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My ideal archiving/bookmarking/save-for-later service

I recently read about how Mozilla is contemplating Save for Later, and how the functionality could be built right into the browser. It’s a really cool look at not only how people save for later, but why, using what methods, and on which kinds of devices.

Personally, I’ve always been frustrated by the idea of needing to manually archive anything I read that I may want to reference at another time. I’m not a big bookmarker, pinboard, delicious, instapaper user. I just consume a ton of websites and articles, and move on.

My question: why do we have to do this manually? What if a page was automatically bookmarked and indexed based on how long I stayed on the page? What if my browser knows I scrolled to the bottom of the content, so took specific actions based on pre-set rules?

Spend 3 minutes on a page and scroll to the comments? Participate in the comments? Watch a video to the end? All these things could trigger certain responses to archive or clip the content. Even better, if it saved everything, but weighted content based on how I consumed it.

And, I would love it if that synced in the cloud, so no matter if I’m on my laptop or my work machine, or home iMac, all my browsing history was being captured.

I know this will freak some people out, but I don’t care. If I sign up for the service, I’m giving implicit permission to track my surfing.

It would also be extra amazing if the service in the cloud went and indexed those pages, so that I could quickly search against it.

And since we have dozens of calendar apps that can parse common language, why not apply that same logic to our searches…

A couple of searches I could imagine:
a video I watched last month about badgers
article in a news site that talked about type II diabetes in african american women
comparison of external hard drives - only read first paragraph
iOS app for tracking workouts - read in last 2 months

I hope these are a bit self-explanatory.

And sure, some of this takes some of the magic of google to properly pull off, but even if it just indexed the page titles of my history–along with some meta data on my consumption of the page–that would be a huge start.

I really have no idea how hard this would be to pull off. I don’t code. But I’ve seen one-person projects that seem to take on more ambitious projects. And let’s start with just the browser saving locally.

And hey, if there’s ever a startup idea with a clear acquisition path…

What do you think?

Missing the Mentors and Advisors

Last night at Urban Airship, Portland had the opportunity to welcome Jason Mendelson and Brad Feld of Foundry Group and the author’s of Venture Deals.

Through the evening, I kept lamenting the fact that I have decided to not take funding with Paleo Plan. Not for the money’s sake, but because when you are backed by guys like Jason and Brad, you get access to them as advisors, and their introductions to other mentors, not to mention possible partnerships.

Paleo Plan has been bootstrapped from day 1, and I’ve poured hours and hours and quite a few of my own dollars into making it what it is today, and I’m super excited to have the good fortune to run my own business (not to mention, some great help from my partner Neely).

However, I really do miss the opportunity to work with senior advisors, who are passionate about my company succeeding. I know I can reach out and find my own mentors, and I should. But I’ve been missing it thus, and am looking forward to trying to find some in Portland now that I really have come face to face with what I’m missing.

Closing doors and opening Windows or something.

Closing a door while another opens. Saying goodbye while saying hello.

blah blah blah.

dear-john-letter1

Every time someone in the tech/web industry leaves a job, they write some sappy blog post about how it’s with a mix of “great sadness and overwhelming excitement that they say goodbye to great friends and begin a new journey…”

I hate those.

But, there is some truth to them–somewhere in there if you can get passed the sappiness. So, instead, I give you my own take. My Dear John Letter to Urban Airship.

Dear Urban.

Look, I think we should talk.

These past 9 months have been amazing. All the time we’ve spent getting to know each other. Talking about mobile, and the future. It’s been so exciting, so… expansive. What we could do, and where we could go, and how we were going to change the world. I’ve treasured those days.

And, you’ve been incredible. Really. I can say without a question that you’ve been the best job I’ve ever had. You’ve been fun, given me amazing opportunities to travel and meet cool people. We’ve laughed over beers and the Whiskey Wall, over Ping Pong and Darts and Arm Wrestling. Hell, you even put a gym in the basement. No other job has even come close to caring about me the way you do. The way your insurance covers me and Holly so completely, making sure even our teeth and our eyes are healthy. You’ve outdone yourself.

But you see, I’m going through some things. And, right now, I just don’t know that I’m ready for a job.

And before you ask. No. There isn’t another employer. I haven’t been running off to work for someone else while I say I’m home sick. I swear.

And it’s not somebody else’s desk that’s wooing me away.

It’s just that, right now, I need to be free. I need to work on other things.

No, don’t say that. It’s not you, it’s me. It’s that I need to be true to me right now.

I’ve been thinking about working on Paleo Plan full-time since I created it. You’ve seen me spending time with Paleo on nights and weekends, you know how much it means to me. I just want to give it a shot.

And look, we can still be friends. I’ll be just up the street at PIE. We’ll still bump into each other, and I want those to be happy times. I don’t want to sit here, trying to be everything you deserve, while in my heart, wondering what Paleo could be like. I want you to be happy, and you’ll find someone to fill that place in your building where I am now. And that person will be perfect for you. But it’s not me. I’m sorry.

