My New Favorite Thing
Quite possibly my newest favorite thing. I’ve been using it long enough to actual talk about it here, in the hope that you will also adopt it as your newest favorite thing. And it’s called ifttt.com. That stands for If This Then That. Very simple, very logical. It allows you to do something with one of your internet services and then make it do something with another. As an example:
If a new photo gets posted to Instagram then post it to Flickr using the data from the Instagram post and these tags that I specify.
While the possibilities aren’t endless, they are pretty close. And I’m finding uses for this everyday. There is a good chance that you are reading this because you saw a link on my Facebook page. My nerd machine did that. If you ever see my profile photo change on FB, you will also see it to change on Twitter. My nerd machine did that, too. It works with Instagram, Gmail, Google Reader, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, RSS, LastFM, Evernote and more! If you can think it, it can probably do it.
Best part to all of this is that it’s free! And, since it awesome and free, I’m going to make it known right now that the second they offer a pro version that I can pay for to make sure that it sticks around for as long as possible I’m in.
The first time you log into ifttt.com you might be overwhelmed. Not a problem because it’s also social! Other nerds have shared their “recipes” within the site to give you an idea of what it can do and give you some to get you started.
Worth checking out and worth giving your time too, ifttt.com is made from pure awesome and unicorn tears. You should try it out because I’m sure it will become your new favorite thing as well.
The Sunday Post #106: The Christmas Edition
This Christmas brings thoughts of good cheer and tiddings to all readers of donburnside.com, and maybe a little geekery about iPhone photography.
We all know that the iPhone is pretty amazing at taking photos. We also know that there are apps that improve the experience quite a bit, from cool effects and filters to ways that make sharing photos easy. Here are some of the things I’ve found so far, along with a couple new pieces of kit that I got for Christmas.
- Camera +. My favorite so far. It’s like photoshop for the iPhone with some great features that really make photos look awesome.
- Instagram. Or, what I’m learning, the new Flickr. I’m not a huge fan of the filters, but I am a huge fan of using Instagram to share my photos. 1 click sharing to all social media sites, plus a spiffy UI that makes it fun to discover new people to follow and see some great examples of iPhoneography!
- Diptic. It’s how the photo above was created. Very cool. Opt for the $.99 in app purchase for additional configuration options. Totally worth it.
- Flickr. It’s installed, but I rarely use it. More why shortly
I scored this Christmas! Check out these two great things Stella got me!
- The Gilf. I saw this when it first appeared on Kickstarter and I was sad I didn’t have an iPhone to use it with. The minute I got my iPhone, the first thing I wanted was this. Allows you to easily mount your iPhone to a tripod.
- Joby Gorillamobile. Said tripod. This one comes with a case to use but if you have any kind of screen or back protection like Ghost Armor or a MotoringBadges iPhone wrap, it’s not a great fit. The tripod does work fantastic with the Glif!
Online services While Instagram works great for sharing photos to all of your social media sites, the way it works with Facebook isn’t that hot. Same goes with Flickr to Facebook integration. I think many FB users have those services blocked, so a lot of the time the photos go without being seen.
Enter IfThisThenThat, a service that’s been around a while but I haven’t used. You use it to build your own programs that actually do stuff. I will probably do an entire post on it later. You can even create recipes that are shareable, which is what I have done.
This will take any photo that has been uploaded to Facebook and automatically move it to Flickr including a link back to the original photo in Facebook. And, it works!
I’m still on the hunt for photo apps, but slowly. I know that some of you have more than a few you would like to share, sound off in the comments below. I’m sure Hipstagram is a favorite out there, but I’m not really a fan yet. I would love to hear others!
The Sunday Post #97: Passwords
My Gmail account was recently compromised. Yes, mine. Someone was able to figure out my password and log in using, as far as I can, a mobile device in France. It was an old version of my password and it had been the same since I started my gmail account forever ago. I guess I was due.
Create a better password
Anymore, your life is filled with passwords. Passwords for email, for Facebook, for Twitter, for your bank and even for your car. Hell, even Windows 7 now practically forces you to have a password (about time) and Mac OSX has since forever.
If you work for a medium to large sized company that is doing it right, you are already familiar with the pain-in-the-ass that is known as password management. Every 30 – 90 days you are prompted to create a password that might have to meet some of the following criteria.
- Be at least 7 characters long
- Contain alpha and numeric characters
- Contain a symbol or a capitol letter
- Not be the same as any of your previous passwords
There are even some websites that have gotten to the point where you need to do that. It’s crazy making!
