Hey, Programmers! I’ve Got an App Idea for You!

Geek Culture Internet


Hey, programmers/developers! I need your help! Let me explain.

Every morning I get up and start my morning routine. It starts with a shower and ends with dropping the kids off at school. Then it’s back to the house to begin my work day. I’m a creature of habit, and this routine works for me. It’s habit. It’s efficient. And it rarely changes during the school year.

But it’s what happens next, once I’m home, that drives me a bit crazy. Here’s a sample rundown, and feel free to shift these around in any order you like:

1. Check email.
2. Respond to any critical emails.
3. Check the weather — some days I have appointments away and on others the kids have soccer practice.
4. Log in to Twitter to see if there are any DMs waiting for me.
5. Check the main headlines on a few key tech websites I follow.
6. Maybe log into Facebook to see what’s happening with friends and family.
7. Check out my calendar to see if I’ve got anything scheduled for today — if so, write down phone numbers or addresses if needed.
8. Check my To Do List (currently an app called Clear).
9. Log in to Manilla to see if I’ve got any bills that have shown up. (I no longer get paper bills.)
10. New Book Tuesday? See what’s shown up that I already didn’t know about by either visiting B&N or checking a few posts that track this sort of thing.
11. Make any phone calls that absolutely must be made…
12… and then get to writing.

Add in a few other things that change from day to day — checking for comments on my web posts, tracking a few reminders in this app or the other, etc. When I look back at each day, I realize just how fragmented by day really is… jumping from website to website, logging in from service to service… it’s crazy.

After thinking about just how much time I spend each day hunting down the information I want in order to get my day going, I realized that what I really want is a personal assistant to greet me each morning with a cup of orange juice (not a coffee drinker) and a one or two-page summary of my day. But the going rate for personal assistants these days is $Expensive.00/hr, so I’m going to have to look elsewhere.

And that’s where you come in, Super-Guru-Coder! Is there something you could create (and sell! I’m in the market!) that would generate a daily report that is automatically waiting for me in my Inbox each morning or as a PDF that is automatically generated and sitting in a Dropbox folder I specify?

Of course, it needs to be extremely flexible, because other GeekDad readers are sure to have their own inputs for the report. For me, my report would include these and more:

1. Today’s weather report. Simple temps, rain chance, maybe even a 5-day forecast if I select that option. Grab it from Weather.com based on the zip code I provide to your app.

2. Any scheduled events for the day with times associated and phone number/contact info. Your app probably should be able to access my Google Calendar (or other calendars) using my login credentials that are stored securely ON MY DEVICE and not in the cloud.

3. A short version of my To Do list. Need to find one that can export this info. I love Clear, but listen… you come up with an app to handle all this stuff, and I’ll switch to it.

4. Top 3 news items based on keywords I select… maybe expand this to 10 with just the headlines in the list. I’m not much into politics, but I’d sure like the top 10 headlines as defined by website X. (My favorite editor, Ken, will probably have it pulling down the Top 20 GeekDad headlines — he’s hardcore.)

5. Any DM from Twitter I need to know about? Put them in here. Heck, go ahead and let me know if I’ve got any new followers that I should follow back. Even better? Let me put in a few #hashtags and get the 5 most trending.

6. Same with Facebook — would be great to know if I have any birthday reminders or new friends or messages to respond to. My calendar already has key birthdays in it, but I’m always missing one here and there, and FB is always good about the Bday reminders!

7. Any bills due today? Maybe sync with Manilla so I can determine if I need to login? Or, if you don’t want to pull from a service, just let me specify the services I want to check (Comcast? Bank of America?) and I’ll provide my login credentials so you can check for me!

8. New books? I’d like to have a short list of new books being released (I choose the subject/genre) on New Book Tuesday. You know what would be even cooler? Create your own New Releases database, let the sellers feed it, and give me checkboxes so I can pick the subject/genres I want to see listed.

There are probably many more things I’d like to see fed into this daily report, so PLEASE be sure to include some way to contact you and submit a request for a new feature.

For some time now, Google has had a somewhat-decent service called iGoogle that let me do some basic customization, but it is so Google-centric. (And Google’s also pulled the plug on it and it’s going under on November 1, 2012.)


So, what do you think? I’m guessing that a lot of what’s involved would be either simple RSS feed stuff or just downloading and chopping up data so it can be formatted again in a more easy-to-read manner. Again, the storing of my usernames/passwords needs to be kept on the iPad (or iPhone) with no uploading of my information and search habits uploaded and sold to marketers. An app that could do that? I’d pay a reasonable sum for it.

I do wish I could create it for myself, but I’m not a coder. So I’m hoping there are coders out there who can tell me if I’m dreaming and should continue to dream… or if my dream could become reality with the right team behind it.

I’ve seen how services like ifttt.com and wappwolf.com can be used to take info from one place and deliver it to another (even changing its format), so I’m truly hoping that there’s a solution out there that can take all my sources of daily input and give them to me as output in a single source. I’d love to wake up one of these days, open my iPad, tap on Jim’s Daily Report for Month/Day/Year and get a one or two page synopsis of the information I pull in daily from multiple sources.

Some of our GeekDad readers might even have suggestions on how to improve this dream app. (It just occurred to me that headlines and book release and stuff should also be hyperlinked so I can immediately click on an item of interest and be taken somewhere for more details. Add that to the list above, please.)

Thanks for your time and consideration, programmers of the world. I welcome your comments!

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