I love almost everything about Todoist. It's rich enough to scratch all my productivity itches while also being basic enough that I don't spend time gardening my tasks. Also, their Android app is just gorgeous, the exact opposite of Google's ascetic descent into identical lists of black in Material Design.
The one problem is the Alexa integration. You can add tasks to your shopping list or your to do list. The shopping list works great for me. I check it once a week when I do my grocery shopping and everyone knows to just tell Alexa when they need something. The to-do list is a disaster. These go to a separate to-do list project without a due date and I will never ever find them there. Anything else I add will end up in the Inbox with a due date of today so I'm forced to classify and if necessary reschedule it. Which is exactly what I want.
When I say 'Alexa, add x to my to-do list' I want that task to be visible. This integration design flaw could lead to at least one child growing up in an unfamiliar part of town without parents, or worse.
I emailed Todoist and they politely declined to change the way the integration works. After a brief period of steaming I've rolled up my sleeves and fixed it with their API. Which doesn't use OAuth so now I love them even more.
The script is below. Create a new Apps Script project in Google Drive (New and then choose More to find this) and copy in the code. You can get the API token from the bottom of the Integrations section in Todoist settings. Then just click the clock in the Apps Script project and schedule checkForAlexaTasksWithNoDate() to run as often as you need. The script will check the Alexa To-do List project and if anything is in there without a due date it will set it to today to force you to deal with it.
Updated 2022-12-06 21:27:
Todoist have updated their API to v2 (migration guide). There are no breaking changes for this code and so I got it working again by changing v1 to v2 in the API calls. The code above has also been changed to update dates in multiple projects, this is because I started checking for tasks with no due date in the Inbox project as well as Alexa tasks. You can delete the Inbox call if you don't want this behavior (and add additional projects if needed as well).
Google just released URL inspection as part of the Search Console API. I check for issues periodically in Search Console but it would be great to just get an email when an issue crops up. The Apps Script project below does just that by monitoring URLs from your sitemap for changes and sending an email whenever anything is detected. The Search Console API has a limit of 2,000 calls per day and Apps Script also imposes a time limit on scripts. The approach I take below assigns a random day of the week to each URL to limit the number checked on each run. Depending on the size of your site you may want to remove this check (or go the other way if you have a large number of URLs to monitor). Follow the steps below to get your own monitoring spreadsheet up and running.
Create a new spreadsheet in Google Drive and call it anything you want. Rename an empty sheet to 'gsc', this sheet will store the index data. You don't need to make any other changes to this sheet.
Choose Apps Script from the Extensions menu. This will open up the script editor for your spreadsheet. I find that sometimes the editor opens with the wrong account if you're signed into more than one. If that applies to you, check quickly to make sure the right account is selected. With Code.gs selected copy and paste the script below replacing the default function:
There are a few configuration variables to enter at the top. AlertEmail is the email address to notify when index status changes are detected. SitemapUrl is the full URL of your sitemap. The current implementation does not support sitemap index files, this needs to be a regular sitemap containing URLs. SearchConsoleProperty should be the URL of the site to monitor, or sc-domain: followed by the domain for domain properties (for this site sc-domain:ithoughthecamewithyou.com).
Click Project Settings (the cog in the left hand menu of the script editor) and copy the Script ID. Make a note of this for later.
Make sure the script is saved and close the script editor window. Reload the spreadsheet. Once the reload completes you should have a Search Console menu at the top of the spreadsheet. Choose Update Data from the Search Console menu. This will run for a few minutes and then populate the 'gsc' sheet with your URL data. See UrlInspectionResult in the API documentation for more information about the meaning of each field. You should also get a lengthy email with a notification for each URL that was inspected. This will continue for the first week and then you'll only get updates for interesting status changes.
Now the project is working, open the script editor again (Apps Script from the Extensions menu) and open Triggers (the clock icon in the left hand menu). Click Add Trigger at the very bottom right of the window. Select runUpdate as the function to run. Change event source to time-driven, and then select day timer and an hour to run the script. Lastly click Save. Your Google Search Console monitor will now run every day, and if the index status of a page changes you'll get an email about it within a week. The spreadsheet will also come in handy for other analysis and reporting.
You might need to tweak the script if you start hitting limits. The URL inspection API currently has a 2,000 call / day quota. Apps Script will only run for around 7 mins on a free account and 20 mins if you have Google Workspace. If either of these limits apply you could modify the 'checkDay' logic to use day of the month (or year, or ...) to reduce the number of URLs inspected on each run. If you need to do this remember to update the Check Day column on the 'gsc' sheet as well.
