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Episode 60 April 11, 2017 | 47min

Gina Trapani has things TODO.txt

Paul Ford and Gina Trapani discuss productivity tools and efficient workflows.

Show Notes

Productivity at Postlight: this week, with Rich Ziade an ocean away, Paul Ford is joined by Gina Trapani, a director of engineering at Postlight who is well-known for, amongst other things, founding the website Lifehacker. They discuss her productivity tool, TODO.txt, an open-source project now in the hands of Postlight’s team, and productivity tools at large, in a conversation ranging from the specifics of Paul’s favorite, org mode, to the way having children disrupts all your plans for organized, efficient workflows.

[Intro music plays alone]

[0:16]

Paul Ford [Music ramps down] Hi! This is Track Changes, the podcast of Postlight, a digital products studio at 101 5th Avenue in New York City. My name’s Paul Ford. I’m the co-founder of Postlight and today my other co-founder is in Lebanon. And rather than try to set up some sort of remote connection, I pulled in one of our directors of engineering, Gina Trapani, who has a rich and varied career in technology, and asked her if she would talk to me about a range of subjects but, in particular: personal productivity. So, before we get to that, I’m gonna remind you of what Postlight does. Open your ears, listen carefully. We build apps, we build web platforms, anything that you hold in your hand on your phone, anything you see on the screen when you’re using Chrome, or Safari, or maybe even Firefox, we can make that. So get in touch if you ever need that. You can send an email to [email protected] That’s enough of just me. Let’s talk to Gina. Gina Trapani!

Gina Trapani Hi, Paul.

PF How are you?

GT I’m doing great. How are you doing today?

PF It’s good. I literally just roped you in from the floor and said [GT laughs], “Hey! Podcast!”

GT I was coding and now I’m talking into a microphone.

PF You know we should tell people. So it’s [stammers] kind of an awkward thing though because I’m like, you know, Gina’s got a very good— can we say personal brand?

GT Oh god.

PF [Through chuckling] I’m sorry. But you have a large following on Twitter and so on and so forth. Uh you’ve been on many a podcast.

GT I— I’ve done a few podcasts.

PF Done a few thousand podcasts.

GT A few.

PF So we actually have a policy at Postlight about exploiting you [GT laughs] . . . which is, well you could articulate it.

[1:58]

GT Uh, the exploitation policy?

PF Mm hmm.

GT I didn’t realize that exploitation was one of the words in the [laughs] — in the policy.

PF I know, I know, well we struck that from the original draft when we presented it to you. I’m just kidding! But no, I mean, so, you know, when you started it it was like this very delicate conversation where it was like, “Gina, would you ever wanna tweet something about Postlight? [GT laughs] Cuz you have 300,000 plus Twitter followers.” [GT laughs] And uh— but it was kinda delicate cuz we didn’t wanna put you— put you under any pressure for that cuz it’s tacky and bad.

GT Yeah, it’s funny that was not really a delicate conversation for me. Like I could tell that you took it very seriously, were like very measured, and like asking me very carefully but I mean I— for most of my career in tech I’ve identified myself with the job that I was doing at that moment. And, I mean, I wouldn’t have come to Postlight if I wasn’t comfortable talking about Postlight and what I was doing here. Uh so the policy is: you ask me once in a while if I wanna tweet a thing.

PF Sometimes in Slack.

GT Sometimes in Slack, sometimes in person, and then I do . . . or not. Is that how it’s worked?

PF That’s basically the policy [GT laughs]. We just have full— we’re allowed to ask as much as we want and you’re allowed to say no as much as you want.

GT I actually really love talking about what we’re doing here cuz we’re doing some cool stuff and I’m not just saying that cuz you’re my boss and we’re sitting here in the office [GT laughs].

PF Um [chuckles] this all got really awkward [GT laughing]. We should explain to people who are because while I assume everybody knows who are you, they may not [ok]. Um so you were a very early blogger [yes] in Brooklyn. You grew up in Brooklyn.

GT Yes, I did.

PF You then went and worked on something called, if I remember correctly, uh Kinja.

GT I did. That’s right.

PF How did you get— Wait, actually, you became a computer— computer scientist before you did that, correct?

[3:41]

GT Yeah, I have a master’s degree in computer science. I was an English major as an undergrad, uh I got my degree in comp sci just kind of by accident. I just like computers [mm hmm] uh and then, yeah, I did a little programming for a startup, uh bolt.com which is no longer, but at one point talked to Facebook about acquiring them. So that was kinda their—

PF What did Bolt do?

GT It was a social network for high school students.

PF Ah! Ok.

GT So it was like Facebook but younger uh—

PF You almost— Bolt almost bought Facebook?

GT At some point apparently, rumor has it that our founder was like talking to Zuck about some sort [sure] of transaction [sure] that would’ve—

PF “Come into— come into the Bolt family.”

GT Things would’ve turned out differently for Bolt. Yeah, yeah.

PF [Laughs] There’s a lot of those. At one point um Commodore nearly bought Apple [mm mm hmm]. That would’ve been different. Steve Jobs wanted to sell but they couldn’t make a deal happen.

GT Look at that.

PF It was the 80s and here we are [yeah] — here we are as I record this onto ProTools in the Mac [GT laughs right]. Oh destiny, Gina. Destiny. Ok so um you were working on Kinja which was part of the Gawker Media Group which probably wasn’t even called Gawker Media Group back then.

GT No, there was no group back then, it was called— so Kinja, before it launched, was killed like the Lafayette Project and Meg Hourihan of Blogger was working on it with Nick Denton. Gawker.com existed. It was pretty new. Um Liz was writing it at the time. She was the first—

PF Elizabeth Spiers.

GT Spiers, that’s right.

[5:02]

PF She’s been on the show.

GT That’s right who’s been on the show. Right. [Stammers] I started as an intern [yeah] uh Nick bought me my first Mac, it was little white iBook.

PF Ah that’s nice.

GT It was really nice and um yeah I worked with Meg and Mark Wilkie who was then— later became like the CTO of Buzzfeed uh and we worked on this thing called Kinja.

PF At one point he took you aside, right? And was like, “Do you wanna do this?”

GT Yeah, we had a ta— uh so Danny O’Brien gave his Life Hacks talk at ETech in 2004.

PF 2004. Ok.

GT Two thousand— which you were in.

PF That’s right. I was mentioned in that, they sent out a survey and it was like, “How do you organize your life?” And I was like, “I use a big text file and I put what I have to do in the text file.”

GT Yeah, this’ll come up again later.

