So, did you follow along with my blog about IFTTT? Have you installed the app and set up any channels? If you have, turn on the Feed and the Email channels and you can use these recipes below to get emailed when I update the website or make a blog entry tagged as technology or iOS. Just something to get you started 🙂 – J
I’m all about saving time. I love when I stumble across a utility that saves me time and effort. Right now I run a few social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Etc. I always found it annoying then I had to manage my profile picture on all the sites, and didn’t have one tool to do all of them. So I began my search to find a solution. That is when I found the website IFTTT (if this, then that). The useful little app lets you connect channels (Facebook, Twitter, iOS contacts, etc, etc) and then write simple recipes to interact with those channels in a “If this happens, do that” method. So in my example, I setup the Facebook and Twitter channels and set up a recipe to say if my Facebook profile photo changes, set my Twitter profile photo to match. That’s it. Done. Now whenever I setup a new Facebook photo my Twitter photo changes along with it. In fact, here is the recipe to do so:
Since I started using the app they have changed the branding a bit and now have a few apps available:
If – Recipes are triggered my channels. (IE, if something happens on my Facebook, my Twitter, an RSS feed gets updated, etc)
Do Button – Essentially, you trigger an action by pressing the button on your photo. Uses the same channels, but you are triggering the actions (turn on a light, send a standard email, etc)
Do Camera – The app takes a picture/video and then triggers an action with that item (send a receipt to onenote, share a picture on your twitter, etc
Do Note – The app lets you input a piece of text and then triggers an action with that text (set my Facebook status to this, make a reminder with some text, etc)
I am currently using this utility to automate lots of little things. If I post something new on my website, I have rules that will cross post to Facebook and Twitter. If a new piece of RSS news gets posted on MLBTradeRumors.com with Toronto Blue Jays news, I get an email with the details. (You could write a rule to email you whenever I made a new blog post) There are loads of little utilities you can write quickly and easily with this little utility. If there is a task you do over and over (email spouse you are on the way, backup your new contacts to your google drive, etc) install these apps and give it a try. You will be able to quickly and easily write little recipes to do simple tasks.
The only downside I’ve found…. the tool isn’t quite robust enough. It is limited to simple rules that can’t trigger multiple events. (you cant write a recipe that says do this AND that, that would require two recipes). Also the recipe has made a trade off in that it wants to be very user friendly, but it keeps you from writing detailed HTML and other code in some of the recipes. That has prevented me from being able to do a few powerful recipes. Fortunately, I have other tools I use for that. I will share that another day. But the website and apps are worth a try. iOS and Android both have options, but anyone with a web browser can use at least some of the functions. I have included the ios links within the article. Enjoy. Happy Automating – J
One of the questions I often get is about password management. How do I remember all my passwords, what is the best password manager to use, etc. I have tried a bunch, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it depends. Do you need it to manage accounts on your Windows computer? Do you want it to password protect notes and photos? I tried 1Password, one of the more popular ones, but it just missed out on a few features I really liked. I found the interface somewhat clunky and features like photo protection was sub par. I also tried LastPass and Dashlane, and based on ease of use, functionality and pricepoint, Onesafe won out. The main reasons I chose it over 1Password, the user interface is nicer and I can easily password protect photographs.
To me, that means along side important usernames/passwords, I can also save other important photographic information. In my case, I have photos of all my identification, passport details, credit card info, etc. I have it all stored in the password protected application so that if I lose my wallet and have my phone, I have identification with me. The app also has cloud sync, so my data is available on all my iOS devices. There is also the ability to securely share information, so you can pass off details to friends/family. In a previous blog I posted about Stocard, the app I use for reward cards. This is the app I consider a great companion, for all the wallet things that need more protection than a standard reward card.
You just put a password on the application (or use your touch ID) and then you start adding information to the app. You can enter website login information in the app and then launch the website with those credentials directly from there. It is a great way to keep all your password information in one place. The help is very useful and will get you what you need to get started. You can store everything from website credentials, wifi passwords, to credit card and passport details.
The Onesafe company makes versions for iOS, Mac, Android and Windows phone. I’m hoping some day they add Windows 10 so I can also manage/use the password information there too. If it wasn’t for the lack of the Windows 10 application, I would recommend this over anything else. It is just such a big feature to be missing for the Windows users. It will still store your accounts, but you can’t use the tool to fire off the websites with the credentials you have saved, you must look them up and type them in. If that isn’t a huge problem for you, I still highly recommend this, and it is one of my must haves in my iOS toolkit. The app available from the iTunes store for about $7 and is well worth a look.
Several months ago, I decided I wanted to pair down my wallet. Did I really need to be carrying the big huge leather wad when I really was paying for most items with my one debit or credit card? I already carry my phone everywhere, perhaps I could pare down what I was carrying. I made it my goal to limit my wallet size to attempt to become a bit more of a minimalist. I can tell you I haven’t found that utopia yet, there are a couple pitfalls, but I’m happy with the progress.
