Wednesday, June 11, 2014

An If-Then Statement

I do enough stuff around the web that some of it has to be automated. If it wasn't automated, it just wouldn't get done.

For example, maintaining the Facebook page and Twitter stream for Rational Review News Digest. We average about 50 posts per day, and as publisher I'm responsible not only for my own posts but for proofing and scheduling the other three editors' contributions. If I had to individually tweet and facething each post as it came out, there wouldn't be time in the day for anything else.

And while it wouldn't kill me to manually get the material here at KN@PPSTER out to the social networks, if I automate it I don't have to remember to do that every time.

And there's other stuff even more boring than the stuff I've already mentioned. So: Automation.

My two previous mainstays for getting that stuff done have been Networked Blogs and Twitterfeed.

They're both actually great services, but they also have various problems (Networked Blogs sometimes runs into problems "syndicating" my stuff; my Twitterfeed feeds seem to sometimes just go down without explanation for weeks at a time then suddenly start working again -- and to top it off, for a long time I couldn't figure out how to get into my account there because like an idiot I tied it to an "OpenID" sign-in powered by a site that then disappeared; finally figured out a workaround this morning).

So this morning I decided to just switch it all over to a newer service called IFTTT. The acronym stands for "if this, then that," and that's exactly how it works.

The user creates a "recipe" by choosing an "if this" and a "then that."

For example, "if I post something at my Blogger blog, then post a tweet on my Twitter account."

It's even simpler than it sounds.

Looks like about 110 different things on the web that you can do this with -- everything from Gmail to Blogger to Twitter to Facebook to YouTube to Dropbox to a gazillion things you may or may not have heard of or use.

You click on an "if then" icon (e.g. "Wordpress" -- it takes you through an authorization dialog for your Wordpress blog and what you want to trigger the if, e.g. "I post anything," "I post something with a particular tag," etc.).

Then you click on a "then that" (e.g. "Facebook Pages" -- it takes you through an authorization dialog for your Facebook page and what you want it to do (post the link/title/whatever from that Wordpress post to your Facebook page).

When you're happy you say so, and your "recipe" is active (unless you turn it off). Every 15 minutes from then on IFTTT checks to see if the "if this" has happened, and if so it automagically does the "then that" for you.

I've already got the RRND stuff working (it took about two minutes) ... this here blog post will tell me if I've got everything set up for KN@PPSTER automation (I don't doubt it -- like I said, IFTTT is easy as pie and hard to mess up -- but I still check, see?).

So anyway, if you're looking for easy, simple, reliable automation of Internet stuff, check out IFTTT. It rocks.

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