For the past few months I have been using a time management method called The Pomodoro Technique. Despite the name it is a simple way to manage your work time. To follow it you:

  1. decide on the task to be done
  2. set the timer to 25 minutes
  3. work on the task until the timer rings; record with an x
  4. take a short break (3-5 minutes)
  5. every four work cycles take a longer break (15–30 minutes)

The story (you can read it here) is the inventor was studying at university and came up on the idea of partitioning time between breaks to motivate himself to work continuously for short periods. He happened to use a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato (pomodoro in Italian) and a pad and pencil to record his progress.

You don’t really need to read any more than that to get started, but there is a book and certification and courses and a plastic tomato timer because this is what people do when they can’t leave well enough alone.

You can try it if you want. I don’t care. The reason I am mentioning it is I finally found a good timer to use. Up until now I had been using a Pomodoro specific iPhone app that I would set next to my computer. This was fine most of the time, but sometimes I found myself away from my phone or would forget to reset it. I had tried OS X apps but they all had obtrusive windows that would get in the way.

Timebar costs $2.99 on the App Store and is almost the perfect Pomodoro timer. Rather than barking a growl notification at you or having to manage a full window, Timebar uses a transparent color over your actual menubar to show the countdown. You use the menu bar item to interact with it and the alert window is very small.

Screen Shot 2013 04 09 at 11 48 45 AM

The only thing I wish it had was a “ding” noise so I could know when my 5 minute breaks were up, but other than that it is just what I needed.

Timebar: $2.99

Wow, this is what EC2 was made for: Bees With Machine Guns, described as a "low-cost, distributed load testing using EC2"


This comment on Metafilter outlines from the inside how a successful hardware company can fail by focusing on short-term budget goals. The example of diverting phone calls to a certain customer support department because it saves you $2.47 is the sort of thinking that gets someone a bonus for the quarter because they hit their number. What a waste.

It also reminded me of a series of calls I made to Apple support in the early 2000's where I was mocked, hung up on, and finally, after many calls was able to get my computer fixed. Does anyone remember the joke that was Apple customer support?

The other bit in that comment that sticks out is how (the poster's estimation) 90% of the calls were actually software (Windows) related. Doomed from the start.

The Android WePad is coming soon. They even have one of those handy charts to show you why it's better than an iPad.

Sadly the interface is reminiscent of an Idiocracy TV.

WePad Android Tablet Launching Soon.jpeg
Idiocracy Screen

For the past week I've been using this hidden "feature" of OS X called "Single Application Mode" originally linked to by Daring Fireball.

It is very nearly just an action where clicking an app in your dock causes that app to open or gain focus, and all other apps are minimized and hidden. The other apps are still open, they simply act as if you've hit Option-Command and clicked an application's window, causing all other apps to hide.

At first I turned it on thinking it'd be fun to play around with. I kept the Terminal window open with the command ready to reset the feature, but as I spent the day using it I realized I kind of like it. In fact, I'm still using it.

You can still open a number of windows at once using the Command-Tab key combination to select other apps. But clicking a single app in the dock will hide them all and return you to single application mode.

The mode was put in for novice users who would get lost among the many windows that can litter your screen, but it was soon abandoned as people got used to OS X. I'm no novice, but I am someone who clicks Option-Command very often because I find the chaotic splattering of windows sometimes overwhelming. If you do as well you should check out Single Application Mode.

Wishing Stars a location based scavenger hunt on the iPhone you play at the theme parks.

I've been waiting for this app for a while. Loren just recorded a screen-cast for it and it's even better than I could have imagined. It's going to be available (spoiler alert)Monday.

Some people, when confronted with a problem, think "I know, I'll use regular expressions." Now they have two problems.
--usually attributed to jwz in comp.lang.emacs

I had seen jwz's quote a few times, it's a very clever, and in the past week as I've been playing with a particularly nasty regex in Erlang I keep muttering to myself variations—"now I have nine problems" for example.

Today I threw the quote into Google and found this post over a year old by the guy who taught me regular expressions, the author of Mastering Regular Expressions Jeffrey Friedl.

In his post he tracks down the original quote and possible origins. Apparently it was recently on Reddit, and jwz himself makes an appearance in the comments.

Wil Shipley on the MacBook Air. I'm just as confused as him why people are so upset about the firewire port and lack of access—that's the best part! The Air is exactly the computer I want to have around the house to code up an idea, read a book, watch a TV show, send mail, and check in on my feeds. Heck, I can even sit in bed (like I'm doing right now) in the dark and actually see the keys! That's an improvement over this hot, heavy, snarling Macbook.

Lighter, thinner, quieter, cooler, simpler...these are good things.

Bill Gates' going away video is pretty funny. No longer a of fan of that operating system but he's an admirable engineer. Plus: XBox.