Posts Tagged ‘hacks’

Setup:

1) Drag this link up to your browser’s bookmark toolbar: Tumblr Reblog

To Reblog:

1) Go to the permalink of the individual post you want to reblog (e.g. this)  NOTE: Bookmarklet will NOT work on the Tumblr dashboard.  If you can’t figure out how to navigate to the permalink post on a Tumblr blog, click on the top-right corner of the post on your dashboard to get to the permalink URL.

2) Click the “Tumblr Reblog” bookmarklet you set up – it should then process and bring you to a compose screen with the post ready to reblog (even your own posts!)


Caveats – I cobbled this together from some existing bookmarklets, so if something doesn’t work properly, let me know.  May not work for all types of posts (e.g. ones where reblogging is not supported, etc).  Hope this works for you!

A little while ago, Twitter decided to get rid of “basic authentication” for all third party tools (i.e. login and passwords) and force them to use OAuth as a more secure and user-friendly means of using their service.  This event, affectionately known as the OAuthcalypse among the tech community, caused many people to throw their hands up in disgust as they realized that many of their scripts and tools would now be obsolete – that is, unless they spent time and effort revamping them to use OAuth.

Luckily, there’s a simpler solution for all those folks out there – using a website that handles the OAuth handshake for you lets you essentially proxy your Twitter calls through an authorized site, meaning you can hang on to your scripts and tools with minimal modifications.

The easiest solution I’ve found out there is SuperTweet.net.  Designed to transparently replace direct calls to Twitter, SimpleTweet does all the heavy lifting and has quite an extensive API to utilize.  Setup is relatively quick and painless (see details below) and for the most simple one-line tweeting solutions, just requires you replacing your Twitter password with your SuperTweet password, and changing the URL you hit to the SimpleTweet gateway URL.

An alternate solution, and one I’ve had only partial success with, is Elliot Kember’s Simple Auth Twitter.  Although it boasts an easier setup (basically, click one link and you’ve got everything set up for you), it appears to be more limited in what you can do on Twitter via the proxy, and requires you to change your format of your scripts to hit a custom URL for each status tweet.  Although it worked for me on unix-based systems, I could not get it to work via curl for Windows.

My recommendation, if you like to tweet from the command line or have a script/tool that needs to do so, is use SimpleTweet.net to replace your old basic authentication calls to Twitter.  It took me about 2 minutes to set up and edit my scripts to use this, and they’ve worked flawlessly since then.  Sure, there’s a third party in the loop now, but if the alternative is learning OAuth or giving up on my scripts entirely, I’ll happily take the quick & dirty solution and go about the rest of my day doing something more fun.


How to Set Up SuperTweet.net – Step by Step instructions

1) If you’re not already signed in, login into Twitter via the Twitter homepage with the account you want to use with SuperTweet’s API Proxy

2) Go to the SuperTweet.net homepage and click the “Sign in With Twitter” button to get to the Twitter authorization page

1signin 3) Click the “Allow” button to allow “MyAuth API Proxy by supertweet.net” access to your Twitter account.  This is the step where they’re setting up the OAuth handshake for you so you can use SuperTweet as a proxy without having to do OAuth yourself.

2allow 4) You’ll be returned to the SuperTweet site, with a page that shows the credentials that are set up for your account.  Right now, the account is Inactive because you have not set up a password.  Click the “Activate” link to set up a password.

3activate 4) On the next screen, enter the password you want to use with your command-line tools.  Note: They recommend NOT using your Twitter password here to add a little extra safety to your account.  Most command line tools are going to transmit this password in the clear, so it’s probably a good idea to use an alternate password.

4password 5) You should now be returned to the credentials page, with a note next to your status saying your account is active.  Congratulations, you can now use SuperTweet as a proxy for your Twitter calls!

Here’s an example to get you started – if you want to tweet your status from the command line, use the following one-liner:

curl -u your_twitter_username_here:your_SuperTweet_password_here -d status="Status you want tweeted goes here" http://api.supertweet.net/1/statuses/update.xml

(Curl for Windows uses arguments slightly differently, but it’s similar enough that I think you can figure it out.)

