Authoring Browser Extensions

I got an awesome opportunity to chat with Wes Bos and Scott Tolinski on the Syntax podcast. We talked about some of my projects, including T.LY URL Shortener and Weather Extension. Syntax is a fun podcast for web developers hosted by Wes Bos and Scott Tolinkski, two independent full stack developers who create online training courses. In each episode, Scott and Wes break down topics to provide “Tasty Treats” to the audience — applicable tips and nuggets of information to help web developers in their careers.


I sure hope you’re hungry. Cool, I’m starving. Wash those hands, pull up a chair and secure that feedback because it’s time to listen to Scott, to Linsky and Wes Boss attempt to use human language to converse with and pick the a brain. Some other developers I thought there was going to be food. So buckle up and grab that handle because this ride is going to get wild. This is the Syntax Supper Club.

Welcome to Syntax. This is a podcast with the tastes web development treats out there. I’ve got another supper club for you today. We got Tim Leland on Today to talk about all his side projects, how he builds them, what he’s building them on, how he’s making money with them, and whatever else pops up. Tim is a pretty cool guy. I’ve known him for a while. We should chat online and on Instagram and whatnot so that we’d have them on. We are sponsored by two awesome companies today. First one is Zen Layer, fast growing email platform that lets you easily connect your website or app to send emails via the API and SMTP for maximum deliverability, reliability and scalability. And we are also sponsored by the Post Light podcast, your home for weekly conversations with industry veterans, technology design, leadership in business. Specifically going to shout out that Gina Tripani and Paul Ford are on this podcast. Two people who I’ve been following for a long time in this industry. So we’ll talk about all that part way through the episode. Welcome Tim. Thanks for coming on. Yeah, thanks for having me. I’m super excited. I’ve been listening to Syntax for a real long time. I think I’ve been listening since the original 2017 episode. That’s amazing. Sometimes people have told us that they’ve listened to every single episode or like that’s a lot, many hours. And it’s funny because you probably feel like you know us to an extent, don’t you? Oh yeah. That’s why jumping on here, it feels like I’m just talking to people I know. But obviously it’s a little bit different, I guess, being interviewed. Yeah, he’s asking us what questions we’re going to ask him and we’re like, we don’t know. I’m sure some cool stuff. So we do know what we’re going to talk about. We’re going to talk about the fact that you have built a couple of extensions. You have sort of like a side business or whatnot, but why don’t you give us a quick rundown of who you are, what kind of code you write, where you’re from, anything else, what kind of food you like? Yeah, some software developer I’ve been developing for past twelve years and I’ve done lots of different things. I worked for a couple of different companies and I’ve also done a lot of side projects. And some of the ones that we’ve talked about are extensions, the browser extensions. I kind of got into browser extensions back in 2015 and really enjoy building extensions and working on side projects on top of a full time job. Awesome. What is your full time job? Software developer for a company that builds it’s actually like Bible study software. So it’s based out of Washington and it’s a faith life and they have been around for a real long time and have a lot of neat different apps and that type of stuff. That’s cool. Nice. Awesome. Because they said browser extensions are kind of feel like a whole world. What was that catalyst for? You thinking, like, let me dive into making a browser extension. What was that initial catalyst? Yeah. So I used a lot of different browser extensions, so I kind of got interested from what can they do? And then the one that kind of kicked off is I wanted to build a quick way to check the weather and it’s called Weather Extension, but back in 2015. So that is an icon in your browser that at any point you can click and see additional information. It updates the temperature in the background. So I’ve been working on that now, I guess for seven years and updating. It adding features and a lot of people have enjoyed it and use it and it kind of saves you time from going to other weather sites. And then obviously people have the weather apps on their phone, but they don’t really have a weather app on their computer necessarily. So, yeah, you just click it. That’s totally free. I’m just looking at you have 211,000 users and you provide this whole thing for free or is there a paid version as well? Yeah, so there is a paid version and it unlocks additional things like weather alerts and it will update more often in the background and additional locations and things like that. But for the most part, a lot of people just use the free version. I did that because originally it still uses Dark Sky if you’re familiar with the popular iOS app. But that is a paid API. So I added in Pay plans to kind of help cover the cost of