What is the best way to label plants and trees?

Plants Map Interactive Plant and Tree Identification Signs

Plants Map Tags connect people to plants.
It’s really that simple.

When Tracy and I moved to New York in 2006 I brought along a potted Dawn Redwood seedling that she got for free because she was a member at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens in Alabama.

At the time I didn’t appreciate how magnificent these trees are but as the 12″ twig quickly outgrew the pot and within one season had grown to almost three feet tall. It grew and it grew vigorously! I was hooked.

Since either a camera or my iPhone was always in my pocket and the tree was planted just off the corner of our patio I would photograph it regularly. I would post the pictures randomly to either Flickr, Picasa, Twitter or Facebook. I’m guessing that in just those few years, this particular Dawn Redwood probably became the most photographed of its genus and species in the world.

Today, I don’t have any photos easily accessible so that I can include a picture of that Dawn Redwood in this blog post.

I could probably dig back through my old social media accounts to find a shot but it would be mixed in with literally thousands of posts across multiple social media platforms.

THAT IS THE PROBLEM! I had documented this tree with my camera for several years as it grew from a tiny seedling to a tree that was over 15 feet tall but now I can’t find the photos I shared!

I’ve since moved to Virginia. I’m a certified ‘cone head’ now and in my front yard I’ve planted roughly 150 different types of evergreens and conifers and other trees, plants and shrubs since 2012.

Since I’m regularly photographing these plants as they grow and enjoying the changes to their appearance throughout the year, I wanted to be able to keep my photos of these plants organized. The collection is growing too so I also want to be able to remember all of the names of the plants.

I needed a mobile-friendly database and a way to label my plants.

I searched the Internet for the best way to keep a mobile phone friendly plant journal or garden journal and just didn’t find any good solutions at all.

I also searched the web for the best way to make plant identification tags and labels. The resulting web pages showed one-off custom tags that were either way too expensive or the tags and labels just didn’t last very long.

In January 2014 I started to build Plants Map to solve my own problem.

The Solution

My plants are now all listed on PlantsMap.com.

I can keep photos of each plant with the individual plant listings. I can use my phone to record my notes about a plant directly on the page or that particular plant.

I didn’t have to download and app either because Plants Map works in my browser which means it works on my computer and tablet!

Every plant on Plants Map has a unique QR code assigned to it that can be printed on an inexpensive but durable identification tag or sign.

I simply use a free QR code reader on my mobile phone to scan a code on a tag and my phone’s browser opens to the detail page for that specific plant. There I can add my journal notes and photos directly to the listing.

I can then share those images and information on social media.

Nothing gets lost anymore! I can add a photo to a plant now in about 30 seconds!

Here is more information on Plants Map Tags.

Plants Map Is Free

Anyone can use PlantsMap.com for free to keep their list of plants and photos organized.

Plants Map identification tags and signs are optional and can be ordered using a button at the bottom of each plant page. The lines of text on the tags can be edited. The tags in my garden show the QR code, the botanical name of the plant, the common name and the name of my garden – Cloudy Way Garden.

Here is the page we built with more information and prices for the different kinds of tags and signs and stakes.

Both sizes can be attached to a stake and placed in the dirt near the plant. Both sizes also have a hole in the metal so that a wire or screw can be used to attach the identification plate to a branch or directly into larger mature trees.
Tell Your Plant’s Story

I can use the tags to keep my records and pictures organized and visitors to my garden can scan the QR codes to read the story about the plant and see the archive of pictures of that particular plant that I’ve added over time.

I could not be more thrilled with the progress we’ve made at Plants Map this year and the Plants Map Tags and Signs are awesome. The tags have exceeded my expectations for usability, quality, function, design and price. I hope that you will use them for your gardens and share the story of your plants and gardens on PlantsMap.com.

Plants Map: Connecting People With Plants


Plants Map: Connecting People with Plants

Plants Map: Connecting People with Plants

Plants Map was born in January 2014 in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Visit PlantsMap.com and share the stories of your plants, trees and gardens!

How To Clear The Apple Mail Address Cache

For years I’ve been frustrated that when I go to address a message in Apple Mail I see old addresses for people or addresses that I’ve typed incorrectly.

Often, I would find that I had sent the message to the wrong person or to the incorrect address. I casually looked for a solution to the problem in the past but not until this morning when my grandfather asked me how to clear that cache did I really go looking for the answer.

Here is the very simple solution.

First, make sure the addresses in your Apple Contacts program (ie: your Address Book) are up-to-date and you have deleted old addresses.

