Evan Genest's Learning Log

Web developer notes emphasizing LAMP, Symfony, PHP, Javascript, Drupal, and Node.

This is an Eleventy project created from the eleventy-base-blog repo.

Turns Out the Gnu Calendar is a Great Pomodoro replacement

getting things done

My Need for a Work Timer

The human brain is good at deciding and bad at storing; it's a great CPU and a bad disk drive.

So I want a system that will tell me what to do, when to stop it, what to do next, and when to start that. Gnu Calendar can do this.

Gnu Calendar



Clean Design

The UI on things from Gnu is really clean. Their Gnu Files is almost like a Steve Jobs approved app. (For contrast see Dolphin file manager: a perfectly Gatesian Windows app. I have both open right now, albeit.)

More thoughts on optimizing brain power

Our working memory can only hold a half dozen or so truly random things. The rest is acting on stored procedures. Your brain is operating like in SQL security when they caution you to only use stored queries. All of your college calculus and full stack engineering work is using those two things. When a coder is in the zone she is using symbols of symbols of symbols all connected to small amounts of working memory.

A good analogy might be an Apple II computer with a few stacked 5" flopppy drives and 8K of RAM. (Neuroscientists tell us our killer app here is the CPU: instead of a one at a time RISC thing, our brain is apparently more like a Quantum Computer. So imagine $10 worth of memory and peripherals hooked up to a helium cooled thinking machine from the future?) But I was intending here only to explain my new productivity tool. I have discovered the simple pleasure of Gnu Calendar.

Having had success with Pomodoro timers, I wanted to add a dimension: offload the brain's executive function of remembering the schedule of the day and when to stop something, put that into a dumb robot, and free my working memory to not think about what's next. And I really need a timer tell me when to stop one task and move on, because I work like Yo Yo Ma freestyling away without a score. I need a score, I need a conductor.

Stay tuned

Gnu Calendar allows syncing elsewhere, like to APIs. I won't need that feature for this, my uber-pomodoro, but I have a family, friends, and work to communicate time with. So...not sure if I'll use sync but it is just amazing in Gnu's FOCUS and resistance to feature-creep the sole fancy thing they put in was the sync.