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What do you think about “WordPress stories”?

Twitter birds surrounding a microphone to showcase Twitter Spaces.

Getting started with Twitter Spaces

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What is Twitter Spaces?

Twitter Spaces is similar to Clubhouse. If you’re unsure of what Clubhouse is, then it’s a place where you have speakers and listeners come together in a room or space, as Twitter calls it. The person who creates the room is known as the host, and they have control over who can speak.

Hosting a room

If you’re eager to host a room, firstly, you need to have hosting privileges. Currently, only a small subset of users can host a room, and it’s currently limited to iOS only. However, they are starting to roll the hosting feature out to Android users as well. They have specifically chosen to prioritise minority groups such as ethnic minorities, those with disabilities such as hard-of-hearing and hard-of-seeing. This is so they can focus on tools and feedback which are more inclusive. They’re trying to minimise bullying and hate speech while also creating live captions for those that need it.

Android is also challenging to roll out because of the vast array of devices that can use the OS. Not every microphone and speaker are built the same. They also handle data differently, and they need to ensure the bit-rate is a good balance between quality and not hog bandwidth/resources.

How do you host a room?

However, you’ll know you can host a room because you’ll get an onboarding screen. It will welcome you and let you know you can hold on to the compose a tweet button. If you’re unsure, the blue button on the bottom right corner of your screen is the compose a tweet button. You will be able to hold down on the button, and you will see three new icons appear. The purple button with the dots in the shape of a diamond is the button that allows you to host a space. If you have this, then congratulations, you can host a space.

Another way to find the option is by clicking on your profile image in the fleets section. You can then scroll over to the far right of fleets and start a space from here.

As Uncle Ben says in the Spider-Man movies, “with great power comes great responsibility”. This is very true when you’re hosting your own space because you’ll be able to invite people up to speak. You will also kick people down into listener if you find they’re trolling or being hateful. If you can host, then it’s up to you how you control your room.

Controlling a room

I’ve seen a few rooms now where people have come up just to troll. However, they usually get kicked back to the listener and then leave once they get bored. Most of the community has been super supportive, and you will be able to create a supportive community.

When you create a room, you will be able to select who can speak as they enter. You can select everyone, which means everyone who joins the room can enter as a speaker if they choose to. You can also select people you follow, allowing anyone you personally follow to come up as a speaker as they enter. The third options mean that no one can come up as a speaker as soon as they enter. This means they have to join as a listener, and they can request to speak, or you can invite them up yourself. If you invite someone up, they can choose to come up or ignore the request.

How do you find and join a room?

Rooms that are currently in session can be found near the top of your phone. If you know where the fleets section is, you may have noticed some circles looking a little different with purple auras. They also may have some circles are grouped, which means there are other speakers in the room. The purple shape is known as a Twitter Space. If you click on one of them, you will join and listen or speak in that chosen space.

How do you join as a speaker?

There are a few ways to join as a speaker. If you read the paragraph above, then you’ll know in some spaces, you’ll be able to join straight away, and in others, you’ll have to join as a listener and then request to speak. There will be a little microphone towards the bottom left of your screen to request as a speaker. When you click on this, you will be able to request. If you decide you want to cancel your request, then you’ll be able to click on the same button, which should have turned into a green tick icon. If you click it, then it will cancel your request.

Currently, when you join as a speaker, your microphone will be on as soon as you enter. This has confused a lot of people as they expect it to be muted at first. However, from the feedback Twitter has received, they will change this behaviour and make it muted by default. I’ve made it into a good habit to click the mute button as soon as I enter. That way, I can be sure the room will only hear what I want them to hear. I usually pick moments where I can speak and offer my words/advice.

How do I see the list of speakers/listeners?

Twitter has released a new feature that allows you to see who is hosting, who is speaking, how many speaking spots have been taken up and how many are available. It also lists the number of speakers that are currently in the room. Not everyone knows about this yet as it’s still very new.

Why do some people have purple dots?

Some user’s (including myself) have added a purple spot before our names. This is to show other Twitter users that we have hosting capabilities, and it has been good for discoverability.

