Trello: How to view all of your cards (tasks) across all boards

Trello has quickly become one of my favorite ways to collaborate on projects with teams (it has a great iOS app too). It uses an agile methodology with boards and lists—you create boards for projects or departments, each board can have one or more lists, and in those lists you create cards for ideas and tasks. There are lots of great little details and features that make this setup very, very useful.

But one catch is that, if you’re involved with multiple boards across one or more organizations, it is not immediately obvious how to see all cards that are assigned to you. At least, it wasn’t to me.

Thankfully, my wife at Mobile Makers just found it: in a traditional PC browser, click your name in the upper right corner of Trello, then click Cards. You’ll see all cards assigned to you across all boards by default, but you can choose to sort them by due date as well.

Hopefully this comes to the iOS app soon, it’s pretty handy.

Canopy: a beautiful storefront for Amazon

The sheer volume of items available for sale on Amazon is staggering, and among the as-seen-on-tv pyrite lie untold diamonds in the rough. Canopy makes those special items easier to find and purchase.

It’s a well-designed website with a single purpose: to find all the very best things Amazon has in its massive catalog and showcase them in an attractive, alternative storefront. Every “Buy” link on Canopy takes you straight to that product on Amazon. You can view the most popular new items, apply a quick price (or Prime) filter, browse by category, or kick back with an issue of their magazine-style special collections. Featuring guest curators and specific themes, this weekly site publication is a great way to explore some interesting hand-picked products.

Available on the web at canopy.co or on the iPhone, Canopy combines a modern, uncluttered interface with all the benefits of Amazon’s store.

Whither the API

Web services have changed how we access them and our data. The open API—Application Programming Interface—is disappearing, and it’s becoming harder to retrieve our own data. To learn more about what’s going on and whether we should worry, I asked some really smart people to weigh in: Loren Brichter, Justin Williams, and Daniel Jalkut.

Blotting out the sun

A decade or two ago, things like open APIs, third-party clients, and exporting our data were common options for using services the way we want or taking our ball and playing elsewhere. Think about plain text files, easily importing all your email between services, and downloading your entire Flickr library.

Now we increasingly have to fight to get a copy of our own data, more services actively asphyxiate their third-party ecosystem, and some simply don’t offer an API at all unless big corporate partners pay-to-play. Our new gardens are not merely walled, they’re heavily fortified.

“I think the ‘Open Web’ movement got pushed aside when mobile got big,” said Justin Williams, “because then there was a huge opportunity to use these APIs in all sorts of apps, but it’s difficult to monetize with third parties.” Consumers have a hard time understanding the value of the work that goes into building apps, so charging developers for what generally started as free API access doesn’t seem viable.

Loren Brichter, owner of atebits and developer of Tweetie, which Twitter bought in 2010 and turned into its official iOS app, agreed there’s a trend here. He went on to point out a deeper problem: “your data is still being hoarded by monoliths.

“Even with open APIs, services can do whatever they want with your data. When companies shut down, that data goes with them (unless you do some sort of manual, bulk export).”

Making matters worse, most modern service features and architecture are often so fundamentally different, or just plain anticompetitive and unregulated, that normal consumers generally cannot move their data from one service to another. Try importing your Twitter archive into Facebook some time, and remember when Steve Jobs infamously claimed Apple would release FaceTime as an open, documented standard?

Some mass-market organizations make the effort to build these bridges, but it’s usually just to help lure new customers from a competitor. Genuinely interchangeable file formats have largely gone the way of the dodo.

A ray of light

“I’m not sure whether this is a trend,” Daniel Jalkut of Red Sweater Software says, “or just that some of the highest-profile services happen to have taken relatively API-dismissive stances.”

He cites Flickr as a good example. After all this time, it continues to offer a robust, well-documented API that provides third parties with access to just about everything the site can do. Plus, Flickr’s developers apparently dogfood it.

“I’ve always understood it to be the case that Flickr’s API is so good because Flickr’s developers built the site on the public API. I don’t know if this is 100% true, but it’s a great idea. Imagine how great the APIs for a variety of web services would be if they were built in this manner.”

“Instead,” Jalkut flips the coin, “API support for web services are almost universally considered as a ‘tack-on’ functionality. They are a limited-scope entry point to a usually much more complex data space than the API has the ability to expose.” His first example is WordPress, a service with rich in-browser features that have never been mirrored well for third party use, such as his MarsEdit blogging app for Mac. He then threw down the gauntlet with Squarespace, a service that used to offer a limited API, but axed it completely with a recent service revamp.

The circle of tech

If this is a trend, though, and if we are losing access to our own data and flexibility in the tools we use to create it, Brichter took a step back to view the bigger picture.

