What’s in my Pocket?


The last time I checked my title at work was officially ‘Database Engineer’ but my real specialty is integration. I do other things as well that I look at mostly as handyman jobs bit the fun stuff is getting different systems to talk to each other. With those skills why wouldn’t I use them to make my life a little easier?

I have spoken in the past about my love/hate relationship with the internet. My priority now is to get what I want out of the internet while minimizing the amount of time I actually spend on it and the amount of separate accounts I need for it.

The corner stone of my master plan is the software known as Pocket (formerly Read Later). Pocket sits on my phone and downloads articles sent to it so I can read them later while in that no man’s land known as the subway. But how much time do I really want to spend on loading pages onto Pocket when I could just be reading them?

Enter IFTTT and FeedHuddler. The first is a great integration tool that allows you to shuffle links around from site to site. I was already using it to push the pictures I post on instagram over to Facebook and to switch the background picture on my phone over to Nasa’s picture of the day. I added a process that takes any link I shorten through bit.ly and also adds it to my Pocket account.

But what about RSS feeds? Most of the blogs I read are either hosted on blogger or wordpress and both of those have adequet following tools. Where I have always struggled since the death of Google Reader is my webcomics which are all over the place. I COULD use IFTTT for the process but that requires a new applet for each of my 150 feeds. FeedHuddler specializes in sending RSS feeds to Pocket and with their little bookmarklet makes moving and maintaining all of those feeds much quicker and easier. The only downside with FeedHuddler is that if you make use of tagging in pocket it is a $3 monthly fee. Not a bad price but I have too many monthly subscriptions in my life. Tagging is a nice to have not a requirement.

The final piece to this puzzle are the artists I follow. DeviantArt’s ‘Watch’ is nice in that it lets me follow and remove new items from the feed. Unfortunately that feature isn’t in the App so I have to use the web client instead. Ths fact that they haven’t put it in the app tells me it may eventually vanish from the web too but for the time being that’s what I’m using.

The other down side to DeviantArt is that many artists are moving away from it. Instagram is becoming a more popular was for artists to showcase their latest works as are other sites. I looked into making a fan account for stalking but IG has some funny rules about how many people you can follow without making a post of your own and I was quickly labeled a spam bot. I get the need having been hit by spambots but that shouldn’t apply to ME. I needed anotjer solution.

In my new Department some of the account maintenance work relies on Powershell. How was I going to teach myself powershell? By writing a website scraper of course. I would have done it for DeviantArt first but I quickly discovered that they throttled any connections that smacked of automation. IG didn’t. So I built a script that checked for a list of user accounts I wanted to follow, went to tje page and broke it out ito an array, filtered the array to just image urls, downloaded those urls by account, renamed the files by folder and date, and dumped it all into a dropbox folder where IFTTT would find new files and send them to my Pocket account.

The process doesn’t work for locked accounts which is fine as I’m looking to follow artists and celebrities who want to share their work. Tje scripts run on my home desktop called by Windows Scheduler twice a day and everything syncs over to my phone.

So in conclusion my pocket is full of blogs, webcomics, art, and pictures of celebrities all in an easy to view on the train package.