Slashdotting the Speaker

I've been an avid reader of Slashdot for years, but only occasionally submit a story to them. It does, however, always give me a 15-seconds-of-fame feeling when they pick my submission. That happened today, when I submitted an item about Denny Hastert, the Speaker of the House, starting his own blog. The story got picked up, and the comments started flying. Now, by Slashdot standards, this was small potatoes -- I've seen stories that generated thousands of comments. What didn't occur to me until I started reading the comments, though, was that I had just unleashed the Slashdot Effect on the unsuspecting Congressman.

Ah, well, it will be an good learning experience for him. I hope the server holds up okay.

As a follow-up to the prior post, I've been flipping back and forth between Flock and Firefox for a while. Flock has some nice features, but I lose Flash and GreaseMonkey when I'm in it. Also, I tried to post this entry with their built-in blogging, and it gave me a very Microsoft-like error message -- in other words, one that doesn't actually tell you what went wrong. Note to the Flock developers: More error information is better than less. Especially for a "Developer Preview".

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Testing the Flock browser

I got an email today inviting me to test the "Developer Preview" of Flock, a new Mozilla-based web browser. The interesting thing about it is that it is designed to integrate with social bookmarking sites, blog sites, and other collaborative uses of the web. In fact, I'm writing this blog entry inside Flock's blog editor, as one of my initial tests. If you're reading this, the test worked.

If this is a new paragraph, it's worked even better.

I think I'll try running this in lieu of Firefox for a while, and see what my comfort level is. So far, for a pre-beta, it looks very, very promising.


Live365 radio from the command line

One of my passions is the music of Harry Nilsson. Luckily for me, one of the perks of the Internet Age is that finding others that share your passions is pretty easy. For Nilsson fans around the world, the website and mailing list run by Roger Smith has been the medium for that sharing. (Click on Harry's name above to see Roger's site.)

One of the longtime members of the NilssonWeb is Tom Westendorf, or "Old Tom" as he calls himself. Recently, Old Tom started a radio station on Live365.com, heavily featuring our Harry in the playlist. Naturally, I wanted to hear it. I couldn't, however, stand the idea of having to run a graphical client or a web browser in order to listen. I run Linux, after all, so I'm no stranger to the command line. Not to mention that we're talking about audio streaming here. There's no pictures, folks, so why should a GRAPHICAL User Interface be required?

This leads me to this episode's Scripting Pet Trick, which requires only two appications installed on your box: curl, an incredibly useful URL retriever, and mplayer, the best media player ever.

The trick here is to tell curl to remember the cookies it gets when browsing Live365, using the Unix 'cut' utility to pull information out of the cookie jar, and feeding that information into the URL for mplayer.

Other things to note: you have to register (free) with Live365.com, and get your userid and password, and fill them in at the top of the script. Obviously, this is not a secure way of handling things. I should probably have the script ask me the password every time. Also, you'll see that I had to yank the userid out of the session cookie value before passing it to mplayer. I'm also hard-coded to Tom's station here. You may want to browse Live365 for some other choices.

The script:

#! /bin/sh


curl --cookie-jar curlcookies   --output curldump --location-trusted "http://www.live365.com/cgi-bin/login.cgi?url=http://www.live365.com/index.live&membername=${USERID}&password=${PASSWD}"

SANE=`grep SaneID curlcookies | cut -f7`
SESS=`grep sessionid curlcookies | cut -f7 | sed s/${USERID}%3A//`

# Westendorf radio

mplayer "http://www.live365.com/play/${STATION}?SaneID=${SANE}&membername=${USERID}&session=${SESS}"

Happy streaming! (Oh, and Tom? Nice playlist...)

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