This is a sample clip. You can make your own clip by copying a URL from Safari or by adding and using a bookmarklet. You have full control over the clip and can add comments to the clip, or edit the title or summary by directly tapping on them.
easily send link previews via email Some of you may have already heard a little about Clip Better and some of you may have heard a lot about Clip Better and don't need to hear anymore. But some of you may have yet to have heard about Clip Better, and the first part of this post is mostly for those people. The last part of the post is for everyone. Early this year, I came up with an idea to make it easier to share web links via email. I was frustrated by the fact that when you dump this:
into Facebook, you get this:
without really any work on your part. You look like a hero; "Oh, this neat concise elegant summary of the webpage that I was trying to share with you? Yeah, I did that." Similar story with Twitter, Google+ and other platforms. Yet, when it comes to email, when you dump this in:
you get this:
Hero factor? Zero. And whoever gets that email has to try to decipher the web link, figure out if they want to click on it, figure out if they should click on it now or later (maybe it's NSFW or Not Safe For Work). And then if they choose to click on it later, when they open the email the next day, they get to look at this again:
So, Clip Better aims to do something about that. Now, when you start with the above link, Clip Better gives you this:
This is what I'm going to use to motivate my kids to take out the trash!
NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH, Mass. — A Massachusetts couple has won $1 million on a scratch-off lottery ticket they dug out of the trash after inadvertently throwing it away. The state lottery commission says Joseph and Joanne Zagami of North Attleborough b…
Now whoever you are sharing that webpage with knows exactly what they are getting. They know the exact context and know when they should read it. And if they put the email to the side, when they read it a day later, the rich preview is right there waiting for them. And the nice thing about Clip Better is that you can do whatever you want with that clip. Sure, it's intended for you to paste it in an email, but you can add it to a Word document, a PowerPoint. Heck, you can even dump it into a blog like I just did. And it's designed to be pretty lightweight and platform independent. So, unlike the Facebook preview, you can use it anywhere you want. Some of you may have already been using Clip Better, but now I'm calling on all of you to use Clip Better. The easiest way to use it is with a Google Chrome Extension, which was just recently published to the Chrome Web Store. You can download it in under a minute here. If you aren't using Chrome as your web browser, I have a version of the product as a bookmarklet that can be installed in Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE, Safari on you iPhone, Chrome on your mobile device, and more. The instructions are a little more complicated, so signup here and I'll email you the welcome letter with instructions. I can use your help getting the word out too. Please consider doing any or all of the following:
Share Clip Better with your friends on Facebook (share this link)
Tweet about Clip Better on Twitter (share this link)
It's true - some things get better with age. Cheese. Wine. Rookie Baseball Cards. But other things do not. Moldy Cheese. Opened Wine. Dead squirrels. Dead rats. Pretty much anything dead. Like this blog.
I just had a friend point out that my blog was a bit inactive. Inactive being a polite word for dead. Dead things are about as inactive as things get. Except for MOSTLY dead things - they still have a chance. So, on the premise that I'm only mostly dead, here goes, let's kick off some cobwebs.
First off, I can reassure you that I haven't been dead. (I'll assume you've figured that out by now.) I haven't even been dead digitally - I've just been woefully neglecting this blog. I've been neglecting other digital assets off and on, but I've been less neglectful of them than this blog, so if you're dying to catch up, you can head over to these places. (I know, there are ways to add these as links over on the right, like I already did for Twitter, but if I made you wait for me to do that, it might be December before this post gets published.)
So, why the sudden decision to start posting again after 10 months? Well, it turns out that my new position at my job actually involves some web stuff, some infrastructure stuff, some HTML research. All of which can either feed into this, or, more likely, I can use this blog as a testing ground for my real work. So, expect to see broken widgets, screwed up HTML and other shenanigans.
Oh, and also because for some strange reason visitor started coming to my site in April. Traffic is up 20% and I feel bad for those folks.
