Create a Raspberry Pi 3 Bluetooth tag

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I found this MagPi Tutorial to be a really nice starting project for my newly purchased Pi 3. However, I did run into a few problems which I will address in this Blog post. You can pretty much follow either this post, or the MagPi one, but my post will address any issues I had when following their tutorial.

So to start, they requested I find the Mac address for both my phone and PC. I followed their advice for looking on my phone, but the Mac address was long and full of dashes which looking at the Python script is not what they want. Instead, I used the Pi to search for my phone on Bluetooth and find the Mac address using the following in Terminal…

sudo bluetoothctl agent on scan on

This will use the Bluetooth module, turn Bluetooth on and then search for Bluetooth devices. Next, connect your phone to your Pi and copy the Mac address then paste into a text editor for later.

To pair your selected device type…

pair XX:XX:XX:XX:XX:XX

The x’s will be your phone’s mac address.

Now we need to grab your PC’s mac address, you can do this through your router. My router’s IP is 192.168.0.1, but your’s might be different, log into your router and view your connected devices where you should find your PC’s chosen Mac address. Keep this safe for later on.

Now we have our Mac addresses, we need to install all relevant software. I had trouble trying to install ‘pybluez’, so I will now tell you how I overcame this issue.

Firstly, we need to install Python dev and a Bluetooth library by typing the following into Terminal…

sudo apt-get install python-dev sudo apt-get install libbluetooth-dev

Then we can install the packages from MagPi…

sudo pip install pybluez sudo pip install wakeonlan

Now for the Python script, if you check out the original post, you will see this differs slightly as this code works perfect for me…


import time import bluetooth from wakeonlan import wol

phone = "ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff"

def search(): devices = bluetooth.discover_devices(duration = 5, lookup_names = True) return devices

while True: results = search()

for addr, name in results: if addr == phone: wol.send_magic_packet('ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff') time.sleep(20)

To get this working automatically on reboot, we need to add the following to /usr/profile, to edit /usr/profile type…

sudo nano /usr/profile

Then right at the very bottom of this script we need to add the following…

sudo python /home/py/bluetooth_tag.py &

That is everything, be sure to run python on the script beforehand to ensure your phone can wake up your PC, when it does, the script should carry on working after a reboot.

If you have any questions regarding this tutorial, or think it could be improved, then please let me know.

Favourite connections of the year 2018

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I feel like I’ve made so many connections this year and for that alone makes me truly grateful for 2018.

  • The king of makers called Pieter Levels. He has created so many sites/projects and has encouraged me to make my own projects such as WODemocracy.
  • Daniel is another maker who I enjoy watching. His UI skills are amazing and I love the projects he works on.
  • I’ve been reading Eric L. Barnes‘ blog for a while and always enjoyed his posts on his personal blog and Laravel News, as well as his Twitter page. He’ a lovely guy and has always got something positive to say.
  • As some of you may know, I suffer from mental health. This means I follow quite a few people from the mental health community. These include, but are not limited to lovely people such as… James ConlonHattie Gladwell and Pinkster C.

Who are your favourites?

Let me know in the comments below and I’ll be sure to connect with them.

iPad Pro 12.9” 2020 review (A PC user’s perspective)

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I’m not the biggest Apple fan; in fact, I always avoided Apple products and stuck with either Microsoft or Android. I even had Windows phones because I thought they were going to take over the market and become a competitor to Android and Apple. However, the iPad Pro is something to think consider when comparing to similar tablets.

It wasn’t until the release of the iPhone 11 when I finally decided to give Apple a chance. I purchased it as an upgrade to my Pixel 2 as the Pixel 4 wasn’t a real upgrade, and the 4K video on both the front and back lenses attracted me to take my chances. It worked out, and recently I decided I wanted to give the iPad Pro a go as well.

I took a look at comparisons between the 11” and the 12.9” iPad Pro. The differences between them weren’t just the screen sizes, but there were also a few hardware differences too, and the 12.9” just had a little more going for it in my eyes.

