We were on a road trip a few weeks ago and I had an idea for an educational app I would build if I had time.

You start the app before you take your trip and set your current location. As you drive the app updates your location on a map so it is drawing a travel line.

The app contains a database of distances of things and short summaries about them.

  • Length of the longest bridge in the world
  • Width of Rhode Island
  • Length of Panama Canal
  • Distance between the Hawaiian island and Maui
  • Length of the San Francisco Bay
  • Length of dollar bills, laid end-to-end printed in the US every year
  • Diameter of the largest fungus in the world

As the app notices you pass these distances the phone would receive a notification to open the app and read the info about length reached. You could continue to receive notifications on your trip back as well.

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

I posted this to Flickr earlier this evening, but some people wanted to know how I did it so here you go:


If you are on a Mac the command you want to run to put a burger in your Bash shell prompt like mine is:

export PS1="\w 🍔  "

(which will eventually end up looking like
export PS1="\w <U+1F354>  ")

That string is \w for “current working directory”, a space, an emoji burger, and two more spaces for padding.

If you want it to be permanent put that line in your .profile or .bash_profile.

For my prompt I removed my system user name and host. People use those to know which computer they’re on and which user they are, but I know I am me and I am on the burger computer so I removed them. Here are some other options.

  • \d – Current date
  • \t – Current time
  • \h – Host name
  • # – Command number
  • \u – User name
  • \W – Current working directory (ie: Desktop/)
  • \w – Current working directory, full path (ie: /Users/Admin/Desktop)

You can learn more here and there are even more examples here.