Ridiculously Responsive Social Sharing Buttons

Super flexible, light weight social sharing buttons, responsively tested from 140 to 15.465 px.

Beautiful Loading Spinners

Simple and beautiful loading spinners, animated with CSS.

DissidentX Hides Secrets In Plain Sight

…goes beyond encryption to offer users what cryptographers call “steganography,” the ability to conceal a message inside another message. Instead of merely enciphering users’ communications in a scramble of nonsensical characters, DissidentX can camouflage their secrets in an inconspicuous website, a corporate document, or any other, pre-existing file from a Rick Astley video to a digital copy of Crime and Punishment.

First thing that comes to mind: “Say what? Are we going to create the ultimate hide and seek game in digital history?” Are we (re)entering the times of micro-film behind a post stamp?

“What you really want is to be as unsuspicious as possible,” says Cohen, who spoke with me about DissidentX at the Real World Crypto conference in New York Tuesday. “We don’t want an interloper to be able to tell that this communication is happening at all.”

Again: What? The idea might be very independent and forward in a positive way, but how are the “bad guys” going to (ab)use this??? I understand that many are going to look for the next level of untraceability, but isn’t this always a double-edged sword?

Special Glass for Coca Cola enhances your 'Real Thing' Experience

The new Coca-Cola glass is designed to ensure the right balance, which in Coke means “sweetness, acidity, minerality, and effervescence,” according to Riedel. The bubbles stay longer on the palate. “The finish,” he claims, “is much longer” compared with drinking from a normal glass, and the aroma is more intense. Add that to your tasting notes. The glass is designed and tested for regular Coca-Cola (not diet)—Pepsi (PEP) fans use at your own risk.

Wow… are we really in that moment of time that we want to take one’s CSD experience to the level of a wine-tasting in La Douce France???

Comedians in Cars getting Coffee

Cause there is so much more happening when you take your interview on the road! Good stuff for during your lunch break.

Joli Originals

I have been using the sleeves (for my iPhone and MacBook Air) as well as the wallet since 2011. Pure quality that remains, while treating my gear in the kindest of ways. Highliest recommended.

Rethink Airline Boarding Passes

Beautiful observation by Peter Smart, with accompanying simple yet refined re-design.

These ideas are the result of 14 flights, 14 boarding passes and one, simple question: “How could this experience be better? The solution is by no means perfect and further iterations will see greater levels of refinement. However, as designers our aim should be to question what is otherwise accepted – a relentless mission to better, simply and improve the experiences of other people.
Innovation starts with a natural distrust of the status quo. When you’re prepared to start asking simple questions of everyday things – the world is suddenly full of possibilities.

Simple and sweet:

  • start up a terminal window
  • type1:
sudo pico /etc/motd
  • enter your password
  • enter your custom text or paste your ASCII art
  • hit ctrl + x (to exit)
  • hit Y (to save changes)
  • hit enter (to write changes to the file “motd”)

Done! Open up a new terminal window and there you go!

  1. for this simple change I use pico, but of course you can use vim or any other terminal text editor.

Flatland for Sublime Text

Simple and beautiful: Flatland (a simple theme and accompanying color scheme for Sublime Text).

Having a broad interest and forcing myself to learn new stuff on a daily basis, the apps that I keep open constantly change over time. Right now, the following apps are there all the time.

1 — Evernote

My second brain, my collect-everything, scrapbook for imagery, text and sounds. Most ideas start in Evernote or sprout from stuff I collected in Evernote. Having been a premium member for over 5 years shows the priority I give this app.
Although lately I feel that I long for even less clutter and Evernote does overwhelm sometimes, this application is still core of most of my professional and private activities.

2 — Mou

For those who want to learn Markdown, I still regard Mou as the most ideal application to make for a steep learning curve. But also for those already experienced, the simplicity and ingenuity of this app make it a very pleasant Markdown editor.
Was very happy to read that the back-end editor of new “just blogging” platform Ghost is based on this fine piece of work by Chen Luo.

3 — SourceTree

Using Github’s own app while just getting started with Github, I left me a little lost. When I found Atlassian’s SourceTree, its interface gave me a great visual understanding how Github actually works. Which makes that the moment of actual contribution to open source software is coming closer and closer.

