The Internet of Married Things

Last week, a post written by Amanda Headlee reminded me of a post I wrote a little over a year ago called The Internet of Snarky Things. The two posts don’t have much in common, but there’s mention of an underlying thread: the problems that might be caused when everything is connected to everything. I was trying to be funny, but I think Amanda is more interested in the fear factor.

By the way, if you are a writer, want to be a writer or are easily amused by writers, you should visit The Sarcastic Muse.

As things are moving very, very fast these days in the world of technology and communications, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming more of a reality than a pipe dream. Things are talking to other things. Sometimes they talk to each other on our behalf, sometimes they talk among themselves without our knowing, and sometimes they tell on us the way young siblings do. Unfortunately, mom isn’t there to say “nobody likes a tattletale.” The people who built that last group of things love tattletales.

One of the way things (OK, not really things but it’s a good example) talk to each other that I like, is demonstrated by a service called If This Then That, (IFTTT, said to be pronounced like “gift” without the “g”). I signed up for IFTTT so I could link two services that I use together.

I use Evernote and Trello in support of this blog (see Blogging Geek Style). Evernote is a great place to keep notes. Probably why they put “note” in the name. Trello is a great place to schedule stuff. Trello is a lightweight task/project management system. That’s a good thing, because heavyweight project management systems were invented for people who are building bridges. Who needs that for publishing a blog?

Blog Project Plan
This is the typical progression of one of my blog posts.

While both of these services handle note-taking, artifact-storing and task-scheduling, Evernote is better at the first two and Trello is awesome at the third. What I really wanted was a way to link Evernote to Trello.

Now I have that.

IFTTT is a service that lets you link applications/Apps/Services/etc. to one another by building simple rules that invoke actions that are published in the various products’ APIs (application programming interfaces). APIs are things that applications know how to do that are publicly understood.

It’s like telling your nephew from Boise to set the table. You may not have seen him since the day he was baptized, but he’s 11 and he should know how to set a table.

Your nephew might put the fork on the right, maybe that’s how they do it in Boise, or maybe he forgot, or maybe he’s bored, but APIs don’t forget. APIs are reliable and they never get bored.

I created a link in IFTTT that lets me click something in Evernote and have the blog idea I have squirreled away there be added to a schedule I have in Trello. I can also schedule a new blog post in Trello and have a note page setup in Evernote to remind me to do the necessary research. I think that is very cool.

As for products that talk to other products, a wide range of devices are currently hitting the market. For example: a thermostat that talks to all the phones in your house and knows when the last person leaves the house and when the first person to return is close enough to crank down the AC. That product is doomed in our house. My wife reigns over the thermostat and woe be unto the human or artificially intelligent device that gets in her way.

Another product can be set to control all the lights in your house and to vary them in conjunction with the Earth’s rotation to keep you in a good mental frame of mind. This product would automatically wake you with bright simulated sunlight. Again, that product is D.O.A. at our address. The Mrs. follows me around, turning off every light as I go light switch to light switch moving them into the On position when I wake up. Turning a light on to make her happy is like bleeding in front of a shark to make it go away.

The category of snitchy things includes things like devices that talk to the electric company and shut things (like lights) off or turn things (like the AC) up or down or schedule appliances like washers and dishwashers to run or not run based on conditions on the grid. Also in this category are the things you can plug into your car’s diagnostic port that will tell your insurance company how you are driving, and devices, apps and toilet seats that will tell your doctor that you did, apparently, have a second slice of pie last night.

I don’t think these that the “things” in the Internet of Things are going to truly be useful until they can marry other things and learn a few things about peaceful coexistence. Things like: “do not turn the dishwasher on at 2:00 am” – “do not turn the thermostat up when it’s hot and humid” – “do not tell my doctor I had two beers” and, of course: “turn that darn light off!

58 thoughts on “The Internet of Married Things

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    1. I’m with you. My car is telling me to get an oil change. I got an oil change, but the technician forgot to reset something and now I’m being made to feel like a car-abuser every time I start the thing. At least it can’t tell my neighbors…yet. Thanks for the comment.

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    1. Thanks Joey – She edits these posts and she put a positive comment next to that line. So, yeah, not touching that switch. You mentioned a similar pro-light/no-light battle in your house. Still waiting :)

      Liked by 1 person

  1. You think too much. LOL We have had the same thing with the car that you mentioned, and it always requires a return trip to get it reset. So something that is suppose to help wastes your time and gas. And, it scares me to death when the phone starts talking to let me know there is lightning in my area. Hey, phone, I can look out my window and see and hear it. Make sure the last one out turns the lights off. :-)

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    1. Having no personal experience with it, the one that boggles my mind is the app that reminds you to “get the baby” when you’ve been in your car but have stopped moving for a while. How hard is it to remember to get your baby out of the carseat? My wife didn’t have any technological help, but she seemed to always remember. Some of these things are great, but some are annoying and some are just dumb. Thanks!

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  2. That’s a good thing, because heavyweight project management systems were invented for people who are building bridges.

    yes, Yes, YES!! I spent a career explaining to managers that they need not require a methodology designed for building battleships when their staff is building a rowboat.

    Not to toot my horn too loudly, but I wrote about the Internet of things a while back, see Why Is My Smart House So Stupid?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I enjoyed that. This may end up being a thing with me. The internet of snarky things, married things…what’s next. The problem is that I am exposed to way too much “great future of technology” crap.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Next thing ya know those ‘smarts’ will be gossiping over the back fence with the ‘smarts’ next door.

