Why #ilovewp

So an interesting post appeared on Matt Mullenweg’s blog recently describing how they will change up the Testimonials Page by having blog posts under the #ilovewp hashtag. As somebody with some measure of standing in the community (other people’s words, honest!), I’d thought I’d put out a blog post.

Now I could talk about the boring stuff, the fact that it found me a career that I love, and I’m paid pretty well to build things in WordPress all day, but I feel that could be repeating people.

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What WordPress looked like when I started using it in 2006.

I could talk about the good that the project does in democratising publishing and giving people a voice. However there are people far more qualified to do that.

Instead I’ll talk (rather selfishly) in the non-career impact it has had on my life, as it has been a cornerstone in helping pursue my passions.

None more so that one of my main blogs – Retro Garden.

I’m a big classic gamer, most of the time on my Twitch Channel I’m playing some obscure game from the mid 90’s, so when I thought about starting a blog that focussed on one of my interests, that seems the most obvious to start with.

Through Retro Garden, I ended up networking with a few people and companies. I ended up getting a lot of free games to review (which was nice), but one such chat with somebody who is now a really good friend ended up changing my life forever.

This chap shared a love for professional wrestling that I did. Though unlike me he also was at the time an active wrestler. He was starting a promotion (which evolved into Britannia Wrestling), and needed a site. In return, I’d be given free entry to shows.

Of course, I accepted, and built the site in WordPress. Furthermore, over time, I went from being a face in the crowd, to helping out backstage, to being a referee, to being a manager and occasional wrestler.

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Me refereeing a match between Bubblegum & Kris Travis – two of the best wrestlers in the UK in the last 10 years.

I did knock it on the head after 5 years as work and other commitments made it difficult to continue, but I’ve so many happy times and experiences from those 5 years that it was worth all the early starts and late finishes. So much so that one of my other sites I write because I’m keen to try and get behind the curtain again. And that site is built on WordPress.

I’m not saying that WordPress is singularly responsible to all the above, but it makes it so easy to achieve so much. And that is why #ilovewp.

The Broken Down Road To Wrestlemania

So this year (in case you don’t know, as I’ve been banging on about it loads), I’m ticking off two things off my bucket list. The first of which is in March where myself (along with Shane and Owen) are off to Wrestlemania. And there was much pointing at signs.

This year’s Wrestlemania has taken on a huge amount of significance for me, as it is a focal point of a holiday for me. I imagine it’s like those who book Glastonbury before any act is announced. You know you’ll enjoy yourself, and it’ll be fun, but you’re not quite sure exactly how good.

The last two Wrestlemanias are considered to be two of the better ones, 31 saw them save the main event with a cash in by popular-bad-guy Seth Rollins on unpopular-good-guy Roman Reigns to win the WWE Heavyweight Championship. The 30th edition saw the main event culminate with underdog Daniel Bryan beating hand-picked stars Batista & Randy Orton to win the main event. In recent years, there is a feeling that Wrestlemania has become a favourite to “smarks” – a hardcore set of fans who will spend small fortunes to attend the event, giving memorable moments to appeal to cater to those in attendance.

Interestingly, both years have seen drastic changes from what is seen as the start of the road to Wrestlemania: The Royal Rumble.

In both years Rumbles, those who were seen as popular choices (read Daniel Bryan) didn’t win. Both caused massive backlashes that did force rewriting of the main events – especially in Rollins’ case – who wasn’t expected to win until during the event itself.

This year however sees something a bit difficult when it comes to the focal point of the Royal Rumble – a 30 man over-the-top rope Battle Royal (seriously, watch them, they’re good fun). Traditionally the winner are awarded a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania as a prize. However this time the winner will go into that event in all likelihood as champion, as the current champion (the more-popular-than-last-year-but-still-not-very-popular-good-guy Roman Reigns) is defending the title in the match itself.

The second point is something fascinating (if a little frustrating): there are a lot of injuries at the moment. Every single person who left last year’s Wrestlemania as a champion is currently injured, along with other mid carders, meaning that it’s a little thin for this year’s Mania already.

The WWE therefore have been booked into a bit of a corner and have a golden opportunity to do something: create a brand new star. They had this opportunity a few months ago leading into Survivor Series but they returned to the status quo, I feel though – this time could be different, and that is because of Wrestlemania.

