Category: personal automation

Twitter Triggers are Back on IFTTT!

I happen to log into IFTTT yesterday evening to check out my recipes and discovered that Twitter triggers have been reinstated, presumably using Twitter’s new API. This is great news because it means no workarounds are needed to capture Tweets in Evernote. Just create a recipe using the new Twitter trigger and send the results to a note in Evernote. Works like it used to–which is to say, works like a charm.

More info on the IFTTT blog.

My Google Writing Tracker Scripts Now Available on GitHub

Lot of people have asked if would make the code for my Google Writing Tracker scripts available. I’ve been saying “eventually” long enough. As of this morning, the core scripts are now available on GitHub.

A few comments:

  1. These are unsupported scripts. I say this not because I don’t think they will work (I’ve been using them flawlessly for months) and not because I don’t think there will be bugs (there always are), but because I have no time to support them. This also means I can’t help you install the scripts. Use this scripts at your own risk. If you use them incorrectly, you can lose work.
  2. Read the documentation. The setup is a bit cumbersome, and needs to be precise, but once the scripts are setup, and as long as you follow the directions, the system should work well.
  3. The scripts are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are a coder and want to make changes or add your own stuff, by all means have at it!
  4. The first scripts released will keep track of your daily word count and send a HTML email message of your daily writing (adds, deletes and changes) to an email address if your choice (you can use your Evernote email address if you want these to go directly into Evernote). The scripts do not include my Daily Almanac scripts. Those are way too customized for me right now and I don’t have the time to generalize them. Eventually, but not anytime soon.

Once you’ve got the scripts setup, the process becomes easy. Do all of your writing work in the Sandbox folder. Be sure when you are editing a document that you are editing the version in your Sandbox folder and not the version in your Sandbox/Earlier folder. Edits to the latter will be lost. Otherwise, write every day and your word counts and changes should be captured as documented.

I am interested to know how they work for folks, so drop a comment if you end up using the scripts.

Automating My Backups with CrashPlan and VaultPress

This is the first1 in a new series of monthly posts I’ll be doing in which I describe how I am trying to automate all of the repetitive tasks in my life, in order to free up time for the creative work. A big reason I can do this type of automation is because I have gone completely paperless. I also have a background at a software developer, which helps when coding is required. I expect these posts will touch all aspects of personal automation in my life. I am starting with those repeatable tasks that are relatively easy to automate and offer additional bonuses and incentives as well. I expect to publish these posts on the 3rd Friday of every month; Friday, because the weekend is often the time I use to implement these automations and folks reading along can use the upcoming weekend to do the same.

Part of my reason for automating the repetitive tasks in my life is to free up that time for other things: creative work, time with my family, more time to read. But part of the reason is that when repetitive tasks are automated, you don’t have to think about them and that can be a weight off your shoulders. I’ve just finished one such important automation: my data backups.

Actually, my backups had been mostly automatic before. What I did was change my backup services. I am now using CrashPlan for my computer backups and VaultPress for my website and blog backups. Both of these are cloud-based backup services, meaning my data is stored securely in the cloud. For backups, this is a good thing. It means that my backed up data is separate from the place it is used, so if that place goes away (e.g., if my house is blown away in a storm) my data is still safe.

Why I chose CrashPlan for my cloud backups

Previous, I’d used iDrive for my cloud backups. The service was fine and worked well, but there were some limitations. The biggest limitation was storage space. For $149/year, I could store up 500 GB of data with iDrive. I could backup up to 5 machines. With CrashPlan+ Family plan, I pay the same amount of money, $149/year, but I get some important benefits:

  1. There is no limit to how much data I can backup. This is a very important point. In considering backup services, I was not thinking about how much data I have to back up today but how much I’ll need to back up 3-, 5-, even 10 years from now. There is plenty of room to grow.
  2. I can backup up to 10 computers. Again, I was thinking about the future. We have three computers right now, two of which are backed up through CrashPlan. But we also have 2 small children and I imagine that they will eventually have computers. The plan I have will allow us to expand our backup clients as necessary into the foreseeable future.
  3. The software can handle local and cloud backups. Some people are less comfortable with their data in the cloud. CrashPlan allows you to backup your data to the cloud, but you can also back it up to other computers (or drives attached to computers). In fact, you can do both and CrashPlan handles it all so you don’t have to think about it.
  4. The software provides proactive notifications if backups fail for a certain number of days. If one of my machines is not backed up after a certain number of days, I will be notified. This is perfect because my default position is: I don’t have to think about it, which is part of the point of automation.
  5. I can initiate backups and restore data remotely. I don’t have to be in my house or even on the computer to which I want to restore data or initiate a backup. I can do it from another computer, or from my iPhone or iPad.

Read more

  1. Technically, it is probably the second, since I already wrote a post on how I’ve automated my password management, but I need to start officially somewhere and it might as well be here.