The full list of API calls is available here. Lots of possibilities out there if you want to get more complex, but I think most people just want their script/tool to be able to tweet status info based on the outcome of their script, which is what I’ve listed above.

Hope this helps you out, letting you continue to use those scripts/tools you wrote and Twitter broke with their OAuthcalypse!

EDIT:  Thanks for all the volunteers – I think I'm set on the alpha testing crew (who I will be contacting as soon as I can get the front-end tied to the back-end and make sure it's not going to break when you type in your vox address).  If you missed your chance to volunteer for testing – don't fret; I don't think the testing process will take all that long and I'll be opening it up for general consumption just as soon as I possibly can.

Okay, I'm not actually quite ready for alpha testers just yet, but soon I will be initializing the alpha version of the Vox export tool to those willing to help me test it out prior to making a formal release to the masses.  I wanted to get names of people interested in helping now, so that as soon as I'm ready I can contact you individually and get you started on the testing process.  Please read below and if you are interested in alpha testing the tool, please email me at VoxPorter@gmail.com .  I NEED A VALID EMAIL ADDRESS from each alpha tester so I can be in communication about updates, bug fixes, and requests for more information if I'm trying to figure out what went wrong in your setup.  I will NOT be communicating this through Vox comments or PMs, so if you're not willing to email me, please don't volunteer.

Testers should:

  • Be willing to try out the tool (possibly multiple times if bugfixes are required)
  • Be able/willing to import the resulting file into a WordPress blog (instructions may be provided if you don't know how) (free WordPress blogs can be created at WordPress.com, or you can set one up on your own server if you know how)
  • Be able/willing to review the resulting blog for problems/errors in the import process (i.e. checking to make sure content imported properly, blog post titles, dates, and tags appear correct, etc)

and most importantly:

  • Be able/willing to inform me of any problems you experience or notice, as well as provide comments/questions about using the export tool, the process as a whole, and any specific areas you think need improvement.  You won't need to be available to run the tool the same day I send you notification, but please only volunteer if you think you can support the testing in a timely manner (i.e. within about a week of getting a notification for testing).

Again, if you are interested in alpha testing the tool, please email me at VoxPorter@gmail.com . I'll select testers based on my current needs and the number who volunteer.

Oh, and FYI, the current planned Alpha version of the VoxPorter (name still in flux) tool includes the following:

  • Export all publicly viewable blog posts from a user's blog to a WXR .xml file (WordPress import file)
  • Importing this file into a WordPress blog will import blog titles, posting dates/times, content, and tags from posts to the new blog (note: links and media [pictures, music, videos] will still link to their current Vox enclosures for now)
  • Select whether trackback pings and comments will be globally enabled or disabled on all imported posts

Future improvements planned once this version is tested and available in a steady-state form:

  • Option to also export post comments (would show up under each blog post, just like they do on Vox)
  • Automatic splitting of WXR file on the fly into 2 MB sections for blogs with massive archives
  • Secondary tool to allow you to quickly and easily download your entire uploaded photos library for use on your new blog
  • Secondary tool to allow you to quickly and easily see what other social media services your Vox neighbors use (along with links to their individual accounts) so even if you decide not to stick with Vox, you can still stay in contact with your 'hood through other apps or sites

Other improvements possible but less likely (given the time I have to work on this):

  • Converting Vox links to your blog posts on the fly so they link to other posts in your new blog
  • Converting to other blog formats besides WordPress (Blogger, MovableType, etc)
  • Automatic widget/banner creation that you can post on your Vox blog to point people to your new blog location

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Note:  The post below is extremely geeky and probably not interesting to anyone except those who would like to follow along with the progress of HOW I'm implementing a Vox export tool.  If you're just interested in hearing when I'm done with it, this is not the post for you – that'll come soon. 

I'm more laying this out for my own thought processes than in any sort of attempt to educate on how the export tool is going to finally work.  The good news is I have a tentatively working solution that will theoretically import a full Vox blog onto a self-hosted WordPress installation.  The bad news is that the solution in mind will NOT work for (free-hosted) WordPress.com installations, so I'm still trying to figure out an alternative for those.  Preferably one that does not involve someone having to find a friend with access to a self-hosted version to do an intermediate conversion for them.