that. Yeah. And Apple owns Dark Sky, now, don’t they? Yeah. Is that the current status? Yeah, it looks like from the amount of downloads you have, you may have reached like over a million people with your browser extensions. Is that kind of blow your mind? Yeah, so I guess I could probably look at the stats of total installs over time. But yes, I’m pretty sure it’s over a million people. It’s good and bad. It’s really easy to install extension, but it’s also really easy to uninstall. So people will try something out and then maybe it doesn’t work quite right for them and then they’ll uninstall it. But yeah, it is neat that a lot of people have used it and a lot of people really do enjoy it. And I get messages all the time, so that’s really neat. That’s cool. So do people ever try to buy this thing from you? Because I had an extension years ago where when the New York Times rolled out the paywall, I remember it was the first paywall to ever be rolled out and all the developers were like, look, it’s just a div over top, we can remove that div. And so I built a little chrome extension that would just hide the div base on the CSS class and it got a whole bunch of press because they’re like, hacker figures out how to circumvent the thing. I’m like, I’m just displaying a class and it was popular for a couple of weeks and then it kind of died out. But I had like a bunch of people just like, probably just try to buy a whole bunch of chrome extensions, assuming because they’re trying to do nefarious stuff with popular crowns. Does has that happened to you? Yeah, I think that was a more popular thing back in the day. So I haven’t gotten any recently, but I used to get well, a lot of people tried to hack and take over the account that kind of controls the extension. So that’s another topic. But make sure you have two factor and all the security stuff turned on. But yeah, so I’ve had people offer to buy it and it’s always real shady sounding and then if you read some stories, people have sold extensions and then the person who bought it and starts injecting ads and all kinds of malicious stuff. But Google has gotten a lot better at locking down permissions. And if we want to talk about it but they’re coming out with a new manifest version and they’re also getting a lot stricter to where you can’t just say give me all permissions and do all kinds of stuff. If you’re going to use a permission, you have to have a reason, you have to use it appropriately. Interesting. So I wonder a little bit about like, marketing your extensions. It seems like a lot of them got some pretty big traction. Did you put a lot of effort into getting those in front of people or was it just the usefulness that allowed people to search for them and find them? Yeah, the weather extension, if I think back, it had a few hundred users and I was actually just still under the free plan for Dark Sky, which was kind of crazy to think. And then I don’t know if I reached out or somebody from Life Hacker, life Hacker website, they shared it and it was like Dark Sky chrome extension, I think it went from a couple of hundred to 10,000 users and then just from that type of stuff has grown. So I mean, some of it is yes, from me, Mark reaching out and sharing it, but then it’s also been picked up and shared on some big sites like that. Nice. Yeah, I would imagine getting a share on something like lifehacker would have been a prime way to get a ton of new users. Wow, that’s actually funny that we’re talking about Life Hacker. We’re not doing an ad transition here, but I’ll use that to talk about our sponsor today because our sponsor, Day is a company, juniper Trapani, who founded Life Hacker, also founded the sponsor. So that’s pretty crazy. Let’s talk about the environment of a Chrome extension because Scott and I have been talking about this a lot lately with the sort of upcome of edge functions. And whatnot is that? JavaScript is not always JavaScript. There’s lots of environments. You obviously have server side, you have browser side, you have edge functions, you have web workers, you have cloudflare. But I didn’t even think about this. But like, a Chrome extension is kind of its own environment, right? How does that work? Is the code running in the browser of the Iframe? Or is it running in like a separate one? You have to talk back and forth to it. Yeah. So there’s multiple different ways, I guess, to build an extension. So you have the main pop up window that when you click on the icon and then you also have an options page and then you also have background pages. And in the past manifest, I guess, V two, you could just use like a background page that’s like an HTML page, but really it’s just running JavaScript. And I’m not really sure how Chrome would say kick this off, but you could tell it to kind of run indefinitely. But with the new manifest, the three that they’re moving to, it’s going to be background web workers. So that background task is a web worker. That’s cool. Do you hit any, ever hit any limitations in terms of like, oh, you can’t do that, especially with web worker because there’s not like I guess you have fetch, but you don’t have any of the Dom stuff, right? Yes, that’s a big thing. So all of the extensions I’ve done, the