Let GeekTool tell you, which of your Skype contacts are online

This is a thing I wanted to do for long in GeekTool, but the SkypeAPI wasn’t fully implemented in earlier releases of Skype for Mac. Now the API has been updated and I could realize my dream of coercing GeekTool to display all of my Skype Contacts who are online, including – if they entered one – their mood text. The script also drops the echo123 test contact from the list which is only used to check your connection and setup.

Now invoke it from GeekTool using the following line (substituting [path] with the actual path to the file):

echo 'Skype:'; osascript [path]/SkypeOnlineUsers.scptd | tr , "\n" | iconv -f UTF-8 -t L1

The call doesn’t put much strain on your system so you can set refresh somewhere between 10 and 30 seconds.
If this is popular I might do a similar thing for Adium.

Update: I updated the code because it didn’t work properly on other computers. If you downloaded this before, please try again. Note that I saved the script into a bundle now, so the file-extension has changed to . scptd

Update #2: I have rewritten the code again, now it should seriously work better for other people. Sorry for everybody who had trouble getting this to work! Please notice that the file suffix has changed back to .scpt.

Mail and iTunes for GeekTool

is a nifty little tool, that does something very simple yet powerfull: execute unix commands and show the output on your desktop. If you feed the little thing with the right code, it becomes sort of a tiny raw text dashboard. In addition to that it can monitor text files and pictures, so you can i.e. have your system log always on your desktop or set a link to a graph of your website stats which updates live.

I wrote two little pieces of AppleScript, one of which that just asks Mail periodically for unread messages and if there are any, returns the senders and subject lines. If there is no new mail, it says “No new mail”, and if you quit Mail it says “Mail not running”. The other one displays the current track track in iTunes, and can say “iTunes not running”, or “Stopped”.
This is what it looks like:
The top item is the Unix calendar which you get with the nice onelinercal | sed "s/^/ /;s/$/ /;s/ $(date +%e) / $(date +%e | sed 's/./#/g') /"

Below that I have the iTunes script, which you enable with the command

echo `/usr/bin/osascript ~/GeekTool/iTunes.scpt`

after you downloaded my script and put it in ~/GeekTool/iTunes.scpt that is.
Then download my Mail script, put it in ~/Library/Mail/Scripts and envoke it, using

osascript ~/Library/Mail/Scripts/NewItems.scpt

Be cautious with the refresh rates. If you set them too low, the drain on your system will be quite substantial. Good values are 3600s (once an hour) for the calender, 10s for iTunes, and 120s for Mail. Use with moderation.
This is another page with quite some nice examples and and intersting discussion thread.

Update: Better call the Mailscript with the command
osascript ~/Library/Mail/Scripts/NewItems.scpt | tr , "\n"
it will remove the comma at the end of every line.

I have rewritten the Mail script and it is much faster now and uses less CPU. This means that you can now set the refresh intervall shorter, Ohh, always use case for your ipod mini to use maximum day. Its just a safety tips


D.H.Rumsfeld a Poet?

new-rumsfeldThe Microsoft online news and culture magazine Slate.com has a collection of poems from our beloved Don H. They go as far, as to compare his verse to the ones of William Carlos Williams and Frank O’Hara. Go and see for yourself. Here is a short example:

A Confession
Once in a while,
I’m standing here, doing something.
And I think,
“What in the world am I doing here?”
It’s a big surprise.

—May 16, 2001, interview with the New York Times

America vs. The World

It is interesting to follow what American media might call „the road to war“ in the Iraq and Iran conflicts. Even though we now face a very different situation then we did prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, one thing seems to not have changed: the inability of the international community to form a united front against threats.putin-ahmadinejad-small
Very early in the Iraq conflict, much before the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had finished their investigations on possible nuclear weapons in Iraq, German, French and other leaders of what was to become known as the “old Europe” stepped up and assured their definite no to military engagement in Iraq. In doing so they not only boosted their public appeal in times when they were in much need of it (Germanys Gerhard Schröder for example stood facing his re-election), but also weakened the build-up of an internationally united credible threat of force. Much like Mr. Schröder and Mr. Chirac frequently shifted the blame for the failure of their left economic politics to evils of globalisation, they denied to take on international responsibility in favour of exploiting their voters naïve pacifism for their own political well-being. This is not trying to state that the war was right, but that categorically ruling out war from the very beginning was wrong.
Aside the western world stand the superpowers of yesterday and tomorrow: Russia and China, who sometimes seem to base their international politics solemnly on economic interests most notably of their large state run gas and oil firms. Truly bizarre in this constellation is the wide public perception in western Europe, which sometimes even goes as far as to depict America as the true threat of international peace. When the US is going to war with Iraq, it is only because of its imperialist thirst for oil and indifference for the UN security council. When European leaders deny their support for military actions both before the IAEA has filed their final report and before the UN has decided on possible reactions to the Iraqi threat, then this is perceived as peace-mongering, not as subverting the UN.
Now again, as we are facing an ignorant and dangerous Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the head of Iran, who denies both the holocaust and the Israeli right of existence, the international community is split. This time however Europe stands more willing to build up a threat of force and the US just a little less. Russia and China however have not much shifted their positions. At the meeting of the five UN-Veto-Nations in Moscow yesterday, the US was unable to pull through with their hard line sanctions on Iran. Bejing and Moscow seem to stick with their concept of protecting their economic interests over the integrity of the UN and peace. Much like Chirac and Schröder did before the Iraq war, is a position of categorical denial of force not only going to undermine the UN but also going to create a political atmosphere in which Iran feels itself backed by international allies. Today you do not see protesters on the Streets of Berlin, Paris or Rom who march against the Russian and Chinese embracement of Iran. But we can be sure that they will show up if the US announces concrete plans for the bombing of strategic targets in Iran. And our prejudices will be saved and once again America will be the evil imperialist empire.

German Nazi Swing for Americans

WFMU, an underground radio station from New York is featuring some genuine Nazi swing music from the 1930’s. The story behind this is a very interesting historical footnote, I didn’t know about either. Although swing music was banned s “degenerate” and “nigger music” in Germany itself, Joseph Goebbels, the Reichspropagandaminister, used it to spread the Nazi message to the UK, USA, and Canada. He put together a big band of pretty respectable Jazz musicians called “Charlie and his Orchestra” led by someone called Karl Schwendler singing the latest swing hits with an adorably thick German accent and not very subtle rants and raves against the Jews, the BBC and everything democratic, while praising past German victories in wars and the virtues of National Socialism. What is fascinating is the contrast between the superficially harmless and joyfull music and the hate preaching lyrics.

The WFMU has two blog posts with links to the MP3s:

“Charlie and His Orchestra“, March 6, 2005 and
“Still More Nazi Swing Music” December 6, 2005.