One of the plans for this year, a part from staying at home reminiscing of what travel used to like, was to focus on building this site and expanding the features that it provides. First, a little background. This site is 100% custom, it's not an 'off the shelf' template. everything you see here has been built, and designed by me. Over the years, I've tried a many different approaches to keeping track of things that need to be done, or ideas to implement, and bugs that need to be squashed.

Now, there are many project management tools available, that would fit this purpose, from simple task lists, to full blown tools providing reporting, gantt charts, agile stories, and kanban boards. For many projects, these tools can be very helpful, but for just me and this site, every one of them has always been overkill. I've tried to use these tools, but the complexity has just got in the way. I always kept finding myself going back to using a plain text file (well, actually an Apple Notes file for easy syncing between devices).

The problem of using text files

Text files are great for many things. They are simple, they can have their own structure. You can mix bullet points with text. They work everywhere. But, they have their downsides too, it's very hard to provide context within the document. Ideas that might be connected, can be separated into different sections, and loose context of how they relate to the wider subject.

Using mind mapping to keep track of things

I've always been intrigued by the idea of mind mapping. Connecting thoughts with links and hierarchies, and using colours to disguise intent behind each idea. But unfortunately, I've never had a good subject to play with them properly. It's very hard to just pickup and use a new piece technology without a good reason to need to use it.

When I first saw Mindmeister being demoed at a Ruby conference in Vienna, I suddenly had the thought that this could be a really good way to finally have a process to keep track of my plans for maniacalrobot.co.uk.

Photography

Recent Images

Opensource Repositries

github.com/phil/dotfiles

My current envirnment setup for Mac OS X

github.com/phil/ApertureStats

A commandline tool for getting stats from Apple Aperture

github.com/phil/releasethekraken

A Simple Exchange Ticker for tracking the bitcoin prices on the Kraken Exhange

Nyx

Nyx is an event driven bot that can listen for and react to input.

The Core of Nyx is a simple messaging system, where new messages are created for every event. Messages are then passed to each subsystem, which can respond to the input source directly, or trigger new messsages

github.com/phil/nyx

About the Author

Phil Balchin is a full-time software developer at Heroku (a Salesforce company) and part-time photographer living in Guildford, Surrey, UK. Specialising in software development and photography, Phil also writes about graphic design, personal productivity, and travel.

Contact