PF And this guy— exactly— this guy Danny O’Brien uh talked about that on stage and I got emails after that and people were like, “Do you really use a text file?” Cuz back then they used to harass men and women equally. It wasn’t just women like it is today [GT laughs] and uh people were pissed . . . that I used a big text file. It does— the internet is so surprising. People really get angry about everything you do.

GT Well, you know, Danny’s point was like, “Oh nerds like have been through enough, like they’ve had enough corrupted .psd files in Outlook, and they’ve had enough like data loss, and— and— and corruption that they just finally they just fall back on text.

PF I mean this is true. You trust text.

GT You trust text.

PF As a programmer, you just learn to trust text.

GT Absolutely.

[6:18]

PF So, you know, you’ve done other things since then but that’s uh the— a context here which is that you went and started Lifehacker [that’s right] uh and are not alike— not like a sort of academic style expert but definitely by exposure and expert in the world of productivity. Like you have seen the whole world of productivity.

GT [Chuckles] In terms of apps, and software, and books, and systems, and methods: yes.

PF You’ve reviewed it, you wrote the— there’s the Lifehack book, right?

GT Yeah, there’s three editions of the Lifehacker book. Yes.

PF We should also point out that another Lifehacker um Adam Pash also works at Postlight. We are pretty— we haven’t hired all the Lifehackers—

GT No [laughs].

PF Definitely a large number. And so you made your own productivity system.

GT I did.

PF Which is unusual because most people who make their own productivity then never complete it and don’t use it . . . because productivity people are almost universally disasters of productivity.

GT That’s true.

PF Um but you did! What was this called?

GT It’s called To Do Text. It’s a terrible name. Terrible name.

PF Ah times were different.

GT I mean, this is the thing: I was spending every day testing new to-do list apps and I never stuck with one, but I always had a file, it was Notepad at the time, cuz I was actually on Windows [right] and a Notepad to-do .txt file on my desktop and that’s what I would open to figure out what I needed to do that day. So I was like, “Let’s just— lemme just commit to this and systemize this, right? Cuz text is never gonna go away.” Like there’s always gonna be an app that can read text [it’s true a hundred— ] because all these other to-do list apps are gonna die.

PF A hundred years from now, that text file is still gonna be perfectly usable.

[7:47]

GT Absolutely.

PF Yeah.

GT Yup. So, yeah I wrote a shell script and published it on Lifehacker and people went nuts uh for it. It was one of these things— it’s a marked down-like kinda syntax for writing— for writing to-do items so like you can prioritize them and say like, “The due date is this.” So you can use any text editor and sort your list and see what you’re supposed to work on next. And it was just kind of like a couple of command-line things: to add a task, to mark a task as complete, to prioritize it.

PF So what you did: you had been editing in Notepad. So you’re opening a text editor [right], it’s easy to joke about Notepad being a tiny, little application but really it lets you type the letters in [yeah] and it lets you scroll up and down, and that’s most of what you need [yup]. Everything else is kind of gravy. So that’s a great, simple place, and it saves flat texts. So nothing— no weird command codes. And so what you did was you made a system whereby you could type like “add to do”.

GT Right, exactly, from the command-line which I spent some time in. I mean [stammers] I— there was like this middle time time when I was using launchers to be like “append this line” to my to-do list because I wanted just an easy— I didn’t wanna have to double-click on the file, go to the line, and type it. I wanted an easy way to just be like, “add this to do.” So I played with like Quicksilver-like things, launchers, that kind of thing. I was like, “You know what? I’m just— I’m always in the terminal. I’m a programmer. So I’m often in the terminal. So let’s just make a little shell script that does this.”

PF That’s right and, you know, what I love about projects like that is you can think about the whole thing at once. Like it’s just you, you know, it’s a shell script [yup] and it’s gonna do three of four things [mm hmm] and then once it gets beyond that, it probably should go be something else but if you can keep it there, oh my god! Like I don’t think people fight hard enough in their life to keep things at that level of simplicity.

GT Right, to do one— one thing well.

PF Because it gets really expensive after that [it does], then you have something you have to support for the rest of your life. Although, with To Do Text, you also created something you had to support for the rest of your life. So—

[9:33]

GT [Chuckles] I did.

PF So a community arises around this thing.

GT Yes. A community arises, we get it up on GitHub, people have all sorts of feature requests uh for this shell script, which is just insane, but you know Lifehacker’s got a big audience, so anything I write about on Lifehacker gets a lot of eyes right away. It’s a huge privilege [mm hmm]. And so uh an audience comes up, there are all sorts of feature requests, so suddenly this shell script becomes a framework where you can add plugins. So now people are writing plugins—

PF Oh see this is exactly what I warned about.

GT— for the shell script. Exactly. And now it’s got unit tests, and now its got [laughs] plugins, but now people start building like Vim plugins and Sublime Text plugins to do highlighting and all sorts of web-based mechanisms for adding— like it got kinda crazy.

PF Let me ask you about the psychology of that moment cuz I’ve had a few things where it’s like I’ll put them out, I’ll put them on GitHub, and then people have other paths for them. And I feel [yes] tremendously guilty immediately cuz I’m like, “I don’t know what to do now.” Like I’m just— like how did you— did you have that feeling?

GT Absolutely.

PF Ok.

GT So the way that I had to think about it was like because people kept saying, “Well, can you add this feature?” “Can you add that feature?” And I’d be like, “No,” and I hate saying no to people cuz I’m a people pleaser. So I’d be like, “Ok, you can add as many fields as you want to this very simple format which I don’t want to make more complex. Here’s the key value format. Go nuts. Like [right], here’s the plugin framework. You can add whatever feature you want, just it’s in your own format—

PF “You wanna turn this into a database, just use this equal sign here. Good luck.”

GT [Laughs] Exactly. Keep your own GitHub repository for your own plugin like I just kinda like give people the hooks to add whatever they want. But we don’t have to bloat like the definition of the format or the core shell script. So I had— I had very strong feelings about how core should be super, super simple.

PF This is worth noting, right? Like a lot of times projects like that are basically just ideas that have been sketched out in code, but it’s the idea way more than the code that matters.

[11:21]

GT Yup.

PF And so that’s the hard part is just going like, “Great, this is now your idea. Go. Take it.” [Yup] Right? And not feeling beholden to everybody’s ideas [yeah] and it’s really tricky in that world because people will be like, “What if it did this?” And, “What if it did that?” And you feel a little proprietary, you came up with the idea, so there’s a sense of ownership, and there’s also a sense of like wanting to please, and wanting to help, and it’s— there’s a weird like circular, semi-narcissistic thing that happens. I’ve experienced it, right? Where you’re just like, “Oh my god I’m gonna give so much up if I don’t make everyone really happy.”

