Categories
General

5 important things I learnt when Blogging Old

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1. Don’t just rely on your blog’s RSS feed

This is probably the most important lesson I learnt when creating my blog and it could be yours as well. Firstly, I used a tool which generates an RSS feed for me, once I did this, I thought I was done and little did I know just how wrong I was. You see, when you have an RSS feed, you don’t have any analytics on who is subscribing and no one can easily subscribe to you, no matter what tool they’re using.

Once you have your feed set up, you need to use an analytics feed tool such as FeedBurner. You simply tell it where your feed is, and they will generate a URL for you to use for others to subscribe to.

Next, you need to your blog or website to tell others and the tools they use where your feed is, so when they visit you, their blog will know you have a feed. Take the following code as an example and place it in the head of your HTML…

<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" href="/rss.xml" title="Michael Brooks Blog"/>

You will now be thankful that users can subscribe to your blog, but you will be even more thankful with the fact that you can now track who subscribes and unsubscribes from your blog.

2. Make sure you can analyse your blog properly

This one may sound pretty obvious, but it can be easy to forget when setting up your blog. You need to ensure you either sign up to Google Analytics or Piwik. You can even use any analytics software which comes with your blog, as long as you understand it and get results from it.

Next up, you need to ensure that you understand the analytics coming from your blog, read up some articles on the subject and watch some Youtube videos and absorb as much information which they give you as possible.

3. Maximise landing pages on your blog

This is one which I am still yet to do and I think it’s mainly down to the fact that my blogs are more personal, but if you have a specific niche, then you need to create striking landing pages and maximise your click throughs to get maximum impact and really lure your readers in.

4. Ensure you have the correct tools set up

We already mentioned about your RSS feed which is definitely the most important tool to have set up correctly. You should also ensure you have your mailing lists, analytics and landing pages sorted.

You also really need to sit down and think about any others you could potentially need as the sooner your add them to your blog, the more useful they will be in the long run. By this, I mean that even if you feel like a tool might scare people away, or not bring constant viewers, well you’ll never know until you implement these tools and test them. I went through this phase with email forms and pop ups, I felt that people would get too annoyed and I left them for a very long time and now I regret that decision and wished I tested early and gained concrete data with what works.

Always test tools and if they’re not working for you, stop using it. As soon as you feel a tool could be helpful, start using it.

5. Don’t lose faith with your blog

Finally, never lose faith in your blog even if it feels like no one is watching, if you give it enough time, the viewers will start to show. Tell your friends, family and start socialising on other media sites. You can also share your posts with relevant sites who may find it useful and they may also share it to others.

Even when the viewers start showing, if it doesn’t hit your expectations, you still shouldn’t lose faith. Just lower your expectations and create more realistic goals.


I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you did please subscribe to hear more in the future. You can also sign up to my mailing list for updates in the future and contribute to the discussion by commenting below. Thank you.

Categories
JavaScript

ReactJS Firebase Blogging Application

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I have just released a dev branch of my first ReactJS application which utilises the Firebase database. If you are looking to build a ReactJS application, then I encourage you to clone my repo and create any PRs which you think will be helpful towards the project. You can also preview my ReactJS blogging app here and please let me know what you think of it.

You can contact me through comments on this blog post, or you can message me on GH with any questions/suggestions.

Categories
General

My Protein – Impact Whey Protein Review

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Affiliate links:

Please be aware that the links in this article are affiliate links. If you click on them, I will gain some sort of commission. All money gained will help future blog posts.

I use MyProtein all the time for my protein powders because I feel they can’t be beaten on price or on quality. They have a whole range of flavours and I tend to mix and max between chocolate, strawberry and vanilla variants. They have so many flavours to choose from that makes you want to try them all!

Strawberries and Cream, and Chocolate Brownie are definitely my personal favourites thus far. I would love to collect them all just to see if they can be topped. (I believe it’s going to be hard, but could be possible). If you’re wondering where to get your powders from, then you can’t beat MyProtein. The costs are really low for a protein company and their quality is 5 star quality in my eyes.