The things I love about the iPad Pro


1. Portability

The portability of the iPad Pro is incredible. It’s much more lightweight than most laptops out there, even when you pair it with the magic keyboard. The size is also perfect for me, it’s not too big and not too small, and I love the fact I can take it with me anywhere and start writing. I’m writing this blog post in my wife’s car while I wait for her to finish her pet sitting.

If I had a laptop, I would have to open it up, turn it on. Then wait for it to boot before I could log in and open a program to do some writing. Now I can unfold my iPad, swipe up and open my favourite editor. The difference in effort is nothing short of incredible.

I also love going from my desktop pc, which has become my main-working station to my couch and opening up my iPad.


2. iPad Pro – Apple Pencil

I purchased the Apple Pencil because I wanted to try my hand at some ProCreate. I’ve had a Surface Pro 3 in the past, which was a great machine until it started slowing down. On my Pro 3, I loved the Adobe experience, which you can also get on the iPad. However, most people prefer to use ProCreate as the digital design app of choice for iPads.

Now, I’m not an artist by any means, but I have always enjoyed being able to draw from time to time, and having this as an extra has been excellent. It’s helped me do more of my hobbies and unwind from social media. I haven’t used the pencil for notes or designing apps or anything like that, but at least it gives me that option if I ever need it.

Also, pairing the iPad with a screen protector such as the Paperlike or Bellemond protector adds a paper-like texture and can improve your drawing experience. I don’t usually use a screen protector on any of my mobile or tablet devices, but after hearing how it can add a more paper feel and reduces glare which was a massive sell for me.


3. The Apple Ecosystem

The Apple ecosystem has always been something that I disliked with Apple products. I didn’t want to get suckered into their ecosystem and be hindered by their walled garden. It is both a blessing and a curse in all honesty. However, the magic keyboard and Apple Pencil pairing and working together makes for a lovely experience. Also, I loved the fact I could place my iPhone nearby, and have it recognise my Apple profile and transfer any selected data.

I have honestly never seen such a more superior experience when I’ve used both Microsoft and Android products. However, I am still trying not to buy everything Apple-based. I still have Sony headphones and a Garmin fitness watch which work perfectly fine connected to my Apple devices.


4. Multitask like a pro

Okay. You might not be able to multitask like a real laptop or PC, but you can still multitask very well. Right now, I have Google Docs open with YouTube open to the right. You can have it as a floating window which you can move around, or you can have it attached to your current app where you can resize the apps using the black bar towards the centre of the screen. You can see both options below. There’s also another option to have two apps attached and a third app floating around if you feel like a multitasking king.

It’s not a full-blown computing experience, but it works well, and it’s something I enjoy using. Hopefully, Apple can improve on this in the future, and we can have many more apps open at the same time, especially if you feel you haven’t got enough apps open at the same time.


5. iPad Pro – Apple Magic keyboard

The Apple Magic keyboard is nice to type on, with very little key-travel, and a comfortable typing experience, you can’t go wrong. I usually favour a full-blown keyboard experience and personally use a Corsair mechanical keyboard for my desktop and typically take it with me to work because I prefer it to a laptop keyboard. However, the magic keyboard is excellent, and I enjoy using it. I’m using the keyboard to write this whole article that you’re reading right now, which can’t be that bad.


Conclusion

Overall, and after being someone who actively avoided Apple products, I’m very impressed. The experience has been fantastic, and I can’t wait to see the iPad Pro evolve in the future. Of course, it’s not a full-blown PC like they try to advertise, but it is a productive gadget that you should consider purchasing if you’re looking for a portable and productive device.

It has helped me create more, and be more productive, and I’m hopeful this trend will continue in the future. If you were in two minds about purchasing an iPad Pro, I would say that if it’s ticking all the boxes, then you should take the plunge and you won’t regret the purchase.

Have you purchased an iPad Pro? What are your thoughts? Let us know; I’d love to learn how you have become more productive.

Maximising your savings as a millennial in the UK

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Affiliate links:

Please be aware that the links in this article are affiliate links. If you click on them, I will gain some sort of commission. All money gained will help future blog posts.

I’ve read a lot of blog posts. Watched a lot of videos which talk about saving and investing your income. The only trouble is that all of them are educating Americans. There’s barely any content for people outside of America. Of course, we have Money Saving Expert which is a great resource (and one you should check out). Laura Whateley, a money columnist from the Sunday Times, but there aren’t many people talking about their personal experiences.

