How Serendipitous!

March 29, 2007

Tonight is the first meeting for a new UTS Alumni group – IT Alumni Network Drinks. This will be held at UTS on Harris St in Broadway, here in Sydney.

The event is strange to me for two reasons : first the invitation was circulated via email as a Word document and secondly the event seems to be entirely missing from the web site.

Why strange? This is an IT event – why on earth are we *still* using archaic, closed document formats to share information? Don’t even get me started on how an IT function doesn’t make it onto a website :-)

Where’s the serendipity, you ask? I’m glad you did, because I am getting to it.

Since I’ve been playing around with Twitter I have also been interested in what other people are doing. Today Dave writes about some important Twitter questions, pointing also to others – in particular Nik Cubrilovic. Yes Dave, I think Twitter is looking important enough to get an open source implementation underway.

I’m often interested in Nik because as a fellow Aussie I’ve always felt a long way out of the loop of interesting things happening in here on the leading edge of the internet. Imagine to my surprise to see Nik linking to a networking event for internet startups here in Sydney! Tonight.

Wow – I am so going to be there. Tonight. Just a short walk from the UTS Alumni event (which starts 1 hour earlier.) I had no idea there was so much going on here. As a refugee from a former startup (I was made redund-ant in the great Bullant collapse of the tech wreck) I have a taste for the scene and would love to be actually present with others who don’t look at me like a half-crazed internet hippie (Twitter? What are you talking about?)

Unbelievably excited by the middle item on what to expect :

Participate in a half-baked.com style activity.

There’s a good chance I was born for just such an activity, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves …


Twitter from QuickSilver on Panther solved – avoid keychain scripting

March 28, 2007

Phew. Finally I’ve made it through and (having re-learned a few things on the way) can now Tweet (is that the verb to use in this case?) from QuickSilver.

You may remember, from last time, that the principal stumbling block was Apple’s Keychain Scripting application – which frankly is unusable for those of us with more than a few items in our keychains.

The Textmate blog then put us on the trail of Apple’s command line tool for maniplulating the keychain. Further investigations turned up a recent posting from Extra Pepperoni on the topic, with a very informative first comment that is a must read. That comment then pointed to an Apple mailing list, CDSA (Common Data Security Architecture.)

So what, exactly, is the solution? Well at the moment it is a bit on the hardcoded hack side of things, but it does work for me. The calls to the app “Keychain Scripting” are replaced by a shell script :

#!/bin/bash
security -q find-internet-password -gs twitter.com 2>&1 | grep password | \
  sed -e "s/password: \"//" -e "s/\"//"

Save that into a text file, perhaps in ~/bin (which you’ll probably have to create.) I chose to call it ‘twitpass.’ Remember to set it to executable …

chmod 755 twitpass

will do the job nicely. Now you can call that script from the AppleScript to get your pasword. Unfortunately I still can’t seem to parse the bulk of the output from security, so you’ll have to hard code your account name or email address into the AppleScript, replacing the tell application “Keychain Scripting” block with something like this:

set twitter_key_account to “user@domain.com”
set twitter_key_pass to do shell script “~/bin/twitpass”
set twitter_login to quoted form of (twitter_key_account & “:” & twitter_key_pass)

So using the above components in the mix of yesterday’s solution and you can Tweet to your heart’s content, without leaving the application you’re working on.


Keychain scripting letting the Twitters down

March 23, 2007

So posting to Twitter from Quicksilver is great and all, except when keychain scripting times out on you – “event timed out”. Again and again. Sheesh. Off to look for another way around …

Red Sweater Blog says :

Obviously, Keychain Scripting is freaking useless. I decided to take a stab at writing my own [...]

Which is just what he did – in that article you can find a Scripting Addition (of sorts) that is way faster than Apple’s one. However it is 10.4 only, which may be the straw that broke this holdoff-on-upgrading-a-while-longer’s back.

Looking further afield leads us to the Textmate blog, where a shell based approach is used to interact with the keychain :

The command to access the keychain is security and it has a manual page. But let me save you some time and give you the gist of it [...]

Aha! That may be the solution. Now all I have to do is find out how to parse the output to just grab the password – the solutions on that page aren’t working for me and my shell scripting is more limited than I would like.

Still diggin!


The internet is all a Twitter

March 22, 2007

Latest fad or long term tool? I have no idea, but with all the talk about Twitter I finally caved in and registered.

http://twitter.com/aDogsBreakfast

Perhaps it was Dave Winer jumping in that tipped the balance, or perhaps when I learned that people were posting from QuickSilver that did it. No matter really, now I am in. What next?

Well I had to get th QuickSilver posting working, and as I’m still running Panther (10.3) that means I’m also on a legacy version of QuickSilver (b36) – and that means the Tweet script as modified wasn’t quite going to work the same.

Whoa – slow down. The problem was that my QuickSilver install didn’t have the ‘Actions’ folder there under /Library/Application Support/Quicksilver – so I just created the folder, dropped the Tweet script in and everything is working.

A happy side effect is that I have now had my first ever successful scripting experience with the keychain application – I just never managed to get the syntax correct until now. That is the challenge I always have with Applescript :-)

[edit : I've changed my Twitter name to be more sms-friendly follow my tweets now at twitter.com/aDB]


Online Coin Collections?

March 21, 2007

Is this the only free coin collection web site?

OMNICOIN.COM :: World Coin Community

I have just spent some time searching for either an online collection tool (that’s the only one I found) or an open source tool that I could install on my own servers for managing a coin (or any) collection with no success at all. Surely my searching technique must have been bad, there must be some tools out there?


Links Roundup 21 Mar 2007

March 21, 2007

Once again I have a bunch of links and no time to go through each one – just take a look because they all have something to offer me. That’s got to be good enough for you, right?

  • picnik.com – online photo editing, can grab your pics from all over, even Flickr
  • viewer.thinkfree.com – view office docs online (without MS Office), keep an eye out for the browser plugins, WordPress plugin and API.
  • www.kiva.org – make microcredit loans direct to those who really need help, a specific entrepreneur of your choosing. Loans that change lives.
  • Robot Fair at the Chauvel – say no more! Pity I can’t be there. Have fun.
  • amiestreet.com – DRM free music, some of it free! Sell your music. Discover and share new music. Price goes up as songs are recommended. Ground floor opportunity :-)
  • retailmenot.com – ‘Coupon codes for online stores’ – where have you been all my life?
  • Last.FM – where I went to find out what I’ve been listening to for my amie street profile – why couldn’t they share the data?
  • wesabe.com – online finance tool, painfully security concious, sharing without sharing personal info, money tips based on your own spending, I’m trying it now.

Remote tech support using VNC

March 15, 2007

If you’re in the situation of  providing tech support, try these two articles
on Mac OS X Hints.com for some interesting strategies to enable your ‘supportees’ to easily give you access to their screens across the net.

How would you like to get the phone call and grab control of their screen just by sending an email? Read on young padawan :-)


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