Tag Archives: guide

Writing a poem in 15 minutes

I came up with the following process while writing an email. Poetry can be daunting to write. Writers may think they need to know meter, need fancy writing software, or deliver profound insights about the universe in order to be good poet. None of that is required! A readable poem can be produced in 15-20 minutes by just being aware of your environment.

For recreational poets, it’s easy to produce a poem a day by following these steps:

1. Download and install TextWrangler (Mac) or Notepad++ (Windows)

These free, barebones text editors are ideal environments for writing poetry. Since they were designed for writing computer code, they also help the writer by numbering each line and eliminating the hassle of wrangling with fonts, colors, and sizes (since they don’t allow you to). Better yet, write it in an email client.

2. Pick up any book, magazine, or go to a website that you read frequently

Writing poetry is easier when you have just read something/are reading something. Anything will do, from a verse from Shakespeare or the Bible to today’s New York Times headline or Reddit front page. Think about the words used and the syntax. For example, a NYT headline – “Fresh from the printer, that new car smell” – is a good jumping off-point. With a little rearranging, you could write “My car’s smell, fresh for the morning ride home…”

3. Write and arrange your line breaks

Once you have material to work with, more ideas will start flowing. Look around you and incorporate details you notice in everyday objects into your adjectives. Colors are always good, evocative descriptors. For the line breaks, don’t feel that you have to end each line with a complete thought – be playful and cut them off to leave them nicely incomplete. So, “going downstairs, to see if I can ever be free” is a little less magical than “Going downstairs/to see if I can ever/be free,” since the latter construction creates a ton of suspense with the powerful line-ending “ever.”

4. Polish it up and publish

I like to save poems as Markdown files in Dropbox for easy Web publication and backup. Another possibility is to screenshot the text and then process the screenshot with a simple photo editor like Pixlr Express. Add some filters and colors to create a visual mood to go with the text. Then post it to Tumblr or your own blog. I do this with my own Tumblr.

How to use Link Bubble for Android

In my previous entry, I mentioned Link Bubble, a nifty Android app made by Chris Lacy, the creator of the Tweet Lanes Twitter/App.net client. Like DuckDuckGo (a merged search engine-browser-news aggregator), Link Bubble is on the bleeding-edge of mobile browsers. It doesn’t just try to compress a desktop experience for a small screen a lay Chrome, Safari, or Dolphin (all good browsers, but ones that are of a piece with almost every browser of the past 20 years). It realizes that the mobile Web is a destination rather than an immersive app – how many times have you ended up in Chrome et al because you clicked on someone’s link and had to wait for the page to load?

Link Bubble is an overlay – it is, sure enough, a “bubble” that is drawn over whatever screen you’re currently on. It looks like this:


Here’s how to use it:

1. Download Link Bubble from the Play Store. You’ll probably want to get the Link Bubble Pro upgrade, too, since it unlocks most of the features worth using (multiple bubbles, colors, etc.)

2. Click a link in any app (Hangouts, Google Search, email, whatever) and then, when prompted with the intent dialog, select Link Bubble and select “Always” so that it becomes your default browser. You may have to go through this process for several apps, depending on where you click most of your links. The clicked link loads in the background and shows up with a favicon to the side, in the overlaid bubble. The “HG” in the screenshot above is for Hardcore Gamer, for example. Since it’s done in the background, you don’t leave the app you’re currently in – convenient! Especially for Google searches where there’s more than one link you want to click. Here’s what it looks like when you tap on the bubble to go into the actual browser:


3. After it’s the default, open the Link Bubble settings (find it in your app drawer and click it) and set things up:


You’ll need to pick a fallback browser (probably Chrome unless you’ve downloaded something else) to handle any links that Link Bubble can’t handle. You’ll also want to pick the default behaviors for the upper-right and upper-left bubbles. It’s easier if I show a screenshot:


These extra bubbles (upper-left, upper-right, bottom_ show up when you tap and drag one of the bubbles (circles) at the top of the browser. You can customize it to your wish, but the default is Pocket (if installed) in the upper-left, share in the upper-right, and close tab at the bottom.

4. If you ever need to hide the bubble because it’s in your way, or simply want to close everything in one fell swoop, you can do so from the notifications tray (Link Bubble creates a persistent notification):


Touch it once to hide the bubble; you’ll be able to get it back the next time you click a link. Expand the notification with a downward slide to close everything.