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Posted by Tom Cheesewright on

WordPress: Technic Lego for web developers

I have just finished moving this website from its old platform on Blogger to a new server and WordPress. With a bit of luck you won’t notice as it should be largely identical.

The reason for the move is one of control and flexibility. I have been working with WordPress professionally now for about a year. In that time I have come to adore it as a platform.

If you read my old profile on the site you may have noticed that it said I was useless at coding. This assessment stemmed from my university scores for modules on C++. Suffice to say that I did not do well, though that may have been as much to do with the lack of sleep and generally high alcohol levels in my bloodstream: neither of which contribute to efficient learning.

I still don’t consider my self in any way a coder, but in the last twelve months have learned enough PHP and WordPress basics to hack some pretty complex websites together. I certainly had better motivation to learn this time (profit), but I think a lot of the credit for the rapid development of my understanding has to come down to the WordPress platform and the language on which it is built.

The best analogy I can think of is Technic Lego. Playing with WordPress gives me the same feeling of rapid achievement I had as a child constructing colossal machines from plastic blocks. It has the same intuitive feel and structure to it. A series of ‘hooks’ and plugins applied in various ways are just like different Lego pieces.

If you enjoyed playing with Lego as a kid and are interested in a new challenge, I’d highly recommend getting your head around WordPress.

(footnote: though you might want to do a little more testing than I did before making your site live…like testing that your template handles comments properly… Fixing that is tonight’s task… )

Posted by Tom Cheesewright on

Back to the ’90s: Life without a smartphone

A couple of weeks back my phone was pinched. While I was busy throwing shapes in one of Manchester’s less salubrious nightspots, someone else was dipping into my pocket and lifting out my iPhone.

Because of a bit of an insurance snafu, I realised there would be about a month’s gap before I got a new one. Unfortunately I’d already eBayed all my old phones. So what to do?

A quick trip to the o2 store gave me an answer: a phone for £10.

I was staggered. I had no idea you could get a phone for so little these days. And do you know what? It’s actually pretty good.

The LG GB102 doesn’t have a touchscreen or even a QWERTY keyboard — a problem for someone who has been a smartphone user for the best part of a decade. The last phone I had that used a numeric keypad was a SonyEricsson T610 — it took me two weeks with the new phone to remember that T9 predictive text existed and turn it on.

It doesn’t have gigabytes of memory either — I had to clear the memory when I got to 100 messages because it was out of space. There’s certainly no video, apps, internet or email.

Putting all this aside, what it does have in bags is charm and good design. Admittedly I am a geek with an engineering degree, and a commentator on gadgets and technology, so I have lots of experience with these things. But still it staggered me how intuitive and easy to use this device was. There was no digging around to find the right options as I have to do on every ‘modern’ phone. The colour screen is bright, the graphics cheerful, and the ringtones appealing. The battery life is great.

And most of all? It’s a hell of a lot better as a phone than the bloomin’ iPhone.

So why not switch to it forever? Save money by giving up my gadget-phone habit?

Because the lure of the app is too strong. I am permanently twitchy without a smartphone at my side. The smartphone helps me to overcome many of my failings: a dreadful memory, hopeless sense of direction, and tendency to do everything on the fly. The smartphone allows me to capture moments as and when I want to: film or photograph my daughter’s latest feat, or snap whiteboards to avoid writing notes. It allows me to broadcast and listen to all my social networks at any time. It entertains me when I’m on the loo (be honest, you play Angry Birds there too), and when I’m on the train (I miss The Bugle).

So for all these reasons and more, when the insurance check comes I will be replacing my dinky little LG GB102 with an iPhone again.

But do you know what? Next time I’m heading to a nightclub, it might be the LG that comes with me.

Tom Cheesewright