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My Heroic and Lazy Stand Against IFTTT

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Imagine if your sewer pipe started demanding that you make major changes in your diet.

Now imagine that it got a lawyer and started asking you to sign things.

You would feel surprised.

This is the position I find myself in today with IFTTT, a form of Internet plumbing that has been connecting peacably to my backend for the past five years, but which has recently started sending scary emails.

If you've never heard of it, If-This-Then-That is a service that lets you connect websites together, so that things that happen in one place automatically trigger some regrettable action someplace else. For example, you might write an IFTTT ‘recipe’ that tweets anything you post on Facebook, because you are a monster.

A lot of Pinboard people use IFTTT. Yesterday, they received the following form letter:

Dear username,

We're working on a new IFTTT platform for developers that makes building Channels and Recipes a breeze.

Recently, we've worked with our partners to migrate to the improved platform, but some have chosen not to do so. Unfortunately, the Pinboard Channel did not migrate to the new platform and will be removed on April 4th.

Pinboard is one of our favorite services and we're all sad to see it go. We hope down the road it may be back.

Stay tuned to the latest Channels launching on IFTTT!

— The IFTTT Team

Because many of you rely on IFTTT, and because this email makes it sound like I'm the asshole, I feel I should explain myself.

In a nutshell:

  1. IFTTT wants me to do their job for them for free

  2. They have really squirrely terms of service



1. Working for Free

A service like IFTTT writes "shim code" that makes it possible to connect online services together like Legos. Everything slots into everything else. This is thankless, detailed work (like developing TurboTax or Dropbox) that when done right, creates a lot of value.

IFTTT has already written all this shim code. They did it when they were small and had no money, so it's difficult to believe they have to throw it away now that they have lots of staff and thirty million dollars.

Instead, sites that want to work with IFTTT will have to implement a private API that can change without warning.

This is a perfectly reasonable business decision. It is always smart to make other people do all the work.

However, cutting out sites that you have supported for years because they refuse to work for free is not very friendly to your oldest and most loyal users. And claiming that it's the other party's fault that you're discontinuing service is a bit of a dick move.

I am all for glue services, big and small. But it's better for the web that they connect to stable, documented, public APIs, rather than custom private ones.

And if you do want me to write a custom API for you, pay me lots of money.



2. Squirrely Terms of Service

The developer terms of service don't seem to be available by a public URL, so I will quote the bits that stung me. I invite IFTTT lawyers to send me a takedown notice, because that will be the funniest part of this fracas so far.

To begin with, IFTTT wants me to promise never to compete with them:

2.You shall not (and shall not authorize or encourage any third party to), directly or indirectly: [...] (xii) "use the Developer Tool or Service in conjunction with a product or service that competes with products or services offered by IFTTT. You hereby make all assignments necessary to accomplish the foregoing.”

Pinboard is in some ways already a direct competitor to IFTTT. The site offers built-in Twitter integration, analogous to IFTTT’s twitter->Pinboard recipe. I don’t know what rights I would be assigning here, but this is not the way I want to find out.

Next, they make a weird claim about owning not just their API and service, but the content that flows through it:

3. Ownership. IFTTT shall own all right, title, and interest (and all related moral rights and intellectual property rights) in and to the Developer Tool, Service, and Content.

They require that I do custom development work for them, for free, on demand:

11. Compatibility. Each Licensee Channel must maintain 100% compatibility with the Developer Tool and the Service including changes provided to you by IFTTT, which shall be implemented in each Channel promptly thereafter.

And they assert the right to patent any clever ideas I have while doing that free work for them, even though I hate software patents:

12. Patent License. Licensee hereby grants IFTTT a nonexclusive, sublicensable, perpetual, fully-paid, worldwide license to fully exercise and exploit all patent rights with respect to improvements or extensions created by or for Licensee to the API

Finally, they reserve the right to transfer this agreement to anyone at all, without my consent:

17.This Agreement is personal to Licensee and may not be assigned or transferred for any reason [...]. IFTTT expressly reserves the right to assign this Agreement and to delegate any of its obligations hereunder.

I say nuts to all that.

I'm sorry your IFTTT/Pinboard recipes are going to stop working.

