Pither.com / Simon
Development, systems administration, parenting and business

Journal, ISO week 2018-W34

last week

Social media

Since it's now frowned upon to post repeated content (even on Twitter), and it's tedious to manually think up a new way to say the same thing 10, 20 or more times; I've been thinking about ways it could be automated. It turns out I'm not the only one - here's an intriguing new feature from Edgar - creating automatic variations to social media posts.


Amazing looking Star Trek simulator game that's currently available for free download on Windows, Mac and Linux! I haven't had the time to actually try it yet but the screenshots look fantastic.

I've used TT-RSS and the Android client very happily for years now but I do often wish it would manage podcasts too - perhaps I'll write an app for it myself one day (perhaps based on the wireframes and notes I've been making for a while)!

A really interesting looking (and local to us) lecture on Hyperloop technology - I need to ask my children if they fancy it.

Not entirely sure it's useful to me but I like the PWA positivity and flexibility this article shows - shipping PWAs as Chrome extensions.


The amount of time it takes to purchase a property in this country is quite ridiculous, which apparently means now is the time to buy if you want to move before Christmas!!

Some really interesting reports on the private rented sector, although they're a bit long to read in full, there's plenty of great detail if you do. I especially liked the one on legal requirements and costs of being a landlord and the one on who landlords really are (from 2016).

I had a great chat about PaTMa with the person behind Artisan Surveyors who provide asbestos surveys and related services.


Wednesday was my regular free Redhill co-working day, this time hosted by CoTribe. It turned out to be the busiest free co-working day I've run for quite a while with 16 people attending throughout the day. Along with the busy social a couple of weeks ago, it makes August the 2nd most popular month this year (24 visitors vs 25 in January). It's the first year (of four) that August has been so popular (it normally sees a slight dip in attendance).

Time tracking

I've used Toggl to track my time for a few years now. It's free and has both web and mobile clients, which was exactly what I wanted. I don't use any of their billing features - I track my time primarily for personal improvement reasons rather than client billing (although I do also use the data for work purposes too) - hence I haven't needed to pay for a subscription. However I have considered subscribing...

The trouble is, while it fundamentally provides what I need, I find myself cursing Toggl several times a day and pretty much have done for years! For a very long time their mobile app crashed multiple times a day, their web app was super slow (sometimes I'd switch to trying the crashy mobile app while waiting for it) and even when it did work the UI didn't (and still doesn't) quite provide what I want. I discovered a Toggl helper app that meant I could often avoid the official crashy Toggl app, making some common actions much quicker. Unfortunately it has it's own quirks and still results in frequent cursing.

Toggl have gradually improved their web app over the years and it certainly isn't as crushingly slow as it used to be, although it's still not speedy and has some odd quirks that frustrate me. Their mobile app also sees regular updates, and sometimes they even improve things. Toggl recently released a whole new mobile app (presumably the old one is beyond repair?), which does have a much nicer UI and seems to be more reliable, although I've still found a couple of annoying bugs. Most critically it still doesn't provide the quick access features I really want.

There's only so much an entrepreneur developer can take before they decide to just solve the problem themselves!

I have notes, wireframes, technology plans and a database schema; oh and of course a domain. I'm sure I'll write more about it here but if you want email updates there's (only) a sign-up form at Non Stop Timer.

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