Fix  character in Google search results and Facebook share description

If you’re seeing a strange  character or characters in your Google search results description or when sharing your articles and blog posts on Facebook but not in your article body itself then trust me, I understand your frustration because I thought I had tried every solution out there and none of the common fixes seemed to work for me. Read more to find out how I fixed the problem for my website and hopefully it will help you as well.

When it’s not in the body

If and only if you’re not seeing those characters anywhere else except for when you share your post on Facebook or do a simple Google search for your article then the solution will most likely be tied to how you’re telling Facebook and Google what your website is about.

Yep, I’m talking about the Facebook’s Open Graph properties and Structured Data that Google looks at. Have you been trying to implement these features into your website recently by any chance?

Double check your code

After spending hours of trying to figure out what the problem was and after creating this video to demonstrate the issue I finally realized the problem wasn’t related to WordPress at all. The problem was me and more importantly my lack of understanding the difference between two of the most widely used PHP functions: htmlentities(); and htmlspecialchars();

For a long time I was using the following code to give Facebook my article’s description:

<meta property="og:description" content="<?php { setup_postdata($post); echo esc_attr(htmlentities(get_the_excerpt())); } ?>"/>

And there’s nothing wrong with that… other than the fact that if you happen to have a special character somewhere in your content, it’s going to be translated literally.

Check out the htmlentities(); description

all characters which have HTML character entity equivalents are translated into these entities

If I had read the description beforehand none of this would have happened!

The trick was to replace the function with htmlspecialchars(); which doesn’t translate any special characters and the output remains clean.

<meta property="og:description" content="<?php { setup_postdata($post); echo esc_attr(htmlspecialchars(get_the_excerpt())); } ?>"/>

Once you’ve made the change make sure to re-scrape your content using Facebook’s debugger.

If the character is in the body

If you’re seeing the character all over your article’s body and you have no idea what I just talked about above then your solution could be as simple as putting the following code somewhere in your head tags:

<meta charset="UTF-8">

Was this helpful? Let me know in the comments below!

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Blox VR: A Virtual Reality ‘escape the room’ type puzzle game for Google Cardboard

Shortly after I created my first Virtual Reality “game” which wasn’t actually a game per se, but more like a fan art/virtual reality music video that took place in the room 302 of a famous horror game called Silent Hill 4, I started working on another project because you couldn’t really interact with any objects in the first game and I wanted to learn more about developing VR experiences anyway. In fact the only thing you were able to do was walk around and just look at Henry’s room from a different and new perspective. It was cool, but I knew I could do much better.

Blox VR Virtual Reality Puzzle Game Escape The Room

How Blox VR came to be

The idea for the game came to me one night in a dream where I woke up in a room with no windows, no doors and no apparent way of getting out. In my dream I later found out that I had actually died and this is what “heaven” was like- being stuck in a tiny room in the middle of an endless void where time was standing still (ie. you wouldn’t age, etc).

I had two choices: either stay in the room for all eternity contemplating on the meaninglessness of life or hit a reset button, forget who I was and where I came from for another 60+ years and experience yet another lifetime through someone else’s consciousness. Deep, I know.

What is Blox VR exactly?

Before I start I have to get one important thing out of the way: It’s still a demo! Yeah, the game only has three levels right now because I got caught up in yet another project of mine and I also wanted to hear what other people thought about the game before fully committing myself to it. Unfortunately people haven’t said much. Go figure…

Blox VR Bed and Blocks

It’s funny because thanks to my other project I now know more about game physics and development in general so I might end up doing a complete rework on Blox VR once I decide to continue developing it because while it felt awesome a few months ago, it feels kind of lame and noob-ish with my current knowledge. I know can do much better.

To put it short: Blox VR is a virtual reality puzzle game project that has been put on hold for now, but I will most likely continue developing it once I’m finished with my other projects (they’re going to be epic by the way) and once I feel that people actually like where the game is headed.

What can you do in the game?

Because this is a game for the Google Cardboard headset and as you may know it only has a single action button, I had to make the hard choice and basically “glue” the player to the ground leaving the action button only for picking up and dropping various metal boxes scattered about the room. Therefore you can’t walk around in the room, but you don’t really need to. It’s just a small room. If you were actually there and spread your arms you could touch both walls at the same time.

The puzzle

When looking around the room you will notice something written on one of the walls. A clue? Well, I can only say that it’s somehow related to the various boxes that you find on the floor. Figure it out!

