Reinventing The Wheel (Or Why My Thing Is So Much More Special-er)

I created a way to track how you spend your time time and it’s called Root Basis. This project has been a long time coming actually.  For years, I’ve been obsessively tracking how I spend my time but I’d always give up because it took up so much more time than what felt productive.

Imagine having to take almost a whole minute every few minutes to write down what you’re doing. A lot of that was just repetitive too because I have the same routines.

Eventually, I created the antescedant to what would become Root Basis. This was an extremely primitive program (and ugly) but it worked.

Root Basis is a more streamlined and intuitive version of that and I’m very proud of it. I use it almost every single day to track how I spend my time.

With that being said, the best time tracker is Toggl. It’s clean. It’s simple. It’s intuitive. If you’re going to bring a time tracker to market, that’s what it should look like.

Now why am I writing this? Am I just engaging in negative self talk? Moping about how I failed? No.  It’s because I never used Toggl until almost six months after I began developing Root Basis.

To be fair, I never planned on releasing Root Basis. Originally, the plan was to create a way to quantify every aspect of your life. I never really developed it past time tracking but I used it every day. Since I was using it every day, I figured other people might find it useful. (I was wrong.)

A common bit of advice in business is to find the market first and once you have a paying customer then you build the product. Sometimes, I just wanna build something because it’s awesome. That’s why I built Words Prevail, a way to send out a message if something happens to you. In this case, it would have been helpful, not only as a viable alternative to going through the process of building something, but also as a way to inspire me to build something better.  (Toggl’s design is so minimalist and clean while Root Basis’ is clunky and unnatural.)

[As a side note, Toggl would have been completely inappropriate for my purposes. The entire purpose of Root Basis is so that you don’t have to write down what you’re doing.]

 

Imposing Your Niceness On Other People

I’m waiting at a corner in a residential neighborhood to turn left to go to work. To my right, a car was coming and I was waiting for them to go so that I could make a left turn. They were turning left and stopped briefly for what I assumed was oncoming traffic. After a while, I looked over in the other direction and no one was coming. I realized they were waiting for me to go.

This is what irks me about these type of exchanges. I’m now waiting longer than I would have if she would have just turned initially. There’s only two reasons why people do this: some kind of driving anxiety and imposing their niceness on other people.

So I stayed where I was. I continued looking off in the other direction as if I didn’t know what was going on. She began honking her horn. I thought to myself,”Wow, really?” More honking. Then, finally, she goes and as she’s passing my car, she looks over at me, shaking her head in condescension.

Recently, this same thing happened again. This time, I was exiting a residential neighborhood to a relatively fast-moving street (40+mph) This street can be difficult to turn out onto because of the faster traffic and parked cars limit visibility. I was turning left again and a car was coming from my right. I checked the traffic to my left and as soon as this car went, I was going to go. They came to a complete stop, so, bewildered, I looked over to see what traffic was coming from my left. There was nothing. A friend of mine was with me and told me to go because they were stopping to let me pass. I refused again. This wasn’t nearly as dramatic as the previous encounter and they turned soon without fanfare, but as I turned left, I made a comment like,”What a moron.”  The person in the car with me was like,”They’re just being nice!”

No. It’s not nice. It’s stupidity. It’s imposing your niceness on other people. Every time someone does this, I imagine them screaming at me,”I’M A NICE PERSON! GO! GO! LET ME HELP YOU!”

In both situations, I didn’t require any help. I just needed them to go. That was the only interaction I required from them and they couldn’t even do that right. I won’t even go into situations where people do this at the expense of the traffic behind them or create dangerous situations where they stop in one lane and the traffic in the next lane continues.

If you do this, just stop. You’re not being nice. You’re just being a nice asshole.

Business Idea : Free Corporate Housing In Exchange For Your Privacy

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of corporate welfare. Not corporate welfare in the sense of government subsidies or protectionism but corporations taking care of people with a profit incentive.

I originally started with the idea of, “What incentive would a corporation have for providing free food to a population?”  Given that a lot of the expense would be not in the actual food but in the logistics of transferring it to the people, this would be untenable

My next thought was about free housing. Originally, I came up with an idea where there could be a housing complex centered around a Walmart type store. Due to its proximity and how people would enter and exit the complex, people would be more likely to shop there.

But then I came upon another idea: what if people were completely surveiled in their residences as part of this program? Its the perfect way to study a consumer. You could provide them free products and services and be able to see how they really feel about the products and services.  Also, as a side note, you could use it as a testing ground for an artificial intelligence that could evaluate what human beings are doing based on visual feeds and audio information and extrapolate data from those feeds. This would have huge implications.

Of course, it’s all speculative and just an idea, but I thought it was pretty cool.

In hindsight, free food could work as part of a subscription place in the vein of Amazon Prime but more all-encompassing.

Media For The ADD Generation

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

I was diagnosed with ADD as a child. My mom didn’t notice a difference in my behavior after I received the medication so she stopped giving it to me. I always wondered if I was still ADD and how it affects my behavior.