Today, I’m here to talk about my experience with saving and investing money. To maximise returns in the hopes you can learn from it, and also get more returns on your savings.

Let’s first begin by asking…

Why should I save and invest when I could potentially lose money?

You’re only likely to lose money if you invest in the short-term. You’re much less likely to lose money if you invest in the long-term. It’s recommended you keep your money in an investment pot for at least 3 years, but if you’re investing into a pension pot, then you’ll be investing for a lot longer.

Many people will invest using apps like Freetrade, Trading 212 and other apps where you can choose which companies you invest in. This is great if you know what companies you’d like to invest in, but if you’re like me and want to give someone else money and invest for you, then you can. I personally use an AI savings bot called Plum.

Plum is a bot that learns your income and spending habits, and will then take small amounts and save it into a pot. The money it takes is saved into an FSCS protected Barclays account, and you can put the money back into your bank whenever you need it.

You can go a step further by paying £1 a month which will allow you to open up an investment pot and invest some of your money save by Plum. I have two pots open, Tech Giants and Stocks and Shares. The former has a lot more ups and downs, but the potential on returns is far greater than the latter.

Plum has a pretty awesome brain which allows you to control how much Plum takes from your account, and where it puts that money. I have Plum set to “Beast Mode” which saves 75% more money than it’s “normal mode“, and I split the money 35% in Tech Giants, 35% in Stocks and shares, and 30% into a 0.6% FSCS account to have multiple returns.

Getting money from my investments can take a little while, depending on how quickly they can sell your shares, and the 0.6% account is a lot faster at 1 day to withdraw. Altogether, it’s a clever system and has helped me save over £2,000 with a £107.99 return at the time of writing this article.

Maximising money for your first home

I read a fantastic book which I 100% recommend called… “Money: A User’s Guide” which goes through everything on the topic of money. One thing I learned from reading it is opening a savings LISA account. Once you open a LISA account, you will receive a 25% return on your savings from the government up to £4,000 every year. The maximum you can save in a LISA account is £4,000 each year and if you save that each year, the government will give you £1,000 as a bonus.

The bonus can only be used on your first house, or for when you retire, and you need to have it open for at least 1 year before you can take advantage of your bonus. If you use it for your first home, then you can use it for a house up to the value of £450,000. If you had it open for three years and saved the total amount each year, you would have an extra £3,000 of free money.

You can also take your money out at any time, but if you use it for anything else other than your first home or your pension, then you won’t receive the bonus. To anyone looking at buying their first home, I 100% recommend you open up a LISA account. I opened one up with MoneyBox, which is an app you can download, and the process was super easy. You have the option to open an investment LISA or a savings LISA. I decided to play it safe and went with the savings account, which does offer some percentage returns as well as the government bonus. You can choose whichever, and I trust you know the usual about investing.

None-conventional ways to earn and invest money

Right now, you’re reading this on my website, and I have actually created a few ways to try and make money with these. First off, I joined the Brave Publisher platform, which means that anyone reading this on the Brave browser can donate BAT, which is a form of cryptocurrency. I have also invested some money in BAT and earned an extra £50.

There’s also another payment platform called Coil which is similar to Brave. But you can install the plugin on any browser. Or use their own privacy-focused browser that has the plugin installed natively. Coil has brought me in a total of £0.15p, which isn’t much. Although, I have only just started, and I’m hopeful for the future of Coil.

Then there’s Medium which everyone and their dog has joined. It’s the one platform I wish I joined earlier rather than later. However, I have started, and I import all my blog posts into Medium while being apart of the partner program. This means that any paying Medium members will donate some of their money in return of getting (hopefully) some value.

Crypto is a lot riskier than any other kind of investment as it’s not regulated. There are no safety nets like normal investments have. However, if you put your money into the right crypto, you could potentially get far more returns than your traditional investments. I have some money in Bitcoin, BAT, and XRP. There has been a lot of ups and downs, and it has been an exciting ride. However, I have held my nerve and kept my money in each in the hopes for much higher returns.

