The Theme Foundry has been building premium WordPress themes since 2008. They recently released Collections — a unique and beautiful WordPress theme for sharing, designed by Veerle Pieters. Visit the live demo of Collections to see it in action, or purchase it now for $79.

What makes The Theme Foundry special?

  • A focus on quality over quantity. You won’t find a huge assortment on their site — they keep a small, curated collection of premium WordPress themes.
  • Exclusive partner with (the official hosted WordPress provider). Each and every theme goes through a stringent audit process from some of the best WordPress coders in the world.
  • Whole team support. You get fast and friendly support from the team that actually built your theme, not a part time support rep.

* * *

A huge thanks to The Theme Foundry for sponsoring the RSS feed this week. If you’re looking for a classy and distinct theme for your WordPress site, these guys are worth checking out — they have a great collection.

Sponsorship by The Syndicate.

Sponsor: The Theme Foundry

A Beginner’s Guide to Pinboard

On Friday, May 4, 2012, I signed up for Pinboard, a website that lets you bookmark URLs.

My move to Pinboard was prompted when Yojimbo, unfortunately, got too big for its britches. In Yojimbo I had more than 600 bookmarks, plus hundreds of other notes and files and things. Alas, because Yojimbo doesn’t weigh its search results by relevancy, it became increasingly difficult to find what I was looking for. In short, the more I was adding to Yojimbo, the harder it became to find what I was looking for.

A good filing system is one where you can find whatever you’re looking for in less than a minute. As of this sentence I have 2,334 bookmarks — I use Pinboard to collect any and every URL that is or was interesting to me — and I’ve never had trouble finding what I’m looking for when I go to search for a particular bookmark.

I wanted to share a few of the tools and services I am using with Pinboard. If you are wanting to get more out of Pinboard, then hopefully this will help you out.

Why Pinboard?

Pinboard is a great bookmarking service because it lives on the web, and so many of the apps and services I use every day can send bookmarks to my Pinboard.

For example: any article I “like” in Instapaper gets bookmarked to Pinboard; if a tweet that I “fave” has a URL in it, that URL gets bookmarked to Pinboard (you can configure this yourself in your Pinboard settings). And because Pinboard connects with IFTTT, you can set up a gazillion other ways to bookmark URLs.

In a nut, it’s very easy to add bookmarks into Pinboard. And it’s equally easy to find those URLs later by searching or by tag lists.

A Smarter bookmarklet

Beyond going to the Pinboard website itself and clicking the “Add URL” button, the most basic way to save a URL to Pinboard is through a bookmarklet.

I use Joel Carranza’s “Particular Pinboard” bookmarklet to save links when I am on a web page in Safari.

Joel’s bookmarklet is a bit more clever than the default ones found on the Pinboard website. It does some cleanup to the tile of the web page, populates the description field with selected text or else with the page’s description from the header, and will auto-add tags you use if they are relevant to the article based on keywords.

There is one thing I changed in Joel’s bookmarklet, and that is the height and width of the popup window. At the end of the javascript I changed the width from 610 to 700 and the height from 350 to 550. For some reason the default dimensions were causing the popup window to display without a status bar and without a window shadow. The slightly larger dimensions fixed that for me.

A Tag-Specific Quick Bookmark

Let’s say there is a tag you use often in Pinboard, and you want a way to save a URL using that tag with the least amount of fuss possible.

Then use this bookmarklet.

This will take your current Safari tab and save it to Pinboard using a pre-defined tag that you chose, all without showing you a pop-up dialog window or anything.

Tab collections

You know when you’re doing research on something and you end up with about 30 open tabs and then you don’t know what to do with them all?

Pinboard Tab collections are your friend.

This Safari extension will grab all of your open Safari tabs, organize them by windows (say you’ve got 3 windows with several tabs each) and then let you save them as a set.

Sometimes it’s nice to use this as nothing more than a placebo bookmark, when all you want to do is quit out of Safari and save your work for later (maybe).

