Replacing ‘New Tab’ with an Interesting Quote


3 minute read

First Published on Medium.

I collect quotes on the side.

Interesting quotes, aphorisms, witticisms, even, yes, inspirational sayings (sigh).

When I find one, I’ll either take a picture of it or jot it down on my phone or computer.

Quotes in Notational Velocity Quotes that I write in Alt Notational Velocity.

Feeding my habit

As I started amassing these nuggets, I would routinely transfer them to a simple spreadsheet (quote and attribution only—nothing more).

Now here’s where the trouble begins.

What now

Aside from not having enough poster paper featuring cute kittens in trees ‘hangin’ in there’ to support my habit for all of the quotes I compile each week (the struggle is real, here), I’ve had no idea what to do with this personal trove of wisdom nuggets.

Hang in There, Kitten

I mean, I didn’t want to just store these things and forget about them. I want to see these things – have them cut across my path more intentionally so that I could be reminded of them and their unending font for enlightenment possibilities.

I played with various ideas – for awhile I was copying them onto index cards and tacking them to my fridge or using magnet onto my door so I’d see them on the way out the door.

But that was tiring and seemed like a step backward in some way.

The MVP is da real MVP

My spreadsheet was getting out of control – I hit around 800 quotations and felt like I’d lost the thread.

Scrolling through the spreadsheet Scrolling through the spreadsheet. Hmmm.

What was I even doing anymore? What had I become?

I wanted a digital solution – well, at least something that didn’t force me to use my hand to write (like an animal).

I toyed with putting all of the quotes on one giant layout so I could have it professionally printed and hung up somewhere. Still an option, and I would obviously plan on using that kitten-in-tree image as a watermark (contact me if you want this, I’m still considering it!)

Kitty quote

I toyed with creating an app—but it seemed like overkill. I wasn’t ever going to click on it.

I toyed with creating an email reminder of one random quote 1/day—but that was going to clog up email and that left a bitter taste in my mouth.

I toyed with creating a bot that would SMS me every morning—but I do that now with weather, and I feel like it wouldn’t hit me with the right level of attention—I would just find it distracting.

Clippy quotes

I needed something unobtrusive yet consistent. Daily yet not in such a regular way that I’d become habituated to ignore it.

The tabs have it

Duh. The ‘new tab’ feature of the web browser. Everytime I open a new tab, the default behavior is for a clean-slate page. Hmmmm.

New Tab default

Turns out this is pretty easily modifiable as an extension (this is true for most browsers, but I find myself on Chrome the most), and I could basically just create a ho-hum HTML page and redirect new tabs to this page. Easy-peasy.

Building my first Chrome Extension

So on a Sunday afternoon, I spent a few hours learning how to hack this thing together, and I submitted it that afternoon as a Chrome Extension, got approved, and had it loaded up that night as a working prototype.

Demo of my Single Page Quotes

Success!

It’s not perfect – I’ve got some tweaking to do on styling large quotes, and I don’t love that it always has to pull the quotes from an online JSON database as opposed to an internal cache and/or customizable path to an updatable spreadsheet (like my still-updating list of quotes).

But it does solidly 80% of what I want it to do, and that’s enough for me at the moment.

If you want to see it live without downloading a Chrome Extension, just head on over to gabrielkrieshok.com/single-page-quotes/ for the same functionality.

If you want to check it out yourself, just head over to the Chrome Store (it’s free, obvi) and add it to your browser – and don’t forget to rate me or leave comments!

The pleasure of rolling your own solutions

Granted—this isn’t going to change the world, but it’s a fun and heartening convergence on challenges that we face in life that can actually be tackled ourselves.

I didn’t know how to do all of these things when I began, but I knew what the solution would look like when I came across it, and so I worked backwards to built myself a non-intrusive quote reminder functionality.

Cool.

Post-script

If folks are interested, I’d be happy to write up a tutorial on how I built this thing. It’s so straightforward it’s almost laughable, but it’s still nice to see the process.