Then, in Mail, go to the tab that says “Window” at the top and choose “Previous Recipients” from the drop-down menu. Clear the ones you never want to see again, or, do what I did and clear them all and start fresh with the new addresses being pulled from your Apple Contacts.

For the record, that’s two Apple Mail problems solved in one day!

How To Clear A Message Stuck In the Draft Folder In Apple Mail

For the past few weeks, I’ve had a message stuck in the Drafts folder of Apple Mail. I am using OS 10.7.2 and Mail 5.1.

I would delete the draft and it would disappear. Then it would reappear after a few minutes or after a restart.

I went through everything I could think of several times and was about to give up and then it came to me… Mail the draft to myself and then delete it!

That worked!

So, if you have a draft message that just won’t delete from your Drafts folder in your email, email it to yourself!


How To Make A QR Code That Links To A URL

QR codes can be used for several purposes and there are multiple ways to create them, but today I learned of a new quick and easy way to generate one that takes someone directly to a URL.

Shorten a URL using http://goo.gl/ or http://bit.ly and then just enter .qr after the shortened link. The resulting page will show your new QR code.

Here is the step by step:
  1. I want people who scan my QR code to go to http://www.rcsailors.com/2011/05/squaw-island-race-2011/
  2. I go to http://goo.gl and enter my site and get back the shortened version here: http://goo.gl/QIc6K
  3. I just add .qr to then end to get http://goo.gl/QIc6K.qr and visit that site to see my code.
  4. Drag that image to my desktop and then use it in my marketing or ad.
I haven’t thought of a good use for this but I’m frequently asked how to create QR codes and now I have another answer other than sending the person to http://qrcode.kaywa.com/. That site allows you to make QR codes that do more than just send someone to a web page.

The Problem with Job Boards

The Ladders has released a brief new white paper by the Aberdeen Group called Challenges in Sourcing Six-Figure Talent. (It is a .pdf download).

In it, they share their research on how partnering with an online provider to source resumes is more effective than just posting on job boards. It is an interesting read and presents many problems and challenges that still could be solved in the employment vertical space.

Job boards can increase the reach of recruiters and hiring managers into otherwise difficult-to-access talent pools, but 70 percent of survey respondents said that reach can make things worse by delivering unqualified candidates, most of whom are unqualified for the advertised position. In addition, 59 percent said the volume of applicants funneled through job boards strains the resources of hiring companies and recruiters, making them less effective at identifying and vetting candidates who are actually qualified.

Additionally, 61 percent of respondents said they spend too much time looking for the right candidates for these jobs and 45 percent don’t see value in paying for job postings on these sites and job boards.

Read Sharon Florentine’s article here: The Problem with Job Boards.

Google URL Shortener

Stop sending long URLs!

Google has a new URL shortener at http://goo.gl

Copy a long URL from a page you want to share and then visit http://goo.gl/ and paste in the long link and hit submit.

The site will return a much shorter link that you can share with people.

As an example, here is the long url to this post:


Here is the shortened link using Google’s URL Shortener:


Shortening links avoids all sorts of problems with email clients breaking long urls into pieces and give back many of your characters to use in your  Twitter message.

You don’t need to sign in to use it. However, if you do sign in with your GMail account, the new Google URL Shortener will save all of the links you shorten and report to you how many people clicked the link you shared. Go now and check it out and stop sending long urls!

There are many other sites that do this too including tinyurl.com and bit.ly.

Do you sometimes you get a shortened url sent to you in a message (especially in junk mail messages) and you’d rather know where it was going to take you before you click? Try http://longurl.org/.