4 — Chrome

Default browser of choice is Chrome, mostly because of 2 reasons: Synced Data and Developer Tools. The latter is not just of great help when creating and testing sites, I hit cmd + option + i on almost every site that triggers me because of its UI or UX. And it still give me extra inspiration. Synced Data makes using Chrome on multiple devices a breeze.

5 — Sublime Text

I was a great fan of Panic’s Coda for many years, but after having tried Sublime Text for just a few days, I immediately purchased a license. Parallel to the new code languages I learn, I grasp more and more of Sublime Text’s powers.

6 — iTerm 2

Since I switched this blog to jekyll and as I am working on some other jekyll and meteor projects too, iTerm has taken a prominent place in my workflow. And calling it up front has become even more easy through a tip from Sytematic’s Marten, who pointed out how easy it is to address 1 button (§ in my case) to let iTerm pop up like a HUD (even more so with reduced transparency), in any screen, in any space.

What is missing in this list is a weapon of choice for email… The problem is that I have no final answer in this regard. Currently using Airmail for my work related account, web-based in Chrome for my personal account.
Being a keyboard shortcut wizard, I at least need the app that follows Google’s shortcuts. Airmail seems to do the trick for now, quite similarly to Sparrow which I used before. Suggestions welcome, keeping in mind I use Google Apps for all email.

update: Got rid of desktop versions for mail since the latest updates for Google mail. The web version is so fluent now, no need for anything else.

I have been writing a lot… really a lot and as I am unplugging myself from most so-called social networks1, I better restore my old blog, my old posts from different blogs and re-create a place where I post both rants and serious messages.

In short: I took the posts that I considered valuable from ipears.com, halftrue.com and some previous blogs/sites, recompiled them locally in Markdown and am re-compiling them here on ipears.com.

Adding Value

Main reason for (re)creating a publishing channel again is that earlier this year, I decided that just generating ideas and not converting them into reality, is no longer the way to go.

I need to enable leverage for my ideas and a solid basis is the beginning, as well as a good log to see how they grow or fail.

So here we go: up, up and away!

  1. In the past months, I deleted my personal accounts at flickr, yahoo! and facebook. Will revert on the how and why when appropriate.

this post appeared on Medium on Friday the 13th of September 2013.

Dear Matt1,

Hi, my name is Jan and I have been a happy WordPress.org customer, for many years.
I am one of those guys who is in a phase of putting things in perspective, looking at whether or not certain (digital) clutter is really necessary and whether or not things could be / should be more simple.

The current developments surrounding WordPress 3.6 are tickling my state of mind, so I need to share my thoughts.


WordPress has been the basis of every website I set up, ever since 2004 and currently, with the help of InfitiniteWP, I still edit, maintain and backup multiple multisite WordPress installations.

The big BUT, is when it comes to creating content and the direction that WordPress is taking that specific topic right now. Part of my de-cluttering process is made me quite aware of this.

Taking into account the speed at which we can create and share whatever kind of data, combined with the intelligence of the platforms that we are using to do so, how come the WordPress user still has to perform certain actions that can be automated?
Right now, WordPress asks from the user to be pro-active (making multiple decisions about how, what, where), while the input one user gives while creating content, could be the basis for WordPress to be pro-active.

Overall, while searching for a — for me personally appealing — simple way of creating content, I find that I do not immediately look into WordPress anymore… has it become too cluttered? Is a drastic change necessary or can we find a solution that offers the WordPress user a simple and basic start, while all the extras are available when needed?

WP 3.6

Currently we are looking at WordPress version 3.6 (3.6.1 to be exact). And while every major and jazzy upgrade indeed does make things easier, smoother and more user-friendly… I ask myself whether that really is the case.

Especially for the continuous WP user, we see changes and notice differences, but when looking at the current plethora of options with layman’s eyes, what do we have then?

Maybe the most important question is whether — for the continuous and loyal users (and this group is huge) — the initial need is being clouded by the many options, steps and time that currently involve creating content with WordPress.

One could take the number of available plugins and themes as indicators for 2 things:

  1. While serving a large portion of the interwebs, one needs a heap of tools to differentiate for and appeal to the needs of each user,
  2. In general a user wants to be able to do things easier, for which it apparently needs tools that are not the core of the platform.

