Instagram Diaries 1 – Getting Started

This might just be my midlife crisis! The start of my bumbling adventure on #Instagram

This might just be my midlife crisis!

A little over a month ago I turned 40. I could tell I was going to hit the big four-oh because of all the aches and pains that take longer and longer to deal with than they used to. 

On top of that, the new workload got hard. I mean real hard. I’m used to pulling 10+ hour days once or twice a week, but this year, it’s been every single day.

I know I needed a side project that was fresh and light. I needed a break from the coding and spreadsheets. Like any bloke in his midlife crisis, I needed to go out here and hit the latest young thing in a sad and desperate effort to rekindle my youth. 

That young thing, I thought, would be Instagram. Now, I know Instagram is no baby, but we need to to talk comparatively here. I’m on that slow rise to the “Old Fart” zone and five years older than 90% of the demographic

So to prove my youth one last time (maybe), I set out to learn what I could about Instagram. What I didn’t expect was the utter amount of information, and a lot of it data driven too! I was really starting to warm to the idea.

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Google Apps Script: Get File By Name – With Optional Parent Folder Crosscheck

Google Apps Script

One of my recent projects in Google Apps Script required me to search for a file by name and get its ID. This can be problematic in Google Drive because you can have multiple files of the same name in multiple locations. My solution was to also check the file’s parent folder name as well. 

I created a function getFileByName() to handle this. The function takes the following parameters:

  • fileName – The name of the file you are looking for. (required)
  • fileInFolder – The parent folder of the file your are searching for. (optional)

The file path would look a little something like this:


getFileByName() returns an object containing :

  1.  the ID of the file if the file exists or false if it does not.
  2. the ERROR if there is an error or false if there is not. 

The returned object would look like the following:



getFileByName() reports the following errors:

  1. If no parent folder name is given and there are more than one file with the same file name. 
  2. There is more than one parent folder and file combination with the same name.
  3. There are multiple files with the same name but none are in the folder parent name provided.
  4. No file with the file name provided exists.

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Simple Code for AB Testing Affiliate Recommendations in a WordPress Sidebar HTML Widget

Javascript, WordPress, Your Affiliate Program’s Campaign Link

The Story

When I created my goal was to provide a resource for myself and others to reference on all the coding projects I work on. Since it’s beginnings in October 2017 I have seen a huge rise in my readership and am so please to see a growing community in my comments sections. 

Your support has really helped me to produce more and, I hope, produce better content. Thanks.

Just take me to the code!!!

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Google Sheets – Remove The Lowest Grade for Each Student on a Course


In the region of the world that I work in, it is a pretty common occurrence for university courses to run weekly assessment. At the end of the course all the weekly assessment is then added together minus the lowest piece of assessment.

For lecturers with small course sizes this is a pretty simple task that you could simply eyeball if you have a small enough group, but what if your course runs into the thousands with half a dozen tests to choose from. Eyeballing is just not going to do it.

Recently I was asked to do the same thing for the program that I manage. Over an 8 week term, we run 7 assessment at the end of each week for our students.  My job was to find the lowest grade out of the 7 assessment and drop it, taking note of the assessment unit that I dropped for each student. 

I use Google Sheets for this purpose for it’s ease of use and sharability.

This is an example dataset of the 7 assessment (in this case, weekly tests) in Google Sheets. We need to remove the lowest grade from each student. As you can see not all students have their lowest grade in the same Unit test. 

List of 7 grades for each student - Google Sheets
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Google Sheets – Get the Top 2 Grades for Each Group in a Spreadsheet using RANK and FILTER

This week I was asked to provide a list of the top two student grades in each of the 100 classes in our university program. 

Normally, this would be a pretty easy task if there were only a half dozen or so classes. Simply sort by group (class) and then Grade. Finally copy and paste the top 2 ranked students of each group in a new sheet – print and hand to the boss. 

However, with 100 classes this was going to turn into a time consuming chore and one that could be prone to errors. 

To solve this problem, I took advantage of Google Sheets RANK.EQ and FILTER formulas. Let’s take a peek at the formula now and go through the steps in detail later.

Let’s move on to an example.

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Google Apps Script – How to make a Custom Function to Use in Google Sheets

Google Apps Script

Google Sheets has a vast library of functions (or formulas) you can use to get your Spreadsheet tasks done. However, there are some instances when you want a specific function that is not available in Google Sheets or want to make a simplified version of some combined function to make life easier for your users. Fortunately, Google has your back with Google Apps Script.

