Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Using IFTTT Webhook to post RSS feed data to Mastodon

Eleven years ago I wrote about using the IFTTT service to create tweets from the RSS feed of my Pinboard shares (which are written for myself and for Emily; there are now over 49,000 entries).  

Back then I was continuing a kind of sharing I started with Google Reader Social (details) and continued with App.net after Social died.

Now Twitter is dying, but, incredibly, Maciej Ceglowski's Pinboard endures. I've migrated to Mastodon (on an instance for veterans of App.net!) so now I use IFTTT (still free for my use) to create mastodon posts tagged #jgshare from that old Pinboard RSS.

I'm writing now to share a bit of how that works. I started with a recipe first published in 2017 and updated in 2022 by KelsonV. That recipe uses IFTTT web hooks: I tweaked it a bit to get the output I wanted:

    Descriptive Title

    URL

    Commentary

The recipe is a bit hard to follow but the key steps are:

  1. In Mastodon Profile Preferences Development create an "application" with website "https://ifttt.com/" and Scope of write:statuses. After it's created copy the access token.
  2. In IFTTT create a rule based on the RSS feed of your source (in my case Pinboard shares with a particular tag). My rule starts with IF "New Feed Item"
  3. The action part of the rule is a web request"
    1. URL: https://appdot.net/api/v1/statuses
    2. Method: POST
    3. Content type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded
    4. Authorization: Bearer 1234567890 (replace 1234... with your Mastodon access token)
    5. Body as below.
KelsonV's post has additional details and screenshots.

The trick in the body was to get line spaces between Title, URL and Commentary. This worked:
status = 
<<<{{EntryTitle}}
>>>
<<<{{EntryUrl}}
>>>
<<<{{EntryContent}}
>>>
#jgshare
When I first ran this I'd get errors in my IFTTT log but the rule worked successfully. The errors went away.

Monday, January 09, 2023

Switching from Comcast to Century Link - including how to return Xfinity equipment

Seven years ago we switched from CenturyLink to Comcast/Xfinity. At the time I thought CenturyLink was kaput. Today we switched back; I'm sharing some notes on what to expect.

We had good service from Xfinity, but over the past year we've been hitting their 1.2TB data cap. I'm sure I could call Xfinity, threaten to leave, and negotiate transition to their 'unlimited' tier and get a price reduction as well.  I could do that, but the process irritates me.

Happily Century Link has survived, we are in their fiber area, and their fiberoptic GB no-cap service is apparently about what Xfinity charges us. I say apparently because we live in the surprise-fee era. You don't know what you pay until you get the bill. [Update: Century Link quoted me $70 and I'm honestly stunned to discover that is exactly the bill.]

CenturyLink customer service seems as abysmal as ever but local reports tell me the fiber is far more reliable than their old tech.

So we switched. A few notes on the process:

  1. I began by turning off Xfinity automatic bill payment. I called and confirmed we had month-to-month no-contract and that final bill would be prorated.
  2. CenturyLink signup was simple but their process is weak. They insisted on contacting us by phone;  it's a miracle we were able to catch the call and respond. A snow storm delayed installation; they didn't tell us the install was canceled and they appeared the next day unannounced. I'm retired so I was able to make that work. The web site does supposedly allow formal rescheduling but overall that's a C- performance. The tech did a nice job on the install, it was a direct shot from the pole to where our Comcast modem was. Since we have an Eero network he just had to swap a cable and we were on the new service.
  3. After 3 days of use I called 800-266-2278 to cancel Xfinity/Comcast. Cancelation didn't take too long, I had to say "representative" a couple of times to bypass the vmail menu. The Comcast rep sounded depressed but typed on and on trying to complete the exit process. They were unsure how to return the hardware by UPS but I found the Comcast support article (which is flawed, more below)
  4. Xfinity prorates the final bill. It's not clear if they ever actually charged me for the one time we went over their 1.2TB data cap.
  5. Century Link charged me on 12/27/22 though service didn't start until 1/6/2023 (December 27, 2022 - January 26, 2023). On Jan 4 there was a 0$ bill for equipment and installation. My next bill is due 2/4 so the amounts do even out. The default setup is autopay to my credit card. I'll see if that generates an extra fee.
  6. It's not obvious on the web site how one sees a bill. The bill date is a hyperlink. Shockingly the bill appears to be exactly the $70 they claimed; that's what appears on my credit card. Xfinity charged me $91 so I'm unexpectedly saving money.

The Xfinity requirement return is done through xfinity.com/returns -- but the directions are buggy. The easiest option is to bring the hardware to a comcast/xfinity store but I opted to drop off at UPS. Follow the prompts to create a mailing label but be ready to conclude without, you know, the mailing label. To print the label go to customer.xfinity.com/devices/returns/status and you'll see how to print. Box up the xfinity hardware in anything, put label inside and outside box and drop off at a UPS store.

The CenturyLink model is a C4000XG; that site has an online user guide. I couldn't find a manual for it on the CenturyLink site but I did find one online. https://192.168.0.1 worked to get to the admin screen, you need the CenturyLink sticker with the Admin password. You will certainly want to change the passwords to something tappable. The device web server doesn't render properly in (old) Mojave Safari so I used Chrome.

I'll update this post if I find any other surprises in the process.

Update 1/27/2023

I dropped the xfinity router off at the UPS store with the return label and a week later I got an xfinity email saying they had the router.

After we discontinued service my Xfinity login stopped working. There was no error message, it would let me enter my password but then request my password again. I wondered how I'd pay my last bill but a paper statement came in the mail with a credit on it. We pay in advance so there's credit for the unused part of the month. It does appear they never dinged me for my data overage. The statement says that in 30 days they'll send me a check for whatever is left in the account.