Pragmatic 9A: The Internet Makes It Even Better Follow-up 1

24 March, 2014


Follow up (Part A) to The Internet Makes It Even Better with a paid alternative to iFTTT Zapier; Replacing LogMeIn with TeamViewer (still has a free tier alternative); and DRM on Internet Connected Devices.

Transcript available
This is Pragmatic Follow-Up Part A for Episode 9, The Internet Makes It Even Better. I'm Ben Alexander and my co-host is John Gigi. Hey, John. Hey, Ben. Thanks for that. I had a bunch of follow-up on this particular episode. I'm going to start with some follow-up from Tim Clifford via Twitter. Now, I had said that IFTTT is one of those examples of a free service that essentially could go away at any time. If it did, then a lot of the usefulness, if it does interconnect with some home automation products, that usefulness would then disappear. I suggested that if you were to get a paid version, or I would have far more confidence that I have a more sustainable business model, longer term and are less likely to just disappear. Still not a guarantee, of course, but less likely is good. However, Now, there is another option. You can use something called Zapier or Zapier. I don't know which way it's supposed to be pronounced, but in any case, there's a link in the show notes. Zapier is essentially, it has a free tier, but every action they call it a zap, hence the name, hence why I suggested Zapier. Anyway, five zaps and you can have those zaps run every 15 minutes. of 100 tasks per month and that's free. So you can have a muck around and see if it's useful to you. But if you're serious, then you can get the basic package, then the business package, then the business plus package for prices and whatever on their website. So what they do is they give you a sliding scale and you can choose how deep you want to go with that automation. This is not a recommendation necessarily. This is simply an alternative that Tim suggested and I think that it's worth investigating if you are into that sort of thing and you want to be with a product that is more likely to be around later. I've actually used Zapier actually. Actually, I started using it when they were still pretty new because I remember actually getting emailing back and forth with one of the lead guys there asking for something. They've actually come quite a ways. At the time, I'm looking at my old Zaps here because I haven't used it recently, but I I was working on a project where all us coders wanted to use Pivotal, Pivotal Tracker, but all the biz guys wanted to use Basecamp, and I didn't want to write anything to kind of sync things up. And they just had a little system for bouncing things back and forth, and it worked really well. And I also am using it for... Here's the magic of automation, right? I forgot I even had this. I'm using it on one of the podcasts. When I publish new... When new episodes get published, something gets copied back to my Dropbox. I'm not sure what. Zapier has a bit more of like an enterprise bent. Yeah, of course. And a lot more integrations. It's pretty cool. I would recommend it. I haven't used it recently. I love these kinds of things. And one that you can actually pay for. It's more likely to be around. So, thank you, Tim Clifford, for that. Thank you very much. Much appreciated. Okay, so the next piece of feedback I got was something else I mentioned during the episode was my depression at the fact that LogMeIn was losing its free tier. Suggestion came from two people actually, Glenn Impet and Mike Oertle, who's given us some feedback in the past. So, thank you. Tyrone: Friend of the show. Ben: Yeah, friend of the show. And he suggested some - they both suggested TeamViewer. Now, TeamViewer is again, more heavily slanted as an enterprise sort of product, but they still have their free tier. For private use, you can use it for whatever you like. However, if you want to use it for commercial purposes, then you need to pay for it. Some of the pricing plans, I mean, they started like in terms of Australian dollars anyway, about $700 Australian for the standard business version and it goes up quite a bit from there as you go to the premium and corporate plans. But the point is that for the average individual, for me, it's the perfect sort of replacement, for LogMeIn. So I think you were saying that you'd actually played with TeamViewer, that was a while ago though. - Yeah, I just reinstalled it here to re-familiarize myself. And yeah, it's like LogMeIn, but it also has this like Citrix WebEx kind of, you do an instant meeting. I think you can do sort of like a collaborative, not just screen sharing, but like document sharing. Again, a little bit more business focused, might be a little overkill for what your use case is, but it was pretty decent. I liked it. - So again, not something that I've personally have used, but it may be worth your while to look into it if you're looking for a replacement to your Log Me In for Remote Access. So thank you very much to both Mike and Glenn for pointing me in the direction of that. The last piece of feedback I just want to quickly mention comes from Sasha Noyes via our feedback form. Thank you very much for this. And this is regarding DRM on internet connected devices. I didn't really talk about this so much in the actual episode, but it's a very valid point is that there are some companies that are doing a, essentially a kill switch. So your device connects to the network and it phones home and it'll be innocuous. It'll be, you know, I need to go back to the main server of company blah and just report in and just check in and say, right, well, I'm a photocopier. I've done a thousand pages or 10,000 pages. And they may aggregate that information and come up with an email. Oh, you should probably get your printer serviced and we can offer this for you for whatever dollars but it could also be used for more nefarious purposes. Let's say that you're renting a piece of equipment and you haven't paid your bill. Well, they could disable it. And next time it checks in on the network, it's told your payments have, you've skipped the last three payments on your rental for this machine. And we are now going to do the kill switch. And you may think, oh, that's okay. Well, I'll just not connect to the network. But some of these machines are such that if you don't connect them to the network and you don't actually check in, then you won't be able to use the machine. So you get to this point of, it's almost a way of doing kind of like software license keys, but for hardware devices. So your hardware devices are now tied in the same way that a license key would be for, let's say Windows or Microsoft Windows or any piece of professional software you would care to mention. And it's something I didn't address in the episode and it's very, very good point. I personally have not come across this. However, I have heard of it happening and Sasha mentions a CNC machine they were aware of where a kill switch was applied to it. So it's definitely another aspect of, the internet makes it all better. Well, it also means more control in some cases for the original equipment manufacturers. So something to be wary of.
Duration 7 minutes and 32 seconds Direct Download

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Ben Alexander

Ben Alexander

Ben created and runs and Fiat Lux

John Chidgey

John Chidgey

John is an Electrical, Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineer, software developer, podcaster, vocal actor and runs TechDistortion and the Engineered Network. John is a Chartered Professional Engineer in both Electrical Engineering and Information, Telecommunications and Electronics Engineering (ITEE) and a semi-regular conference speaker.

John has produced and appeared on many podcasts including Pragmatic and Causality and is available for hire for Vocal Acting or advertising. He has experience and interest in HMI Design, Alarm Management, Cyber-security and Root Cause Analysis.

Described as the David Attenborough of disasters, and a Dreamy Narrator with Great Pipes by the Podfather Adam Curry.

You can find him on the Fediverse and on Twitter.