First up was to dump the old leather wallet. I replaced my wallet with an iPhone wallet that I’m very happy with. I bought a Sport Wallet (v4, it has recently been revised to a v5) from Doc Artisan. It is a magnetic case/wallet that allows easily removing your phone from your wallet. It fits ID and a few cards, and a few bills (awkwardly folded, but does the trick). I also bought a magnetic mount for the car so I can quickly take the phone from wallet to car mount with ease.
Then I found an app called Stocard to start leaving my reward cards at home. This nifty little app works great. It allows you to enter your reward cards (enter the reward card number, also allows you to take a picture of the front and back) and then store it in the application for easy access. It also has a nifty little widget for the notification screen so you can quickly access your cards by swiping down and then touching the icon for your appropriate reward card. The app is fast and does what I need. Now when a store asks for my air miles card, or I need my scene it card at the movies, I pull out my phone, swipe down, and touch the icon to bring up a bar code for the cashier to scan (or enter if they have trouble scanning). Easy. The app is free, but it does come with a bit of an annoyance (or a *feature* if you prefer) that it will show you a marketing area for cards you have entered (fliers for Canadian Tire if you have a Canadian Tire rewards number entered, etc). It is a minor annoyance that is easily overlooked when you can keep all your rewards cards at your fingertips it one app.
Or should I say, ALMOST ALL, here is the caveat…. some stores are stupid. They either aren’t with the times, or they want to push you in to their own app to scan a card. Shopper’s Drug Mart recently informed me they can only scan cards in their official app, so I had to install a Shopper’s app too. It’s a stupid policy. Other places really want you to carry a physical card and won’t let you scan regardless. So before you chuck all the rewards cards at home, give the store a try first. I find I still have to carry my Costco card and library card (I shouldn’t have to for the library card but it is easier than explaining it to library staff all the time) but I have my Canadian Tire card, Air Miles, Cineplex Odeon SceneIt card in there, among others. I will also keep trying the Shopper’s Drug Mart cart but have their stupid app installed just in case. (Boo Shopper’s, Boooo).
So if you want to pare down your rewards cards, give this little app an install…. on iOS….. sorry Android/Microsoft, I don’t think they have it for you. And sorry Blackberry users… because, well, you have a Blackberry. 😛
All for now – J
I’m horrible at organizing paperwork. If I get a receipt for something, odds are it hits the trash vs the filing cabinet. That can be a problem when you are talking about large purchases needing warranty, or when you are keeping records for vehicle maintenance. So initially I just started snapping pictures using my camera phone. The problem I quickly found was that my camera roll was now getting polluted with receipts and it was taking up a lot of extra space.
That is when I came across Scanner Pro from Readdle. This little app turns your camera phone into a handheld document scanner. You can scan a document in colour, grey scale, or black and white. Once scanned you can save as an image or a PDF document (I recommend). It has a nice interface for picking out what areas to scan, and then an assortment of options of things to do with the scanned document once complete. Recently they even added OCR functions. It is a little quirky jumping in and our of scans, but take a look at the workflows, it makes it easy to set up common workflows for your scans (email this scan, file it in google drive, etc)
I now not only use this app to file receipts (I have it hooked to save them to my google drive automatically), but I also use it to quickly scan receipts that I need to submit to my insurance company for claims. Need to send a paper recipe to a friend? Quickly scan it and email it off.
This guy won’t give you the quality of a fancy flatbed scanner at home, so I wouldn’t recommend it for scanning pictures, but if you are like me and do most of your scanning of documents, it is a must have in the toolkit. I have it installed on my iPhone and iPad and you can get it from the itunes store for about $6. Sorry non-iOS folks, I think this guy is only available on the iOS platform. Luckily that is my platform of choice for mobile these days.
I’ve had a few people ask me about my “Family Guy” style profile photo and where I got it done. At the time I was looking for something fun/creative to use for a profile photo when I stumbled across the website Fiverr.com. The website is essentially a portal of people willing for do work for $5 (US, with a small service fee tacked on). Services range from people willing the vector-ize and clean up your artwork, do small pieces of translation, record voice overs, and in my case, do caricatures.
I found a seller that did Family Guy style portraits (seller Virtues, whom I highly recommend), bought a few gigs (the credits you use to pay for services), uploaded a picture, and waited. I liked the result so much that I re-ordered in the style of the Jays (my new coed slopitch team as well as my favorite baseball team) and the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Sellers will also offer up-sells, where they will add extra features or customizations to an order for an extra few bucks. This year for our anniversary I wanted to do something a bit special so I had a Disney style portrait of our wedding photo done for an anniversary card. It was a few up-sell credits from $5 but I was very pleased with the results. It made a fun, unique anniversary gift.
So if you are looking for a small little service done for a few dollars, I suggest taking a look at Fiverr.com and I’m sure you will find something neat to try.