How To Filter Your Tweets To Facebook Using WordPress, Twools & IFTTT

Awhile back I received a complaint from my sister-in-law about posting Instagram photos to Facebook. Now I have been for years now syndicating my Twitter feed to Facebook, which many people may very well hate. I know personally I derive more value sharing to Facebook and interacting with people than I would if I simply didn’t share to Facebook. If I didn’t share there, I simply wouldn’t be a Facebook user, so this is the compromise I have to strike as an ardent Twitter user.

The Problem

The root of my SILs complaint was that she had to go to Instagram to see my photo anytime I posted, whereas anyone else who posted directly to Facebook from Instagram gets a nice big photo that people can comment on. If I post direct to Facebook from Instagram it would end up showing up twice, once for the Facebook share and a second time for when it gets shared to Twitter, then syndicated to Facebook. There was no way to filter my feed so as to eliminate the Twitter duplicate from being posted to Facebook.

While there used to be Facebook apps that allowed you to filter your posts to a point, those have gone by the wayside once Twitter and Facebook offered native integration. There is an app called Selective Tweets on Facebook that allows you to use a #fb hashtag and only import those tagged posts, but now I’m cluttering my posts with extraneous Facebook only data, which is now bringing the problem of platform cruft to Twitter instead of Facebook. I wanted something that was a lot smarter and would allow me to filter things based on my defined rules.

Twitter As RSS

This used to be something rather trivial to sort out, but since Twitter phased out RSS support on their platform awhile back. Bummer. So now we’ve got to figure out how to generate an RSS feed from Twitter. This is where I happened up on a WordPress plugin called Twools. Basically what Twools allows you to do is generate your own custom filtered RSS feed, which is exactly what we’re trying to achieve here. Twools is also available as a standalone app that will work on a PHP enabled server, but I’m going to outline the WordPress method of setting things up.

A WordPress self-hosted blog(not a site) or a host that can run PHP
A Twitter account

Create A Twitter App

  1. Go to the Twitter Apps site and login with your Twitter account. Create a new app.

    RSS Twitter App

  2. Create your app with your own credentials based on the server you’re hosting it on. When naming your app you can’t have Twitter in the name or it will reject the name.
  3. Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 9.55.54 PMIn your newly created app go to the API keys, scroll to the bottom of the page and click the create access key button.
  4. In the top right of the page click the Test OAuth button and you will find the keys you need to setup your app credentials in Twools. Keep this tab open.

Setting Up Twools

  1. Download Twools. It isn’t available as a regular plugin through the WordPress admin panel, so you will have to fill out the form on their site and get the download links sent to your email.
  2. Install Twools in WordPress by going to Plugins > Add New > Upload. Upload the zip file you downloaded from the site.
  3. Navigate to Settings>Twools and input the API credentials from that Twitter tab you left open earlier into the corresponding fields in Twools and save your settings.
  4. Click the Launch Twools button and it will leave the WordPress Admin area and go to the full Twools dashboard. Click the feeds button to start setting up your RSS feed.
  5. Under input feed choose user timeline. There are all sorts of other ways of interacting with the Twitter data in here, but for this we’ll just focus on parsing your individual Twitter account.Twools Twitter Feed Setup
  6. Under Filters this is where you’ll start individualizing what you’d like to prevent from showing on your Facebook feed. In my case I wanted to block a few different services as well as filter just the links in my feed. I also added the @ symbol so as to remove any tweets that are directed at someone, since the @username syntax just doesn’t make any sense on Facebook. I opted not to filter hashtags, since they actually do have their place on Facebook these days. There are lots of ways of you can filter things here, so get creative. Once you’re done hit the Generate Feed button.Twools Filtering Settings
  7. You should now see your newly generated and filtered RSS feed of your tweets. If they aren’t filtering properly, hit the back button and play with the filter settings until you get the desired result. Copy this RSS feed for our next steps.

Posting To Facebook From IFTTT

IFTTT RSS to Facebook
  1. Go the and signup or login if you already have an account.
  2. Click Create to start a new recipe. Click the this link and choose RSS from the options.
  3. Under Choose A Trigger select New Feed Item. Then under Complete Field Trigger paste the RSS feed that you generated earlier.
  4. Click the That link and select Facebook from the options. If you haven’t setup Facebook before in IFTTT it’ll prompt you to grant it access.
  5. Choose Create A Link Post. This will make it so your link from Twitter will parse nicely on Facebook with the previewed URLs you always see on the site.
  6. Under Link URL, click the plus sign and select EntryUrl from the Ingredient list. Do the same for the message box, but choose EntryTitle.
  7. Click Create Action, then Create Recipe and your new Recipe will be active. Click the Check Recipe Now button and it should run the recipe for the first time and send your latest post to Facebook.Posting from IFTTT to Facebook

Once I got this setup working I realized I had a need for a second recipe to be created, one for when I posted something that wasn’t a link and had no @ symbols, so I created a second RSS feed for those instances and created a second recipe in IFTTT. That recipe was different in that instead of using Create Link Post I used Create A Status Message. If I didn’t make this second feed I found that Facebook would always want to create a post with a link, which would point back to my original Tweet on Twitter which wasn’t ideal, so that solved it.