I have a strong feeling that WP has developed in such a broad way, that its core has gotten a skin too thick… to thick for most users.

side note: I was quite taken aback by the “Welcome” widget on the admin dashboard, seeing 1 big button for “Customize Your Site”, rather than “POST”… which is in the next column, in third place. Is WordPress really becoming a platform of Form over Content, rather than of Content AND Form?

One of the things that seems unfittingly, is that — from a user perspective — much of the development over time is related to options (which means more clutter) and less focused on advanced technique in the background that eases the core business of the platform.

I think that in the current version of WordPress, we have all the ingredients and input we need to build the next level CMS or blog platform… when used in a profound way.

Reactive Post Creation

What I am talking about is the following, which results from some simple lines of thought:

  • When I only put 1 picture in a post and nothing else, it should be obvious that that post should be of the “image” format. When multiple images without any further text, “gallery” would be a logical guess.
  • When starting a post by pasting a link, followed by a e.g. 1 paragraph of text, one could think that I am aiming for a “link” post.
  • Starting with a video… hey, does this start to make sense?

I am thinking that this is something that WordPress is really lacking. Ever since I started using Markdown to write my posts and especially since using the wonderful Mou, typing one thing and seeing it evolve into a presentable/publishable reality has become my standard2.

As mentioned, looking into the ingredients that WordPress has available, I think they should be used more efficiently and in that way, more user-friendly.

With a workflow as mentioned above, combined with a “as I type, realtime, in-theme preview”, the user could either immediately hit Publish, or make a suitable post-format correction in the end. Thing is, when letting WordPress do the math about the format, the user has less clutter as distraction. In the end, the post formats are mostly an indicator for the corresponding theme’s stylesheet…

WordPress 5.0 (to give it a name…)

So, how would this look and what input could trigger the “morphing” of the post format?

  • the beginning of a post usually sets the trend: when an image is posted first, image. When a link, link. When multiple images, gallery. When John: Mary: John:, then chat. When video embed, then video. When MP3, then audio. When just one line, status. When <blockquote> first, then quote.
  • words within the text preceded by a # are rendered normally when published, but the words are added as tags linked to the post.
  • This influences the use of the “press this” option too. More alike how tumblr uses this, reflecting a content aware post format when on a certain page…
  • and while we are at it… why not immediately incorporate MarkDown in the editor… yes, I truly think that there is a large audience that would appreciate this… (no, will not dive into static content creation from WP… ;))

Food for Thought

This post is intended to trigger some thoughts, tickle the brains of those who can translate this to reality. My own knowledge and expertise is too limited to create the appropriate solutions, yet my experience with WP over the past decade is enough to air some ideas and pointers.

I think that there are possibilities that are not explored yet, that could enlighten and enhance the user experience within WordPress, that can take the ease and joy of creating content to a new level again and perhaps really surprise the WordPress users, both existing and new.

Please, react, share and discuss (preferably within the WordPress community), as I trust that more minds might take this to a next level.

  1. I have an enormous respect for you, Matt, especially for the strong beliefs from which you operate and through which you have established a decentralized globally influencing organization. Deep respect. You are inspiring, on multiple levels.

  2. Ghost is currently focusing on this too, but I think that they are really clear about the focus on “just blogging”. Still, they have similar ideas and mentioned that their editor was highly inspired by Mou.

The unexpected stop. Out of nowhere, without the slightest hint. It happened again yesterday: Leaving the tram with a few dozen other people, all heading in the same direction, more or less all at the same speed, when suddenly you have to dodge the person in front of you who has become a frozen statue. Poof! Like magic, out of the blue he or she stops all motion and becomes fixated in a head-tilted-down-and-hands-before-chest-posture…

Only when you pass the person you see the smartphone, e-reader, Gameboy (Yes, I am of that generation) or the likes in their hands and you understand: Another person living in a digital bubble, with absolutely no awareness of his or her surroundings.

As it appears, there are more and more incidents that are far worse than getting bumped into. But what bothers me more is that this kind of blind walking is yet another example that we have less and less moments that we are actually not getting our social medial and digital kicks. No matter whether people are driving, on a bicycle (Yes, I live in Holland), walking, skateboarding or even running, you see more of them doing all this while handling a smartphone. Yes, the technology supports it and the broadband mobile services cheer for its growing number of users, but to what extend?

