Scratching an itch…

I have long admired the way some bloggers are able to include an image when auto-posting to Twitter. Looking at the IFTTT applet I was using to auto-post from my own blog, there did not appear to be an option to do this, and a web search did not yield any useful results.

I turned to Twitter and asked Warren Ellis what service or plugin he uses1. Having asked the question, I received a couple of suggestions from Doug Belshaw:

Looking into both of these I could see that they would achieve what I wanted but I was not satisfied with either implementation. Blog2Social requires you to create a Twitter application. This is not a big deal (I’ve done it before) but I did not believe this was necessary to achieve my goal. Furthermore, it is heavy-handed on the promotion of its paid features in the WordPress backend. The other option, Jetpack, is too feature rich and its footprint on the back end of your blog is quite intrusive. Furthermore, to access all of the auto-tweet features a paid plan is required. This does not sit right with me given the open source origins of WordPress.

Returning to IFTTT, I could not shake off the feeling that there was a way to do it. The search function in IFTTT is a bit hit and miss with a high noise to signal ratio. However, there were several recipes that indicated images could be posted natively to Twitter from other sources. This lead to me taking a fresh look at the Twitter channel in IFTTT. I saw that they have added a range of options and this indeed included the option to tweet with an image.

So, to relieve the proverbial itch, I started from scratch (😉) and created a new applet to share my WordPress posts to Twitter with an image.

dr amp shovel

This was a definite case that proved it is always worth digging a little deeper! Dr. Amp would approve.


  1. I subsequently found out that Warren uses the Jetpack plugin. However, he has recently written in his newsletter about issues he has had with this feature not working correctly. And I do believe he has since found a solution.  ↩

Purpos/ed Redux

It is make or break time for humanity and we have a responsibility to draw a line in the sand, admit our mistakes and create a system of education that can begin to undo the harm that we have done to the world. For all the talk over the last twenty years of the ‘global village’, it has not stopped us continuing to destroy our planet, to wage wars and to continue to ignore the inequalities in society. What is the purpose of education? Surely, it is to create unity by helping future generation to recognise the values that humanity share.

That was me in March 2011. Weirdly apposite right!?

Doug Belshaw included the quote[1] in a post about ‘education for a post-pandemic future‘ with a number of others that featured in an online campaign to capture ideas about the ‘purpose of education‘. A book was even published collecting all of the 500 word contributions. My copy is sitting in my office at work. 😋

Re-reading the varying ideas collected in Doug’s post, not least my own words from nine years ago, gave me chills. They also left me feeling deeply sad. I don’t believe that we have moved forward in that time. Inequality in society, and in education, has only widened. Will it be better post-pandemic? I want to believe that things will change. I want to believe that after the lockdown is lifted, and life returns to normal, people will reevaluate the contribution schools make, not only in providing education, but also as an important component of their local communities.

Education is both a gift and a right. It can be the silver bullet; a cornerstone on which an open-minded egalitarian society can be built. Schools should be utopian spaces where ideas can be explored and debated; where creativity is encouraged; where our similarities and differences are celebrated. But society has to change first. We have to throw off the “mind-forged manacles” of capitalism; eschew entrenched divisions; and agree that we are all better off when we work to support each other.

If that can happen then education can serve its great purpose: Helping future generations to develop the thinking and skills that will allow them to contribute to, and shape the world around them.


  1. You can read my full 500 word contribution to the Purpos/ed campaign here: Busting a hole in the wall (the purpose of education).  ↩

Reflective Professional Development: A Literature Review

Yesterday I submitted my latest M.Ed assignment: RPD: Literature Review [Google Doc]

It is part of a Reflective Professional Development module. We were required to submit:

A literature review of 3 – 5 books, articles or papers which have influenced your practice or understanding and have helped to shape you as a professional.

Each of the texts I chose to include made me sit up and reconsider both my values and beliefs about education as well as informing my approach to teaching and learning in the classroom.

The texts are as follows:

I hope that you find it to be a stimulating read. Comments are welcomed.

If you would like to know more about the MA in Education that I am studying towards, look here.

Reading Productivity

Having spent more than a year improving my personal productivity, I can sum up what I’ve learned in a single sentence: “Pick one task and do it”. However, that would do a disservice to the journey and to the great people who helped me along the way through their writing on the subject. So, without wishing to encourage you to spend more time reading about productivity than being productive, here are three books that really helped me reach a place where I can stay focused on doing ‘the work’.

Focus – Leo Babauta

If I had to recommend one book this would be it. It has really made a difference in helping me become more productive. The books’ strength lies in its brevity and the fact the Leo doesn’t over do the GTD stuff. Instead, he focuses on the underlying issues that may be stopping you from doing ‘the work’. It reads well. Eloquent prose, set out in well-structured essays that challenge you to reflect deeply on the way that you prioritise and use your time. Particularly, useful was the focus on changing and replacing habits. By replacing bad habits with useful, more productive ones, I have seen a huge difference in my productivity.

Highlights include:

  • You don’t need to respond
  • Going with the flow
  • Single tasking and productivity

Keeping It Straight – Patrick Rhone

Patrick is one of my favourite writers on the web and his work translates really well to the structured, thematic nature of a book. Keeping it Straight is Patrick’s first book – a collected set of essays that deal with personal productivity, minimalism, mindfulness and motivation. Again, this is not a long read; perfect for the daily commute or for dipping into when the moment arises. This book is very personal, much of the content gleaned from Patrick’s journal, it adds a level of authenticity that I find is often missing from books of this ilk.

Highlights include:

  • Don’t Worry
  • Doing The Dishes
  • Email (And Other Things That Go “Ding”)

#uppingyourgame – Doug Belshaw

Doug is a friend who has been fantastically supportive, helping me on my blogging journey. He has also (although he may not have realised it) had a significant impact on my approach to personal productivity. His approach is a pragmatic one and as such he begins by getting to the heart of why we should care about being productive in the first place. This is refreshing, as many productivity related texts assume that the reader already has this figured out. Like the other two books, this is a well structured, well designed text, placing emphasis on the authors voice.

Highlights include:

  • What does productivity look like?
  • How to find your personal well of motivation
  • Productivity killers
———

As I mentioned above, it is easy to spend more time reading about productivity than actually getting on and being productive. However, while I’m on topic, I thought I would share some of the other material that has contributed to my journey. This is not an exclusive list, just a selection of the ones that come to mind as I sit writing this.

Manifesto: Inbox Zero

Idea: five.sentenc.es

Essay: Making the Clackity Noise

Essay: Cranking

Essay: The Noise

Essay: the beauty of the ellipses

Essay: Purpose Your Day: Most Important Task (MIT)

Essay: Do One Thing Well

Essay: How I Became an Early Riser

Essay: How to ‘chapter’ your life to make it more productive

Essay: The hidden power of a gift

Book: Mindfulness in Plain English

Video: Just This

Podcast: Enough: The Minimal Mac Podcast

Podcast: Back to Work