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Flow is Microsoft’s version of IFTTT; it’s worth checking out

Microsoft has caught onto the IFTTT trend, creating its own service called Flow that helps you “create automated workflows between your favorite apps and services to get notifications, synchronize files, collect data, and more.”

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Teaching your devices to interact

For years, we’ve profiled IFTTT which stands for “If This, Then That,” referring to the conditional commands you use to automatic specific functions. For example, “If I post a picture on Instagram, then save it my Dropbox.” Or, “if the temperature drops below 50 degrees, then turn on the thermostat.”

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You make the rules

IFTTT “recipes” are a great way to connect functions between different devices based on rules that you create. It’s kind of basic if you think about it, and yet there wasn’t an easy way to do it before IFTTT.

These days, tech companies are scrambling to create ever-smarter devices that learn to anticipate your behavior and needs. In the meantime, IFTTTs are a great way to program your devices to interact in ways that save you time and hassle.

Microsoft is on the Flow train

Microsoft has caught onto the IFTTT trend, creating its own service called Flow that helps you “create automated workflows between your favorite apps and services to get notifications, synchronize files, collect data, and more.”

Flow can be programmed to complete hundreds of IFTTT style operations – the only limit is your imagination.

Flows can “instantly deal” with emails, notifications, file shares, or anything else that happens online or on a device. It can be used to connect Office 365, Twitter, OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, Slack, MailChimp, GitHub, Salesforce, and more.

So, what can you do with it?

Microsoft, as well as independent developers, have also created handy guides to give you ideas about ways that your apps could connect. Some templates help you get notifications. For example, you might want to receive a text message any time your boss sends you an email.

Some flow functions are used to synchronize your files between programs like OneDrive, Dropbox, and Google Drive. Others automate the collection of data, for example, by saving tweets into a spreadsheet, or saving contact information across all of your devices and software.

You can also set up functions that require your approval. For example, you may want to add new members from your MailChimp list to your SharePoint list, but only if you OK it first.

Smart devices are great, but only you know exactly what you need your devices to do for you. Microsoft Flow is one way to help streamline your experience.

#MicrosoftFlow

Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

Tech News

Palm is a tiny phone that pairs with your giant smartphone

(TECHNOLOGY) Nokia’s new Palm mini-phone release encourages endless Honey I Shrunk the Phone jokes.

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palm baby phone

My current phone is dangerously close to being excluded from regular software updates. However, I have no real intention of purchasing a new one until crucial functions become unusable. There’s so little storage that if I want to install a new app, I have to delete one.

Yet I hold on to my increasingly historical device because I love how tiny it is compared to everything else on the market. Larger screens are no longer a novelty. It’s now the norm to have a five inch screen at a minimum.

But Palm has something different in mind. Yes, Palm as in the same people who brought you the now defunct PalmPilot. Mobility-loving users rejoice, they have risen from the ashes of the technology graveyard to bring you a new miniature innovation.

Palm released a eensy teensy credit card sized “ultra-mobile companion device” creatively called Palm. This cute little pal’s screen measures a mere 3.3 inches and weighs just over two ounces.

It easily fits in your athleisure wear, clutches, wallets, and even bike mounts. Palm is meant to help you out in times when your “big phone” is too gigantic for whatever you’re doing. Hold up, don’t we already have smartwatches for that?

Well, yes. But the tiny device boasts several features absent in smartwatches, including rear and front facing cameras, full keyboard messaging, and an expanded accessory ecosystem. The adorable companion even has facial recognition and customizable notification settings. Plus, if you’re not a watch person, Palm is a non-wearable alternative.

So that’s all neat, but is this all just a gimmick to convince you that your giant smartphone needs a baby smartphone friend? Well, that depends on your lifestyle.

If you’re frequently using your phone on-the-go or simply want a technology detox, this device may be the thing for you. It makes your phone more like a fun toy to check sometimes instead of a huge screen that sucks the life out of your waking hours.

But if you’re constantly on your phone and always prefer the bigger screen, you’ll want to stick with your current device. Or give one to your kids to use as an American Girl Doll accessory.

The device starts at $349 and pairs with your existing phone, but comes with an additional $10 charge since it has its own cellular radio. Palm syncs with Android and iOS and is currently available in the U.S. exclusively through Verizon.