How do I get a purple dot?

Anyone can put the purple dot in their purple names. It’s just an emoji 🟣. See? We’ve been using this when we have hosting capabilities. It has been good for discovering who uses Spaces and who can host a space, as said above. Some trolls have tried to add it to give themselves credibility, but they’re usually shot down and get bored and leave.

Do I have to talk in a Space?

No, you absolutely do not have to talk in a space. You can sit in as a listener, and this is perfectly okay. You can speak when you would like to add advice or your piece of information to the audience. I suffer anxiety so I have sat in many spaces just to listen. I’m actually using it to force myself to speak in other rooms and fight my anxiety which has been great for me personally. However, everyone is different and you can use it as almost a live podcast or radio station.

Can I add to the space without talking?

Twitter Spaces has reaction emojis. Currently, on the iPhone, you can use five reactions. Android somehow has six reactions that can be used. These include 💯 ✊ ✌️ 👋 😂 and android also has ✋. If you want to change the skin colours, you can hold down on the emoji and place your thumb on the colour you want to use. You can also send people who follow you a direct reaction. If you select their profile in the space, you’ll see the list of emojis toward the bottom of your screen.

Can I add co-hosts to my space?

Currently, you cannot add co-hosts to your space. However, this has been a highly requested feature, and they are looking into it.

How do I send feedback?

You can send feedback by clicking the ellipses near the bottom of your screen. Once you click it, you will be able to see an option that says Share feedback. Once you click on it, you will have another option to send a DM to the Twitter Space account. You can then send them feedback and offer suggestions that can improve the experience. You can also submit bug reports if you’re experiencing any issues.

Can I report a space?

Yes, if you’re experiencing bullying or any behaviour that you find unacceptable, you can click on the ellipses and click Report this space. When you click on this option, you will have a list of options for reporting.

Where can you find out more about Twitter Spaces?

You can take a look at the Twitter Spaces FAQ to learn more. They are constantly adding more information just like I will be to this post. Keep an eye out to learn more.

Twitter Spaces has been fantastic, and it has a really supportive and inclusive community. Please respect the rooms your in, and have fun joining in or creating your own spaces.

Making it to 200 blog posts and my 11-year anniversary

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My blog has moved around many different platforms, hosting providers and has gone through many iterations. Some days I want to post every single day and have so much motivation. Other days, I don’t know what to write about or lack any motivation.

It’s certainly been a long and arduous 11 years for my blog, but I feel more positive. I’m feeling like it’s finally moving in a proper direction, and I have more clarity.

For a while, I wanted to create a niche and target specific topics, but that isn’t me. I love so many things, and I can’t stick to just one topic. If you’re a long time reader, then you’ve probably seen this too. I have posted product reviews, WordPress, music, web development, and so much more.

For some, this can be seen as a bad thing because it makes it harder to retain readers. However, it’s the only way I can write, and I don’t want to limit myself. My readers get the 100% genuine version of me. If you read any of my posts, you’re reading a part of my life, and I enjoy that about my posts.

I’m not some kind of writing robot 🤖 I’m a human bean! Eleven years of writing and 200 blog posts have taught me a lot. It has taught me that I need to focus more and stop flip-flopping around.

I’ve always been a flip-flopper, but it’s time to stop that. I’m sticking with WordPress, and I’m sticking to writing my own way! I’ve said it in a blog post How to start blogging? Start with a platform you enjoy. And it really resonates with many of my readers and me.

So, eleven years have passed. Here’s to another eleven years of blogging. And I promise I will be a lot more consistent from now on. Here’s to getting to 400 posts way before my twenty-two-year celebration. 🥂

Blogging as a social network

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People who use social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc., are always complaining about many issues. For instance, battling algorithms, dealing with trolls and hate speech etc. Social media has a lot of good, but there is also a lot of bad too.

Blogging is usually seen as a space for website owners or companies to express themselves and educate their readers. A lot of blogs don’t usually connect to services that allow for comments, followers or shares. However, when you pair WordPress with JetPack, you can create your own social network.