background part has just been, like I said, the HTML and some of the older ones use Jquery and that type of stuff and updating it. I’m having to go through and swap it out to use like that for any network request and then also remove any references to like window or document. So there’s been some stuff that’s been kind of frustrating to have to swap them out, but in the end I think it will be better and it’s a better way to write extension. So if you were to get into writing extensions, definitely start with the V three manifest. I was going to say, what about a server side component? I take it you have just like a box somewhere running any sort of back end code that you need. Yes. The weather extension hits an API, so I, yeah, have a web, but all of the code as far as I know, has to be hosted in the extension. So when you download an extension, you’re downloading the JavaScript HTML images. But when I first created the weather extension, I think Chrome has changed this since. So you can’t really do this, but I actually hosted the JavaScript myself, and then the extension would just pull that down. And so it got to where I didn’t really have to update the extension to do a change. I just had to build the JavaScript. But Chrome kind of has moved away from that and that’s part of people would build that, then they have to go through a review and then they start doing malicious things. Yeah, people were doing that with iOS apps. Native apps. Yeah, yeah, native apps. What’s the word for that? Is that called side loading? Is there a special name for just loading? I don’t think it’s called side loading because side loading, I think, is when you install from like a USB cable or something, you download the app and install there’s a special word for that. Loading JavaScript into an app. I don’t know there’s a word for it. Somebody tweeted out the integrity and we’ll get it out. But yeah, that can make sense. Like you think it would be nice not to have to go through the review process, especially with like Apple where they freaking takes weeks sometimes to approve something. But as a consumer, I certainly don’t want you injecting like some spyware or something into the application or I know that there’s people that have gotten rich, rich off of just swapping out Amazon links that appear on pages with their own affiliate links. Interest had their own Amazon referral links that were cashing them out. Yeah, that whole world is like not necessarily the underbelly, but you often wonder, like, how do these companies make money? And that’s how they’re making money selling you out. Well, I was going to say the one that popped up maybe two or three years ago was the crypto miners in extensions. I don’t know if you ever oh, yeah. So it was like the JavaScript miners. So people were buying extensions and then dropping in that JavaScript file. So it’s like constantly mining on your computer. So there’s been some shady stuff like that over the years. With extensions, you got to be careful. So your other extension, the big one, what is that? URL shortener? Yes. So the weather extension was 2015. And then as I kept working on that, I kind of want to start something else. And I built a tool that would go out and crawled the Chrome store and I was able to index all of them and then see what extensions have a lot of users, and then obviously there’s some that have like big companies behind them. But I came across one that was made by some developer. It was a Google URL shortener. And what it did is it just used the old Google URL shortener service API, and it’s pretty basic, had a million users, and around that same time, Google just announced that they were shutting down their service. So I was able to they gave me the idea to build my own that would use multiple URL shortener services, and then I could kind of grow it and make it where it’s a little bit more flexible than this one that just use Google and kind of fast forward a little bit. Google shut down theirs, and then all the people that were using it, I guess, kind of came looking for another. One of mine was the next best choice for using other APIs to shorten URLs. That’s awesome. So the domain name is T-L-Y. How the heck did you get that domain name? Yeah, it’s a great question. I built the extension and even an API endpoint all that before I had the domain, because my goal really wasn’t to build my own shortener. It was to have an extension that had a lot of users, and then I just enjoy the extension. What happened is, once Google shut theirs down, some other ones that aren’t as reliable, my extension use these other APIs, and those would go down. So I would have a user message me saying, hey, I created short links using your extension, but the site is gone. And I’ll be like, sorry, I don’t have any control over whatever service. So with that, I decided, all right, I need to build my own shortener service. I set off to find a good domain, and the way I was able to get the domain is I worked with the guy, he runs like a domain reseller, and I said, hey, what domains you have that are short? And he sent me a list, and we worked out a deal to where I was able to get the domain from them and build the service on top of it. Wow, nice. That’s a perfect