GT Yes.

PF But then you realize like, “I can’t control this.” [Right] “I’ve unleashed the To Do Text monster [GT chuckles] and all these people start showing up and making it their own.” What were the things they were adding?

GT They were just adding things like, you know, “sort by due date”, or “add recurring task” which is actually like more annoying and complicated in a shell script than you’d think [chuckes].

PF Yeah stuff is complicated.

GT Yeah, yeah.

PF [Stammers] I built a cron job the other day and I had to go in the cron file and [yeah] — uh so for people who don’t know what that is: there is built into every Unix, which include your Mac, there’s a system essentially called cron . . . which runs chronological tasks, and you can go in there and you can say like, “Every half hour, do this.” It’s good for automatic system administration like, “Every half hour, move the log file to a backup directory.” [Right, right] Things like that.

GT But most people aren’t running a cron job like on their local computer [no] which they shut down and—  you know, I mean—

PF It’s like a half hour every time I have to do it. It is a really like— recurring tasks are a particular nightmare. And this is a problem that was solved, you know, 40 years ago and it’s still kind of a hard problem. And everybody— everybody thinks that they could do better.

[12:58]

GT It’s true. It’s true [yeah]. And people wanted sub-tasks and, you know, ways to make tasks dependent on the others so, “When I complete this one, then automatically prioritize the next one on the list.” Like it got— this is the thing about to-do lists: there are an infinite number of features that you can build to do this.

PF Well they’re a personal expression of how people see productivity, right?

GT Absolutely.

PF Have you ever looked inside of the iCal specification?

GT Nooo.

PF Ohhh.

GT I’m scared.

PF So iCal is the official specification for exchanging calendar entries and it’s got all the stuff. All of it. All the time zones, all the crazy [ohh]. I love it. I’m fascinated by it. I keep wanting to— cuz what I— I have this secret goal: I wanna make a thing that you can schedule things for like 20 years out [yes] like “time to retire” [GT laughs] or “this is when people usually really screw up this thing” and—

GT Hold your future self accountable! But your far future self.

PF “Remember young people are just buttering you up now, they don’t really like you?”

GT “You should probably start dying your hair.”

PF Exactly.

GT Right [laughs].

PF That was 15 years ago for me. But the um— this is— you— you have retained your natural hair color and it’s a little infuriating. Uh I have to say [I’m sorry] you and I are roughly the same age—

GT I’m sorry. We just had this conversation about hair color [yeah— ]. I feel a little bit bad about saying the dying thing.

PF No, no, I know. I’ve been going gray since I was 20. I’ve never— my family, my people are gray at birth essentially [ok]. We’re born dying. And um—

[14:18]

GT I think it makes you look distinguished.

PF Yeah. Great, great. Salt and pepper, silver fox.

GT Yeah!

PF So um . . . uh yeah no inside— I— one day, you know, I think you would actually find it fascinating as a cultural document like it’s all the things that you’ve dealt with over the last ten years are actually fully articulated in this terrible, difficult standard. And it’s not like XML or JSON, it’s like a weird key value. It all sounds like a full— uh you can put any payload in there cuz I love that, right, like everyone’s like, “Well, what if you need something else?” Well, we’ll make a space. So you could use it as a blogging engine [sure], you can do anything.

GT You can do anything.

PF Standards are so good.

GT Yeah.

PF Anyways so lots of people try to solve this problem. You solved it in a beautiful, simple way for yourself and then everybody immediately [chuckling] needed to screw that up [GT chuckles]. Uh this is the thing I think too, right? Like the desire to customize it is the beginning of the end of productivity.

GT Exactly.

PF Right? That’s the fight and you are good at that fight. Most of the productivity gurus I’ve run across throughout my career lose that fight very badly.

GT I’m only good at it because I spent five years doing it as my job every single day. Like, “Oh let me try out this customization so I can write— write about it.” And then I just got it all out of my system [right]. You know I mean everybody— everybody loves the productivity stuff still. In my mind, like that ended in 2009 [right] like because I left and I left that behind. So I’m— I think that’s the only reason why I’m good at it because I just— I lived it and breathed it every single day because it was my job which [true] eventually just became unsustainable. I was like, “Now I have to do things with the things [mm hmm].” Like the— the tools that I’ve made to be productive.

PF How did— we need to get back todo.txt but how did productivity change for you when you became um a mom?

[15:50]

GT Oh. That was— wow that was just like a total mind-blowing— mind-blowing moment where I was like, “There’s just no way—”

PF Cuz your daughter is?

GT She’s four and a half.

PF Four. Four and a half. Right.

GT Yeah, she’s four and a half. You know you’re just like, you’re like, “Oh! [Laughs] Like somebody needs to go to the bathroom. Like now everything stops.” Like, you know [laughing] like just things—

PF You had a system.

GT Right. We had a system. The system now doesn’t work. No, it completely blew up our lives.

PF Well you’re also—  you’re also on a clock . . . suddenly in a different way.

GT Yes! Oh yes! Constantly on a clock.

PF I find that conflict really weird cuz it’s like I’m up at the same time [yup] and unless I make use of that time [mm hmm], I’m shot.

GT Yeah and it— right. It’s true. I had to become a morning person [mm hmm] because I didn’t have a choice. I’m not naturally a morning person.

PF Nah, me neither.

GT But you have to be when you have a child and, you know, there’s that countdown to when you have to pick up her up, for sure. But then there’s like, “I’m gonna plan Saturday,” and then Saturday starts and it’s not at all like you planned [no, it’s not] like things just go off the rails and you just have to kind of be like, “Ok.”

PF Someone just had a tantrum [yup]. It’s not even your daughter [yeah laughs]. It’s you. Your wife. It’s a lot.

GT It’s true.

[16:51]

PF Um no, I noticed that too— I noticed too like yesterday I was— I just I hadn’t gotten enough sleep, I’d messed up my leg, et cetera, et cetera. And I’m just like— I couldn’t get it together. And I’m reloading Twitter and I’m feeling bad. And I shoulda just gone home [mm hmm]. Right? I shoulda gone home, like taken a half hour nap, and just gotten back to work, I had like 20 emails I needed to answer [mm hmm] and, you know, it’s just— but you’re on that schedule. I had to pick up the kids last night. And it’s just like [mm hmm], I’m moving everything around in that time. And so it— that really did like the sequential like check it off to-do list plus children is really remarkable [it is] because you just assume that the kids are gonna be prioritized in their own way. Do you ever forget when you drop them off and you’re like, “Wait in minute, did I drop of the child?”

GT [Laughs] Definitely.

