Tag Archives: hacks

Tweet from Google Calendar (because it’s awesome)

Ifttt  Tweet from Google Calendar

I have been playing around with http://ifttt.com for a while now, but I hadn’t used all that many of their channels (their inputs and outputs for creating amazing workflows). Today, I found one that I REALLY like.

Imagine this:

You are managing a Twitter account with a bunch of different people, whether they are all a part of an event team or the same organization. You have run into three distinct problems in managing this twitter account:

  1. People tweet overtop of one another, meaning that there are periods of time in which there are a lot of tweets bunched up on one another.
  2. People tweet when it is convenient for them rather than when the tweets will actually be seen and consumed by real people.
  3. There are long stretches when there are no tweets. No one is really sure who should be handling the twitter account right now, but no one has tweeted for a few days and it becomes clear that no one is taking ownership for the account.

While there are a bunch of highly useful but overly complex tools to manage these three problems, I think that IFTTT does a much better job of making this task easy and putting it into a workflow that is already in existance.

Do this:

  1. Create a new Google Calendar called something like “Our Twitter Calendar”
  2. Share that calendar with everyone who is managing the twitter account.
  3. Have one person use this IFTTT recipe to connect their Google Calendar to the twitter account.

Note: you should change the hashtag that you would like to use to trigger the tweets to something that you would like to use rather than the #LiC that I have in there now.

Once you have set this up, anyone who adds an event to the calendar with the hashtag you have chosen will automatically trigger a Tweet within 15 minutes of the calendar event. That means that you can set up a schedule of tweets months into the future. You can put events on the calendar and have them tweeted out. You can make sure there are no long gaps between tweets. You can make sure that no one is “tweeting on top of one another”. You can also make sure that everyone can tweet without leaving what they are already doing and logging in to twiter or pulling up their applications. You could even schedule tweets from your phone or anywhere else you have access to your calendar.

While this may not seem like a giant leap forward for mankind, I believe that it solves a bunch of problems that organizations have with maintaining their Twitter accounts and updating them with important information in a timely manner.

What I’m learning: Make your own iPad Stylus for less than 10 cents! (via iLearn Technology)

This is just too cool. I want to make one right now, in fact.

iLearn Technology » Blog Archive » Make your own iPad Stylus for less than 10 cents!:

“One of our first-week of school activities was creating our own iPad stylus.  Since we are a one-to-one iPad environment, this seemed like a good beginning for everyone. We learned that to make a stylus, we first had to find some soft, conductive material.  A Google search informed us that we could use conductive foam (the kind that is used to pack electronics), conductive thread, conductive yarn (we thought this would be PERFECT for our pens but couldn’t get any delivered fast enough), or a Scotch Brite sponge.  I was a little skeptical of the Scotch Brite (it just seemed TOO easy) but it worked like a champ!”

(Via .)

Question 124 of 365: Are there clowns hanging up on our walls?

The original Clinic building opened its doors ...
Image via Wikipedia

The Cleveland Clinic was my childhood hospital. I visited my pediatrician there with my two brothers more times than I care to remember. I didn’t recognize it as the world-premier institution that it is, though. I just knew it as the place with the clown posters on the wall.

Within this enormous waiting area with a few children’s toys and books, there were these rather intimidating clown posters that had french words written on them. The clowns weren’t sad or particularly happy. They were just there, staring down at you as you waited to get your next shot.

The clowns were such a part of my childhood that I lamented their loss when the Cleveland Clinic decided to venture out into satellite buildings closer to our house. As I was old enough to drive and needed blood work instead of height and weight checks, I still wanted to wait in that room. There was something about having clowns look down at you that made everything seem absurd, and by that measure, made everything relatively okay.

The question I really want to ask is if I have ever replaced the beautiful smeared lipstick of the clown with anything else that is worth noting. I want to know if there has been anything that I have hung up around me that has given me the same level of consistency and understanding for things, even in all of their chaos and unbelievability. And more than that, can we all hang our own clowns up in the waiting rooms that we frequent so that nothing seems as real as it is and we can float away from the pain that forthcoming into a place of fantasy and interest?

The waiting rooms in our lives are not in hospitals for the most part. They are in our cars, in our homes, and wherever else we can’t have the instant gratification we crave. They are even in our email as we wait for responses. They are in our physical objects that don’t update as fast as our digital ones.

And as we wait for lights to change or someone to hit the reply all button, there really is very little in the way of clown ambiance. But, I think that there could be more of it, if we tried hard enough. We could make the background of waiting just slightly more comforting if we worked to create reminders of the hilarity of it all.

Here is what I am proposing:

1. E-mails should have an escape hatch. Within every reply there should be a link that you could click to get away from the experience entirely. There should be a link in signatures to an inspiring photograph of an absurd situation. There should be a labyrinthian puzzle to traverse before you can get back to your e-mail. It should be hard and worthwhile, but it should be more difficult to do your e-mail without being reminded of how ridiculous it is that we are tied to a machine for multiple hours of the day.

