Sunday, March 26, 2017

Becoming An Electronic Life Form

This morning I read a fascinating article about work being done with the aim of being able to transfer human consciousness into electronic systems (i.e. a computer).  It's suggested that this may be possible by the early 2030s, meaning that, theoretically, it could well be a possibility for a proportion of people alive today to undergo this process prior to death.  In effect "we" could never die.

Depending on the emulation of the brain, would we have emotions as we recognise them?  If in a computer, we could take any physical form we desire - if we desire one.  So would we all have robot bodies that visually look like extremely attractive humans, or at least an optimised image of our past selves (for myself I'll have mine probably look like how I did in my early twenties, with the excess fat trimmed off)?

Or maybe not.

Will we even have bodies - will wealthy individuals own a selection of bodies, like cars today?  Or perhaps you will be able to rent bodies as desired, spending most of your time in a solely electronic existence on a server within a datafarm somewhere, but when you had earned enough money for a holiday you could rent out a body which could be designed for your preferred activity.  Maybe if you wanted to go rock climbing you could hire a body optimised to climb difficult precipices, climb mountains and see sights that no basic human could ever manage.

One of the most interesting points is that potentially we could be ourselves (at least, we would believe that we are) but be able to think much faster, not get tired, and so forth.  In a shrinking labour market, as technology reduces the amount of humans needed to work, there would be massive demand for these artificial humans to work as being far more efficient than normal humans.  In a labour market already heading that way, this could be the final nail in the coffin of the idea that "everyone should work", ideally giving rise to an idea that "everyone should contribute", and that contribution could make many different forms - art, research, work (if it is an option open to them), or perhaps supporting their community?

If the transfer of people from biological bodies to artificial constructs became common - as prices came down, I could see the argument being that it would be cheaper to transfer people into an easily maintainable and upgradable body made out of plastic and metal, rather than try to keep functioning an ageing and increasingly prone to failure "traditional body" - eventually you could see a significant proportion of our population being electronic.  Perhaps at some point the majority.

Industries such as food production would become increasingly unnecessary, as food wouldn't be needed for energy, and I imagine any taste sensation desired by people in electronic forms could be downloaded and enjoyed.  Like listening to a MP3 music file, or streaming a TV show on Netflix, you could "play" the taste of enjoying a top quality steak, or smelling a flower bouquet).  Would we begin to let farms run into disrepair, or carry out projects to turn them into biodiverse environments?

So much of our current lives would be unnecessary.  If we existed electronically, would we have physical homes, as we recognise them?  We could have an electronic version of the home that our program enjoys, which would be far more massive than anything that we could afford in the real world anyway.  One only needs to look at the popularity of games such as Minecraft and World of Warcraft to understand the possibility of a non-physical reality to live within.

You too could live in a house like this.

Obviously there are significant religious, moral and ethical debates regarding this idea, and I can see many people saying that they wouldn't want to be transferred into an artificial body, and I certainly understand and respect that view.  However, I'll throw this comment out there - if one of the reasons that people create is so that when they're gone there will be a trace of them still "out there" (and it is one of the reasons that I blog and make YouTube videos), wouldn't the best thing to give to posterity be an actual copy of me, that can still interact with future generations and continue to create?

Happy Sunday!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Say No To Sprint

You don’t know what you don’t know. It’s been a bad few weeks in cell phone land. The story actually goes back a decade to when I was living in the basement of my grandmother’s house. Those days were dark enough but I needed a cell phone and there was only one company that had any service. That company was Nextel. It was OK though because I had a cell phone that worked so my kids, ex-wife(s), work, grandmother and everyone else I really didn’t want to talk to could get a hold of me. You would think that was easy enough, right? Not exactly, because Sprint bought Nextel not very far into it and when the service evaporated I was forced to call Sprint to cancel my phone.

Again, what did I know right? The hard sell was applied to me and I wasn’t as jaded as I am now, so when the Sprint operator told me that I could get a free Palm Centro if I switched over to Sprint, I believed them when they said that market research said they had the best service in the area. I have unfortunately been with Sprint ever since. I had a Palm Centro (which had no reception) followed by a Palm Pre (which had no reception) then a Samsung Galaxy Epic (that had no reception) followed up by a Samsung Galaxy S4 (with no reception). This is where things started getting bad. My S4 had issues let’s say. This isn’t Sprint’s fault of course, but it did start the train of thinking which enlightened me. Sprint wouldn’t upgrade the phone with the bad camera. I can accept that I have never had cell service worth a damn but a bad camera? No way.