One thing I thought I should mention is that since you’re running your tweets through essentially 2 different services before posting to Facebook there is a delay in when your tweet will be posted. In my experience so far it can be as little as a couple of minutes to up to about half an hour, which to me isn’t a big deal.

While it may not be the most straightforward way of achieving the goal I have found that it is by far the best way of controlling the flow of data from Twitter to Facebook. I find I’m shocked that nobody has built a Facebook app that brings more robust filtering of Twitter, but until that happens with is the next best thing.

My New Hackbook Pro – An HP Probook 6460b

I’ve been working on configuring my new toy, an HP Probook 6460b that I’ve now been able to turn into a Hackintosh laptop. Now if you’re not familiar with what a Hackintosh is, it is basically Apple’s OS X operating system running on a regular PC device. The obvious benefit of this is that you can buy cheaper PC hardware and be able to get the superior Apple operating system. The other big benefit I love is the ability to upgrade hardware whenever you see fit, just like PC users have had the luxury of doing forever.

Previous Hackintosh Projects

Fully Customizable

hackbook-6460b-insidesMy favourite part about this laptop is how amazingly easy it is to upgrade components. The HP Probook 6460b is part of HPs professional line of laptops, so it’s the type of device that is run by corporations for their employees and is easily upgradable if any of the components needs swapped out. To get this benefit you definitely have to compromise on the size of the laptop. While it’s a little bulky, I’m not really too bothered. In an effort to make my laptop as compatible as possible I swapped out the wifi card for an HP branded Broadcom BCM943224HMS wifi chip from eBay. I installed it, the OS picked it up right away and it worked without any issue, which is one of the biggest issues with Hackintosh laptops, actually getting the wifi to work without too much mucking. So safe to say I was pretty overjoyed to get everything working.

More Bang For Your Buck

I also picked up a 128gb SSD drive and got that swapped in and I’m just waiting for a hard drive caddy to arrive so I can take out the DVD drive and swap in the 500gb drive I pulled out of the machine. Now I just need to upgrade some RAM and I’ve got a budget priced laptop running OS X without actually paying the price for an Apple laptop. From what I’ve pieced together I have a system roughly comparable to a late-2011 Macbook Pro, slightly faster i5 processor, faster SSD hard drive, better screen resolution, and a second hard drive for about $600. Just taking a cursory glance at what the going rate for Macbook Pros on Kijiji, many people are looking for $700-750+ for 2009 and 2010 models. So even though this laptop is a little older, I still have a better machine than what my money would be able to buy on the used market. I had been considering buying a 2011 Macbook Air, but given the lightweight processor it made more sense to go the Hackintosh route.

Now I will fully admit that Hackintoshing is not for the faint at heart, but it definitely appeals to my geeky side to be able to muck and play around with PC building while not leaving my platform of choice, the Macintosh. If you’re feeling bold and have some time to learn the ropes, it’s definitely a fun little hobby.

A Fresh Start for

Holy crap, I actually updated my blog. I know it’s shocking. For the longest time I’ve wanted to redesign my blog and have never been able to find the push to get it done. I have big ideas and a concept that I hope to one day actually bring to fruition, but for the time being I decided buying a template would be a good intermediary step for me. I always aspire to blog, but then I cast my thoughts to the large task of redesigning my site and would just end up depressed and opt not to blog. This is essentially my way of removing a road block from my life.

I design sites for a living, but can never find time to redesign my own pursuits. So I figure this was $40 well spent. I bought the Ipsup Social WordPress Theme and really couldn’t be happier. While I didn’t design it, I can at least quickly put a fresh face on my blog and not feel embarrassed about not having redone the design of it.  And at very least it gives me something to pick away at and refine. My old template didn’t give me anything worth salvaging, so it was just really frustrating to stare at anytime I hit publish.

So to new beginnings and actually blogging again. Feels so good.

A Big Idea For Cambridge

I have lived in Cambridge for 6 years now and I’ve always noted the feeling that something was off. The fact that this city is comprised of 3 different communities has always been a challenge for creating cohesiveness. One of the challenges of this amalgamated city is that Hespeler Road was developed without much forethought and vision put into it’s planning as it primarily served as a way of connecting Galt and Hespeler. Mall upon mall was built around a lot of the cruft that existed between our 3 communities since all 3 had their own separate downtown cores.

park-conceptFlea markets and car dealerships are typically found on the edges of most towns, yet in Cambridge we have them pretty much at the geographical centre of the city. The flea market is an absolute eyesore and it’s something people traveling from out of town drive past to get to the Cambridge Centre and our other shopping destinations. The large Chrysler dealership lot sits overgrown with weeds. The lot at the end of the block sits empty and for sale.