2. Traffic lights should be hackable. Instead of just having a green orb to tell us to go, we should have the ability to upload our own (filtered, perhaps) image to the green light so that when it changes we are looking at what it could possibly be. The only people who might be able to see this change are the ones that just missed the light the time before, and thus the folks with the most time on their hands. By ensuring that others can tap into what the traffic light is all about, it is ensuring that the absurdity of humanity is represented in one of the craziest practices we do every day (letting a color tell us when to go and stop).

3. The physical objects around us should make fun of us on a regular basis. Or, maybe we should just get in on the joke. After all, books know more than we do about their particular subjects or stories. Chairs do a better job than us at supporting a person’s weight. The plastics that we use everyday will likely outlive us. Perhaps all of this should be made known to us more consistently. Subtle hints could be dropped in the form of notes or casual taunts. Our objects could be the clowns of consistency that stare at us every day if we let them.

While I’m not sure that the Cleveland Clinic was trying to promote this idea or not, here is what I learned from sitting in that room for endless hours in my youth:

The whole world is a circus. The sooner you recognize that and start laughing about it, the better the world will become.

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Question 14 of 365: What is the future of outsourcing?


I do not claim to be an expert in outsourcing, nor do I claim to know all of the terrible (and good) things that have come from an acceptance of outsourcing as a reality. What I am claiming by my attempt to answer this question is that I think I may know where it is going. It may be quite arrogant to claim that you know where something is going without really understanding where it has been, but I feel as though it may be important to take this stab in the dark.

The future of outsourcing is personal. It is within your own daily workflow. It is within the stuff that you always wish you didn’t have to put up with, and now you don’t. And, I am not simply talking about the Roomba. I am, instead, referring to the idea that all of the monotonous aspects of your daily existence will be put up for bid. And, if anyone is willing to do them, they will be outsourced. I think the only real way to prove this point is to look at examples.

Prefinery and UTest allows you to outsource your beta testing. No longer will you have to figure out exactly who your users should be. You can rely on the crowd and a company to do it for you.

Smart Thinking allows you to outsource your stack of papers to grade. You can have someone else give your feedback for you. Isn’t “peer” review and writer’s workshop just another form of this kind of outsourcing?

SendGrid gives you the ability to outsource your personal responses to e-mail. We can now scale what used to be a human reaction to having completed steps or done something with an organization, business, or school.

Seed will let you outsource photography, writing, or other creative (but time consuming) work. The question is, how low will the network of creatives go?

Do my Stuff will let you basically put any task you have to do up for auction. Even cleaning bathrooms is up for grabs.

LivePerson will give you life advice and possibly outsource how you should act in your love life.

So, why does this all matter? Why is it that these services are worth even looking at, even as I make fun of the idea of how our future will look when faced with these realities?

Outsourcing (and some people call this version, enlightened outsourcing) in general lets us focus our attention. If it doesn’t do those things, then the future doesn’t look good. If we are outsourcing what is essential to our happiness, then we need to take a step back. But, on the other hand, if we are outsourcing the non-essential then we are streamlining our own existence.

I believe in that part. I’m just not sure if some of this is the answer. While it may be the future of outsourcing, I’m not sure it is a future that all of us can buy into. There may be a huge backlash coming where people take great joy in cleaning their bathrooms and doing their taxes and working with students and users directly. So, what will that be called? Self-sourcing? Unsourcing? Besourcing?

Whatever it is called, I would like to find a balance if I can. I would like to do what I can to be human and involved in the daily events of my life, all the while, not getting bogged down by the things that I have no interest in attempting. That doesn’t have to be a part of a movement. That part can just be for me.

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When is a book, not a book?

A graphical despiction of a very simple html d...
Image via Wikipedia

I believe that I have been looking for this capability for a solid year, but I was only able to figure it out today. It can be described most easily as: Converting a folder of html files into a format that can be edited and manipulated by an LMS.

Before today, these were the things that I tried:

  1. Creating an iFrame embed for each important file and reconstructing a navigation for those files
  2. Linking to the files on a webserver and hoping for the best
  3. Importing individual files to Google Docs and then fixing all of the broken images and links. (This allows for editing easily as long as you are signed into your google account, but it is a lot of extra work to create the files)
  4. Researching the heck out of nearly every online hosting solution that integrates with an LMS to no avail.

Today, however, was a different story.

Today I found this.

It is a book module for Moodle, but really it is more than that. It is the single largest time saver I have ever run into. I can select a folder that I have uploaded to the Site Files and it will import all of the HTML, remake the relative links into links within the book itself, and rework all image files to work within the book. It creates a tree structure for the files. It allows you to print the entire book or only one chapter, and you can even export the entire thing as a IMS file (a standard format for elearning resources).

So, now I can go from HTML that has do be downloaded, edited offline, and uploaded again into a single editable (IMS compliant) book that can be enhanced with pretty much anything you can create on a webpage.

I can think of about a hundred different reasons why this is a good thing for teachers to be able to do with their content, but I will leave you with just one:

Download anything you see on the web as a webpage and add it to your book.

Literally, everything becomes importable.

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