A couple of days ago, the IFTTT recipe I used to post native Instagram photos to Twitter stopped working. I used IFTTT as the sharing function on Instagram to Twitter only posted the link, whereas with IFTTT the process posted the full image.
However in the last few days, it has stopped working, and I wasn’t entirely sure why. I checked my IFTTT applet process and saw this.
I recall getting an e-mail from IFTTT, which now I can’t find, but I didn’t think applied to the applet I was using. Well it still may not apply, but I did the following and this appears to have fixed the problem.
What I did was re-authorise IFTTT to access my Instagram account.
Go to this page (ensure you are logged into IFTTT).
With the ongoing threat of the coronavirus and many organisations looking to allow workers to work from home to reduce the threat of infection and transmission of the virus.
I do a fair amount of remote working and location-independent working and am quite happy about doing this, I have working from home on a regular basis for about the last twenty years. Even so with the possibilities of forced home working to reduce the risk of transmission, this is going to be a different experience to what I am use to. For those who don’t do this oftenor rarely, they may find it challenging.
In this blog post I am going to discuss and reflect on some of the challenges that working from home could entail, in a landscape where lots of people are working from home, schools are closed and there is restrictions on movement and transport. This is not a complete article on home working, more some of the issues I have been thinking about over the last few days on this subject.
Myself, Lawrie and Donna, and did a podcast back in 2016 about location independent working,
The web affords us new ways of working, new opportunities to connect. It furthermore allows for a richer experience of work and life, rather than forcing us to segregate our time from ourselves via physical location, allowing us to choose when and where we are most productive, and how to conserve our face to face energy for those times that truly require it.
In this current landscape of forced home working, the issues we discuss are very relevant, however with the challenges of the coronavirus, it’s not quite the same as it was before and there are some issues you will need to consider in addition to the topics covered in the podcast and the blog post.
You are not alone
Even if you are use to working from home, with coronavirus it won’t be the same as when you have worked from home before.
In Italy they have closed all the schools and colleges, to reduce the risk of transmission. If similar measures are taken in the UK, then you (or your colleagues) will probably be trying to work from home and there will be children at home. Though I work from home a fair bit, during the school holidays I usually go into the office, so I don’t get in the way. You may be lucky and have your own office where you can shut yourself away, but if not you may need to plan how you work around the others in the home. This could mean changing the hours when you work. As result you will also need to consider the times others may be working.
Asynchronous communication may be more effective than trying to find mutually convenient times..
I often use external locations, okay places where I can drink coffee, will these still be open? Will people want to visit them or will they avoid them to ensure less risk of infection? The reason for this is about motivation and productivity, so you will need to think about what you do during a day to keep working effectively, and what you can do instead.
It’s not just a matter of space, there is also the issue of bandwidth. Normally when working from home I have all the bandwidth, but with “forced” home working and schools closed, it won’t be just you wanting to use the internet. You can imagine the increase in demand for streaming services such as Netflix. This also won’t be isolated to your home. Your neighbours may also be working from home, or using the internet so the contention ratio may rise as more people try and use the same data capacity. It won’t just be restricted to home broadband, but also mobile networks. This will have an impact on how you work, if you depend on connectivity. For calls and meetings. You may find asynchronous low bandwidth communication and collaboration tools a better option than the full functionality high bandwidth tools you are use to.
If you are use to people responding quickly, you may find the delay in their response frustrating, if they are working to different hours or have bandwidth issues. One way to overcome this, is to plan your work to take this into account, be more proactive than reactive when it comes to collaboration and seeking responses. Let people know in advance, when you will be seeking their input or feedback, so they can plan accordingly. We usually work in a manner that our environment allows us to (lean over the desk for a chat or a question), but when it comes to constrained working patterns as may happen with the coronavirus, the way in which you work, will also need to change.
Planning your day and sharing those plans with your colleagues and managers will enable them to plan their days accordingly and then be able to schedule calls and meetings when appropriate and convenient.
An online meeting is not the same as a face to face meeting, and though similar there are differences. Chairing online meetings is a skill and they need to be managed effectively. The main challenge is that often the visual cues that are present in a face to face meeting are missing and without these you can cause arguments and frustration. I have found you need to ensure meetings are planned and that when allowing people to talk that this needs to be more structured than in a traditional meeting format. This also needs to be communicated to all people attending the meeting as well.
The nature of work
The work you can do in the office may not be possible to do at home, so when it comes to planning your work, you may need to take that into account. There may also be opportunities for new ways of working and new pieces of work as well.
There are plenty of articles being posted across the web about the tools that allowfor more effective home working. As mentioned before with the increase in people working from home, will these services be able to cope with the increased demand for these tools? Are there alternatives you can use?