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Tech News

Remote job search site literally copied & pasted competitor’s entire site

(TECH NEWS) What happens if someone copies and pastes your site into their own site, then charges users for it? Besides rage… ?

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Despite the fact that plagiarism has been a no-no with very serious potential consequences since middle school for most people, some folks didn’t get the memo. One group of individuals even went so far as to copy a competitor’s entire website and publish it as their own, raising the question: just how much idiocy do you have to remain alert for?

This egregious case of copy-and-paste innovation started when a new company by the name of Jobscribe went live on Product Hunt. After spending some time in the spotlight, the company’s apparent plagiarism was brought to light by Product Hunt user Robert Williams in a review left on the Jobscribe announcement page – Jobscribe had duplicated Williams’ site Folyo — right down to the site copy and testimonials — and published the content on their own domain. Then had the gall to announce their launch on Product Hunt.

You can’t make this stuff up.

It’s easy to look at what happened to Folyo as an isolated incident, but this kind of “sharing of ideas” happens to businesses on a much more frequent basis than one might assume. In an era where everything is online and innumerable new sites are published every second, it’s all too easy for a competitor to steal your hard work and publish it as their own service.

Sadly, there isn’t much you can do after the fact; besides reporting the site to their web host for plagiarism and making a visible statement on your site (and social media if applicable), you’ll simply have to wait for the “competitor” to have their version of your content taken down. Steps you can take to mitigate some of the damage before instances like this even happen include patenting your service and brand before going live, but that won’t help you if you’re already a victim of plagiarism.

If you visit the Jobscribe website, it’s gone, and you get a note from GoDaddy that the site is parked. Adios.

Not so fast – if you visit the Jobscribe page on Product Hunt now, you’ll find that the page redirects to something called Worklead, a service which offers a functionality similar — though this time, not identical — to Folyo’s original purpose. Additionally, users have complained that the “free” service costs $5 (not a large sum, but indicative of the continued shady tactics the company employs).

Unfortunately, while the site’s copy has clearly been changed (arguably for the worse), the damage is done with little in the way of recourse for Folyo’s creator, and there’s no reason to believe that Worklead’s services will offer clients anything other than a lighter wallet.

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Tech News

Facebook Ads Manager unreliability keeps dumpster fire rep alive

(SOCIAL MEDIA) The Facebook Ads Manager isn’t exactly reliable, refunds aren’t offered, and social media practitioners hate the (still) necessary evil.

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facebook ads manager

If there is one thing upon which we can rely when it comes to Facebook, it’s disappointing us. Sure, it is clear that the platform has done amazing things to connect people from all over the world. It allows the sharing of passions, photos, ideas, lifestyles, and pointlessly hilarious memes. But we have all glimpsed the dark underbelly of the social media giant.

Facebook regularly shows us the ugliest side of ourselves. This is a topic that is covered ALL. THE. TIME. How many of us have expressed our regret that Auntie posted insensitive views with the same pride she shares her great-grandchild’s first touchdown in the junior divisional beauty pageant and peewee football game?

But the content created by users is not Facebook’s latest letdown.

Ad buyers are regularly unable to see the analytics of their campaigns. For example, on October 29th, a number of digital media professionals found the Facebook Ads Manager to be unresponsive for hours. This lapse in availability is devastating to those who purchase ad space. This was aggravated by the fact that many campaigns were time sensitive, as they focused on the midterm elections.

Further, online advertisers rely on instant feedback and data to inform their next decisions. Many have expressed that the October 29th outage is a fairly regular occurrence with Facebook and continues to make their jobs nightmares.

Additionally, refunds were not offered for the time advertisers had purchased and not been able to use.

This recent occurrence appears to be the longest shutdown of FB Ads Manager, contributing to the dumpster fire of a reputation Facebook ads have cultivated.

We continue to ask – how can such a wealthy and dominating platform not get this issue into check? Or is it part of a broader design to lower expectations and soak up money like an adult child living in their parent’s basement, with no end in sight?

Facebook continues to decline commenting on their unreliability. Perhaps they know that all the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers will continue to use, share, swoon, and offend regardless of internal issues, and that advertisers will not (for some time) be able to subsist without reaching these groups.

For now, it seems Facebook is still in the driver’s seat. Whether or not they know how to drive this dumpster on wheels is another matter.

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