Crisis in Infinite Mid-Lives

I think I’m having a mid-life “crisis”. Not that it’s a crisis in any real sense of the word. The phrase is used when people of approximately my age tend to start doing things to feel youthful again. The classic example is to buy a sports car, and or get flashy clothes. Apparently, for me, it’s play old video games and enjoy old programs.

IFTTT and Automation

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I’ve been playing around with the idea of automation in my home. I don’t think I want to invest too heavily in the IoT mechanisms. That only invites more tech waste. Using tool APIs allow me to connect disparate things, using only a modicum of ‘glue’, and make my home a bit smarter.

Currently, I’m using If This Then That. Known more commonly as IFTTT. I looked at Zapier, but it didn’t seem to have the integrations I needed. While I don’t have many ideas for automation right now, I do have one that I kind of like:

“Hey Siri, Have Jinx Vacuum”

(yes, my Roomba’s name is Jinx, also, this post is inspired by instructions provided by @kelsonv)

Having a robot vacuum is unbelievably freeing. Eliminating a tedious chore class from the list of things to clean around the house is just shy of magic. While it’s not always sunshine and rainbows, I can live with some of the minor inconveniences.

To that end, I discovered that IFTTT has support for iRobot’s Roomba line of products. The way you actually drive the device on a normal basis is to open the app, configure the type of cleaning you’d like to do, then away it goes. Great, but sometimes I don’t want to deal with my phone. Having a spoken phrase is a good alternative. I also don’t want to buy a device like Alexa or Google Assistant just to do this. Thus, my Rube-Goldberg-esque configuration!

CLEAN!

Basically, it works like this:

  • I have a iOS Shortcut that makes a web request to IFTTT’s webhook endpoint for this action.
  • This Shortcut has a Siri Shortcut attached to it, allowing me to trigger it with just my voice.
  • The request triggers my Roomba to start a full clean.

It requires a bit more work than I’m sure Alexa or the like would need, but it also doesn’t require anything crazy outside what I already have. Just IFTTT, which is free for the first three actions. Though, if I end up needing more, a paltry $~4 a month is a worthy price to allow more automation.

Right now, I’m up to two actions. One for my Roomba (though, I could easily add more to stop, pause and send Jinx home) and one for posting the contents of this blog onto Mastodon. Are there any other really handy, killer actions I should be looking at?

My Toolkit

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Because I’m struggling to come up with some longer blog posts, I thought I’d make a list of my current tools that I rely on, on Windows. Many of them are, however, cross-platform, because I tend to be a digital nomad, and having familiar tools is essential in this line of work.