Ever since I moved to this apartment, I'm using a 16Mbit ADSL line to hook up to the Internet. And while 16MBit is fine for web browsing, it's not really fun for larger downloads. So it was time to find an alternative.
My Roomba is over six years old by now. So far it worked flawless. I replaced the battery twice. However this Friday he refused to work and made what is known as the “Circle Dance of Death” also known as the “9 Beeps”.
The most common problem is a faulty bumper sensor. The Roomba thinks he's constantly bumping it something and tries to back up, resulting in backwards circling move until he gives up.
I hate to talk on the phone. I hate to be called, but I hate it even more when I have to call somewhere. At the job it's a necessary evil, but in my private life I try to avoid it as much as possible. Unfortunately sometimes the phone is the only option to reach some businesses. Doctor Appointments are one example.
I often thought it would be awesome to have someone who would make these calls for me. It turns out that is possible. Calling people for you is one of the many tasks a Virtual Personal Assistant can do for you. Despite the name, a Virtual Personal Assistant (VPA) is a real person, but you talk to them through mail and texts only1).
I googled around and found a handful of websites that offered VPA services (Strandschicht and eAssitentin.de seem to be the most popular ones). But they are quite different from their American cousins. For example none of them allows you to simply register and get started. You will have to write to them and tell them your expected task volume and they will answer back some time later.
However during my research, I discovered that there are also freelance VPAs. That seemed an even better idea than to go through an anonymous agency. Instead you'd have a single contact you could rely on and who would learn your preferences over time.
I found Ina Hermess' website and immediately liked what I saw2). I shot her a quick email and maybe 10 minutes later I already had a reply. We established a couple of basic things like her rates and my preferred contact channels and were ready for the first task.
My initial task was to confirm a reservation I had made at a campground but hadn't heard back from. She called them and learned that it was fully booked for the weekend in question. So I asked her to pick a similar campground and gave a few criteria (located on a lake, reachable within 2 hours, good reviews). She came back the next day with four suggestions which all matched my criteria perfectly. I gave her my preference and she booked for me. Perfect execution and I did not have to make a single phone call .
TL;DR: hate phone calls? let a VPA make them for you
A pastebin is a useful thing to quickly talk about a piece of code. But there's one thing I learned from Github Pull Requests: it's super helpful to add comments to specific lines of code. I wanted that in a pastebin!
That of course had to be fixed. By yet another pastebin™!
commie☭ is a pastebin in it's simplest form. Paste code and it get's automatically highlighted by Google Code Prettify. You then can add line comments and share the link. That's it. Simple but works2).