Distracted Engineer

A view on anything from an easily distracted engineer

Projects Page

Just a quick note to bring attention to the new projects page that I have added to Distracted Engineer. This is a short list of some of the interesting projects that I have worked or am working on. If anything looks interesting get in touch! @cfullelove


Rostability is a rebranding of Redbook - the staff availability and roster software I have been developing over the last 6 years - and represents my latest effort to market the product to a wider customer base.

The name “Rostability” is intended to be more unique and descriptive of what the product does. In addition to the name I have created a new logo.

Rostability Logo

With the new name and logo, the rostability.com domain main was purchased and a brand new website developed. The new website is single page, modern and allows for subscribing to updates plus purchasing a subscription.

From a features perspective, Rostability now includes timesheets. This means that the full lifecycle of staff availability, roster and timesheet can be managed within the app. This also allows the product to provide more meaningful analytics for tracking planned vs actual spending and labour cost reduction. Timesheets are also able to be exported in a format that can easily be imported into typical small business account systems e.g. MYOB.

From here I will be focussing on leveraging the new branding and developing a marketing strategy that should bring in some new customers.

Any comments or feedback on Rostability, please feel free to get in touch via Twitter

Pretty New Layout

As you may now notice, Distracted Engineer has been updated with a new layout. I will endeavour to also post on a more regular basis too… last post was in 2012!

New layout is a modified version of a Bootstrap based theme from Start Bootstrap called Clean Blog (available here). Feel free to let me know your thoughts!

Shiny Reports

Recently redbook.me got a cool new feature - reports! This is something that I’ve wanted to include for a while in the product, but hadn’t due to the difficulty of implementing it on the old architecture. With the new backend, however, implementing new features has been really fast so; reports!

For now I’ve only built one report but I think its one of the more important ones - the labour cost trend. This allows managers/owners to look at how the weekly labour costs is trending over time. This is a very useful tool that allows identification of labour usage patterns that might not be otherwise evident - especially if you are tracking it against gross earnings. It can be helpful when building new rosters also, as it helps gauge the consistency with previous weeks.

Some of the reports I’d like to build in the near future are:

  • Average Labour Cost by day of the week - this will show the average relative cost of labour between each day of the week.

  • Rostered Hours Trend Report - similar to the labour cost trend report, but using hours instead of cost

Nerd Stuff

In this section I’ll give a quick overview of how the reports were implemented.

For presentation of the charts, I used the Google Charts API. Implementing the charts was fairly simple but it’s clear that there is a lot functionality offered that I have yet to take advantage of ;-). While I’m going to try not to put charts everywhere, I think there is room for their use in a number parts of redbook.me.

Working towards customer number 2

Monday was an important day for redbook.me and me. My first customer allowed me to throw the switch, transitioning his staff over to the the new site which they had been in testing for almost a month. Officially turning redbook.me operational. Thankfully, all went quite well. Other than a few data syncing issues between the old and new database, staff started using the new site.

The reason this event was important to me was because I’ve been working on what is now known as redbook.me for over a year. Slowly, slowly building it up to its current form. So for people to finally be using it in a production environment is very exciting! What I am also hoping is that it will provide a number of learnings - do people use it the way I expected? what things should I be improving? will there be a revolt?

In addition to all this, I’m ready to sign up customer number two. I want to share what I’ve built with more people and I want to learn how to make it better, quicker; this is something more customers will enable.

So how do I get more customers? Well I’ve started a few initiatives. The easiest things I could do was to start advertising online - so I’ve bought Google Ads on some keywords that I hope will bring interest. While this gets redbook.me some traffic, I don’t think this is going to be the most effective way to get my second customer - no one has contacted me for a trial yet.
I think the best way to get another customer is (sadly for the introverted me) to go out and talk to managers and staff in the workplace. Other than the fact that I’ll be about 2 miles out of my comfort zone, working full time and doing these “sales” calls is going to be a challenge… so it looks like I’m going to be doing some weekend shop hopping!