The more astute of the readers may notice that some days have been summarily skipped. That's fine - that's the reward for being an astute reader. My hope is that the less than astute readers will not notice this at all and will say something to the effect of "but wait, the posts run seemlessly from Day 9 to Day 14." That is good - that means that my back-filling plan worked. How exactly I expect to catch up on a four-day gap is not entirely clear to me. Right now, my plan involves "off-shoring", "crowd-sourcing" and "building up traction." You might object and think, "Hey, that's nothing but buzz words." How I hate to burst your bubble. The internet is nothing but buzzwords. String enough of them together and you can create an entire industry. Don't believe me? Just watch. Start with text messaging. A completely useless phenomenon where teens and tweens devote over 40% of their brain cells to remembering that the "s" character is formed by pushing the "7" key 4 times. Then, that spawns all the time saving abbreviations which have actually made their way into the Merriam Webster dictionary, like lol and omgand ttyl and brb and then further onto kthxbye and zomg and rolflmao and whatever the crowd of Bieber-cut wearing youths have invented to make me feel old. But then that spawned Twitter. How much better to just send your text message to the entire world. How else is everyone going to know that that burrito is so good, lol! But, wait, we're only getting started. Why wouldn't we want to know where you are when you find that really good burrito? And that spawned Foursquare. Before you decide that this is all completely ridiculous, sit down and ask yourself what you said about Google six years ago. You probably said, "That company doesn't do anything - they just give me search results. They don't even have a web portal like Yahoo or Microsoft." Extra points if you ended that sentence with "LOLZ." And double extra points if you ended that sentence six years ago with "FTW." In fact, if you were saying "FTW" six years ago, please email me your stock picks. But the point is, Foursquare just raised $20 million dollars and is valued at almost $100 million dollars. All based on telling everyone that you just "checked in" to a TGIF (or heaven forbid you actually admitted to being at Applebee's). WTF? And Twitter hit the $1 billion mark LAST YEAR. WTF, indeed?
Now, the most astute of you will be thinking "wasn't he supposed to be talking about French wine? I am pretty sure he was supposed to talk about something French!" Well, as a ground rule, you shouldn't assume that labels mean anything. And you shouldn't think that focusing on form over content should mean anything either. Wait a second...maybe I am talking about French wine.
I am a big fan of California wines. And California wines would not be anything if not for the French. Indeed, almost all of the varietals in production in California are French and were stolen, snuck from, or otherwise removed from France and grown in California. I used to feel guilty about this, but not after learning how wine is treated in France and Italy - it is not the overly pretentious high-falluting (yes, I just said that...feel free to mark this down to torment me later) affair we often make it out to be in the U.S. It is more often a general appreciation of the artisanship and creativity of the local vintners. There is nothing any less (or any more) special to a bottle of wine than a good bottle of beer. Are there great bottles of wine? Undoubtedly so. But the point is that the French (and other European countries) can also enjoy the good bottles of wine as well, and do not feel it necessary to over-emphasize the great bottles at the expense of those good bottles. More recently, this has been changing in the U.S. and you can get a lot of good wines under (sometimes well under) the $20 price point, and that is good for everyone.
OK, so here's the tie-in for those of you whom I have lost. Don't feel like you have to understand or make sense of everything. Sometimes a good bottle of wine is just a good bottle of wine (and sometimes checking in on Foursquare or micro-blogging on Twitter is just that - good, not great). But, sometimes, just striking out to make something good that you love that is a riff on something that went before you can create a whole new niche that might be meaningful and world changing. I think that applies to both California wine and some of the new things that are just now emerging on the Internet. And I embrace both of them.
So, thank you France, for letting us borrow (steal) some of your grapes and continue in the grand tradition of wine-making and building on the tradition of those that went before us.