Nowadays, everyone’s ADD. Everyone’s OCD. Everyone’s got Asperger’s. I’ve never really noticed any particular behavior that I could identify with an attention deficit except for one one particular thing: I hate long things.

I only give a new song on Pandora ten seconds of my time before I switch to the next one. If I don’t want to continue listening to a song after ten seconds, most likely I wouldn’t want to listen to it at all. (So many songs have 30+ second intros it’s ridiculous. Don’t even get me started on songs with skits.) Even the length of the song is important to me, I genuinely believe that there is rarely ever a reason for a song to be longer than three and a half minutes. (I prefer my songs to be under 3 minutes.)

I read a lot of blogs. I read blogs by skimming the headlines. If a headline is interesting, I’ll check out the article. Sometimes I’ll find an article that is really interesting but it’s just too damn long. We’re talking two to three thousand words. After 500 – 750 words, I’m,”Cool story, bro.” and onto the next one.

Everyone loves movies. I don’t. I like ’em. They’re a nice format for visual storytelling, but again, they’re just too long. I’ll take a TV show that I can start and stop with no problem any day over a movie.

 I wonder if I am unique or if this is specific to my generation. But, really, there seems to be cultural corollaries. How long are Snapchat, Instagram and Vine videos? Short. So it is specific to this generation, but why?

I think it’s because we feel overwhelmed with this need to do something. To be something. To create something. Long media play lengths make it quite clear that we are passively consuming something rather than creating. If I watched an hour’s worth of World Star Hip Hop’s Instagram videos and watched one movie, what seems more productive? The depth of the experience is different too. I engaged in only one activity instead of seemingly dozens. It’s an illusion but a wonderful illusion that my generation likes to believe in.

Just like the Baby Boomers needed to believe that they were special, we need to believe that we are creating something meaningful. Our existence is no less self absorbed than our parents and grandparents but we hope to leave something behind that will outlive us or, at the very least, be bigger than us.

Whether it be a song, a novel, a tweet, a blog article, or just a selfie, we strive to express ourselves because, ultimately, creativity is our generation’s only path to greatness.

Project: Postmortem Messaging

I remember an ex of mine said that I always have to get the last word. I never thought it was true until just now. I’ve always had this obsession in the back of my mind: what’s the last words that I will present to my loved ones?

Most people don’t care what happens when they die. They’re gone so they don’t think it matters.

A How I Met Your Mother episode really brings home my viewpoint on the issue. In season 6 episode 14 of HIMYM, Marshall’s dad dies and the entire episode rests on Marshall obsessing over the last words of his father. He’s distraught over the fact that his father’s last words were so mundane and mediocre.

There’s a chance for everyone on the planet to leave a message for their loved ones after they’re gone. To cultivate how they want to be remembered regardless of what the circumstances of the relationship may be.

The process basically works like this:

  1. Write a message.
  2. Check in periodically on whatever basis you want.
  3. If you don’t respond to our messages after failing to check in, we send out the message for you.

This has applications not only in sending messages after you’re dead but for sending messages in situations when you’re concerned for your safety. If you’re engaged in a possibly dangerous activity by yourself, such as hiking, you can send a message out if something happens and you don’t return.

Originally, I was going to do a minimum viable product to test out the potential for this but then I decided against it. Ultimately, if no one uses this product, that’s fine. I want to use it. When I die, I have things I want to say to people and this project will let me do that.  I’ve been wanting to work on this project for almost two years. I don’t think I’ve been this excited since Do It! Prove It! (Thankfully, this project won’t end in disappointment because I have extremely low expectations.)

 

How to enable PHP7 in Apache?

So I recently created a new Laravel installation and have entered the wonderful world of Laravel 5.3 (no more app/Http/routes.php) . Unfortunately, the standard chmod and chown commands weren’t helping. I went to the IRC chat on freenode and received condescending remarks but just a  little bit of help. It was only after I went to /r/laravel that I received some insight that the issue was probably that I had two different versions of PHP running. PHP7 on CLI and PHP 5 on Apache.

I tried to reinstall PHP 7 using the directions from Digital Ocean. No such luck. Still just in CLI not on Apache. I had to Google a few different things before I stumbled upon this Stack Exchange question.

First, disable the php5 module:

a2dismod php5
then, enable the php7 module:

a2enmod php7.0
Next, reload/restart the Apache service:

service apache2 restart

So that’s how I was able to resolve the issue and now I can start work on my new project: postmortem messaging.

 

Random Ass Questions

I have a Trello board entirely devoted to random ass questions that I come up with.

Which cities have develop since 1990?

Which part of farming cannot be easily automated?

What’s more likely to be an issue as a black women traveling the world?

I never have enough time for it though. I have about 39 questions that I haven’t even bothered to answer and 13 questions that I need to re-ask on Reddit because they weren’t answered in a satisfactory fashion.

