Archive for October, 2009

Url Shortening

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Short URLs are still confusing. The best use I’ve seen is for people to attach a home-made short URL on the ends of their blog posts, so people can post using that. At a glance, you know which site it’s leading to and that it’s reputable.

Even then, I’m sure people still submit those links to shorteners like and My idea is as follows:
On your site, you’ll have a page which takes in a URL from your site and outputs a shortened URL using your sites URL shortener.

Shortening services could parse their URL to find the domain, send that domain’s URL shortener the link, get a shortened link back from that domain, then serve that. Or maybe that particular shortener would see if the length is above a threshold, determine that it’s too big, and just serve a regularly-shortened URL, instead.

Maybe it could find the path to the shortener by reading an entry from robots.txt, which we’d fill out with information. It’s worth a thought, at least.

My Epoch

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Today, I’d probably be some low-level code-monkey in an office somewhere, with a sizable cache of money saved away, but I wouldn’t really do much in my off hours. I wouldn’t learn all that much new, besides some programming stuff, I wouldn’t have my own site, and I wouldn’t have my own WordPress blog.
Essentially, I’d have the most boringly plain life.

On February 19th, though, I read a blog entry about the CSS Zen Garden, which shot me off in a completely different direction. I learned about entirely new industries, and found the place I want to be. I call that date my epoch. Everything else in my life was just leading up to it.

But why did I visit that site?

  • I was half-heartedly making something for ‘my first client’, and maybe I wanted inspiration. If I wasn’t making a webpage for him, I might never have revisited the CSS Zen Garden, at least not in the same way.
  • The site was recommended by an instructor in a course that had nothing to do with that subject. If I had gotten a different instructor for that same class, I may have never heard about the Garden.
  • I had only made a serious attempt at a website because I was roped in by another friend, who I only met because of a strange time coincidence in his own life, and his own life-altering experience. He very nearly died before he met me.

(At the same time, I think web design did interest me, and it’s in my blood to push myself towards art. I have no clue if I’d have ended up deciding to learn web-page making in my off time, and then finding the community I found.)

The blog entry I had read was linked from Dave Shea‘s resources page: Doug Bowman’s write-up about his CSS Zen Garden submission. Today, I retraced my steps: After reading that, I had went to his blog. His latest entry at the time was a link to the blog of Eric Meyer, who pined about the need for a new way to lay out documents. His second link pointed me to Shaun Inman‘s post from 2006 that talks about making equal-height columns of content, and the javascript he had developed as a fix to do that. At that moment, I remember reading the comments and thinking to myself, “I have no clue who these people are, but that doesn’t matter. I’ll know them, eventually.”

Reading back on them today, I see very familiar names. Eric Meyer, of course, said something. There was Ethan Marcotte, also known as ‘beep‘ (the unstoppable robot ninja), who actually just got married on Saturday, and who was then still using the name ‘sidesh0w‘. I saw Andy Clarke, who goes as ‘Malarkey‘.

It strikes me that virtually everyone from this world is unknown to the average person. As far as computers go, everyone knows about Bill Gates and most people know about Steve Jobs, but that’s almost it. What about Jeffrey Zeldman, the Web Standards Pioneer, who created (and is executive creative director of) Happy Cog, the biggest web-design company in America? Molly Holzschlag, who managed to snag, and who worked to bring modern web standards to IE7 and IE8? Jason Santa Maria, the leading print-designer on the web, and creative director of A List Apart? And hundreds of other names I have no time to link to.

But that’s alright. The world is just such that we only ever learn a few names from the most powerful companies. But I know my own, and I’ve found my place.

Netbands? Armbooks?

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Imagine you were in the coffee shop, waiting on a friend. You decide to check your email. You put your coffee down, and press a button on the armband covering your arm from the wrist to the elbow. The screen uncurls from your arm, revealing a keyboard. You press the mail icon, and see a note from your friend that they’re running a bit late.

The technology for this is here, today. It’s possible to find slightly curved screens, despite the popularity of flat screens. The thinnest netbook screens on the market today are so thin you can bend them a considerable amount. By combining the two, you could have a screen that folds over your arm and snaps into place.

However, I can’t see it being manufactured for a few reasons:

  • I’ve never seen rounded or curved motherboards, so existing fabrication methods wouldn’t be adequate.
  • Big armband things are gaudy. There’s no way we could convince everyone it’s a trendy thing to wear.
  • The screen would have to be well protected. Arms get bumped by things all day, and something worn on the body will be crushed without thinking about it.
  • There’s no way to make it two-handed, so it’ll be a one-handed device only. That’ll make it hard for people to type on for any length of time.

URL Shortening Tour

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Have you ever wanted a tour of some of the top URL shortening services? Take this short safari and sit back as you visit fifteen different shortening services!

Watch it carefully, because some go by very quickly.
Take the tour

(Used:,, notlong, metamark, snipurl, socuteurl,,,,, icanhaz, ohurl, tinyurl,,

Typography Mug

Saturday, October 10th, 2009