Right now, my readers are free to comment, and they’re also free to like, share and follow. It’s pretty much the basics of a social network, but the website owner controls the moderation. They are in control of how they want to lead their readers.

This is all done through the JetPack plugin and ecosystem. Without JetPack, my blog would have a lot more limits. This is fine if you don’t want any social experiences on your website. However, I think it’s a great addon and can offer more to my readers.

There are also web tools such as Web Mentions and federated networks using ActivityPub.

What are Web Mentions?

Web Mentions are a fairly new feature for websites. It’s an open web standard for mentions and conversations across the web, a powerful building block used for a growing federated network of comments, likes, reposts, and other rich interactions across the decentralized social web.

When you link to a website, you can send it a Webmention to notify it. If it supports Webmentions, then that website may display your post as a comment, like, or other response, and presto, you’re having a conversation from one site to another! Click here to learn more.

What is ActivityPub?

ActivityPub is similar to WebMentions, but it can publish your posts to federated networks such as Mastodon and more. People can then read, like, and comment on your website’s activity. The comments and likes are then pushed back to your website, and it’s a really nice push/pull of data. Click here to learn more.

Conclusion

Both work in a very similar way, but WebMentions can link to Twitter which I don’t think you can do with ActivityPub. However, ActivityPub opens your website data to a lot more open networks.

You still have control over what comments are allowed on your website, and you are open to moderate all comments that come back. This also allows for more potential readers as it opens your website up to the more social activity.

I have experimented with ActivityPub in the past using a WordPress plugin, and the experience was fairly nice. I haven’t used Web Mentions, but I have heard great thing about this too. Again, you can get Web Mentions set up with a WordPress plugin.

Have you used any of these tools? Are you open to having the social addons on your website/blog? Sound off in the comments below.

Picture of me deadlifting a 65kg barbell. Going into a power-clean.

CrossFit Open 2021 – I will not be competing this year

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I’m usually very excited to compete at the CrossFit open, and it’s always fun to get involved with the community. I love seeing where I rank each year compared to the previous, and I love cheering people on or being cheered on by others.

The CrossFit open is heaps of fun, and on a normal year, I would 100% recommend it. However, this year is no normal year, and the past year has been far from normal, too. For most of the past 12 months, I have spent my time indoors and not working out. I tried to do workouts at home, but I’ve concluded that it isn’t for me.

I would much rather work out in a CrossFit gym, and because of this, my fitness has been lacking. Also, this isn’t the only reason. Another reason is that the competition will be done at home. There is a choice of home workouts and gym workouts, but we will still be in lockdown during the event.

Personally, a home CrossFit competition isn’t for me, I tried it last year, and it didn’t work. I haven’t got the motivation or discipline to compete at home. If I could compete at the gym, then it would most definitely be a different story.

What are your thoughts on this years open?

I would love to know what you think and if you’re in the same boat. Will you be able to compete at the gym, or will you be stuck at home? As always, let me know in the comments below.

Sunset with clear blue sky. There are trees at the centre of the image with water below. A picturesque lake during a beautiful sunset.

Hello March, Goodbye February 2021

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This time last year was when things started to pick up on how serious COVID was. Near the end of March, the UK went into its first lockdown, and it feels like we never truly left March of 2020. It was a weird time for all of us, but here we are, heading into March of 2021 in full force.

The good news is that things are starting to look up. We have the vaccine which is being given to people at an impressive rate. This means that eventually, infection rates will go down, and we can start getting back to normal. Boris Johnson will start to ease up on restrictions and eventually let us out of lockdown.

It’s looking good, and the Sun is starting to shine, which has drastically improved my mood. My wife and I have been out for walks the past week, and we both feel better.

Last months blog posts

What’s in store for March?

My wife and I will be taking part in “March for March”, and we will be walking 10,000 steps a day during this month. Hopefully, there will still be enough time to get a fair amount of blog posts out.

I hope you have a lovely month in March, and I hope its filled with happiness and joy.

A river surrounded by houses and people on bikes. The floor is covered in snow, and it looks like a Europian country like Finland or Denmark.