In no way am I an expert or financial expert. Please take my recommendations lightly, and make sure you do your due diligence when looking into investing.

Where to learn more about money

A book called “Money: A User’s Guide” is honestly the best book I have ever read about money. It covers everything. From buying your first home to dealing with a credit card. Student and loan debt as well as managing money to live a happier life. It has honestly changed my whole outlook on money, and how I should be managing it.

If you enjoyed this post, then let me know what you thought.

Dear readers, it’s been a while

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Hello to anyone that visits my blog post, whether it’s your first time or your 100th. You all mean the so much to me, and I appreciate you taking the time to read any of my posts.

What’s happened in the last 5 months?

A lot has happened since my last blog post since it was posted 5 months ago.

We’ve had COVID-19 which is still in progress. We’ve had the black lives matter movement which I’m really in support of. And a lot of personal things have happened too.

What are my personal changes?

It’s now been over a year since I started contracting and my contract with the University of Exeter has been extended multiple times. This has given me a lot of confidence within myself and my coding has improved because of this.

My goal for creating 12 YouTube videos has unfortunately fallen behind as I haven’t created a single video this year. One a month should have been doable, but I’ve had so much on my mind that it’s taken a backseat.

I’ve cleared my £7k of credit card debt and I’m now working on clearing my wife’s £8k. Technically it’s both our debt, it’s just on her cards rather than mine because we’ve been switching between our cards to get 0% balances and now we don’t have an interest rate, we can focus without worry. Our overall debt at the beginning of this year was around £17k so we’ve more than halved it which is a great feeling.

COVID-19 has been a blessing for me and I know this isn’t the case for everyone. Working from home has been going really well and I’m saving a lot on petrol. I hope that when this eases, I’ll be able to work from home on a permanent basis. However, I’m well aware that others are struggling right now, the government has failed us and haven’t been supporting those that need it most which is a huge shame.

What are my thoughts on the rest of the world?

All key workers are struggling mentally and they will need a huge break if and when it’s possible for them. The campaigns to raise money for them has been tremendous and really restored some faith in humanity. However, a lot more needs to be done in order to support them further and the government should be held responsible for making this happen.

Now for the black lives matter campaign, most protests started out peaceful which has been fantastic to hear. That is until the police stepped in and brutally pushed protestors back, sprayed them in the face for no reason and even shot people with rubber bullets. There are times where it seemed necessary, but 99% of the time, it was complete police brutality.

I believe this is what also led to most riots, if we didn’t have this brutality, most people wouldn’t have been pushed to riot. Donald Trump has been a tragic president who still believes he’s some sort of God. He constantly spews the same rhetoric and it’s quite frankly getting boring. I wish he would just step down, but we know this won’t happen, so America needs to vote for change.

Similar things are happening in the UK where Boris is this bumbling idiot that keeps flip-flopping on his plans and his words. He’s a racist which we desperately need to vote out and we need to campaign for change.

Let’s hope that things can change and that we can end 2020 better than when we started. We’re all desperate to see our families and get back to some sort of normality. I believe that change for the better is happening. However, it’s still too slow and we need to speed things up and add pressure where we can.

Closing thoughts

If you enjoyed reading this, please feel free to follow me on Twitter or like my Facebook page. I hope to speak to you again soon.

I’ve started my own podcast series

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This is a quick blog post to let my readers know… I now have my own podcast series which you can listen and subscribe to on all of the popular platforms. This includes Anchor, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, PocketCasts and more.

If your favourite platform isn’t shown above, then please go to Anchor to see if it’s on there. If it isn’t, then Anchor is always adding new platforms. You may need to wait for it to turn up.

You can always contact me on Twitter, and I will try to get it distributed in more places.

I hope you enjoy listening to the episodes, and I look forward to hearing from your feedback. Also, if you listen on Apple, I would love it if you could give it a positive rating.

If you want to know more about what the podcast is about, then it’s about health and fitness. I talk about cooking with Gousto, CrossFit, fitness watches and anything else to do with health and fitness. If this sounds like your thing, then please take a listen. Also, you can leave voice message on Anchor. I would love to encourage my readers to do so, so I can add them to future episodes.