I dealt with it for as long as I could, a couple of years in fact. The Sprint service like the camera on my phone didn’t work in 3 places, at home, at work and of course, everywhere else. When it was time to upgrade the phone they wanted my contract changed, or another couple of years added to my old contract or 700$ for the phone. Sprint (like Verizon) uses the non-standardized CDMA style phones. Unlike the GSM phones that AT&T, T-Mobile and the rest of the world uses you can’t just buy a new phone from anywhere and snap your SIM card in it. As long as you use a network based on CDMA you are using a phone made specifically for the provider, and when Sprint decides you aren’t getting one you can’t just go to Amazon or Best Buy and buy a new one. I was desperate when I bought a used one.

The HTC One Max that I bought had a camera that worked great! Of course it was clunky and nothing else worked very good. As a Sprint customer I have been programmed to accept phones and networks that don’t work. In over 10 years I have never had a good phone call on Sprint. I have never had actual 4G and I have had nothing but headaches. The worst of the worst was that phone was a total burden while I was on my cruise. It was a pain in the ass to carry, hard to handle when I wanted to take a picture, and I decided I was going to get a new phone when I got back whether Sprint provided it or not. I’m sorry to make this a long post but I need any of you reading this to understand what happened and why I am actually writing this. Bear with me a bit longer.

I ordered my new phone (Samsung s7 Edge) and got a call a few hours later telling me there was a problem with my order. It took the usual hour and a half on the phone to find out the order was cancelled and nobody knows why. I still don’t know why. I was told I had to go back online to order again but when I tried my upgrade availability was reset to March 2019. They could cancel my phone on a whim but not change my account back to the way it was? Assholes! Two hours of phone call later and they assured me it was reset. An hour and a half of phone call the next day and they assured me that they had fixed it. Day 3 and I was finally able to re-order my phone. By day 5 I was forced to spend almost 3 hours on the phone and 5 (yes FIVE) sales associates later, I found out there is a problem but they don’t know what it is. The last person in the chain asked me to give them 24 hours and he would call me back. I was exhausted and accepted this, but I promised myself that 24 hours was the end.

26 hours later I was forced to call again, because nobody got back to me. Like the same idiot who dealt with Sprint for ten years I checked voice mail, e-mail and text messages all day. After 20 minutes on the phone they were ready to start passing me around again. I said no, and that someone on the other end of the line actually had the nerve to get crabby with me because I wasn’t willing to speak to someone else “and be enjoying my new phone as soon as possible?” This was when I lost it. I was dealing with a phone bank spanning several continents, trained to treat people like a used car dealer. Without repeating the language I demanded that the order be cancelled so I can switch providers. The person on the other end of the phone was happy to do this and it was the only “easy” thing I have ever done with Sprint. I mean what the hell is wrong with these people?

Here’s what made me really angry. I decided to go online and sign up for AT&T. Took me about 15 minutes to switch my number over and within an hour I had my new phone. Seriously, programmed, charged and everything, I just had to pick it up on my way to the airport. I went with AT&T because I will NEVER play the CDMA game again, and I don’t trust T-Mobile. Everyone I work with have Verizon phones and they get a couple of bars where I get none, but they still have to beg to get customer service or new phones without trading a baby or a car title for it. They own your ass after all (CDMA). I at least knew should I have an issue I can buy a Chinese phone for peanuts and if it lasts 6 months who gives a crap? What I didn’t know was that it was all a lie. Every bit of it was a lie, and I could smash my television every time I see a Sprint commercial.

Saturday, I went into work and I placed my new phone on the desk where I always left my Sprint POS. My factory is in the middle of nowhere. I mean we are lucky to get electricity much less phone service. The phone made noises. I picked it up to see that I had alerts, and not the “you have no service” alerts my old phone gave me. No I had 4 bars of 4GLTE screaming in app updates, text messages and emails. I felt like a connected human being for the first time in … ever! The same at home. My new AT&T service is rocking strong everywhere. I was completely furious with Sprint and the worst was yet to come. I still had to go home and completely cancel the Sprint account, and I probably don’t need to tell you where this is going, but I will share this for those who think they are alone.

