Surviving the Web

I'm a proud father of two and programmer for more then 15 years. My kids are small so I'm really into parenting right now. A bit of a problem for me is to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies in the Web. I really love my job but I just don't have enough time to look after all these frameworks, libraries or tools. I used to read Twitter, monitor RSS feeds and spend hours reading Reddit or Medium. However, no time for that anymore.

For sure I needed something that will automate my learning processes.

To aggregate or not

Obviously I needed an aggregator. A tool that does all the stuff which I was doing when I had free time. But not just a collector of URLs. There are tons of those. I was interested in a specific set of resources and more importantly - the most popular among them. Links that other people find useful and they got shared again and again.

SmashFind

Piece by piece for a couple of weeks I ended up with the first version of SmashFind. It's a tool (bot + web app) that does all the stuff for me. It fetches tweets, understands RSS, reads subreddits, gets links from GitHub and a few other places. Having tons of URLs it goes to the social networks and checks how popular they are. Rank them and feeds a dashboard where I filter all the links. And by filter I mean that I delete those which are not technical. In the end they are published on SmashFind. As every developer that hacks something in his/her spare time I was really happy with the result. Well, at least for a couple of days :)

It was all good but having a list of 100+ links every day doesn't solve my problem. Indeed it's a list with really cool stuff but I still don't have time to read everything. Then using it on a daily basis I realized that I very often check just the first two or three paragraphs of the article and then I make a decision - read the whole page or not. It's enough to understand if the material is useful for me. So I implemented that too. Clicking on a link at SmashFind presents all the collected information including the first ~600 chars and counted shares in the social networks. Of course sometimes those first paragraphs doesn't make a lot of sense. They may contain marketing information or just nothing but in most of the cases is exactly what I want.

And so far this is working really well for me. I spend like 30-40 mins per day with SmashFind. I stopped visiting places like Twitter (I'm lying) and Reddit simply because the most popular links from there are in SmashFind. And yes, I'm probably missing all these cool new frameworks and libraries. I'm probably missing the new React or the new Webpack. Well ... I'm completely fine with that.

What's next

I'm still in a process of fine-tuning the resources that the bot is querying. So if you know some cool people or places to follow do let me know. Drop me a line at hey@smashfind.com or ping me in Twitter.

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