I managed 14 unbroken Double-Unders

I know this isn’t a massive achievement, but I have a goal to get to 50 unbroken DUs by the end of the year. The other week, I managed to get 14 unbroken which is the most I have done so far. I’ll keep you updated with my progress, but for now you can check the video below and follow me for more Crossfit updates.

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Turn your WordPress Website into a Progressive Web App (PWA)

Progressive Web App

What is a Progressive Web App?

Some of you may be wondering what a PWA actually is, allow me to explain. It’s a JavaScript file that uses Web Sockets that performs various tasks. Tasks such as caching your files for faster page loads. Caching also allows a user to view your website even when the user is offline. This means they can still view all of your wonderful content in mobile or broadband blackspots. This does however mean that it won’t be up to date until they have an internet connection, but at least they can still view something.

Another thing it does is allow your users to install your website to their phone. This then acts as an app that has a splash screen and loads very quickly.

All of this makes it really easy for your users to view your site time and time again and keeps them engaged for longer. It’s a huge win and the way to get it is super simple…

As easy as 1, 2, 3!

I’ve recently gotten into the habit of turning my websites into PWAs, it turns out, it is actually fairly straightforward. WordPress has been the most straight forward so far. Simply install Super PWAย and update the settings of the app.

You can then test this works by using Chrome, pressing F12 on your keyboard clicking “audits” and then performing an audit on your website. It should look something like this…

Progressive Web App

Congratulations, your website is now a PWA and you should give yourself a pat on the back for all that hard work. Now go tell your users about how great your website is now it’s a PWA.

Laravel Development with Vessel (Docker)

Getting started with Vessel

I have started using Vessel for my local development as it makes starting and developing a project so much easier. It seems more lightweight than Homestead and the start-up time is much quicker than Homestead.

No PHP or Composer? No problem

If you don’t have PHP7 or Composer installed on your machine, you can follow these instructions to help get you started. It will install PHP7 and Composer environments with Docker and allowing you to create a Laravel project and install Vessel as a package.

I also add /docker folder into my .gitignore as vessel will create this upon initialisation. You could also ignore the vessel and docker-compose.yml files as well, but I enjoy keeping it within my projects.

Bash Commands

Vessel is a bash file and allows you to run any artisan, yarn or npm command of your choosing which makes it easier rather than ssh’ing into a homestead box or running the exec command.

Only for development environments

It has fantastic documentation and should allow you to get running within 10 minutes. The only downside to Vessel is that it’s only for development work and not production. So don’t expect Lets Encrypt certificates or deployment strategies with this.

Want to learn more about going from Development to Deployment? I will be live streaming a learning event Laravel: from development to deployment

If you enjoyed this article, please follow for more. Alternatively, you can Buy me a coffeeBuy me a coffee

 

๐Ÿ’ช Wodemocracy ๐Ÿ’ช

I have created a website that I hope can bring a bit more fun and community for all CrossFitters. You can submit a workout of your choice and others can vote on that workout. If yours is the most voted, then it will become the workout of the day, the very next day. If you haven’t got a workout, then that’s okay, you can vote on other’s and encourage them to create more workouts.

This is a fun and simple project I had and wanted to release it out there. It’s my first proper project release, because I have always been scared of releasing anything and now is a better time then any!

I ask that you please sign-up and give it a go to see if you can create the next WOD. I also encourage feedback from all my users and would love to hear your thoughts on what works and what doesn’t. Email subscriptions will be coming very soon for daily and weekly updates.

The site is https://wodemocracy.com please check it out and let me know what you think.

Thank you.

Want to learn more about going from Development to Deployment? I will be live streaming a learning event Laravel: from development to deployment

 

Murph is quite possibly my favourite CrossFit Workout

And here’s why…

It’s not only to remind us of the great Michael Murphy who served for the US Navy, but it’s also to remind us of friends and family who have served for our country (where ever you may be), it’s to remind us of all our doctors, nurses, firefighters and police officers. It’s also to remind us to be kind and help each other through tough times (e.g. this workout).

It’s the one workout where everyone wants to go and work through one of the toughest created workouts ever. It’s a physical battle, but it’s also a mental one as well. Even if you’re overall a fit person, you may struggle to focus your mind and push yourself through. Once you get over that mental brick wall, you will push yourself further and enjoy the end result.

It’s the one workout where everyone really enjoys pushing each other through. See a fellow CrossFitter struggling through? Then simply encourage them and help push them further.

I thought I was going to throw up due to the heat, but I knew I wanted to get it done. It wasn’t my best time, in fact it was ~10 minutes slower than previous, but I progressed my push-ups from jumping to banded kipping which felt amazing for me.

