Chris Worfolk's Blog


Tools for validating your website

May 27th, 2015

There are some great online tools for validating that your website is looking and working well. Of course there are loads of these and many of them we’ve been using for years. Below though, I’ve listed a few I’ve been using the most in recent times or that are often overlooked.

W3C validator

An oldie but a goodie. The W3C validator ensures that your mark-up is valid. This is good for two reasons. One, it will find any problems, missing closing, tags, etc, that may be causing weird problems. Two, it will also point out stuff that you could be doing better like semantic tags and relevant meta tags.

http://validator.w3.org/

Mobile friendly checker

Google are starting to crack down on websites that do not consider mobile users. Of course we all know we should be building mobile friendly websites, indeed, it should be mobile first these days! But it is hard to debug sometimes, especially given the fragmentation of devices.

Luckily Google now provides a tool that will give you a pass and fail, as well as showing you a preview of the site on an Android device. It’s not perfect, sometimes it fails to load assets and you have to come back later, but it is still an awesome tool.

https://www.google.co.uk/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

Google Developers testing tool

Over on the Leeds Restaurant Guide we expose our reviews using the hreview schema. This means that sites like Google can see what ratings we give restaurants and put them direct in the search results. To check it is working correctly, you can use Google’s testing tool.

https://developers.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool/

Facebook Debugger

Recently I wrote about the Open Graph protocol which allows you to tell social networks (mostly Facebook) what titles, images and descriptions you want it to use when sharing a web page.

Facebook have a debugging tool to test your tags are working.

https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug/

The Utopia Experiment

May 26th, 2015

Dylan Evans is an academic who works on robots with emotions. Or he was until he sold his house, moved himself and a group of volunteers to Scotland and tried to live out an experiment in whether he could survive the apocalypse. Turns out, he couldn’t.

This book really interested me. Unfortunately there was not that much about the actual experiment in there. It doesn’t even begin until a third of the way into the book and most of the book is about the mental breakdown he had because of it and his subsequent time in hospital.

This in itself is interesting though. The realisation of what he has done. In the novel he talks about re-reading The Blank Slate and remembering that people are not the nobel savage he hoped they would be when freed from society. That strong leadership is needed. He had even reviewed the book for a newspaper and yet still ignored it when starting his experiment. It is a sobering reminder into the mind’s power to compartmentalise.

He also realised that society is actually really good. You can lead The Good Life if you want to, but there is simply no reason you need to grow your own vegetables and make your toothpaste – the stuff you can get at the supermarket is fine. Better often.

Does this mean that any vision of utopia is dead? Yes. Deal with it.

The Utopia Experiment

Worfolk Online re-design

May 25th, 2015

I’m pleased to announce the Worfolk Online network is now responsive. The sites now look great across desktop, tablet and mobile – and we’re even supporting IE8 as well!

I’ve previously blogged about Lyrics Burger and Star Trek: Random Sector, but we’ve also updated:

Check out our updated sites:

branch-planet gregs-movie-reviews

hardware-tutorials tv-forge

The Varieties of Religious Experience

May 24th, 2015

The Varieties of Religious Experience is a 1907 book by psychologist William James. I first came across James in Richard Wiseman’s book Rip It Up in which Wiseman talked about James’ beliefs in behavourism, a subject which much evidence is now converging on.

James was also interested in religion as well, and gave a series of lectures in 1901/1902, which formed this book. He focuses on direct experiences – that is to say the people who not only talked to god, but god talks back to them.

It was tough going. I didn’t find the language a problem but the subject matter is heavy and following the points made was at time difficult, even though each case was well illustrated by anecdotes.

It was interested that he briefly mentioned the rise of atheist churches in the form of the flourishing Ethical Societies that were on the rise at the time. From Comte’s Religion of Humanist to the Sunday Assemblies currently sweeping the world, it’s interesting to see how the wheel turns.

the-varieties-of-religious-experience

CWF responsive re-design

May 23rd, 2015

A lot of the Chris Worfolk Foundation websites, such as this one, were already responsive. That is to say that they worked well across any device size. Some of them were not however, but I’m pleased to announce we have now fixed that.

