Posts Tagged ‘Ideas’

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.

Installed Web-Apps

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

These past few days, there has been a topic in the WHATWG about somehow making web apps run in the background, so we can always have them on — the way you have your email always on.

While searching around for an answer, I realized I’ve basically been doing that very thing for a number of days: I have a web-page saved as an application using Google Chrome.

When you use Chrome’s “Create application shortcut…” option, you’re left with a shortcut that tries to look like it’s for an application. When you open it, you get a very minimal UI: A favicon (that can be pressed for options), the title, and the caption buttons. The rest of the window is there for the application.

This is basically just a redesigned tab. You can select an option to turn it back into a tab, and you can drag it back into the browser. But it remembers its size and position when you close it, and you can use Google Gears with some applications to store data on your system.

I’ve been using the Chrome applications with Google Reader. I know there are some feed readers that actually are applications, but I think Chrome is my favourite application. The width limit isn’t stupid like it is in TweetDeck, and the UI isn’t cludgy like it is in the Windows Live collection.
Google Reader opens up in a thin, tall window on the right side of my screen. In the title bar is the text, “Google Reader,” as well as the number of new feeds.
It checks for new feeds every couple of minutes, and I just need to look at the Taskbar button to see how many.

There are only two things wrong with this setup:
1) I have to look for it, which is fine enough for my reader, but wouldn’t be good for something like an IM client or email. It needs notification.
2) I have this big button sitting in the Taskbar when I’m trying to search through for folders I have open. I’d love if I could minimize it to the notification area, and it could notify me when it found new things.

As it stands, I would love for Google Reader to play a sound when it found something new. It could do that.

I might try to make some sort of web app, soon, that works well with the Chrome application shortcuts.

Visited Links

Friday, July 17th, 2009

I visited to check out my monthly wireless bill, but I took a bit to find the link. The ‘visited’ style, you see, was faded out. I’m not sure what frame of mind I was in, but for some reason I was taking them at face value, and considered the faded links to be unimportant. When I came out of my tired daze and scanned the list item by item, I found the link I was looking at before.

Links, then come in two varieties.

When you have a table of contents before (and/or at the beginning of each chapter of) a large page of text, or if you’ve got a series of items; for example, in a gallery, the links are items you’re ticking off, one by one. These links say, “You’ve already been here.”
The links at grey out when you click on them, as if to tell me that I’ve seen them, and they’re now unimportant. A user’s eyes easily skip over the grey text, so that they can more quickly scan through the list to find things they haven’t seen, yet.
These links might be called ‘search’ links, because you’re looking for different things, and rarely want to see the same link twice.

When you have a link to an application, on the other hand, or perhaps to a real-time info page, the links take you somewhere you’ll return to again and again. The links say, “Welcome back!”
These links are important, because you’re skipping past all the regular links to find them. Because of that, these ones need to stand out from the others. They don’t need to be more emphasized than the other links, but they do need to be different enough to be seen easily by the user as they scan. A different colour of the same luminosity could work.
These might be called ‘recurring’ links, because you go back to them time and again, and need to easily find it later.

I wonder if there are other types of links?

Community Expertise

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

I get my hosting through a guy (Who I’ll call Gushi) who does hosting. Because of this, I don’t have to put up with the GoDaddy-type bureaucracy. It also means I’m working with someone who has their own ambitions.

Two days ago, he mentioned an idea he had: The users of his hosting, because they all tended to fall under similar skill sets, could put a list of their abilities on a page to create a community resource. Gushi provides the hosting, and will set up a mySQL account, but doesn’t even give anyone a homepage to start with. If an artist joins the hosting, they could come to the skill page and ‘hire’ other hostees who have skill in webpage design. Likewise, someone who needs something drawn up can enlist the help of an artist, vector drawer, or graphic designer on the list.

We went through the initial ideas, and it would so far be some sort of Perl module put into the control panel we use to manage our site. The user will add categories and/or skill tags for skills they’re proficient in, and a bit of a write-up about themselves, some prices, and samples.

It’s a great idea, and I’m excited to be working on it.

Morse Twitter

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

I’ve had an idea!
Imagine setting up something like a bluetooth headset, except it’s an armband (or whatever) and taps out Morse code, instead.
Your phone can keep a cue of the latest tweets, convert them to Morse code, and then tell the device to tap out each onto whatever body surface you attach it to.

There’s a hitch, of course: few people know Morse code. Still, goes to show that it’s still a feasible communication medium, even today!

Imagine sitting there, staring into space. Your friend asks, “Were you even listening to me?” And you’ll say, “Oh, sorry, no. I was reading my tweets.”

I’m sure some sort of device with a belt could be loosely attached to the finger, and with a signal could run the belt around and cause bumps to appear in certain places, which might give the illusion of reading braille. I’m not sure if that might be faster/more pleasant, as I’m sure more people read braille.
I’m sure there are electronic braille devices around, but I’ve never heard of anything portable.

You know what? Braille is just a different alphabet. I’m sure it would be easy to learn. I’ve got to find a tutorial somewhere.