Now I’ve been looking for something to blog about and this seems like the perfect thing. I even found a domain that would be perfect: randomquestionoftheday.com

So we’ll see how this develops. I’m really excited to have a project that I might be able to stick with. Though, I’m concerned that I’ll run out of questions.

random question of the day

Why I’m Really Writing This Blog

This blog started because I wanted to evaluate if WordPress plugin development was something I could get into. (Not really for me but if someone wants me to, I will.)

Now it’s become more about establishing a personal brand. Not in the cheesy “build a brand” type talk that you normally hear from people but, hopefully, establishing some kind of social connection with other human beings under the taqfu namespace.

I don’t really interact with other human beings and that’s a huge weakness of mine, because I have almost no social network. Most of the opportunities we experience in life are from our social network so not having that is a huge drawback.

But this is probably the twelfth iteration of some kind of blog. My first was almost two decades ago and I’ve abandoned nearly every single one after a few entries.

I’m a little bit more hopeful for this iteration but…I always am.

Idea: A Platform For Artisan Greeting Cards

X For Y: Etsy For Greeting Cards

Origin

I was reviewing my grandmother’s cards for Mother’s Day while simultaneously complaining to her about greeting cards.

The idea of a greeting card is great. You show someone that you really care by sending them a message in a physical format, which in this day and age lends an almost Victorian air of sophistication.

The problem is that the greeting card you bought at CVS is not unique. They print out thousands, if not millions, of them. You browsed a few in the rack and you picked one out. That’s not special. That’s not unique. Something like that can hardly be considered a gift. In the end, giving a card to someone nowadays usually isn’t much more than an obligation or social gamesmanship.

While telling my grandmother this, I thought of Her. How the protagonist of that story works in some lofty future where people pay him to write hand-written messages. Then I thought what if I could do the same thing with greeting cards?

How It Works

With this platform, people could hire someone to custom create their greeting card for them. They could hire an artist, a writer or a calligrapher.  These developers would have portfolios and ratings on their profiles. Developers can provide more than one role. A developer who fulfills all three roles would be termed a full-stack developer.

In order to create a greeting card, the user simply describes what they’re looking for either in text, audio or video format. The user then indicates what type of developers they’re willing to hire and how much they’re willing to pay.

Developers would then place their bid for the proposal and any comments they may have.

The user would then go through the list of applicants and hire whoever they see fit.

Our platform would compensate the developers for their shipping costs and direct them where they would send it to. In some cases, they’d be sending it directly to the customer. In other cases, they may be sending it to another developer to be finished.

After the customer has received their greeting card, they would be able to rate and comment on that developer.

Concerns

The price point for these greeting cards is $10. The platform would take $1 for every greeting card sold. Assuming that the artist would get less than 1/2 of that, there’s a very real concern that this is not enough money, but artists from less developed countries could possibly fulfill that role.

In the event of an international collaboration, the cost of possibly shipping the card to  three separate countries (from artist to calligrapher to customer) may have a huge financial impact. This could be mitigated by only allowing for domestic collaborations or passing that shipping cost directly and transparently to the consumer as part of working with that developer.

Business Model

The platform receives $1 for each greeting card. All greeting cards are developed in a standard medium and must be purchased by developers for a nominal fee.

The Joy Of Consistent Commits

I used to just commit whenever I was done working. If I worked an hour, or if I worked three hours, I would just commit at the end of that time period. This is problematic because you can’t always account for all of the changes you’ve made during a certain time period.

Recently, I’ve adopted a habit of commiting every single time I implement something from my Trello board. Now I don’t do this for extremely simple fixes but pretty much everything else requires a commit.

A few days ago, I had an incident that really confirmed why I do this. I worked all day on various elements of my new app, Root Basis. (It’s a time tracking app that I’d eventually like to extend to tracking everything.) The next day, or maybe on the way home, I noticed this issue with adding tasks to a time period. On desktop, there was no problem, but on mobile, the task menu wasn’t coming up at all.

I immediately thought it might be an issue with AJAX because I’ve had issues with that before. I ruled that out pretty quickly. Then just to see if it was some kind of responsive design issue, I tried it out in Chrome’s mobile view on my desktop. It worked perfectly.

So I knew now that the issue was specifically with my iPhone. Then when I went between the dev enviroment and production environment, the issue disappeared so I knew it was because of something I changed that day. Unfortunately, I did a lot of work that day and I had no idea where the issue could have come from and I really didn’t want to have to look through each commit to figure out where I went wrong.

Then I had this idea, why not just revert each commit until I found out which commit caused the error. I found it pretty quickly after that.

Normally, an error like this would be unremarkable, but this particular error is very odd to me. That day I had added new code that would reset all the other task menus:

$(“.listOfNewTasks”).html(“”);

So all the task menus would be reset and a new task menu would be generated:

$(“#listOfNewTasks” + timePeriodID).html(getData);

This created a flickering effect that I found jarring so I changed the reset code to:

$(“.listOfNewTasks:not(#listOfNewTasks” + timePeriodID + “)”).html(“”);

Apparently, this works fine on Desktops but is broken on iPhones. Maybe I messed up on the formatting? I plan to research this later and find out.