Building a personal inspiration site as a COVID-19 Project.

We’ve been locked down, we couldn’t go out (much), you know the story. You’ve heard it 1000 times. After watching a lot of Netflix, reading a couple of books I decided to try and do something productive.

My goal was to build a simple screensaver for MacOS that displays random quotes in a pretty interface to help me get motivated to get back to work and get stuff done. So I downloaded XCode and then realised I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. So I hit google, got stuck in, persevered and then gave up because I still had no idea what I was doing.

So I went back to something I knew but hadn’t done for quite a while. I decided to take the same idea and make it in website form with PHP, MySQL and Bootstrap 4. I haven’t done that much web development over the past 4-5 years and front end development has changed a lot.

I started with templates to make it easier for myself and the goal was to create a website that would load up a random inspirational/motivational quote when you visited it. Rather than have the cheesy imagery you see to go alongside the quote, it would just be a really simple design made up of two colours inspired by an amazing colour resource I found by designer Tobias Van Schneider. The colour scheme also changes each time you load the page so it feels fresh and different, rather than just another quote. The idea is that I or someone else can simply log on, get a bit of inspiration and then move on.

I didn’t stop there though, I felt it needed a backend so I could delete quotes if their authors turned out to be racist or something worse. It is 2020 after all. I also wanted to carry the same colour scheme through the back end as well.

Once I got the hang of bootstrap it was fairly effortless to design. I didn’t want to use any images, so all icons including the light bulb logo are served from the free edition of font awesome which is easy to implement and the icons are really well done. I also used tooltips to explain what buttons do, rather than have labels. Again this was easily achieved with Bootstrap 4.

And that pretty much sums the whole project up. Here’s a few more screenshots. You can view the site at

I hope it helps you if you need a little inspiration.

Tiger King

During the lockdown I’ve been watching Tiger King on Netflix. It was a bit of a slow starter, but it does get more and more interesting/weird as the story evolves. It’s as if every new character brings another element to the story that just makes it weirder and weirder. If you haven’t watched it yet you should stop reading now (SPOILERS), then come back and check out the twitter thread below from Robert Moor.

Robert is a journalist who made a podcast about Joe Exotic and the world surrounding him as well as a piece in the New York Times magazine. The thread below gives a bit more info from behind the scenes and sheds a little more light on a few questions that might not have been fully answered by the documentary. Also, a lot of peoples houses got burned down?

Some good news with John Krasinski

Every screen we look at right now is awash with information, mis-information, statistics and every story you can think of about Coronavirus. If you want to take a short break from that this morning, check out Some Good News with John Krasinski.

He’s only bringing the good news and there’s a wholesome interview with Steve Carrell that made me want to re-watch all of the office.

Rebooting amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

I haven’t written on this blog for a long while, but over the past few weeks the world has changed for reasons that have been covered in millions of articles that you’ve probably already read.

You probably don’t know that I’m a videographer and filmmaker, I’m in the process of making a short doc about a businessman-come polar explorer as well as doing lots of corporate work for many small and large businesses. Since the Coronavirus outbreak, my work has gone to zero. Clients aren’t paying their invoices and as a self employed person I have very little to do.

So I thought I’d reboot my blog and publish a few posts each day with links to videos, articles and resources that I stumble across and find interesting.

I hope that you find them interesting too. Feel free to drop me a message on Twitter – @rogshafi

The iPhone Apps I use to workout and get healthy.

I’ve been lifting weights on and off for quite a while but got in to power lifting more seriously around two years ago when I joined a boxing gym. I went to box, but ended up lifting weights.

The most common New Years Resolutions are based around diet and weight loss. It’s January, the gyms are packed and salads are flying off the shelves.

 I’ve been a long time gym go’er, but never managed to get into the shape that I want due to a poor diet and not always being consistent. However this year, that is going to change. 

I’m sure there are a million articles out there telling you what the best fitness apps are. But I thought that I’d add my tuppence to the pile. 

I’ve tried quite a few different apps, paid and free, but most have in app purchases for increased functionality. 

I used  to track my weightlifting progress on pen and paper with a book. It has a template, you write in the exercise and what you’re lifting. But its 2019 now and there are some great apps out there to digitise all this for you.

Strong Pro –

I wear an apple watch, but the Apple Watch workouts have zero functionality when it comes to any kind of weightlifting. I’ve tried a few different apps to fill the gap and found that Strong Pro is the best. I dabbled with StrongLifts 5×5 but there wasn’t enough flexibility in their programs and it didn’t allow me to change the workouts and do the kind of 5×5’s that I wanted to do. That being said, Stonglifts is far simpler.

Strong Pro isn’t cheap at £13.99 per year but allows you to build your own workouts from the ground up. It will calculate warm up sets, allow you to add in drop and fail sets and you can set custom rest timers that automatically start when you mark a set as done. It also has a pretty big database of different exercises for you to pick from. It’s well thought out and the interface is simple and intuitive to use.

