Tag Archives: message

urlscan and urlview: With the assist

Not having a lot of experience with the convenience and immediacy of local mail service, I find that things like urlscan and urlview are sometimes lost on me.

I’ve done my best though, to try and see the fearful symmetry of urlview, which skims through text files and plucks out viable URLs, then displays them as links. How would that be useful? When sent an e-mail filled with links, of course.


From there, it’s a simple hop-skip-and-jump to your fav-o-rite browser, and you can wallow at your leisure in the murky swill of the Internet. :\

And it’s got most of the requisite points — some color, a full-screen interface, abort keys on screen. Granted, it’s simple, but not so simple as to be unnoticed.

urlscan is a re-imagining of the task, and is written in python. You can probably see the resemblance.


And you can see where there’s a slight variation on the original theme, with a top-and-bottom arrangement over urlview’s list-and-status bar style. You pick your preference.

(I did notice, just as a side note, that urlscan seemed to glance over URLs that were prefixed with http:// but that may have been a quirk in my test list.)

Other notes: urlview has a complete configuration file in /etc/urlview/. urlscan can dump its ouput to STDOUT. Both expect you to configure $BROWSER beforehand, although I believe urlview can rely on its own configuration files too. Both are in Debian and Arch/AUR.

I feel obligated to mention that both urlview and urlscan are quite happy working their magic on plain text files, and don’t rely on any mail system whatsoever to work (which should be obvious from my screenshots). So if you have a project that needs to skim for web addresses, either will probably suffice.

On the other hand, I can’t really think of many ways to use either program beyond what they’re designed for — filtering through e-mails and displaying links. Perhaps in time I will find something to use them with. … 😉

echat: Serverless chatter

I’m stuck again with a chat tool that I can’t really demonstrate because I don’t have the supporting network structure. This is echat:


And that’s as much as I expect I’ll see from it. Judging by the home page, echat is designed to work in serverless environments, such as LANs or office networks. I see elsewhere that echat is intended for Vypress networks, and can interact with Windows- or other OS-based clients (I would expect no less).

A lot of that is completely foreign to me, and so I approach echat from a completely neutral angle. No, I can’t see it running at full speed, but I can see a few positive points that might make it work investigating:

  • Nice screen arrangement, and flexible size.
  • Decent man page, and enough onboard help to prevent instant floundering.
  • Good use of color.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but I can recognize standout traits where I see them.

You’ll have to set up echat with a Vypress network to see if it works as well as it promises. If you get that far into the mix with echat, please send us a proper screenshot, so we can all bask in the full force of it’s glory. 😀

mcabber: Looking good, in principle

I was looking forward to mcabber, assuming of course that I would have plenty to show in a console-based jabber client.


Unfortunately, that was as far as I got. I checked the documentation I could find, to include the highly endorsed but rather sparse built-in help, but for some reason, never got past mcabber’s eternal “Connecting …” message.

As always, I will take responsibility for this shortcoming. I did pare down the sample configuration file at /usr/share/mcabber/examples/mcabberrc, and there’s probably something in there that I set wrong. It happens.

I would like to spend a little more time with mcabber, and perhaps I will again in the future. I see it comes with built-in OTR support, and I think relying on encryption as a default in chat is a necessity in this new age.

Of course, it might take a little time to figure out why it never “connects.” And unfortunately with 800+ applications still waiting in the wings, time is in short supply. 😦

jabber.el: emacs gains another level

My apologies to the vim contingent for dragging emacs out into the light again, but it’s pertinent and it starts with the letter J: jabber.el.


In AUR as emacs-jabber, this implants a jabber-based messaging client inside emacs. Good grief, is there anything emacs doesn’t do?! 😉

By most accounts this has been around for a while and I had only moderate difficulty setting it up; the instructions for 0.7.90 on this wiki were very helpful. Without them, jabber.el could never connect to the Talk server. 😕

Beyond that, as you can see, I didn’t do much to add contacts. Mostly because I wanted to see if I could spawn a black hole by telling emacs-jabber to connect to myself.

No such luck. I guess emacs doesn’t do everything … yet. 😯 🙄

frequency: Chat clients abound

I had the word “frequency” in my list of applications, with no notes and no link, which is usually a bad sign. It usually means I either added it in haste, or it’s too difficult to find.

Luckily there is a console-based chat client called “frequency” or just fz, in AUR. And it’s not bad looking.


Apparently designed to connect with EFNet, which I hadn’t ever heard of because I’m not much of a chat fan. The history is interesting though; if you are also oblivious, it doesn’t take long to read.

Points aside, frequency, or fz as it is installed, seems to work without issue. As you can see, I was up and connected inside a few seconds.

This reminds me strongly of bitchx, not just because of the ASCII art, but just because of the general arrangement. I wonder though, if once connected, most chat clients behave the same. 😐

I do see where frequency supposedly lacks some scripting features; it might be that the author just didn’t get to that point. If you are a fierce IRC fan, it might not be flexible enough for you.

I leave it to you to explore. If you know EFNet and you are looking for a text-only interface to it, this might be preferable for you.

freetalk: Get your jabber on

I’m finding that the F section is quite replete — probably more than the E section was — but somehow a lot of the “applications” I have are just one-shot command line tools.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I enjoy finding full-frame, console applications drawn up with lots of color. Yes, I do like color.

I suppose by those meager criteria, freetalk could be a contender. It will definitely scroll to fill your screen, has a few ascii-drawn images to boast of, and replies appear in color.

So yeah, as far as a Jabber client goes, it could qualify.


freetalk is a very fundamental tool though, and doesn’t seem to have the same pizazz as something like centerim or one of the ekg twins.

Messages are sent by typing out the name (you have tab completion, so don’t worry) and the message, and until you swap targets freetalk will type out the same name again for you. Saves you a little time.

Check deep into the manual for a few fun commands, and ways to personalize the prompt. And while you’re at it, be aware that freetalk can pipe shell output straight into chat, and will drop commands to the shell as well.

As far as encryption goes … I don’t see anything in the manual or elsewhere to suggest it can be encrypted. Sad face. 😦

Check it out though. It has the svelte feel of a GNU application and enough small tweaks to keep a run-of-the-mill geek happy. Maybe you qualify. 😉

centerim: A long-standing favorite

centerim was a pet favorite for a long time, and if I am in a text-only environment, it’s still the one I prefer.


Mostly, as I have mentioned before, because I have a GTalk account that I most often use. (Looks like the current version has connection issues at the moment. Please use your imagination. 😉 )

And because instant message clients are only of interest if they support your service, centerim was one of a few alternatives I had.

I will be honest and say that my focus shifted away from centerim when I started using encryption in chats. As far as I know, there is no way to include encryption in centerim, which is a shame.

In this day and age, it’s sad to think that encryption is almost a requirement any more.

But I look forward to a text-only instant message tool that can shield messages from in-betweens.