Category: <span>Hacks and Mash-Ups</span>

I’ve been using an email and file-storage service called for about the last three years. I like it because it’s cheap (about $50/year), has lots of storage (10GB), and other perks like photo albums and web hosting on custom domains. They also have great spam filters, and they’re almost never down.

I prefer it over Hotmail (a.k.a. Live Mail) because its web UI is lean and fast, and it has IMAP access so I can access my mail easily on my PC or mobile device (iPhone at the moment). I also prefer it over Gmail since I don’t really like the way Gmail handles folders/categories, plus at the time I set it up, Gmail didn’t offer IMAP access, though they do now. Of course since Google released Google Buzz, there are new reasons not to like Gmail.

I still have a Gmail account, but I use Fastmail to both read and send email for my Gmail address. It’s easy to set this up in Fastmail and Gmail — all you need is a Fastmail personality, and to forward all your Gmail to your Fastmail address. Here’s how to set this up:

Configuring a Gmail personality in Fastmail:

  1. Click on Options at the top of the page
  2. Click Personalities (near the bottom of the first column)
  3. Click the Create New Personality button
  4. Enter your Gmail address under email address, and whatever you want to under display name and name
  5. Click the Save Personality button

Now you can send email using Fastmail, but “from” your gmail address.

Note: This does not save outgoing mail back to Gmail when sent from Fastmail. If you want that, then BCC your Gmail account when sending from Fastmail. (You can do that automatically if you want, by adding your Gmail address to the BCC addresses field on your gmail personality in Fastmail.)

Forwarding Gmail to Fastmail:

The other part is to set up forwarding incoming mail from Gmail to your Fastmail account:

  1. Log into Gmail
  2. Click Options at the top of the page
  3. Click the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab
  4. Click the radio button in the top section to “Forward a copy of incoming mail to” and enter your Fastmail email address. You probably want to “keep Gmail’s copy in the inbox”
  5. Scroll to the bottom and click “Save Changes”

Now you can read all of your Gmail on the Fastmail site. Gmail’s spam filters are still active for mail coming from Gmail — they run before forwarding. Plus you get a second layer of spam filtering from Fastmail too.

PS: Can we please someday get IMAP access to Hotmail? Thanks!

Hacks and Mash-Ups iPhone

I recently purchased a new big disk (500GB), and a NAS enclosure. My goal here was to simplify my home network storage setup, and turn off some of my always-on computers. These were using about 450 watts of power together, which costs a couple hundred dollars a year, and is generally bad for my carbon footprint. The NAS disk, on the other hand, uses about 15 watts of power — even less than that when in standby, which is about 75% of the time.

While in the process of going through all my media, mostly music and video, and cleaning it up to move to the NAS disk, I also started thinking about backup strategies. The other reason I bought the NAS disk, besides cleaning up my media and saving power, was to have a central place that all my computers can send their critical stuff to be backed up.

That got me thinking again about data that lives out “in the cloud” on the services I use, on my blog host, etc. Which brings me to Netflix.

A number of people have mentioned the desire to back up their Netflix ratings, Queue, etc. I decided I wanted to do this too. But it turns out that it’s actually pretty difficult. I tried a few different Perl / Python solutions, but wasn’t able to get any of them to work for whatever reasons.

Then I stumbled on this:

It’s totally low-tech, but get this — it totally works. I really don’t care about the output format, or that it runs as a JaveScript bookmarklet in my browser. (Latest version of Safari ok.) I got my data, and copied and pasted it into a text file, and for now I’m happy with that.

If I ever have to put it back on Netflix that will be a different story, but for now I’m satisfied that my data is safe, and in a format that I’m sure I could write my own code to do something interesting with.

In case you’re curious, here they are: {manilaSuite.gems.includeGem (11)}

Hacks and Mash-Ups

I think this is just about as cool as it gets these days, even though AudioFaucet is already well over a year old:


To give you an idea of what’s going on here, ponder this for a moment first:

  • iTunes is running on my Mac in a different room from my TV. Some big drives attached to the Mac are where all my digital media lives.
  • My TiVo HD recently got an update from TiVo (in fact it just informed me today) that enables its Home Networking apps (a.k.a. HME).
  • iTunes is a ‘scriptable’ application, meaning programs can talk to it using its scripting API (implemented using Apple’s standard AppleEvents, which are built into the system).
  • The screenshot above is drawn onto my TV screen by a Java application, running on my Mac in the other room, and is output to the TV by the TiVo.
  • Audio from the Mac is streaming over the network to the TiVo, and comes out of my HiFi speakers via an optical fiber connected to the TiVo.
  • When I hit the Thumbs Up button on my TiVo remote, the rating of the song on my iTunes library on my Mac is updated instantly.

So there are lots of interfaces at work here that are machine to machine, or software to software, and that have nothing to do with ‘human’ interfaces: USB (for the disks that hold my media files), AppleEvents (for AudioFaucet to talk to iTunes), TOS (digital audio over fiber optic), TCP/IP over the home network including a transparent coaxial link from the living room to the office in the basement, IR remote (proprietary TiVo), HDMI (digital video from the TiVo to the TV), and if the screenshot were of a podcast playing, then you can throw in RSS (a format, but also an interface).

I’ve been messing around with technology for about 30 years, with varying degrees of seriousness. This is by far the most fun and most versatile set of toys I’ve ever played with.

And I’m sure I’m only barely able to imagine how cool this stuff will be in just a few years. Every few years. For probably the rest of my life.

Ps. This works on Windows too, though I’m pretty sure the the interface is Windows Events, instead of AppleEvents.

Hacks and Mash-Ups TiVo