Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Making the Simple Complicatedly Simple

Confused yet? Me too! I had a colleague ask me today about an "easy" way to share photos that students were taking at an event that could be filtered by administration in some some way.  Well, off the bat that eliminates the use of hashtags on Twitter or Instagram.  That would be the truly easy way to handle it, but just isn't a viable solution in this instance.  So what is the "easy" solution?  I think I figured it out some few hours later using a convoluted mashup of Google VoiceDropboxFlickr and IFTTT.

  1. Create a Google Voice account for a Gmail Account.  A little known fact, you can actual text message these accounts and they will arrive just like emails.  Also create an alias for the email account itself in case people can't text they can email the alias.
  2. Create a Dropbox account and download the Dropbox application to your desktop.
  3. Create a public folder within the Dropbox folder on your desktop
  4. Set this public folder as the default location for your browser to download files.
  5. Create an IFTTT account
  6. Create a Flickr account (yes this requires a Yahoo account)
  7. If you haven't already, activate the Dropbox and Flickr services in IFTTT
  8. Create an IFTTT recipe where the If trigger is Dropbox "New Photo in Your Public Photo" Add hashtags, if you like, otherwise leave the rest set to default.  And set the Action for Flickr to "Upload Public Folder from URL"  
  9. Instruct the person monitoring the incoming photos to simply download the attached photos that have been approved from within the email.  The mere presence of the file in the Dropbox folder will trigger the IFTTT recipe and upload the image to Flickr.
  10. Create QR codes for the Google Voice and or the Email address to which you want people to send photos.  Make sure the number and address is available for people without QR Code scanners.
  11. Provide information about where people can view the photostream.
Simple right!?  For the person taking the photos, yes.  For the person monitoring the incoming photos, sort of.  For the technical staff who have to set this monstrosity up, not so much!  But hey, that's why no one ever looks behind the curtain right?!  I hope this helps someone with a similar request.

Incidentally, I could have avoided the download step entirely by setting up a forwarding of email including a specified hashtag to and then create a recipe that would trigger moving the document into the Dropbox folder which would then be automagically uploaded to Flickr.  The problem?  First it eliminates the approval process and second names the attachment with the phone number the message was sent from as it drops it into the Dropbox folder.  Probably, not the best idea.

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