While the phone number on all my business cards was transferred to a new account easy enough, the second line had to be a new number. Sprint kept loading the other line with the former numbers of derelicts and/or crack addicts. No matter how many times it got changed, angry people at all hours of the day would call for the former owner. Like the misery of changing that number over and over so was the agony that I knew was coming to cancel it. This is made even worse by the extreme hatred I was feeling for Sprint in general. I was kind to the first Indian who lied to me about service upgrades and telling me about how there was no supervisor available to cancel my service. I told him, they wouldn’t call back politely and held firm to talking to one now. The second Indian was more frustrating as he lied about the service and went as far as to tell me that a new phone would maybe solve my problems. A new phone would have solved THEIR problems, and it was like another stab in my angry ribs. There was no supervisor above him available. I lost my temper, I’m human.

There was another Indian in there but he got the one word treatment from me. “Would it help if we sent a network upgrade to your phone?” Seriously, I would have fallen for that 5 years ago, but it is 100% factually impossible. He would put me on hold for 10 minutes here 10 minutes there each time getting on the line lying to me about service upgrades and how there wasn’t a supervisor, but they would call me back. I would say “no they won’t I am sick of the lying I will wait,” and you know what is really sick? They don’t take being called a liar personally or get indignant about it. They actually know and accept that they are lying. That is pathetic at its core.

The last one (it works like this first one almost no English hoping you will hang up, second one better English hoping you will think that it was all a translation issue but you will still hang up, third one even better English, better lying, con artist who understands the brush off then finally ..) was actually an American. This is the finish line folks. She will lie to you, she will try to blame you, she will act like it can all be fixed. She took her yelling and screaming like a boss, let me tell you. She finally agreed to cancel the service once I convinced her that I would actually go to the nearest Sprint store and create chaos. I had actually reached the point where I would go to jail after making a mess of a Sprint store, and they had driven me to this!

Like a used car dealer this is no way to treat people. Some people hate how I treat used car dealers, like they are subhuman. I’m sure there are places where they are perfectly fine people but they aren’t around here. The cell phone companies have a better model for treating you this way because they just make you deal with a gauntlet of phone operators. On the other hand used car salesmen always treat me good because I am up front that I will come back. I have even dragged one out of his office and made him drive around with me in a car with a clanging transmission. It took this dealership a month of lying to me about fixing the transmission or telling me it was my imagination. This is why the whole phone game is pure genius. Most people won’t deal with this, and that is EXACTLY why, when I see the guy from the old Verizon commercials saying that Sprint is within 1% of everyone else, I lose my temper a little bit. I assure you that the Sprint service isn’t even worth trying, regardless of the cost. Paying half price for 0 or full price for more to a lot more than 0? Think about it folks, before you end up being a bitter old blogger writing about a stupid cell phone company.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Let the Bitching Begin

In line with the whole topic about how "G+ Has a Funny Way of Going Away" there seems to be a lot of interesting things going on in the Google Universe. I guess it should be called the "Alphabet" Universe now, but if you (like myself) have a lot of homesteads in the Google Universe, you are probably watching the ripples of waves that seem to be tearing apart what is "normal" and "comfortable." I have come here to praise Google not bury it, so bear with me .....

Of course the Cult of Bah-Waaaaah [CBW] haven't really had a chance to react to the new changes, as most of them are still licking the wounds of knowing that Google+ Classic is going away forever. I personally haven't used "classic" in well over six months, so I don't even remember whats was so good about it. Unfortunately like everything, old code has to be dismantled for the new. Apple people probably don't understand why they truly like Apple over Microsoft, but it has a lot to do with faulty proprietary code and cost. Microsoft used to go through agony and painstaking detail to make sure that the 1984 version of Quicken for DOS would still work on a Windows 98 32 bit platform, and to do that they had to write 40 kazillion lines of buggy code, but if they didn't do that, the CBW would descend on them like flies on crap. They would take to every form of available media (at that time radio and newspapers, with an occasional magazine articles) comparing Bill Gates to Adolf Hitler, and swear they would never forgive Microsoft.

