Friday Link Roundup: Cell phones, voice coding, social media addiction and how Slack scales their worker queues

Advertisements

Write a thank-you to free/libre/open source software maintainers! #ThanksFOSSMaintainers

Windson Yang makes a great point in Why we never thank open source maintainers. They do a lot of hard work and we should take the time, especially since Christmas is around corner, but all year round too, to thank the maintainers that make all our favourite free/libre/open source software possible!

LanguageTool: free grammar checking tool

LanguageTool is like Grammarly, except completely free and open source. (I will be adding it to the resources page later today) It’s written in Java which means it is quite performant.

There are plugins to use LanguageTool in:

  • Firefox
  • Chrome
  • Google Docs
  • LibreOffice
  • and standalone desktop app

What I like is that there is a Python library, grammar-check, that interfaces with LanguageTool. You can get up and running and start checking grammar on your own with Python scripts. There’s also a Ruby library but it only uses the API from the website. The Python library uses a locally installed version of LanguageTool so you don’t have to rely on an internet connection (very useful for me when I’m writing on the train or bus for example).

The LanguageTool project itself has great documentation and interesting source code. It is licensed under the GNU Lesser General Public License v2.1.

Indie Hackers: learn how developers are writing their own paychecks

Cool site, Indie Hackers, shows off the projects that are making software developers money. It is a directory of products and services that developers are offering and shows how much money they are earning. It should be inspirational to any developer, coder or software engineer.

Some of the projects are:

  • Compliance, a daily planning app which made $2500 a month at its peak.
  • Webjay, a music playlist service which its developers $400/month at its peak.

On each project page, it’s a bit of an interview with the developers/founders of the project.

One of the most important questions is “How did ____ make money?”, the founder of Webjay answered that question in this way:

I monetized through banner ads. It was a native format where a sponsor’s music was available for adoption among my users. I also monetized by using my accrued reputation to get better contract work as a programmer.

Eventually I was acquihired by Yahoo. It was much easier to close a deal, because I had no investors. I didn’t get rich, but I got enough to buy a house and dramatically improve my standard of living. I also got a big promotion, from coder to exec, and now make a much better living.

This is a hopeful story, you can hack on a project and make some money through banner ads (without tracking people) and you can use your improved skills to get better contract work. That side project you’re working on could be a real money maker for you even if you don’t make money from it directly.

The Webjay interview is really good, here are some tips that Lucas Gonze offers to other developers/founders:

  • Do things the easy way.
  • Have a razor sharp bullshit filter.
  • No metrics unless you will act on the data. No work that doesn’t matter to users.
  • Be yourself. Be a human.
  • Don’t try to raise money from investors. They will waste your time and your project will die. Be deeply suspicious of anything like YC.
  • Be very careful about lawyers. They have little to offer you.
  • Be tough. Things worth doing are usually hard.

Click here to check out Indie Hackers and see other stories about successful developers.

Librem 5 – The World’s First Truly Free Smartphone Announced

The KDE foundation is working with the Purism organization to create the world’s first truly free smartphone. The phone is called the Librem 5 and you can help fund the development of the hardware and the software for the phone by clicking here. As of this moment, they’re hoping to raise $1.5 million and have already reached $844,150 with 24 days to go!

The Librem 5 phone will not be running Android or iOS. It will be running PureOS which is a GNU/Linux derivative of Debian. Basically, any app you write for PureOS and the Librem 5 can also be made to work on your desktop Linux computer. This is a huge advantage that you don’t get with Android or iOS apps, most developers end up using Qt or Unity to be able to create multi-platform applications.

activitiescall-1024x670

Since the Librem 5 functions as a small computer, you can also hook it up to a monitor, mouse, and keyboard and use it that way. All of our smartphones, iPhones and Android phones alike, are powerful enough to be used as desktop computers but they don’t provide a convenient method for doing so. One of the Librem 5’s goals is to change that. Take a look at the crowdfunding rewards, the higher tier rewards include a monitor, mouse, and keyboard with them ($1399 includes a 24-inch monitor, $1699 includes a 30-inch monitor)! When you fund the phone, you’re funding the development of a privacy-focused computer that fits in your pocket. It feels like some days we forget just how powerful the phones we have in our pockets are. The Librem 5 aims to remind us of that.

It will feature end to end encrypted chat with Matrix along with other privacy and security features. By default, there will be no tracking.

If you want to break out of the duopoly that Apple and Google have over the industry, you will definitely want to check out the Librem 5 smartphone.