And I mean it. I’ve loved our time together. All of you are so special to me and I’ve learned so much and grown so much being part of you. I’ll really miss you.

Jason

Yeah. I’m saying goodbye to Urban Airship and their amazing and talented team. The only thing that could pull me away was the chance to work on my own project (Paleo Plan), full-time, without the need for freelance. It’s been several years in the making, but I’m now there, and beginning Monday, will be working back at PIE–another project I’m in love with. :)

Thanks UA for a fantastic trip. You don’t even need my luck, you’re already killing it.

Paleo Plan and Customer Service

Over the past year of running Paleo Plan I’ve encountered just about every possible customer service request imaginable. I’d seen it all. People registering, not liking it, wanting a refund, people needing to change their information, people wanting specific information about this or that, regardless if that is what we offer in our plan or not.

People sometimes need help, and I’ve always felt that in this small, paleo community, I couldn’t afford to not do everything I could to accommodate people, or at least, give them a well-written response on why I couldn’t do something. And like I said, I’d seen it all.

Or so I thought.

Today, I got something that left me literally dumbfounded and at a complete loss for words. I got a piece of mail from a person asking if they could sign up, and if I would call them so they could order. They explained they didn’t have a computer, but wanted to join “Paleo Brands.”

I sat there for a while trying to figure out what to do. This woman had somehow gotten my address, and was hoping to hear back from me with information and meal plans, shopping lists, and recipes.

Every week we make PDFs for the meal plans and recipes, and I could easily print out a few of those and send them to her… but what about the recipes? We only have those online. And if she didn’t have a computer, our meal plans would be worthless.

I thought about printing those out too, but that would honestly take me a few hours to organize, and I just wasn’t quite ready to print out 70-100 recipes plus a few week’s of meal plans and shopping lists, and then send them to her.

After about 20 minutes of just mind-numbing bewilderment, I had an idea. Send her Robb Wolf’s book, The Paleo Solution. It is an amazing source of information, and it has a full month of meal plans and recipes in the back. It’s more than enough to get anyone started, and it is available at Amazon for $13. I probably couldn’t even ship the recipes to her for under that (I’m also on Prime, so I have free shipping).

So, with that, I wrote a little note in the Gift column, ordered the book, and hopefully, provided her with the information she needs.

I’m not sure it’s the best solution, but I felt I wanted to do something, and this seemed to work.

Running a company has taught me a tremendous amount about customer service, and I’ve also had the privilege of finding out how rewarding it can be to hopefully solve someone’s problems in a win-win way. Hopefully, this is one of those cases.

The hand-written letter is shown below.

Notice that she addressed it to HTTP Paleo Brands COM. I spend so much time on the computer each day, I forget that for lots of people in the world, URLs and domain names are confusing.

Why Everyone Should Be Working on Side Projects

I’ve been talking with several people lately, and something that seems to keep coming up is side projects (I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that I’m currently working on a few myself). However, the gist of the conversation revolves around the fact that I think that anyone worth hiring should be working on their own side projects. While, I recognize not everyone has the entrepreneurial spirit, and not everyone needs/wants to be part of a startup, people should still be working on something. The problem is, many employers get frustrated when they find out their staff is honeymooning as a startup.

First off, let’s examine the “industry professional” aspect. If I, or anyone else, is really as good at this stuff as we say; charging clients thousands of dollars for our time while we build them something slick, shouldn’t we be able to build ourselves something even more slick? Shouldn’t we be realizing that if we hold the keys to the marketing decisions and goals of global brands, how can we say with a straight face that we don’t have anything to offer on our own?

Second, I would never hire an “internet/web/tech/developer professional” who isn’t working on something himself. Right now the entire global landscape is still wide open. What each one of us is capable of producing is un-fathomable. But if someone doesn’t have the drive, the gutzpa to get off their butt and do some personal exploring, I don’t want them on my team. Now, that may sound harsh, but I want someone who spends their evenings and weekends completely enamored with what is possible right now in the online arena, and constantly pushing their own boundaries of what’s possible. Those are the types of people who will return after an assignment has been given to them with solutions that are new and groundbreaking. You don’t get there just solving problems at work, you get there spending your evenings exploring and learning and trying things for yourself.

Third, I want someone who loves the internet enough to put their ass on the line for it. I really don’t care if they’re doing it for fame, money, or the altruistic goals of an open-source developer. Really, even someone who edits Wikipedia every night is enough. I just want someone who lives, eats, breathes the web. They’ll be clued into what’s going on, and know what hasn’t already worked.

I really could go on forever. And I’d probably repeat myself more than I already have. But the essence is, this whole internet thing is still so young, so open, so untame. If we’re not part of the Wild West, excited and running out to claim our stake in this, we’re really not worth hiring.

One last point: I’m also not afraid of losing employees to startups. If they turn out to be the kind of person who is clever enough to build a successful business, than they were probably clever enough to help my business while they were here. And with that, there will be lots of other motivated, excited, and young workers behind them, just looking for a place to pay their bills while they build what may become the next million dollar acquisition.