PF I do that. I do that every— I have to sit there and wait for both of them to go through the door [yup] so I know.

GT “And I made her lunch, and she has it. And her afternoon snack, and her morning snack.” It’s funny like—

PF Cuz you don’t always do it [you don’t, you don’t]. Sometimes you make a mistake and someone comes home and is like, “My apple wasn’t there.”

GT Right. It’s so sad [PF laughs] when that happens.

PF No, you just ruined everything.

GT You know at the same time my daughter’s like taught me some things about productivity too like when things are going wrong at work, like, you know, the website is down or whatever, like I just have this perspective where I’m like, “No one’s dying.” [No, I know] Like there’s not— like the kids are ok [yeah] so like it’s gonna be ok. So it’s hard to get super emotional about that the way that I might have been before I was a mom. And there’s another thing that my daughter taught me like it’s so clear to me when she is hungry or tired [mm hmm] um and I can see it in myself too. Like, “Uh I’m super hangry about this AWS console not doing the thing that I want it to be cuz I didn’t eat lunch.”

PF “Maybe I have a tangerine,” yeah.

GT Exactly. “Maybe if I step away and get some like— hydrate and get some food, I’ll feed better.” [Mm hmm] That like kindergarten level knowledge and I’m just super aware of now because of her, that I’m teaching her. So it’s been, you know, an advantage and disadvantage.

[18:43]

PF No, of course, right? That’s just parenting. I do think what’s been good for me in my life is that I have to go home [yeah]. I, you know, especially this is a new company, it’d be really easy to stay until ten every night [yeah]. There’s a lot to do and like I have to go— I need to home. Either, my wife’s got the kids and uh I need to go help or she’s just gotten them to bed and I’m just gonna check in with her, but like I can’t . . . just work.

GT Yeah, no, it’s true, it’s true. I mean I love my work too and I could also just work continuously but it’s like I need to see her before she goes to bed [right] because, you know, there’s not gonna be another night when she’s exactly this many days old and she’s going to be— like I’m gonna kiss her before she goes to bed. So that’s— that’s just the priority [yeah] which is good, which is hard, sometimes when I have stuff to do [chuckles]. I need to roll out the door.

PF It is cuz I mean the to-do list is still— back to it: the to-do list is still there [yes], right? Like it doesn’t actually factor in the child [GT laughing right, it does not] in a direct way. It’s not like, “Hey, actually we’re gonna shut this thing down cuz you gotta go say goodnight.”

GT Right, right, that’s right.

PF Ok so this thing grew and grew and grew.

GT It did.

PF And lingered and lingered and lingered in your life [GT chuckles], right? I mean do you still use it everyday?

GT I do. I do use it everyday. So there was—

PF Actually, tell us what it is. We should tell people what it does.

GT Uh so ok. So Todo.txt [said “to do text”] is a a format for a text file to list tasks.

PF Ok so a little bit like Markdown, really, yeah, like you said.

GT Like Markdown, exactly, for to-do lists. Uh so it’s a format, it’s this shell script, which a very small percentage of the world will ever use because most people aren’t in the command-line [mm hmm] um but at some point, you know, smartphones happened um cuz this thing literally is that old. I started in 2006. Smartphones happened and I wanted— I was using it everyday but I wanted to be able to add and deal with my task list on my phone [sure] so then became an Android app and an iOS app which modifies this text file and syncs it to DropBox [oh interesting!] cuz lots of people use [sure] DropBox.

[20:30]

PF So the text file remains the sort of database of record [that’s right]. So the interface for dealing with it, if you’re at your desktop, is you write little commands [right] and it logs things to the [to this text file] text file.

GT In your DropBox.

PF The interface for mobile is still that text file [yeah]. Like it’s or sorry the interface talks to that text file, uses that as a data layer.

GT That’s right.

PF Um but it looks more like a traditional to-do list.

GT Right. It’s a list. It’s not— it’s not a— it’s not a box where you’re editing text [ok]. It’s not a text editor. It’s a list where you can tap on things and prioritize them and that just translates into the format, it writes it to this text file, and syncs to DropBox in the background.

PF I can go download this right now in various stores.

GT Yeah, yeah, it’s in the iOS and Android app store. Uh it is— it’s a bit out of date. We’ll get to that.

PF I mean, it’s— yes. Obviously apologize for your old software [I will, I will apologize for my old software] you know we all need to do that [yes]. Um and then this actually happened without me knowing much about it and I’m really glad it happened: it turns out that we have adopt— Postlight, the company, is adopting Todo.txt.

GT I pitched it to you all and you accepted which I’m still like pinching myself about it.

PF No! I think it’s— I think it makes a lot of sense. So what are we actually doing? What does adoption mean in this context?

GT Well, it just means—

PF So it’s an open source project to start—

GT It’s an open source project, that’s right. [Stammers] The format is . . . out there. I guess I’m the benevolent dictator [sure] around the format. The format is not like a W3C thing. It’s just an agreed upon community format uh with the ability to add custom fields. All the apps are open source [mm hmm] um so—

[22:00]

PF I think a way for people to think about is it’s just a shortcut [yeah]. Like you could come up with this yourself but why bother?

GT Right. Exactly. Exactly. Um and so— and lots of people have built lots of apps for it and plugins and things but what Postlight is doing is making the very much needed updates to the Android and iOS uh apps. Modernizing them and building them out to talk to this new text format and I believe we’re doing it in React Native.

PF That is— cuz I still get a lot of GitHub um notifications. That is true. That’s a weird thing like and because I own the GitHub organization, I get— whenever a new repository is created, I start getting emails with all the codes. So I’m like, “Ah! That’s what’s happening!”

GT That’s happening!

PF “That’s cool!” [Yeah] So it is a React Native app which means that um— I’ll try to explain React Native, then you try to explain React Native. Still working on it [GT laughs]. So React is this big web framework created by Facebook which does all sorts of magic things that make it easy to make sort of component driven web apps. So components are things like lists or boxes or texts or buttons [that’s right] and so React Native is an attempt to take the React world and graft it onto iOS and Android, and not just in a browser but actually connecting to the Native toolkits that each of those have. So [that’s right] if you use and Android button it’s a— if you’re on Android, using React Native, and you want a button, it’s an Android button [right]. Same is true with iOS [that’s right]. And so the nice thing there is that this kind of stack of web technologies, with some new cognitive overhead, can be grafted in the world of mobile apps and still . . . you can bring a lot of information from the React world onto the mobile app but still have a pretty native experience.

GT Yeah.

PF Ok.