It's entirely IFTTT's decision to drop support for Pinboard (along with a bunch of other sites). They are the ones who are going to flip the switch on working code on April 4, and they could just as easily flip the switch back on (or even write an IFTTT recipe that does it for them). Weigh their claims about Pinboard being a beloved service accordingly.

For users left stranded, I recommend taking a look at Zapier or Botize, which offer a similar service, or at one of the dozens of new sites that will spring up next week to capture the market that IFTTT is foolishly abandoning.

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MichaelMassing
391 days ago
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When I read @IFTTT's backpedal note, my 1st thought was "Don't fuck with Maciej!" @Pinboard.
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7 public comments
superiphi
389 days ago
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Ifttt has never worked for me. Set up the integrations and rules, test, set it up to run... Nothing ever happens.
Following this, cancelled account.
Idle, Bradford, United Kingdom
Dadster
391 days ago
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I just disconnected IFTTT. No more, no more. Looking at some of the alternatives for now.
New Hampshire
spiffylogic
392 days ago
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IF This Then That
Philadelphia, PA
simon_w
393 days ago
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My guess is this is similar to why there's no ADN integration for IFTTT now either.
Wellington, New Zealand
samuel
394 days ago
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Pinboard cc'd me on a tweet about this. My take on this is that users are free to decide for themselves when a the use of a service weighs convenience vs privacy. As far as defaults go, NewsBlur always chooses privacy.

IFTTT integration is incredibly popular and I think that while convenience vs privacy is a complicated debate, it is ultimatey up to the user when its their privacy at stake. When I decide for the user, it's always for privacy. In that case, when I can't decide for privacy (which would essentially terminate IFTTT integration with NewsBlur) I let the user decide.

To top it off, IFTTT integration took me a week of work, since I had to build in OAuth integration and an OAuth flow that was not trivial. So I definitely see the laziness argument.
The Haight in San Francisco
superiphi
389 days ago
The ifttt never worked for me. I set it up for newsblur, so that I share from apps that don't do newsblur. Never actually did a thing. Cancelled now
chrisrosa
394 days ago
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what in the actual f @ifttt? /cc @pinboard
San Francisco, CA
digdoug
394 days ago
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My comment when I deactivated my IFTTT account yesterday was, "Too many lawyers, too little value."
Louisville, KY
summerofjay
393 days ago
My deactivation comment was similar, though there was a little profanity thrown in for good measure.

PowerA iPhone 5 Star Wars cases from $8 shipped (orig. up to $35)

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Tanga-Star Wars cases-iPhone-sale-02

Update (10/7 11:15am): Tanga is now offering free shipping on the below cases using code SHIP7 during checkout.

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These are “officially licensed” Star Wars cases at the lowest prices we can find.As a price comparison, the Chewbacca case is regular $34.99 direct from PowerA and will run you $14.95 on Amazon right now. 

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They are brand new and come with a 30 day warranty.

More from PowerA on the Chewbacca case:

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Filed under: Deals Tagged: C-3PO, Chewbacca, iphone 5 cases, Luke vs. Vader, PowerA, Star Wars
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MichaelMassing
932 days ago
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Star Wars/gadget geeks:
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New Diabetes Nutrition Recommendations: What's In Them for You?

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By Amy Campbell

If you like to keep up with the latest and greatest in diabetes, you might like to know that last October, new nutrition recommendations for adults with diabetes were issued by the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Medical standards of care are issued every year by ADA, but nutrition guidelines only change every few years or so.

What's in these recommendations, anyway, and how might they apply to you? First, it's important to understand that a select committee of nutrition experts spends countless hours combing through the literature, responding to queries, and debating with each other until the guidelines are finished. This is no fly-by-night process. It takes a long time and careful consideration.

Second, these recommendations are what we call "evidence-based." This means that anecdotal "evidence" (like, "my aunt took cinnamon and cured her diabetes") is not a part of these recommendations. Much of the content is based on the gold standard: randomized clinical trials. Some is based on what's called "expert opinion" or "expert consensus." I write this because undoubtedly, many people will disagree with these recommendations or claim that ADA doesn't know what it's talking about. But it's hard to argue with good science.

What's new?
There are a few new concepts and changes in these 2013 recommendations. I'm highlighting several of them here.

