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.  ↩

Less, More and None (2018)

I can’t remember who originally drew my attention to the idea of Less, More, and None on educator Jacoby Young’s website, but the notion of prioritising your life around these three determiners appealed to me.

Unlike Jacoby, I did not publish my list publicly. However, I did write it down and I returned to it regularly to give some focus and attention to aspects of my life that I felt could be improved. I found it to be fruitful and rewarding. So much so, I have decided to share my 2018 list with a reflective commentary about how I got on.

Less

  1. social media (Twitter, Instagram)
  2. bringing work home
  3. procrastinating

I was very successful with number one. Twitter has been relegated to a liminal space that is fed updates from my blog. This happens automatically using IFTTT so I never have to actually visit Twitter or log in. I have also removed Tweetbot from my iPhone and MacBook. I narrowed my Instagram use to specific accounts related to running and fitness. I am not posting anything; it is simply an ‘inspiration’ tool when I feel I need it.

Items two and three were work related and I did well with both of them. I have not really brought work home at all this year and I have been far more productive at work. Doubling down on my use of OmniFocus was significant in ensuring that my daily routines and projects were well thought through and planned out. Moreover, the updated ‘Forecast’ view in OF3 had a huge impact on helping me manage my work. The updated perspective allows you to interleave your ‘tasks’ in with your ‘calendar’. This helped me plot out my day better and ensure that things got finished rather than half-done.

More

  1. fitness (gym/running)
  2. eating healthy food
  3. trying new foods and recipes
  4. spending time with my wife
  5. travel
  6. listening to others well

I also did well in relation to the things that I wanted to do more of. As I have written about a lot recently, I lost a significant amount of weight and also became addicted to running. I go to the gym three to four times per week and run on weekends. This was supported by an excellent weekly menu. Jennifer and I worked really hard to build more vegetarian meals into our diets, including lots of beans and pulses. We have tried a new recipe every week and it has been a wonderful culinary journey that we plan to continue next year. I now walk to work in the morning (yes, even in the cold and pouring rain) as well as home from work. Jennifer has been walking with me and then she runs home. We live in a pretty area so this has been lovely and it has also helped ensure that Jennifer and I get to spend as much time together as possible.

In terms of item five, I will give myself a bye. Jennifer and I have been reviewing our priorities and travel got pushed down the list a bit. That said, we did visit Copenhagen again (our eighth trip to Denmark in four years) in the summer. 👫❤️🇩🇰

In terms of item six, I’ll give myself a C grade. I have done better, particularly when my phone was not in my hand… see item one in my ‘none’ list. However, I could still be much better at this and will add it into my ‘more’ list for 2019.

None

  1. looking at my mobile phone when people are talking to me

I did not do well with this. I am going to carry this over to next year’s ‘none’ list and really try hard to put my phone away when people start speaking to me.

Overall, I really valued the impact this had on my life over the course of 2018. By making some intentional decisions about what I wanted to do ‘less, more and none’ of at the start of the year, I focussed more on the things that matter and also achieved a level of personal growth that has been missing over the previous few years.

One of the unforeseen benefits, particularly in terms of items 2 and 3 in my ‘less’ list, was that I had a much better year in terms of reading for pleasure. Also, I completed The Guardian crossword everyday… the Quick crossword on weekdays and Saturdays; the Speedy crossword on Sundays.

I have already noted down some ideas for 2019:

  • Re-engaging with my blog since August has been very satisfying therefore a goal to write more regularly seems appropriate.
  • At work, I want to spend less time on ‘urgent but unimportant’ tasks.
  • And, I want to get even more out of my running – finding opportunities to run in interesting places and over longer distances.

Once I have a complete list I will post it here on my blog.