GT Yeah. It comes out— and you have one code base. See this is the thing: I went down this road of, “I’ve got this Objective-C, I’ve got this Java Android app,” in maintaining mobile apps like as a side project, on like your nights and weekends, it’s actually— it’s a lot of work. Cuz every year [laughs] [right] there’s a new release and there are new things that you’ve gotta update and the iOS store needs another giant image that—

PF You see the irony is here is you made the thing that was supposed to not— get you out of this world [right]. “Actually, you know what? Let me add some shell commands. Now, this is great. I can get all my stuff done,” it’s like you— you were spending like a minute a day organizing your thing [right] but because you had to create editorial content, you’re like, “Lemme tell the world what I’ve done.”

GT [Laughing] Exactly.

[24:23]

PF And now, now you’re supporting two mobile applications with lots of users.

GT [Laughing] Yes. Look where we are.

PF Hah! That’s what happened. And there’s no money in it! [GT laughing] Oh that is great, Gina, you did real good. But it’s a successful that has brought joy to many people.

GT And it’s brought me a lot of joy and it’s been a great experience and I should— I should say that right now I am charging like two bucks for the apps which I used to like build— to send back into the community at. There were times when I was just like, “I just don’t have time to learn this Objective-C thing.” So I would hire contractors [right] be like, “Please help me fix this like breaking bug.” [Mm hmm] Um so—

PF Oh because Apple would update something.

GT Apple would update something.

PF Ah it’s a simple app, right, too?

GT Yeah! Very, very simple. Well you know the DropBox SDK would update and you know with breaking changes or whatever.

PF This the thing: I mean people should know, when you are building apps and particularly mobile apps, like the web is bad in its own way but like mobile apps are spectacular. You are adopting a child [yeah]. You will not be done with this if it’s successful and yet not tremendously revenue generating [right]. You’re still gonna have this thing [yeah, absolutely] and it will break like every six months.

GT It’s true.

PF What I love is there’s no back end. There’s nothing [right] it really should just have continued to work

GT Yeah. It’s true.

PF But whatever. Google and Apple— Google and Apple are not worried about you.

[25:38]

GT No, they’re not.

PF So what are we actually— so we’re adopting it meaning that like— what are we doing? Do you know? We’re gonna put a [laughing] I’m literally kind of curious [GT laughs]. I should know a little more but I mean, to my mind, we’re gonna sort of take over the GitHub repository [yeah] and respond to things and make sure that the apps are in the app store.

GT Yeah, exactly, exactly. Or, you know, doing a real design [mm hmm]. I’m not a designer, we’re actually like having real product designers look at this and say, “Ok. Like let’s think this through and make this look good.”

PF Great.

GT Um and yeah we’re gonna keep the apps up to date and just kind of reinvigorate the community how we can, the open source community.

PF That’s great. So we’re gonna tend to [yeah] — Todo.txt. We’re gonna be— so Postlight has agreed to be the shepard.

GT Yes.

PF That’s great. That’s a good role for us. You know what I think too? Like I like adopting software. I also I’m very— I’m interested long term to see if we can adopt data. Cuz data just after six months, everybody puts up like some big, cool dataset. And like, “This is useful. I can extrapolate things from this and make meaning from it.” And then there’s never a budget or a sense of like, “No, you know, every six months we need to enhance this, enhance the quality, add the new data in, whatever.” [Right] And so it’s hard to think of a clear example it’s like— like I mean the ones that are pretty well maintained are like Wikipedia’s data dump and like so on and so forth but, you know, there’s stuff from about— there’s census related stuff, demographic stuff, geography related stuff. It’s just it’s tough when you’re building things and you go out and you’re like, “Oh this is interesting and it was last updated three years ago,” [right] and so I think that there’s probably a role for an adopting organization to think that way too.

GT Definitely.

PF Or maybe like sort of co-sponsor. You know, “Hey we’ll take you—” You know it’ll— it’ll— we can be the place where things can live. So if anyone ever has an idea for like a big data set that needs a little love, feel free to get in touch. Ok so do we know when we’re releasing it?

[27:23]

GT I don’t think we have a release date yet. I think we’re really close to an internal test build.

PF I know! One of the reasons I’m talking about it with you is that we did already start talking about a launch party in about a month [laughs]. So—

GT Oh great!

PF Yeah yeah! So—

GT [Laughs] Fantastic!

PF Alright so I guess it’s time to get that one out!

GT Alright! [Laughs] We’re very close uh I’ve been watching the GitHub repository and it’s very, very exciting.

PF It’s fun, right?

GT It warms my heart . . . to see— to do text commits that I have not made personally.

PF It’s your— it’s the team!

GT It’s the team.

PF There’s like all these people involved.

GT Exactly, exactly.

PF Are you doing too much on it at this point?

GT No, nah. I’m— part of the agreement was like, “I want professionals to take this over and do the things— like I’ve been thinking about this thing for ten years,” and I have a very—

PF Well you are— you are— you literally are a professional.

GT Well, of course [laughs] —

PF But— but like—

GT Of course! I wanted people— I wanted people who haven’t been thinking about this for ten years to start to think about it and question some of the assumptions that I made, or just sort of hardened over time. I mean I [stammers] you know maintaining an open source community over time like kinda turns you into a jerk. And not that I’ve been turned into a jerk but—

[28:16]

PF No [stammers] you just— you spend your time telling people, “No.”

GT Right, exactly. Exactly.

PF Yeah and it’s you get so in the habit of telling them no that you don’t even like— you just say it the first thing [yeah]. You’re like, “Well, I’ll tell you what [hums listlessly].”

GT Our engineer, Zach, uh who was working on this at one point pulled me aside and was like, “You know I just wanna tell you this: format is— it’s amazing, it’s just so simple, and so effective.” And I was kind of like, “[Sucks teeth] Well, let me tell you about the hundred things that I wish was different [uh huh!] about it.” And he was just kind of like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I’ve just been thinking about it too much; I was too close to it.

PF So this is kind of liberating.

GT It’s— it’s fantastic.

PF That’s great! So this isn’t— you don’t have to take care of this thing as much anymore. It’s still— it’s still yours, really, [and this beautiful thing— ] at some level.

GT No! No! No, no. It’s the world’s.

PF I guess not, you’re right. It really does belong to the community.

GT I will be an individual contributor, just like everyone else, Paul. This is the gift that Postlight has given me.

PF I’m proud of that [GT laughs], I think that’s good that this organization can pull that off. That is a really good thing for us to do. Like, here— here is something that is a benefit to the larger community that people are involved with and it belongs to the commons but it’s a source of individual stress for you [GT chuckles yes]. It can be a source— and it won’t be— like we can just manage it like a project [yeah]. It’s just some bugs will come in, some issues, some pull requests, we can accept changes or not [exactly], and, you know, it also puts it— when you take something away from the— from the individual, benevolent dictator and actually sort of add this structure around it [mm hmm], it does, in a different way, kind of put the pressure back onto the community. Like when there’s somebody in charge, there’s an assumption that a) they’ll take care of it; and b) you have to ask them first.