“Perhaps this is part of the natural cycle of technology. Proprietary interests blaze a path and help us discover the kinds of tools we find useful, democratization follows as the dust settles. But that transition may never happen if we consider it ‘normal’ that you can’t send someone a Facebook message via iMessage.

“And Apple doing a business deal with Facebook to enable that would be missing the point.”

Tumblr released a big Markdown editor update

Looks like Tumblr is on a text editor roll. After that big update with styling tools for the rich text editor, it has now revamped Markdown support for traditional PCs browsers.

From the gear menu you can pick your editor, and if you start writing in Markdown you get some helpful visual styling and a Preview option to make sure you crafted everything properly. It also supports lists and other perks.

This is a great update, a long time coming. Thanks Tumblr!

Tumblr shows off new text styling, media features with, naturally, a GIF

Tumblr recently added a whole bunch of text styling and media features. To make sure users know, it showed off how they work with a GIF in the sidebar.

Bonus tip: one feature not shown here is the new in-line media features. When composing a post and adding a new blank line, a little (+) icon will appear to let you embed media in the middle of the post.

A new Finer Things in Tech, more posts, and a way you can help

Finer Things in Tech should look a little different today, starting with the URL. I’m going back to basics, writing more, reviving the podcast, and introducing a way to support my work and the authors I commission. Let’s get started.

More Finer Things

Finer Things in Tech has always been about quick, bite-sized tips that help you get more out of your tech and apps. Last year, I introduced long-form articles from myself and smart industry folks, and they’ve been a big hit. Now I want more of both, and I’m taking a cue from my former boss Jason Snell to include “bigger than a tweet” pieces. I’m also going to try some link posts, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it all.

I want more tips and long-form articles, and I want to explore our relationship with tech, the industry’s culture, and how we can improve it all. The short-form podcast will return soon, I want to pay more smart people to write about the finer things in tech, and that’s where you come in.

How you can help

I’ve never done something like this before, which is a great reason to try it: today I’m launching a Patreon where you can support my work and help me pay writers. You can contribute as little as $1 per month or as much as you want. I’ll use this money to pay for the site and commission as many articles and tips as I can.

The Patreon doesn’t have any tiers or stretch goals yet, but I’ve certainly thought about them. It depends on how this goes, but all sorts of things are on the table: removing the one ad from the site, a process for requesting authors and articles, maybe even a mobile magazine, and more.

If you value Finer Things in Tech, I would deeply appreciate your support to help make it even better.

Details and thanks

To answer some inevitable questions:

Yes, Finer Things in Tech now runs on Squarespace 7

I know I threw in the towel on Squarespace two years ago, but it and its iOS apps have come a long way. I started using it again recently for a neighborhood project and, combined with my long-time frustration with WordPress and its hosting (yes, an article is coming about that), it felt like the right time. Squarespace removes many of the website management frustrations for me so I can focus on what matters—writing, podcasting (soon!), and finding more people to write about the finer things in tech.

Yes, all old links should redirect

Squarespace has some great domain and URL redirect tools for muggles like me (but if you see something, say something). In short, all old links to something like:

finerthings.in/featured/have-a-very-imessage-holiday

will transparently redirect to their new home at:

finertech.com/blog/featured/have-a-very-imessage-holiday

Feeds should automatically redirect as well. But if you’ve never subscribed or just want to make sure, you can check out all main section and topic feeds on the Follow page, as well as social and newsletter options.

Thanks

I have to make a huge shout out to Conrad O’Connell at 91digital for help with getting all the necessary redirects in place. I also thank Alex Knight at FeedPress for a lot of help in jumping through some hoops with feed redirects and custom hostnames.

Of course, I thank you as well for reading and all the support, links, and feedback. I love doing this, and I want to bring you much more Finer Things in Tech.

Please update your Finer Things in Tech RSS feeds—they’re moving!

I’m putting Finer Things in Tech through a CMS overhaul, and one of the big changes is the RSS feeds. Of course, I’ll explain more once I’m all done, but the short is that WordPress, and WordPress hosting, is too difficult and costly to be done well for my needs.

I know I threw in the towel on Squarespace a couple years ago, but it’s come a long way since then. I am moving both my persona site and Finer Things in Tech back to it.

Here are the new feeds for all the main Finer Things in Tech sections, and I’ll do my best to redirect old feeds. The new feeds are platform-agnostic, so even if Squarespace implodes some day and I need to move the site, I hopefully won’t have to put you through this again.

Be sure to (re-)subscribe, tell all your friends, and hell, maybe even tap a few friendly strangers on the shoulder and share the wonder of Finer Things in Tech.

Thanks for reading.