It brings a satisfaction to your workouts and does all the maths for you, it produces graphs and charts to show your progress. It also links to apple health so you can use it to track your macronutrient intake if thats a thing that you’re into.
Apple Watch integration is in beta but works as you’d expect most of the time. It essentially just tracks your heart rate for a more accurate calorie burn count.

You can’t out-train a bad diet.

MyFitnessPal –

After many years of going to the gym and eating badly, I’ve learned that nutrition is probably the most important factor when it comes to weight loss or gain. You can’t out-train a bad diet.

MyFitnessPal is the easily the best food tracker i’ve used. I just use the free version, and I can add foods or build up recipes manually as i’m cooking food by searching their enormous food database or scanning the barcode. The barcode scanning is accurate 95% of the time, but sometimes it’ll find a pack of biscuits rather than what you asked.

I haven’t come across anything even close to MyFitnessPal. I dabbled with Eat This Much which is an excellent app for meal planning and grocery shopping, but unfortunately it was a little too American when it came to imperial weights and recipes. You should check out their site as well though as its a good resource.

Intervals –

I do two cardio days per week. I mostly do HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training which can be performed in a bunch of ways. Maybe I’ll go into more depth about my workouts in another video but intervals is a fully customisable interval timer that allows you to program your work and rest cycles, you can even customise it further to tell you exactly which exercise you should be doing. I tend to go with 20 seconds on 10 seconds off cycles for 8 rounds with a 1 minute rest in between rounds.

Zero – Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting can be a really effective way to lose fat fast. There is a really simple free app called Zero. You can set your start time and end time and it track how long you’ve fasted for each day. You could just use the built in stopwatch or timer app, but this keeps it separate and drops you a notification when its time to eat. There is also a science section where you can learn more about the benefits and science behind intermittent fasting.

Ok, thats it… Those are the apps I use on a daily basis. Obviously its down to you to do the really hard work, but these apps can definitely help you along the way as they have helped me. Let me know in the comments what apps you use and if you know of some better ones, and i’ll check them out. 

How to Wake up Early Every Day.

In this post I talk about introducing the habit of waking up early every day.

Getting up early can be super tough. Especially if you’re not a ‘morning person’. But I found that over time you can introduce this habit and the benefits pay off the struggle to hit snooze in really quickly.

These are the things that really helped me to wake up early every day.

1. Have a Reason

The most important thing i’ve learned is that you really need a reason to drag your ass out of bed. Whether it’s to start a blog, write a book, get to the gym or go for a run, if you don’t have a reason then you’re destined to hit snooze and ulitmately, fail.

If you’re just getting up to scroll through social media, then you should probably just stay in bed and enjoy the extra sleep.

2. Find what works best for you.

Many people have extreme routines. I heard that Mark Wahlberg gets up at 2:30am and goes to bed at 7. You don’t need to do this, you need to find what works best for you.

For a while I was getting up at 4:30-4:45am, but I found that I was overtired and not getting enough sleep. I couldn’t commit to going to bed at 9pm and generally found that I just wasn’t tired. So now i’ve found that going to bed around 10pm and getting up at 5:30am works best for me.

You also need to consider the other people around you. Is your partner going to appreciate you disappearing at 9pm every night? Probably not.

3. Make a routine

Making a routine and preparing the night before made getting up early much, much easier. Packing my bag the night before means that I don’t forget things and I can move much more quickly when i’m still waking up.

4. It’s ok to Fail

Sometimes you might want to lie-in. Maybe it’s the weekend, maybe you don’t go to the gym on Tuesdays. That’s fine. Just don’t make a habit of it. Personally, if I skip more than two days in a row, i’m back to square one and I have to re-learn the habit.

“It takes between 18 and 254 for days to form a habit”

James Clear

5. Drink More Coffee

For me, a coffee in the morning really helps me to get going and the caffeine is proven to help you out in the gym. Obviously this isn’t necessary but it’s something that helps me. Also, I wanted to put some pretty shots of me making coffee in the video.

These are a few things that really helped me along the way to get up early everyday. I hope that they can help you too. Let me know in the comments what helps you to get up early and make your habits stick.

Thanks for reading!

New Year, New Start.

I’ve never been in to New Years Resolutions. I always just thought, what is the point? Why don’t we just make the changes we want to make now or tomorrow instead of waiting for a new month or a new year.

However this year I’m trying to do things differently so I thought I’d just do the thing that everyone else does and write my goals for 2019 down so I can aim for something, and weirdly, I feel really good about it. By writing down the things that I want to achieve this year, I can formulate a plan for each resolution or goal in advance and start to work at it.

My main goal is to grow my YouTube channel and i’ve been struggling to find my voice on there for a while. I’ve been breaking all of the rules and just making videos about different things and posting them from time to time. There’s no consistency or common theme.

To work at this goal i’m going to be producing a new video every week around my different goals and resolutions and how each one is going. I didn’t want to tell other people how to live their life, but let others know the things that have worked and helped me. The channel will also help to keep my honest and provide others with the resources that i’ve used.

If you have any questions, drop me a tweet.