This Week in My Newsfeed: Stephen


Ste, our Junior Fullstack Developer, has been rummaging around Reddit, Medium and various dev blogs in his tireless attempts to escape the endless coronavirus hysteria. Has it worked? Not really, but now that’s your problem.

Is This Real Life…?

VR gaming is finally on its way to becoming a mainstream medium, and not just a glorified tech demo for people who can afford to set their money on fire. Valve is one of many gaming companies attempting to spearhead the push with Half-Life: Alyx, released earlier this week.

Half-Life has been a bit of a meme since it ended on a cliff hanger 12 years ago, with no information on future development ever shared. Fast forward to this week and, just like another recent VR release BONEWORKS, Half-Life: Alyx has been collecting rave reviews.

Alongside the game release, Valve also announced they are working with Microsoft and HP to create a new VR headset called the Reverb G2. They are claiming it will deliver a next-gen experience – an announcement just vague enough to make everyone interested and disinterested at the same time.

Keep in mind you still need disposable income to afford a proper VR setup to fully enjoy it and, as a medium, it’s still in its infancy – so at the moment most people with a functioning brain will probably want to wait and see how things develop before emptying their pockets.

Hack the Planet!!!


With reader mode being a basic part of Firefox and CSS introducing new options like the prefers-* media queries, website accessibility is the default now rather than something thrown in at the last second for a small subsection of users. Ahmad Shadeed has some great snippets on how to introduce these accessibilities to your site or web app. One of my favourites is a short intro on how to implement a dark mode option. I know our web designers will thank me for promoting this.

CSS Grid layouts are becoming more widely used across the web, so it’s worth getting a grasp on them. I’m a big fan of Wes Bos’s tutorials, and I recommend trying out his free course on CSS Grid. It’s about four or five hours long so it should help distract you from the collapse of society happening outside.


Now that we’re all inside forever, chat clients like Slack and Microsoft Teams are our saving graces. Any competent chat clients provide APIs for people to add their own apps or bots and, luckily for those of us with a sense of humour, we can now mess with people using the magic power of mindless automated bots and some JavaScript. Creating a bot for Discord with discord.js is a nice little way to do that, and it’s also a fun project to flex your JavaScript and Node.js skills.

It’s always good to start small, so I would recommend creating a bot that greets tagged users.

Distract Me Harder…

Streaming is a blessing these days, and thanks to Netflix I can vegetate while watching some quality shows. I Am Not Okay with This is a coming-of-age story with an extra helping of angst and a quality soundtrack short. Clocking in at seven episodes, it’s short enough for you to finish in one sitting – which is the kind of binge watching I’m doing quite a lot of lately.

If Netflix isn’t up to your refined tastes and you prefer more of a soulless corporation feel, then Disney Plus is right up your alley. It’s finally available here in the UK, meaning now you can watch more Star Wars and Marvel – just like Walt intended before they froze him. Having said that… The Mandalorian is pretty good.

Youtube has always been my default for throwing something on in the background for some easy listening while I’m pretending to do housework. The biggest standouts for me over the years have been Red Letter Media, Kurzgesagt, Mandalore and my fellow countryman Ryan Hollinger. They have all consistently produced quality videos for years, and I really recommend checking them out.

Baby’s First Book

It’s always good to get an ego boost, and seeing just how stupid people have been in the past makes me feel much better. Humans: A Brief History by Tom Phillips really reminds you that as bad things are now, it could be a lot worse. While it’s not exactly a recent release, it’s a great read that highlights some of the most spectacular failings in the past few thousand years. You can also check out A Ladybird Book About Donald Trump. Top tier writing.

What’s next for 2020? More biblical events and catastrophes, or something nice and mundane? Who knows?! I’m sure all the armchair experts on Twitter or Facebook do…