    Proof positive I haven’t been rifling your draft vault because You = Evernote + Trello and Me = Electronic avoidance = pen + paper + postboard +pushpens

    Nevertheless I always enjoy reading about your process, knowing it COULD be me if only I APPlied myself.

    I was going to write the “Why Can’t He Turn Off The Frickin’ Light(s)” post, but if your editor hasn’t solved that riddle, what hope is there for me?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joey has also promised a lights on/off post. I’m guessing I don’t stand much of a chance of being able to point to other blogs and say “see, they understand…” Apps may band together, but they got nothin on women (something tells me I’m going to regret that remark). Thanks for your time and comment Sammy

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow. M and I both live and work together. I want a way to remind him about things he has to do at work. Because when I ask him ten times a day I begin to sound like a nag, an as I am not a nag — not at home, anyway — a machine that continually popped up until he DID this saying, “did you do that?” would be excellent. Then I would not have to turn into one at work. I need to see if IFTTT would do that!

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  5. I’m sitting here reflecting on your post. I have decided to dig a hole and pull the dirt over on top of me. I am from the Jurassic period and can’t get over it. I do applaud your geekiness and just another example why I wish you lived next door. Well done.

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  6. While some of this is way over my head, I’m in awe of folks’ ability to stay on top of technological advances and terms. I didn’t know about the Internet of Things, just clicked on the link you provided above and it took me to Wikipedia. Now I know. There’s another term, but I have to go back and find it. I knew things were talking, just didn’t realize it was happening to this extent. No wonder I never seem to catch up on the techno stuff. :)

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  7. I find this topic fascinating. I know someone who just bought a brand new condo and made it (himself) a fully intelligent home. It (the condo) knows when he is on its way home, so as to make the place cooler or warmer. The front door unlocks for him, the lights turn on before he enters (that one might be a problem in your family I guess), anyhow, you get the picture! Oh, he even has a robot that vacuums the whole place every week day at 11 am! How crazy is that?! I personally don’t know much about how it works. A few weeks ago I got very excited because I got three apps to “talk” to one another. I have to say, I didn’t have to do much to get them to work together but I still felt like I achieved something :-)

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    1. I’m not nearly as organized as I appear. I try to be big then a topic appears out of nowhere and I’m like “ooh, I want to write about that” and the plans go out the window. I did find a typo in this post after it was published. Always the way. Thanks for the comment:)

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  8. A lot of people love trendy things like being told how to walk, talk, eat, breathe and what they should or should not wear, eat, drink, talk or care about. For me it’s a bit “no thanks!” I already have too many eyes peering at me and it’s hard enough avoiding doctors without having them know what I had for dinner. Ever see the movie WallE? Pixar folks are visionaries…..

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  9. I don’t think I’m geeky enough to set all those type of apps and devices up to begin with, and I’m really not all that keen on having my devices rat me out- thinking about the car and dr.
    Once a couple of years ago while driving I had my GPS plugged in to get from A to B-a new place for me. Anyway, Randy my GPS unit-yes he has a name, he had been silent for sometime enjoying the drive then out of the blue Randy said, “Message Received.” Who or what satelite was talking to it? It creeped me out a bit.

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    1. That’s funny. Maybe Greta (my GPS) liked some of Randy’s photos. I set up some services but I’m not yet interested in devices in our house. The only one I would like is the garage door opener that I can check from my phone. Sometimes I forget make sure it’s closed. Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That garage door checker sounds brilliant! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve got blocks from home when panic ensued wondering if I’d remembered to shut the garage door! I always turn around and come home to check. Thankfully it’s always closed. My auto-pilot seems to work just fine for doing the task, but it fails to tell my conscience mind it’s doing it! :)

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  10. My brain just cramped and my eyes crossed. Oh wow, this is too techy for me, Dan. I still use a yellow legal pad and pen to write. As for your diagram, wow. You really are um left brained, or is it right brained? *scratching head* I just FLOW and allow things to just happen. I suppose I could take the time to make a diagram but that would dampen the spirit of spontaneity. I’m glad I don’t have an Editor who puts pressure one me. (Sorry, Editor). I’m my own boss and I like doing things the way I am comfortable with. You seem to like gadgets. I’ll stick to the gadgest I have and contend to keep learning all there is to learn in Photo Shop CC. That keeps me hopping as it is. Great post again, my friend!!! <3

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Amy. the diagram is a representation of the way my mind works, not a set of directions. I do like these two Apps for two reasons. 1) if I used paper, my home/desk/backpack would be even messier. 2) I travel and I switch between devices. These things are in the “Cloud” so I can always get to my drafts, my ideas and my photos regardless of where I am or what computer I happen to be carrying. Someday, i’ll get better with PhotoShop :)

      Liked by 1 person

          1. Now THERE is the writer!!! LOL My pen is actually PINK and yes I bought several of them. It is the shape of this pen that I like the most. It just fits in my fingers perfectly. And it flows just the way I like it. Tee hee …. Who would have thought a pen could be that important? LOL I’m laughing as I write this!!! <3

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  11. I think I lost a brilliant comment and now, this will be a short one. I believe on compromise. I love your “If this then . . . ” sequence. I think your mind should be inventing as well as you understand all of this, Dan. Make some gadget up and let us know what or how your family lives and enjoys, while I sense philanthropic projects in your future. :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Robin. My mind wanders around these topics but I would rather build simpler things via old fashioned methods. I understand high-tech and old-school and I have come to prefer the later.

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