[29:45]

GT Yes!

PF And I think like at some level what we’re gonna get now is just, “Hey, I wanted to do this, here’s a pull request,” and someone here [right] who could be someone who just started two months ago and we’re like, “Hey, actually you’re in charge of Todo.txt pull requests,” [right] will reply to them as if it was just part of their day job [yup]. Like, “Ok, well that’s interesting but it gets in the way of these three things,” and maybe review it with you if you have time [right] and . . . that’s that.

GT Yeah, exactly, it’s funny at the beginning of this process, you know, people would be like, “Well, do you wanna be in the meeting?” And I’m like, “I don’t need to be in the meeting. Like I trust you. Like this is a commun— like I don’t need—” And people at first were like, “Oh! Ok!” I was like, “Fine, I trust you. Do your work, do your thing, show me what you made later.” I was like very happy to— to do that.

PF Alright good. Well we’ll have to throw a good party for it.

GT I’m excited.

PF Alright good, we’ll have a launch party so, you know, watch this space, subscribe to the meetup and to the newsletter because hoo, doggies! We’re gonna have a productivity party [GT laughs]. God, I hope to god we can plan it well [GT continues laughing].

GT We’ll have checklists [yeah we will] everywhere posted— posted around. So, Paul, what do you use to keep track of your to-dos. You’re an incredibly effective founder, I wanna know [chuckles] what the secret to your productivity is.

PF Uh everyone’s smiling uncomfortably in the room. Um—

GT [Laughs] No, but seriously.

PF So I’ve always been a text file person [ok]. Um I probably would’ve been a Todo.txt person, I just probably— I wasn’t paying attention [mm hmm mm hmm]. So how the hell— I’m gonna try— lemme try to make this interesting to human beings.

GT Yeah, please.

PF Ok so—

GT Please. Because I [stammers] suspect that you have some sort of complic— I feel like I’ve seen over your shoulder something [oh yeah] weird looking and I’m always like, “I wanna know more.” Tell me— tell me about what that is.

[31:18]

PF Alright so I— I actually also outed myself this way in um a couple of weeks ago I talked about the fact that I use a productivity system called Org-mode. So, you gotta back up a little bit, Org-mode is part of Emacs. Emacs is a text editor but as text editors go, it is enormous and complicated. It’s actually— there are just thousands, thousands of plugins for it [uh huh] and the plugins all come as executable Lisp code and it is a big deal and it’s been around for probably 30 years now [yeah], maybe even more. So I started using it in college, you kinda make a choice if you’re a terminal based person between Vi [Vi] or Vim or Emacs [Emacs, right]. And I just, for whatever reason, went in the direction of Emacs. My college roommate went Vim.

GT Oh! That’s so funny.

PF Yeah, I mean, he’s an engineer and I was just sort of— like I think I was— I don’t know why I chose Emacs. We’re still both— like he’s still a Vim user [and you’re GT laughs] and we’re on year 20 now and it’s [right] — and I’m still an Emacs user. So it’s just— those choices get locked in—

GT This is the Robert Frost poem: [yeah, exactly PF chuckles] “Two paths diverged in the wood.”

PF There go the paths! Right?

GT Yeah, there go the paths!

PF Um and so you learn the keyboard commands, these are very like— you can use a mouse with Emacs—

GT But no one does.

PF Not for the menus, right? [Right] You— It all gets just sort of worked into your bones [yup!]. If you tell me how to save a file, I’m literally, as we’re talking, certain fingers are moving—

GT I see your fingers moving right now.

PF My pinky is hitting the control key in my brain and I’m doing xC to save the file. You know it’s just [stammers] all this— if I wanna save a file, it’s this control command and if I want to split the buffer up, and I’m two files open at once, and so on. And so I’ve been living that life for awhile and then I think actually about . . . I think it was like almost as many as ten years ago, this thing called Org-mode came out, and it’s just basically it was built on top of a uh an already existing outliner.

[33:03]

GT So this is a plugin for Emacs.

PF Yeah. And if you know Markdown, it’s a little like that like you [ok] one asterisk is a header, two asterisks’ is the subheader and so on.

GT So it’s an outline. . .er.

PF Mm hmm. And then you can fold the outline.

GT Ok. Ok.

PF So you can show only the top level headings, and only the— the [gotcha] or the second level headings, and you can hide all the text that appears underneath.

GT So it’s like WorkFlowy but in this [yeah] text based editor.

PF Yeah so like that [gotcha] except that you’ve got this actually sort of jet fuel powered engine underneath it [k] and a full programming language to manipulate the text in— in the form of the Lisp programming language, or ELisp which is the Emacs dialect um [ok] because so nobody sends me an email [GT laughs] and um—

GT Wait! So tell me about that: you’re programmatically moving the text around, you’re talking about just the key commands?

PF Well I’m not writing the Lisp code [ok] but you can extend a mode very completely. [Gotcha] So it’s like if you wanted to do something really weird, you can [ok] and so—

GT Like wha— like tell me what’s something really weird?

PF Um so the outline, right? You can add the word “to do” [yeah] in front of the, in any one of those headers, right? And so that’s fine and then it’ll flag that as a certain color and you can then, if you hit like shift— I’ve got it set to shift arrow key, it’ll— it’ll go between states of “to do” to “in progress”, and so on.

GT Oh very nice. Ok.

PF But then if you type a bracket slash bracket, it’ll start to fill in all the numbers of subordinate to-do tasks. So you can be like— you can break things up into individual steps [sub-tasks] and then it’ll be like, you know, like “three out of 19”, “You’ve completed three out of 19 tasks.”

[34:34]

GT I mean that a big tenet of productivity is just breaking things down to small— small bits.

PF So it’s really, really good at that. So that all starts to make sense, right? And it has an agenda mode and you can— you can uh have it sort of list all of the things that are coming up, you can add dates and times to it. So in— interface it with your calendar. And it also has a similar um for iOS and maybe for Android it has the similar thing where you sync it to a DropBox and you can use it on iOS.

GT So this is a text file though? This—

PF It’s a text file. Absolutely—

GT — ultimately is a text file?

PF Like flat text.

GT Ok.

