Thursday, December 29, 2011

Microblogging from the command line.

With everything going gui-ish, why would I want to use the command line to micro-blog? Actually there are several reasons. Remember a computer is a robot without legs.


First it is a way, remind yourself of certain things even if you are at a terminal where you have no rights to store information on that equipment. Just a matter of keeping twitter site open to receive the tweets if you are using twitter as your micro-blog. With at or chron, you can easily set up your computer to send your specific message or messages at a particular time.

Secondly, you have the ability to use a low resource machine to do messaging tasks like capture tweets of other people for you to read later. Sort of a electronic secretary taking tweets like taking phone calls for you. You can even go a step further and do what is call automated web page scraping to get the information you need off the web without you having to go do that yourself. I have several web page scraping batch files that get the weather, search the web, and a host of other goodies. Probably start using googlecl to enhance those features. Then the computer can combine everything in a single report all without you lifting a finger. It just will not get you coffee yet.

Thirdly, you can communicate with your computers remotely without having to punch a hole in the firewall. That is you do not have to open any ports in your router. The only caveat is that you do need to use some kind of encryption or control language that is not obvious. For example: "I am going the water the yard today" equates to turn on the sprinkler. Commands are hidden in plain sight. Very easy to integrate this into a home automation system.

To all this you need to set up an account with a micro-blogging service such as twitter using a name that would probably not attract much attention. Secondly, you need a command line client to do all the communication such as twidge for Debian and Ubuntu or bti for Fedora.  There is a commercial program for MSWindows that will do this for you also, but I forget the name offhand. You can probably search the web to get the details. You can also easily do it on an Apple mac. Sure you could do it also with a touchpad.  I did our own set of batch files for linux. The first version was kind of clumsy and just a prototype, but it worked well. You can find the details of that version at:  http://www.instructables.com/id/Linux-computer-tweeting/.

Of the three services I have used, that is twidge and bti for Twitter, fbcmd for Facebook and googlecl for Google, twidge has done the best job for me. Googlecl is coming up the ladder though. Good luck trying it.

Note: this is a good way to put an old computer back to work! it also has infinite advantages for less that full sighted people.

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