It’s also one of those workouts where you can do it time and time again, and you will always see clear improvements. When I started, I would get up to the second mile run, but I would never be able to finish it. I gradually went from 400m to 800m then being able to complete both runs and now I’m progressing my pull-ups and push-ups.

I look forward to the day I can RX and wear that weighted vest and look boss AF. What is your favourite part about Murph? What do you really look forward to? Sound off in the comments.

Plant trees and stay focused

Forest Icon

Stay focused, be present

I have recently been trying to find some apps that will help me with my focus. I used an app called impulse blocker which would block any website that you would add to the list. You can enable and disable it whenever you liked, but I often found I would just disable it for a large duration of time and then become easily distracted.

I also found it wouldn’t allow me to track my time in attention at all which I feel is what I needed the most.

Forestย is a fantastic app that helps me set a timer on a tree, when I plant that tree, it will start to track my time. Once the time has passed, I have now grown a beautiful tree, if you download the app on your phone, you can see your forest and which days you were most productive.

I have the app on my phone and on my work computer as a FireFox add-on. Using the timer in my browser allows me to also block any sites that may distract me. It will cover the website with the logo and let me know how much longer I have until I can view the site. Once my tree is planted, I then receive some coins (the longer the timer, the more coins you can accumulate) and can reward myself with some distraction time.

It would be cool to see it expanded upon, perhaps being able to set work hours, the length of productivity time and the length of break time. Say I set an hour of productivity time and 15 minutes break time, it could just cycling through that from the start of my workday to the end.

What are your thoughts on this app? Is there anything else you would recommend to help keeping your productivity levels up? Let me know in the comments below.

On 27/04/2018 I entered my first CrossFit Competition

My first CrossFit competition outside of my own box

I know that date has pretty much long gone, but I want to get into the habit of updating my blog more often with what I’m doing, so thought I would add this while I still can.

I entered my first CrossFit competition a few weeks back and wanted to share with you how I felt before, during and after the event. It was also my first team workout and usually I’m a bit hard on myself and think “Why would anyone want me in their team? I would only let them down”.

It turns out, I did no such thing and we ended up having a great time. We didn’t worry about what place we came, we just came to compete and have fun. We entered the scaled division (this means the workouts are slightly easier to compensate for abilities, but it’s still just as hard).

My week running up to the competition

Okay, I was a little nervous during the week running up to the event. They started releasing the workouts on Facebook and they all looked painful, but fun. (Us CrossFitters strive for the pain threshold). Then our coach announces that we will be meeting up on Saturday (day before the event) to talk strategy and try the workouts to get a feel for the event.

This is the moment my nerves went into overdrive. I’m thinking to myself “What if I can’t do this? What if my teammates are trying to rush me?” And the list went on… I get into the box, we talk a bit and then give the workouts a try. I came out feeling a lot calmer about the situation and this is where I was reminded, we’re just there to have fun. No biggie at all.

I went home and cooked a bite to eat. After my food, I gained this huge headache that felt like a hangover despite not drinking any alcohol. I drank water to keep fluids up as I did so much working out that I believed it was due to dehydration. I was hoping I hadn’t poisoned myself some how. That night, I went to bed and couldn’t shift my headache.

Luckily, I did manage to sleep it off and I was relieved that morning. I then made some breakfast (porridge) and took some Bulk Powders Scottish oats mixed with water to take on the road. I threw my gym gear on and hit the road meeting up with some of the others from my box.

I am not organised at all

I drive up into CrossFit box and meet my fellow CrossFitters. I then feel a lack of energy and know my sugar levels aren’t quite right so I had to text my wife and ask her to buy me food. There were no shops nearby and I needed to warm up and make sure I was ready for the competition. I also tell me buddies who then give me some bits to help me out which was actually pretty funny.

The come the workouts, they were all very testing and took a lot of work, but we enjoyed the whole experience. The final workout was a secret and we didn’t know what it was until we finished all other workouts. He then explained to us how it would go and it looked like an absolutely dreadful workout (mainly due to the running). However, it actually turned out to be one of the most fun workouts. There was more teamwork involved and we did better than expected during our runs.

Overall, it was a fantastic day and one I would do again. If my other team member would have me again, I would be happy to join them. If you want to know more, the CrossFit box is called Crossfit Plymouthย and their competition is called Primal Games.

I did a tandem skydive at 15,000ft ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

tandem skydive

Tandem skydives are an exhilarating experience.

Last Saturday, I took a tandem skydive thanks to my lovely wife who bought it for my birthday present. I have to say, I wasn’t nervous at all, calm as a cucumber in fact. I always try to never over think any situation and say to myself… “It’s been done a million times before, they are experts and I’m going to be fine.”