How to go Vegan

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I’ve been vegan for well over a year now, and I always hear people say, “I couldn’t go vegan, I love meat too much.” Well, guess what? I, too, was also in that mindset, and I loved my steak and chips, morning fry-ups, fish and chips, and every other dish that came with meat.

Find your reason

First off, you need a reason to go vegan, and it has to be a good reason. If you don’t have a reason behind going vegan, then it’s a lot easier to fail. My reason for going vegan was reading an article on the BBC, which described how much CO2 eating meat caused on average. You could select other foods to find out the CO2 cost of eating, and to me, it was very eye-opening.

We’re going through terrifying times, especially in today’s world, with COVID (which happened by eating meat). The climate is changing drastically, and we’re all to blame for our living and eating habits. Plastic is suffocating animals to death, and so many animals are becoming endangered and extinct. If we want our children, grandchildren, etc., to live happy, healthy lives, then we need to do something today.

My reason for going vegan was to help in my way to help with the current climate and hopefully create a positive change. Your reason could also be due to the rampant animal abuse that is caused by farming, or it could be more for health reasons. I’m not forcing or arguing with people who want to keep eating meat; if that’s what you want to do, then that’s your prerogative. Hopefully, you’re reading this article because you want to make a positive change, or you’re at least curious, and if that’s so, then this article is for you.

Once I found my reason for going vegan, I went home and spoke to my wife. At the time, she was a little apprehensive and didn’t want to make the change with me. I said that’s fine, but I’m going to give it a go. We then started having separate meals, and it got to a point where she was curious, started eating what I was cooking, and eventually joined me on the vegan journey.

It hasn’t been all sunshine and roses, though, at first, I had a lot more flatulence, and my workouts at the gym were suffering due to a lack of energy. I put this down to the massive changes that I decided to put my body through, and with a little experimentation, I found what works for me. It has been a constant testing ground, which has been great for finding new foods and different meals.

What happens after you’ve found your reason?

Once you’ve found your reason for going vegan, you need to commit and start making changes to help the transition. My wife and I decided that we need to eat as much of the meat that we had left as possible otherwise, the meaning behind the why would be wasted. The idea is to make changes that help the planet, not kill it more. Any frozen meat that we had leftover, we decided to give to family members who were still eating meat.

Once our cupboards were clear, we started looking into meals that were 100% vegan and had all the ingredients which we could buy in our local stores. In the beginning, our routine would be to find 4 – 5 meals each week, buy all the ingredients, and then cook each meal in the evening for dinner. The portions were big enough for us to place in the fridge and have for lunch the next day.

Find meals that you think will give positive benefits and have the right calories for your body type. Use a variety of foods such as beans, lentils, fruit, and veg. There’s honestly so much choice out there, especially today compared to 5 years ago, and people have been vegan for such a long time who find it’s easier today then it was when they started. Don’t be afraid to ask for vegan meals in restaurants, and be sure to take a look at their menus on their websites before deciding where to go. Some are 100% vegan, while others will offer a mix of vegan, vegetarian, and meat-based dishes.

Also, don’t be afraid to take your friends/family to a vegan restaurant. My mum was in the “I could never eat vegan food” boat, but once I started introducing her to different meals, she began to enjoy it. She still says she can never go 100% vegan, but at least she now appreciates the experience when she stays with us.

What if I fail and go back to eating meat?

If this is the case, then that’s fine. Never be afraid to try new things, and if it doesn’t work out, then at least you tried. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, and if you don’t try, then you may regret it or wish you had done it sooner. When I was younger, I could never understand why you would go vegetarian, let alone vegan; I fought against those who spoke about animal cruelty. It’s safe to say I was very ignorant and unwilling to accept anything else then what I had been told.

It’s okay to admit you were wrong, and it’s also OK to try new things. If the new thing doesn’t work out, then at least you know you tried, and you can say you’ve at least experienced something new.

Is it more expensive than eating meat?

This is a hard one to answer, as it depends on your location. Where I live (in the UK), it’s cheaper to buy beans, lentils (legumes), and canned vegetables like chopped tomatoes, peeled tomatoes, etc. Potatoes and onions are also a staple to most vegan dishes, and there’s a huge range of fruit/veg which you can add into any dish depending on what you would like to cook. If you went the pre-made route, then it can get quite costly, and would almost definitely be more expensive than meat.

