Experimenting with public internet history.

My web history reveals that I’m far from the person I’d like to be: too much time distracted, too little time doing deep thinking.

I’m making my web history public for a while – when I know I might be watched I at least pretend to be the person I want to be.

I’ve tried this once before, but that took a lot of work to make.  This time I’ve written a  script that reads the history from both Firefox (for my main machine), and Safari (for my phone) to creates a page.
To be safe, the script takes out everything but the main domain and time. If this works then I’ll start to add more information for some pages. You can see the history so far here.  The page starts from 2018-12-10, which I when I decided to do this and it’s already working.

I’d like to try this for a week, and hope to add more and more detail to it.  Script code is available on GitHub, and here is the list of improvements I should make.


Reflections after a week:

  • My internet history is a little bit more focused. Less faff, more useful
  • There’s some bug with safari syncing, will fix when I have time
  • I whitelisted a bunch of the sites: stackoverflow, wikipedia, are the main ones.  I’d like to add youtube (lots of Peppa Pig at the moment)
  • I’ve ended up with both facebook and instagram on my phone, so I am still doing some ‘off the books browsing’. Will look at that later.
  • I need to be a bit more public about it. Will do a facebook post about it today.
  • I know about private mode. I don’t use it (I will have to from now for any sensitive work)
  • I know that there are lots of other ways around my history appearing.  All of which are more work than, you know, stopping doing the thing I’d want to hide.
  • Yes this is information that removes my anonymity and could be used steal an identity. I’ve thought about that a lot (it’s about my family and they come first) and asked people I trust.  However, it’s also a lot less information that is already on Facebook and other places about me, or lots of other people.  If I get hurt because of this, you’ll read about it here first.
  • This doesn’t include pages visited when livestreaming – I have a different account for that.  Given that it’s live streaming I don’t think I’m hiding anything there.
  • I also have a laptop, on which I’m playing around with Ubuntu.  If I use it this week then I’ll add the history script for that.
  • I don’t have the Instagram or Facebook app on my phone (which wouldn’t be recorded), nor do I have Netflix or Amazon Video. I do have YouTube, but I’ll remove it if I find myself spending all my time on it.
  • I’d put up a lot more than this, but I have to be careful about other people’s data as well: postcodes, screennames, and a lot of other information goes though my history and that needs careful thinking about.

I put this page though simplewriter and the error words were:





Every page I visited on the internet today.

I’ve been reading the news too much.  I think knowing what is happening in the world is good, but checking the web every 15 minutes means I get lots of ‘sugar’ and none of the ‘meat’. It also means I’m failing to do important deep work.

It also doesn’t help that I spend too much time on social networks, stay up too late reading strange pages, and get taken off track by any number of ‘interesting facts to look up’ in a day.

The answer to most of my problems is ‘be open’.  So this is the list of every webpage I visited today:

I knew I was writing this post in the morning, so today my internet has been good as gold.


My main work machine, it turns out I’m mostly looking up code and ordering from Amazon.