URL, but also a perfect URL for a shortened service. But no kidding, it really fits really well. I like to say it’s a bit shorter than some of the alternatives. Yeah. If you’re really hard up for space, people are going to kill me if I don’t ask. How much did you pay for it? I guess my thing is, what do you think a domain like that’s worth? Good question. Let’s guess. Okay, Scott, you come up with the idea, you come up with yours. I’ll come up with mine. Are we talking just the initial? How much did you pay for it? I’m going to say ten k. I’m going to say 15. More like 50. Okay. Yeah. That’s good, though. They don’t make a lot of those. Wow. And that’s like a keystone of the entire operation. Yeah, it kind of has to be short, right? So you didn’t just spend that for the sake of it. This is obviously a business of yours, right? So people are paying you for what the service is free and you can go create short links and just use it. And you can also use it through the extension. But then if you want some additional things like custom domains and URLs that expire after a certain amount of clicks oh, that’s cool. Yeah. Additional analytics, password protected links, those type of things that requires a paid plan. So by the time I decided to purchase that, kind of had worked out those features and knew that I would be able to make back the investment. Yeah, especially with the amount of users you have. That’s really neat. One link, I’ve seen this before. Is this where, like, somebody has an Instagram profile and they want to link to multiple things? Like, oh, the toothbrush that I’m using is in my profile, but also, like, here’s my course on learning JavaScript. Right. You want to be able to link to both of those things. So you need like a landing page for multiple links. Is that what that one link is? Yeah, that was an add on type feature that I’m still not sure if I’m going to continue that to building it out. But yeah, so you can have one link. So you click on there and then it takes you and it lists out. I’m trying to think of the service that is the real popular one. There’s a bunch of them that do it, like Bio, Lincoln, Bio type of stuff. Linktree, link tree. Link tree. I’m thinking like, man, it doesn’t really take much to have an idea. That is a great idea. That is so easy. You could make your whole career on building five links. No kidding. My wife wanted that for herself and she signed up. I was like, what are you doing? I use it for a level up. Yeah, it’s HTML. Do you know how to make an anchor? Well, I would say our marketing director did it. West it’s just people see it and they know what it is. Right. They see linktree is like the first five clicks or whatever. They’re not going to be filtered into some third party site. They don’t know what it is or whatever. So you also have SSL domains with accustomed domain name. We’ve talked about this a couple of times about services that give you SSL certs, but something that’s not hosted. How do you do that? Yeah, that was probably the most complicated thing I had to figure out with this is how to do it. And luckily their services. Are you familiar with Caddy? Yes, we had Matt from Caddy on the podcast. Okay. Yeah. So pretty much that handles a lot of the SSL and custom domains and just figure out how to kind of proxy those requests through. Cool. And the person puts in their domain name in it. You just programmatically loop over those and assign a SSL certificate via Caddy. Yeah. So Caddy has on demand SSL and as a way to just wild card, so you could say anything, but there’s a few additional checks you want to do to make sure people aren’t doing anything malicious. Oh, yeah, I want to ask you about the maliciousness of it, but let’s take a quick break for one of our sponsors, and it is another podcast. This is the post site podcast. So what is Postite? Posts is a strategy, design and engineering firm. They work with some of the world’s biggest organization to build platforms to scale to hundreds of millions of users each week. Postlight senior Leaders Rich Zyde, Paul Ford, Gina Chapani and Chris Losako host candid conversations on tech business ethics and culture. So they’re like, oh, we want to sponsor the show. And I was like, oh, yeah. So specifically, Paul Ford, I follow him on Twitter, he’s hilarious. But he wrote a really good article a couple of years ago called what is Code for Bloomberg? He wrote it for Bloomberg and it was like the cover of Bloomberg, which is amazing. And they also have an awesome website that’s really interactive. Gina Tripani, I’ve been following her since Life Hacker, so she’s the founder of Life Hacker, but she’s also like a really good dev. And I also listened to her on many of Leah Laporte’s podcast. I talked to her on Twitter a couple of times about Headless WordPress, which I think they do quite a bit of over at Posts as well. So some pretty interesting figures on this podcast, and you definitely are going to want to check it out for your weekly source for honest conversations on tech and leadership. So go to Postlight. Compodcast and give it a listen. Thank you postlite for sponsoring sick. Let’s talk about maliciousness. Right before this podcast, I sent a link to a Google form, and they have forms