What I’m proposing is that the city work to redevelop this land. The whole block from Dunbar to the Can-Amera Parkway along Hespeler Road is either vacant or an easily relocated in the case of flea market. Otherwise only the Volkswagen dealership and Pioneer gas station are functioning businesses along this huge strip of land. This is a huge area that is essentially wasted potential for our community as a whole.

Consider if we took this land and created a proper transit hub that our city could really use. Make space so Grand River Transit, Greyhound and Go Transit could co-exist. We could solve the sad Greyhound station on Industrial Road where people wait in front of a factory to catch a bus. Moving the GRT hub across the street isn’t a huge change and makes it easy for people taking a bus to leave the city with Go Transit or Greyhound without much hassle.

Then we could create civic space to hold events. So often we see things like the carnival or circus coming to town and setting up shop in the Cambridge Centre parking lot. Why not create a space that can naturally hold these type of events. Being adjacent to the mall offers lots of parking for people, then having the transit hub right there makes it easy to catch the bus and come to an event. Make an area where you could have a picnic. Make it so there is something else other than strip malls and parking lots along Hespeler Road.

How great would it be if the Christmas and Canada Day parades had room to include planned outdoor events, like a vendors market before and a concert afterwards? There aren’t many residential spaces around in the immediate vicinity so there isn’t much cause for noise issues. What about hosting a food truck festival or any number of other events that could be run using this newly found space? The possibilities are endless.

The part I love most about this idea is how it could serve as a unifying space. It’s not Galt, Preston or Hespeler, but genuine Cambridge space. A space that is at the centre of the community and doesn’t aim to detract from each individual downtown. Make this the core that Cambridge has long been missing, a place that people from across our community can access and enjoy.

Sure there are lots of obstacles to overcome with this plan when it comes to displacing businesses, land acquisition and potential contamination of those properties, but all those things can be overcome. I put this idea out there merely to get the gears moving. Put the idea in people’s heads that we can have something better than the current state of Hespeler Road.

Keeping it rolling into 2013

Happy New Year everyone. I thought I would actually get around to a follow up blog post to my previous Turning Over A New Leaf post from November. Corina and I have managed to keep on course through the holidays with our weight loss and I’ve managed to get through the season relatively unscathed. While I didn’t entirely avoid holiday indulgences, I definitely was mindful of it. I’m now looking forward to getting back to normal as far as schedule with eating.

IMG_3579I find reading through my November blog it’s somewhat amusing that I’ve practically changed or evolved all the methods I was using then. Instead of using Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, I bought Nike+ Kinect for Xbox. What I find I like about the Nike+ game is that it’s a lot more structured than Your Shape. So far I’ve worked through the first training program once, which was a month and a half worth of exercises. And I’ve done the baseline “Fuel Print” test, which compares your overall fitness. My first Fuel Print was 44 fitness / 47 athleticism, with the average for men 30-39 being 43/50. On my most recent test this week I was able to jump up to a 50/63 which I was pretty proud of. Just helped show me that my hard work was in fact showing dividends.

I also managed to upgrade my FitBit as well. I ended up upgrading my iPhone 4 to an iPhone 4S, which in turn gave me better Bluetooth syncing capabilities. So I decided to pick up a FitBit One, which allowed me to sync with my phone during the day. I find it took a bit of getting used to, as I did quite like the design of the Ultra, but now I’m feeling pretty comfortable with the FitBit One. I find I sync it a couple times a day, which in turn helps with my food tracking. FitBit also syncs with RunTracker as well, so I’ve got all the different apps I use working together which is pretty great.

On the topic of food tracking, I also made a switch there, where I’m no longer using MyPlate and have moved onto MyFitnessPal for my daily tracking. This actually came about after using the FitBit for awhile. It was quite handy to be tracking calories on my FitBit, but then I had to manually subtract them on MyPlate which became a pain. This is where the switch to MyFitnessPal happened. They have API syncing, so they natively worked with FitBit which was all sorts of awesome.

I’ve found that since starting my weight loss journey I’ve already started seeing gains on the soccer pitch. I find my speed and agility has improved, where I’m starting to make plays that I might not have been able to do 3 months ago. The Nike+ program I was on was about improving cardio and agility, so it only makes sense I’m seeing these gains.

So far I’m down over 23lbs and I’m over halfway to my goal of 200lbs. Corina has been keeping right up with me, having lost roughly the same amount. I’m looking forward to the new year as we keep pushing forward to our goal.