I’ve already blogged about the Worfolk Lectures update but we’ve also upgraded many other sites across our estate too:

humanist-chaplains

perspective-course

Worfolk Lectures update

May 22nd, 2015

We’ve just relaunched Worfolk Lectures with a new responsive design. It looks great on desktop:

worfolk-lectures-desktop

It looks great on tablets:

worfolk-lectures-tablet

And it looks great on phones:

worfolk-lectures-phone

Bread

May 21st, 2015

Bread baking is currently in vogue in the Worfolk household. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall assures me that once I start I will never go back. I’m sceptical, because I actually do really like the supermarket bread I buy, but I thought I would give it a try.

magic-loaf

This was super-easy to make. I made a quantity of Hugh’s magic bread dough, put it in a tin and baked it in the oven (where else would I bake it?) for half an hour. It probably would have been even better if I had let it rise more in the tin, but I have places to be.

focaccia

Focaccia has turned out to be a real winner. I bake this regularly now and take it to work in pieces to eat – it’s tasty enough to eat by itself. Pretty simple to make as well.

soda-bread

I’ve had soda bread from the Briggate farmers’ market and it was quite good, but mine turned out rather disappointing. It was too hard on the outside and the flavour inside was too strong.

sour-dough

The jury is still out on the sour dough. I spent a week feeding up my starter so I am reluctant to give up on it but it has far too much flavour. Elina quite likes that, but I like the tastelessness of white bread. I have started feeding it with white flour instead of wholemeal to see if that makes a difference.

Home-cured bacon chops

May 20th, 2015

bacon-chops

I have not been that impressed with River Cottage Every Day. The rabbit stew was bland and the Bloody Mary burgers fell apart. The home-cured bacon chops did work quite well though and mean that you don’t have to worry too much about the meeting going off as you can cure them then store them for another week.

Star Trek: Random Sector re-launches

May 19th, 2015

random-sector

One of my websites that definitely has not been getting enough love over the years is Star Trek: Random Sector. It was really old. It used out-dated hover-over drop-down menus, tags that nobody knew still existed and had no way of easily updating the site.

That is a shame because there is a lot of super detailed content on there, especially round the episode guides.

No longer though is it a relic though! The site has been re-built from the ground up. All the URLs have been replaced by cleaner ones. The spelling mistakes have been corrected. The dead links removed. And best of all, it now works great on mobile as well. On top of that, there is even some new content. Happy days for Trekkers.

Colton Mill and the missing prescription, part II

May 18th, 2015

One Wednesday I had a hospital appointment, and was given a prescription request form that I was told to hand in at my local GPs (Colton Mill). Which I did. They said it would be ready by Friday.

That’s an annoying long time, but given that last time I had a prescription it took them nearly a month to fill it I thought I would give them to the following Tuesday until I went to collect it.

On Tuesday I went there at 4:30pm to find the place with the shutter down and no sign of life.

On Wednesday I phoned them. No answer. I phoned their partner surgery The Grange who assured me that they were open and they would investigate, asking me to phone back later. I phoned Colton Mill again. Still no answer. I phoned The Grange again. They said there was nothing on my record but when I was able to give them the name of the consultant and hospital department I had been at, said they would ring through to try and get a new copy of the form.

On Thursday I phoned Colton Mill at 9am. they answered, telling me they had no idea about the form I had handed in, but said The Grange had added a note to my file with the treatment request. she said they needed 48 hours for a prescription request so I should phone back tomorrow. I tried to press them on the 48 hours but they shrugged off all responsibility.

Not daring to trust it to a phone conversation on the Friday, I decided I would go down there and I could just stand at reception and moan until they got a doctor to sign it for me. So I raced over on my lunch hour, foregoing my usual sandwich. However, when I got there I was told that the prescription had been electronically sent to Boots, without having asking me, and as such they couldn’t give it to me.

Finally, when I managed to get to Boots on the Saturday they did indeed have it. 10 days after I was prescribed it. It does technically beat last time though.