This train of thoughts let to me thinking about what specs my ideal phone should have:

  • very basic but clear and clean screen
  • very detailed address book, with the essential hooks from Linkedin (C.V.) for instance
  • Focus on call functionality
  • Extra focus on hot-spot functionality

As I carry a MacBook Air when traveling, I would be happy if my phone is just for calling, with a strong informational focus on my contacts, while it can act as a hot-spot for all email, Skype™ and social medial activity. The fact that I would not be able to do that on my phone is the kind of peace of mind I am aiming at again: dedicated time for one task at a time, not multitasking on the smallest device. Does this device exist yet? Think not. Would there be a market? Think so. But the question is whether that market would be big enough. I think right now already, there is a growing number of people that is getting e-tired, yet the digital development is not focusing on this.

Currently my solution is that I brought back the apps on my iPhone to the bare necessary, have disabled push for email and social media in order to control the moment I get certain information and updates, have extra information in my address book as a result from the link cobook makes with facebook and Linkedin and I use the hot-spot functionality when no free wi-fi is available for my MBA…

I think we are not far from the moment that you can configure a mobile device from components of your own choice. Till that moment, we’ll have to improvise and simply put: be on alert when walking behind somebody!

update: In the same line: Man falls on train track while talking on cellphone.

A new year… a new beginning. Although I usually were not the type to make (and therefor keep) New Year’s resolutions, this year I am going to make and keep some. 5 resolutions to be precise (2012 = 5)

1 — No alcohol

Alcohol is and never has been a big ingredient in my daily diet… every now and then a glass of wine with lunch or dinner, a bit more when among friends or at a party. Mainly as one of the goals of my resolutions is to achieve a better bodyweight, eliminating a non-contributing factor helps me to focus.

2 — No coffee

This resolution has a two-fold reason:

I like coffee. Yet I also notice what it does with my body lately. My breath, my teeth, short jolts in body temperature, corresponding craving for sweetness (hazelnut syrup shot, please!)… together with a non satisfactory feeling after about half an hour after consuming coffee make that I want to test what it does when I stay away from coffee. Not just to my body, but also to my mind state. I like tea. I like tea so much that, together with a partner, I built a company that soon will help the Dutch people to better appreciate and consume tea. Along that line, I still have a bunch of teas to explore, experience their added values and learn more about their origin etc. So same story here, eliminating 1 ingredient of my diet, helps focusing on the other.

3 — Less sugar

As I mentioned earlier, I have a craving for sweet stuff, while my actual need is not really paralel with that. It is a conditioned crave with certain food and drinks. With tea I have already eliminated all sweeteners (let alone when my throat needs special care, when some high-quality honey is allowed), so why not follow that trend with all other stuff I consume?

4 — Regular exercise

To put it simply: I must incorporate exercise in my weekly schedule. About 3 weeks ago my back went out when I started a sprint for a few hundred meters… A clear message that all the time I spend stationary behind my desk needs some dynamic compensation.

5 — Focus

When you eat, eat. When you drink, drink. When you walk, walk. Simple advises, but with a truth greater than most of us know. We have a tendency to think we can multitask, even with the multitude of input we receive nowadays. I am going back to basics and will address certain time slots to certain activities, as well allowing only 1 channel at the time to provide me with information. Most probably the most difficult resolution, but an interesting challenge.

I love Evernote. It has taken me some time, but since it has become part of my daily life, the added value of Evernote shows and proofs itself time and time again.

Evernote makes it easy to remember things big and small from your notable life using your computer, phone, and the web.

But… there is always a but. But one thing is that I like to make lists… you can say what you want, yet lists we make and we make a lot of them. And at this moment, making lists in Evernote is not optimal… actually, it is far from optimal. Yes, there are some shortcuts for numbered and bulleted lists, you can use tab and shift+tab to increase and decrease indent, but it simply is not as good as it could… it simply is not as good as WorkFlowy!

WorkFlowy provides a better way to organize your brain. It mimics the way you naturally think, and gives you one place to manage all the information in your life.

