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I love it when a plan comes together

Ages ago, I messed about with both twitter and facebook. Two of the new social web-apps (programs like Gmail which run on a server and you access via the web) which were generating a lot of buzz at the time. Twitter is popular with Web 2.0 geeks but not with Real People, whilst facebook is the opposite. There was a twitter plug-in for facebook, but all it did was add a twitter box to your profile. So, due to the social weight of it, my facebook expanded and my twitter lapsed. Until last week.

Before I start explaining, here is a quick glossary.

  • web-apps: software you run on the web, via your browser e.g. GMail.
  • GMail: a email web-app with Web 2.0 functionality (i.e. tagging).
  • Firefox 2: a web browser which everyone should be on. Unless you have a Mac.
  • Facebook: a web-app - the bete du jour of social networking.
  • Twitter: a web-app - shows a status message, limited to 140 characters, which you update via the web or via SMS.
  • SMS: Short Message Service or text message to you and me (or txt msg, if u like).
  • Remember the Milk: a web-app 'to do' list. RTM for short.
  • RSS: Really Simple Syndication, a means of automatically feeding information from one website to another (hello anyone reading via LiveJournal - you're reading via RSS!)
Phew. Trust me, that's the hard bit.

Last week I was reading Micropersuasion's guide to setting up a Portable Personal Nerve Center. Which sounded waaaay more than I need in life. But a link led me to this post which has a section on how to add a 'to do' list to Gmail. Why would I even want a 'to do' list in Gmail? What's wrong with my notebook, or scraps of paper, or the back of my hand? Mainly, the fact that I forget to look in/on them whereas I log into Gmail all the time (except at work, obviously, hem hem). I use Google Calander, but I can't see that from work. There's no point looking at it in the evening only to realise I should have done something on the way home.

The short of it is that I did the following:
  1. Signed up for Remember the Milk and added a few tasks.
  2. Installed the RTM Gmail plug-in for Firefox 2.
    This is one of the joys of Firefox (as expounded on by Mr Fry): the open source software means you can add on functions as you desire.
  3. Switched my Gmail settings from 'English (UK)' to 'English (US)'. This is due to the fact you need the latest version of Gmail in order to see the RTM 'to do' list in your Gmail. I'm going to find out when I can switch back to real English.
  4. Spotted that RTM also has a Twitter command option.
What this means is that I can also access my RTM 'to do' lists via SMS from my mobile using twitter commands sent to the rtm account (full details of how to do that here). So I can add something to the list whilst on the train, or download my list for the day when nowhere near a computer. If I send the SMS "d rtm !tod" to my twitter account, I get a text back with the list of things scheduled for today. So I dug up my twitter sign-in and set that up to. If I send a text saying "d rtm buy cat food" then the task "buy cat food" appears both in my RTM webpage list and in the Gmail one. So I've killed two web apps with one SMS.

Exciting, huh? No? Oh.

Having re-enabled my twitter account, I decided to see if the twitter app in Facebook now updates the facebook status as well as the flickr one. It does. You need to click on a button which says something like 'Update my Facebook Status' but it does. So now I can send a text like "on train, reading Bauderlaire and eating crisps" to twitter and it'll update both my twitter and facebook statuses (stati?). And when I saw the twitter status has an RSS, I used Feed Digest to pick up my twitter status and display it in the side bar here.

So, what have I achieved? Apart from upping my geekiness? I've now interconnected various web-apps (GMail, RTM, Facebook and Twitter) and a website (this blog), so that I can maintain all of them via text messages from my phone. As I get a bundle of texts included in my contract each month, this is cheaper and far less frustrating than needing to find free wifi spots (not that I have a laptop) or trying to browse the web on my lovely old moto pebl phone (which I have no desire to upgrade).

I am so excited by this, I did a diagram (click to enlarge). Highlighted things are automatic actions which were previously done by hand (via the web) and which are now done via a single text from my phone. The one thing I would recommend if you're doing this is to switch off twitter's notification system before you get driven mad by txt alerts in the night.

Twitter: magslhalliday
Facebook: Mags L Halliday
This obviously, is just delaying the day I start work on the wordpress version of the blog.

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Posted @ 5:41 pm on Sunday, January 06, 2008
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