IFTTT Rich Notifications

The IFTTT iOS app was updated earlier today with support for rich notifications. In addition to a custom title and image, these rich notifications also support a custom URL that can be opened when a notification is actioned. For example, an applet that notifies you of a new GitHub issue can now include that issue’s URL. Tapping the View button in the notification would then open that URL in Safari.

It’s also possible to use app URL schemes in notification URLs, so that tapping a notification opens an iOS appโ€”even passing information into it. I created a simple applet, triggered by a button in the IFTTT widget, that sent a rich notification using the new URL scheme of Things as its URL. This URL simply created a new task in my Things inbox, and included some of the default ingredients as the task’s note.

IFTTT automatically URL encodes any information passed as an ingredient, though any manually written text must first be URL encoded.

This update narrows the gap between IFTTT and native apps with URL schemes. We’re still a long way off an end-to-end solution, since these URL actions can only be triggered when a notification is actioned, and I’m not quite sure how I might use this yet. However, it’s still an interesting new way to leverage IFTTT in more apps.

Quitting Twitter

It’s been just over a month since I left Twitter. I did this for the sake of my well-being and happiness, and because I no longer wanted to use a service that allows so much abuse and does so little to stop it.

Twitter had become an inescapable deluge of abuse, anger, bad news, and disinformation, and I was barely treading water. I would wake up each morning filled with anxiety and trepidation about what to expect on Twitter during the day; a constant distraction that was mentally and physically exhausting, and making my life miserable.

The platform also brings out the worst in people because the worst people know they can get away with it. The amount of abuse and harassment on Twitter is overwhelming, and you don’t have to look far to see just how toxic it is. The company is well aware of this but doesn’t have the courage to take real action. Twitter would much rather work on features to increase revenue and user count than provide existing users with even the most basic tooling and support to deal with abuse.

Quitting Twitter has been a genuine quality of life improvement for me. It’s as though a dark, heavy cloud of negativity has lifted, and I no longer get worked up about whatever might be the trending shitstorm du jour. I feel more focused and positive, and generally in much better mental health.

This decision has also boosted my productivity as I have a lot more free time now. I estimate I would check Twitter a few times an hour, a couple minutes each time. On a daily basis, I was probably spending an hour or two just on Twitter. Getting a couple of hours in the day back was an unexpected surprise, so I’m making the best use of it. I’m now much more productive throughout the day, find it easier to relax in the evenings and weekends, and am reading more than ever.

I have no desire to return to Twitter. I’m not ruling it out, but the platform would have to drastically change before I’d even consider it. There’s very little Twitter can do for me that I can’t go elsewhere for, and what it does provide isn’t worth my happiness or support. For my own sake, abandoning Twitter was the right decision, and I only wish I’d done it sooner.

Getting Nespresso Capsule Information With Workflow

I recently added a Nespresso machine to my growing collection of coffee paraphernalia. It arrived with a selection of some of the 26 varieties available in the OriginalLine rangeโ€”each one has a different strength (intensity) and cup size (ristretto, espresso, or lungo).

However, there’s no way to know this information just by looking at the capsule as it only has the name printed on it. To know more, one needs to either keep the packaging, refer to the website, or have this information memorized. There is a Nespresso iOS app available, but it’s not easy to quickly find a capsule and get its strength and cup size.

This seemed like a good opportunity to explore Workflow’s Dictionary functionality, a feature I hadn’t really used before. I created this Nespresso Capsule Information workflow to look up the intensity and cup size for any Nespresso capsule. To make it a little more interesting, capsule information can be retrieved by selecting either its name or an image of it.

Nespresso Information Workflow

All of the capsule data is stored within a Dictionary action inside the workflow. I created a Base64-encoded archive of all capsule images and included it as a Text action in the workflow (that’s what the nonsensical first action is). This is decoded and extracted when running the workflow, so no images need to be separately copied or installed anywhereโ€”allowing the the workflow to be entirely self-contained.