I use a tool called Sonarr to, uhh1, keep track of when new episodes of television
shows are released, regardless of what platform they’re on (Netflix, Prime, iPlayer, whatever) and notify me so I remember to watch it.
For several years, I’ve used IFTTT as the intermediary, receiving webhooks from Sonarr and
translating them for Slack:
IFTTT‘s move to kill its Legacy Pro plan2 – which
I was on – gave me reason to re-assess this configuration. It turns that the only Pro feature I was using was an IFTTT “filter” to convert the Sonarr webhooks to a
Given that I’m running an installation of Huginn on my home network anyway, I resolved to re-implement this flow in Huginn and
cancel my IFTTT subscription.
This turned out to be so easy I wonder why I never did it before.
First, I created a Webhook Agent and gave the URL to Sonarr.
Then I connected that to a Slack Agent with the following configuration:
Then all I needed to do was re-emit some of the previous webhooks to test it:
Now I’ll continue to know when there’s new television to watch3!
I love the power and flexibility that Huginn provides to help automate your life. It does many of the things that I used to do with a handful of cron jobs and shell scripts, but all in
one convenient place.
1 I’ve heard there are other uses for the tool. Your mileage may vary. Don’t forget to pay
for your content, if possible.
3 It’s especially useful when you’re between seasons or a show is on hiatus to be reminded
that it’s back and I should go and watch it. Hey, there’s a thought: I wonder if I can extract the subtitles from shows and run them through a summarising LLM to give me a couple of paragraphs reminding me “what happened last series” if the show’s been on a long break?
I’ve been playing with a Flic Hub LR and some Flic 2 buttons. They’re “smart home” buttons, but for me they’ve got a killer selling point: rather than
locking you in to any particular cloud provider (although you can do this if you want), you can directly program the hub. This means you can produce smart integrations
that run completely within the walls of your house.
Here’s some things I’ve been building:
Prerequisite: Flic Hub to Huginn connection
I run a Huginn instance on our household NAS. If
you’ve not come across it before, Huginn is a bit like an open-source IFTTT: it’s got a steep
learning curve, but it’s incredibly powerful for automation tasks. The first step, then, was to set up my Flic Hub LR to talk to Huginn.
This was pretty simple: all I had to do was switch on “Hub SDK web access open” for the hub using the Flic app,
then use the the web SDK to add this script to the hub. Now whenever a
button was clicked, double-clicked, or held down, my Huginn installation would receive a webhook ping.
For convenience, I have all button-presses sent to the same Webhook, and use Trigger Agents to differentiate between buttons and press-types. This means I can re-use
functionality within Huginn, e.g. having both a button press and some other input trigger a particular action.
You’ve Got Mail!
By our front door, we have “in trays” for each of Ruth, JTA and I, as well as one for the
bits of Three Rings‘ post that come to our house. Sometimes post sits in the in-trays for a long time because people don’t think to check
them, or don’t know that something new’s been added.
I configured Huginn with a Trigger Agent to receive events from my webhook and filter down to just single clicks on specific buttons. The events emitted by these triggers are used to
notify in-tray owners.
In my case, I’ve got pings being sent to mail recipients via Slack, but I could equally well be integrating to other (or additional) endpoints or even
performing some conditional logic: e.g. if it’s during normal waking hours, send a Pushbullet notification to the recipient’s phone, otherwise
send a message to an Arduino to turn on an LED strip along the top of the recipient’s in-tray.
I’m keeping it simple for now. I track three kinds of events (click = “post in your in-tray”, double-click = “I’ve cleared my in-tray”, hold = “parcel wouldn’t fit in your in-tray: look
elsewhere for it”) and don’t do anything smarter than send notifications. But I think it’d be interesting to e.g. have a counter running so I could get a daily reminder (“There
are 4 items in your in-tray.”) if I don’t touch them for a while, or something?
Remember the Milk!
Following the same principle, and with the hope that the Flic buttons are weatherproof enough to work in a covered outdoor area, I’ve fitted one… to the top of the box our milkman
delivers our milk into!
Most mornings, our milkman arrives by 7am, three times a week. But some mornings he’s later – sometimes as late as 10:30am, in extreme cases. If he comes during the school run the milk
often gets forgotten until much later in the day, and with the current weather that puts it at risk of spoiling. Ironically, the box we use to help keep the milk cooler for longer on
the doorstep works against us because it makes the freshly-delivered bottles less-visible.
I’m yet to see if the milkman will play along and press the button when he drops off the milk, but if he does: we’re set! A second possible bonus is that the kids love doing anything
that allows them to press a button at the end of it, so I’m optimistic they’ll be more-willing to add “bring in the milk” to their chore lists if they get to double-click the button to
say it’s been done!
I’m still playing with ideas for the next round of buttons. Could I set something up to streamline my work status, so my colleagues know when I’m not to be disturbed, away from my desk,
or similar? Is there anything I can do to simplify online tabletop roleplaying games, e.g. by giving myself a desktop “next combat turn” button?
I’m quite excited by the fact that the Flic Hub can interact with an infrared transceiver, allowing it to control televisions and similar devices: I’d love to be able to use the volume
controls on our media centre PC’s keyboard to control our TV’s soundbar: and because the Flic Hub can listen for UDP packets, I’m hopeful that something as simple as AutoHotkey can make this possible.
Or perhaps I could make a “universal remote” for our house, accessible as a mobile web app on our internal Intranet, for those occasions when you can’t even be bothered to stand up to
pick up the remote from the other sofa. Or something that switched the TV back to the media centre’s AV input when consoles were powered-down, detected by their network activity? (Right
now the TV automatically switches to the consoles when they’re powered-on, but not back again afterwards, and it bugs me!)
It feels like the only limit with these buttons is my imagination, and that’s awesome.
Stupid thing of the day to try on your favourite Slack channel:
1. Make an image of yourself bordered by the edge of a speech bubble. Make the image an exact multiple of 32 pixels in each dimension (this one is 128 × 96):
2. Use ImageMagick to cut the image into 32 × 32 pixel tiles, e.g. like this: magick convert dan-qs-stupid-head.png -crop 32x32
"dan-q-says-%02d.png". Pick a sensible output filename to use as a Slack emoji shortcode.
3. Log into Slack and customise your emoji by adding each of the tiles you’ve created to it. This is where you’ll be glad you named the
file sensibly because it saves you typing the shortcode out each time.
4. Type a message using your custom emoji! Because it sits in-line with text, you can type alongside or around it (unlike normally embedded images or /giphy integration) along with
styling, mentioning, and hyperlink options. You can also copy-paste and edit on-the-fly, so you can keep a copy of the message in your self-channel and adjust whenever you need.
Why not make a whole set of different faces showing your different emotions – perhaps from photos – so you can react appropriately to your colleagues! Slack don’t seem to impose any
limit on the number of custom emoji you can add, so the only limit is your imagination (and the tolerance of your Slack administrator for such high jinks).
Or why not cut up an animated GIF? Slack preloads emoji into the client so they play in-sync, allowing you to run
animations that span multiple emoji?