Tag Archives: reader

rtv: Arr tee vee

And the hits just keep on rolling.


I’m only a lukewarm fan of reddit; it’s useful in some cases, but rather bewildering to me at other times, and I find the blind structure a little confusing.

All the same, we’ve seen reddit-specific console tools in the past, and ordinarily I’d step over something that was specific to one forum or site. But this seems particularly well done.

2015-04-15-6m47421-rtv-02 2015-04-15-6m47421-rtv-03

rtv claims to be compatible with a lot of terminal emulators, but my preliminary tests suggested it was quite comfortable with a framebuffer terminal too, and didn’t lose out any text or characters over font limitations.

Configuration is very straightforward, with a brief rtv.cfg file you drop into .config/rtv/ and edit with your account name and password (in plain text). You can also define a default subreddit (thereby avoiding unnecessary pictures of cats) and jump from subreddit to subreddit with the slash “/” key.

Right arrows open the discussion in a nested format, which is very convenient, and the “o” key will bounce you into your XDG browser. There are also keystrokes for refreshing a page, searching a page and posting a reply. If you’re a die-hard reddit fan and need something lighter than Firefox (what isn’t lighter than Firefox?!) to get your daily fix, this might be the droid you’re looking for.

Like I said, I’m not a huge fan, but I can’t mark down rtv for working specifically with a site that I am only ambivalent about — particularly when it does everything right. Beautiful color, very flexible display, easy controls and keystrokes with a visual representation that makes following discussions easy. Piece-of-cake configuration and on-screen help displays make rtv an clean sweep.

So here goes: ⭐ Don’t spend the whole day looking at pictures of cats, now. … πŸ˜‰

P.S.: In AUR only, as both rtv and rtv-git. The -git version worked fine for me.

alot: With notmuch help involved, and little more

Up front, let’s say that alot is a “graphical” interface to notmuch, which you might know or remember as a mail indexer and search tool.

2015-04-14-6m47421-alot-01 2015-04-14-6m47421-alot-02 2015-04-14-6m47421-alot-03

And as you can see, alot has a lot πŸ˜› of the right stuff — good color, very flexible terminal space, on-screen help and an intuitive interface. Navigation is with enter keys and a few other mnemonics, and some keys have global behaviors, regardless of what you’re doing at any moment in time.

I would bet that, once your mail setup is complete, you’ll only need about three or four minutes to learn how to use alot, and after that, you’ll cruise through your mail folder at ludicrous speed.

A few things to remember though. … alot needs notmuch on board, which means you’re dealing mostly with the local mail concept, as opposed to relaying directly to an online mail source. If you’re looking for something that will pull down messages from GMail and let you pick through them, I don’t think this is it.

On the other hand, it does mean that you’re free to latch alot (and notmuch) on to your home-grown mail system — or as I showed above, latch notmuch onto something like offlineimap, which can yank messages off GMail and store them locally.

So technically speaking, there are options. The question becomes, how much do you want to step backwards through programs, just to take advantage of alot, when things like alpine can more or less handle the entire process in one fell swoop? Again, if you use a local mail system, alot might be preferable. For me … well. … 😐

All in all, I have to give alot a gold star for catching every point in my checklist for a good console application. I don’t think this is a game-changer for me though, since I’d have to rely on two or three other programs before alot became my mail reader, even if setup is fairly straightforward for all of them.

In AUR as alot and alot-git, but the git version wasn’t working at this exact moment in time. In Debian. And of course, as promised: ⭐ Enjoy! πŸ™‚

nget: Sometimes a hammer is just a hammer

I take a sidelong approach to a lot of the newsgroup tools I try. Many of them seem well-thought-out, and are no doubt of considerable use to the people who rely on them. But newsgroups on the whole tend to disappoint me, so a lot of the usefulness is a side note.

nget is probably a good example of that. As a straight-shot command line tool, I have no doubt it does marvelous work for some people.

2015-02-01-l3-b7175-nget-01 2015-02-01-l3-b7175-nget-02 2015-02-01-l3-b7175-nget-03

It hammers out the job in a very old-fashioned, traditional way, with an .nget5 folder holding an .ngetrc file that needs to be edited with the name of a news server (I used news.aioe.org again, and had no problems) before it will run.

Then you have a long list of flag options for nget, depending on what you want it to do — download unread messages, pull in attachments based on a name filter, or whatever you like. In that sense, it’s very very flexible.