GLE or something like that for a short URL. And I said to somebody on Twitter and they said, hey, that link got flagged as malicious. And I was like, yeah, I hate using these URL shorteners because people abuse them and then they become associated with bad stuff. So does that happen to you as well? Yeah, so when I built the original API, hooked it up to the domain and put it out there, kind of being naive to the Internet, I think maybe a weekend, I got flagged and I wasn’t even aware of it, but people found it maliciously and were using it for different things. And then my hosting company actually shut my servers down. So that was kind of a wake up call. Yeah. So I had to let them know, this is URL shortener service and I’m actively monitoring. So then I spent probably over six months just tweaking and improving the auto malicious URL detection system. So that’s really been the most complicated part of building the URL shortener, is building a system to automatically detect malicious URLs. Do you have to worry about linking off to illegal content or any of that stuff. I guess if it’s been flagged, obviously I don’t want anybody using it for illegal stuff and if anything’s reported illegally immediately gets taken down. Okay, but how do you know what’s malicious and not that’s obviously somewhat automated? I’m sure you have to get in there and pause through it every now and then, but what does that look like? How do you build that? So there’s lots of companies that do this for other companies, they monitor their stuff. One of the things is having an email where any of the stuff can come in. So these companies pretty much have automatic systems. They will flag a URL, alert, whatever company to take it down. And you’d be surprised, a lot of my URLs that get flagged are redirecting to other really big companies that are also hosting malicious content. So like, Discord is a big one. So those URLs get flagged a lot and I don’t know how they handle it. I have automated stuff, but then also as they come in, luckily there’s not a ton of them that get by, but when they do, it’s kind of like go check and then see. So along with the TDI, I also built another tool called LinkedIn Shorten. And it kind of does the opposite so it expands short links. There was a website I went to that follows all redirects, because sometimes you see a URL and you’re like, I want to know, like, is this person tweeting an affiliate link because they put it behind you’re all shortened to hide the and that’s something I’ll always do when I tweet out a link. If it’s an affiliate link, I’ll say it, but also I’m not going to hide it behind that. So that tool will sort of expand all the redirects and show you what it will end up on. Yeah, so it gets to the final destination URL. Probably should add in a way for it to show each redirect in case that would be a neat feature to add to it. That has some things and it’ll do some checks. So I’ll even use my own tool, I guess, to check the URL and see if it’s been flagged on any of these sites. Google has safe browsing stuff like Safe API, and then there’s some other ones where you can plug in a URL and see. Has it been flagged, is it hosting malicious content? That type of thing? That’s cool. Is any of that AI based or is that I guess the APIs probably themselves are using AI. I would imagine that at some point they will get very good at detecting, probably already doing it. Like things that are specific. I get these instagram cryptocurrency. I’m having a hoot with one of them right now because they’re telling me that I can get 100% of my money returned within one day. And I was like, come on. But how the heck is instagram, not flagging that. I don’t even know what I asked you. Is there AI? No. AI. I don’t really even understand what that term means, I guess. But now it’s kind of like almost like these companies that make antivirus, right? They’re always one step behind the viruses, the people making the viruses. So I guess it’s just doing what you can to take them down as quick as possible. That’s kind of my thing. Obviously, I want the service to be used for legitimate purposes, and that’s my goal. But unfortunately, the Internet proves to want to do other things a lot of times. Yeah. So it seems like you’re a good idea generator type of person, right? You have all these side projects. Where do you come up with this stuff? Are you just scratching your own itch, or are they just things that you get curious about? Where’s the inspiration coming from? Yes, I guess I do think I do come up with a lot of ideas and I keep track of them in, like, a note. So I’ll do that. If I ever get some free time and I’m ready to build something else, I’ll just go looking through my idea list and pull something out. But a lot of times it’s like things that frustrate me or I have problems with. And as a developer, I just say, hey, why don’t I just build a tool that kind of solves that? So, like the weather extension, I always wanted to check really quickly to see what the weather was. Well, I’m sitting at my computer, so I built it, and then the link shortener TDL Y originally came about just because of the previous company needed a texting application. And we looked at using Bitly, and I think at