“If This Then That” is one of the core operating statements for computer programming. It’s a simple set of commands to tell a computer to perform a particular action when a specific condition exists, like “If the enter key is pressed, then move the cursor to the next line”. You can use the web service offered at ifttt.com this simple concept to perform some very useful automated tasks.
Don’t let the programming talk intimidate you, IFTTT is dead simple to set up and operate. After logging in, you’re dropped on the dashboard page. At the top of the dashboard you’ll find buttons for the three main elements of the service, Tasks, Recipes and Channels.
Channels are a collection of the services that you use on the Internet, like Facebook, Twitter, GMail, Instagram, Tumblr, Evernote and more. Setting the channels up is as simple as clicking on the icon for the service and following a few steps to grant IFTTT access to your information.
After setting up a few channels, you can then set up a few tasks. Tasks are a made up of triggers and actions, a trigger event occurs and IFTTT performs the defined action. Suppose you wanted to have all photos that you upload to Facebook backed up on your DropBox account. From the Tasks page, click the big blue Create Task button. The phrase “if this then that” shows up in nice big letters. Click on “this” and you’ll get to choose the service that you want to watch for a trigger, Facebook in this case. You then get to choose from predefined triggers, we’ll choose “You upload a new photo” and click “Create Trigger”.
You’ll now see the Facebook icon inserted like so. if then that. Click on “that” and you can choose the channel to perform an action with. We’ll click the DropBox icon followed by “Add file from URL” and then the “Create action” button. Give the task a name and click “Create task”. You’re all set!
The number of possible combinations for triggers and actions can seem overwhelming. That’s where Recipes come in. Recipes are tasks that others have come up with and shared. Just browse through them and you’re bound to find one to do what you want. There’s recipes to log your tweets to a DropBox file, Tweet when you post a link on Facebook, save your favorited tweets to Evernote, etc.
A lot can be accomplished with the simple statement of “If This Then That” and ifttt.com has put it to great use. Go create an account and play around a bit.
Facebook launched it’s Initial Public Offering today, making it’s stock available for purchase on the open stock market. According to a CBS News article, the IPO could raise as much as $18.4 billion and puts the value of the company at $104 billion making it the 36th largets company in the world and 23rd in the U.S.
First, let me be clear that I am in no way a finance or economics expert. The extent of my participation in the stock market is the paltry percentage of my paycheck that I put into my 401k. But I do have a decent understanding of technology, technology companies and technology users.
The numbers above are impressive, 23rd in the U.S. is pretty big! But in sales, Facebook only ranks 909th. Doesn’t quite add up, does it? Most of Facebook’s income is from advertising that’s targeted directly at you based on the information that you willingly give them. Users are willing to put up with the ads so that they don’t have to pay for the service, like broadcast television. In order to make good on income promises to it’s new stockholders, they’re going to have to grow their income at a pretty fair clip and I see a few options for them to accomplish that task.
The first option is to increase ad revenue. They could do that by making ads more frequent, more targeted or more obnoxious, all of which would be more annoying. The other option is to institute paid subscription services where you’d have to pay to use the site at all or pay for premium features. Neither option is very attractive to users and either could result in a backlash of users leaving the service. But they wouldn’t do that, would they? I would!
Although many people have come to rely on Facebook as a way to communicate and keep up with their friends and families, it’s not the only option. Plenty of free competitors exist, services like Google+ and Twitter may not have all of the features or polish of Facebook, but they’re free. Google+ has struggled to find it’s user base, but users would show up in droves if Facebook starts charging for service! Compared to Facebook, I love Google+ but don’t use it often in favor of Facebook and Twitter.
Looking beyond Google+, Twitter and even Tumblr and Pinterest, there’s some pretty cool stuff in the works that could offer some alternatives. Projects like Diaspora may give us social networking that’s not controlled by any company or single entity but rather takes advantage of the Internet’s decentralized nature. Best of all, Diaspora is built with privacy as a high priority, how refreshing.
As I said, I’m not an economist or even a business expert but I think I’m a pretty smart guy and I believe that Mark Zuckerberg is too. He either has a great plan to take Facebook up a few notches or he’s planning on cashing out and running in the near future. My cynical nature tells me that it’s the latter. I believe that he realizes Facebook is at or close to it’s peak. It’s a great time to build a fortune based on an IPO and then “Take the money and run”.