Check if a date is in the past or the future (PHP)

Time is a useful skill to master when coding any language. It allows you to create calendars, launch segmented projects automatically and check if events are past, present or future. In fact because time is an ever changing entity, once you’ve mastered it, your imagination becomes the limit – animations and infographics become your playground.

With PHP I’ve mostly encountered time when simply needing to know if something is in the past or the future, so that’s what I’m going to concentrate on here. In this basic tutorial, I’ll show you how to create a simple function that will compare a date against the current date and return whether it was in the past or is in the future. However the main purpose of this tutorial is to cover date formatting so that you can go away and experiment for yourselves. Read more

Using cookies in a Facebook application

If like me you spend a lot of time creating complex Facebook applications you’ll be accustomed to the constant battle of ever-changing rules and API calls. However recently I came across an unexpected problem that I’d never encountered before – you can’t use cookies in Facebook applications because they will be treated as unwanted 3rd party cookies and immediately blocked.

This is an incredibly annoying revelation when you’ve spent months developing an app that relies on cookies and you only discover in the final hour as you’re testing in the Facebook sandbox environment. But thankfully there’s a solution – and it’s a simple one. Read more


Recommended gadget: Anker Astro Mini

It’s undeniable that Smartphones are one of the best inventions of the last century. We carry around in our pockets small sleek gadgets that are more powerful than the huge desktop computers that we had less than 10 years ago. But phone technology has advanced quicker than battery technology and now we’re forced to compromise between power and battery life – if you want the best smartphone on the market, you can’t really expect it to stay charged for much longer than 12-24 hours.

Having a source of additional power on the go is becoming more and more essential in our lives. Some people address this by carrying around a variety of chargers, or even buying gadgets specifically because they use the same power cable as another gadget meaning you only have to carry one charger. The influx of Micro SD is certainly helping. But there’s another solution – portable, rechargeable battery packs. Read more

Photo by Marc Thiele 2013

(title photo by Marc Thiele)

Every September since 2007 I’ve made an annual pilgrimage to Brighton to visit what can only be described as one of the greatest creative festivals in the world. Originally it was known as “Flash on the Beach” and was clearly aimed at Flash designers and developers – a 3 track blend of design, development and artistic inspiration.The best of the best in the industry descended onto Brighton to share their collective knowledge, their personal methodologies and their inspiration. However with the changes in the industry a few years ago, the conference began to spread its wings accordingly into different areas of digital design/development and so Flash became only a minor subject in a much bigger creative spectrum.

In 2012 the conference organiser, John Davey, made a brave decision to rename and rebrand the conference to something more fitting with its new subject matter – and Reasons to be Creative was born. A conference featuring art and design from all walks of life. Digital artists, cinematographers, print designers, painters, original developers and font designers. If it’s creative, it’s welcome. Read more


Recommended music: Talk Talk

I’ve been a big fan of the band Talk Talk on and off now for (here’s the scary bit) almost 30 years. They were unlike any other band when I was growing up – they had an experimental edge that cut straight through the pink plastic and neon green socks of the 1980s. And they had the odd pop hit too, which kept them firmly on the radar of the John Hughes generation.

It started for me when I first heard the (now iconic) piano riff of “Life’s what you make it” in 1986. The lyrics kicked in and a tingle ran down my spine in the way that only 12 year olds discovering their music taste can get.

Baby, life’s what you make it
Celebrate it
Anticipate it
Yesterday’s faded
Nothing can change it
Life’s what you make it

Read more

GET variables in Javascript

No matter how much you avoid it, or how much you’ve been told that it’s not good practice, sometimes it would just be really handy if you could pull a GET variable into your Javascript.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m referring to one of these:

So now you can and very easily. Read more

How to get your Facebook app to send notifications (PHP)

So let’s say that you’re building a complicated Facebook app that involves a user becoming an ‘admin’ in some way. For example, you want your user to login to the app, invite some friends and then interact with their friends inside of your app. At some point the question is going to arise, how will the users know that their friends have accepted the invite?

Well the simple answer of course is that you rely on your users to return to the app to check if anyone else has signed up to it. But this is isn’t 2004, apps are now plentiful and most are overlooked even if your user has taken the trouble to sign up in the first place. They get forgotten about. They become unloved. Poor little things. Read more

Recommended: Send to Kindle

Got a Kindle? Well then you really need this freebie in your life.

Send to Kindle is a free series of apps and plugins that allow you to easily send documents, webpages and emails directly to your Kindle for reading at a later date.

I use the Google Chrome plugin and it’s extremely effective. If you’re come across an article and you don’t have time to read it, simply press the button and next time your Kindle is online it will download. It’s made cloud services such as Instapaper completely redundant for me. It really couldn’t be easier to use.