best destinations.

Being remote there was no mobile signal and the wifi was pretty terrible! But that didn’t matter – the course had been set up in such a way that an internet connection was more of a luxury and the disconnect allowed us to concentrate on learning and interacting with each other.

So what did I learn?

I learnt how to build a standalone React app in ES6 syntax, using NPM and Webpack for a local development environment. I learnt how to authenticate with the REST API from Javascript, send different types of request and interact with the responses within React.

Building a React app was very different to developing for WordPress. We used NPM and Webpack to create a local development environment (sitting at localhost:3000) and we were writing entirely in JS/JSX and there was even an index.html file! Crazy times.

The API endpoints were just a WordPress plugin, and creating them was much like interacting with other WordPress APIs. I’d equate it to registering new post types, so very simple for a WordPress developer to get on with.

Having done the React class at last year’s Automattic Grand Meetup everything I learnt came flooding back, so that wasn’t a big challenge. Using ES6 was weird at first but I quickly came to enjoy it – and I really don’t enjoy JS dev usually 😉 The biggest challenge was probably understanding authentication with the API. While we only used one authentication method and had a helpful library to make it easy, there are some complicated concepts to get your head around and there were a lot of questions on that topic from the group.

The teachers – Joe Hoyle, Ryan McCue and Zac Gordon – were great. We went at a good pace, no-one got left behind and we were given lots of opportunities to ask questions. I’d recommend looking out for future Human Made events, including A Day of REST and you should certainly check out Zac’s Javascript for WordPress course.

Not only were they great teachers, I had a great time hanging out with them, the other Human Made crew and the other attendees. I’m lucky that because of my awesmazing job I already knew some of the HM folks (and met some I work with but hadn’t yet met in person!) which made socialising easier, but I also got along really well with my fellow students, and really enjoyed our various games and late night shenanigans 🙂

Finally, it wouldn’t be right to spend such a long time without an internet connection and not have something to show for it. So I present to you my very first solo-built standalone React app: howmuchhuel.com.

I’ve recently started using Huel* regularly and needed a quick way to measure the mixture on my phone, so I built this neat little app. The calculations are a bit scrappy, but it works. Contributions welcome.

*get £5 off with this link,  because I love you.

I might join the Conservative Party and vote for Gove

Well, I already joined the Labour Party because of Corbyn, I might as well complete the set.

But also, as much as I despise Gove, Theresa May will be the absolutely worst option for Prime Minister. She has consistently attempted to undermine our fundamental human rights. She is capable, determined and commands the respect of her peers.

She may well succeed at pulling us out of the European Court of Human Rights and lumping us with both a “British Bill of Rights” and the “Snooper’s Charter”.

Gove on the other hand is in no position to be leading his party nor the country. Even he knows that! My word, the man actually said in his speech announcing his candidacy that he doesn’t want the job. Moron.

Clearly, if he became Prime Minister he’d fuck it up so spectacularly that the Tories would get ripped to pieces. If they didn’t rip themselves to pieces first…

That’s got to be a good thing to spend a few quid on.

So that is why I’m considering joining the Conservative Party to vote for Michael Gove. That, and I put a small bet on him for shits ‘n’ giggles.

Image credit: gove-pob by Little Pixel

31

30

Another interesting year.

Much of it, disappointingly (and to their detriment), was spent fighting yet again for my two children to be granted the relationship with me they deserve.

That costs money, so while I kept my job, my other plan – buying a house to give the three of us a more permanent home – didn’t get further than the mortgage offer I received.

Keeping my job was a much more achievable aim, and I did that with bells on. I’ve done so much in the last year, learnt an enormous amount, worked on projects that have made me super proud and built on my confidence.

My 32nd year? Spending more time with my magnificent little girl, building on our already blossoming relationship 🙂

Now I can spend some time on myself too. I’ll be focusing on my career for a bit – taking advantage of the huge opportunities I have.

Human Rights mean nothing to Tories – Brexit will give them free reign

We already know that this Tory government continues to actively work with Saudi Arabia despite their repeated violations of human rights.

This morning we learn that the Tories helped lobby the UN to “whitewash” Bahrain police abuses.

They’ve already made it clear they want to scrap the European Convention on Human Rights, too.

Clearly while supporting countries who abuse the basic rights of citizens the Tories are wishing they could get away with the same.

Leaving the EU will help then achieve that.

Leaving the EU will make it easier for the Tories to erode workers rights, increase detention without charge, exert more control over the judiciary without worrying about decisions being challenged in Europe and continue to push those unfit to work to suicide.

Don’t fall for the divisive neo-liberal rhetoric of the Tories and their friends in UKIP. Fight for human rights, vote to stay in the EU.

Fitbit Surge – one month in

In December I started wearing a Fitbit surge (a work perk) and wanted to share my thoughts/experience.

  • Steps seem largely accurate, although as you might expect it’s not so great at counting them when you’re pushing a pushchair! However, I have managed to achieve my steps target (7k per day) whilst;
    • walking up to bed
    • driving my car
    • cooking Christmas dinner
    • stirring my pasta
  • Heart rate is *not* very accurate. Given this is something the Fitbit Surge is supposed to be very good at, and Fitbit advertise it as being accurate, it’s disappointing. I noticed it was reporting well below my actual bpm whilst on an excercise bike at the gym. It turns out, I’m not the only one – Fitbit are facing a class action lawsuit over it.
  • Floors seems like a lot of nonsense to me. I don’t see how it’s accurate or useful.
  • Battery life is woeful, compared to what Fitbit claim. It lasts about two days for me.
  • I love that I can connect to my phone while playing music to see what’s playing, pause or skip tracks. However, I’ve had to stop using it because it massively drains the power.
  • Tracking cycling works, for the most part, and the GPS seems accurate. GPS does drain the battery quickly though.
  • Through the app you can choose from a number of different types of exercise to make available on the Fitbit Surge. However, it’s unclear what some of these are, or the difference between them and there is *no* documentation to explain it. I’ve read in forums, for example, that “spinning” and “workout” do the same thing.
  • The vibrating alarm is nice at first but I find it all to easy to just ignore. If you ignore it, it stops and doesn’t do anything else other than leave the alarm display on. I’d expect it to, like my phone does, automatically snooze and keep on going until I turn it off.
  • The app isn’t terrible intuitive. There’s a lot in it, and it’s kind of hard to know where to go. You get used to it, and once you do there’s a ton of info there. It’s the primary way to look at what you’ve been up to, and it gives you all the info you need.
  • Being a cyclist I like to link it up to Strava and that works really well.
  • I like that you can set a goal other than steps. Calories, for example.
  • When I’m in my car, my phone connects to it via Bluetooth. But if I have the Fitbit connected to my phone the car can’t connect. It’s probably the car’s fault because the Bluetooth on that is crap, but it’s frustrating none the less.
  • From the start I’ve had call and text notifications on so I can see from the Fitbit Surge who is calling or texting me. It’s never worked, but I just got it working a couple of days ago… :shrug:
  • I’ve tracked exercise bike workouts as “spinning” and while the calories seems right, the steps don’t. For example, a 40 minute workout that burned 334 calories only added 25 steps and was classed as 32 active minutes. My heart rate was pretty accurate during that too.
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