that time to have a custom domain and the amount of URLs we were going to do, it would be like thousands of dollars, which I thought was crazy. Yeah. So I actually built the internal tool that we use there, and it was a real simple version, but that kind of got me interested in the URL shortener stuff. And then that led later on to the extension and then building my own service. So it’s kind of like stuff I see at work in life on the Internet, and just random ideas I have. Chrome extensions are also loadable into Firefox. I don’t know when this happened, but at some point Firefox sort of gave up on their own extension API. Or maybe not give up. Maybe you can spread some, but you can run Chrome extensions as Firefox extensions, right? Yes. And I don’t remember the exact point, but they used to have their own special extension stuff. I think back in the day I used to use Firefox and they were like, maybe the first ones to have extensions. So I used to love using Firefox extensions. But yeah, so at some point they kind of adopted the browser extension API. That I’m not sure if Chrome came up with originally or if it was like some kind of web spec, but they adopted to use it to port an extension from Chrome to Firefox. For the most part, it’s pretty straightforward. There are a few differences here and there, and then same with Opera. So offer is, I guess, kind of like running Chrome so you can easily port it to Opera and then recently Edge. So it’s pretty easy to build one extension to go in all of those browsers. Now, Safari is kind of different. That’s one. I’ve never kind of had it on my list to move some of my extensions to Safari, but they just have like a whole different review process and I just haven’t been motivated enough, I guess, to do it. Yeah, totally. I’m sure that’s the whole thing, especially dealing with Apple, because you have to still download and install them from Apple’s own App Store. Do you know that even when you if you go to Apple’s App Store, there’s no way to even filter Safari extensions? You just go to Safari Extensions and look at the giant list. Or when you search, you type in blah, blah, blah, Safari extension. There’s no way to even filter. I mean, it’s kind of half baked is what I’m trying to say. Yeah, sorry. I was just going to say they do have iOS extensions. Now, I think they’re probably pretty limited just because of how painful one password is on iOS still. Yeah, but eventually I think they’re going to get really good. So go ahead. No, I was just going to say so we know a little bit about the conventional ways that your services make money. You charge a subscription fee for some extra features. Are there any unconventional ways that you’ve made money from browser extensions or things that we haven’t touched on? Maybe not necessarily browser extensions, but I kind of got into if I look back to the first money I made online, other than obviously it’s a full time job, but I created a blog, so I have a personal blog, Tim, and I got really fortunate that my very first blog post had no traffic, anything like that. And then I think hack a Day shared it, and then life hacker shared it. It was a Raspberry Pi tutorial on how to control outlets. You could take basic RF outlets and turn them into smart outlets and control them through Raspberry Pi. So that got picked up and shared. So I had Amazon affiliate links on there, and I think in a couple of days it had made like $500 from affiliate links. So that was pretty neat. I was like, wow, this is pretty easy. I just keep writing these blog posts. But unfortunately, if I go back, that was still one of my biggest blog posts because it just got so much traffic and I haven’t really had anything quite that big I run, like, ads on a lot of my site. So my personal blog is like Google AdSense.

I run ad blockers. So you run ad blockers. I don’t mind. But it is nice if you take time, write an article, help somebody out, and you have ads on there, you can make some money doing that. Yeah, it does go to show you, it seems like with your extension, even with that blog post getting picked up and shared by a blog or some kind of aggregate that’s collecting or sharing these types of things can be a big driver of traffic. I know my YouTube channel specifically went pretty much ignored for a good six months, but when Chris Epstein shared it from Compass, he, like, shared some of my Compass videos, and it was just, like, him alone. And, like, the SAS folks, sharing it alone is, like, what got me a ton of new subscribers, which is eventually kind of what leads me to this podcast. Right. So it really goes to show you just putting stuff out will eventually you get picked up somewhere, gets shared out, and then you can get some major eyes on that thing. You’re still consistently blogging, too. I’m just going through it and I see this. I’m like, I should do this under cabinet lighting or replacing your Honda Pilot console. I’m like, this is the kind of stuff I post on my Instagram. And then 24 hours later, it’s gone. And I was like, I should do this on a blog post. So people always ask us, is there still value in blogging? Like, oh, yeah, I worked for you twelve years ago, west. But does blogging still work? What are your thoughts on