  • http://joereddington.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=6498&action=edit
  • http://joereddington.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=6498&action=edit&message=10
  • https://xkcd.com/simplewriter/
  • http://xkcd.com/simplewriter/
  • http://joereddington.com/wp-admin/post-new.php
  • http://joereddington.com/wp-admin/
  • moz-extension://ffb7b4ca-c803-2c46-9a9b-62d06290f6f9/tabDialog.html?dialog=loginSimple
  • http://joereddington.com/wp-login.php?redirect_to=http%3A%2F%2Fjoereddington.com%2Fwp-admin%2F&reauth=1
  • http://joereddington.com/
  • https://www.google.com/search?q=teapot&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab
  • https://www.halifax.co.uk/contactus/call-us/#lostandstolencards
  • https://www.halifax.co.uk/contactus/call-us/#creditcards
  • https://www.halifax.co.uk/contactus/call-us/
  • https://www.halifax.co.uk/creditcards/help-guidance/existing-customers/
  • https://www.halifax.co.uk/creditcards/
  • https://www.google.com/search?q=halifax+credit+card&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab
  • https://www.google.com/search?q=can+i+use+a+mini+displayport+cable+with+thunderbolt&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab
  • https://www.cnet.com/news/confusing-mini-displayport-with-thunderbolt/
  • https://www.google.com/search?q=difference+between+thunderbolt+and+displayport&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab
  • https://smile.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=thunderbolt
  • https://smile.amazon.co.uk/
  • http://smile.amazon.co.uk/
  • https://www.amazon.co.uk/
  • https://calendar.google.com/calendar/r
  • https://calendar.google.com/calendar/r/eventedit
  • https://www.google.com/search?q=cak&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab
  • https://github.com/eQualityTime/Public/issues/30
  • https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Elliott-Lobby-Dustpan-Brush-Self-Closing/dp/B0032NA3WC/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1536337421&sr=8-4&keywords=dustpan+and+brush+sets
  • https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Handle-Handled-Dustpan-Sweeper-Silver/dp/B00ORZOL2C/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1536337421&sr=8-7&keywords=dustpan+and+brush+sets
  • https://smile.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_4?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=dustpan+and+brush+sets&sprefix=dust%2Caps%2C177&crid=2XI0COZ9SQOEA
  • https://smile.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=sr_pg_2?rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Atable+protector&page=2&keywords=table+protector&ie=UTF8&qid=1536337343
  • https://smile.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=table+protector
  • https://smile.amazon.co.uk/ref=nav_logo_prime
  • https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Floor-Chair-Feeding-Splash-Painting/dp/B012D2V0Y2/ref=sr_1_1_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1536337274&sr=8-1&keywords=plastic+sheet+for+floor+baby+feeding
  • https://smile.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_2_14?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=plastic+sheet+for+floor+baby+feeding&sprefix=plastic+sheet+%2Caps%2C305&crid=1VJNZE111PFLV
  • https://gitup.co/
  • https://www.google.com/search?q=git+visualise+commits+osx&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab
  • https://git-scm.com/downloads/guis
  • https://www.google.com/search?q=git+client+for+osx&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab
