Moving to https

Unless something has gone horribly wrong, you’re reading this on a secure ‘https’ (SSL) connection — the content of the website is encrypted on its way to (and from) your PC.

Until even a couple of years ago, moving from an insecure ‘http’ to an ‘https’ connection would have involved considerable difficulty and at least some expense given I’m on a shared hosting platform (HostPresto). But today, it took me about fifteen minutes. Continue reading Moving to https

New website theme: Material

This week I updated to a new grey+accents theme, codename material. This replaced the previous maroon theme (explodiert). Most of the site now looks very similar to the current WordPress default theme (2015), upon which it is built, albeit with some colour highlights around the main headings, as well as some custom fonts (headings are in Silkscreen and prose is in a form of Comic Neue, an attempt to make a usable version of the dreaded Comic Sans — I guess the jury’s still out on that one!). I should note that the authors of both fonts have allowed use on personal and commercial websites, so big kudos to them (I’m never clear on whether this site is “commercial” or not).

Continue reading New website theme: Material

Multiplayer Monopoly(tm)

So it transpires that my friends are of the ultra-competitive sort (who knew?), and thus was borne a fanatical addiction to the board game Monopoly. Unfortunately, as anyone who has ever played Monopoly knows, it is characterised by two widely acknowledged truths:

  1. It destroys relationships
  2. It takes approximately 322 times too long than it should to play

Fortunately, online multiplayer Monopoly was invented, thus resolving #2. Well, kinda. Online variants (the best being do play a lot quicker — but then you lose some of that time again sitting through adverts. And if you don’t play, you don’t get to customise basically anything, meaning you’re stuck with their own house rules. Hence was born the idea for us (me and Austin Wellbelove) to “roll our own”. Before any lawyers pick up the phone, this was strictly an academic exercise and I doubt we’ll ever actually finish it. But it was fun trying. Here’s our stack:

  • A Node.js installation (I’m approximately 5 years too late to that party, but better late than never)
  • Concurrently running a cutting-edge websockets server (using and a basic HTTP server
  • JavaScript in the client (again using, but also plenty of jQuery)

The basic design principle is low-latency, so we have all the clients storing their own state information. Websockets are then used to ping incremental moves around (client to server, server rebroadcasts), keeping the whole game moving really fast. And I have to say, it works. One regret is that we didn’t try to incorporate <canvas>, instead going with a pure HTML+CSS3 design (though that was also fun in its own way).

I’ve blogged about PHPStorm before, and I have to say, I love it. Despite there being no PHP involved, I easily installed the NodeJS plugin, retained the ability to a public server if I wanted to, and use the fact that I already had Node.js running to use the (Google-developed) Closure Compiler to drastically compress the client-side JavaScript. Overall, it was a fun way to get a sense of the power of NodeJS and develop a love of Websockets that I’m sure I’ll retain for some time.

Alice in Wonderland

My latest web creation is a series of webpages for Alice in Wonderland, the Trinity College lawns play. It was great to work with some really strong theming: so, for example, in the screenshot below, the font, logo, playing card iconography, photography and background were all at my disposal. All I had to do was put them together! Continue reading Alice in Wonderland

Trinity College Boat Club

Another one of my projects over the summer was to redesign and redevelop the website of Trinity College Boat Club (TCBC), which organises rowing at my college. A few years ago they’d had a commercial Content Management System installed. Well, that was a bit of a failure, and no-one could remember how to use it.

Well, bye-bye proprietary system, hello WordPress. And a new flashy design (inspired by Free Web Templates but much embellished by me) with new Inkscape+Photoshop logo. Over the course of the redesign, I also made two custom plugins: one that shows the current conditions on the river in a nice flag format, and another that pulls the tweets from a given Twitter feed. And installed a load of the usual plugins as well, naturally. Continue reading Trinity College Boat Club

Oxford PPE Society

Primarily, I would regard myself as a web developer rather than a web designer: I’m more at home with a page full of Courier New than a sketchpad. That said, I’ve taken on a number of webmasterships for various Oxford societies, a role which requires one to do a little of both disciplines. This week I’ve been focussing on the design elements. Here, borrowing heavily from a template by FlashTemplatesToday, I present my first draft design for the Oxford PPE Society site: Continue reading Oxford PPE Society