Weekly Check-in: 9/20

Last week was... not great. It probably starts with sleep

catIllustration by Kelsey Holmes

For the sake of accountability, I am trying to regularly writing check-ins on my work in progress.

See all check-ins here.

Last Week's Update

Last week was... not great. It probably starts with sleep - I think I was overly optimistic about Zoe's sleeping ability, I forgot that newborns have longer stretches of awake time as they get older, which means I'm not sleeping much at night.

Another difficult thing is that I'm re-writing the core document storage code for ListNote and writing proper unit tests. It's required a lot more focused time, which is exactly what I have been struggling with.

On the plus side, in my sleep-deprived distraction, I've discovered a few new tools to help me out:

Airmail - I've used a lot of desktop email clients over the years. For the past several years, I've been using Mailspring as I got to know its creator Ben, but it's had it's connectivity bugs unfortunately. Airmail has been rock solid and has a simpler interface that's made it easier to focus on clearing out my inbox.

Otter.ai - I've started using Otter.ai to transcribe voice notes to myself. The free tier provides 600 minutes per month (20 minutes per day), which is plenty so far. While my hands are occupied with Zoe, it's given me something to do other than watch Netflix, and I've been really impressed with the quality of the transcription (especially as compared to Apple's.).

No really, this is literally what Apple's Dictation produced:

So you made a list of your footballs footballs and that what kind do you do from here you can you can handle is it and improve what it is that you're actually all abou and so if you've always been into improving the platform.

Stepping back, I've found myself to have about 3 productive hours per day, so at this point I'm just going to have to work with what I've got. I've also made an effort to cut out distractions like Reddit so I can actually use the time I have.

Wins of the Week

  • Fixed two ListNote bugs (can't create tasks on mobile, new task positioning incorrect)
  • Investigated collaborative editing for ListNote, have a path forward with y.js
  • Rebuilt how documents are stored
    • previously, I was using the file system, which was fast but I worried about having multiple servers.
    • my new plan is to store file & folder information in one table in Postgres, and the documents themselves in another table.
    • I considered also using Redis for document storage but I think the complexity of having a second storage system is not outweighed by any benefit. It's easier to replicate PG than Redis, easier to backup / restore, and PG also has greater full-text searching capabilities.
  • I shared this blog with 4 people (thank you!) and got a bunch of valuable feedback on my ideas that I'm digesting. It seems like a lot of folks still have a desire to try out new productivity tools. Good for me I guess but I don't know what that says about the state of that industry.

Learnings of the Week

  • As mentioned above, I learned about my limits in this season, which are a lot greater than I had previously thought.

  • Given my limitations, I've thought harder about how to make the most of the time that I do have, which is positive. With two kiddos I'm not going to have much free time for a while, so "sharpening the saw" and improving my ability to focus seems worthwhile.

  • Otter.ai is really amazing. I'm astounded at the difference in quality level between that and Apple.

  • I've been reflecting on the Figma acquisition - how much of their success was down to the timing of building a web UI editing tool at the right time when it was possible, versus any other factors that could be attributed to their success. It makes me think more about adding "timing" as an important factor for gauging what project to work on next.

  • I was really inspired by this Hacker News thread on what interesting problems people are working on. There's a lot of cool stuff people are doing, both as side projects and going solo. It gives me motivation and inspiration that working on interesting problems will pay off down the road.

High-level Goals

  • Get ListNote to a releasable state

  • Get to clarity on my next project

  • Build a community to give me feedback

Goals for the Week

  1. ListNote - my goal is to get it to a state where I can actually use it collaboratively with Sharon, who will be my test user #1.

    • Finish document storage and collaboration work
    • Folder management / drag + drop UI
  2. Other Projects

    • Write an "Introducing" document for Javascript testing framework. This is really my second most promising idea, and I want to spend some time to flesh it out more.
  3. Community

    • Reach out to my broader network to get more people subscribing to updates.

That's it! Thanks for tuning in, I appreciate the accountability that this format provides.


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