Impact Whey is also fantastic for building muscle, but still keep lean. I have managed to maintain my 12st 8lbs throughout, but my muscle has grown and I have managed to keep lean at the same time. My fat has burnt down really well (currently around 13% body fat). Impact Whey just can’t be beaten at all. I have tried the diet proteins and although they keep fat percentage down, unfortunately my muscle hadn’t budged much at all.

Other proteins would build on fat as well as muscle which is something I don’t want to do (fair enough you do, but my target is to keep fat down and strength up!).

Feel free to give this company a go and get 25% off your order by clicking this referral link here! I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed. They also do so much more than just protein powders (which I will be trying in the future).

Categories
Fitness

How to motivate yourself to lose weight or become more healthy when working 9-5 in an office

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Affiliate links:

Please be aware that the links in this article are affiliate links. If you click on them, I will gain some sort of commission. All money gained will help future blog posts.

We are now into the new year (Happy New Year everyone). Usually at this time, everyone is looking to either lose weight. Or become more healthy or even a combination of the two. As a Web Developer who has been in the field for just shy of 4 years. I think I have found a good way to keep myself motivated to becoming fit and healthy and would like to share it with you in the hopes you too can become more healthy.

Within this industry, it’s very hard to want to do anything before or after working hours. And I also felt this way for a very long time. About a year ago, I started dieting with my fiance to partially support her for her weight loss. But also because I felt like I too was overweight.

Where we started

We started with the Dukan Diet which consisted of eating just meat on the first week, then eating meat with none-starchy vegetables every other day. When you are at your weight target, you can start to introduce dairy and bread back into your diet and have one cheat meal a week.

My fiance did for a year, and I did it for around 6 8 months and it worked really well. You could clearly see each step in the process and when you weight yourself, you would notice a difference within the first month. They also require you to walk just 20 minutes a day which is completely achievable even when working a 9-5 job.

Within that time, I managed to go from 16 stone down to 12 stone and was super happy with the results. I then started to introduce everything back in to my diet and had 1 cheat meal a week near and it was working fantasticly.

I then took a trip down to my local vets which is in a business industrial site and directly opposite the vets was a place called Newton Abbot Crossfit. The music was blearing out and the people inside looked hot and sweaty, like it was a proper challenging workout. It got me really interested and I wanted to find out more about it.

Learning about CrossFit

Off I went, I turned my PC on and visited their website where it told me all about Crossfit. I had 0 knowledge of the sport, but it looked challenging and that’s what caught my attention. Although, I think us devs/programmers love a good challenge, no matter what it is.

Then I signed myself up and paid for the fundamentals course. This teaches you how to use the equipment properly and taught my coach what my fitness level was like (hint: not good at all). After that day, I really enjoyed what I did and when in for my first free month. I would go 2 – 3 days a week and each session was always different. All the workouts are scalable so what you saw on the board wasn’t what you had to do. He would always try to make it fit your level which is what every fitness coach should do.

I am now coming up to my second year of Crossfit and I probably love it even more than I did on my first day.

Find something you enjoy

After all is said and done, you should find something which you think will be challenging and enjoyable at the same time. For me it was Crossfit, for you it could be HIITS, weight lifting, football or anything along those lines.

What you need to do is try a taster session of something you think you would enoy and then keep on doing it. What I really like about Crossfit is the fact that I can go in and know what my workout was. Whereas if I just went into the gym, I would be completely lost on what to do and even now I would be the same.

Which means don’t just sign up to a gym and expect results, because you need a plan or to find something you will enjoy. Make that plan and stick with it or find that thing you enjoy and stick with it. Even if you walk past some random place which looks mildly interesting, if you walk in a find out more then give it a go, you’re already doing you’re goal.

I know this is more of just a general overview, but I will be posting more about this, making videos on Youtube and posting pictures and videos to my instagram.

If you want to follow along, then please subscribe to my Blog’s RSS feed, subscribe to my new Youtube channel and follow me on Instagram.