Day 9 - Statue of Liberty There are some gifts that I have to assume are given with a little bit of a twist behind them. Sometimes it is a hidden message, like getting a pair of running shoes from your wife or a new phone from your mom. But sometimes, I have to believe that the twist is a little perverse sense of glee when the gifter knows you are suddenly saddled with the maintenance. An Englishman might give a silver teapot knowing that he has doomed you to a lifelong battle with tarnish. A German might give you a cuckoo clock knowing that the noises might start to drive you crazy, but the battle to keep it running will likely commit you. An Italian might give you a Fiat Spider, but if he had any real interest in you getting anywhere, he would have just given you the aforementioned running shoes.
But the French gave us the Statue of Liberty. Sure, it is a beautiful depiction of Liberty Enlightening the World, and it represents a great friendship between two young groups of idealists that threw off the shackles of monarchy and strode free into the ideals of democracy. But it's also 62,000 pounds of copper. That's a lot of polishing.
Sure, it was intended to develop a nice coating of verdigris, but I still have to wonder if the designers secretly hoped that we might spend a bit of time polishing it. Fortunately, Americans are lazy. Inventive, but lazy. The disposable razor? 50% inventiveness and 50% lazy. I remember as a kid watching a TV show with a scene from an old fashioned barber shop. I had no idea why the barber was so busy shaving a leather strap when there was obviously a man waiting patiently to get a shave. I only really knew of two reasons for straight razors - to scrape of of my radio station's stickers off the window of my mom's car ("But Mom, people will think you're cool if they're driving behind you and know you listen to cool music.") and hysterically believed to be hiding in one if not several of the candy bars obtained while trick-or-treating.
So, it is actually with a little bit of sadness that I realize that laziness is currently winning out in the American dynamic when it comes to the Statue of Liberty. We have put men on the moon. We created hamburgers where the cold side stayed cold and the hot side stayed hot. Heck, we put both hot and cold together and figured out how to deep fry ice cream. I am pretty sure we know of a coating that can be applied to copper to keep it bright and shiny forever without any actual need to polish it. Inventive and lazy.
So, thank you France! And I apologize on behalf of my country for taking such bad care of it.
Oh, and if you want to see something inventive, see the shot of what the Statue of Liberty looks like in the alternate universe on the TV show Fringe. Very inventive. If I wasn't so lazy, I'd provide a link for you.
One of the great things that the French language has to offer is some very good phrases that can be used where other words don't quite fit, where you want to give a little extra oomph to what you are trying to say, or you are intentionally (or unintentionally) trying to sound learnéd (or pretentious). Some of these might be a la carte, au jus, bon apetit, carte blanche, creme de la creme, and the list goes on. (It is a touch surprising how many of them have to do with food.)
But there is one phrase that stands out from all the others. This phrase just has that extra something; it has an ineffable quality; it has that factor, some might call it an x-factor or the it-factor; it captures the uncapturable; it expresses that which is difficult or impossible to express; an elusive quality; an indefinable quality; a spark; a... well, frankly, I don't know quite what. It just has that je ne sais quoi.
Thank you, France, for making me sound cool when all I'm really saying is "I don't have a clue"
I know that Britain is our staunch ally now. But we all know that it was not always so. The American Revolution, of course, comes immediately to mind, and there is something just wrong about having foreign invaders on your home soil. America has had the luxury, due to Manifest Destiny, to not have to suffer that atrocity (while still getting to subject other countries to an American invasion). So, it is easy to have a fuzzy memory about our early history and think that the American Revolution was the last time we were invaded, but let's not forget the War of 1812, when the British forced President James Madison out of the White House. And then they did it again. Sure they weren't too much of a threat, but armed with mop haircuts and radical ideas and sounds, but The Beatles, Dusty Springfield, Herman's Hermits, and the Rolling Stones took America by storm. In the eyes of our grandparents, it was a full-on British Invasion threatening the very way of life in America.
So, the French have done something that Americans could only dream of - they actually invaded Britain - during the Norman Conquest. Sure, we have that event to thank for the screwed up spelling of restaurant, casserole, and résumé. But I'll gladly pay that price just knowing that someone stuffed it the stuffy British.
Thank you, France! You did what we have yet to dare to do. But watch out Wales! When we make our move, we're coming right through you.