However, you can also make your meat alternatives, which cost less, and you have more control over the flavours. Take a look at making your seitan, which can use many different types of flour, herbs and spices, and oil. Most bread is vegan friendly (or at least in my experience), and there are a growing number of companies who are choosing to remove dairy from their foods.

If you struggle to find what’s vegan and what isn’t, then you can either scan the list of ingredients or google search for some results. I am also building a website to help show people what is vegan and what isn’t. My website is called isitvegan.health, and it’s still very much in progress, but I’m hoping to build a database of all the products that are either vegan or not, so it’s easier to find the vegan foods. I will also be expanding the website to include restaurants, pubs, and businesses that are vegan friendly.

Is there more to being a vegan than what you eat?

There is a lot more to cover when it comes to being a vegan, especially if you want to cover more than just food and drink. Your electricity might not be vegan friendly, and even eco-friendly energy companies might be using animal products. There’s also your cleaning products, whether that’s for dishes, bleach sprays, personal cleaning products, etc. There is a whole range of products out there that aren’t vegan friendly.

Of course, it’s completely up to you with how far you want to go into your vegan journey. You might just want to stick with food and drink, which is a huge step in your journey, but you may also find you want to take it further. Either way, it’s completely up to you, and the vegan community is always very welcoming to those who show support and love to animals.

I started with food/drink and was completely unaware it could go further. I’ve slowly gone into purchasing vegan cleaning products and looking at vegan-friendly energy suppliers, but I also drive a petrol car that kills animals. It’s all a balancing act, and you can make the changes you feel will also benefit you personally. In the future, I hope I can purchase an electric car, or ditch my car altogether and buy a bike to get around.

Every journey is different

As I’ve said throughout the article, your journey and your reason for going vegan will be completely different from mine, and the same goes for your experience. If you need a helping hand, then you can leave a comment or send me a message on my Twitter account.

Focus Keeper is an extraordinarily brilliant Pomodoro Timer

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What I’ve used in the past

In the past, I’ve used a timer called Forest and wrote about it before. Which had been good at the time. However, at the end of my last article, I expressed that they could make things a little better like having a Pomodoro style added to it.

Sometimes, I would use it non-stop for a whole week. Then have this habit of whacking it up to the full amount of time to have a genuinely blossoming tree. This was great for the reward side, but it wasn’t great for when I needed to take a break.

Because of this issue, I stopped using it for a very long time and kept wondering to myself if there was something better suited. I’ve looked into Pomodoro timers in the past which were browser-based solutions, and they all sucked. There was little to no explanation for what the time was for. Should I be working right now, or taking a break? If I move away from my browser and another program is on top, I can no longer see the time, and there was no sound. Browser-based Pomodoro timers were useless and lacking in so many features, so I gave up.

A new hero has entered the room

Until last week when I listened to a fascinating podcast episode talking about Pomodoro apps. This reinstated my interest, and I decided to take a look at the Apple App Store. I entered “Pomodoro timer” in search and up came “Focus Keeper” (available on the Apple Store, and Android Store). Out of intrigue, I decided to download it and give it a go.

Instantly, it gave me a run-through of “Focus”, “Short Break” and “Long Break” timers. I thought I would keep all timings as the default, which is 25 minutes for focus or work time, 5 minutes short break, and 25 minutes long break which has worked out well for me. If it doesn’t suit your needs, then you can change them to suit you.

Some annoyances (at least for me) that you should know about before starting a timer are the sound options. The timers can have a ticking sound which I find very distracting and had to turn them off. However, you can change to ticking sounds and even switch to music. On Apple devices, it can work with Apple Music, but not Spotify, which is a shame. I’m not sure how it works for Android, but maybe you can link it to Spotify on there.


Break little and often

Breaks will also play a lovely beach sound by default which confused me. I was listening to music on the same device. Then during my break, I had this beach sound with my music. At first, I thought it was part of the track, but I couldn’t remember it being on the song before. It wasn’t until it went from one song to another. I could still hear waves playing, and I figured it was the app on not my music. I quickly turned it off after I found out about this.

