Web Development

Vagrant Setup

February 19, 2016
Development Environments Made Easy

Vagrant is a tool to help launch development environments. In the old days developers would use tools like WAMP / MAMP or perhaps more advanced programs like VMWare to launch their development environments. They were clunky and often multiple projects would share the same environment because it would be too much effort to replicate an environment for a new project.

Tools like Vagrant and Docker have changed the way development and even production environment works.

I use Vagrant to setup my local development environments. I’ve spent a bit of time to configure a vanilla workable system which comprises of Nginx, PHP FPM & MySQL. It works great and allows me to get new projects started with three console commands.


clone https://github.com/sketchthat/vagrant-lemp.git my_project

cd my_project

vagrant up

Check out my GitHub repo to use my Vagrant Provisioning script.



Instagram Experiment

September 21, 2015

Recently I developed a small application which helped Instagram accounts gain traction in their space. It assisted in getting accounts more followers, likes and comments.

It started as an experiment to see;

a. How easy it was to use Instagram APIs.
b. See how popular an inactive and active Instagram account can be with little effort.
c. Build a membership without any hands-on marketing.

The experiment came to an end today because Instagram have updated their API Terms of Service and what I was doing is no longer allowed.

I started a website an associated Inactive Instagram account and Active Instagram account.

In nine months I was able to get 1,395 followers to my inactive Instagram account. Inactive means I hadn’t posted any photos, comments or even logged into the account since I started it.

On my active account the story was different. I gained over 5,149 followers and on average had over 200 likes and many comments per photo posted. In nine months I posted 104 photos. Averages out to roughly one every 2.5 days.

My application received over 300 registrations and was responsible for liking 7.2 million Instagram photos.

This was all without any advertising, I simply setup my application to like other users Instagram photos, then the traffic started coming to my pages and website.

I’m wanting to explore this space a bit more and plan on updating the site with some different functionality to see what other metrics I can pull from my data.

Is your website mobile friendly? If not you’re missing out

May 7, 2015
Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 11.56.25 am

Google have announced that more searches are taking place on mobile devices than desktop.

If your website isn’t mobile friendly you’re missing out on traffic and conversions.

It’s already been announced by Google that they have updated their system to give mobile friendly websites more weight in their listings, but this latest announcement is a double blow for sites that aren’t mobile friendly.

More Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan.

Have a read through their latest blog post. If your site isn’t mobile friendly, ask yourself why not… We can help make your site work on mobile devices.

Want more visitors? Is your site Mobile Friendly?

April 21, 2015
Mobile Friendly - Google

Google are updating their smart sorting algorithm every day by constantly A+B testing and making minor tweaks to improve their search results.

As it’s been for a while Google are focusing more and more on Mobile Friendly websites as they give the user the best experience.

On Wednesday Google is going to put more priority on companies that have mobile friendly websites. Is your site mobile friendly? Are you ready to disappear from the search results?

How can you check? It’s fairly simple to check if your site is mobile friendly. If you go to Google on your smart-phone or tablet then find your listing, does it have a little tag ‘Mobile Friendly’



If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, get in contact with us today and we’ll be able to help you out.



Read more about the upcoming changes.

sketch that rebrand

October 29, 2014

It was time for a facelift. Over the coming weeks we’ll be rebranding our site to match the look-and-feel of the blog page. I look forward to your feedback.

Passwordless – Token Based Passwords

October 17, 2014
Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 10.49.22 am

It has been a while since my last blog post. I want to start writing regularly again so I’ll start of with an interesting concept I stumbled across today.

Passwordless is a concept Florian Heinemann has implemented into Node.js

It’s a token based authentication method. Instead of remembering usernames and passwords you simply need to enter your email address into their registration/login box and you’re sent a one time link which will allow you to login to your account.

The main benefits of the concept are users don’t need to remember application specific passwords and accounts can’t be brute force attacked to gain access.

One time passwords greatly strengthen account defences,  I use Google Authenticator (GA) on every 3rd party website I can. A while ago I put together a very basic Symfony2 example and posted it to GitHub to show how to implement GA to your project because I really believe it’s a good idea to include on your projects.

The passwordless concept would work great in conjunction with GA. If an attacker gains access to your email address there is no stopping them from accessing all your passwordless sites, however if you have GA linked with your passwordless authentication then they only have one key to the puzzle.

The workflow wouldn’t differ too much, generate a one time link through passwordless, click the link and be directed to a GA prompt, enter the one time password and you’ve logged in.

It will slow down user interaction with the site as they have to use two methods to get in, but it would greatly secure the service.

Over the coming weeks I’ll try and update my GitHub page and show a working implementation with my Symfony2 example.

Chrome Start-Up Tabs

July 3, 2014
Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 12.27.51 pm

Every time I open a new tab on Chrome I look at a blank page – it’s so boring.

I just installed a Chrome Plugin called Startup Tabs, now each time I open a new tab an exciting new startup is loaded into my new tab which helps me try to keep up with the ever evolving start up scene and discover new helpful applications and websites.

The plugin boasts that it has 1000s of users, I’m unsure of how many start-ups it has on record, but I believe they get vetted before going online which reduces spammy pages being served to your new tab.

I highly recommend you check it out – and if you have a start up, submit your details to the website so you can start reaching a large audience.

What is Facebook Anonymous?

May 1, 2014

The development community is talking loudly about Facebook’s new Anonymous login for third party applications. When signing up to new applications online there is sometimes an option to sign up using Facebook. The application then requests your Facebook details, such as your email address, age, gender, friends list, profile photo, wall posts and so-on. It’s always been a concern to me that some of these applications are asking for / getting too much of my personal information – so I opt to sign up with my email address instead.

Anonymous login will allow you to login without sharing this information to the third party application you are using. I look forward to seeing it used in applications – if and when that will happen. I’m assuming that the Anonymous login will be an optional decision made by the third-party application, which app developers may opt not to use, so they then don’t receive any of the important information that they can use for mining / advertising. We’ll see if it takes off – my guess is the big players like Flipboard and Spotify type applications will use it – however smaller players that you don’t trust with your information won’t opt to use the Anonymous login feature.

CSS Diner – Learn CSS

March 25, 2014

I stumbled upon this great little CSS learning system today. It teaches you the basics of writing CSS selectors, it gives you a snippet of HTML and CSS and you need to try and select the correct element.

I thought it would be a breeze to get through the levels, but for some reason I’m stuck on Level 6.

I’ve tried;

.table plate .small

plate .small

plate apple.small


Nothing seems to go through, good little site none-the-less.


I misread the instructions, we’re meant to select more than one apple, so .small is what we’re after. Thanks Rick.

CSS Diner

Web Fonts

March 18, 2014

I’m always on the lookout for great looking fonts that I can use on my personal projects. Google Fonts is a good starting point, but the fonts look a bit tacky and cheap.

I’m a big fan of TypeKit but sometimes projects cannot afford to use their extensive library. Today I’ve stumbled across something that I hope continues to grow their brand and library. Brick.

It’s an Open Source free library of web fonts, go check it out.

Brick Web Fonts