But from where I sit, it’s not very exciting. You can see some of its output in the images above, and that plus error messages or connection reports seems to be all it will tell you.

I could expect more, but that’s where my general disinterest in newsgroups starts to kick in. Perhaps you’ll find it more interesting or useful than I did; in any case, I can vouch for it working acceptably, and as promised.

But if you’re looking for something a little more interactive, a little less cryptic and maybe even a little more colorful, there are other tools available that can simplify the newsgroup experience. Keep an open mind.

After all, sometimes a hammer is just a hammer. And sometimes what you want and need … is a hammer.

multimail: A rubberstamp endorsement

Looking back over the past week, I didn’t do as badly as I expected, considering my schedule. By calculations I owe a post each for Monday and Wednesday, so I’ll start with multimail.

2015-01-17-l3-b7175-multimail-01 2015-01-17-l3-b7175-multimail-02

There were two hurdles to the Debian version of multimail. The first is that, in a measure of infinite wisdom, the executable that is included in the Debian version is not called multimail, but is instead just mm. I lost 10 minutes this morning thinking the Debian package was just a bunch of configuration files. 😑

The second impediment, and then one I couldn’t clear myself, was to get mail packets in a format that multimail could swallow, and if the home page is any guidance, I was looking for any of about four different formats.

It may be possible to finagle something from Google in one of those formats, but all my attempts were left with garbled text or just general incompatibility. Of course, I do also have a track record for scrambling things before they ever get going.

In any case, I was running out of time on my multimail adventure, and attempts to glean help from the Internet ran dry when I realized there were dozens of unrelated projects named “multimail” out there, and were severely obscuring my quest.

So I’ll leave it to you to judge it on its actual usefulness; my intuition suggests it may be helpful to have a tool that will retrieve your e-mail from Google, if you also rely on GMail, and then step into multimail.

But that is a project for another day. For now I’m willing to give multimail a tentative gold star on just about every other point of evaluation: Full screen approach, keypress clues in plain sight, popup menus at every corner, gorgeous use of color (with drop shadows! πŸ˜€ ), extensive customizability and a decidedly friendly approach to mail reading. ⭐ And if you get it hooked into your GMail account, tell me how it worked. I’d like to try. πŸ˜‰

wikicurses: Information, in brief

If you remember back to wikipedia2text from a couple of months ago, you might have seen where ids1024 left a note about wikicurses, which intends to do something similar.


Ordinarily I use most as a $PAGER and it might look like most is working there, but it’s not. That’s the “bundled” pager, with the title of the wikipedia page at the top, and the body text formatted down the space of the terminal.

wikicurses has a few features that I like in particular. Color, of course, and the screen layout are good. I like that the title of the page is placed at the topmost point, and in a fixed position. Score points for all that.

Further, wikicurses can access (to the best of my knowledge) just about any MediaWiki site, and has hotkeys to show a table of contents, or to bookmark pages. Most navigation is vi-style, but you can use arrow keys and page up/down rather than the HJKL-etc. keys.

Pressing “o” gives you a popup search box, and pressing tab while in that search box will complete a term — which is a very nice touch. There are a few other commands, accessible mostly through :+term formats, much like you’d see in vi. Press “q” to exit.

From the command line you can feed wikicurses a search term or a link. You can also jump straight to a particular feed — like Picture of the Day or whatever the site offers. If you hit a disambiguation page, you have the option to select a target and move to that page, sort of like you see here.


That’s a very nice way to solve the issue.

There are a couple of things that wikicurses might seem to lack. First, short of re-searching a term, there’s no real way to navigate forward or back through pages. Perhaps that is by design, since adding that might make wikicurses more of an Internet browser than just a data-access tool.

It does make things a little clumsy, particularly if you’ve “navigated” to the wrong page and just want to work back to correct your mistake.

In the same way, pulling page from Wikipedia and displaying it in wikicurses removes any links that were otherwise available. So if you’re tracking family histories or tracing the relationships between evil corporate entities, you’ll have to search, read, then search again, then read again, then search again, then. …

But again, if you’re after a tool to navigate the site, you should probably look into something different. As best I can tell, wikicurses is intended as a one-shot page reader, and not a full-fledged browser, so limiting its scope might be the best idea.

There are a couple of other minor points I would suggest. wikicurses might offer the option to use your $PAGER, rather than its built-in format. I say that mostly because there are minor fillips that a pager might offer — like, for example, page counts or text searching — that wikicurses doesn’t approach.