The script assumes that the URLs you want to monitor are in your sitemap. If this is not the case you can add URLs to the sheet directly. As long as they are part of the configured property you will still get results. If you use this method you might want to comment out the updatePagesFromSitemap() call in runUpdate() to save time.
If anything else goes wrong please leave a comment below and I'll do my best to help you.
Updated 2022-02-08 17:40:
After a couple of days I have a full dump of my sitemap from the page index status API. I wrote this script for the alerting possibilities but couldn't resist some analytics once the dataset was complete.
The chart above shows sessions vs days since the last Google Crawl. Pretty stark - Google keeps a close eye on the pages it sends traffic to and not so much on the others.
I set lastmod honestly and there is good news here. I could only find two cases where Google had not crawled the page since the last modified date. So when the sitemap says a page has changed the odds are good that it will get another crack at the index. The two exceptions are unusual posts that are updated hourly and weekly respectively and both have been crawled recently.
The breakdown of index status matches Google Search Console pretty well but I have a handful of pages that are 'Indexed, not submitted in sitemap', even though they are in the sitemap and no such status is shown on Search Console. I don't know if this is a glitch in the index status API or something to do with how the pages were discovered. Some light searching suggests that this message is usually what you would expect it to be.
Lastly, updating the sheet for my site is more bound by script execution time than the API limits. I changed it to run every hour and instead of partitioning by day of week I used a random hour of the day which means I check every URL at least once every 24 hours.
Updated 2022-04-24 10:50:
I just updated the code and post above. I've had occasional issues where updating the sheet failed which caused the next run to go back to the beginning with no saved index status. To reduce the chance of this happening I've added some retry logic and also improved the speed of the sheet load and save functions. I also had a comment on the code that suggested an easier way to handle OAuth and have incorporated this in the new version.
Three different perspectives of downtown San Francisco. Shot from Twin Peaks (with a great view all the way down Market Street), Mount Davidson (the highest point in the city) and of course Grand View Park.
Continuing myseries of local coronavirus hikes, Mount Davidson is the highest peak in San Francisco and this three mile hike takes you there from West Portal. Take Ulloa to Kensington and then cross Portola on the footbridge. Juanita takes you to one of the Mount Davidson trails and up to the top. You can come back the same way, or follow Kensington all the way over to Taraval.
The cross at the top is a memorial to the Armenian Genocide and while most of Mount Davidson is a San Francisco park the area at the top is owned by the Council of Armenian-American Organizations of Northern California (due to a church/state separation lawsuit). It's a great spot to look (slightly) down on the Twin Peaks set who just think they've reached the top of San Francisco.
I got a Rent Board Fee Annual Notice for the first time this year which says:
"The owner of each residential unit in San Francisco, as specified in Administrative Code Chapter 37A, shall pay annually to the City and County of San Francisco a Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Board fee."
Which sounds like they really want you to pay. They go on to say that from the 2021-2022 tax year the Rent Board has to collect directly from the property owner rather than being bundled on the property tax bill.
This seems crazy. Not that I'm advocating kicking off another recall election but it must be a monumental waste of resources. Suddenly you're sending me letters and wasting my time as well as paying extra credit card / check processing fees all for $59 which is a pretty trivial fraction of my property tax.
It turns out that I don't even need to pay - owner occupied units are exempt. This made me wonder if I have been inadvertently subsidizing the Rent Board for years but as far as I can tell this has never been included with my property taxes. It certainly isn't broken out like other special fees (and San Francisco feels like it needs to let me know that 0.05% of my tax is going toward restoring the bay). You can opt out of the tax on a sumptuous new Rent Board portal, which can't have been cheap to build.
So what gives? I haven't seen any press on this. Please let me know if I missed something. My best guess is that whatever records were used to add the tax to the property bill were thought to be incomplete and so the Rent Board is trying to expand its tax base to all of the undeclared in-law units and casually rented rooms in the city. Less charitably they might be hoping that a lot of property owners pay the new bill without checking the details. Regardless, if we need a Rent Board can it not just be paid for out of city funds instead of wasting trees and time and money on an elaborate separate payment system?
An experiment in creating a timelapse from a week of walking around San Francisco. Not sure how long I'll keep this up for and only managed four sequences this week: three different views from Grand View park (I go there a lot) and one of the penguin sculpture at Lake Merced.