Apple on the other hand would kill itself every few years in the name of being cutting edge and inevitably less "buggy." People like myself would stick with Microsoft products because we could deal with bugs, upgrade when we needed to, and of course save a lot of money along the way. Apple people would simply avoid ulcers, buy a whole new system every couple of years, and get on with life. For decades, Microsoft completely dominated the market, Apple was laughed at by most, and I for one never thought that would change. Now I'm like a Cleveland Browns fan sitting in a sub zero stadium watching a consistently sub 500 team, talking about Jim Brown, and the good old days. Apple finally did win the battle by being new, less buggy, and continuing it's lack of backward compatibility. In the new "App driven" society, why not? Nobody cares about Quicken for DOS anymore, and basically do most things on a cell phone or a tablet, and if they do have a PC they treat it the same way they do the phone or the tablet.

Members of the CBW look at any improvement to Google Services like Google + or Blogger, and see irreparable damage, but what they should see is a little new and exciting. I open up my Blogger Dashboard now and it did take me a few days to get used to it, but seriously folks, I feel like I finally entered the 21st century. The old system was pretty much the same since the 1990s, not kidding. The new drop down menus on Google + are beautiful, easy to navigate, and finally organized. I've come to believe the reasons that the new Google + has it's drawbacks is because of backward compatibility and am looking forward to its demise. On the other hand if you are still a member of the CBW you can look at it this way, Google + may not be what you remember but it is still, free, ad-free and often drama-free. Can't say that about Facebook, and you'd be lying if you didn't admit that the Google + changes are far more tolerable than what Facebook puts you through every few months. While you're at it, try running 10 gigs of content on a Wordpress site like I do on Blogger. Some things never change, thank God.

Monday, December 26, 2016

67 Year Old With ADHD Test

People my age have two distinct types of parents when it comes to computers. In my case I happen to have both, the "seriously social media addicted grandparent with all the time and energy to stalk all of the family" and the "completely paranoid about new fangled technology and quite decades ago" type. Now of course there may be no hope for the former but I may just have a solution for the latter. This is actually a Christmas tale of hope, anguish, peril and excitement, and it doesn't involve thigh high stockings or penguins. Who knew that was possible?

I had a flash of brilliance the other day, while I was trying to think of something to get my father for Christmas. Now as a few of you know he had moved into assisted living months ago, and you know what that means, yes, he's living the fat life of catered meals, a maid, and cute young nurses checking in on him all hours of the day. In other words, he really wants for nothing. I figured the only thing he didn't have in his life was a way to stay in touch with the outside world, meaning his family scattered across the country. You would think that it would be easy enough for him to use a telephone, but he forgot how to use one about a year ago and refuses to have one now. Well ok someone who has given up on something as complex as a telephone and gave up on computers about two decades ago, doesn't need a computer, so I got him a computer.

Hold on, I'm not THAT big of an idiot, but I play one in blog. Yes I walked into Wal-Mart with every intention to buy my father a computer and I expected to spend all day Christmas day teaching him how to turn it on. A little father-son bonding time, which in the past had always degenerated into name calling, but I did actually have a plan beyond that. You see what I did was I walked in and bought the cheapest two-in-one they had (a Dell Inspiron 11 3168 11.6" Laptop, Touchscreen, 2-in-1, Windows 10 Home, Intel Celeron N3060 Processor, 2GB Memory, 32GB eMMC Storage) for $279. I had figured that, he could just touch the screen, and do basic things. A tablet was out of the question because he would balk at an online screen, and the tablets that come with a keyboard often don't work (very often) which would cause the "f*** it attitude" that usually ends the experiments.

Well to be honest with you all, I F***ING NAILED IT! I had the thing all set up to go before I even got there. Setting up the computer in front of him would have been the first failure of the 67 year old ADHD victim. I demonstrated how turning it off and on was a simple "opening" and "closing" the thing. I also showed him how he could just click the "e" to open Edge, and it would simply open a page with all the news, videos and sports he would ever need. Then I taught him how to click the "home" button to get back home. Techies may balk at Microsoft Edge, but let me tell you, if you are trying to get a computerphobe to use a browser, Microsoft also nailed it. We have now spent less than an hour and my father is surfing the net and better yet, he was enjoying it!