Blox VR Switch and Blocks

After you solve the puzzle you will hear a weird sound that I quickly made in FL Studio and the level resets. Except of course for the puzzle, that one changes to more complex gibberish.

After the final puzzle the writing on the wall changes to “End of demo” so you’d know that it’s the end and wouldn’t spend your precious time figuring out how to escape this level. You can’t. Really. That’s it. It’s really the end. REALLY.

Where to get it?

You can download the game from Google Play Store and currently it’s only available for Android devices. You also need one of those Google Cardboard Virtual Reality headsets that go for less than five bucks on ebay. Or you can order one from me if you like.

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Mobile app to find gamers and challenge them for cash prizes

Famous Youtube gamers like PewDiePie make earning a living from playing video games seem so easy, but in reality there’s just too much competition in the live streaming and Youtube gaming niche and this makes it almost impossible for any newcomer to simply enter the arena without any important contacts and actually gain some significant recognition from the audience. I’m not saying it’s impossible, it’s just very difficult. Mostly because you’d need a lot of free time- a commodity which isn’t easy to come by in our so called “modern world”.

Earn money playing video games

Another popular way to earn money by playing video games is to participate in video game tournaments where the prizes can reach to millions of dollars. The trouble with that, however, is that in order to have even a remote chance of actually winning a tournament, you’d literally have to commit your entire life to playing the game every day in order to be skilled enough to stand a chance against your opponents.

When you consider everything I just said, it’s so easy to get discouraged about the whole ordeal and simply give up, crawl back to your dehumanizing excuse of a job and continue living from paycheck to paycheck.

But it doesn’t have to be this way

What if I told you there was another, easier way of making a living or at least earning a little bit of extra cash by playing your favorite video game without having contacts, a reputation or even a very high skill level? What if you could make money right now playing your favorite video game only on weekends, for example? Sounds like a sales pitch? Well, it sort of is, but don’t click away just yet. You’ll want to hear this.

Introducing Level Up eSports

Everyone knows that right now there aren’t a lot of serious tournament opportunities available for the casual “weekend gamer”. Level Up eSports is a new startup which solves that problem by connecting gamers looking to compete against one another from all over the world using a simple mobile app. If you like, you can think of it as Tinder for finding gaming tournaments and challenges.

The concept is simple:

  • Tell the app which game you wish to compete it
  • The app will find other people playing the same game
  • Swipe left or right just like in Tinder to either decline or accept a challenge
  • If both parties accept the challenge, a chat menu pops up
  • It’s game time!

Once you have both accepted the challenge you get to speak to your opponent for the first time in order to set everything up. For example you can tell them in which server to meet and when. Things like that.

After the battle you just need to open up the app once more and answer who won the game and if both parties are in an agreement, the money gets released to the winner.

You can then give each other Honor points which show other people how honorable you are in keeping up your end of the bargain.

If the unfortunate happens and the two parties can’t come to an agreement, the case will be reviewed by both the Level Up team as well as random players who can look at evidence in the form of screenshots and cast a vote on who they think the perpetrator is.

XPER as the app’s official currency

If you haven’t yet heard of XPER then don’t worry because you haven’t really missed out on much. It’s not really that popular just yet, but very soon you will be able to exchange it into other cryptocurrencies and even cold hard cash either through a third party exchanger or through the Level Up eSports system itself.

At this stage of development you can acquire XPER at an amazingly low rate of 10 cents per XPER that’s only going to be available for the very early adopters. In essence, if you buy XPER right now you will be investing in the development and promotion of the app, but the XPER will be yours to use in the future when the app goes live and the team opens up their own online shop where you can buy games and gaming equipment as well as use that XPER to challenge other gamers.

Oh! I almost forgot- there will be a “farming mode” in which you don’t risk any of your own XPER, but whenever you win a challenge you gain more XPER as a reward. That’s pretty much free money right there!

Can we take them seriously though?

Absolutely! I personally believe that this app has great potential because of it’s simple yet powerful concept and the ability to solve one of the biggest problems in the gaming industry today by providing everyone and not just the professional gamers with the opportunity to earn money from playing games.

Level up eSports chartAnd just to put your mind at ease, the guy in charge of Level Up eSports has a degree in business management and clearly knows what he’s doing. Here’s a chart showing you exactly how he is planning on using the money you invest in his startup.

But don’t just take my word for it- go ahead and ask difficult questions from the man by visiting his Youtube channel and make him sweat!

