IDEA: Open Source Journalling

The idea has been floating for a while but I think it is finally time to start something. One of my concerns with the big journalling apps apart for sending some of my most intermittent thoughts to a company that one day could be on Google’s acquisition list is just sending these thoughts to a company that may or may not be around in 30 years when I want to review them and reflect on my life.

That sparked a quest to find a good self hosted journalling application and while WordPress is a great content manager it is not a great journalling application. This has lead me to the decision something needs building that will allow me to journal on my server with an application I control.

I can not be the only person that thinks this way and after a quick search of /r/selfhosted there are many people looking for just an application.

This is the kick off post for what I hope will be a large scale open source project with a lot more than just a web app.

The initial version will be a PHP based web application as that is what I know and in time I will develop iPhone and Android applications. The initial web app should be fully responsive for mobile use to make it possible to write from a phone as I personally often find myself tapping away inside Day One currently.

I will be looking for collaborators in the 2019 after I make an initial start on the project with the aim to have a beta version ready in Q3 of 2019. To start with this project will be a very slow burn but will pick up pace towards the end. If you are a PHP developer and are interested in working on this project please do not hesitate to reach out.


Plesk Hosting

I have always pretty much ignored Plesk as a control panel with the popularity of cPanel that is always what I have run. I have also switched a lot between hosting on VPS servers and shared hosting as different project requirements have dictated.

Today I have moved back to a VPS with Digital Ocean for flexibility in an upcoming project and selected Plesk as my control panel after hearing a fair bit about its WordPress tools and I have to say I am very impressed with it. By default it installs Apache and Nginx which instantly lead to this site jumping in speed even without caching plugins and optimisations been made.

Now I was coming from what was very much bargin basement hosting on Smart Hosting a UK based provider. Even though Smart Hosting offer Litespeed as a website server with caching they just didn’t have the horsepower or bandwidth to deliver sites quickly. It wasn’t long before I found CloudFlare was a needed add-on.

With my new Plesk server at Digital Ocean CloudFlare is not a requirement and not even close. I don’t have a ton of resources but Nginx is so light and fast I don’t need them. I opted for a 1GB server at Digital Ocean with a 25GB external volume for holding me site files. This is perfect for now and I can always increase as needed once my new projects get off the ground.

One of the biggest sites I host is serving images on eBay and this will be 100% handled by Nginx and barely touch my RAM in the handling these requests so I don’t see a time I will need to increase my server size before March.

Nginx has been a learning curve and this is my first Nginx based production server. I have to say the learning experience has been fantastic and well worth the effort in-exchange for the speed and quality of the hosting I now have for not a lot of money.


Notion the ultimate app

I’ve heard a lot about Notion but never really took a look myself. That was until recently and I instantly fell in love. 

With in a matter of hours I found myself subscribing for the increased storage and premium benefits. The app is so flexible and powerful it has replaced my sales CRM, project management and general task list. It then quickly swallowed my note taking application and receipt tracking app.

With a matter of days Notion had saved me £35 in application subscriptions with third parties and all for $4 per month. 

I am currently looking at adding my Journaling to Notion and that will save me another £23 per year. The app truly is a powerhouse and I see why so many people are raving about it. It covers everything from the most professional uses to the most personal without 1 app. 

Now, Notion is going to be for everyone. It does require some setup and upkeep for each use case you want to apply within the app. Something I don’t mind as it keeps me very much in touch with what is going on in my life. 

As you can probably tell I highly recommend Notion and at $5 per month ($48 per year which works out at $4/month) it is my favourite application of the year by a long way and I am excited to see where this application goes in the future.


WordPress 5.0 is here

We have known it is coming for a while and today (well yesterday) saw the release of WordPress 5.0 with the Gutenberg. 

This is possibly the biggest update to the WordPress editor since it was invented some 20 years ago. The new editor is similar to what Avada’s Fusion Builder and Enfold’s Aviva Editor have being doing for a while although in a much more basic form. This post has come out a little late as I needed to move my site on to the new Twenty Nineteen theme to take full advantage of Gutenberg.