  • https://github.com/tpope/vim-fugitive
  • https://www.google.com/search?q=vim+git+plugins&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab
  • https://academia.stackexchange.com/questions/116559/is-it-considered-eithical-to-sign-yourself-with-name-followed-by-phd-when-in-fac
  • https://stackoverflow.com/questions/52219698/how-can-there-be-a-merge-conflict-when-git-rebasing-onto-an-the-same-branch
  • https://stackoverflow.com/posts/52219698/edit
  • https://stackoverflow.com/questions/52219698/git-rebase-commit-id-fails?noredirect=1#comment91389706_52219698
  • https://stackoverflow.com/
  • https://stackoverflow.com/questions/4107265/pros-and-cons-of-gitx-vs-gitnub
  • https://www.slant.co/versus/1502/17584/~gitx-dev_vs_fork
  • https://www.google.com/search?q=better+than+gitx&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab
  • https://www.google.com/search?q=git+branch+upstream&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab
  • https://git-scm.com/docs/git-rebase
  • https://www.google.com/search?q=git+rebase+default+behavior&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab
  • https://stackoverflow.com/questions/52219698/git-rebase-commit-id-fails?noredirect=1#comment91388381_52219698
  • https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/gitx/5Y4yJZd0PRk
  • https://www.google.com/search?q=you+CAN%27T+use+this+version+of+gitx+with+this+version+of+mac+os&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab
  • https://github.com/pieter/gitx/pulls
  • https://github.com/pieter/gitx
  • http://github.com/pieter/gitx.git
  • http://gitx.frim.nl/contribute.html
  • http://gitx.frim.nl/
  • https://www.google.com/search?q=gitx+NOT+working+mac&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab
  • http://gitx.frim.nl/release_history.html
  • http://frim.frim.nl/GitXStable.app.zip
  • https://www.google.com/search?q=gitX&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab
  • https://www.sourcetreeapp.com/
  • https://stackoverflow.com/questions/1838873/visualizing-branch-topology-in-git/1838938
  • https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-ab&q=git+show+tree&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjig_fY3KjdAhXoJcAKHTHVAnsQ7xYIJCgA&biw=1707&bih=983
  • https://stackoverflow.com/questions/1064361/unable-to-show-a-git-tree-in-terminal
  • https://www.google.com/search?q=gitx+show+tre&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab
  • https://stackoverflow.com/questions/8358035/whats-the-difference-between-git-revert-checkout-and-reset
  • https://www.google.com/search?q=git+reset+and+revert&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab
  • https://www.google.com/search?q=git+reset+&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab
  • https://stackoverflow.com/users/login?ssrc=head&returnurl=https%3a%2f%2fstackoverflow.com%2f
  • https://www.atlassian.com/git/tutorials/merging-vs-rebasing
  • https://www.google.com/search?q=why+use+rebase+when+you+can+merge&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab
  • https://www.noisli.com/
  • https://learngitbranching.js.org/?demo
  • https://www.reddit.com/r/learnprogramming/comments/6radv4/what_are_some_good_resources_for_learning_git/
  • https://www.google.com/search?q=best+resources+for+learning+git&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab
  • https://leanpub.com/learngitthehardway
  • https://www.google.com/search?q=git+the+hard+way&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab


