May 27, 2020

Macro Scheduler, my lockdown assistant.

Filed under: Automation — Dorian @ 1:07 pm

The world has changed during the past 9 weeks or so, and some of the MJT staff have been putting Macro Scheduler to good use to help them during lockdown.

Soon after lockdown was announced people began panic buying, and grocery store delivery slots would all be claimed within moments of being released. For those of us with vulnerable people at home and no family nearby, our only hope was securing regular delivery slots – and buying a freezer! But with thousands of people competing for those rare delivery slots and all online appliance outlets completely sold out of freezers, it was an uphill battle.

But Macro Scheduler came to the rescue.

One simple automation script monitored a handful of web pages 24/7, refreshing every minute or so. It watched our local Supermarket looking for slots, and it monitored the white-goods stores waiting for any one of half-a-dozen freezers to be re-stocked.

A few days went by. No luck. Was this going to work? Would there ever be any slots? On day 6 I received a text on my phone – I’d been smart enough to use Zapier so Macro Scheduler would notify me via text wherever I may be.

A freezer had become available on the John Lewis website! We scurried over to the laptop and hurriedly clicked on the link. It’s no exaggeration to say our hearts were in our mouths. This was important! We didn’t even read the description. We just needed a freezer. Added it to our cart. Paid for it. Got the confirmation email. A few seconds later none were available again. We had successfully managed to purchase a freezer during the few minutes one online retailer had some.

Since then, over the past 8 weeks or so we used Macro Scheduler to tell us when those supermarket deliveries are available. They only pop up once or twice a day if we’re lucky – but when they do, we hear our little notification beep and off we run to the laptop and start shopping! It has been a Godsend, and it hasn’t failed us yet. Thanks to Macro Scheduler we top-up our little freezer every two weeks, and lockdown has been largely worry-free.

The process was simple. Here are some of the commands we used. IECreate, IENavigate to get us to the pages we were looking for and IEGetAllText helped us scrape the text from the page, then we used Position to see if the text we were looking for was, or wasn’t, on the page. All contained in a nice little loop, watching and waiting 24/7.