I have always kept this site simple and a place from experiments and ramblings and this is no different with Gutenberg.

Over the coming weeks I am going to be playing around with the WordPress editor a little more and will provide my full feedback on this shortly. Hint: I prefer Fusion Builder.


Things 3: Perfect for big and small projects

I have long been on and off with task management applications and they all failed me for 1 reason. They were either great at big projects or small tasks but never both.

Well that changed with Things 3. Yes I might be over a year late to the release of Things 3 but for a long time I needed something that worked on Android and Mac so never gave Things 3 a looking. Now I have finally converted back to iPhone it was time to look at what exists in the Apple only universe.

The big projects

Let’s start with what I consider to be the most important part of a to do app. Managing large fast move projects.

I have built a successful web development and marketing house over the years and we have a lot of projects which I have a list of things I am responsible for. These range for reviewing a junior developers work, writing code, documenting functions and all the way through to meeting with clients.

Things 3 has Areas of Responsibility which are kind of like folders that hold and separate your personal and work projects. You can create as many or as few as you need – you can even use the full application without creating a single area if you so wish.

Once you create an Area of Responsibility you find yourself creating project of all sizes and adding tasks, headings (more on headings later). So once the application is full of everything circling in your head you start to check things off and wait, you notice projects have a pie that fills as you complete the tasks giving you a really clear overview of where you stand. Yet there is more a project can be checked off and completed just like a task.

Ok, so I mentioned headings and you are wondering what these have to do with task lists and projects. Well in truth they don’t do a great deal but they are invaluable when it comes to laying out your project and keeping things looking clean and organised. A heading is just that a heading to separate a set of tasks and give some organisation to a large project.

I have tried collaborative to do apps and they never work out because I cross so many different types of people and 1 app will never fit everybody’s workflow. I like that Things 3 is personal and closed to me. It allows me to run both my personal and professional life from 1 application. Speaking of which that brings us nicely into…

The small tasks

I purposely didn’t use the word projects for this as I am talking about tasks that are too small for a project. Things like buy milk, return Johns call. They are single tasks that take 3-5 minutes out of your day. Often personal task that don’t require a lot of thought but need tracking none the less.

When you are using a task management application you need to trust it and the only way to trust the system is to add everything you have to do into the application. If you leave stuff in your head that is the first step to losing trust in your application and your system. As soon as you lose trust you can’t get it back without a complete reset and rebuild.

After that small tangent lets look at how Things 3 can handle the small tasks. As discussed previously Things has Areas of Responsibility which allows you to superset work and personal projects. Well you can add a task to an area. Yes that is right areas don’t just hold projects they can have their own task lists. This is perfect for small little jobs that don’t relate to a project and don’t need a whole project of their own.

Yet more. You can add a task to today. This is a task that doesn’t have a project or an area and at the same time doesn’t belong in the inbox. This is an idea I love for those quick jobs that crop up during the day that need to be done that elegant but not the most minute, for example return John’s call.


The bottom line is I love Things 3 and have been using it for over 3 months now making it the longest lasting task manager I have ever used. Now it is not cheap at £50 for the macOS app, £10 for the iPhone app and £20 for the iPad app you are looking at a £80 investment to get the full package. I would say, however, with out a doubt this is the best £80 I have spent on an application is a long long time.

I highly recommend Things 3 to anybody that lives and works in Apple’s universe. It complements each of Apple’s platforms perfectly something I guess the likes of Todoist will never do as they strive to be the same across 20+ platforms and operating systems.

One thing I would like to see them add is a web version and I would even pay a small subscription for access to the web version. For those occasions I need to do a lot of task entry away from my Mac a web version would be great. This is not a problem with Things for iPhone as task entry there is truly amazing – it is more of a problem with typing on an iPhone in general.

Over the coming months I will be writing a lot more about Things 3 and some other apps I have adopted into my new workflow.