Here's the kicker folks. He asked me what the "microphone icon" at the bottom of the screen was for. As a power user, I don't even have a microphone on my computer, so I have never used Cortana. I clicked the microphone and said "Cortana, who won the Patriots game," and a sweet voice said, "The Patriots crushed the Jets 41 to 3, and have locked up the AFC East as usual" which made my father just sit up and smile. We asked about the weather, how the Celtics were doing, and a few other things that matter to my father. By the time I left he had actually cleared a prominent spot on his favorite end table and plugged the thing in because he was going to play with it during the game later. Trust me folks, anything that will draw his attention from a football game, BIG WIN! Best Christmas Evah!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Lenovo and Best Buy Experience

I'm sure that I am not the only person out there who at one time thought the "Thinkpad" was the panacea of laptops, and to own one was to have achieved status. That of course was many years ago, when IBM's flagship PC product always maintained cutting edge and usability. Now of course it is a Lenovo product and sometimes it is hard to get your head out of your ass and realize that with Lenovo comes the best China has to offer, and that isn't exactly a good thing. Throw in the degeneration of the computer buying market in general and you basically get what you get. You either buy from the source or you buy from one of the three or four places left to buy a computer and it is all a recipe for disaster that we all can't seem to avoid.

I finally broke down and bought a new computer because the computer I owned (that I bought refurbished at that) was getting to sow to accomplish things efficiently. My life is difficult enough without having to deal with taking twice as long getting anything done on a computer. I researched so that I could get the balance I needed at a price I could afford, and the name Lenovo kept coming up. My mind said "hey they own the IBM brands now so they have to be good" and they also just happened to have the features I wanted at a decent price. They were also on sale at Best Buy, which is basically all you have left when it comes to technology stores around here. Don't get me wrong this decision took me several weeks and finally the nerve to do it.

The Lenovo - 300s-08IHH Desktop - Intel Core i5 - 16GB Memory - 2TB Hard Drive came in after a few days, and I waited until the weekend when I had time to set it up. The speed was great, and I was able to process my huge website a hell of a lot faster. I was able to process my videos a hell of a lot faster, and I was able to free up a lot of time. Then things started going on the unit. First it was the wireless, but I ignored it because I could hook up the lan. It seemed like a stupid feature anyway. Then within a couple of months the unit was just shutting down on me, often. I ran the hardware scan that comes with the computer and it told me without a shadow of a doubt that the memory was failing. It also gave me a code so that I could give that to tech support. I was rather impressed at how easy this appeared to be.

It wasn't easy in the least. Tech support ignored me for days by e-mail. Then they acted flustered by phone. All I wanted was new memory, and I could fix it myself. No, they decided that I had to bring it into Best Buy and they would fix it. They made it sound pretty easy, so I drove out to Best Buy (about 20 minutes away each way) and spoke to a really confused employee who didn't seem to understand the easy fix policy. A manager finally came out after another 20 minutes to explain that the easy policy was they sent it to Kentucky, and Lenovo would get back to me. They assured me that it wouldn't be more than a few months. I was getting grumpy, so the manager offered to swap it out for another computer. Of course they don't have those here, so I would have to pick a different computer and pay a little extra.

Now let's talk for a minute about what happens when you are forced to trade in a new computer for another one, for those who don't have this issue. All the software I had gotten FOR the new Lenovo, probably gone. Most software licenses (not all) end with the computer they were installed on. Of course it bets having a computer that only can stay on for 10 minutes. I'd like to tell you how it went on the new HP I paid an extra $115 to upgrade to, but I can't. This brings us to the Best Buy portion of the experience. They didn't have any of the computers that were comparable for a nominal cost, so I had to plunk down the money and wait for the new one to come in. I waited, and I waited, and I waited.

When I finally called them on Friday I found some tech support that made Lenovo seem like a happy experience. I waited 25 minutes on hold. I know because my phone tells me how long I have been on it. I spoke to someone who took all my information and then put me on hold. 15 minutes later another person came on the phone and she couldn't understand what the issue was, because it said that I had taken the computer with me. She needed to put me on hold to speak to the warehouse manager. Another 10 minutes on hold and thankfully the warehouse manager must have been an honest person because he/she told her that I couldn't have taken it with me because it wasn't in stock that day, and I didn't get the one that came in that week because they sold it.