Categories
General

Plans for the new year

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I never do the “New year, New me” bullshit, I have always believed that the end of the year is a time to reflect what we have done over the past few years and what we can improve upon for the new year to come.

A little look into my past

Let’s start with looking back at what happened to me. I have gone through two workplaces, my first workplace was struggling with money and had to let some people go, me being one of them (Sound familiar?). The other company had to let me go due to me not being able to pick things up quick enough.

All in all, I am now way more positive about this than I have ever been and I’m proud of myself with the fact I can now handle these situations in a much more positive light. Both companies have been fantastic to work with and I wouldn’t change my choices for the world.

A little peak into my future

Now coming into 2017, I will be starting a new position on January the 3rd and it won’t be PHP or backend based. I will be a frontend React developer which will be completely new, but also very exciting. The company isn’t an agency and offers a great product which I believe will be incredible to work on.

I’m now creating a business plan so I can create my very own online store which will be selling technology and gadgets. I tried to start this before, but I didn’t go into it 100% and I made so many mistakes. I believe that now I am older and much wiser, I will go into it with everything I have and actually make an incredible career out of it.

There are many more plans for next year which I will be sharing as it gets closer, so please keep your eyes peeled and subscribe to my Blog’s RSS feed. Any comments are also appreciated and I really hope you guys have had an amazing Christmas and have a very happy new year.

Categories
General

New Blog Design

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It’s been a while since I’ve post and for that, I do appologise. My head has been loaded with ideas and new projects that I absolutely would love to get started on. But I tend to try and start 100 all at once and then get too agitated because none of them are working for me. Or just get pushed away.

My first idea was to create a better, not so bland website. This idea has been around ever since I created my Blog. However, I never got round to it because I wanted to make larger projects. It’s now finally come to the forefront of my mind and so what you are now looking at is a better design. I will be trying to push out small changes here and there to keep it as fresh as possible, so if I don’t create a new Blog post, there could be another change elsewhere (so keep your eyes peeled).

Future projects

I have also had the idea of creating apps for Windows Phone 8.1, I tried with Javascript and came across many problems, so now I’m attempting to learn C#. Hopefully I can create some little apps and let you know once they have been released. My first proper app should be a nice portal to this website. With toast notifications letting you know when I have a new post up. Anything else before this point will be small apps to get me started on the journey.

Another thing I have decided to take a look at is Phalcon. It’s a nice framework which offers speed for larger apps/sites. I wanted to take a look because it could come in useful some time in the future. To put it to it’s use, I want to create a Helpdesk app which integrates with Mailgun.

I’ll post updates, tutorials and other musings in the near future.

Categories
Microsoft Windows

Windows 10 Creative Update Event Overview

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Thursday night, I sat watching the Windows 10 event, and I have to say, they blew everyone away…

Surface Studio

Let’s start with the biggest announcement, the surface studio. This product is purely beautiful and should be every creator’s dream. The zero-gravity hinge, which enables you to angle the screen where you want with just the press of a single finger means you can get the correct angle anytime. When you push it all the way down, you can lean against it and put quite a bit of your body weight onto the screen.

It’s a 4.5k screen and looks incredibly beautiful and detailed, and you even have the option of changing colour profile so you can get the most accurate range of colours. I would never need a computer like this, but damn would I want one anyway which goes to show how sought after this device is going to be.

Surface Book

The surface book has a huge overhaul with a better-dedicated GPU with 2GB of dedicated GPU RAM which is built for gamers. However, they didn’t quite go into detail on how well it will perform for most modern gamers. This is something I kind of wish they went into more detail about.

However, it just looks insane, and I think it could make a lot of people happy, especially if they were on the lookout for an upgraded SKU. They have managed to push a lot more inside, yet the form factor is still pretty much unchanged, which is spectacular.

VR AND AR Devices

Last year we saw the Hololens, a great augmented reality device which really pulled all the punches. Virtual objects scattered across your room look really fun. This year, they showed it in even more detail alongside the new Paint3D (more on this soon).

They showed that you could view an online community of 3D created models which you can pull into reality and place wherever you like, they also showed a proof of concept where you can go shopping in Edge and pull out the products into reality and check if it works within your room.

