Tag Archive for free

If I can get IFTTT to tell me about free food, then I’m in!

If this then that

First, a true story: Last week I was craving cake and despite the fact that I was wearing cute but painful heels, I decided to walk from Lister Hill Library to what I thought was the closet cake option, UAB Hospital’s food court in the North Pavilion.  It’s a trek.  And it doesn’t matter what shoes you’re wearing, it’s tough keeping pace with all those speedy doctors.  [I won’t lie, midway to the food court I sat on a bench and pretended to send an email from my phone.  A nurse walked; she took a look at my shoes and smiled at me.  The jig was up.]  I finally made it to the food court, ate the cake, felt happy and rewarded for my throbbing legs and feet.  I felt no guilt.  As gracefully as I could, I hobbled back to my desk, sat at my computer, ever so slightly slipped my feet out of my shoes, sighed a sigh of relief, and discovered this email in my inbox: Cheesecake in the staff lounge fridge!!

And now, I’ll tell you how I could have used IFTTT:

 If This Then That (IFTTT, say it like gift) is a web-based task-creator.  With what IFTTT calls recipes–a combination of activated channels, triggers and actions–you can create notifications on just about anything to alert you in any way you choose.  For example: write an email to yourself that will help you find your phone, change your profile picture in Facebook and simultaneously change it on Twitter, automatically save email attachments to Google Drive, get a notification every time your daughter posts a video of the baby and then get that video emailed to you, etc, etc.

You can use recipes created by others, or create your own.  Once you create a recipe, you can make it public.  I found inspiration to solve my own “cake in the lounge” problem when I found a recipe that explained how to create a notification when you get an Outlook email from your boss (also not a bad idea).

I modified the recipe to serve my own purposes and created one that will send me a text when any of my co-workers sends out an All-Staff email about food in the staff lounge–yes, I did!  Here’s how I did it:

Step 1: Create a rule in Outlook to forward All-Staff emails to a gmail account:

outlook rule

 Step 2: Create the recipe in IFTTT:

email recipe

When I tested the recipe, it took about 3 minutes for me to get the text.  It isn’t instant, but it’s probably fast enough for me to get a cookie before they’re all gone.

As important as knowing about free food in the staff lounge is, there are more useful (er, healthier? more professional?) reasons to use IFTTT.

I also need to keep up with my professional reading. Right now I’m really interested in Medical Humanities, so I’ve created a recipe that will notify me if a new article is added to my Feedly category, Digital + Medical Humanities.  Feedly, just one of IFTTT’s 67 channels, is really easy to check throughout the day, but some days I just don’t get to it.  Just this morning I was notified about an Anatomical Art Exhibit at the Brighton & Sussex Medical School so I took two minutes to read the announcement and then got back to editing this post.

IFTTT Feedly,Dig-Med Humanities Recipe

The most significant change since 2011, the last time Tech Lister posted about IFTTT, is the iphone app that launched last week. The app is sharp looking and just as easy to use as the web version.

IFTTT.iphone.screenshot

I really enjoy browsing through the shared recipes to see what people have come up with.

All in all, IFTTT is a lot of fun, and useful for a variety of purposes:

  • ridiculous pursuits
  • staying organized
  • keeping up with important news
  • staying connected without really trying

Now…where’s that All-Staff email about cake???

FoxyUtils/Merge PDF (www.mergepdf.net)

FoxyUtils is an online service that allow tasks manipulating PDF files that typically would have to be done through fairly expensive software to be done instead though a web application absolutely free. While there are basically 4 services that FoxyUtils provides: I will focus today on the application that I recently found myself needed which was Merge PDF.

It of course as it’s name suggests, Merge PDF is online webapp that allows its users to combine multiple PDF files together in any desired order. Not only does this make for one less shareware on your desktop, it is as simple as can be.

Best of all the service is absolutely free of charge and is accessible right away, anytime, anywhere. To take advantage of this useful tool simply point your browser to www.mergepdf.net

Once there you will select “browse” button in the “step 1″ box to select the PDF files that you’d like to combine. For example:

Then hold down the “crtl” button and click on the desired files in the order that you’d like them to appear in the combined document. Afterwhich click on the “open” button and you’ll see a download status box appear with the selected files

Then click on the “merge PDF” button where it indicates step 2. A box will appear alerting you that your merge was successful and instructing you to hit the “download” button and then “close” to go back.

You are given an option to “retain uploaded files” in case you want to further manipulate them. After you’re finished you may choose to simply “remove all files”.

I found this to be an awesome free tool but it does have a few limitations including:

What type of user may want to consider this option as opposed to a paid program?
If your work involves merging PDF files all the time, downloading a dedicated program might be a better option. However, if you only require occasional merging of PDF files or you are not always using the same computer, you might get the job done quicker with our service. And if you are just finishing a final report at the library, it can be handy to merge in the cover page without downloading any program. In addition, your computer will be cleaner, with one less software installed on your computer. I highly recommend this program to anyone!