Making the Web Work for You

IFTTT (If This Then That) is a great tool for automating tasks on the web and making your life that little bit easier

Let’s start with an example.  I regularly download PDFs (Articles, Reports etc) for reading offline, usually on a mobile device during my commute. I’ve done this in a number of ways but recently I’ve mainly been using my Kindle. The process for this is:

  1. I download / save PDF
  2. I send an email with the PDF attached to Kindle (see Sending Docs to Kindle)

Only two steps but it always feels just that little bit too much work! Now using IFTTT I have automated step 2:

  1. I save the PDF to a Dropbox Folder
  2. IFTTT automatically sends an email with the attachment to my Kindle

OK, it’s only a small time saver but every little helps 🙂

Screenshot of IFTTT Recipe

I really like the simple user-friendly interface IFTTT uses for creating these ‘recipes’. It works with loads of popular services & tools including email, RSS Feeds, Twitter, Facebook, Diigo, WordPress, Evernote & Dropbox. See About IFTTT for a more detailed explanation of how it works and Popular Recipes for more ideas on how you might use it.

Bundling Feeds

Bundles in Google Reader provide a simple way to combine multiple feeds into a single feed.

Earlier this week, thanks to Joe Dale I discovered Google Reader Bundles.  In the past I have used Yahoo Pipes to combine feeds.  For example this M25 Bloggers pipe combines several individual blog feeds into one stream. I think Yahoo Pipes is great but it’s a bit daunting for the uninitiated.

Creating Bundles is much easier, especially if you are already using Google Reader. I’ve created a Bundle of a selection of Ed Tech blogs.  If like me you’re new to Bundles there’s an explanation from Shelly Terrell below.

I’ll be using this to create a bundle of the ‘official’ ALT-C 2010 bloggers which will feed into the ALT-C conference website.

Feeding The Web

I drew this picture to  show how the LSE Law Careers blog takes advantage of feeds to automatically publish to multiple locations and how feeds from elsewhere are added to it.  One of the great advantages of  using a blog for ‘news’ is that it can easily be syndicated elsewhere with very little effort.

I originally produced it  for a presentation I gave with Judith Baines (the LSE Law Careers blogger) at the Graduate Careers Ireland biennial conference in Dublin last month. We used it again earlier this week at the AGCAS CIEL 2010 conference. Our talk was a lessons learnt by the LSE Careers Service’s use of Web2.0 stuff over the last 3 years or so.

In the talk I also highlighted Hootsuite as a useful tool for both ‘feeding the web’ automatically and for writing updates for multiple social networking sites at once.  As this screenshot shows you can send one update to multiple places including Twitter, Facebook (including Pages), LinkedIn, WordPress & Foursquare.

Another feature of  Hootsuite is the ability for multiple people to manage the same account, for example the @A_L_T tweets are written by several people logging in to their own Hootsuite accounts. We do this because Hootsuite also offers statistics so it’s useful to have all tweets originating from one source.

Testing Syndicated Posts

I’m experimenting with syndication and if it is working then this post, originally written on Reluctant Technologist, will also be published on CLT@LSE.  The syndication feature is an add-on called FeedWordPress.  It’s available in the version of WordPress that we are running at the LSE but doesn’t appear to be included on blogs.

It works using an RSS Feed.  I simply add my blog feed to the CLT@LSE blog and my posts are published there too.  Rather than publishing all the posts I write here I’ve set-up a category called Syndicated and added the feed for that category to the CLT Blog.  That’s how it works, in theory…

Finger-crossed it does as I’ve been neglecting this blog recently but writing over on CLT so hopefully this will help get me back here too!

Update: It worked, now I’m updating to see if that works too!

100+ (E-)Learning Professionals

Matt Lingard on Twitter
Matt Lingard on Twitter

It’s hard to fathom but I don’t appear on the 100+ (E-)Learning Professionals to follow on Twitter created by Jane Hart.  And actually 100+ = 180.  Perhaps I’m a) not professional enough b) talk too much about lunch…  I can take comfort in the fact that I do at least follow a decent handful of the top 100 and have heard of a fair few more so perhaps the answer is b) not a).

I discovered this poor quality list via @psychemedia (Tony Hirst) who has produced a Yahoo Pipe which produces a feed of all the tweets of the chosen few (OK more than a few), more details on Tony’s Blog.

Also, thanks to @msars for pointing out Tweet3d which produces a 3D word cloud summary of a twitterer’s tweets; try mattlingard and see why I’m outside the top 180!

And another thanks to @gconole ( a top 100-er!) for highlighting Twitter Grader which gives me a lowly 35 and ranks me 22,989 out of 37,398… it’s quality not quantity.. surely!