antipaucity

fighting the lack of good ideas

powering my merikebi with ifttt

As I mentioned a while back, I am maintaining a merikebi for myself of as much of my public internet content as possible.

The initial seeding of content was done via WordPress import. Then I added a dump from Pocket of everything I’d saved there.

Lastly, to keep it going, I made a few IFTTT triggers – one for my Twitter account, and then one each to import from RSS from my other blogs.

IFTTT has been a great tool for me for several years. And though their current interface isn’t as simple as it used to be, it’s still got great functionality.

ifttt & box drive my desktop backgrounds … with a little cron happiness

I love that OS X lets me change my background on a schedule (I use every 30 minutes now).

But I don’t like having to find pictures to populate my desktop menagerie with.

Enter completely SFW backgrounds via RSS feeds!

Using IFTTT, I watch for new items from a variety of daily photo feeds, and upload the new items to a folder in my Box account. I have that folder set to be the source for my desktop backgrounds, and bingo bango we have automated new images coming to enjoy!

The recipe I’m using is available for you to grab here. (I have several running, but you can use any RSS feed you’d like.)

Also, to ensure I don’t end up with duplicate images (eg from the Bing images feed), I have the following running as a cron job (thanks to Unix.SE for helping me figure it out):

md5 -r * | sort | awk 'BEGIN{lasthash = ""} $1 == lasthash {print $2} {lasthash = $1}' | xargs rm

That script removes any files with duplicate MD5 sums from the folder I keep the images in (note – you should put the actual path to your folder in your cron job).

posting from google+ to other services with ifttt

I’ve been using If This Then That (best part? it’s free!) for several months, and wanted to share a simple way to post updates from Google+ (or any RSS feed, but I digress) to your other social media services.

Currently I only use Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook – though I am sure this basic process will work for any other ifttt-supported social media service which you can access in a write form (they call them channels).

There’s a way to use email to post updates to Facebook and Twitter, but I kinda like the ifttt method more – it’s more intuitive to me.

Here’s the basic method (or you can use the recipe I shared that does this):

  1. login/authorize GPlusRSS with your Google account
  2. copy the RSS feed GPlusRSS gives you of your G+ public posts
  3. login to ifttt and enable/authorize (if you haven’t previously) the channel for the social media service you want to post to (I’m using Twitter for this example)
  4. create a new recipe
    1. click “this”
    2. click “Feed” (at this point you can post everything or you can post some things – I’m going to go the some route here)
    3. click “New feed item matches”
    4. in “Keyword or simple phrase”, enter something unique-ish (I use “#twt”)
    5. in “Feed URL”, paste the URL GPlusRSS gave you at parent step 2
    6. click “Create Trigger”
    7. click “that”
    8. click the social media channel you chose in parent step 3
    9. click “Post a tweet”
    10. click “Create Action”
    11. in “Description”, give it a good name, such as “post G+ updates to Twitter if tagged #twt”
    12. click “Create Recipe”
  5. done

If Google+ ever decides to open their API better, ifttt should be able to have a channel for them.

Until then, the above method works like a champ – I use similar recipes for cross-posting to LinkedIn and Facebook from Google+ along with Twitter.

lock screen slideshow in windows 10

In similar fashion to what I wrote about for OS X last year, and spurred by this article from Microsoft, here is my brief guide for doing the same on Windows 10.

Click your Notifications button near the clock.callout

Now click All Settingsnotifications

And you’ll see this

settings

Click Personalization, then Lock Screen. Select “Slideshow” from the dropdown.lockscreen

There you go.

i’m a medium plogger now*

(*Though most people would call me an XXXL blogger.)

Following in the steps of Dave Winer, I am now plogging (sorta) on Medium.

And, like Mr Winer, I’m doing it via IFTTT (though not via RSS, I’m doing it via the WordPress channel).

If you’d like to do the same, use this IFTTT recipe.

apps on the network

{This started as a Disqus reply to Eric’s post. Then I realized blog comments shouldn’t be longer than the original post 🙂 }

The app-on-network concept is fascinating: and one I think I’ve thought about previously, too.