Wrestlemania is in the 100,000 seater AT&T Stadium in Dallas Texas and it needs to sell out most of those seats – as well as put on a show for those 100,000 people that doesn’t disappoint. As such, it needs either a star studded cast, or a culmination of a storyline. The cast is present with Rock and Austin at the show but alas none of them will be in matches. So it is left for the storyline to pick up the slack.

At the moment, the logical thing is for Reigns to lose the championship and make the chase again for the title, winning it back at Wrestlemania – likely against Triple H. It isn’t exactly the most desirable main event match considering the wealth of options currently on the roster, but that makes the most sense.

But what if they do something different, and actually have a surprise winner of the Rumble? Of course, there are names like Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns in the match, but what happens if they take each other out leading to somebody else standing tall after 29 other men have been eliminated? I’m not sure it will draw massive buys, but then again I’m not sure if Reigns vs Triple H will draw massive buys either. So why not experiment a bit?

In all likelihood the stale, safe option will be taken, and when the dust settles early Monday morning, we’re set for a fairly safe option for Wrestlemania. But this year feels like the most unpredictable Royal Rumble ever, and just for that, it makes it one worth watching.

In a few days I’ll be posting my Royal Rumble Predictions on Wrestling Betting. This is probably the hardest post to write in recent memory!

Paris Twat-German

I’d like to think I keep my personal political opinions to myself, but I really don’t like Donald Trump.

I really don’t want to make it a political post, but I was told at a young age “be nice, or be honest. Try to be both, but be one”. I don’t think Donald Trump is either. Furthermore, he is not exactly a successful business man – he’d be worth $10 Billion more if he took his money and simply invested in Index Funds in the stock market – so I cannot find really any redeemable qualities to the man. He also cannot take a Stone Cold Stunner:-

But this blog post isn’t about him.

It’s about me. You see, as I mentioned in my launch blog post, I’m following the advice in Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word and learning JavaScript deeply. JavaScript is the language of Google Chrome Extensions.

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In short, I have written a short Chrome Extension that finds any mention of “Donald Trump” and changes it to “Paris Twat-German”, a monniker I think I heard first on Scott’s twitter account. It’s daft. It’s purile. It was written drunkenly. It’s probably not what Matt had in mind when he gave his State of the Word. But I don’t care, I’m learning and it piqued my interest for an evening.

Anyway, I’ve hosted the extension on Github. You can download it here directly. Installation instructions are there, along with ideas on how to extend it. Let me know what you think!

Understanding Undertale’s Importance

2015 was a year with some huge titles released. Big games with bigger budgets and bigger than last year’s numbers on the end, these games were announced at big press conferences, and rightly dominated critical and commercial top 10 lists, as a lot of them were very good.

However, one game was also on many of those lists – usually high or number one, one that was a labour of love, funded on Kickstarter, and ended up becoming my favourite gaming experience of 2015.

That game is Undertale.

Undertale was a game written mostly by Toby Fox, an accomplished chiptuner who also composed the music. The game is an old school RPG with a similar graphic style to Earthbound and other Super Nintendo games. You play a child who has been dropped into a monster formed underworld. Your job is to escape from the underworld and return home.

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Why Is Undertale So Good

The beauty of this game is that your actions lead to a direct response to the game. Not just small changes like in a series such as Mass Effect, but your actions will lead to how your game progresses. It is very, very clever and with a great message behind it. It is very difficult to talk about it, so I won’t, but trust me it is very well done.

The second beautiful thing about the game is the combat system. Turn based combat is loved or hated by many people, but if you are like me you would probably skip through this quickly as possible to return to the selection. This is a dangerous thing in Undertale, as by slowing down and reading, Undertale drops hints as to what to do. Whilst the game has some puzzles, the battles themselves are puzzles and can require creative thinking. As well as a puzzle element, the battles also have some fun bullet hell esque segments that can help you win.

Another beauty of Undertale is that it is so very self assured. It knows it’s a game, and it knows it’s strengths and it’s weaknesses, so it doesn’t take itself very seriously. Could you imagine Call of Duty effectively tell the player where a glitch happens? Or where the graphics aren’t as good? Undertale does, and by doing so it peels away the fourth wall in the most creative way possible. Mix that in with a genuine laugh out loud dialog, a sense that it keeps you on the toes and can unnerve you as well as a cracking soundtrack that borrows from the 8-bit era, and you will understand why it has so many plaudits.

