Chris Worfolk's Blog


Finnish Christmas Carols 2016

December 7th, 2016 | Life

Finnish Christmas Carols are held in Leeds every year, on the last Saturday in November. Lutheranism is the main brand of Christianity in Finland so appropriately, it is held in St. Luke’s Lutheran church in Headingley. The same venue as the Finnish [language] Saturday school takes place.

This is the first year that we took Venla (obviously). Did she enjoy it? Who knows, because she slept through the entire thing.

finnish-christmas-carols-2016

Despite the fact that she was sleeping for most of it, she did dance along to the children’s song. I was not going to let her miss that, unconscious or not.

There is always a bring-and-share supper after the service. We brought cake. This year it featured a lot of people looking at our baby and saying things like “that is a nice baby”. Or, commonly, “that is a very calm baby you have there.” Because, like all babies, she is remarkably calm when other people are around, saving all the crying up for when she gets home.

Unfortunately, I was from singing along for the same reason as last year: my Finnish is not good enough, nor is my knowledge of English carols.

Crazy talk

December 6th, 2016 | Linkage, News, Podcasting

chris-with-microphone

Crazy Talk would be an amazing name for a podcast about mental health. Sadly, I have not given my new podcast such a name. But I have launched one, and it is all about anxiety.

Earlier this month, I got down to some serious writing for the Worfolk Anxiety blog. Feedback has been better than I expected: the blog experiences an above-average bounce rate. This means that when people click on the link to the blog post, they actually read it. Sounds strange that that would be a thing, but it is actually super-common on the internet for people to click a link and never read the article they clicked on.

By the way, if you want to get updates from the blog, we have a MailChimp list you can subscribe to. It’s free, and there are goodies for signing up.

Alongside this, I am launching the Worfolk Anxiety Podcast. This will also feature advice and inspiration for controlling your anxiety and enjoying life more. The first three episodes are already available, and you can keep up-to-date with future episodes using your favourite podcasting app.

Grammarly weekly report

December 5th, 2016 | Tech

grammarly

I have started using the free version of Grammarly to double-check my spelling and grammar. I have the standard spell checker on of course, but Grammary catches some mistakes that the spell checker does not. Here is my invite link if you want to give it ago.

More interesting, is that Grammarly send you a weekly report with some stats in it. I have just received the first one, and it contains some interesting stuff.

  • I wrote 2082 words, putting me in the 87th percentile
  • I made 16 mistakes, putting me in the 91st percentile
  • I used 464 unique words, putting me in the 85th percentile

Whether Grammarly has found some statistical trick to massage my ego, or just has a dubious user base I am not sure. It seems like the kind of tool writers would use, which suggests the former. Still, statistically I seem to be doing okay.

It is also worth noting that I am only using the browser plug-in, so it does not monitor the writing I am doing in desktop applications.

How Google Tags Manager can help with website analytics

December 4th, 2016 | Websites

google-tags-manager

I use Google Analytics to report on most my websites. It is free and they have a lot of Google-only knowledge so it makes sense to make use of them. Recently, I have also started using Google Tags Manager to make things even simpler.

Tags Manager allows you to insert code into your place once, and manage all of your analytics from a central dashboard. So instead of inserting the Google Analytics code into your page, you insert the Google Tags Manager code into your page and then you use Google Tags Manager to add the analytics code in dynamically.

What is the benefit of this? For me personally, the gain is not a huge one. For a marketer, it is a wonder. Previously, they would have to involve a developer every time they wanted to change the tags on a page. This was slow and complicated. I see this process being a problem for a lot of the clients I work with.

However, in my case, I am the developer, so the benefit is less pronounced. Even then though, less messing around with the code can be a welcome feature. Take the Leeds Restaurant Guide for example. I have Google Analytics in there. Then we started running some Facebook Ads for it, so I had to add the Facebook Pixel code in. Then we wanted to track what page features people were interested in, so I had to add some Hotjar code. By this point there are three snippets of JavaScript code in the page.

