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In defense of idiotic products

jimsy profile image James Harton ・2 min read

I was talking to a friend recently about how work on my robotics project and I said that over the weekend I had "popped a few things off my yak stack". Suddenly I realised what I had said, and immediately wondered what it would be like to have a todo list that behaved like a stack machine with a limited set of instructions available to the user. Of course it's not very practical but since when has that stopped anyone?

If, like me, you get a lot of joy from the process of building a product then you'll probably also know that it's hard to find a project that's the right size to build by yourself. My last product attempt was a management system for sailing regattas - unfortunately it wound up being put on the back burner, and is likely to stay there indefinitely. Making things that people will part with money for is hard - especially if you're doing it on your own. Unfortunately I can't stop making things.

So I decided to build YakStack. You're welcome to create an account and try making your own stacks. Currently the only instructions available are "push", "pop" and "swap", but it's enough to start making your own task lists. There's plenty of features missing (like deleting stacks!) but I'm interested in your feedback and ideas.

Now, given the title of this missive you'll have probably surmised that I don't expect YakStack to change the way we organise projects, or even be particularly useful. Regardless, there are a lot of skills that can be honed by building silly things. Thinking about user experience, feature prioritisation and product-market fit are still worthy uses of one's time, even if the product will never really fit the market.

As for the technical side it's built with Phoenix and backed by PostgreSQL. Elixir is the language I enjoy working with most, and since I currently work in JavaScript for my day job it is very nice to have a project which lets me practice with Phoenix and LiveView and keep up to date with the changing conventions in that community.

I hope that my stupid product made you smile and brought a small amount of joy into your life.

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