Of course, you might be completely different and want ticking sounds and waves during your breaks. However, it is entirely up to you, and the app is very customisable. The only thing it doesn’t do is block apps or websites which if you need an app to do that, then Forest might be for you.


It would be great if someone could make a fusion of Forest and Focus Keeper, but until then, I will continue to use Focus Keeper while keeping an eye out on other applications within this space.

If you know of any other apps that are potentially better, then please feel free to share them, and, I will take a look.

Creator Interview with Damon Chen

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Hello Damon, How are you today?

Hi Michael, I’m doing great here in California. Thanks for having me in your interview. It’s really a pleasure!

For those that don’t know who you are, could you please introduce yourself?

A little bit about myself, I am a software engineer working for some tech company in Silicon Valley. Meanwhile, I’m an indie hacker. I joined the indie hackers community several months ago, and I’m obsessed with it. I always wanted to create something, something that solves a real problem and motivates me every day. So since then, I built two products, indielog and backlogs. Indielog is a community for indies like us to vlog startup journey together. Backlogs is a tool to help collect users feedback as you know while building indielog I received so many feedback in different places, so I just want to have a single place to manage them all, so I built backlogs along with indielog.

Your product “IndieLog (formerly Lonely Dev)” has gained a handful of video loggers. How did you first come up with the idea?

Yeah, the idea was coming from my own problem. Starting from this March, I began to work from home because of the lockdown. You know, you have less talk with others, and I think I do need a channel to express myself. At first, I thought maybe I should just start a Youtube channel. But later I realized why do I have to expose myself to such a big audience? I don’t want to be an influencer. And I thought, you know, maybe some other people may also have similar concerns as I do.

And also, during that time, I saw several posts on Indiehackers. People talked about loneliness, remote happy hour, virtual meetup such kind of topics. It made me think maybe we can have a sub-Youtube like community where we are all indie hackers. We gather together to talk about our work and day.

I think we already have so many text-based forums like dev.toindiehackers.com and some subreddits. They are all great! But I don’t want to create another one. I want to create something a little more human where people can have more personalized interactions. That’s why indielog is only focused on video contents. People can see each other, feel their emotions. People can even build real relations with other members.

What have you done to try and grow your audience?

I launched indielog on Indiehackers community, one day later, I got several new video uploads. This is where it began. Several weeks later, I posted on product hunt which also gave me lots of traffic. After that, I didn’t do too much promotion, but I try to be consistent to update my work on Indielog almost every day and be very active to interact with other members in our community.

I also delivered quite a lot of features to better serve our members. Major ones are like the Topics, Products and IndieTuber.

For Topics, every a few weeks, we will have a new topic so that all members can talk the same thing altogether. Products is a place to list all products that our members are working on. And IndieTuber is a place for our members to list their YouTube channel.

The common goal of all these things is to motivate members to do more video updates. Like the topics, if you a new to our platform, you want to say something, but don’t know where to begin, the topic is a good way to start. Products feature is to help members constantly update the progress towards their products, and all videos can be linked to each product’s page. When checking the Product page, you will see all the relevant videos there.

For IndieTuber, I know we have quite a lot of indies are also updating videos on YouTube. I just want to help promote our indies YouTube channel if they do longer videos on YouTube as for Indielog, we have 2 minutes limit.

Honestly, we are still very small, we have less than 200 members, but to me, it’s good to be small as well. It like a friend circle I created all around the world. It’s nice to see other members updates every day to know what they up to.

What are your plans for the future?

For future plans, I will be more focused on promoting our community. And also, I will implement something like weekly checkups so that people can constantly update their progress. I will add more gamification tactics, like challenging members to do update every week. If they can do it for consecutive 50 weeks in a year, they could get some stickers or other perks. Yeah, but I will see how much I have for it. I’m not a marketing expert, lots of things I need to learn from the beginning. Let’s see.

Where can we find more information about you?

Of course, people can find me on IndieLog, or DM me on twitter @damengchen

How I got my blog to 3,893 views last month

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Last week I checked my website’s analytics and took a lot at how many views I had compared to the previous months. I was genuinely surprised that I managed to gain over 3,000 views. The jump between the previous month was 1,600 difference.