WorkFlowy is a tool I like a lot, but for my workflow, I would rather see it incorporated in Evernote, as Evernote is the one location I want to have my lists in, as well as all my notes, my random pictures for ideas, my copies of important PDF’s, copies of receipts and scans of my business cards…

The combination of Evernote and WorkFlowy would result in the ultimate GTD and second memory tool… Boom! Amazing! Better, it would result in a tool in which super smooth and quick navigating and formatting of lists with only your keyboard.
True, WorkFlowy is a tool to be used in browser only, stands on its own in regard to sharing (incorporating the WorkFlowy features in Google’s to do lists would also be interesting to see), yet I really prefer to see the ultimate tool rise from this kind of accumulation of highly-efficient functionalities.

The more I think of it, the less sense it makes: Why on Earth does the iPad lack the multiple user accounts?

Especially from a turn-over point of view, I guess there is something to say when multiple users use 1 device and fill it up with multiple apps or maybe even the same apps, right?

Current situation at home: 2 people, 1 iPad and 2 totally opposite purposes of using the iPad… In this specific case, I am the underdog, as my girl happens to be the owner. She’s a PC (I’m a Mac) and has a different focus and taste. So I am not the one filling it up with my flavor of apps, nor syncing it with my Mac. Should there be a possibility of multiple user accounts, she could maintain her preferences and apps, while I could add mine. She could sync with Window$, while I could sync with Mac…

What do you think? Would this be feasible? Should Apple add this feature for our and their own benefit?

Bundle your favorite WordPress plugins on WordPress.org and download them all in 1 zip package… that would be something I could really appreciate!

Always being busy with different websites, I notice that my management of plugins is not a very efficient one. Most important reason for this: I do not use 1 place to store them. As it appeared to me, this is a problem that more people encounter, especially webmasters and web-publishers that work on multiple blogs.

The idea of WP-plugin favorites is something to work out, so I think I will kick off with a few suggestions for this:

Add to plugin-faves

Now it should not be too difficult to add a tiny heart or other button to each plugin page over at WordPress.org and linking it to the user-database… As soon as you have logged in, this option is being displayed for each available plugin. That way you can easily and quickly select the plugins you require and add them to your personal faves.

Manage plugin-faves

Now after having selected a few plugins that you need, it would even be better if you can make different sets of favorite plugins… It could be as easy as tagging them, but in this case you the tag represents a ”set”.

You make a set for ”ipears.com”, a set for ”multi-media blogs”, for ”family blogs” and for instance ”that super secret highly sociable blog project”.

The total of plugins in your faves stays the same, but you can have different sized sets, depending which of the plugins were ”tagged” for that particular set.

Export plugin-faves in a zip-file

I am using Terminal more and more. Whenever I need 1 plugin quickly, I copy its download link location, switch to my terminal window, change the directory on my server to wp-content/plugins, type wget and paste the link location for the plugin download… downloading straight to my server is always super quick. Then I unzip the plugin file and rm the zip file.

Now this is handy for 1 plugin. But in an ideal situation, I would like to have the option to do this for a zip file that contains all the plugins I need for a certain project. So… in come the sets! It would be verrry convenient if each set I have created has a link to the zip file that contains all the plugins in that specific set.

I think this is something that can make many WordPress users very happy.

Maybe… there is even a better option! ↓

Import plugin-faves set into WordPress

How cool would it be if you could actually link your WordPress.org account to your standalone WordPress blog, go to Admin / Plugins and choose something like ”Import Plugin-favs set”, select the set you want and import all the plugins in that set in one go? Seeing how easy the plugins are being upgraded from within WordPress admin… there must be a way to do this.

Share plugin sets?

Maybe a step too far, but I can imagine that there are moments that you would like to share a set of plugins that you think are unmissable for any blogger. Come to think of this after reading the article ”WordPress SEO – The Definitive Guide to High Ranking for Your Blog” by fellow Dutchman Joost de Valk (aka Yoast).

Throughout this article he mentions multiple plugins that could be helpful to take your blog to a higher SEO level. It would be really convenient (for him and his readers) if in the end he could mention something like: ”Get all the above mentioned WP-plugins together. You will find them in this plugin-faves set”

In the same line, it would be easy for podcasters to share what they use to optimize their blogs for letting hear their (literally) word of mouth. Or for more multimedia related blogs to share what plugins they use to get that viral video going. I think that there are enough ways to implement this.

