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.  ↩

Why I believe an 11″ MacBook Air is the ideal laptop for me

I briefly posted on my Posterous blog that I hope to make the new 11″ MacBook Air my next laptop. After considering what I want out of my next laptop here is why I believe that the MacBook Air will be the ideal machine for me. Due to the quality of a number of web based apps and a handful of open source, light weight, desktop apps the 128GB (with 4GB RAM) 11″ MacBook Air offers more than enough power, speed and space for me. I thought I would share what I plan to use the laptop for and the apps that I would install. It offers some insight to the way I maintain my productivity, write and keep up with my day-to-day life. Here goes:

  • Surfing the web – Google Chrome (and here’s why)
  • Email – Gmail / Sparrow
  • Calendar – Google Calendar
  • RSS – Google Reader
  • Twitter – Twitter for Mac
  • Managing my iTunes library – Have added less than 300MB this year in comparison to 30GB over the previous four. 128GB is more than enough space for me to maintain my iTunes library.
  • Blogging – Notational Velocity (I run a forked version which can be found here at elastic threads)/ WordPress
  • Making Notes and Lists – Notational Velocity / Evernote
  • Writing papers for my MA – Notational Velocity / Evernote / WordPress
  • Presentations – Google docs / Preview

The footprint of the free and open source apps that I will be installing (Google Chrome, Sparrow, Twitter for Mac, Notational Velocity and Evernote) is very minimal – less than 300MB. This small footprint combined with the fact that the laptop is light weight (1.06kg), small and yet durable with a full size keyboard makes it the perfect laptop for a minimalist like myself. In addition to this, it is simply a beautifully designed machine. Now, I’ve just got to save up the cash.

Image: Dan Taylor