Mac Apps

There are some Mac menubar and desktop apps, but I don’t use any of them. I think the Pinboard website is very easy to use and so Safari is my go-to place for accessing Pinboard from my Mac.

Search via LaunchBar

If you use LaunchBar you can set up a custom Search Template for Pinboard that lets you enter your search query from within LaunchBar and then search the Pinboard site.

Bring up LaunchBar, click the “gear” icon that’s on the right-hand side, then go to Index → Show Index. Or hit OPT+CMD+I when LaunchBar is visible.

When the LaunchBar Index is up, click on the Search Templates label in the sidebar. Click “Add”. Name your Search Template something like “Pinboard”, and then place this code as the Details:*+&mine=Search+Mine


Now, bring up LaunchBar, type “Pinboard”, hit Space Bar, type your search query, and hit Return.

Search Pinboard with LaunchBar

iOS Apps

I actually have two favorite iOS apps for Pinboard.

  • Pushpin: It has a clean interface, it’s a universal app which works on iPhone and iPad, it lets me browse through my list of bookmarks, tags, and notes, and it offers access to Pinboard’s Popular list and more.

  • Pinbook: This app has a more narrow focus than Pushpin does — Pinbook excels at search. Searching your bookmarks in Pinbook is fast, and you can search by Title, Tag, or Description. So if there is a particular tag you want to pull up, just search by tag.

Both these apps have URL schemes, so you can send bookmarks to them from other apps. Here is the Javascript bookmarklet I use to add a URL from Mobile Safari to Pushpin. It’s based on the very same Particular Pinboard bookmarklet mentioned above.

I realize it’s a bit nerdy to have two Pinboard apps. If I had to pick just one, it would be Pushpin. If you don’t want to spend $10 on a Pinboard app, and you just want a nice way to add and find your bookmarks from your iPhone and iPad, get Pinbook. You won’t be disappointed with either.

Using Pinboard

Pinboard is like Birdhouse was — there are many like it, but each person’s is their own.

To get the most out of Pinboard it helps to have easy ways to save bookmarks, and then to know that you can search them when you need. Hopefully what I’ve shared above gives you some ideas for how you can use the service better.

A Beginner’s Guide to Pinboard

Home Screen Follow Up

After my article yesterday about iOS 7’s Home screen upgrade, I got quite a few questions about my own iPhone’s Home screen, my choice of apps, and their placement.

So, here’s a bit of follow up to answer some of the common questions.

Why do you only have three icons in your Dock?

A 3-icon dock and an empty bottom row is how I’ve rolled for a very long time. It makes for a more “open” home screen, and I like it.

Wait, what’s with that Tweetbot icon?

See here.

What Weather app is that?

Perfect Weather.

Why do you have the Clock and Camera apps on your first Home screen if your article was all about how those apps are now just one-swipe away thanks to Control Center?

Because old habits die hard. I had the clock and camera apps on my home screen when I updated to iOS 7 and never thought to move them off.

I’ve since swapped the clock app with Day One (which was on my 2nd Home screen). But I’m keeping the Camera app there because, if anything, it’s the best looking app icon that ships in iOS 7.

Home Screen Follow Up

The iOS 7 Home Screen Upgrade

Unlock your iPhone, click the Home button, and what do you see? The Home screen.

My current iPhone Home screen looks like this:

iphone home screen

It’s a grid of app icons. Tap one and you’ll launch that app.

Aside from the new aesthetics of iOS 7 and the slow-churn change of various apps that come and go in this space over time, my iPhone’s home screen looks and functions the same as it did in 2007 on the original iPhone OS. And so has yours.

However, I think the Home screen in iOS 7 got a significant improvement right under our noses.

I’m talking about the updated Notification Center, the new Control Center, and the new placement of Spotlight.

