Why I Built It: its5.info

It was a cold day in late March, 2014. Someone just trotted out the old phrase, "It's 5 o'clock somewhere," and I immediately wondered where? That's when I had the idea: there should be website that tells me where in the world it's 5:00 pm.

Stylized its5.info logo
The its5.info banner. Or pick two random fonts and put them together.

For fun, not profit

The capitalist entrepreneur may immediately see a problem: a website like this has almost no way to monetize. I saw it too, but I forged on.

I thought that this would be a fun little project. Editor's note: I like to build web things. So for me, it would be fun. Your results may vary.

I still felt like I needed to justify the time I would spend on the project, so I also convinced myself that the existence of the site would be fun for others, and would provide a platform for me to learn.

Joy to the World

I like bringing joy to people in my own little way. Software has the ability to do that.

What if, when somebody mentions that it's 5 o'clock somewhere on Twitter, they get told where it's 5 o'clock? Most people would brush that off. But maybe somebody might chuckle for a few seconds. Maybe somebody might smile at that unexpected reply.

It would be pretty cool that, from across time and space, a robot that I write could spread even the smallest bit of joy.

Timezones, Twitter, and Mistakes, Oh My!

Personal projects are a chance to learn new things, try new ideas, and brush up on old skills. They are also a chance to make as many mistakes as I want without fear.

Timezones are fascinating. Editor's note: again, your results may vary. And creating a website that deals with time all across the world would require a lot of work with timezones. I thought I knew the ins and outs of timezones pretty well, but this project would put that assumption to the test.

A large part of the project would also be the accompanying Twitter robot. So this project would give me the chance to brush up on my Twitter API skills. Skills, by the way, that I would need to use for real work soon, so that would be a bonus.

And then there's just general knowledge and experience. Every project I do helps me become a better developer. There's always value in that. They're also a chance to try out new ideas. Spoiler alert: I have lots of bad new ideas. Having the chance to try them out on a personal project means I don't make the same mistake in a project for a real, paying customer.

So I did it

Education. Experience. Joy. It sounded worth it, so I did it. I worked over lunches. I worked in the morning sometimes. And on a slightly-less-cold day in mid May, 2014, its5.info was launched.