Turns out my phone also includes Safari on laptop (I’ve had to redact some person information in a subject header).  Despite going on at length about how I only open my inbox four times I week, I briefly pop into my email to get something earlier.




Everything I’ve watched so far in 2017

Last year I wrote Everything I watched on TV in 2016.  It was interesting and quite embarassing.  So I’m doing it again.

Netflix and Amazon Instant video both let you see the list of shows you’ve watched (I’ve also watched about five or so DVDs, a few trips to movies, two things on the iPlayer and no live TV – but I’m leaving those out for this)

Most of them where fun, but seeing the whole list together seems kind of big.    On the bright side, it’s smaller than last year – three months of Netflix last year is about the same as nine months this year and 12 months of Amazon last year is roughtly half the size of 9 months of this year.  So that’s good.

Still. Much of it is still rubbish,  so I’m going to make the list public again in the hope that this will be a bit of a clean break.

The missing numbers on the Amazon list are because I took out the things my other half watched without me (this time I also took out the things that I got about five minutes into before deciding to do something else).

My Neflix January-November 2017


24/09/2017 Transformers Prime: Season 1: Darkness Rising: Part 1
24/09/2017 House of Cards: Season 5: Chapter 57
23/09/2017 House of Cards: Season 5: Chapter 56
22/09/2017 Drunken Master
21/09/2017 House of Cards: Season 5: Chapter 55
20/09/2017 House of Cards: Season 5: Chapter 54
14/09/2017 Iron Man: Armored Adventures: Season 1: Secrets and Lies
13/09/2017 Iron Man: Armored Adventures: Season 1: Iron, Forged in Fire: Part 2
13/09/2017 Iron Man: Armored Adventures: Season 1: Iron, Forged in Fire: Part 1
12/09/2017 Snitch
11/09/2017 The Nice Guys
10/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 2: Beach House
10/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 2: Stakeout
10/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 2: The Pontiac Bandit Returns
10/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 2: The Road Trip
10/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 2: USPIS
08/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 2: Lockdown
08/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 2: Jake and Sophia
08/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 2: The Mole
08/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 2: Halloween II
08/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 2: The Jimmy Jab Games
07/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 2: Chocolate Milk
07/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 2: Undercover
07/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1: Charges and Specs
07/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1: Unsolvable
07/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1: Fancy Brudgom
07/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1: Tactical Village
07/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1: The Apartment
07/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1: Full Boyle
06/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1: The Party
06/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1: Operation: Broken Feather
06/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1: The Ebony Falcon
06/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1: The Bet
06/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1: Pontiac Bandit
06/09/2017 Foxy Brown
06/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1: Christmas
05/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1: Thanksgiving
05/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1: Sal’s Pizza
05/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1: Old School
05/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1: 48 Hours
05/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1: Halloween
05/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1: The Vulture
05/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1: M.E. Time
05/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1: The Slump
05/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1: The Tagger
05/09/2017 Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1: Pilot
05/09/2017 Jack Reacher
03/09/2017 Creed
31/08/2017 Marvel’s Daredevil: Season 1: World On Fire
12/08/2017 Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow: Series 1: Edinburgh
11/08/2017 Skiptrace
15/07/2017 Mechanic: Resurrection
15/07/2017 Sherlock: Series 3: The Abominable Bride
21/06/2017 House of Cards: Season 5: Chapter 53
09/06/2017 Lucid Dream
09/06/2017 Headshot
09/06/2017 Limitless
10/05/2017 Furious 7
13/04/2017 Marvel’s Daredevil: Season 1: In the Blood
29/03/2017 Warrior
29/03/2017 The Mechanic
27/03/2017 Shrek 2
27/03/2017 LEGO: City
26/03/2017 Avengers: Age of Ultron
24/03/2017 Gantz:O
24/03/2017 Gotham: Season 1: Selina Kyle
23/03/2017 Marvel’s Daredevil: Season 1: Rabbit in a Snowstorm
23/03/2017 Marvel’s Iron Fist: Season 1: Dragon Plays with Fire
21/03/2017 Marvel’s Iron Fist: Season 1: Lead Horse Back to Stable
21/03/2017 Marvel’s Iron Fist: Season 1: Bar the Big Boss
20/03/2017 Marvel’s Iron Fist: Season 1: Black Tiger Steals Heart
16/03/2017 Fight Club
16/03/2017 Marvel’s Daredevil: Season 1: Cut Man
14/03/2017 Marvel’s Daredevil: Season 1: Into the Ring
13/03/2017 Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru
05/03/2017 Layer Cake
16/02/2017 Iron Man 3
09/02/2017 Gotham: Season 2: By Fire


My Amazon 2017 Jan-November

1 Wonder Woman
2 Jackie Chan’s First Strike
9 John Wick Chapter 2
10 Sherlock Holmes
11 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Theatrical)
13 Robin Hood Prince of Thieves
16 Clear and Present Danger
18 RocknRolla
19 Kiss The Girls
22 Arrow: Season 4
23 Arrow Season 3
24 Justice League Season 1
25 Logan
27 The Girl on The Train
31 Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Season 4
32 Mad Max: Fury Road
33 Eraser
34 The LEGO Batman Movie
35 John Wick
37 What If. . .
38 Limitless
42 Justice League Season 2
44 Batman: The Animated Series: Volume 1
49 Doctor Strange (Theatrical Version)
50 Beware the Batman Season 1
52 Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Season 3
54 Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Season 2
60 Batman Beyond – Return of the Joker

Evolving the public todo list

Last year I make a commitment that I was going to make my personal todo list publicly visible,  it got quite a bit of press coverage, which was good for the ego,.

At the time I used a fairly hacky php solution to make the thing work (and to stop other people’s private information, like phone numbers, from being public).

There were a few problems with the setup – and I’ve been able to streamline it a lot recently.  It’s now pretty easy for anyone to use.

  • First thing I did was move to using a gist (update, now a full Github repo) so that it was clear that there were no tricks: the history is public as well as the current state.   (I was inspired by this lifehacker post, although they are using a private one).
  • Second thing was use Private In Public, the chrome extension I developed, to make sure that I could still protect very small sections of the list (mostly people’s name’s or contact details)

You can view the list here.  It’s real and it’s active. You can access it right now and see it change over the course of the day. It remains the most useful thing I’ve done for years and I’m very happy with it.