Well after she apologized to me she told me that they would ship me on. I hope to get it on Tuesday. Why would I give such a long winded and pretty lame review here? Well because after I put an honest review of the Lenovo, and the experience on Best Buy as the website e-mails kept begging me to do, it hasn't been posted and they deleted all of my Best Buy points. It goes to show why I iss Circuit City, but it also reminds me why the brick and mortar establishments are losing ground to the online sites. Newegg, Amazon or a myriad of other online sites wouldn't have put e through this, but the most important thing to remember is you get what you get when you forget where your purchases come from to begin with.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Free apps are fine with me

I'm not sure whether it's a blessing or a curse, but there are more apps out there than you can shake a stick at. I'm not just talking about apps you can put on your smartphone or tablet. I'm referring to all applications in general. If you're anything like me, you probably have a handful of apps you enjoy and work well for you. You may even be like me in the sense that it's easy to get distracted with the latest version, or a competitor's version, of an app you like. Chances are also pretty good that you don't really enjoy spending a lot of money for new or upgraded apps. 

I like to take that a step further by saying I don't like paying for apps at all. (No. I am not referring to piracy.) Working in the IT industry, I completely understand the necessity to pay for line of business applications and the utmost importance of keeping them up to date. Don't tell any of my clients, but I am the opposite in my personal life. Of course, my personal life doesn't have the success of a business and my clients' businesses riding on the state of my own technology. 

The only thing I dislike more than having to pay for apps in the first place is having to buy a subscription to an app rather than buying a single license outright. Ever since Microsoft started the greatest con of all time by coming out with the subscription-based Office 365, many other companies are jumping on the bandwagon. Many of them are also starting to only have cloud-based versions of their software. (That's also great way to enforce their mandatory subscription model, but that's a topic for another day.) 

The latest company to irk me with this is Adobe. I had been a huge fan of Adobe Photoshop for many years. Now that they have switched to a subscription-only model, I am fairly certain I will never buy one of their products least not for my own personal use. I guess I should clarify that I had pretty much come to this conclusion before their subscription model, but it really helped seal the deal for me.

When I decided I should upgrade my Adobe Photoshop a couple years ago, I just couldn't justify the cost. That's when I discovered as a free image editing application. has a very simple and easy to use interface and and it's a few steps ahead of the stock Paint program you get with Windows. My photo editing needs aren't all that crazy, but I haven't found a feature missing that I wish was there...except one. 

Staying in the mindset that I like free stuff, I use free Linux operating systems on my home computer. does not (easily) work with Linux. I am told it has something to do with the fact that it uses the Windows .NET framework. I may be in the IT industry, but I'm not one of the technicians. Long story short, I had to find something else. 

I started out using Gimp as it was a cross platform application that I could use on both my Linux and Windows systems. Truth be told though, I wasn't impressed with it. It opens as multiple floating windows and didn't prove to be super easy to learn how to use it effectively. I'm sure it's a fine option for many, but I wanted something closer to the simplified and clean layout I enjoyed with That's when I stumbled upon Pinta

Pinta is almost a carbon copy of Just like Gimp, it is a cross platform app that can be used on Linux, Windows and Mac. After having used Pinta for over a year now, there is only one feature I have found to be missing from Pinta that I used quite a bit on For some reason, there is not a function to allow you to turn the image by only a few degrees. It only allows for image and text rotation in 90 degree increments. 

I know that probably doesn't sound like a big deal, but I was surprised to learn just how often I want to rotate text or an overlaid image by just a few degrees. Since that's not really worth complaining about, I just found other work-arounds to get me by. The nice thing with open-source software is that the feature will probably be added if I hold my breath long enough. (Or maybe if more people made app improvement suggestions.) 

So, for those of you debating whether or not to start an Adobe subscription so you can manipulate your images, I'd recommend test driving one of the above free image editing apps first. Then again, you might be looking for more advanced editing capabilities and features. If that's the case though, you probably stopped reading this a few paragraphs ago. 

Enjoy the free stuff when you can. There's always something else you can spend your money on. At least that's what I keep finding. Anyone with kids can attest to that. Until next time....

PS- The image at the top was created in about 5 minutes using Pinta. It's not my best work, but it was free and quick. (OK, maybe 8 minutes, but a few minutes were spent trolling Jeremy's profile to steal a photo of him that I could manipulate to put him in the driver's seat.)

