A great (free) way to receive SMS alerts

For some time, I’ve been using IFTTT (if this then that) to simplify my online existence. For those of you who don’t know IFTTT is a free online service that monitors various information feeds and takes action when particular condition is met.

IFTTT describes these rules as “recipes” and a variety of different triggers can be used to prompt an action.

IFTTT sample recipe
IFTTT supports a variety of channels which can be used as triggers. Some are relatively simple such as date/time triggers; for example you may want to receive an email a few days before an important birthday. Others are more complex; for example you could use a trigger to notify you by SMS when you’re tagged in a Facebook photograph. Users can share recipes that they create with the wider IFTTT user base.

My problem
I’m a director of Vivit, the HP Software User Group and one of my responsibilities is social media, this means that I share some responsibility for the Vivit website.

Last week I was on holiday when the site suffered a temporary outage. This was due to a hardware failure and was rapidly resolved by our hosting provider. This got me thinking about how I could ensure that I received alerts when I didn’t have access to my Vivit email account.

Our site uptime is monitored using a free service from monitor.us and various Vivit directors receive email alerts in the event of a problem. I wanted to ensure that as well as the emails, I received SMS notifications of these problems.

The solution
I already had a gmail account and I arranged for email messages from monitor.us to be forwarded to my Gmail account. I gave IFTTT access to my gmail inbox and created a recipe to ask it to look for emails from [email protected] (this is the account used by monitor.us for alerts).

My IFTTT recipe

Now each time that I receive an email alert, I get an SMS.

IFTTT checks my email every 15 minutes, which is more regularly than I check my own email. I have found this to be a pretty good way of keeping informed about problems.

LinkedIn “InMaps”…. what does yours look like ?

LinkedIn InMaps  interactive visual representations of your LinkedIn connections, based on the relationships between your connections. LinkedIn uses information about how people in your network are connected to you and each other to create your individual map. Groups like colleagues, people you went at school with, or friends are separated into colour-coded clusters, as people within these groups are also interconnected with each other. My colour-coded groups include P&P, Acuma, HP, Intechnica as well as Lloyds and HBOS.

Here’s a link to my map.

People with more connections are represented by larger dots and hovering over the dots allows you to see the names of connected people. Clicking on those names shows you other people that they’re connected to visually. This is a great way to understand your network and reconnect with those people and groups that you’re losing touch with,

As well as being a useful tool, it can come up with some surprises….

Here’s my current map.

I couldn’t help thinking that it looks rather like a dog!

Problems uploading pictures to Twitter / Instagram / Facebook (Vodafone)

I regularly use Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram etc to upload pictures to the Internet and share them with my friends and family.
Since having an iPhone 4 on Vodafone, I’ve noticed problems uploading images via various apps. These problems occur regardless of whether I use FaceBook, yfrog, twitpic or other image upload services. I know that this has nothing to do with my user credentials because I;ve always been able to upload via Wifi connections.

I concluded that I must have a problem with Vodafone.

Firstly I assumed that this might be something to do with account restrictions preventing me from accessing certain websites. I called Vodafone and had account restrictions lifted, so I could access any website. This didn’t work.

Then I phoned Vodafone support and said that I was having these problems. The lady I spoke to said that she had an iPhone (on a different network) and that she had the same problem, so it must be something to do with Apple.

I wasn’t convinced by this, so I started to trawl the internet to see if I could find the correct network settings for Vodafone-connected iPhones. I found a few websites and by trial an error I managed to find some settings that worked for me.

The old settings were
APN: wap.vodafone.co.uk
Username: wap
Password: ***

OLD Vodafone APN Settings

The new settings (which work for my Vodafone UK handset) are:
APN: internet
Username: web
Password: web

NEW Vodafone APN SettingsNEW Vodafone APN Settings


I left the MMS settings the same, because I’ve never had problems with those settings.
I hope that this is useful to you.