PF So I think like the Todo.txt plus outlining, right? [Mm hmm] Like I think it’s— it’s— we’re in the same zone [yup] but then because it’s Emacs, it starts to go completely crazy. And so it has integrated blocks of computer programming, you can write Python scripts or Bash script inline and it will then execute them and put the output in. So you can [oh!] create— you can use it as a writing tool. It will export to HTML, also to PDF through LaTeX [pronounced la-tech] which is the uh—

GT Wooooah.

PF Oh yeah! No, you can create very complex, interactive PDFs with footnotes and bibliographies with it.

GT Woah.

PF Um— mm hmm. It will uh create calendar entries for you, you can sync it to your Google Cal.

GT How— how are you doing that syncing?

PF Uh it you put it on DropBox and [gotcha!] you load that file [and you— ok]. Yeah, that file has a web address at that point. And that’s just the beginning [GT gasps]. It has its own hypertext linking system, you can include other files, you can uh link to emails in it and then call up the emails. And so it’s like—

[36:12]

GT This sounds like a beast!

PF It is an absolute beast. It. Does. Everything. And it does it all through flat text and it gets to a point— I mean it’s— you see the flat text underneath with all the links and all the stuff and it is a point of chaos in there [yeah] but the reality is like it does the thing, it is a hypertext linked agenda, to-do list, tracker thing.

GT Yeah. So this is my question: so you’re using this as a to-do list? You’re also using this to write?

PF I do. I use it for both of those purposes. I stay away from the more— like I started to customize it to the point that it was unhealthy.

GT Yeah [laughs].

PF And then [chuckles] — I dunno if you’ve ever done that where you kinda like blow away the config file and start over [yeah] like, “Eh, wait a minute. Calm down.”

GT Yeah, yeah [laughs].

PF So um [chuckles] this is a good—

GT You gotta commit that to your dotfiles, repository at GitHub, and that’s it, [oh that’s bad!] you blow up the whole thing, you gotta version— yeah, that’s when things get weird.

PF You can spend a lot of time configuring stuff.

GT Yeah.

PF And it, you know, it’ll read from anything, it’ll export to all sorts of stuff, you can actually— And then there’s— there’s a great program, by the way, which people should know about called Pandoc [mm hmm] which is a text converter to anything program. You can download it and install it. It’s a command line program but it converts to and from Microsoft Word pretty well. And that’s always been the hardest part of any of these systems is that you might be working but ultimately the world still like to get Microsoft Word files delivered to it.

GT Yup. Particularly in the writing— [yeah] Editors are gonna want a Word file. Yeah.

PF This will actually just like you can get from org— you know as long it’s kind of under control, you can get from org to Word really cleanly.

[37:33]

GT So what I’m hearing from you is you’ve found a home in this software [that’s right] that you feel comfortable in and that you’re living there and you’re just like, “Yeah, this is crazy, but I’m here and I’ve got the muscle memory. And this works for me.”

PF Well it’s a big community. So it’s very well supported. It’s a really big part of Emacs at this point [yeah] and it’s updated— I mean the code changes come across frequently [mm hmm] and so it’s stable in that way. Like I mean it’s something that has been around for awhile that I know is always there. And yeah so what I do is I just open up, you know, file.org. I have one called postlight.org [mm hmm] and you can— I got really into, like anything, I got into, you know, a nice hierarchical to-do list and [yeah] everything got really complex and now it’s just— it’s pretty flat [pretty flat, yeah] um and I definitely use it— you know we’re still client services here. So I mean it’s like I use it for note taking and outlining and [yeah] talking to people and what is great is if you’re writing something for— actually both uses: like if I’m interviewing someone or trying to like we’re getting a client project in and I’m trying to understand their needs, I can put the to-dos right in the notes as I’m writing [right] and so I have the output is like here’s all my notes and here’s all the to-dos. And I can organize them, and restructure, and sort of like there is a real practical thing because some of those might become tasks for other people [yup]. Usually they do. Like, usually it’s like, “I need to talk to this person about this [yeah] and this person about that.” And so having the to-do list and the notes together [yeah it’s really useful] — really useful. And then when I’m being asked to write something, even if it’s an email, or even if it’s a longer article, like I know that’s a default. I’ll have the structure, I can make sure that I’m kind of having some kind of outline mode, even if I start in flat text because I just have a couple of paragraphs in my brain [right], I often find myself then adding and superimposing and then restructuring and moving outlines around [mm hmm]. So, it’s become my default in a way that— and I’m actually, like I was really good at Microsoft Word outline mode too. Like I’m not [right] — but like this is very fast.

GT Yeah.

PF And the ability to get it to a relatively formal presentation style like I can send it to you as Word doc, I can show it to you as an HTML page, or even and I’ll put the PDF [mm hmm] is really powerful [yeah] because that— ultimately a lot of my life comes down to: can I give you this?

GT Right. That makes— that makes a ton of sense. I mean I think this is— I think this is the key like the fact that you’ve found a home in this place, you’ve committed to this— this software and you just use it—

PF And I already had like [like this is so important] ten, 15 years in there.

[39:54]

GT Right, right, right. You were already in there. I think this is the thing: I think people just keep chai— like I think that there’s so much overhead to just switching and being like, “That seems like so much better,” —

PF I see it around the office—

GT Yeah messing with tooling.

PF — everybody’s got their own thing.

GT Yeah, yeah! Just messing with tooling alone. So, you know, the Todo.txt like it isn’t perfect. Like, sure, are there other apps that like do things bet—? Yes! But like that’s my home and I’m committed to it and I’ve got 15,000 completed to-dos from 2006, like dating back to 2006 that I can grab [that’s right] and that just makes me happy.

PF And what is it like a one meg file at this point?

GT [Laughing] It’s a, it’s a—

PF It’s so tiny, right?

GT [Laughing] Yeah, no, exactly! Exactly!

PF Your life still would fit on a floppy. I love that.

GT Yeah, yeah!

PF I love it. That is a good point too. The archive is surprisingly useful [yeah] if you allow— if you don’t change up.

GT Exactly.

PF Right? I’m able to— I’ve— cuz I’ve got phone numbers in there, and just all those random stray things. I— it’s saved my life a bunch of times.

GT I think about all of the sort of like digital exhaust that I leave across [mm hmm] all these apps that are like, you know, web-based stuff that’s hosted from some company that I started to use and use for some purpose and then just sort of moved on or forgot about. And it freaks me out!

[40:54]

PF That’s true. I have a Remember The Milk account somewhere.

GT Oh yeah! Me too! Oh definitely. Absolutely. I mean journaling apps— and it freaks me out and like the idea that this is all just in my— my DropBox just makes me— makes me happy.