Furthermore, it is a great way for plugin-writers to get some more exposure and feedback.

I prepared this post on the train, using my Nokia N95 and wireless keyboard.
When I look at my daily digital activities, I sometimes think about rather looking at the little time I am not digitally occupied.

I just saw the show of a befriended and amazing stand-up comedian. It was his last in these series and he is getting ready for a month of relaxation by walking to Santiago de Compostella. Without phone, without laptop, without contact with the world of friends and family. He is pulling the plug for a month, charging himself before writing his new show.

It got me wondering… would I be able to do the same? Maybe better question: would I want to do so? I often fantasize about taking off a few months. I crave doing something alike. Unplug, stepping out of the Matrix and focus on my own inner self and body. And maybe after such a period I would love to see some time I could spend on materializing the ideas I constantly brew up… a bit like when this comedian is writing, preparing his next show, his next step.

Right now, while starting my own holding that will take over my father’s company, I notice how much is being asked from me on a rational level. It emphasizes the fact that I am paying less attention to body and soul. I know – and more importantly – I feel that I should bring the three components of life back in balance again.

Does this mean I take a month off? Not really. When I decided to take over the business, I knew there would be things that I would have to postpone for quite a while. Taking a month off is definitely something for a few stages further into the process of running your own business.

Still, it is something that should be done at a certain moment. So it is a goal and putting that feeling in my body makes that I will work towards it.

The thought of unplugging right now is a bit far from my bed. Not owning a television is highly compensated by my internet- and mobile phone usage. Yet I know I should work towards reduction of this kinda activities to the bare essentials.

In combination with working and living more efficiently, decluttering life and Getting Things Done, balance of body, mind and soul should be achieved more easily.

I stopped using Blacktree’s Quicksilver about a month ago, but kinda got fed up with Spotlight constantly busy indexing everything on my Powerbook, so downloaded a fresh version of Quicksilver again.

Glad I did, cause besides finding some eye-pleasing updates in this version, I found something else on Blacktree’s website that totally enhances my workflow: Nocturne.

Nocturne is simple app for switching a computer to night vision mode. It has a few tricks up its sleeve: color correction, window shadow toggling, and background removal.

So when my eyes start to act funky at the end of a day of staring into my screen, I switch to night-mode and enjoy the peace to my eyes that Nocturne offers.

A simple yet highly efficient tool that has eased my workflow in a unexpected way.

While having paid more attention to N95blog than to any other site, I have been busy in the background with some other stuff.

In the past months, I have been monitoring and following a handful of websites that prescribe the “get rich quickly blogging” recipes, as well as the “how to become a getting-rich-while-sleeping-affiliate-search-engine-marketeer lessons” and so on…

Some of them, where only a small entrance-fee was required, I have tested. Others, I subscribed to their email-lists and monitored the daily and weekly emails I have received. As the previous post shows, I even promoted some of them (Within all the different programs, I think that Yaro is doing something that is fairly realistic and honest, although I do not really “feel” the butterfly marketing approach… his blog could suffice as teaching instrument.)

And now after a few months, I am in the position to draw some conclusions and clear my own path…

I have decided to neglect most of these success stories as the programs and the needed effort are only for those that have the possibilities to drop their regular day jobs and dedicated themselves 100% to blogging, affiliate marketing, SEM, SEO, etc.

As I am in no position to do so, and I know many of us are not, I am looking at the possibilities within another time-frame, but more importantly, within another philosophy. A philosophy in which we are not looking at making a killer income overnight, but making a nice side-income within your own and self-created capabilities. Call it the way of the turtle, see it as some “slow food” philosophy for your on- and off-line life, whatever you call it, it encompasses building something that enriches yourself and therefore the yield of whatever you do.

Confused? It is really simple though. Instead following some prescribed butterfly marketing funded step by step program that forces something upon you, I think the only way to excel in something is to define your strengths and passions, to combine and strengthen them and to share your knowledge and powers with others. That will generate criticism and suggestions that will only take you to another level.

With this, I know I am not paving a new path, but it is a more natural and logical way of achieving your goals, or even defining goals in case you did not have clear goals yet.

In order to show off my thoughts and so on this matter I am busy with a new platform that will be ready soon. Keep a close eye on this blog and you will know.

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