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Why Undertale is Important

Undertale did slip underneath the radar, being released on Steam. There was very little in the way of marketing, and it had to be uncovered a bit. In short, it has become the poster child of two movements in gaming.

The first is the Indie Game Movement. Indie games have been getting a lot of coverage over the last few games, and indie games are seen as places that due to the lack of budget as well as the lack of need to be “successful” games can take a few risks and be creative. However, I’ve never seen an indie game take so many risks, and for it to come off so spectacularly.

The other one is that this is a great example of a game that can be viewed as art. Whilst I believe not every game can be viewed as art, this one can be. Art can be commercially successful, but the majority of “commercially successful” art is rather watered down and bland – think of the pictures you buy in Ikea to decorate your living room. Those pictures are your Call of Duty’s, your Fifa’s or your other triple A titles that are released every year. Undertale is your Mona Lisa.

It isn’t perfect – it’s knowingly short and there was a feeling the first time I played that I rushed through it – but it’s cheap, good fun and well worth picking up. Maybe Undertale is one of the most important games out there – a creative slap in the face of an industry that is so bland – but that’s for others to judge. I will confidently say that is a very fun game, and one you will enjoy to complete.

New Year, New Theme

Hello! Well it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Hope you’re well! Welcome to my brand new personal blog!

Why have I started blogging here again? Well, one of my goals for 2016 was to Produce More Content. I hate using the phrase “Produce More Content”, as it seems very robotic. However, I don’t feel like ‘Write More’ would work here, as I plan on doing a few videos, maybe even some live streaming. In the last few months of 2015, I’ve been playing about with Twitch streaming (follow me on Twitch here), and I kind of want a hub for all my non-WordPress activities. So this is what this blog is about.

The realisation came to the latter end of last year. There were a few things I wanted to talk about or cover, but unfortunately I’d been unable to due to it not really fitting within Winwar Media’s remit. This relaunching means that I can give my thoughts here, rather than elsewhere.

About This Theme

Well, since the last post on this here blog (in September 2014!), I’ve been curious regarding the rise of Medium. I like the long form content and I know that the future sister-in-law is a huge fan of it (you can follow her on Medium as @GapYearComeback), but I particularly like the clean look. So I wanted something that was a little cleaner than my last layout.

However, I was also keen to use it as a hub for me. I wanted links to all my other things and as well as writing it as a brain dump. As such, I wanted a brand new look, that focusses on the content, but also will act as a site that is a hub for all my activities online.

Two themes did inspire me – the first was Matt Watson’s theme. I did quite like the clean look of it and the focus on the content, but I also quite like Caspar Hübinger’s theme, as it had the sidebar and footer incidentals which I really wanted in the new theme. So I had a half look that I was after, now was to decide whether the one column or the two column theme would win out.

Learning Javascript Deep…ish

In the end, neither did, as I decided to amalgamate the two.

Rather than spend a lot of time working a theme, I instead decided to take the Twenty Thirteen theme, and extend it. In Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word this year one of the most quoteable phrases was “Learn JavaScript…Deeply”. I then decided to make the sidebar retractable in JavaScript. I am in no doubt that it has already been done, but wanted to do it.

If you are reading this on a desktop, click the arrow to retract the sidebar. It should work.

After playing around with it for a few hours, I think I got something to work. There is an odd problem that it flickers when closed. I think it is because of a conflict with the theme’s default JavaScript, so if anybody’s has any ideas, let me know (and I’m well aware this is a bit of Open Source Cunningham’s Law, sue me!).

Also, to those who remember the old theme, would know that I’ve returned to a purple sidebar. It’s quite simple that. I like Purple ?.

The Host With The Most

I’ve also switched hosts! Previously I had hosted this on my bog standard Digital Ocean VPS. Whilst I think I’ve fixed the issue regarding the VPS (or rather, more likely, hacked it), I’ve switched to 34SP. I am a big fan of their Managed WordPress Hosting as it is quick and painless (as I don’t have to worry about anything), and their support is top notch. So yeah, this site will be nippy, and suffer a lot less down time.

What Should You Expect?

In short, you should expect the odd post here and there. Rather than writing to a set schedule, I’m hopefully going to try and produce opinion pieces and reviews (as well as general updates), that are longer, and richer including videos and the like. Hopefully the new theme will act as a catalyst for it.

What do you think?