Arriving in Shenzhen

I am currently in China, working on a hardware project. I am blogging about it — read about overcoming the first culture shock here.

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That first thing on your mind: they’ve heard it before. Many times

I like networking and socializing and I tend to meet a lot of people. At a networking event a couple of days ago, I met a guy from Ukraine. The first thing that popped into my head when I heard that word was Crimea. However, I stopped myself from bringing up that topic. Not out of some sort of PC sensitivity, but simply because my bet is that this guy had been discussing that topic 15 times that day already. It’s not original.

My personal experience with this is the silly one that when people hear my last name (Dupont), they say “oh like Dupont and Dupond”? If you don’t know, those are characters in the Tin Tin comic books, in English known as Thomson and Thompson. Now, this doesn’t bother me, I have no childhood trauma with this name or anything, but it does strike me as ironic that people typically look at me rather pleased with themselves when they bring it up. They feel clever and informed because their mind made the connection in an instant. Well guess what: it doesn’t make you look that clever.

I witnessed an american introducing himself to a guy that I don’t know where was from (I am in Spain at the moment but he didn’t have the local accent). When he said that he was from The States, the other guy blurted out “Oh, McDonalds! Haha”, almost like a tourette’s-reaction. The forgiving smile on the americans face was priceless, but even if this was a bit of an extreme example, I think it emphasizes how you might look if you just blurt out the first thing that pops into your head.

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CherryTomato Beta

I know, “beta” is kind of a strange tag as CherryTomato was already out and it was version 0.4. However, this version is a complete rewrite because I needed it for OS X. It still works on Windows though, but with a quite different user interface. The new UI is in its infancy so I recommend the beta only if you are curious. That said, I would love feedback.

This version uses different names for config and database files. This is to make sure you don’t loose your old data as the new version has a different model. It does have the ability to migrate it but I wanted that to be a manual process to make sure you only do that if you mean it.

Get it from

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CherryTomato in Mono

I received an email a few days ago from the Pomodoro Technique® legal department, informing me that I was infringing on their trademarks. The icon looks too much like their logo and it’s not clear that CherryTomato is not an official Pomodoro Technique® tool.
Well it will be so even less now. 25 minutes might work really well for some things but time boxing can be more than that. For instance, John Cleese recommends you set aside 90 minutes for creative reflection now and then. You should watch this talk talk not just for the content which is great, but also for a demonstration of how to engage an audience with humour and insight:

John Cleese – a lecture on Creativity from janalleman on Vimeo.

I have been on OSX for about a year now. As CherryTomato is written in C#, I decided to take a look at Mono and try porting CherryTomato. I ran into a bunch of challenges and decided to start from scratch instead and as you might know, it has taken me much longer than I initially anticipated. I have been using CT myself for a while now and it seems to be close to ready for a beta that runs both on Windows and OSX.

Posted in CherryTomato, Mono, Productivity | 5 Comments

Runtime Assembler for C++

rtasm is a project i made in 2005 for university. It’s a runtime assembler for C++ that allows you to write code that is assembled at the very last minute. This allows you to write generic code with conditions that still performs incredibly well because they can be evaluated before loops with deep context knowledge.

I haven’t been working on the project for a long time but I thought it was a waste to have the code just sitting on my drive so in spite of two failing unit tests, I have now uploaded the source code to GitHub. Maybe at some point I will look into it again.

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After a rather tedious approval process (of my company, not the app), 12months is live in the app store.


It is Amma’s and my Project Getaway experiment. It’s an iPad calendar that shows you the entire year in way that makes planning easy, inspired by David Seah’s Compact Calendar.

This is my first experiment with mobile (tablet apps count as “mobile”, right?) and though I have many ideas for features, I wanted to get a simple version out just to run through the process and to see if there is any interest. It has been out for three days now and has sold around 20 copies. I am really curious to see what the trend will look like in a couple of months.

Posted in 12months, Entrepreneurship, Productivity | 2 Comments

Project Getaway 2011

I am currently in Bali, at Project Getaway 2011. It’s three days in and I am very excited. Everybody here is awesome and I can already feel entrepreneurship and inspiration in the air.

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Sun, Sand and Startups, Travel | 4 Comments

The Story of a Bootstrapped Startup..

This is my talk about Minimum Noise at Sun, Sand and Startups in Barcelona 2011.

Some people have asked me about the restructuring we did of the landing page.
One of the articles that were inspirational in that regard was this one: — I highly recommend it.

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Shower Whiteboard

If there is one thing we’ve learned from stock photography, it’s that windows make good white boards — especially for flow charts.


..well that, and that thinking big means planting a tiny tree in a very big pot and while customer support might sound like some middle-aged Indian guy it is, in fact, a hot chick with a headset. But I digress..

I was rereading the Paul Graham essay The Top Idea in Your Mind the other day. PG asserts that the one thing that occupies you the most is the thing you are going to think of in the shower which I generally find to be true. This spawns all kinds of little ideas and I realized that I tend to forget these, like dreams. You know there was something, but it’s just not very clear what is was. As I just moved into a new flat where there is a large glass wall in the shower, I decided to buy whiteboard markers for it. It’s geeky, yes, but I am quite excited about it.

There is a risk, I guess, that this is too structured and can have a negative impact on the free flowing kind of thought but that doesn’t seem to be happening. You get one “file” per shower. You can erase something with the water but then the wall is wet and useless. This limitation seems perfect for keeping you in brainstorming mode.

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Portable Safe

I purchased a portable safe, the Pacsafe Travelsafe 12L.

It is a canvas bag with an integrated steel mesh. This makes it light while still protecting it from knives and simple tools. Yes, it can be broken into if someone really wants to but it provides good protection against the thief who is quickly scanning for something to pick up.

When traveling I mostly stay in hotels that have in-room deposit boxes but sometimes they don’t and sometimes they do but they are not big enough to contain my laptop. It’s really, really annoying to have to carry my laptop around with me all the time so I thought this might make a good solution. It seems very rugged and yet not too heavy. I am comfortable locking this thing up in a hotel room. It comes even more in handy as the I have the MacBook Air which doesn’t have a Kensington lock port. The 12 liter version has plenty of space for my laptop and other items such an SLR but it still fits into a backpack.
I am very happy with this gadget. I think it has just become a part of my permanent traveling kit – something very few products do.

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