Monday, October 24, 2016

IFTTT - Sharing the cheap and lazy way

Are you looking for ways to automate tasks that you find yourself repeating over and over throughout the course of a day, week or month? Whether you're wanting to work smarter - not harder or if you just admit you're lazy and want to skip a few steps, this might be beneficial to you. For the record, I am going to write this from the simple blogger's perspective (aka - My perspective) because this is what introduced me to this app. 

You may have guessed it from the image above, but if not, I am referring to the If This Then That (IFTTT) app. The name pretty much explains it. I you do "ABC" -  then "XYZ" will happen. It's a free service where you connect various accounts, devices, profiles, etc, and then create recipes that will trigger subsequent automatic actions. There are currently 360+ options that you can connect in a virtually unlimited number of ways.

There are of course a few limitations like only being able to connect one "profile" per account. For instance, I have two Blogger accounts, but can only connect one of them for actions. I could always create another IFTTT account for the other Blogger account, but if I'm going to go that far I might as well choose a different platform. The biggest drawback I have found so far is that you can't delay a trigger. (I'll touch on that again in a minute.)

Like I said, I will walk you through a few simple recipes I use today pertaining to my own blogging activities. Since I use Blogger to write my content, it's already shared automatically to my Google+ profile. I also like to share it to my blog's Facebook page right away as well. That's where this recipe comes in handy:

Anything I post on my connected Blogger account will automatically share a link post to my Facebook page. I also have a recipe setup so that anything I post to my Instagram account automatically shares to my Facebook page as well. Blogger and Instagram are my two primary "starting points" for content. 

You may think I'm smart or you may think I'm lazy, but I like to keep things simple. I point a number of recipes to my Facebook page and then have other recipes pointing out from there. It saves me from having to make a ton of recipes and it's easier for me to keep track of. 

Every recipe you create has a variety of options to tweak for each one as well. For instance, I originally setup my Instagram recipe to only trigger a post to Facebook if it also had the #averagejester hashtag. That way I could limit which posts automatically shared to my Facebook page. Once my content hits my Facebook page, this recipe kicks in:

I am very new to Twitter and I knew that I would forget to add content there on a regular basis. Setting up this recipe (actually I have a couple) makes sure that at least my Facebook content will get shared to my Twitter feed. I have one recipe to tweet any links that hit my Facebook page as well as one that tweets any images that hit my Facebook page. Since I have the other recipes above for Blogger and Instagram, those all go through to Twitter by themselves. 

Here's where I wish the whole delayed trigger existed. Or rather, I wish is was simple and straight forward. There are ways to cheat the recipes and kinda make it work, but it's more work than I feel is worth it. 

I would prefer to write a post on Blogger, which shares immediately to Google+, then have the trigger delay a few hours or a day before sharing it to Facebook. Following that thought process, I would also like the recipe for Facebook to Twitter to delay another few hours or a day. Basically, I would rather sprinkle out the shares of a given post over about a day rather than a blast share across all platforms in 15 minutes. (Note: The IFTTT recipes run in 0-15 minutes after the initial trigger is pulled.) I created the following recipe as a half-manual trigger for myself:

This recipe will create a reminder in my iOS Reminder app every time I post new content to Blogger. The fact that I'm actually using an iOS app is more impressive than the recipe I created. I use this as a reminder I will see on my phone later that day. (It's an instant trigger, but it will stay a reminder until I clear it.) It's a reminder for me to manually re-share my original Google+ public post to my Google+ Collection that it relates to. It's not that great, but something I'm playing around with because I keep forgetting to share a copy to my Collections. It's a real first world problem. 

I must say that I am more than a little disappointed that Google+ is nowhere to be found on IFTTT. They have Gmail and Google Calendar options, but no Google+?? I am actually looking at a few other options like or Buffer for the blogging side of things. Those have better bells and whistles for scheduling tasks rather than the instant-trigger recipes of IFTTT.

I will hang on to IFTTT though for other things. You never know when I'm going to start throwing dinner parties. If I did, I could set a Google Calendar event to trigger my WiFi thermostat to adjust the temperature in my house prior to the party. can do that for you.

I encourage you to take a look at IFTTT - even if it's just out of curiosity. There is a ridiculous amount of options to play around with in the recipes. Let me know in the comments if you have a favorite IFTTT recipe. I have fun trying out different variations. Until next time....