that? Yeah, I’d actually say you kind of inspired me to do some of these posts. Just like, little things you do around the house. So pretty much by do something around the house, or like you said, the undercurrent of lightning and do these little projects. I’ll just make a note. All right, write a blog post. I’m not the best writer, but I feel like if I write a tutorial and help somebody out, I think that’s really neat. I’ll get people who message me they found this article and it helped them figure something out, so I kind of enjoy that part of it. But yeah, so it’s blogging dead. I would say no. I mean, there’s still tons of people who make a full time job blogging, so I kind of just jump around. Whenever I get motivated, I’ll write a few new posts. Wish I did it more, but as I get ideas, it’s kind of like back to I pretty much just throughout the day, throughout the week, I write down ideas, and then if it’s a blog post or if it’s a new feature for one of my apps, extensions, I’ll just put it on the list. And then as I get time, I’ll implement it as I feel motivated. Sometimes I’ll be super motivated and I’ll work weeks and then sometimes I won’t do anything for a couple of weeks. So it’s kind of ups and downs. Let’s talk about one of our sponsors, send Layer. Send Layer is a service that will send email for you when your business customers depend on transactional emails being delivered. With. 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You only need to copy, paste your credentials easily, connect your website or app via the API, and you just need to unload the burden of sending emails from your server and use a system like Sendlayer, check it [email protected] syntax and get started for free. Thank you, Sunlair, for sponsoring. Okay, so for these Supper Club episodes, what we’ve been doing is asking some questions. We’re still out on the name of this thing, so if you ever get hit with any inspiration as to what we should call it, just let us know. It says it’s dessert. Maybe dessert is fine. So let’s talk a little bit about our dessert. We’re going to kind of ask you some quick and easy questions here and we can start with what kind of computer do you use? The computer I use right now is the Apple MacBook Pro M One. The 13 inch. Oh, nice. 13 inch, interesting. Do you do mobile a lot? We always have that conversation. Should you go 13 or 15? What’s your idea behind the 13? Yes, most of the time it’s docked to monitor keyboard, but I figured if I took it with me, 13 inches easier and I don’t do a ton of traveling, so it works well. It’s usually docked. Sweet. What about keyboard? The Microsoft ergonomic one, the split one? I think it’s called like the Sculpt. Yeah, the split one. That looks cool. I had this version, like the earlier version of this, probably ten years ago, and I loved it for a long, long time. And I eventually switched. Not sure why, but it’s a pretty cool one. It’s like split but it’s still one piece. Yes, it’s split and it’s a wireless. I have one of the users pages if anybody’s interested in the other stuff. We’ll have to add that on under the show notes here. I always wanted one of the Moonlander actual separate split economic ones. And Wes and I talk about this. We got sent like a really difficult to use one that did not work. I have this great idea where I’m very proficient with these two separate keyboard pads and it’s just I can’t get there. I have not gotten there yet, but Microsoft One has a secondary number pad that’s like floating. Like you could just put it wherever you want and like that’s me because I can’t live without the number pad and it would be nice just to have it on my desk to pull it over when I need it. Hose. All right. What phone do you use? iPhone, whatever. I usually upgrade to the newest one. I think we need to take that one out. Everybody says iPhone. Yes, which is kind of wild if you think about it. As developers, I personally use an Android for Ever up until only two or three years ago. So it’s funny that no one said Android so far. It’s really funny that everybody we’ve had on our like hackers, they love building stuff and they’re all just like MacBook. iPhone. Yeah, it’s kind of the opposite but just needs to work. What about text editor theme and font? I’ve been using Vs code and I guess theme usually like a dark theme. I’d have to look and then I don’t remember what font. Not that particular, I guess. Awesome. The one we have here. I’m actually curious about this because we haven’t talked about languages, but if you had to start coding from scratch, what would you learn? If I was brand new and never had developed and somebody I probably would say, hey, what should I use? And ask a friend or something. But I think for a new person today if they got into just JavaScript because you can write one language and you can do most things server side and browser site. So I probably would start there and then as my needs grew. So if I needed to do something more of heavy back end, maybe switch to language that’s better for that type of stuff, I’m deviating from the questions here. Scott. You are a PHP DAV, right? Use Laravel? Yeah. My day job I use C Sharp and a lot of.NET stuff and then I’ve also done a lot of go as far as back