It’s so big that I thought I’d make a post on how I managed to grow my blog over time. Please also be aware that I have been a blogger on and off for over ten years. The views over time aren’t extraordinary compared to other bloggers, but it is a noteworthy achievement.

How did I build up my views?

Last month, I focused on building my social followers. I updated my Facebook page, Tweet more on Twitter. My blog posts have been imported into my Medium profile and also posted to my Coil profile. Last month was also my first full month of weekly posting to my Substack newsletter. And even though I don’t think Substack affected my website views, it’s helped me grow a tight-knit community. If you’re not sure what any of these social networks are. Or you’re not sure how to utilise them, don’t worry, I’ll explain that now.

I haven’t focused on growing my LinkedIn connections, but I have started converting my blog posts into LinkedIn articles. No one from LinkedIn has been signed up to my newsletter subscribers or viewed my website. Because of this, I don’t think it’s worth writing about today.

How I use my Facebook page

For my Facebook page, I’m not sure how many people are people I don’t know vs friends who have liked my page. However, I decided to go to ham on the invite button and invite everyone on my friend’s list, which has helped me from 138 to 142-page likes. I think a handful of those likes have clicked to view my website at some point.

I’ve mostly been sharing my newsletter posts instead of my blog posts on Facebook. This means most views won’t actually be coming from here unless they click on about section which most users won’t do.

How I use my Twitter profile

Twitter is, by far, my most used social network. It’s incredible how you can find so many amazing people and connect with them. I follow people I find interesting and join in their conversations when I feel if the right moment.

Most of my interaction is liking and retweeting, which I think if you’re just starting. It won’t be the best strategy. I feel the best approach is searching for interesting topics, and join in the conversation.

Every so often I’ll chuck in a hashtag or two, but I don’t focus on hashtags. I’ll mostly focus on following and connecting with new and current people within my network. Be yourself and don’t seek out to be something you’re not. If you try to be fake, people will know, and they will call you out for it.

Medium is excellent as an additional source for your blog posts. If you haven’t signed up, I would recommend you do it now and join the partner platform. Once you’re on the partner platform, you will get revenue based on a reader’s read time. The longer you can keep them interested in your post, the more money you can make from them.

My strategy is importing my posts into a Medium story, which will add a canonical link back to your original blog post, and have a link in the footer which says “Originally published at https://michaelbrooks.co.uk“. I’ve joined a couple of Medium groups and participate in any posts where possible.

How I use Coil

This is where I believe most of my new traffic has come from, and I connected my blog to their payments system so I could receive support from their readers, and linked my latest posts to my profile page. A couple of my posts have been featured on their community-supported section which I’m proud of, and the community on Coil has been very welcoming, and I’ve connected to a few people from here on Twitter.

If you haven’t done so, I recommend you take a look at Coil’s website and sign up. If you’re wondering how much I made from here last month, it was around 10 pence, which isn’t a huge amount, but it’s better than nothing, and it helps keep me going.

How I use Substack

My latest blog posts are also created as a newsletter post. Honestly, I’m not sure how long I’ll carry on doing this for as I’m thinking of changing the format of this. What I might do is create links to my latest articles which will be posted to my blog, and new sections such as what I’m currently reading, what I’m listening to and who I’ve found interesting this week.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, then please leave a comment down below, and I’d love to read it. Alternatively, you can @ or dm me on Twitter, Facebook, wherever takes your fancy.

Bonus: How I use Hacker News

Hacker News or HN as others like to call it is a great community of developers, creators and business owners. They offer a lot of advice and support, and overall they’re a fantastic community. I’ve posted a few milestones and updates on there, and have received comments, views and new followers.

I decided to create a new group called “Creator interviews” which anyone can contribute to, but so only I have added content there. I have also linked to my blog where I deemed it was helpful for the topic at hand, and I think this has helped me gain extra viewers on my blog.

Conclusion

That’s pretty much how I use the plethora of social networks, and I’m constantly exploring new avenues and seeing what works, and what doesn’t. As always, you’re more than welcome to comment below and subscribe to my newsletter if you haven’t done so already.