Apple implemented some fantastic updates to the Home screen, and did so without making any obvious changes to the way things have looked and functioned since day one. It’s a vast improvement that didn’t require us having to learn anything new or re-orient ourselves to the way we’ve been using our iOS devices for the past 6 years.

Here’s what we can do from the iOS 7 Home screen that we couldn’t do before:

  • We now have one-swipe access to turn on or off our iPhone’s Wi-fi and Bluetooth, enable/disable Airplane mode and Do Not Disturb mode, and lock/unlock the screen orientation.

  • We have one-swipe access to adjust the brightness of the screen.

  • We are one swipe away from being able to launch the Clock app, the Calculator, the Camera, and turning our iPhone’s flash into a Flashlight.

  • We have one-swipe access to the currently playing audio, and the ability to adjust the volume, pause/play the audio, and skip to the next or previous track.

  • We are one swipe away from being able to search our entire phone’s catalog of apps, emails, contacts, notes, music, and more.

  • From any Home screen, we have one-swipe access to our calendar of events for today and tomorrow, as well as the current weather, anticipated drive time to our next routine destination, and a list of all recently updated apps, incoming notifications, and missed notifications.

Since these new and improved features are not tied directly to the Home screen itself, they can be accessed from anywhere on the device — inside any app, and even from the Lock screen.

If Apple had instead chosen to incorporate some of these features by doing Home screen widgets, then access to them would be restricted to only our first Home screen (or whichever screen we’d placed those widgets on).

There is still much growth and iteration that can — and I believe will — happen here. But with iOS 7, Apple has begun to let us interact with iOS in significant ways that don’t require the launching of an individual app. Certain functions of iOS are slowly expanding out of their silos.

The iOS 7 Home Screen Upgrade

Lots of good news for fans of Simplenote and/or WordPress from Matt Mullenweg.

Regarding how Simplenote and WordPress fit in together:

Simperium [the syncing engine that powers Simplenote] is at the core of several new things we’re either building or hope to build in the near future. We’re investing quite a bit to make the service robust and flexible for our needs as a top-ten internet site, and that development will benefit everyone who uses the service much the same way our investment in anti-spam benefits the internet at large through Akismet. You will start to see the Simperium engine make its way into almost everything we do.

And regarding the sustainability of Simplenote:

The beauty of Simplenote being under Automattic’s wing is that we are already blessed with incredibly fruitful businesses. […] Our main goal is to pour our heart into something and make it great, then [share] it with the world. I find Simplenote indispensable, delightful, and use it every day, and I hope you will too.

I have a lot of respect for Matt Mullenweg and the business he has built around WordPress. It sounds like Simplenote has a very bright future.

Matt Mullenweg On the new Simplenote and WordPress

A Personal Note of Thanks

Today my heart is full, and I’m feeling so thankful.

The past two weeks have been a sprint. My son, Giovanni Blanc, is 14 days old today, and we could not be happier to have another boy in the house.

My original intention was to take a few weeks off after Giovanni was born. But, bless his heart, he waited to be born until the day before Apple announced their new iPhones. I’ve never written so many words while changing so many diapers with so little sleep in such a short amount of time. (Achievement unlocked?)

As far as work goes, I spent a lot of time testing and reviewing several new and updated 3rd-party apps, covering iOS 7, keeping somewhat up to date with the lead up to the iPhone launch, and then standing in line for an iPhone 5s.

On the home front, the Blancs are now a 4-person family. And my wife, Anna, has quit her job and is now at home being an amazing mom to our two boys.

The work I am doing here at now completely supports our family. And the single biggest piece of that pie continues to be all the subscribing members. Thank you!

This coming spring will be the 3 year anniversary of when I began writing here full time. The past couple of weeks I’ve been reflecting much on the past few years as well as looking ahead to what’s next. And I just wanted to say thanks to the small group of you who show up every day to read this site and support the work I’m doing here. It means the world to me, and I’m working hard to make sure I’m doing my best work every day.

