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Consistency for Progressive Automation

April 5th, 2014
future, tech, automation

I'm a pretty consistent person. If I do something in a particular way and it works out, I'll keep doing it that way. One way this has worked out well for me is allowing easier automation. For example, when I started keeping my calendar I would put lines on my webpage like this:

   <tr>
     <td>Saturday<td> March<td> 18
     <td><a href="http://www.thursdaycontra.com/ThirdSaturday.html">
       Glenside</a> contra
     <td>8:00
     <td><a href="contras/glenside/directions.html">
       Glenside</a>
When I decided I wanted to make an .ical feed, three years later, it was just a matter of writing a script to process this data. It was in a nice consistent format, so this wasn't too bad. Later this let me add first a script to add schedule entries on the command line, and then later another to let me add entries from my phone.

Similarly, I initially wrote my blog posts as one long html page. When I wanted to add an rss feed, I wrote a script to parse the posts, and I had been consistent enough in how I made them that the script wasn't too difficult. Later when a single page became too unwieldy and I wanted to have pages for individual posts, the rss processing code was already there to do most of the work.

This has been a good pattern for me: when I create things on the computer I'm very consistent, which works well if I end up trying to manipulate the data programmatically later. Not everything ends up as input to something else [1] but it's really helpful when it does.


[1] Or at least not everything has yet...

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