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Pokemon go is so popular because it’s fulfilling some of the basic human needs

I think it’s safe to say that this years most popular mobile game is Pokemon Go because within just one month after it’s release, the game has been downloaded more than a hundred million times from Google’s Play Store alone. Why is it so popular? Well for starters, it has a decade worth of marketing behind it. And by that I mean the TV series and the playing cards among other collectibles and some very popular video games as well. Nowadays it’s hard to find a person who doesn’t know what a Pokemon is. It’s a trademark almost as recognizable as Coca Cola.

Pokemon Go and human nature

While I could go on and on about human nature and argue whether there even is such a thing as an actual “human nature” or are we all born as completely blank slates and sculpted some time later by the environment in which we are placed in, I think we can all agree that Pokemon Go fills at least some of the most basic human needs by providing us with a sense of belonging, making us compete against others in a friendly way and of course giving us the chance to socialize by playing a fun and exciting game.

Cat meme let me show you the pokemans

Gotta catch ’em all

For as long as humans have been around, we’ve all collected something. From postcards and coins to cars and bones, pretty much anything that exists in this world can be collected in one form or another. I’m not entirely sure if the creators of Pokemon actually planned ahead and came up with the phrase “Gotta catch ’em all” after collaborating with psychologists in order to really mess with us, but the fact remains that they’ve really hit the spot with it. Show me a person who hasn’t collected anything in their life? You can’t. Yes, even the insides of your piggy bank can be considered a collection of sorts, albeit a small one.

The need to show off and boast to others

Another well known urge for almost all humans (excluding perhaps a holy man) is the need to show off one’s achievements and accomplishments in order to gain recognition from others. It’s just satisfying on so many levels and what better way to exploit this in a game such as Pokemon Go, but to make certain Pokemon scarce and harder to get than others? Found a Rattata? Pffft! It doesn’t stand a chance against my Pikachu.

The need for competition

Speaking of which, people have always wanted to be better than the next guy and while it’s true that sometimes we can go just a little bit over the edge and end up in a blood feud that lasts for decades, it’s more common, in the modern age, to challenge someone in a friendly game instead.

And of course Pokemon Go is perfect for this because unlike in boring games like chess (sorry chess fans) you actually feel the power and rush after beating your opponent because you’ve just worked so hard to get there. (And lost a few pounds in the process).

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Fancy a short Barbie Game to lighten up your day?

Every once in a while there are days where I wake up in the morning, slowly crawl my way to the kitchen, put the kettle on and as it’s drearily whistling away the dream world that’s still lingering at the corners of my mind, I can’t help but feel that irresistible urge to get on the computer and play… well, barbie games. And I’m sure I’m definitely not the only one. Right?

In fact, there’s this one particular game that really gets me going, especially in mornings such as this and the game is called Barbie Stunts. I guess one of the main reasons I’m so fond of this game has to do with the fact that it closely resembles one of my old time favorites, a 2D motorcycle scroller named Elasto Mania.

Barbie Stunts Flash GameBarbie Stunts

Put your fabulous helmet on and hop on Barbie’s pink scooter to rush through the city doing crazy jumps and insane stunts that are guaranteed to get the adrenaline pumping in no time!

Well, I might have oversold the game just a little bit, but the goal, nevertheless, is fairly simple: complete the stunts, back flips, front flips and other things this game may or may not make you do and reach the finish line with a high enough score to end the level successfully.

You have to use the arrow keys on your keyboard to accelerate, lean backwards, forwards and to apply the brakes where necessary. Additionally you can do a few other stunts using the NUM keys on your keyboard.

Barbie Memory Match Flash GameBarbie Memory Match

It’s always a good idea to take a break and play a memory game every now and then to keep your brain, especially the bits that deal with memory, in good shape.

I really enjoy these kinds of games because they pretty much teach your brain how to scan for information, like literally. And because I have a pretty good picture memory anyway, I can probably beat you in these kinds of games even on my bad day.

All you have to do in this game is to flip a card, then flip another one and another one until you find a match. Once you do, you need to recall where the matching card was and flip it upside down. If you do it right, you’ll gain a point. In not, well, at least you tried.