After countless hours (days? weeks?) of half-assed research online, here's a summary of what I've come up with regarding exporting from Vox (VoxPorting?  Anyone got a better name for the eventual tool I'll be posting?)

  1. Blogging services SUCK at normalizing on an export standard.  Every single one of them is different.  Likewise, almost all of them try to trap you into their service by only allowing you to import their export types and/or only export a type that will be incompatible with other services.  This means people have to get crafty if they want to jump from one platform to another, especially if they do it more than once.
  2. The big contenders for free (hosted) blogging services out there seem to be (in no particular order): Vox, LiveJournal, Blogger, and WordPress (hosted on WordPress.com).  Yes, MySpace and its clones exist, and no, I'm not going to even try to get content over on to them.
  3. Additionally, you've got WordPress (self-hosted) and MovableType (self-hosted) which are free, but require you to host them somewhere.
  4. Paid services exist (TypePad, etc.) but since they require you to front money, I'm not focusing on trying to export to them.
  5. That being said, looking at the free services, I've found the following:
  • I'm not looking to import into Vox, since that's obviously contrary to the whole point of a Vox export tool.  I believe there are easier ways to migrate content from one Vox account to another than exporting/importing.  That being said, if you're just trying to back up your Vox blog, you can either use BlogBackupOnline (to back up online only) or Simon Wistow's VoxSlurp (to back up to an .mbox file) – more on these in another post.
  • Apparently exporting to a file to import to LiveJournal is out, as LJ doesn't even appear to be able to import its own export files.  Unless you're planning to repost every individual post on LJ, probably not an option.  I'm not even considering this at the moment.
  • Blogger only imports "Blogger export files".  There are solutions out there that seem to use Blogger APIs to get around this limitation, but this looks like A LOT of work.  I looked at what the Blogger export files look like and don't know that I can forge one to duplicate a Vox account onto a Blogger blog.  Holding this out as a last resort option, especially as there seems to be an alternative (see a couple bullets down, below).
  • WordPress (self-hosted or on WordPress.com) seem to be the most likely choices.  I've had success importing an RSS feed from Vox to a self-hosted WordPress blog.  It would be fairly trivial to expand this to create a custom RSS .xml file to encompass a full Vox blog, and import that into a new WordPress blog.  HOWEVER, WordPress.com blogs (free-hosted) do NOT have the "import from RSS" as one of their options (for some bizarre reason, they don't offer this??)  Instead:
  • WordPress.com imports from WordPress export files, called WXR (WordPress eXtended RSS).  Both self-hosted and free-hosted solutions export to WXR files, and both can import from the other (I believe).  Furthermore, once you've got a WXR file, you can use a solution to convert this into a Blogger-compatible format to import to Blogger!  Sounds like the winner, if I can figure out how to properly create a WXR file from a Vox blog.  Except documentation on the WXR format seems to be pretty much non-existant, so the only way to figure it out is to analyze an existing blog's export file, the WordPress import code, and experiment.  Not the ideal way to make sure I'm doing it correctly, and definitely a way that's going to take more time to get to complete.
    • One added benefit to doing a WXR file – if I set it up properly, I could actually scrape the Vox blog posts for comments, and forge new comments to be imported along with the blog posts – this way, not only would you be importing your hard work to a new blog, you'd be carrying along the comments (which oftentimes are as informative/entertaining as the original post!)  Currently the plan is to do the first pass with just blog posts, and then once I get that up and running, consider devising the import w/ comments.  The big problem is my approach to getting the content off the Vox blog will vary tremendously depending on whether or not I'm capturing comments – if I am, I have to do the much more tedious (and much slower) page-scraping, as opposed to taking advantage of the Vox RSS feeds that I would be using for the other non-comment method.  I'm not sure I'd want to commit to doing a page-scrape for every Vox export – I currently am doing that for my Picture and MP3 backup tool and it takes a bit of time – this would be even worse, given that some people have thousands of posts on Vox.
  • Movable Type also seems to be able to import WXR files.  Definitely looks like WXR is the way to go, and then provide that file to the user for their use in importing to WordPress or MT (directly) or Blogger (via the converter).