This is truly the future and is something we will all be keeping a close eye on. They then showed their new VR headsets starting at $299, which is cheaper than what’s currently out now. You could picture yourself in other countries without even having to travel, and this means you could easily plan your holiday before even flying over.

Windows 10 Creative Update

Now for the actual software updates, there has been so much packed into this update, and I believe it’s enough to excite any creative user from 3D paint which allows the user to create any 3D model and even import models scanned from real-life objects.

They showcased a sandcastle on a plinth which was scanned in from the HP x3 and then imported into the Paint application. Then a little holiday memento was created including a little 3D emoji with sunglasses. This looked spectacular; they then took this 3D object and placed it into real-life using the hololens.

New broadcasting options are using Microsoft’s newly purchased Beam, which will be competing against Twitch. Beam offers zero-latency streaming between the broadcaster and the viewers, which seems like a great win. I have noticed that Twitch can have a good couple of seconds latency between the broadcast and users.

There are even rumours that the Paint3D app will be UWP. Which means it will work with Windows mobile, but we will have to wait and see how this actually works.

Full video of the event

Categories
Microsoft

Windows Phone, Why did I pick it?

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Windows Phone, Forever alone…

In my office, I’m the only one who fully supports Windows Phone as an operating system. My fellow colleagues disagree with me and would rather have either an Android phone or iPhone. I would like to make a quick post on why I chose Windows over Android and Apple and why I think Windows phones are the winners.

Like Android, Windows has been able to get it’s OS into many phones, which I think is fantastic because it gives the user more choice and is why I would choose it over Apple any time. Apple, however, does have a very solid OS and phone, but the fact you can only get 2 variations limits it, I mean surely the more phones you have your OS in, the better. Why? Because it gives people more choice and choice is great.

Android, although it’s implemented in a lot of phones, lacks being able to be kept up to date for each phone manufacturer. And each company implements the Android OS in different ways because of how open source it is.

Windows has managed to make it open, but not too open that it contains loads of bugs and makes the experience different on every device. It has rules which each manufacturer has to abide by. Which means, no matter what phone you choose, you always have the same or a similar experience, and any bugs which get found are updated across all platforms. I like the fact that Windows says to each company “You can add whatever you like onto your phone as long as it doesn’t change the experience too much”. This is perfect, it means more choices on hardware and no matter what phone you use, you will always be up to date.

The choice between open and non-fragmented

I would also like to add that I do like Android and the iPhone, but you have one which is way too open and doesn’t give you the same experience across the board, then you have the other one which gives you a nice experience, but absolutely no choice.

Windows has managed to overcome this by controlling what happens, but not too much that it closes it down too much. And this my friends is why I choose a Windows phone over any other phone.

Let me know what you think in the comments below, whether you agree or not.

Categories
Reviews

Joe Wicks – The Shape Plan (Book 2) Review

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Affiliate links:

Please be aware that the links in this article are affiliate links. If you click on them, I will gain some sort of commission. All money gained will help future blog posts.

EAT MORE. BUILD MUSCLE. BURN FAT.

Lean in 15: The Shape Plan introduces a new way of eating and training to build lean muscle and burn more fat. Joe Wicks, aka The Body Coach, has helped hundreds of thousands of people transform their bodies and feel amazing. In the Shape Plan, he shares 100 delicious recipes and four new workouts to take your fitness to the next level.

Are you ready to start your transformation and get Lean in 15?

Joe Wicks has become a loveable character with his charm and witty banter. When I first saw him on Channel 4 (Joe Wicks: The Body Coach). I couldn’t help but think how annoying he was, but wow did his food look amazing…

So because of the delicious food on the telly. I became so engrossed that by the end of it. I couldn’t help but love him and what he stood for. His mentality in that dieting was wrong and you should eat whole, healthy foods really rung true in my ears.

The next day, I purchased this book on Amazon Prime and awaited it’s delivery. I then started cooking all sorts of meals.

