Automators 30: Some Favorite Automations

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It’s pronounced caliber. :slight_smile: Calibre is just the UK/Indian spelling. I think I said it three different ways before I finally looked it up.

Enjoyed the episode, as always!

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“Calibre” is indeed the British spelling of the US word “caliber”.

The eBook management software was actually named for being free and open - ca-“libre” (from the French word for free ‘libre’, which influenced Spanish, which is how I think the term ended up in-use in Mexico and parts of the US); but is pronounced as per the full word “ka-luh-buh”.

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On the topic of disposable email automation, I use the catchall feature in G Suite to create new emails on the fly – so every website I sign up to gets its own email address which can easily be blocked completely if it starts receiving spam. It can also used to see if an account has been leaked in a data breach – haveibeenpwned.com provides domain wide notifications.

In Keyboard Maestro, I have an automation that when I press “@@” it will use JavaScript to get the host name of the current site I’m on and generate and paste the new email address automatically – so for this site it would be automators@example.com.

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I love listening to the Automators show.
When David and Rose were talking about processing meeting notes via Apple Notes, I had a ‘I do this too’ moment. So simple but so useful.

@MacSparky
I’ve got the Shortcut set up that David was looking to figure out.
Within the meeting note will be actions just for me which I want to find their way into Reminders (or OmniFocus / Things if that’s what you prefer) so I can process them later.

Here is the Shortcut I use for this (Identical to what Rose described in the episode).This text will be hidden
Just replace the text string and your to-do app of choice to make it your own.
You could make it work for Drafts too which I sometimes use.

Hope this is useful.

Enjoyed this episode.

Similar to one of Rose’s automations:

I was really excited when I figured out a while ago that I could get Hazel to add a task to where I wanted it in my Omnifocus database by triggering it with a text file (from, e.g. IFTTT). For example I have an RSS trigger from Goodreads that creates a task in Omnifocus to remind me to choose a new book to read.

Instead of using a tool to parse the inbox I create the task with an embedded Applescript. Here’s an example in case it is useful to anybody:

	set task_title to "Find next book to read"
	set the_note to "https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/16990579-kaitlin?shelf=to-read"
	tell front document
		set theProject to first flattened project where its name = "[Media]"
		set theTag to first flattened tag where its name = "Routine"
		tell theProject
			set NewTask to make new task with properties {name:task_title, primary tag:theTag, note:the_note}
		end tell
	end tell
	
end tell

And I use a similar approach for more traditional Hazel-type things like credit card or other bill payments which use custom tokens that have been matched to build the details of the task.

	set Amount to item 1 of inputAttributes
	set due_date to item 2 of inputAttributes
	set task_title to "Pay SomeCompany CC ($" & Amount & ")"
	tell front document
		set theProject to first flattened project where its name = "[Bills]"
		tell theProject
			set NewTask to make new task with properties {name:task_title, due date:due_date}
			tell the note of NewTask
				make new file attachment with properties {file name:theFile, embedded:true}
			end tell
		end tell
	end tell
	
end tell

I stole and adapted the Applescript from somewhere ages ago, so I’m afraid I can’t give credit. But it’s great because it’s really easy to adapt it to different tasks–you can just update the property list (and you can find all the property names by looking in the Omnifocus AppleScript dictionary).

I have made quite a few changes to my Omnifocus setup recently, so I have some tweaks to make to my Hazel scripts, but hopefully they can be a helpful base for someone in the meantime because I recall they took me a while to get working properly.

Of course, Omni Automation will possibly make this even easier–but since this part of the system is working, I haven’t looked into it as an alternative at this stage. (But man, is it cool. I am obsessed.)

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I’m debating getting a used Mac Pro 2013 (trashcan) vs a new Mac Mini, just to run some of these automations 24x7. Any insights which way I should follow?

What automations do you want to do and what are the relative prices? Also, a second hand mini may also be worth considering.

There’s this reseller who are selling new, sealed Mac Pro (late 2013) 6-core, 16gb for us$2000, pretty good deal, in my opinion. However, at us$2000, I could also get a souped-up Mac mini, which I think will have the same single-core performance of the Mac Pro. The Mac Pro will beat it in multi core and in graphics stuff, which I don’t think I will use a lot.

I do some slight coding and I do want to have a server that I can connect my Hue lights, Blink cameras, be a Time Machine (external HDD) for the other MacBooks in the household. I intend to also use it as a Plex server for the family’s video need too. I think I will figure out more use case for it if I have a powerful Mac.

Now, 2018 Mini vs 2013 Pro - that is a tough decision.

Maybe, your idea of a used mini will be a better middle-ground. Alas.

I think a Mac Mini sounds more suited to what you have described, but balance what you intend to spend on what you will use it for.

I have a low powered Mac Mini that is slow to use hands on (it was never fast), but works just fine for all the background stuff I use it for automation-wise.

Plex does require a bit of oomph to get good performance, but some off device storage would probably be a lot cheaper than trying to store everything onboard and performance should still be good. I run Plex direct from my several years old NAS (QNAP) and while it can be a little slow to get initial access when opening a client app, playback performance from that is never an issue.

There is one caveat. If you plan on transcoding for a wide range of devices on the fly, then a higher end Mac Mini would be preferable over a lower powered one. That’s where your computer can really make use of any extra power. I believe it will also try and use multiple cores, so that is worth keeping in mind too for this specific use case.

Finally, as your device would be 24x7, I’d err on the minis side for power consumption. The Pro is a beast and even without checking the specs, I get the impression it won’t be as eco-power friendly as a more modern mini.

Hope that helps in some way.

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Thanks for a thoughtful response and the above is a good advise. I will have to do more research and think through the performance vs cost (upfront and, as you rightly pointed out, electricity) <3