IfTTT: How To Automate Your Life and Connect With Amazing People

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I have been blogging sense March of 2016 and easily my favorite thing about it is all of the wonderful people I have met along the way. Early on I connected with Jon Westenberg and Grainne Logue. These two people have been so helpful and encouraging that I can only hope to be half as approachable and kind when someone asks for my time, patience, and advice.

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Enter George Dreemer. George posted his first blog recently on Medium and upon reading it I felt kind of down on myself. Here this guy is one article in and it is so much more interesting than anything I’ve been able to produce. After reading and recommending his piece I start following him both on Medium and on Twitter. On twitter I find a couple of links to his personal site and his business. Inspired by his hustle and jealous of his ambition I’m about to message him when he follows me back.

Fully prepared to risk scaring him off by bombarding him with questions I come to find that he has inquiries of his own. He asks me about Medium, how to navigate it, and how to get views on his articles. The truth is I don’t really know the answers to that myself. What I do know is how to use apps and systems to work for me. I start to tell George about If This Then That or IfTTT for short, and some useful ways to make it work for you as a blogger. Rather than blowing his inbox all to Hell I figured I’d make a post about it here. So to George and anyone else making connections through trial and error: Here are some ways you can automate your blogging routines.

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For the uninitiated IfTTT is an automation app available on iOS and Android that allows you to set up recipes that take the monotony out of frivolous tasks and digital upkeep.

Before we get into what I think everyone should be doing with IfTTT let me emphasize a type of recipe I do not recommend.

Any recipe that says ’IF’ a blog is published on X site ‘THEN’ automatically share it to site Y. The reason I discourage this is that the recipe doesn’t allow you to customize the social post in any way. Doing this will make your twitter look like a spam bot for sharing your work and there you’ll be looking like you have the personality of a potato.

Recipes I recommend everyone give a shot are as follows:

1.’IF’ I add a YouTube video to my watch later queue ’THEN’ save that video to Pocket.

This type of recipe is good for gathering research. Pocket is good for gathering research materials on its own but this recipe eliminates a step by keeping your videos and your articles all in one place.

Bonus: ‘IF’ I tag something in pocket #readlatter ‘THEN’ add it to Todoist. I check this task off before bed.

2.’IF’ I tag something in pocket #<notebook> ‘THEN’ save it to a particular notebook in Evernote.

This essentially takes anything in pocket that I’ve saved for general research and graduates it to useful research and organizes it by project.

3.’IF’ I post something on a blogging platform (currently I have the recipe set to work with WordPress but I post to both sites. If you want to know my feelings on WordPress Vs. Medium you can read that here) ’THEN’ save that post in Google Drive.  Dropbox is also an option.

The purpose of this recipe is simply to save all of my posts for when I build portfolios of my work in the future. Also incase all of my writing vanishes into the void of 0’s and 1’s that is the internet.

4.’IF’ I recommend an article on Medium ‘THEN’ tweet that article.

This is my newest recipe, the one I shared with George initially , and the one I find the most valuable. By simply sharing every story I recommend on Medium this recipe does two things for me. It helps me connect with people that I think are truly great writers I believe I can learn from. It also keeps me in check and reminds me to only recommend stories that I think are worth reading instead of recommending just to recommend.

So if you like this or any other article on Medium and want to connect with the authors-download IfTTT, set up these recipes and click that little green heart. (little green heart not applicable to WordPress)

 

You can also read my blog on Medium
Keep in touch with me via:
Twitter I_R_Beast

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Technology and The End of Starving Artists

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I am what some consider a techno-optimist. I think of technology as an ultimately good force in the universe. While others shriek in fear at the thought of drones buzzing overhead and lecture others for ignoring the world around them in favor of the computers in their laps, in their pockets, and on their faces I’m browsing online tech forums and grinning ear-to-ear every time something new gets unveiled during a developers conference. Not only can I see technologies potential to cure disease and rid us of our fossil fuel dependency I also see technology as bread for starving artists. With the help of gizmos and gadgets these cartoonists, film makers, and musicians have mastered their craft and shared it the world over.

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Scott Adams’ name has recently been popping up with some frequency lately due to his blog posts about Republican Frontrunner Donald (Don’t vote for him) Trump and the controversial candidate’s persuasive hypnotism which you can read about here. If you have zero interest in politics you are likely still aware of Adams as the man behind the popular work-place-comic-strip, Dilbert. Adams began his career as an illustrator the same way that many syndicated cartoonists do. On paper. Adams used to start his first drafts with pencil, then go over it with pen, then shade it with “a sort of decal you could buy at high end art stores.” Afterwords he would mail off his work to his syndication and wait for it to be published. Yuck! In recent years Adams has ditched that tedious and time consuming process and gone paperless with the help of some new technology. Adams now relies on his trusty Wacom Cintiq 21ux, and photoshop. Adams compares the Wacom tablet to paper in the same way one would compare a car to a horse. In this video you can see Adams dragging pre-drawn images into place, flipping them to face the other direction, and scaling them up-processes I imagine take hours. For Adams the Wacom helps the creative process by not getting in the way of it.