This book contains a lot more carbohydrate meal. It recommends you to eat 2 low carb meals and one carb meal on a rest day and 2 high carb meals on a workout day.

For some this may the seem overkill for their carb intake and I would agree. I personally feel that if you are getting bloated due to all the carbs, then you should cut down where you can, at least until your body is used to it.

I can whole heartedly say that I have yet to eat a bad meal from this book and I always look forward to what is next within the day. There are some meals like the chunky monkey smoothie and the fats-me-up smoothie which I could eat every morning, and not get bored of them at all.

Now, for the negatives (not many, but definitely important)… The biggest negative, and just like the first book, you really do need to prep like a boss. I know it says it right at the start of the book, but do NOT take this lightly. My partner and I missed a weekly plan at the beginning of our start week and it completely through us off for that entire week. Joe Wicks can not stress enough just how important this is.

Finally, the shopping can get costly, especially at first. It should start balancing out, but just be prepared to splash out a little from the start. If you keep these two negatives in mind then you are definitely good to go and will enjoy every recipe from his book.

Want thebook for yourself? Click the image below to buy now!

Categories
Reviews

Joe Wicks – The Shift Plan (Book 1) review

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Affiliate links:

Please be aware that the links in this article are affiliate links. If you click on them, I will gain some sort of commission. All money gained will help future blog posts.

EAT MORE, EXERCISE LESS AND LOSE FAT

This isn’t a strict diet – it’s a lifestyle that will transform your body and the way you eat forever. Once I teach you how to fuel your body properly, you will never need to follow a low-calorie diet again.’ In his first book, Joe Wicks, aka The Body Coach, reveals how to SHIFT your body fat by eating more and exercising less.

Lean in 15 features 100 recipes for nutritious, quick-to-prepare meals and guides you through Joe’s signature HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) home workouts – revealing how to combine food and exercise to ignite intense fat-burning. The thousands of amazing body transformations Joe’s clients have achieved prove that his method works.

Now you too can learn how to eat in line with your energy demands every day. With recipes divided into 3 sections – Reduced-Carbohydrate, Post-Workout Carbohydrate-Refuel, and Snacks – and top tips for ‘Prepping Like A Boss’, Lean in 15 provides a plan for sustainable fat loss that will inspire you to keep your body healthy, strong and lean – forever.

Joe Wicks has become a loveable character with his charm and witty banter. When I first saw him on Channel 4 (Joe Wicks: The Body Coach). I couldn’t help but think how annoying he was, but wow did his food look amazing…

So because of the delicious food on the telly. I became so engrossed that by the end of it, I couldn’t help but love him and what he stood for. His mentality in that dieting was wrong and you should eat whole, healthy foods really rung true in my ears.

The next day, I purchased his book. (Not the one in this review, but the second one in the other review). On Amazon Prime and awaited it’s delivery. I then started cooking all sorts of meals which then actually got me to buy his first book.

This book contains a lot more low carbohydrate meals. It also recommends you to eat 3 low carb meals on a rest day, and just 1 high carb meal on a workout day. This works perfectly as I do tend to bloat on carbs anyway.

I can whole heartedly say that I have yet to eat a bad meal from this book. I always look forward to what is next within the day. There are some meals like the chicken pie and Joe’s mum’s lasagne which I could eat time and time again, and not get bored of at all.

Don’t even get me started with breakfast. The overnight oats and the smoothies (nut and mango, and fast-me-up) make me want to jump up out of bed and grab every ingredient needed to wake up and and start my day right.

Now, for the negatives (not many, but definitely important)… The biggest negative, is you really do need to prep like a boss. I know it says it right at the start of the book, but do NOT take this lightly. My partner and I missed a weekly plan. At the beginning of our start week and it completely threw us off for that entire week. Joe Wicks can not stress enough just how important this is.

Finally, the shopping can get costly, especially at first. It should start balancing out, but just be prepared to splash out a little from the start. If you keep these two negatives in mind then you are definitely good to go, and will enjoy every recipe from his book.

Want the book for yourself? Click the image below to buy now!