A List of My Most Interesting iPhone Applications

  • WeatherBug – The best weather app I’ve found with good radar however WeatherUnderground has the best “mobile” web page for weather at the moment (ie: no need to download an app).
  • FourSquare – Where are you? Where are your friends?
  • RadarScope – Collection of weather radar views from the NWS
  • Google – Pretty good voice search so you can do that while you are driving and still keep your eyes on the road.
  • Words With Friends (Free) – A Scrabble game you can play with your friends who also have the app. (Not sure why Scrabble hasn’t sued them but anyway, it is good.
  • Twitter – Twitter client.
  • Bump – Transfer files between mobile devices via bluetooth after you bump the two devices together (and they have a cool domain name: http://bu.mp)
  • Shazam – Hear a song on the radio, hold up the app and it will tell you the name of the song, artist and links to iTunes, etc. to buy it.
  • SlingPlayer – Watch your TV at your house via a SlingBox connected to your home TV.
  • FlightTrack Pro – Connects to TripIt and alerts you when flights are delayed
  • SkyGrid – Top trending stories of the moment with multiple links to go read the details on the web
  • DoodleJump – Odd little game where you jump a bug up the rungs of a ladder except there is no ladder and it really isn’t a bug and you can shoot things and … etc.
  • Loopt (don’t really use this anymore but it is kind of like FourSquare but I keep it on my phone because my sister still uses it and she won’t switch to FourSquare)
  • CardStar – Transfer all of those little key fob membership cards from all of your favorite stores to an app and you can just show your phone instead of the card. It hasn’t worked for me yet anywhere I’ve tried it but one day it might. I don’t carry the cards with me anyway so maybe if it works…
  • Groupon – Deal of the Day
  • ColorSplash – Turn color photos into B&W photos, then color parts of them. Pretty cool.
  • Police Radio – Listen to the police scanner for most places around the country when the person who streams the channel has their site online. Monroe County, NY is offline more than it is online.
  • 1Password – I have no use for this app but I LOVE the browser / computer application and the app syncs so I just mainly use it as a backup for my passwords on my computer if that ever fails.
  • Shooger – Coupons
  • 2D Sense – Scan the QR and QC codes
  • Angry Birds – Game where you slingshot little angry birds at green turtles or some other little green animal.
  • Facebook – Social networking site that garners 15 minutes per day (or about 7 hrs per month) of the average user’s time. Not me.
  • MotionX GPS – A really nice GPS that I don’t use because I really only need a GPS on a boat and this just isn’t accurate enough yet so that I wouldn’t run into a dock or the shore.
  • HomeWeather – Links to my home weather station, CWOP DW3513 in Fairport, NY
  • iPatch – Mainly just to put a patch over Jonathan Biddle’s eye whenever I see a photo of him.
  • iHandy Level – I use this to tell when to stop cranking the lift on the front of my power boat so the water drains out the back when I put it away.
  • Kindle – Used to read books from Amazon.com
  • Buzz – Google’s version of Twitter
  • Navionics Lakes East – One day I’ll have a use for this detailed GPS mapping program
  • LinkedIn – One day I may need to get in touch with a contact from the past
  • LiveCams – A huge collection of video camera from all around the world.
  • NightCamera – I used to use this when I wanted to take a photo at night and they kept turning out blurry, this program would wait to snap the picture until when my hands stopped shaking.
  • Photogene – Sort of like Photoshop for a mobile phone.
  • PS Express – Photoshop for a mobile phone. Sort of like Photogene
  • QuakeWatch – Feel an earthquake? Use this app to see where it was and how strong it was.
  • RedLaser – Scan UPC codes and price compare and link to sites where you can get more product information
  • MouthOff – Characters say what you say with a funny mouth
  • Weber On the Grill – Grilling cheat sheet
  • Pandora – Streaming Internet Radio
  • Paper Toss – You have to be very bored to get into this game but basically it is throwing paper in a can with varying amounts of wind blowing across the room making accuracy random and difficult
  • RC Heli Gold – fly a remote control helicopter on your iPhone screen
  • Rowmote – Control your computer mouse from your iPhone and launch applications. I use this as a clicker when I’m presenting using Keynote or Powerpoint
  • Tipulator – Helps you calculate tips and splitting up bills when you are sharing the cost with a lot of other people
  • TripIt Pro – My travel agent when I’m on the road after I’ve planned everything out with my real travel agent
  • UpCode – Another 2D bar code and QR code reader
  • SpeedTest – How fast is your Internet connection?
  • StickWars LE – You have to play this game once. Let me know if you play it twice.
  • Trapster – Driving down the road, you can report police activity and view reports from others on the same.
  • Trulia – Get information on houses for sale via an interactive map or what is around you that is on the market
  • Urbanspoon – Restaurant search with a randomizer!
  • WindForecast – What is the wind going to be in a certain spot at some point in the future? Use this app.
  • WunderRadio – Streaming radio stations
  • EyeTV – Control your EyeTV if you have one and still use it.
  • Zillow.com – Really nice real estate information site.
  • Waze – Eat cupcakes while you are driving and score points. Help Waze map the United States in the process.
  • Whoppa – Keep track of the big fish you caught and see where others are catching them and what they are using for bait.

The New Definition of Literacy

This quote (below) was taken from Alfred Hermida’s MediaShift post which was adapted from a chapter appearing in The New Journalist: Roles, Skills, and Critical Thinking, a new textbook for journalism students:

“Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read and write. New literacies generally refer to new forms of literacy made possible by digital technologies, such as blogging, uploading photos or sharing videos. According to new literacies, media is collaborative, distributed, and participatory nature.”