Eating patterns. These guidelines are the first time that the concept of "eating patterns" has been introduced. This is a term that describes combinations of different food groups to characterize the relationship between nutrition and health. ADA (and dietitians, in general) recognizes that there are many different types of eating patterns and that many of these can certainly be appropriate for people with diabetes. These include:

• The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan
• The Mediterranean-style eating plan
• Vegetarian and vegan diets
• Low-fat diets
• Low-carbohydrate diets

What does this mean for you? I've said it before and I'll say it again: There is no one eating pattern (diet) that is right for everyone with diabetes. Period. If you do well with a lower-carb eating plan, great! But your neighbor may not do or feel the same. Personal preferences (likes and dislikes, culture, religion, economics) and metabolic goals are what should drive one's eating pattern.

Macronutrients. These are carbohydrate, protein, and fat. What's new with them?

Carbohydrate: I often hear people (including health-care professionals) deride ADA for promoting high-carb diets. That's not the case. In fact, for several years now, ADA has stopped recommending a specific percentage of calories from carbohydrate. Surveys indicate that most people with Type 2 diabetes consume about 45% of calories from carbohydrate (and roughly 16% to 18% of calories from protein and 36% to 40% of calories from fat), but there's no evidence to support that this is the "right" amount of carb for people with diabetes. The reality is that some people do well with a higher-carb intake and some with a lower-carb intake. Once again, it boils down to the individual. Ideally, that individual would meet with a dietitian or other qualified health-care professional and together determine the "right" carbohydrate percentage for him or her.

There's a considerable amount of space in these recommendations devoted to lower-carb eating plans and some of the research does, indeed, show positive effects of lower-carb eating patterns, particularly in terms of weight loss. However, the authors of the guideline do point out that one of the downsides with low-carb diets is that there isn't a standard definition of "low carb." The authors describe "very low" carbohydrate intake as being from 21 grams to 70 grams of carbohydrate per day and "moderate" carbohydrate intake as comprising between 30% and 40% of total calories. But there's no general consensus about this.

The recommendations also, for the first time, recommend limiting the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages. Monitoring carbohydrate intake, whether by counting carbs or watching portions, is still considered an effective means of controlling blood glucose. And substituting low-glycemic-index carbohydrate for high-glycemic-index carbohydrate may modestly improve glycemic control.

I'll let you mull this all over for the week, and then next week, I'll write more about the other macronutrients and what the deal is with sodium. Stay tuned!

------------------------

Copyright (C) 2014 Madavor Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved. See http://www.DiabetesSelfManagement.com/Terms/ for terms and conditions of reuse.

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MichaelMassing
1065 days ago
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I've been pushing carb counts down, and that has been working for me as a factor in blood glucose and body fat management. What does science say?
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Nobody had the heart to tell her that organizing books by color...

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Nobody had the heart to tell her that organizing books by color was so 2004.

(Photo: Francis Dzikowski/ESTO; Dwell)

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MichaelMassing
1066 days ago
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Is there a serious reader who does not shudder at the very thought?
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[from sethopia] The United (Watershed) States of AmericaCommunity Builders

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MichaelMassing
1191 days ago
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Data and mapping geeks - What if geography were based on...geography?
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Get an extra 1GB of Dropbox space for free

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dropbox-free-ios-deal-9to5toys

Dropbox and their popular iOS email client, Mailbox, are offering

dropbox-free-ios-deal-9to5toys

Dropbox has teamed up with the popular iOS mail app, Mailbox, to offer an extra 1GB of storage for free. This freebie requires you to have an iOS device capable of running the mailbox app and a Gmail account. Follow the steps below to get your bonus Dropbox storage.

1. Signup for a Dropbox account (if you don’t already have one) – mobile app here
2. Install Mailbox app on your iDevice.
3. Log in to your Gmail account on Mailbox
4. Link your Dropbox account (under settings menu)
5. Verify bonus bous storage by logging in to your Dropbox account.

Already linked your Dropbox and Mailbox accounts? You can still grab this deal…


Filed under: Deals Tagged: dropbox, ios apps, mailbox
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MichaelMassing
1349 days ago
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Pretty much a no-brainer if you already use Dropbox and an iThing. And actually, the mail client — not that anyone needs to commit to it — is elegant.
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