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Casey Neistat is one of YouTube’s most recognizable vloggers. Any time somebody mentions vlogging to me I immediately imagine Casey’s white accented sunglasses staring back at me from my computer screen. Casey makes viral videos of all shapes and sizes. From his video Bike Lanes that gained him a lot of initial attention on the internet to doing advertisements for Nike and crazily Snowboarding in New York City streets. Casey is a pro. Even though he would be the first to tell you that you do not need expensive professional gear to make great videos he has some go-to-gadgets that have helped him garner over Two-million subscribers. First and foremost is Casey’s unique DSLR setup consisting of; a Canon EOS 70D, a Canon EF-S 10-22mm lens, a Rode VideoMic Pro, and a Joby Gorilla Pod. Aside from that anti-selfiestick whatchamacallit Casey is not opposed to using simple point-and-shoots, his iPhone, or emerging 360 degree camera rigs. Finally, Casey does all of that while zooming by on his electronic skateboard, the Boosted Board.

Glitch Mob is a three piece electronic music group who’s members include; edIT, Boreta, and Ooah. These guys are my go-to any time I need some music to get me in a productive mood. With albums like Drink The Sea and Love Death Immortality (you can view their full discography here) I have plenty of music to power me through whatever is on my task list. Even though the entire electronic music genre relies on technology The Mob’s gear is something special. They call it the blade. When I reached out to Boreta and asked him to describe it on one sentence he said this-

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Even though you can get a deeper look at the blade here and here I’ll do my best to describe it. The blade is a beautiful cluster-fuck of tech, wires, and instruments who’s engine is affectionately referred to as Lil Kim. The blade’s tech consists of two Mac Pro audio computers running Ableton Live , two Mac Minis for control data onstage, a few universal audio interfaces, and several iPads running Liine Lemur. Needless to say, this thing is an absolute beast-and it helps The Mob to put on some insane shows.

So the next time the media sends you into a panic over the potential threat of rising technology consider the good that can come of it instead. Who knows, maybe technology is being developed right now that could improve your career or highlight the talent of your children. Focus less on the technology that scares you and consider how much technology has already improved the lives of millions and will continue to improve all of our lives for a long time to come.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
-Arthure C. Clarke

You can also read my blog posts on Medium.
Keep in touch with me via:

Twitter I_R_Beast

A World Without an App Store

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Imagine a world without the app store. Now breath and collect yourself. You probably imagined a barren waste land-desolate and terrifying. You might think you can’t live without your favorite apps but the truth is you wouldn’t be totally in the dark. There are some great apps that come stock on every iPhone. Many of which get tucked away in a junk folder when you replace them with something third party that’s only better in some niche way.

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These apps are underrated and deserve far more credit than they get.

The calendar app that comes stock on iOS is something the ultra-productive schedule oriented businessmen and soccer moms of the late nineties would have gone bonkers over. Maybe you can’t input new events as smoothly as you can on something like Sunrise Calendar but it can keep up with everything from important events, meetings, and even manage your billing cycles. The app is fairly intuitive with various simple ways of viewing every important event at a glance.

If I didn’t have Evernote I admit I would feel pretty lost. However I know I could get by with the stock Notes App. I’ve done it before and since last I used it the folks in Cupertino added some great features to it. Not only can you take simple text notes but now you can save photos to it and even draw within the app if you are so inclined. The app even supports checklists so it can handle everything from grocery lists to writing prompts and daily journaling. Some people even prefer their stock app because its simple and not as bloated as something like Evernote.

I am a to-do list kind of guy. If it needs to be done I have to put it in some type of checklist. Reminders isn’t Todoist it has no natural language input and no you can’t create subtasks, but it does get the job done. Reminders allow you to create multiple lists. So if you want to keep up with homework, or which movies you haven’t seen yet you can do that. Reminders is simple and functional. Oh and something else noteworthy-it actually works with Siri. You can’t really say for third party apps.

Without an app store you don’t have candy crush or YouTube to pass the time but you do have Podcasts. Podcasts not only can replace mobile games on your long commute but listen to the right podcasts and you might become a more interesting intelligent and entertaining person. If you don’t already listen to podcasts I recommend the Tim Ferriss Show for those of you into life hackery and interviews of world class people. I also recommend Welcome to NightVale if you like a good horror-comedy-Scifi narrative. If you already listen to podcasts but you use a different app like PocketCasts or Overcast you will miss some basic features but nothing too damning.

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Perhaps the most underrated app on your iPhone is Safari. In an alternate reality where you are stuck with only the apps that come pre-installed Safari does a lot of the heavy lifting. Safari can replace almost all of your social media apps like Facebook and Twitter. As far as YouTube goes the mobile site and the app are pretty similar. The reason I use Safari over Google Chrome on my phone and laptop most of the time is because of its article view feature. By simply clicking the little four horizontal lines in your address bar you can declutter blog posts and news stories and read them as plain text. That feature alone gets more use day to day than some of my less important social media apps.

I recommend playing around with the stock apps before you download your go to suite of apps that you think you can’t live without. You might be surprised to find that you can do a lot with them and if you bought the sixteen-gigabyte iPhone you might not even go back just in order to free up space for more selfies.

 

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