Sunday, August 10, 2014

How To: Make Your Mac React to Your Presence

the totally awesome blink(1) mk2
I love technology, but all too often it's just on a screen - there's no real world impact. I am really excited about the potential for real world impact and automation, stuff that happens automatically. Like the fact that I can set my washing machine to start at a certain time. That's kinda cool. It's a bit basic, sure, but it's cool. Or that my wife can get a text message when I leave the office.  Proximity is probably an easy cool thing - maybe it's a warning if I drive away from the house with my garage door open or if my autistic son gets out of the house.

On a smaller scale, I've set up some proximity automation on my computer that's pretty fun. When I walk away from my computer, it turns on the screensaver. If Skype is running, it sets me to invisible. It HipChat is running, it shuts down. And if my blink(1) is attached, it turns yellow to signify that I'm away. (It's on a USB extension cable so I can mount it higher where people can see it.)

If you haven't seen blink(1), it's very cool - double-sided LED USB key. Can set to any color you want on each side, blink in patterns, etc. Connects to IFTTT and email programs and you can also address it from Terminal or AppleScript. (You have to check the "Enable API Server" - most people miss that and think that they can't run Blink1Control and issue cURL commands at the same time.)

And then when I walk back up to my computer, it kills the screensaver. If Skype is running, it sets me to available. If it's between 8 and 5 on a weekday, HipChat starts. Microsoft Office syncs (first checking to see if it's in offline or online mode). And if my blink(1) is attached, it turns it back to green.

Oh, and my screensaver (Soundstream) is noise activated so that the patterns change depending on the amount of noise nearly in our open air office. That's kind of fun.

So how do I accomplish all this? A few neat tricks.  First a program called Proximity. You introduce your Bluetooth phone to Proximity and then every so often it pings to see if your phone is around. If it senses a change, it runs the Applescript you've identified. Future places I should probably go are ignoring mouse and keyboard inputs and muting the entire computer.

Here are my scripts:

SCREENSAVER-START
try 
do shell script "curl 'http://localhost:8934/blink1/fadeToRGB?rgb=%23FFFF00'" 
tell application id "com.apple.ScreenSaver.Engine" to launch 
if application "Skype" is running then 
tell application "Skype" to send command "SET USERSTATUS invisible" script name "invisible" 
end if 
if application "HipChat" is running then tell application "HipChat" to quit 
end try

SCREENSAVER-STOP
try 
do shell script "curl 'http://localhost:8934/blink1/fadeToRGB?rgb=%2300FF00'" 
tell application id "com.apple.ScreenSaver.Engine" to quit 
tell application "Microsoft Outlook" 
if working offline is true then 
set working offline to false 
sync 
set working offline to true 
else 
tell application "Microsoft Outlook" to sync 
end if 
end tell 
if application "Skype" is running then 
tell application "Skype" to send command "SET USERSTATUS online" script name "online" 
end if 
set x to weekday of (current date) as integer 
set y to hours of (current date) as integer 
if x > 1 and x < 7 then 
if y > 8 and y < 17 then 
try 
tell application "HipChat" to activate 
end try 
end if 
end if 
end try
The reason that Microsoft Outlook has to check to see if it's online or not is because I have another script that is running that takes it in and out of offline mode automatically. That allows my outgoing messages to temporarily be held and it prevents new messages from being pulled in too frequently. (Otherwise Exchange delivers them immediately and it's distracting. Email doesn't need to be that quick. Yes, I have my notifications turned off, but I actually spend a lot of time in email. It's easier if it's not filling up as I empty it. It's also nice to have some forced delay before my messages go out, in case I change my mind about a message or to avoid email pingpong.)

OUTLOOK
repeat 100 times 
log "Sync at - " & (current date
tell application "Microsoft Outlook" to set working offline to false 
tell application "Microsoft Outlook" to sync 
delay 5 
tell application "Microsoft Outlook" to set working offline to true 
delay 600 
end repeat 
log "** Final at - " & (current date
tell application "Microsoft Outlook" to set working offline to false 
tell application "Microsoft Outlook" to sync


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