An assumption often made is that people know how to use these tools and how to use them effectively and efficiently, that may not be the case. There is a question of support and training that may need to be put into place to ensure that tools don’t become a barrier to working from home.
Finally the human side of working is important. You, your colleagues, your team, are all people.
I found this blog post from Lawrie, Donna and Peter an insightful view about the criss from a human perspective.
Your colleagues may be struggling, they may be anxious, they may have friends or family who are infected with the coronavirus. They may be ill themselves. They may have challenges in finding medicines, food (even loo roll) and this will undoubtedly impact on the way they work and what they can do.
Work is one thing, but at the end of that Teams call, the Yammer post, the e-mail, the Skype conversation, is a human being. In these testing times we shouldn’t forget that we are all human.
Over the last few weeks I have been having an issue with my iPhone 6S Plus and the Three network. Over the last four years I have had very few if any issues with my Three data connection, so it’s weird I am having an issue now.
I have been at home on the Wi-Fi, I leave the house and then wherever I am I check the phone as find that it says.
Could not activate mobile data network Turn on mobile data or use Wi-Fi to access data.
This is even with 4G being in the top of the phone. Clicking OK results in no change.
What’s interesting, was that I thought it might be a handset issue, but family (also with Three) are having similar issues with their iPhone 6S and a newer iPhone XS.
At the moment, the solution is to go to airplane mode and then turn that off. At which point all works fine.
It’s not isolated to a single tower either, as it happens locally and further afield.
i don’t have a real solution and it appears from searching online others are having similar issues as well.
The post at number six was from 2012 when my HP Photosmart printer died. My printer is dead! was a sorry tale about how replacing the ink cartridges on the HP B110a resulted it in destroying the print head.
So the most popular post again on the blog was my post about QR codes on chocolate bars, Cadbury QR Coding and Twirling was published in 2015 and was one of many posts I published on the use of QR codes back then.
I have been asked a fair few times about the different podcasts I listen to. I often travel a fair bit for work, so it’s nice to have something to listen to. This series will discuss and review the different podcasts I listen to or have listened to. In a previous blog post I spoke about the why and how I listen to podcasts, now we look at the actual podcasts I listen to.
No Such Thing as a Fish is a weekly British podcast series produced and presented by the researchers behind the BBC Two panel game QI. In it each of the researchers, collectively known as “The QI Elves”, present their favourite fact that they have come across that week. The most regular presenters of the podcast are James Harkin, Andrew Hunter Murray, Anna Ptaszynski and Dan Schreiber, although other QI researchers also make appearances, and there are guest presenters on some episodes.
I have always enjoyed QI on the television, so it was interesting to discover this podcast from the researchers behind the programme.
I don’t recall how I found the podcast, but it’s an interesting podcast full of (quite interesting) facts.
If you are expecting an audio version of QI, then look elsewhere, yes the podcast is full of quirky facts and information, but the format is different to the show. I really like the fact that it is different.
As well as facts, the banter between the hosts is also engaging and amusing. Though there are some reflections on previous episodes, I find that you can dip in and out on the podcast without having to listen to them all.
This is an enjoyable fun podcast, which you may also learn some stuff.
Today the humble text message turns twenty-seven. It was in 1992 that the first text message was sent an engineer from Vodafone, sent the message “Merry Christmas” from a PC to a mobile device using Vodafone’s UK network.
I don’t recall the first text message I sent, but it was one technology that I have never really taken advantage of.
I only really started sending text messages when I got my first iPhone. I think my problem was with predictive text or even understanding texting language. The advantage of the iPhone was a proper keyboard and not needing to try and use a numeric keypad. I could never get my head around the numeric keypad and did like and prefer the qwerty keyboard. Still have that today when people send me SMS texts, sometimes I have no idea what they are trying to say! I know, I know, I am old…
Of course Messages on the iPhone isn’t actually SMS either…
I still use SMS, in the main for receiving updates from the NHS, my dentist and delivery services. I prefer SMS updates as I find that e-mail updates get lost in the volume of e-mail I get. Also SMS self organises on my iPhone and I get very little if any SMS spam.
There are signs from Ofcom that the use of texting has peaked and is on a decline.
In 2012 there were 162billion text messages sent in the UK, in 2018 there were just 74billion text messages sent, that’s a 54% drop. Source,
So Ofcom was right and we have seen a decline.
Are we sending less messages?
Well no not really, what’s also happened in that same time period is a huge increase in the use of tools such as iMessage (or is it Messages) on iOS devices, Facebook Messenger and of course WhatsApp. These services are replacing the need for sending SMS messages for many users.