— Shawn

A Personal Note of Thanks

Apple sold more than nine million iPhones over the weekend. They haven’t shared the breakdown of sales between the 5s and the 5c (and they probably never will), but I only know of one person who got a 5c: Gedeon Maheux. I’m not trying to imply anything, just share my personal observation and data point.

It’ll be interesting to see in one and two years from now how many of the 5c (and its predecessors) we begin to see in the wild compared to the 5s (and its predecessors). I think the white 5c looks great; if the modern tech of the 5s were also available in the body of a 5c I probably would have gone that route.

Apple: “We’re Doing Very Well”

Stop waiting for your IT department to move off SharePoint and start using an intranet you’ll actually like. Igloo is free to use with your team, it’s built around easy to use apps like blogging and file sharing, and it has social tools built right in to help you get work done.

It works on your desktop, your tablet and your phone. Inside or outside of your office. With your team or with your customers. Igloo is 100% white label, so you can make it look like your brand (with your developers or our in-house design and services team).

And if you’re in San Francisco, come learn how a social intranet can help your business succeed. Hear real world examples from our customers, technologists, and writers from Forbes and The Huffington Post. Our Social Intranet Tour hits San Francisco on October 15. We hope to see you there.

* * *

My thanks to Igloo for again sponsoring the RSS feed this week. Sponsorship by The Syndicate.

Sponsor: Igloo

iPhone 5s Initial Miscellany

iPhone 5s

My day started at 6:45 this morning. With a cup of coffee in hand,1 I was about the 100th person to join the line at my local Apple store.

To make a long story short I decided to ditch my spot in line and go to the local AT&T store where I was the 20th person in line. The store opened at 8:00 and by 8:30 I was being helped by a sales rep to get a Space Gray iPhone 5s.

  • The look of the Space Gray is much nicer than I thought it would be. It’s not as “silver” as the band on the 4/4S was, which makes it look a bit more like the original iPhone.

I’m pretty sure this is the first year that the external appearance of the “s” model of iPhones has been so different than the previous generation. Though the iPhone 5 and 5s look nearly identical, they are less so than the 3G/3GS and 4/4S were.

  • Making a slo-mo video is super fun. On Twitter I joked that we’ll soon have tumblr accounts dedicated to iPhone slo-mo vids that are not as epic as their creators think they are. But who cares, right? If your iPhone can shoot 120FPS HD video and easily select scenes for slo-mo, then go for it.

  • Touch ID feels like equal parts the future and cheating. I have 6 years of muscle memory developed for tap-then-swipe, so I keep forgetting to tap then wait. Instead I swipe, the lock screen keypad shows up and I pause for a second, then oh yeah. Put my thumb back on the Home button and wait a second. The unlocking process truly is near instantaneous.

The way we joke that non-Retina displays are like sandpaper on our eyes, in a few months (days?) time we’ll all be joking that non-Touch ID devices are so annoying to unlock.

When I finished setting up my new phone, I thought back to something I wrote a year ago regarding the iPhone 5:

Here I have this gorgeous object of industrial innovation, and yet its proximity to my life is not due to my above average affinity for fine gadgets. No, the iPhone has earned its place by virtue of usefulness. The curiously-thin slab of glass and aluminum that I carry around in my pocket is my camera, my jukebox, my map, my newspaper, my phone, my email, my photo album, my schedule, my to-do list, my notebook, my Internet, and so much more.

A lot has changed since I wrote that a year ago, and those changes have made the statement even more true.

The iPhone 5s, with its better camera and Touch ID sensor, make it more useful (even if slightly so) to me than the iPhone 5. Moreover, with iOS 7 and so many new and updated 3rd-party apps, we are ever getting more utility, usefulness, and delight from of our iPhones.

That’s saying a lot for a tough little computer that fits in your pocket.

  1. I may or may not keep some to-go cups around for mornings like this.
iPhone 5s Initial Miscellany