The Week: 16th September 2019

Late weeknotes – sorry! We’re well back into the swing of new-term things now, but last week I was hit by a heavy cold so I have been a bit slow.

Projects: what I’ve been up to

I’ve mostly been continuing my charity microsite build. There’s been a few other small bits of support I’ve been working on. But it’s mostly build, build, build in HTML/CSS.

On the side I’ve been doing a few interesting things.

  • Made a simple chatbot framework in about 100 lines of vanilla JS – for ages I’ve been wanting to work on the “marketing” and explanatory side of my SchoolBot Parent Information System. As one of the main components of SchoolBot is a chatbot, I’d wondered if I could build a chatbot to explain what SchoolBot does. An hour or so later and I had done just that. The conversation needs to be developed, but it works nicely:
  • Related: I did NOT get involved in school comms! There was NOT a conversation on Twitter about service design and user experience of school stuff that resulted in me trying to DO something to pull people together to make some kind of framework to help schools improve communications with parents.
  • I signed up for the Cheltenham do_action charity hackathon on 4th October. They still need some designers, so sign up if that’s you and you fancy giving back some work to local charities.

Posts: things I made

This week I learned

  • Blackcurrant Lemsips are WAY nicer than the lemon ones. ?
  • The Focos app for iOS takes pictures with no depth information and uses machine learning to add depth information, giving you depth of field/bokeh type stuff, and the ability to add virtual lighting. Amazing stuff.
  • There’s a great new browser testing tool on the block that’s cheaper than BrowserStack and has a simple, free tier. Check out LambdaTest (affiliate link) (discovered via @calebporzio)
  • Laravel’s “Tinker” command line utility has an “edit” command you can use to launch an editor for adding multi-line stuff (think this might have been via a Laracasts video)
Laravel Tinker’s edit mode demo


I listen to a fair few Podcasts, and so I want a decent app that syncs them all together. My needs are:

  • Cross-platform – so I can use it on iOS, Android, Mac and PC.
  • Subscriptions, listens and progress synced, so I can pick up where I left on on another device
  • Listen queue
  • Stars/favourites
  • Great sharing functionality

PocketCasts has for a LONG time been my go-to app. It does all these things really well. Highly recommended.

Time Machine

A post from the past: I’m thinking a lot about communications and processes right now. It’s good to be reminded that good communications is primarily a people problem, not a technological one.

Pins: things I read and remembered

Here’s what I bookmarked this week:

(Brought to you with and my Sync Pinboard plugin)

Have a great week!