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Not getting IFTTT

Just occasionally everyone raves about a piece of software and I really don't get it. I never got Pinterest or Instagram, for instance. In those cases it's just that they aren't really useful to me - but the service I'm struggling with here really feels like it's something that should be valuable. And time after time I go to it, think hmm... and get nowhere.

It's called IFTTT, short for If This Then That, and its role is to automate those trivial repetitive tasks we find ourselves doing. The concept is simple but powerful. You have a trigger, which is something happening on anyone of 82 services (or 'channels' as IFTTT confusingly calls them), such as email or Facebook or Evernote, etc. etc. When that something happens, IFTTT automatically carries out an instruction. It could be to send you a text, or perform a task in another service.

Examples work better than the abstract with this kind of thing. You can write your own 'recipes', but IFTTT provides some examples to get you started. We're talking this kind of thing:

  • Send me an email if it's going to rain tomorrow
  • Send an item I favourite in Pocket to Evernote
  • Send a text to Evernote
  • Download any video I favourite on YouTube to Google Drive
  • Repost my tweets on LinkedIn
  • Backup my Dropbox photos on Flickr
You get the kind of thing. It feels like it should be incredibly useful. Yet I struggle to find a single task I want to automate. It always needs tweaking or changing in some way that means the automation doesn't quite deliver.

I'm not going to give up. I'll keep trying it now and again. But IFTTT is still on my 'don't quite get it' list.


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