I have been asked a fair few times about the different podcasts I listen to. I haven’t done a post like this for a while, let’s look, wow seven years ago…
I use to have a lengthy commute to work, and also travelled a fair bit for work, so it was nice to have something to listen to. Since about 2012 I started to commute by train, as a result I could do other things, in a car you drive and you can listen to podcasts. On a train you can do a few different things, but mainly you can look at a screen.
Recently I have been travelling a bit more by car and have been rediscovering podcasts, most have been old favourites, some of which I have already blogged about. I have also found some new ones. So decided to resurrect this blog post series.
The West Wing Weekly is an American podcast hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway and Joshua Malina. In each episode, the hosts discuss one episode of the television program The West Wing, which originally aired on NBC from 1999 to 2006.
I really enjoyed The West Wing when it was first “broadcast” back in the early 2000s.The West Wing was an American political drama television series created by Aaron Sorkin. It was broadcast in the US from 1999 to 2006.
I recently re-watched the entire first series having managed to get it for £4.99 on Amazon Prime. It was just as good as I remembered it and when the prices come back down I will probably get the rest of the series, or look for it on DVD.
Malina co-hosts the podcast The West Wing Weekly with Hrishikesh Hirway. The series debuted in March 2016.
I was intrigued and interested. So on a recent car journey, I loaded the podcast and listened to the fist few episodes relating to the first season. It often takes a couple of podcast episodes to bed in, and though I enjoyed the pilot episode, the next few I think were better.
Though I have listened to fan podcasts of shows, I think what I really enjoyed with The West Wing Weekly was the inside knowledge that Josh brings to the recording. He has worked with Aaron Sorkin the write behind the West Wing for many years including the stage version of A Few Good Men and the film, The American President. He also joined the cast of The West Wing in 2002.
The format of the show is based on the concept of having watched the episode in question, you listen to the podcast as Josh and Hrishikesh discuss the plot, the character development, the filming. They also bring in guests, so for example, in the third episode they bought in a guest, Dulé Hill, who played Presidential Aide, Charlie Young.
Though I’ve only started to listen, over the last few years the podcast has featured various cast and crew members including series creator Aaron Sorkin, director Tommy Schlamme, series actors Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Bradley Whitford, Richard Schiff, Allison Janney, Janel Moloney, Marlee Matlin, and Dulé Hill, longtime series writer-producers Eli Attie and Lawrence O’Donnell, and many former government officials, academics, and pundits, among others.
It’s interesting to listen to the analysis, seventeen years after the show was broadcast, as so much had changed since then, and we know so much more about the White House, part of which is down to The West Wing. An early example of that was the use of the term POTUS, which back then nobody knew what it meant, today we do, part of which is down to the success of the West Wing.
Josh and Hrishikesh have covered one episode a week, so at the time of writing are well into the final season, number seven. I have a bit of catching up to do… both in terms of listening to the podcast, but also watching The West Wing.
I have finally finished my relationship with Flixter and moved all my films to Google Play.
When I first started buying Blu-Rays I would purchase what the trade call, triple play movies these sets contain a copy of the film on Blu-Ray, a copy on DVD and a digital copy for your mobile device. Though more expensive than just buying the Blu-Ray what I did like about it was I could watch the film on my TV and then if I wanted to watch it again I could watch it on my laptop or on my iPad. With most of the films I bought the digital copy was in an iTunes format. This was fine with me as I already used the iTunes ecosystem for music and video.
So I was not happy when the film distributers changed from iTunes to Ultraviolet. I blogged about this dissatisfaction with the Ultraviolet process for getting hold of the digital copies of the films I had bought, back in 2013. The process was convoluted and initially didn’t even work for me. You didn’t even use Ultraviolet to play the video files, you needed another service (and app) to do that and that’s where Flixter came in.
I never liked the Flixter app for watching films, it crashed way too often. It never remembered where you got into a film, so you had to either start watching it again, or try and fast forward to where you had left off. In theory you could download and watch the film offline, but I found that even then the app would try and authenticate online.
In January 2018 I blogged about how I was expecting to use Ultraviolet to access the digital copy, but was pleasantly surprised to find that I got an iTunes digital copy.
I got e-mails in early 2019 informing me that the Ultraviloet service was going to shut down in July 2019. In June I got e-mails about how Flixter was going to shut down too. I was quite pleased to see the end of both Ultraviolet and Flixter.
I wasn’t going top lose my films though, as they would be migrated to another service. This has always been a concern of mine about digital copies of films, especially those with DRM, what would happen to my collection if the service stopped working? I was slightly disappointed I didn’t have any choice in which service they were to be transferred to, as I usually either use iTunes or Amazon Video. The solution Flixter had chosen was Google Play, I have a few films on that service, but I usually don’t use it.
This week I got an e-mail from Flixter which described how I would migrate my collection from Flixter to Google Play. It was a pretty seamless process and now I have a large collection of films in my Google Play Library.