Private in Public now available as a Chrome Extension

A few months ago I did a weekend project (Private In Public) making a tool that let you encrypt very short bits of text in a single web page. You can read about it a bit more here.

It is now available as a (very early beta) Chrome Extension here. Anyone who is interested in hiding things §e:U2FsdGVkX1/XEh72t/QGzIROohr6hRnTVqwYyxhSbQ4=§ might find it cool, and I’d be really interested in your comments.

For more details on the code: please see this GitHub page, and for more information on the process I took to make it into a Chrome Extension, please see this live process log.

I’ve got some plans for things I want to use it for, but I like the idea that it might be useful more generally.

Screen Shot 2017-04-22 at 21.33.10 Screen Shot 2017-04-22 at 21.32.53 Screen Shot 2017-04-22 at 21.32.40

Private in Public: a weekend project.

Last weekend I took a day to play around with code and make a small project happen.


I wanted a bookmarklet that allowed you to encrypt small sections of the content you write into webpages.  So it would convert

“I like [postmen]” into

“I like [e:U2FsdGVkX1/s5MdPIxsWMO0XvnZoWhcAM/76AWI6Y/I=]”

(obviously, when you are viewing the encrypted text, the bookmarklet will also let you view it).

All of the code and instructions are here, and below are some screenshots of it in action.

The next step is to make it into a Chrome Extension, which I’ve done, but which needs some polishing before it goes properly live on the store. Maybe that’s a thing for another weekend.



My to-do list is now public, and it’s the most useful thing I’ve done in years.

As part of a commitment to personal transparency I’m making my personal to-do list publicly and permanently accessible here.

It’s real and it’s active. You can access it right now and see it change over the course of the day.

I intended it to be a small next step in terms of transparency (there are some other steps here) – I was wrong. Following a test run I did in May ago I can honestly say that it’s been the most effective change in my productivity in at least two, possibly five years.

priorityLongThis the six month version of my ‘stress chart’, you can see that May marked a significant turning point.

Why has it been such a big change?

Because when you write a to-do item for someone else to read, you tell them what actually has to happen, but when you write it for yourself, you leave yourself a cryptic note.

I thought I kept my task list tidy. Since early 2014 alone, I have marked off around 20,000 tasks. Each task gave the next physical thing I had to do. Many of them came from careful planning of a project. I was answering questions on stackexchange about the best way to keep a task list under control.

Turns out I was missing something important. When it was a list for me, it looked great; when I decided to make it public, it instantly looked very poor.

I suddenly saw:

  • several copies of the same task,
  • tasks that were questions rather that statements
  • tasks that were badly written
  • repeating tasks that had gradually changed meaning in my head.

So I started rewriting. Of course, to write out a task properly, you first have to think properly about the task.

  • “the azulejoe javascript could do with refactoring” becomes “Spend 40 minutes refactoring the azulejoe javascript”
  • “do the search of ISAAC twitter” becomes “Define ISAAC twitter as a project”
  • “properly work out how much staff costs you’ve applied” becomes both “Update the bids applies for file” and “Change structure of the ‘bids applied for”

Suddenly each of these took less thinking when I cast my eye down the list. That makes them easier to start, and that makes them easier to finish.

When I started making my list fit for public view, there were about 95 action points on it. After about an hour of work there are 40, and they are all much easier to do. Lots of little tasks were actually quicker to do than rewrite, but I wouldn’t have known that unless I committed to getting it right.

So my task list is public, and honestly I think it the number of people looking at it makes very little difference – all that I need to know is that someone might and that’s enough for me.

Technical details

Update, I moved to using a github repo in 2017, so this paragraph is no longer true at all. 

I’ll share the code in another post: it’s a simple PHP script that reads a CSV file in this format. The script does some basic anonymising; phone numbers, email addresses, and URLs are removed automatically because those things are often part of someone else’s privacy. In addition I have some privacy tags. So “Buy a present for [mum]” comes out as “Buy a present for XXXX”.