I have forked Charbot Green

About a year ago Libby Miller wrote Charbot Green, a BBC Radio 4 announcement bot for Twitter. It’s written in JRuby, uses the H2 database and the source code is in SVN here.

A screenshot of CharbotGreen on Twitter

It’s a really great app and I thought I’d have a play, but half-way through the install I realised that setting up an H2 DB server was a step too far, so instead I rewrote it to be a pure Ruby app using the SQLite3 database. Using SQLite3 keeps it a self-contained app in a single directory without the need to run a database server.

You can get the code from GitHub here.

My small changelist looks like this:

  • H2 replaced by SQLite3
  • links to iPlayer use the short form of the URL
  • if available, the subtitle, such as episode number is displayed
  • now a pure ruby app!

I haven’t tested it very hard, just run it up a couple of times, so please do let me know of bugs or feel free to go fork it yourself!

Twitter on Ubuntu – use Gwibber

Screenshot of Gwibber

Screenshot of Gwibber

Gwibber is a native desktop Twitter client for Ubuntu. It will post updates to and receive updates from Twitter as well as a host of other services like Flickr, Facebook, Digg, can update your Pidgin status and pull in any other RSS or Atom feed you like.

It will sit in your notification area waiting until you get some messages which it will display as pop-ups in the corner of your screen, and won’t steal focus whilst it does so (take that, twitterfox!).

It is unobtrusive, attractive and easy to use. Theme templates are just HTML and CSS. I recommend giving it a go.

In Jaunty Jackalope it is in the Universe repositories (so sudo apt-get install gwibber will work) but for everyone else you can either follow the instructions on this page (which means you will get future updates) or go direct to the Gwibber PPA page, expand the section with your distro listed and grab the .deb file.

A fork in the twitter?

There is some current hullabaloo over twitter’s most recent hires.

I agree with the commenters on that post. Shutting down productivity tools with two weeks’ notice is an big, big problem.

Worse for me is the implication that Twitter are content for this to happen and content to hire people who do this (the commenters have also picked up on this).

The only salvageable situation would seem to either keep the services running or as Justin Mason suggests, open sourcing them.

I think this is the Twitter exit warning for me.

Post to Twitter from Ubuntu Deskbar

Deskbar is a Gnome widget you can embed in a panel and can be used for opening applications, opening items from your browser history, doing web searches and all sorts. It’s not as good as Quicksilver but better than Launchy. It fires when you hit a key combo (mine is CTRL+SPACE) and looks a bit like this:

Screenshot of Deskbar on Ubuntu

For the soulless, Twitter is length limited asynchronous multicast IM, for everyone else, it’s a nice way to keep up to date with what your friends are doing using the web, IM or SMS. My rarely-posted to Twitter page is here.

Lucky for me, Deskbar is easily extendable , and so that’s just what I’ve done. I looked at the Twitter Wiki, found a Python Twitter library downloaded their little icon thing and written a sript to let you post to Twitter from your Deskbar. It looks like this:

Screenshot of Deskbar with Twitter plugin installed

To install:

  1. Install python-twitter
  2. Grab deskbar-twitter.py and twitter.png and put them in ~/.gnome2/deskbar-applet/handlers/
  3. Open your downloaded deskbar-twitter.py in an editor
  4. Replace TWITTER_USERNAME and TWITTER_PASSWORD with your Twitter details
  5. Replace YOUR_USERNAME with your Ubuntu username

It took longer to write this blog post than the code, so patches welcome.