Using Google Tags Manager means I only need to insert one piece of code and can add and remove these tags without having to do a code release. I can also set up specific triggers for the tags, such as certain URLs, to easily include and exclude tags from different pages.

Homemade burger challenge

December 3rd, 2016 | Food

Last month we tried mincing our own burgers and also tried the prawn cook-off challenge to see if we could tell the difference between fresh and frozen prawns.

What was the natural successor to these two events? A homemade burger challenge of course.

steaks-in-packaging

The premise was simple: two cuts, rump and rib eye. Which would produce the best burger?

Let the mincing begin!

stand-mixer-with-mincer

burgers

The results were good in both cases. Both cuts are fairly fatty when it comes to steak, but the rump produced a slightly fattier burger, making it Elina’s favourite. I preferred the rib eye.

A week later we also tried it with a sirloin. Sirloin is leaner, so produced a more meatier burger.

sirloin-burger

Buffalo worm stir-fry

December 2nd, 2016 | Food

buffalo-worms

Buffalo worms are small insects that look like tiny maggots. I know, sounds delicious right? I decided to stir-fry them in a fried rice-style dish: garlic, buffalo worms and prawns to start, then I added rice and peas, and finally an egg.

Here is the finished dish:

buffalo-worm-stir-fry

Buffalo worms do not have much of a flavour, so it tasted a lot like a regular fried rice with prawns.

Soy honey fish recipe

December 1st, 2016 | Food

soy-honey-fish

One of my favourite ways to cook substantial fish fillets is to dip them in egg, breaded in panko breadcrumbs and then pan fried. This was the plan for a Friday night a few weeks ago when horror of horrors, I realised we had run out of eggs!

Instead, I mixed some soy sauce and runny honey together and used that to bind the breadcrumbs to the fish.

Now, if you are thinking “hmm, wouldn’t that make the fillet taste like the sweetest fish ever?” then you would be right, it does. It was still tasty, but definitely needs something to take some of the sweetness away. I will continue to experiment next time I run out of eggs.

River Aire clear out

November 30th, 2016 | Photos

river-clear-out

We sometimes joke that the River Aire has a lot like the Ankh. Occasionally, things get a bit too close to home. For example, the council recently cut down some of the trees along the bank and cleared out some of the crap in the river. Among the tyres and bits of plastic they removed, you will also note they found a Coca-Cola-branded vending machine lying in the river.

I used to optimise gambling apps

November 29th, 2016 | Photos

emis-advert

TPP have been running recruitment ads in the train station for a long time. I find their tagline, “are you a little bit geeky?” patronising, and I have heard a few too many bad things about working there to be that interested.

But one of the other major healthcare software companies in Leeds, EMIS Health, have started advertising as well. This cheeky shot is presumably aimed at Sky Bet and William Hill, who are also big employers in Leeds.

Abbey Dash 2016

November 28th, 2016 | Sport

abbey-dash-2016

Earlier this month I took part in the 31st Abbey Dash.

It was the first time I had run the Dash. However, it is not a race I do particularly well. Last year, I set a personal worst over 10k. This year looked like to be a repeat of previous years: old and wet.

Luckily Jane and Rob were already there when I turned up and Chris and Carley turned up later too. Usually, I am stood around by myself for the hour you have to wait, so it was nice to feel like I had some friends for a short while.

Organisation was improved. They only do one water point (Run For All does two) but they did text me my result this year. There was still stuff to fix, though. They let the sub-60 and sub-70 pens go at the same time. I was at the back of the sub-60 pen, so I was running behind a lot of the sub-70 runners. By the finishing straight, I was literally having to push my way through, and it slowed me down a lot.

Despite my previous bad times, I was hopeful. So far in 2016 I had run my first half marthon, set a personal best at Parkrun and run my first sub-60 over 10k when I managed a 59:59 in the Leeds 10k in July. My faith was rewarded: I brought it home in 56:45 setting a new 10k PB.