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Join the Raze squad and fight off aliens trying to conquer earth in Raze 3

Raze 3 is the third installment of the popular Raze game series which started off with the launch of Raze 1, followed by Raze 2 and on July 10, 2014 Raze 3 was released. It was under development for a mere three months which is quite an achievement for a game of this magnitude. It has a decent storyline which, not surprisingly, takes off where Raze 2 ended, it’s addictive and has a ton of hidden treats that only a serious gamer can unlock. If you are looking to play Raze 3 unblocked, you should visit raze3unblocked.com – these guys are dedicated in bringing the game to you hassle free.

raze 3 quickmatch

Raze 3 storyline (spoilers)

Like the previous Raze games, the plot of this game forks into two different stories as well. One being about the humans trying to save Earth and one of the Aliens trying to conquer it.

After the events that took place in Raze 2, a squad of Raze soldiers discover that the aliens weren’t wiped out completely. What’s more, the aliens are now hell bent of activating a doomsday device called The Harvester.

The Raze squad follows one of the aliens to an underground facility where they uncover a mysterious device that they decide to bring into the lab for further studying. Unfortunately the machine causes many of the specimens in the laboratory to go berserk and kill the scientist studying the device.

It later turns out that the device, also known as The Harvester, is capable of converting various species on Earth into alien life forms. Do you have what it takes to stop this?

Raze 3 game modes

You can either choose to play the main storyline and progress through the various levels for both human and alien* chapters or, if you prefer, you can do a simple quickmatch by choosing your fighting arena, which weapons or abilities to use and the difficulty of the upcoming match.

*It’s worth noting that you need to complete the game as a human first in order to unlock the alien chapters.

Pros and cons of Raze 3

I really love the storyline and as a small time game developer myself, I can also appreciate the fact that a tiny team of just four people can develop something like this in such a short amount of time- it’s just wonderful!

However I happened to be one of the many players who encounter massive lag in the game, especially when playing the main plot, so I couldn’t really enjoy the game as much as I wanted to.

The quickmatch game mode was noticeably less laggy so I ended up playing that for a good three hours. It’s a fun and addictive game and once you get used to playing it, you’ll definitely enjoy it!

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Glidecraft S600 is the closest you’ll get to a practical hoverboard

Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few months, chances are that you’ve heard about the Lexus hoverboard that supposedly lets you glide around like Marty McFly from Back to the future 2. What you may not know, however, is the fact that it isn’t a real hoverboard. Yes, it hovers in mid air and it is a board, but in order to ride it you need a special kind of track filled with magnets and you need to refill it with liquid nitrogen every 10 minutes. A process which takes roughly 10-15 minutes to begin with.

On top of that it’s incredibly difficult to ride. So difficult, in fact, that it took a professional skater Ross Mcgouran, who has been skating for about two decades, six months to ride the hoverboard well enough to shoot for the commercial. It basically feels like you’re walking a tightrope or “an invisible air rail” as Ross describes it.

It’s just not practical

I hope I didn’t ruin your childhood dreams just now, but as far as we know, there isn’t a real and practical hoverboard out there just yet.

Sure, there are a few startups here and there who are either working with hovering technology powered by magnets or something along the lines of huge drones, but if you want to take a ride on something as rad as the gravity defying pink hoverboard featured in Back to The Future 2 right now, it’s just not going to happen. Sorry.

What about that awkward “mini Segway”?

For quite a while now various companies have been taking advantage of the hoverboard craze and misleading us by labeling a miniature version of the Segway with no handlebars as a “hoverboard” when in fact it doesn’t hover at all and you have to be rather messed up in the head for it to resemble anything remotely board-like.

They are also known for spontaneous combustion, exploding and they’re definitely not as safe in terms of balancing as the classic four wheeled skateboard is. Still, it’s more than possible to learn to ride one and once you do, chances are you’ll become very good. Some have even said it’s like riding a bike.

Glidecraft hoverboard S600

All this aside, you can now buy a hoverboard from Glidecraft, a New Jersey based startup, who seems to be on the right track with their latest model, the S600.

Glidecraft s600 hoverboard ynef

Unlike its predecessors, the S600 features just one wheel in the center of what appears to be a rather futuristic looking skateboard and when I first saw the video where people rode the thing, at certain angles it truly looked as if the skater was hovering in mid air because you couldn’t see the wheel. The cool LED light show that surrounds the board also helps to make the illusion complete, especially at night.

With a top speed at around 10 miles per hour, it can ride up a slope without problems thanks to its powerful electric motor and certified Lithium Ion batteries that last approximately 3 hours before needing to be recharged.

Because of its self balancing features and the fact that you can stand on it as you would stand on a normal skateboard, a position which by the way is a lot safer, the chances of falling on your ass are greatly diminished unlike with the “mini Segway” where you stand horizontally on top of a two wheeler with its center of gravity working against you.

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