PF Ownership is really key with that kinda stuff. I do, I feel that I own my own schedule that way [mm hmm]. It’s a good point though, you’re making a kind of gently implied point is that: my lord, what’s the goal? Is the goal to be the most productive, majestically everything human being possible? Or is the goal just kind of get your stuff done, go home, see your daughter [mm hmm], you know? Make sure she’s going to bed.

GT Right [laughs].

PF Like Todo.txt is pretty good for that.

GT Honestly, it’s even for me sometimes less about getting things done and just writing things done because I think about things by writing about them [mm hmm], then it just lessens the anxiety. Like if I can externalize the stuff that I’m worried about and the stuff that I feel like is gonna come up on me soon and I’m not really sure how I’m gonna do it. If I can externalize that to a text file, just that act alone like makes me feel calmer [yeah]. So I’ve come to this place where I’m like, this is just as much anxiety management, as this is like getting myself to do stuff. Cuz then once I see the list, I can be like, “Actually, this isn’t that important. Actually, this isn’t blocking my day tomorrow. I can move this down [mm hmm]. Like this is the thing that’s most important,” but it’s only cuz I can see it. So, obviously, I’ve got this very deep philosophy about to-do lists. It’s very personal for me [sure] and it is very much like a— just like a mental— kind of mental health mechanism more than anything.

PF I think what’s interesting is that yours kind of emerges from you and I— there was a point which— [chuckles] I know you remember where the getting things done like I’d almost call it ideology, as much as—

GT Yes.

PF Like it started to happen. And I finally sat down and read that book [yeah] and it’s fine [it’s fine]. But it’s also banana cakes. Like it’s just like, I don’t need all those folders [GT laughs]. The one thing— the one thing that is—

GT 43! By the way.

PF 43 folders.

GT Yeah.

[42:44]

PF The one thing that is tremendously valuable about it, I thought, is it was just like: “Get your stuff out of your email.”

GT Exactly.

PF Just get it— it’s like— it needs to be in a place where you can triage and prioritize it without causing guilt and learning to see guilt as a— a signal of bad systems as opposed [yeah] to a personal failing. I mean I still struggle with it. I think everybody does.

GT Me too. Absolutely. Yes.

PF You know the other one for me was learning to accept that boredom was often not a personal failing but just a sign that like there wasn’t enough going on like— [GT laughs] I’m just like, “This is a really boring thing like why is everyone ob—” You know [stammers] like a client meeting or something where like everyone’s— like “They’re just holding forth. Like this isn’t real.” [GT laughs] I mean, “I’m bored because this isn’t—”

GT Because it’s boring! [Laughing] And it’s ok! Right!

PF “Yeah, this is boring, yeah!” So those two things: that I mean the guilt is real but that, you know, and that— that sometimes everyone’s running around telling everyone like really important stuff and it’s actually just often [chuckling] not that important.

 

GT It’s true.

PF It’s hard— it’s hard to say that out loud. Now I’m worried— I’m worried someone’s gonna listen and be like, “Oh is that what he thinks?!?”

GT “Wait a second, that’s why he was [inaudible].”

PF Uh it’s hard to be in a sales driven organization, I tell you. [GT laughs] Um so really what we’re saying is when you wanna be productive . . . I think, I mean, really, what are we saying? What do you think?

GT We’re talking about writing things down.

PF That’s really what we’re—

GT That’s what we’re talking about. We’re both writers [yeha] so this is a pretty obvious conclusion.

[44:11]

PF But it’s getting it out of your brain [yeah] because when it’s in your brain, all sorts of toxic, [chuckling] bad things happen.

GT Exactly. [Chuckles] Right.

PF Right? Like your brain is actually bad at lists it turns out.

GT Yes.

PF Ok so [very much so] when you try to keep the list in your brain, like bats come in and roost in every element of the list and— and caw at you. I know bats don’t caw but the ones in your brain do.

GT Absolutely. Particularly in the uncertainty— the uncertainty parts [oh man], any sort of uncertainty.

PF Uh. I mean imagine us if we didn’t have these productivity systems. We’d be— I mean we’re still a little like it’s still pretty stressful just being alive [both laugh]. Maybe we’d be so much happ— we’re reverting to an agrarian age, you know, maybe we’d be farmers.

GT Just do whatever I felt like doing in the moment.

PF I know but wouldn’t that—

GT What would that— what would that look like?

PF But the thing is is like when you meet farmers, they’re literally just like, “I have to do—” The first to-do lists were those calendars of like, you know, “In May, plant your seeds.”

GT Exactly. Right [laughs].

PF So we’re dealing with that too. I mean it’s just— oh well I’m gonna go get a hoe and find a garden [GT stifles laughter]. Alright we’re gonna let people know when the Todo.txt’s reboot is out.

GT Yes.

PF And uh we’ll probably have a good event. It’s fun to talk about it in progress and how old will it be?

[45:26]

GT Oh it’s 11 years old this year. Like Todo.txt as a community and as a format. Yeah, it was 2006.

PF Can you believe that? 11 year— when you wrote that thing, how long did you think it would last?

GT Oh my god.

PF Like a minute.

GT I’m the worst shell scripter ever! Like I [both laugh] — I was like, “People are gonna lau—” I was really like, “People are gonna laugh at this.” I had no— I thought it was gonna be a post on Lifehacker that had the shelf life of a post which is like a few weeks.

PF 11 years later!

GT 11 years later!

PF Alright well—

GT React Native!

PF We are— we are proud to be the caretakers of this rich legacy. Um—

GT Such an honor, it’s such an honor.

PF So um Gina Trapani, thank you for coming on Track Changes.

GT Thank you for having me!

PF Your uh your desk is about eight feet away from this studio so please get home safe.

GT [Laughs] Very short commute.

PF Um and I’ll just tell everyone who’s listening: thank you for listening. I’m Paul Ford, I’m the co-founder. My co-founder, Rich Ziade, is out of the country! And so it’s just me as the host, in case you’re missing him. And Gina Trapani is a director of engineering here at Postlight. Gina, thank you.

GT Thank you, Paul.

PF [Music fades in] If you wanna get in touch with us, just send an email to [email protected], that is very easy to remember but in case you didn’t get it that first time, I’ll do it again: [email protected] and uh if you want to, you can give us five stars on iTunes, there’s no pressure. It’s just if you’re in a good mood and you wanna do something nice for the universe, we’re always here. Just let us know. We like to answer complicated questions and solve complicated problems. So, if you ever have need of us, send us an email. If you wanna talk to us about work, do that too. We build big, complicated web platforms, products, all that stuff. We’re a digital products studio at 101 5th Avenue in New York City. And thank you for listening [music ramps up then fades out to end].