But wikicurses is a definite step up from wikipedia2text. And since wikicurses seems to know its focus and wisely doesn’t step too far beyond it, it’s worth keeping around for one-shot searches or for specialized wikis that don’t warrant full-scale browser searches. Or for times like nowadays, when half of Wikipedia’s display is commandeered by a plea for contributions. … πŸ™„ 😑

wikipedia2text: Looking well-preserved, thanks to Debian

Conversion scripts are always good tools to know about, even if I don’t need them frequently enough to keep them installed. wikipedia2text is one that, in spite of its age, still seems sharp.


Technically, the script’s name was just “wiki,” and technically the source link listed on the home page is dead. Late in 2005 though, it made its way into Debian, and is still in a source tarball there. So it seems that it is possible to achieve immortality — all you need to do is somehow find your way into Debian. πŸ˜‰

The script works fine outside of Debian; just decompress it and go. You’ll need to install perl-uri if you’re using Arch. But if you’re in something Debian-ish, it should pull in liburi-perl as a dependency when you install it.

One thing that’s not mentioned outright in the blog post but does appear in the help flag: wikipedia2text will need one of about a half-dozen text-based browsers, to do the actual fetching of the page. I used lynx because … well, just because. Which leads me to this second screenshot.


At this point I’m wondering if wikipedia2text is an improvement over what a text-based browser can show. After all, lynx is showing multiple colors, uses the full terminal width, and I have the option of following links.

What’s more, wikipedia2text — strangely — offers a flag to display its results in a browser, and in my case it was possible to send the output back into lynx. So if you’re keeping track, I ran a script that called a browser to retrieve a page, then rerouted that page back into the browser for my perusal. πŸ˜• :\

In the absence of any other instruction, wikipedia2text will default to your $PAGER, which I like because mine is set to most, and I prefer that over almost anything else. Perhaps oddly though, if I ask specifically for pager output, wikipedia2text will arbitrarily commandeer less with no option to change that. Without any instruction for a pager, the output is $PAGER. But with the instruction it jumps to less? That’s also a little confusing. …

Furthermore, I couldn’t get the options for color output to work. And I don’t see a flag or an option to expand the text width beyond what you see in the screenshot, which I believe to be around 80 columns. That alone is almost a dealbreaker for me.

I suppose if I were just looking for a pure text extraction of a page, wikipedia2text has a niche. And it’s definitely worth mentioning that wikipedia2text has a text filtering option with color, which makes for a grep-like effect.

So all in all, wikipedia2text may have a slim focus that you find useful. I might pass it by as an artifact from almost 10 years ago — mostly on the grounds that it has some odd default behavior, and I fail to see a benefit of using this over lynx (or another text-based browser) by itself. 😐

lumail: You can probably do better

I admit I tackled lumail with a little less than the requisite tenacity, as will be obvious from this screenshot:


That’s because the author’s own screenshots are so much better. And because I’m stuck in that gray zone of mail clients again, this time with one that is specifically written to only handle local mail directories.

And again, since I primarily work with five or six online mail services, I’d need to bring in something like offlineimap or maybe isync or fetchmail to bring all those emails down here, and then configure lumail to work with them.

Forgive me, I just haven’t got “it” today. 😐

For what I can see from from the web site and from building and running lumail, it does look like a viable option for anyone with a local mail system to navigate. I can’t say how much better it would be than any of the inborne emacs clients or sup or even mutt, but if you’re in that group of users, it might be worth investigating. You can probably do better than I did here.

Advanced users will probably want to look at this page, for some of the more complex interactions lumail can engage in. These might also spark your interest.

I feel like I’m giving lumail a short shrift, but it’s not the first time I’ve had to glance quickly at a program before moving along. It happens a lot with local mail tools, and there’s not much for me to show by plastering up a screenshot of a man page. You can do that much on your own. … 😦

epub.sh: Me and Anders and Esko

Some months ago Anders left a note here about a simple script to spill a .epub file into your terminal, without needing another application to read it. Anders credited Esko for the original version, and while it might be presumptuous, I have adjusted Anders’ version slightly too.