Since I know you CAN import to a self-hosted WordPress blog from Vox and then export that right back out to a WXR, the cynical part of me says I should post this solution and then people who self-host can go ahead and import, and people that don't can find someone to do it for them.  Heck, I might even go ahead and do this as an intermediate step to the final soltuion.  But in the end, I don't want to create half a solution and have most of the users have to fend for themselves.  People shouldn't be penalized just because they signed up for a free blog on Vox and now want to have a free blog somewhere else instead.

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@Pistachio on Twitter gave me a great idea for a new Greasemonkey script.  Twitter users know that putting the @ sign in front of someone's Twitter ID (e.g. @twitterID) is the way to reply to that person through twitter.  When you're on twitter.com, or using a twitter client, this @twitterID is usually hyperlinked to that Twitter profile page (e.g. http://www.twitter.com/twitterID ).  However, this is usually NOT the case when you view a Twitter ID on any other webpage (including Gmail).  I decided to put together a Greasemonkey script that changes that, so that any Twitter ID, anywhere (even in Gmail) will be hyperlinked to the corresponding Twitter profile page.

Since I try not to reinvent the wheel when possible, I built my script on top of Jesse Ruderman's AutoLink Greasemonkey script.  (I did delete some of the functionality that people might not want, such as bugzilla IDs and phone numbers – if you want the full version of that script, get it here. Note that you'll have to merge my Twitter filter into his script if you want the Twitter auto-linking functionality.)

Once you install the script, @rossruns will look like @rossruns.  As an added benefit, Jesse's script already converted email addresses and plainlink URLs into hyperlinked versions, so you get that auto-linking functionality with this script, too.

Want to install this script for your own use?  First install Greasemonkey, and then get the script here.  (Instructions to install Greasemonkey can be found here.)

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Vox provides a great way to check out music that people have uploaded, but what if you've got a browser that doesn't have a flash player, or you just want to listen to the music in a different media-player plugin in your browser?  This Greasemonkey script is the answer for you!

This script simply adds a hyperlink directly to the .mp3 file on any individual song file page.  Once that link is present, you can access the .mp3 directly, instead of having to go through the flash player interface. 

And, although I guess you could use this to right-click on the link and download the .mp3, I urge you not to illegally download your music and instead buy your music legally from someone like Amazon's MP3 Store or iTunes.

Want to install this script for your own use?  First install Greasemonkey, and then get the script here.  (Instructions to install Greasemonkey can be found here.)

THANKS TO: lemon, for beta-testing this script for me over Easter weekend!


(Please note this script assumes the Vox audio file that was uploaded was a .mp3 file. If it was a different audio format, this script may not provide a proper link to the file, or the file may not play back correctly in your media player.)

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As promised, I spent some time over the past week putting together a Greasemonkey script to reorder the modules on the new Vox homepage.

After the feedback people left, the new order I ended up using is:


Left Column                      Right Sidebar
 1) Posts                         1) QotD
 2) Comments                      2) Vox Hunt
 3) Neighbor Activity             3) Team Vox News
 4) [This is Good] Explore Box    4) Tips Box
 5) Vox MSN Advertisement         5) Themes Box
                                  6) Advertisement
                                  7) Find your friends box

Vox Homepage (After Script)
Vox Homepage (Before Script)

which can be seen in the screen shots to the right, here:

Want to install this script for your own use?  First install Greasemonkey, and then get the script here.  (Instructions to install Greasemonkey can be found here.)

As always, if you have any comments, feedback, or suggestions, or notice any bugs, please leave me a comment or send me a note.  I'll do my best to stay on top of any issues that arise.

Also, to those people who left me feedback but didn't get the exact order they wanted – I'm willing to make a custom version of this script just for you with the modules in the alternative order that you wanted.  Please leave me a comment as to whether you still want the order you suggested, and I'll send you a PM with the location where you can download/install your custom version of the script.

Enjoy!

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