Living with 2560 pixels wide.

Super widescreenSo you might be pondering if you should go “super-widescreen”, what are the pro’s/con’s for someone like you?  I’m going to assume as you are reading my blog you don’t spend the majority of your time glued to pointless dribble on Facebook, if you do then this post isn’t for you.  Move along, use whatever Apple tell you to use.

What you are seeing on the picture above is a 34″ LG 2560×1080 display that set me back about 500 British quid.  Not a cheap investment but I figured I’d bite the bullet as my monitors were getting old and squealing when in low power mode (probably only caused by caps going but I wanted to tidy up my desk anyway) and was curious how my workflow would change with one monitor.

So 2560×1080, that’s a lot of pixels, but not as many as I had before when I had 2x 24″ monitors, one horizontal, one vertical.  First things first, I miss my vertical display, only for writing code.

My desk is a lot tidier with this, however I can’t rotate the monitor to be portrait which is a huge negative.

Here is a print screen of my blog at 2560px:

Screenshot from 2014-08-28 13:38:50

For me, that’s a poor UX because the meta data is just so far away, a quick fix for this would be to have a max-width property in the CSS of WordPress but obvious this isn’t enabled by default.

I loved using etherdraw/gimp/inkscape/blender with this monitor, so much pixel space is so valuable when using those apps.

For work, I use it exactly as if I had two monitors side by side, however no bezel is nice for mouse flow.  When writing I find I very rarely run full screen, mostly because the view between the beginning/end of the object is just too far.  When doing 3d modeling (Blender) having the extra px is awesome.

For gaming and consuming video, this setup is superior, sadly I do less and less of that nowadays.  Project Zomboid was great however Runner2 isn’t setup to use the additional pixels so it really depends on the type of game you play and if you need additional reference material when playing the game(such as you would if playing Project Zomboid).  If you are pondering getting one of these monitors I’d check to see if the game you are going to play on it supports 2560×1080 resolution.

TLDR;  Good for most gaming, good for 3d model work, image editing, good for movie watching.  No better for word processing, blog publishing, code writing.  If anything my code writing will be more difficult without a vertical monitor.


Plastic Vs Metal phone bodies – HTC One M8

I recently found myself owning a HTC One M8, all of the reviews looked great.  However I have a huge gripe with the metal body.  While this phone looks great metal bodies fail for these 3 reasons:

1, Slippy.  Because the phone body is metal and because the edges are far too rounded the phone slides out of your hand far too easily.  It’s also way too big for an average sized hand but I kinda got used to this.

2. Cold to touch.  Admittedly I’m probably one of a handful of people that lives in an old, cold house.  This phone just becomes a horrible thing to touch when it’s been left out in a cold room over night when the heating is off.

3. NFC.  The NFC support on this phone only really works where the camera lens is, this is probably mostly due to the metal body, I can imagine the discussion went something along the lines of..  Engineer: Yea but it will affect phone signal and NFC performance..  Sales guy: “Yea but SHINY!”…  We need to grow up and use the right materials, not just the ones that are the most ascetically pleasing.  A phone is not a piece of jewellery.

Thankfully the Dot view case solves all 3 of these problems.  It’s disappointing but understandable that the LED output isn’t visible in direct sunlight conditions.  The case also serves as a nice little stand keeping the phone tilted to you in landscape mode when placed flat on a surface.

I also wish this phone came with less bloat-ware, ugh!

CampEd12 – Why you should of been there

Just a quick review of CampEd12. It was great, the events were great. It had a great feel. The food and beer was great. The weather was pretty good and the company was fantastic.

My thanks to Helen Daykin, @Dughall, and Bill Lord for organizing such a splendid event and to everyone that attended it.

CampEd all the fun and laughter you need.

Read about CampEd12 and Plan to attend CampEd13

Related articles by other folks..

Image courtesy of Dughall

Review of Pearson Developer tools

The Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster, ...
Image via Wikipedia

Today I was introduced to the idea that Pearson are going to be releasing some of their content via an API.

Just to get this point out of the way, this content isn’t free or open as is put beautifully by John in his article.

API’s for the less technical among us are things that allow web sites to access content from other websites, an example of an API usage is the UK snow day maps, that uses the Google Maps API to provide the ability to overlay the snow onto the map.

None the less Pearson have bought up several companies that have made fantastic content so they have the ability to really provide some great material via their API. With that in mind I figured I’d give their API a blast!

After first login you are taken to your “My API trends page” — Ideally it would take you to a “what APIs are available and how to use them”. You have to click “APIs” to get to this page and that’s really where the dissapointment begins. Only 3 APIs are currently listed.

The APIs available are:
London travel guide…
FT Press (< 20% of the FT Press articles are available)
The Longman Dictionary…

A minor bug is the bullet points under the API options tell me I haven’t logged in yet when I have.

So do I need any of the above APIs or can I not get more mature ones elsewhere?

Google Maps and Open Street maps have way more reviews and travel info than the London travel guide and the reviews are far less likely to be biased.
There are thousands of finance and business blogs I can refer to that already have APIs and/or I can do a simple Google search API request with the “site:” flag set. provides a fantastic free API, has done for years so Pearson will gain nothing trying to compete with that.

So why should you use Pearsons developer API? You shouldn’t, not yet, but you should get familiar with their methods because in time they will be adding resources you will actually want to use that no one else can provide. I applaud Pearson for this step in the right direction and I beg them to release some educational resources that aren’t available elsewhere in a better format.

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Being part of an open source project isn’t just for geeks.

Since 2009 I have been working on an open source project, the project is called Etherpad and it’s goal is to provide an open collaborative document editing platform. When I first “joined up” I thought I could just help by fixing bugs and writing guides about how to deploy the software but this role quickly evolved.

I found myself taking on various roles and I thought I should share how diverse open-source projects are and the skills required in the hope to encourage more people to get involved even if your background isn’t in programming or software development.

Community and awareness

Maintain the project website
Organize community events
Watch out for etherpad mentions on social networks and via web based alerts(Such as Google alerts)
Promote community awareness via social networks, video sharing websites.
Engage with new developers to encourage them to join the cause
Provide accomodation for community events
Create explanitory and tutorial videos
Establish relationships with competing projects
Ensure the project can recieve donations


Provide anonymous usage statistics about software usage
Provide a framework for development focused discussions
Decide on the project goals and mission statement
Develop the project, programming and graphics design
Review code submissions
Test new code


Ensure legal compliance
Organize conservancy membership