Google Contributor could succeed where Readability failed at supporting creators

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Google launched a product that picks up the torch where Readability stumbled with its first truly interesting, innovative feature: Contributor.
Like Readability, Google Contributor allows you to contribute a small monthly fee to participating websites you care about. Choose whether you contrite $1-3 per month, visit the sites you care about, and in return you see no Google ads (mostly) and get a warm feeling in your tummy.

A key difference here is that Google avoided Readability’s mortal mistake by getting partners on board for the launch. It’s also bringing in more via invitation and accepting applications (check the bottom of Google’s page).

As the web continues to splinter into niche but sustainable communities and content creators, I think Contributor might become a big deal. We finally have the perfect storm of internet culture and technical innovation to make crowd funding and micro-transactions not just possible, but two-way-street useful. Publishers have a tough time convincing users to leap the tall hurdle to sign up and subscribe to every. individual. site they care about. But being able to pay a single, Netflix-style monthly fee to a large shop like Google, and letting Google divvy up the proceeds between all the sites we care about is game changing.

I do have a few complaints about this launch. My major complaint is I’m worried Google is setting too much of a precedent by locking the initial contribution amounts to $1-3; you have no way to pay more. The Google and Facebook business approach of giving away everything for free has perhaps irreparably decimated consumer entitlement to free software and content. I think the option to pay more would help move the needle a little.

A minor complaint is how few partners Google got on board for launch—Mashable, Imgur, WikiHow, Urban Dictionary, The Onion, and Science Daily. I expect this program gains traction, though, so the partner list should expand rapidly.

Finally, I wish Google would have gone farther when it comes to the ‘no ads’ benefit. While it’s true you won’t see Google-powered ads on participating sites (as far as I know, ads powered by other networks will still appear), the Google ad spot doesn’t entirely disappear; you’ll just see a pixelated box in place of the ad and a message of “thanks for being a Contributor.” Hopefully, a future iteration of the program will help publishers remove that ad slot entirely for contributors, offering a much better reading experience.

I’m excited about Google Contributor, and I am pleasantly surprised it actually came from Google. I applied immediately, as both a user and publisher (even though Finer Things in Tech doesn’t run any Google ads, at least not yet). I hope to be able to write up something about my experience with it soon.

Tumblr now lets you watch videos on the side

Videos in the Tumblr dashboard now have a gray arrow icon at their top left corner. Click it, and the video slides out to the side and plays so you can watch while you scroll.

The never-ending transaction

Imagine if your neighbor asks to borrow your lawn mower and promises to return it tomorrow. You agree, but tomorrow comes and your lawn mower hasn’t been returned. You agreed to a transaction, but the transaction changed. You ask your neighbor and they say they didn’t have time to mow the lawn, but it’ll happen today for sure and you’ll have it right back. It doesn’t happen today, you don’t get it back. The next day your neighbor says they lent your lawn mower to a friend because theirs broke and he just felt too bad for them. The day after that, you’re relieved to see your neighbor out mowing the lawn. Except right then, a photographer walking by says your neighbor has that certain je ne sais quoi, and she wants to shoot him and his mower for an ad campaign. He agrees without so much as a glance in your direction.

You agreed to lend your lawn mower to your neighbor for a day. Now it’s part of a photography project and you have no idea when you’ll get it back.

This bad neighbor we all have is Facebook, Google, Twitter, and every other company that wants to track, package, and sell us to advertisers and anyone else buying. Now, brick and mortar retailers want in on the practice, too.

Advertising isn’t the problem, it powers a massive portion of our economy and truly can be useful. The problem may seem staggeringly complex, but it is quite simply the devaluing, erosion, and ultimately deliberate dismissal of our trust in the unmitigated pursuit of more.

Facebook sell your face to advertisers

Facebook sell your face to advertisers

We agreed to hand over bits of information A, B, and C to these companies in exchange for X, Y, and Z. But over the years these companies decided they could do a little more, and then a little more, so they started using that information for L, M, N, O, P, and Q. Twitter didn’t follow you around the web or the real world for years. Now it does, just like Facebook and Google. Last month, Facebook started selling our information to power ads on sites across the entire internet. It’s also quite honest about the fact it’s working on offering our faces to be used in advertisements (Settings > Ads > Third Party Sites).

After Facebook starts offering your face to advertisers, why not status updates? Google already lets advertisers target competitor’s YouTube videos with pre-roll ads. Why not let them send ads directly to your phone when you’re about to walk into a competitor’s establishment? Twitter could passively listen to your living room conversations and notify advertisers of positive product sentiments and intent to buy. Privately, of course.

Why not? “It’s just the natural next step.” The transaction has repeatedly and radically changed. It will change again and again and again because these companies cannot and will not stop. Their DNA won’t let them.

[photo courtesy of epsos.de]