Here’s my contribution to the effort, which still needs a little attention at times.

if [[ -z "$1" ]]
    then echo "Usage: ./epub.sh book.epub"
if [[ -z "$2" ]]
    then COLS=`tput cols`
FILELIST=`zipinfo -1 "$1" | grep -E '\.xml|\.html|\.xhtml' |sort`
    TEXT="$TEXT `unzip -caa "$1" "$FILE" | html2text -width $COLS`"
echo "$TEXT" | $PAGER

Which on my screen generates:


My additions to the script are to

  • Rely on your $PAGER in the final line,
  • Add in support for xhtml files, because the epub I downloaded to test it used xhtml πŸ™„ , and
  • Allow you to pick the width of your terminal, or leave it blank to use the full available width.

Of course, like Anders mentioned, this relies on both unzip and html2text, although the latter could be substituted with another tool, if you prefer it.

And it needs a lot of work. The ultimate effect is the “wall of text,” which I personally despise. As you might notice from my short paragraphs on this blog. 😐

And some better formatting would be nice, as well as some trapping for the leftover HTML that seems to have crept into the display at the top and elsewhere.

But not bad overall. I still count a neverending “Hello World” on my C64 as my greatest programming achievement, but this will do for my contribution. You have my permission to add yours. πŸ˜‰

nn: Success this time

Last time I tried nn, I got a succession of messages telling me my NNTP server could not be found, and so I took it as a sign that either (a) my configuration was all screwy, which is usually what happens; or (b) that nn was just too far gone to be useful any more.

Luckily, thisnameisfalse gave me a hint, and now I have something to show for my efforts with nn.


Lovely, isn’t it? I always feel so satisfied when a program works like I expect it should. … πŸ˜‰

Ultimately the trick to getting nn to work was very simple:

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ export NNTPSERVER="news.aioe.org" 
kmandla@6m47421: ~$ nn

And from there, gravity took over. πŸ˜‰ The irony of course, is that the installation warning for nn mentions setting the environment variable to your news server. So either I wasn’t paying attention, or I didn’t catch the warning. Mea culpa, either way.

The second irony is that after installing it and trying it out, nn falls very short of other usenet readers, in my humble opinion. nn can’t really stand up to slrn or tin, for that matter.

Yes, I suppose it is a contender for the least-configuration-required award. After all, slrn took a lot more work, and only tin can brag of a comparable fire-and-forget setup. trn … well, trn is special, I guess. πŸ™„

Sadly, I found nn to be a lot less intuitive than either slrn or tin, and I needed to bounce to the help page at almost every action. As with any program, I am sure I could learn the requisite commands if given enough time and experience, but compared to slrn or tin, where I was up and reading within minutes, nn is less obvious.

And of course, there is the lack of color to complain about. πŸ™„

I will give nn some points for being lightweight; pacman -Qi puts the nn package at a meager 685Kb, which is roughly what Debian measures it at, plus some documentation. That might not sound light, until you realize that tin is roughly three times that, and slrn is a whopping 2.4Mb. If you trust pacman -Qi, that is.

So there are the options: nn, as a light but somewhat cumbersome newsreader, or tin as a colorful and accessible one, or slrn as a gold-standard for usenet perusal. Plus whatever else surfaces in the days to come. … πŸ˜‰

gnus: As close as I could get

I feel a little disappointed in myself: This is the best I did with emacs‘ built-in newsreader-plus-e-mail-client, gnus.


I am ashamed. I think I spent the better part of an hour too, trying to get all the options set, and still came up with a great big goose egg. 😦

The sad part is — even after all that time, and being fairly confident that it was really connecting to nntp.aioe.org, and having moderate success with slrn a few months ago — I don’t have any worthy notes to mark here. Everything I tried either failed outright, caused emacs to sputter error messages, or just gave me “No news is good news.”

Ah well, the best-laid plans of mice and men. I do feel guilty now for not trying harder with wanderlust though. 😦

I can give you the home page for gnus, and tell you that the documentation is very detailed and very easy to read. There are even a few comic moments deep in there, but I am so far gone from picking through them that I don’t remember where those jokes were at. πŸ˜•

I feel I should mention that if you just search the Internet for “gnus setup”, a large portion of your results will be how to make gnus play nicely with GMail. I didn’t go in that direction, mostly because I had gnus in my notes as a newsreader, and I was interested in seeing how it compared with slrn and tin.

As it stands, I’ll leave it to the emacs experts to clue me in. The irony of the entire situation was, every time I needed to edit a configuration file, I instinctively did it with vim. I didn’t even think about it until I had done it four or five times in a row. … 😳