Author Archives: sverrirv

The unsexy plain text todo file


There are few things as sexy to write about as file formats. It’s in fact so sexy that Apple has mostly hidden the existence of files altogether from their iOS products to protect the public. But perhaps file formats shouldn’t always be something private. Perhaps there may be an idea to have a small discussion on the topic even if it may be a bit too much for some of us.

There are infinite applications available for all our devices that solve endless problems in plenty of different ways. Most of these are today cloud based, and store our data somewhere in the cloud in a format unknown to us. Others store the data in files on our hard-drives or on our Dropboxes or iClouds, but still using a format that is either proprietary or very complicated.

In many cases a complicated file format is a necessity, but one of the cases where it´s not, is the todo-list.

A todo-list in it’s simplest form can easily be scribbled down on any piece of paper. A todo-list in it’s most complex form, well, it can also be scribbled down on any piece of paper.

There have been many ways to transfer this piece of paper over to the digital world, many of which use special formats or cloud storage for your list, but there is a nice alternative.

Todo.txt by Gina Trapani is the a superbly simple and distraction free way of handling a todo-list. Basically it’s just a normal text file with one row for each todo-item and a few optional formatting rules (you can safely ignore them if you don’t need them). All stored in a file wherever you store files. Chances are that you already have one of these files on your desktop, just not using the formatting proposed.

By adding a few simple rules for how to indicate priority, context and projects the file becomes much more powerful and there is a lot of software available for you to try it out. I recommend reading the excellent tutorial by Zach LeBar on how to use the format.

But why does it matter really what format the file is stored in? There are a few benefits of using plain text files

  • Anyone you want to share the file with can read it – You can use special software for reading the file, but you don’t have to. Any text editor will do.
  • There is a selection of applications to alter the files
  • You decide where the file is stored – This is very important for work related tasks for example, keeping your company information inside the firewalls
  • You decide how the file is shared – You can easily censor out  parts you don’t want to share.. Just make a copy and remove those lines. Then email the file, or put it in a shared dropbox folder. Or share it on github. Any system will work as it’s just a text file.
  • Backups are handled by your normal backup system.
  • Adding your way of handling a Todo-list is a matter of just doing it – You can do this however complex as you like. A special tag? A new tool? A script?
  • If you mess up your file nothing happens. No information is lost if you format wrongly

I did for example not find any desktop application that I was happy with for todo.txt files, so I made one. And so have many others.

I use todo.txt for my private tasks and I sync it in my Dropbox across all devices. On my desktops (Windows and Mac) I use Todour. On my mobile devices (iOS and Android) I use Todo.txt Touch. To access my private todo-list at work I use a Chrome extension that enables me to access the my Dropbox file without syncing my private Dropbox to the work computer.

At work I use Todour for my work Todo-list that is stored on an network drive behind the corporate firewall.

As you can see the possibilities of using a plain text file for your todo-list are close to endless. Try it! It’s simple and fast and very liberating.


Todour 2.02

A couple of minor bug fixes where released in the 2.02 update. Available for Windows, Linux and Mac


Todour 2.01 – Linux

After a few hours of figuring out linux-builds and packaging there is now an experimental linux build of Todour on the main page. The packaging is tar.gz and all files that should be needed are there. It’s been built and tested on a Linux Mint system and it’s only 64-bit.


Please have a go and see if it works for you, and let me know if you want me to continue making the software available on Linux (I don’t use Linux currently so I won’t be making builds for myself..)



Todour 2.01

Todour 2.01 is up on the server for both windows and mac. Please download and give it a try.


New in this version is the support for dates (can be turned on in settings), a bunch of bugs have been removed and the mac version is now up to the same standard as the Windows version.



Adding analytics

For quite a few years I’ve had Todour available for anyone to download. It’s software I make for my own use and I’m happy to share it but I can’t help wondering how many people are actually using it, and on what platforms.  How many people care if I make an update?

I have had no tracking of downloads on my page, but that wouldn’t really have mattered anyway as it says nothing about who uses the software and also the software is available for download in other places.

To get a better view of this I have, from version 2.01, added google analytics into the application, hoping that it doesn’t offend anyone. The analytics can be easily turned off of course and it only gathers very basic data.

Currently I will be collecting:

  • Application starts, Operating system (Windows or Mac) and what version of Todour is being started
  • How often the update checker in the about menu has been run

I hope this will give me more insights into how many people actually use the software to understand if there is interest in keeping developing it (it’s does most of the things I need for now).


Tutorial mentioning Todour

I wonder how this one passed me by, but today I found this thorough tutorial on the todo.txt format by Zach LeBar. He explains in detail how to use the format and he mentions Todour in his article.  I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to know more about using plain text files for managing his/her todo-list.



Todour v2.00 for Windows

Todour v2.00 has been published for windows now.

Changes include

  • Update check in the about menu
  • Search box clearer
  • Portable distribution
  • Ability to choose if sort order of inactive items should be last or last within prio
  • Numerous bugfixes

A mac version will be launched later when the 2.01 version is ready

Head to and update


Joining Phaser with Meteor

I was toying with meteor and phaser, and as I am quite new to the world of JavaScript I wanted to know how I could connect the two.

The results is an Invader clone with a live highscore
Skärmklipp 2015-08-30 09.06.02

Try it out and see if you can top the charts!


Fallur: Video

One thing that every respectable game on the Google Play Store seems to have is a video. Now, as Fallur is a very respectable game, I of course had to make one as well.

I took a part of the song No one knows (it’s a part of the game), shot some footage of me playing and massaged it a bit in iMovie to come up with this result.

Now the game is even more respectable I guess 🙂


Automatic music video

Much to my surprise, I have come to realise that YouTube is used by many for music listening. That’s too bad, as I don’t know much about making videos.

For a few songs, i used iMovie to cut together some footage and text. See for example From the bottle below

But making these was a bit tedious, especially when it’s the music and not the video that interests me.

So, after some surfing, I ended up with this little script using ffmpeg

ffmpeg -i "The Stage (v1.01).mp3" -i ../cover.jpg -filter_complex "nullsrc=size=1280x768 [base]; [1:v] setpts=PTS-STARTPTS ,scale=768x768 [cover]; [0:a] showwaves=s=512x768:mode=cline [sw]; [base][sw]overlay=x=768 [tmp1]; [tmp1][cover]overlay=x=0 [out]" -map "[out]" -map a:0 -c:v libx264 -shortest -crf 18 -c:a copy "The Stage (v1.01).mkv"

That yields the following video


ffmpeg -i "Beneath the snow (v1.01).mp3" -i ../cover.jpg -filter_complex "nullsrc=size=1280x768 [base]; [1:v] setpts=PTS-STARTPTS ,scale=768x768 [cover]; [0:a]showspectrum=mode=combined:slide=scroll:color=intensity:scale=cbrt:s=512x768[sw]; [base][sw]overlay=x=768 [tmp1]; [tmp1][cover]overlay=x=0 [out]" -map "[out]" -map a:0 -c:v libx264 -shortest -crf 18 -c:a copy "Beneath the snow (v1.01).mkv"

that generated this one

There are more possibilities for using ffmpeg and generating music visualisation, but I found these two to be the simplest to use. This is perfect for us nerdy musicians that want to be able to script all boring stuff out of our lives 🙂

(note that the script does not transcode the music, it leaves it as is = good thing)