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Virtual Personal Assistant

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).

But where to find one? In the US there are services like FancyHands and TaksRabbit, but in Germany services like these are not well established.

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.

Virtual Personal Assistent Ina Hermesse 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

Tags:
vpa, assistance, lifehack
1) Well theoretically you could also call, but that defies the purpose for me ;-)
2) seriously, that page is better designed than all the “big” VPA agency pages together
Last updated: 2015/07/31 16:34 · Permalink · Comments

A Pastebin with Line Comments

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!

Unfortunately I couldn't find any pastebin site that offered line based commenting.

That of course had to be fixed. By yet another pastebin™!

So yesterday evening, I sat down and wrote a very basic pastebin script, payed 30EUR3) for a funny domain name and voilà: commie.io was born.

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 works4).

Tags:
commie, pastebin, service
Similar posts:
3) donations welcome ;-)
4) If it doesn't work send a pull request
Last updated: 2015/07/28 19:33 · Permalink · Comments

Adventure before Dementia

We're back from our vacation. Originally we planned to visit Scotland, but due to bad (aka. late planning) we couldn't find any affordable flights anymore. Instead we decided to rent a camper van and visit Bavaria and Austria again (after visiting Kaddi's parents), because we liked it very much when we passed it during our Italy vacation last year.

Usually we rent our camper vans from one of the bigger companies. Because this year it was a last-minute decision, those companies were booked out already and we had to take what we could find. So unlike in the last years, the camper van this year was not a brand new one. It had more than 100,000km on the clock and was several years old. It had a couple of scratches and signs of usage but looked okay otherwise.

Last updated: 2015/06/21 19:20 · Permalink · Comments

5 Minute Cupcake

For when you crave chocolate cake right now.

  • 4 table spoons of flour
  • 2 table spoons of oil
  • 2 table spoons of cocoa5)
  • 3 table spoons of milk
  • 1 egg

Mix everything and add whatever you want (chocolate pieces, fruits, yogurt). Grease a cup with butter or margarine and fill it with the batter. Microwave it at 700 Watt for 3.5 to 4 minutes.

Tags:
recipe, cupcake, microwave
Similar posts:
5) The sweetened drinking kind. If you use unsweetened baking cocoa, add 2 table spoons of sugar.
Last updated: 2015/05/01 15:44 · Permalink · Comments

Raspberry Pi B+ Pinout Leaf

gpio.jpg

I'm currently working on a little project involving a Raspberry Pi and some stuff connected to it's General Purpose IOs.

Looking up the pinout scheme every time again gets tiring fast. A good solution is the Raspberry Leaf - a simple sheet of paper that slips over the pins and labels them. Unfortunately I couldn't find one that:

  1. shows all 40 pins of a Raspberry Pi B+
  2. shows the WiringPi numbering scheme

So I set down and made one in Inkscape. The result can be found in this Github Repository.

Tags:
rpi, diy, electronics
Last updated: 2015/03/29 10:43 · Permalink · Comments

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