The worst part is the wait… They only ever had one plane taking us up and I had to wait about 3 hours, but I can definitely say it’s worth it. Once you step into that plane and get strapped up to your sky diver, you just let them do the work. They tell you what you’re doing and when so you never forget what you’re supposed to do.

Then, when you make it to the door, it’s both exciting and nerve wracking all at once. You simply kneel down and kick your legs bag as far as possible. “Be a banana” as our training instructor told us upon initial talks. Your skydiver will do the rest and push you out of the plane as you smile at the camera (if yours doesn’t slip away like mine did). This is the most exhilarating part, because at 15,000ft, you are in free-fall for a whole minute.

At first I couldn’t breathe due to the rush of air, I managed to gain my breath back and that was when I could look around and take it all in. It was breathtaking…

No feeling of falling…

It just felt like you’re lying on a cloud of air. Looking at everything around you and thinking just how small everything is from up here. I felt absolutely ecstatic, like I was literally on cloud 9.

Then suddenly the parachute opens and my sky diver is steering it from left to right. We did a couple of loops and it was incredible. Not as incredible as the free-fall, but still incredible.

We then come down to the landing and my skydiver accidentally overshot it and everyone had to move out of the way. It was pretty hilarious watching them jump out of the way while I embraced myself for landing. To do that you just have to lift your legs up as high as possible and skid along the ground.

The entire experience was insane. It felt like I didn’t jump it and it was all a dream, but at the same time it felt like so real and incredible. It is one experience I would love to do again and I would 100% recommend it to anyone else. Even if you’ve never thought about doing it, just do it and I can assure you, you won’t regret it one bit.

Proof that it happened…

 

I’m in the green shoot coming down. ๐Ÿ˜

A post shared by Michael Brooks (@mike_d_brooks) on

We don’t need a social networking website. We need building websites to be more accessible.

Laravel controllers and routes

Some may know that I’ve been wanting to build an open source social networking website for a long time. The trouble with building a social networking site is there is so much to do. Especially if you want to build something that’s on par with the likes of Facebook.

No one wants to help build it with you and it’s hard to build all of it yourself. I really wanted to get something out there, especially with the news on Facebook recently. I thought to myself “this is it, I need to build this now”. I then start building and just get overwhelmed with the amount of work that needs to be done.

There are already open source social platforms out there already, but I thought I could build it better (I was so wrong about this). There are also decentralised social networking platforms that are great, but it isn’t accessible to everyone.

This got me thinking, what we need to do is make building a website easier and cheaper. We need a platform that similar to that of myspace where you can build your profile how you like, but more limited so we don’t have a huge mess with flashy gifs.

We then also need the ability to add a custom domain and connect that as easily as possible. People would then be able to have their own personalised website that is also their profile.

They should have full control over what is shown and what isn’t and they should be able to download that code fully to allow them to move to another server if they so choose.

These sites/profiles should be able to connect (or subscribe to) one another. I suspect in a very similar way to how WordPress and JetPack connect to one another.

I guess you could reskin WordPress as a more profile based website and have a platform like wordpress.com that allows users who are a less experienced sign-up and build their profile. More advanced users will download and its places on their server and then start building their profile.

A brave new world

A brave new world

The beginning of a new chapter

My wife will be leaving her place of work this week to go on her own adventure and creating her own pet sitting business. She is very scared and nervous, but I keep reassuring her that everything will be okay and if it doesn’t work out, we can move on to something else.

Where it all started…

All her life she’s wanted to work with animals, but becoming a vet is hard because you either have to know the right people, have a lot of money or join a waiting list to earn the qualifications before you can become a vet. She never really had her sights set on anything else animal related as she didn’t want to work in a pet store as a cashier, because you don’t really get to handle the animals much.

Stuck at a fork in the road.

She then took a fork in the road and went into accounting and administration. She received a level two accounting qualification, but she couldn’t get an accounting position, because she was either not qualified enough or because she didn’t quite fit the role.

So she started an administration role with the promise that she could further her career into accounting work. That promise was never kept and she kept being given more and more work as people left whilst still being paid the same amount even after multiple discussions on having her wages increased.

Onto the next chapter we go…

Now here we are, I helped her start her own venture and I will be here to support her through the entire process. If anything should go wrong, then I will be there to offer my support and knowledge to her. The entire running of the business will be all her work and I will be here when she needs me like a good husband should.

If you’re curious as to what it is she is doing, then take a look at… http://www.brookspetsitters.com. She is now a fully insured and DBS checked pet sitter and she has already had a handful of clients who are coming back for me. This is definitely going to be the start of something great.