Before we start, Google does a pretty great job explaining the basics of creating a custom function. However, when it comes to explaining how to add all that information that goes into a function when you type it into Sheets it is a bit vague.

Custom Function Decorators Google Apps Script

Let’s look at the creation process through a recent example I created:

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Google Sheets – Random Alphabetic, Random Alphanumeric and Random Alphanumeric + Character Custom Functions

Google Sheets, Google Apps Script

I was working on a Spreadsheet in Google Sheets a few days ago and needed to generate some random codes for my users. To do this, I just used the RANDBETWEEN(start val, end val) function built into Google Sheets.

It goes a little like this. If I want to build a 5 digit random number I would:


But this got me wondering. Is there a function for random Alphabetic strings or Alphanumeric strings or Alphanumeric with Character strings. The answer?




So instead I decided to make a custom function with Google Apps Script to do this job for me…

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Google Apps Script – How to Find the Folder ID of a Non-Unique Folder Using File Path Names

Google Apps Script

sighisoara Google Apps Script Tutorial
This tutorial comes from a comfy spot in the center of Sighisoara.

Well, that title is such a mouthful. So I think it needs some explaining…

I’ve recently come across a tasks that requires me to access a particular folder in a directory based on the information in a google Sheet. This means:

  1. I don’t have the folder or the sub-folder ID.
  2. I can get the directory path information from information supplied in a Google Sheet.

Basically what I needed to do was create a Report maker and store it in the following directory path:

My Drive(root) >> Year >>  Quarter >> Unit+ "Report"

For example:

MyDrive >> 2018 >> Q4  >> Unit 4 Report

Boring!!!! Take me to the code!!!

The Problem

Unfortunately, I could not simply change the last folder name from say, Unit 4 Report to Q4 Unit 4 Report 2018 so it is easily searchable and unique. The other problem is that there are other Unit 4 Reports in other years and quarters so I did not want to accidentally call them instead of the exact one I wanted.

So, what to do..?

The Solution

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Google Apps Script – How to Create Folders in Directories with DriveApp

Google Apps Script – DriveApp

Well, it’s  a rainy day here travelling in Romania, so time for a post.

coding in Romania
Relaxing in a cafe in Cluj Napoca, Romaina on a Rainy. I love this country!!!

When creating a Google Apps Script’s I often find I am creating new folders and files in specific locations on Google Drive after, say, generating a report or something.

A Note on Folders in Google Drive

All files and folders in Google Drive are allocated a unique key that identifies them.

Google Drive Folder ID

The file location and all the data about the file is mapped to this ID. This means you can have as many folders or files with the same name even in the same directory without a duplicate error being thrown because they all have their own unique ID for their URL.

Getting Started

More often than not, I know the parent folder that I want to put my sub folders in. This means I can get the parent folder’s ID and use that as my starting point to add sub folders. To do this we use the DriveApp class.

Below are three useful functions for creating folders.

  • Simple – Create a folder under the Parent folder ID – Duplicates are not checked and there can be multiple sub folders with the same name but all have their own  unique id.
  • Medium – Create a folder only if that folder name does not exists in the Parent folder – No folder is created if the folder already exists.
  • Hard-ish – Create a folder. If the name exists, add a counter to the name – If the file already exists then add a counter to the end of the file name.

All the functions will take two arguments: folderID – the unique id of the parent folder and folderName – the name you want to call your new folder.

The start() function will simply grab the two variables for the folderID and folderName and run the folder creation function. This is to simulate using the functions in your code.

Feel free to read what you need. I try and write these for a wide range of coding skill in mind.

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Google Apps Script – Getting Input Data From a Dialog Box in Google Sheets

Google Apps Script, Jquery, Javascript, HTML

One of the weekly tasks in my day job as an academic administrator is to look at a number of ‘modules’ or courses that our college is running and complete some analysis and crosschecking. Each week the students complete a ‘unit’. However, during some quarters, not all modules are doing the same unit. Before I can run my code I need to determine what modules are running and what units we are up to for me to run my automated code.

To do this I created a dialog box when the code is run from the add-on bar. In a few clicks, I can then choose the relevant modules and units and then run the selected code.

Let’s take a look at what the dialog box looks like:

Dialog Form in Google Apps Script

Upon “Submit”, the dialog box returns an array  of objects of checked values from the radio buttons that can be uses in the server-side Google Apps Script.

In this tutorial we will look at the following :

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