end and then also react. But for all my side projects, for whatever reason, I’ve just stuck with using Laravel because it just offers so many features to where you don’t have to build things. So like you could get a site up and running pretty quickly, you don’t have to build authentication and a lot of the database access stuff and it just is easy to get going. And it’s worked well for a lot of these projects I’ve built. Yeah, that’s always the worst. Honestly, it’s always the worst. The general set up stuff we got to do for just about everything. What are some of your resources for staying up to date? Where do you check? Because we all know everything moves so fast now. Definitely syntax. Podcast. Wow. Yeah, so I listen to a lot of podcasts. I have family, kids, so like, if I’m exercising, cutting the grass, I’m usually listening to a podcast. Lots of YouTube videos. I feel like you can learn anything on YouTube. I’m the same way. And then blogs, so I’ll read hacker news and stuff like that. If you had to do something differently in your career, what would it be? Any thoughts? People ask me this all time. I don’t know, it worked out for me, but we’ll see if you have anything to say. I think the only difference I think back to, like, I went to school, I did computer science major, and when I was in college, I wasted a lot of time where I could have a lot of free time. So I could have been building some apps and doing all this stuff that I did maybe five, eight years ago. I wish I had started even longer back in college. So if you’re in college and you think you’re busy, just wait until you get a full time job and then kids, family. Yeah, so you got plenty of time to work on some stuff, start a business, whatever, and you’ll think yourself in ten years. Oh, man. But I do not also regret going to get a schwarma at 03:00 A.m. After the bar with my friends either. Comp thigh. Is that worth it? People always ask us that. I would say yes and no. I guess it depends. I wouldn’t go into debt, I guess, to get a college degree. And I think you could go and do some courses online and learn more real world developer experience. You got West Boss here in Scott to be able to go learn from. There’s a lot of people to learn from on the internet, and I think you could go that route and do just fine. Awesome. Cool. Great job. Is there anything else before we close this thing out? Is there anything else that we didn’t touch upon that you want to impart on? Wisdom, on the syntax, listeners? No, I don’t think so. I mean, I definitely enjoyed being on here. Thanks for having me. And if anybody has any questions, feel free to reach out. I always like helping people anyway I can. Nice. Awesome. Thanks so much for coming on. Tim? Yeah? Before you leave, do you have any shameless plugs or sick picks that you’d like to drop on us? Yes, I thought about the sick pick, so it’s hard to come up with one thing, but recently I don’t know if you’re all coffee drinkers yes, and I might be saying this wrong, but I think it’s achievo and it’s a coffee maker, but it’s like grinds the beans and it’s really convenient it’s kind of like a Curig, but it takes fresh ground beans. The spelling is T-C-H-I-B-O. So if you’re into coffee, check that out. It’s kind of pricey, but it’s not as much as, like, expresso machine or something like that. I’ve had it for maybe six months now, and it’s been really good. And you can use beans rather than some proprietary, like, pasta cups. Yeah, we had something like this. It was a jura impressa. It was awesome because you just push the button and it makes you a nice espresso. I was a big fan of it, actually. We changed it for drip coffee, but we loved it. We had it for probably six years. I only do cold brew, but it’s all good for me. Yeah, we’ve been getting into the cold brew lately with the family, and I’m like, we got to get one of these brewers that Scott has, just like, you put it in the fridge because I’m flying when I drink in cold brew, I feel like Colbert is more cold is Colbru have more caffeine in it? Because I feel like I’m flying when I have cold brew. It depends on how concentrated it is. So the longer you leave the beans in, the more beans you use, the more caffeine you can infuse into it. Like, what we’ll do is we’ll fill the filter with beans and then we’ll leave it in the fridge for a week. And then it’s usually pretty darn concentrated, at least for me. And then I’ll just cruise on it because I can convince myself there’s only 60 milligrams of caffeine in a cup, even if there’s like 120. So I’ll just sip it all day long and be like, oh yeah, I got a lot of energy today and probably just loaded up with caffeine. Awesome. Any shameless plugs? Where should we follow you? Drop the links, obviously, if you want a URL shortener service, check out T.LY and feel free to reach out my Twitter’s timlin and then my blog is, so feel free to reach out if you have any questions. Wicked. Thanks so much for coming on. Really appreciate it. Nice to chat with you. Yeah, thanks for having me. I really enjoyed it. Thanks, Dan. Peace. Head on over to Syntax FM for a full archive of all of our shows, and don’t forget to subscribe in your podcast player or drop a review if you’ve you like this show.