I’m not really the right one to ask when it comes to password management. I don’t use an app. I don’t have a system. I do have 2 or 3 or 4 different passwords that I cycle through, depending on what it is for and how secure I need it to be.
- 4 digit PIN for voicemail and the like
- 6 digit password that I have used forever. Low security, all numeric
- A modification of the above password that contains 1 alpha and 2 extra numbers.
- An 11 character monster that contains alpha, numeric and symbol(s) that can be modified to fit the most demanding of password constraints
- 2 others that I barely use, but they are always on deck, just in case.
I do it this way because it’s easy. Easy to remember, easy to use, easy to implement. Is it the right way? I’ve read not, but it’s a way that works for me. I know that you among us that are part of the tin-foil hat wearing crowd are probably developing a bit of twitch right now since you only use randomly generated passwords that are never less than 14 characters long (and usually closer to 64) and carry them around in a text file on a USB thumb-drive every where you go. Personally, I think that’s overkill.
Nobody knows my 4th password. 1 person besides me knows #3 and #2. 2 people know my 4 digit pin. Google all you want and you will never figure out any of them based on anything you find about me. They aren’t written down anywhere either. So, I think I’m in pretty good shape.
The only thing that I could do better is change the passwords on a regular basis, which I’m about to change. I have set a reminder to change all passwords where they are the most important (bank, Gmail, FB and Twitter) every 30 days. The last thing I want is anyone hacking into any of my accounts so they can send spam to my address book or to any of my followers.
If you haven’t changed your passwords in more than 6 months, now would be a good time to do just that. Make them easy to remember, don’t write them down, don’t tell anyone. If you need help, a quick google search will sort you out.
You’re doing it wrong
The post has a prerequisite. Please take a moment to read this. Here is the take away quote.
Manipulating social networks is easier still. There are firms that manipulate which stories are posted and which blogs are linked to, and for years there are firms that have worked to manipulate which links come up higher on the search results as well. As these signposts become more, not less, important, there’s a significant market opportunity for someone who can, as Billboard did, clean up the charts and make the payola worthless or at least more transparent. In the meantime, be skeptical.
By design, I’m a cynic. It has taken me many years of practice and getting burned or watching my customers get burned by fly-by-night outfits or independent contractors that just don’t get it. And nothing gets me more riled up than people that take advantage of others because they do not know what to look for.
Sure, you could employ the services of a black hat SEO wizard to boost your google ranking, but does that really help you out? Sure, short term if you have a website covered in Google ads and your only goal is to get as many clicks as possible. But should you?
I don’t think so.
It’s not always about the quantity of traffic, but also about the quality. Covering your pages with ads creates a bad user experience and draws away from your content. Your audience see that you are nothing more than a money grubbing whore and might not come back. Or they will use some kind of ad-blocking technology or Readability which makes all of those ads useless.
Why not create something that your audience enjoys or finds relevant? Interact with your audience via Twitter, Facebook or email and get them to come back? Everyone calls this Social Media best practices, but I call it basic customer service. It’s not rocket science, it’s just plain common sense that gets lost in a flurry of buzz-words spouted by very nice fellows with very white teeth, square-tipped shoes and a leased BMW in the parking lot.
If you rush, you’ll get the traffic you want. But you might not get it back. Take your time, take care of your customers and keep them coming back. Google might bring them to you, but it is your job to keep them!
The Like Button
This is something that I’ve been thinking about for the past few months and I finally have enough of a thought about to put words to screen. Today, I would like to discuss with you, the fine donburnside.com readership, the like button.
The Like Button is what I’m going to call the process in which, at certain sites, you mark something in such a way to signify the fact that you appreciate it. The favorite star on Flickr, the pink heart on Tumblr, or the star on Twitter. Clicking that device tells the author that you liked it while at the same time acts as a bookmark for you, within that site, for the stuff that you really like. And that’s exactly how I use it. I like things because I think they are cool and I want to be able to go back to them at a later time for whatever reason.
Did you notice that I did not include the Facebook like function in the above paragraph? It’s because I think that feature is broken.
On Facebook, clicking like only lets the author of the post know that you like it and automatically subscribes you to updates on that post (if you have those settings enabled). That’s too bad.
There are posts all the time on Facebook that I wish I could revisit for many reasons. Funny posts, cool links or videos. But when I click the like button, the only thing that happens is I get bothered with updates and comments that I’m usually not interested in.
I don’t have a solution for this but really wish I did. I would be nice to have an archive of likes on Facebook, just like the other sites.
Does this feature exist? Do you have a good system? Let us know below! Comments are back open, go nuts!