Hypothetically, all “social networks” should have the same connections: yet there’s dozens upon dozens (I use at least 4 – probably more, but I don’t realize it). And some folks push the same content to all of them, while others (including, generally, myself) try to target our shares and such to specific locations (perhaps driving some items to multiple places with tools like IFTTT).

Google’s mistake with Google+ was thinking they needed to “beat” Facebook: that’s not going to happen. As Paul Graham notes:

“If you want to take on a problem as big as the ones I’ve discussed, don’t make a direct frontal attack on it. Don’t say, for example, that you’re going to replace email. If you do that you raise too many expectations…Maybe it’s a bad idea to have really big ambitions initially, because the bigger your ambition, the longer it’s going to take, and the further you project into the future, the more likely you’ll get it wrong…the way to use these big ideas is not to try to identify a precise point in the future and then ask yourself how to get from here to there, like the popular image of a visionary.”

That’s where folks who get called things like The Idea Guy™ go awry: instead of asking questions, you try to come up with ideas – like these 999. And if you can’t/don’t, you think you’ve failed.

Social networks should be places where our actual social interactions can be modeled effectively. Yet they turn into popularity contests. And bitch fests. And rant centers. Since they tend towards the asymmetric end of communication, they become fire-and-forget locales, or places where we feel the incessant need to be right. All the time. (Add services like Klout and Kred, and it gets even worse.)

I would love to see a universal, portable, open network like the one Eric describes. All the applications we think run on social networks (like Farmville) don’t. They run on top of another app which runs on “the network”.

Layers on layers leads to the age-old problem of too many standards, and crazy amounts of abstraction. Peeling-back the layers of the apps atop the network could instead give us the chance to have a singular network where types of connections could be tagged (work, fun, school, family, etc, etc – the aspect of G+ that everyone likes most: “circles”). Then the app takes you to the right subset of your network.

Of course – this all leads to a massive problem: security.

If there is only One True Social Network, we all end up entrusting everything we put there to be “safe”. And while some of still follow the old internet mantra, “if you wouldn’t put it on a billboard, don’t put it on a website,” the vast majority of people – seemingly especially those raised coincident to technology’s ubiquitization – think that if they put it somewhere “safe” (like Facebook), that it should be “private”.

After all, the One True Social Network would also be a social engineer’s or identity thief’s Holy Grail – the subversive access to all  of someone’s personal information would be their nirvana.

And that, I think, is the crux of the matter: regardless of what network (or, to use Eric’s terminology, what app-atop-the-network) we use, privacy, safety, and security are all forefront problems.

Solve THAT, and you solve everything.

Or maybe you just decide privacy/security doesn’t matter, and make it all public.

my theory of social networking

I know lots of folks who like to have everything they share on one social network (eg Google+) magically appear on all others they use, too (eg Twitter & Facebook).

While I sometimes share identical content out to several networks, I rarely want precisely the same thing going everywhere all the time. In fact, while I love employing Buffer and IFTTT (including using the latter to push content from G+ elsewhere), I rarely like having the same posts (which aren’t links) appear anywhere else.

Why? To ensure I don’t miss some of the conversation or points raised by splitting my attention between, say, Facebook and Google+.

I find that the communities represented on the social networks I use, while overlaps occur, tend to be relatively distinct.

I see this problem occur in communities I belong to, too – such as the BGLUG. There’s a Facebook group, and a Google+ community. When events are scheduled, they get posted both places: which is great for publicity .. but not so much for keeping continuity of community.

Continuity of conversation and interaction is a Big Deal™, in my opinion.

Multiple conversation points are great – but fragmentation of discussion is not so great (eg comments on a blog post + comments on the social network link post of the blog post).

I asked a question about a subset of this problem a few years ago on Stack Overflow – and the best answer for integrating WordPress-to-Facebook commenting was to use a plugin. That’s awesome – but doesn’t begin to solve the problem of discussions across more than one network.

So, for now, I’ll continue to encourage all my socially-network friends, colleagues, family, and readers to keep conversations as separate as possible on the networks they frequent: improve your signal-to-noise ratio, and make the internet a better place.