Why You Should Have a Post-COVID Wishlist

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I read the blog post below, and it got me thinking. What is my post-COVID wishlist? I was supposed to be travelling to Corfu for my 30th birthday, but that got cancelled today. It would have been my first time abroad, too. (I know, I’m very sheltered).

I guess that would be a good one to start with. Post-COVID, I would like to travel to Corfu. There are also many other things I would like to do, including but most definitely not limited to…

  • See my mum
  • Talk to a stranger
  • Smile at strangers (I love smiling at people)
  • Hug a stranger
  • Go to a restaurant
  • Get drunk in a pub and/or nightclub (I don’t normally go on a night out, but I am ready for one).
  • Watch a movie at the cinema, and I’d love to go and see Mortal Kombat when it’s released.
  • Go to a live gig. Hopefully, I will be able to see Guns and Roses if they don’t postpone. However, My Chemical Romance has apparently postponed until next year. I also have a comedy gig lined up that’s performed outside, so we should be good for that.

There are probably many more things that I’m dying to do, but this list is the things that spring to mind.

What would you love to do post-COVID? Is there anything you are aching to get back to? Let me know in the comments, and also check out the blog this post was inspired by.

As we approach a year of our lives being turned upsidedown by the pandemic, it’s easy to become saddened by all of the things we have missed out on …

Why You Should Have a Post-COVID Wishlist
Purple banner with an image of a woman with brunette hair. She's standing towards a desk and typing on her laptop. There's text to the right of the image which says "Let your ideas be heard." Underneath, there are two logos, Anchor by Spotify and WordPress.com.

WordPress has partnered with Anchor

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Today, I logged into my WordPress account and noticed something new. A little banner that says, “Grow your audience with a podcast”.

This banner made me curious, so I decided to click on the “Create an Anchor account” to see what would happen. Now, I already have an Anchor account, and I have created a few episodes before. However, this was the first time I’ve ever thought about integrating it into my blog.

Create a new WordPress Podcast website

Clicking on the link took me to the Anchor website, where I was able to log in. I then logged into my account and was once again redirected back to WordPress. However, WordPress decided to create a brand new website, and it wouldn’t let me integrate Anchor into my current website. This is a little annoying since it would be great to integrate it here. However, maybe it would be good to separate them? I’m not quite sure.

All of my podcast episodes were automatically turned into blog posts where I could add more information, footnotes, transcriptions etc. It’s really nice how the design changes based on the type of blog you have created, and it certainly makes life simpler.

I don’t think I will be using this just yet. It doesn’t seem mature enough in its current state. Also, my podcast has started to gather virtual dust, and I’m not sure whether I should go back or not.

If you’d like to learn more about the integration, you can take a look at the WordPress blog titled “Turn Your WordPress.com Blog into a Podcast with Anchor“.

Conclusion

It’s exciting to see companies integrate into one another and having fantastic partnerships. I’m excited to see what happens in the future, and I will be keeping an eye on the WordPress and Anchor partnership.

What are your thoughts? Are you currently using Anchor, or will you use it in the future?

If you use Anchor, will you be integrating it into your current website if you haven’t already done so? Or, will you create a brand new website to use the new integration? I would love to know your thoughts and experiences.

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A red plate with a tower of pancakes. The pancakes are topped with blueberries and bananas.

Celebrating pancake day the only way I know how

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Yesterday was pancake day here in the UK. Most people will have pancakes for breakfast or dessert, and that will be it. However, that’s not how I celebrate it. After all, it’s called pancake DAY, not pancake hour.

Most years, I will have pancakes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. The combination will be sweet, savoury, savoury, and finally, sweet pancakes. This year was a little different as we didn’t have any for lunch. But we did have vegan bacon and maple syrup pancakes for breakfast, followed by vegan cheese and bacon on pancakes for dinner.

Finally, for dessert, we had banana slices, whipped cream, agave syrup and biscoff spread on pancakes which was bloody lush. You can see the result of our pancakes below.

Do you celebrate pancake day? If so, how do you celebrate? I’d love to know your stories in the comments.