// Internet Duct Tape

How to Import Your Twitter Contacts to Friend Feed

Posted in friendfeed, IDT Labs Software Development, Technology, Twitter by engtech on April 21, 2008

Social Software and You

I’ve commented before that Friend Feed makes for a really sweet Twitter client because of the way it threads replies and how easy it is to reply to another user. The only problem is trying to find all of your Twitter contacts on Friend Feed.

I’ve written a program that uses Google’s social graph to find the links between Twitter users and Friend Feed users. Download the program, run it, enter your passwords and watch it find and subscribe to all of your Tweeps on Friend Feed.

It keeps track of who it has added over time. If you unsubscribe from someone using the web interface, they won’t be added again by the program.


How to Get an RSS Feed for your XBOX 360 Gamertag

Hacking RSS with Yahoo Pipes

My geek want of the day is getting an RSS feed of my Xbox 360 game activity so that I can use it with lifestreaming services. For once I’m not the only person who feels this need. There’s at least two of us! :)


I’m not sure why Microsoft doesn’t make an RSS feed of your Xbox Live activity available. The information is all there, they publish it as a gamercard. But they don’t give you access to the raw data to do with as you please unless you’re a member of the Xbox Community Developers Program. Here are the various ways you can access your Xbox 360 Gamercard to use with other websites.


Greasemonkey Scripts: Friend Feed Auto-Pagerization, Resharing Links and Even More

Web Browser Tips & Tricks

It’s the last day of my week of Friend Feed and I have 5 more Greasemonkey scripts for you (for a total of 8). I think I’m done writing scripts for Friend Feed for the next little while. I might put together something for importing your Twitter contacts as friends (update: here it is) but if I wait long enough I’m sure they’ll do it as an official service.

As usual you’ll need Firefox and Greasemonkey to use these scripts.


Tagged with:

Greasemonkey Scripts: Friend Feed Twitter Client and Remove Visited Links

Web Browser Tips & Tricks

”Friend Feed” week seems to be continuing at IDT. But don’t worry, there’s a team of trained attack Bonobo monkeys prepared to take me into a dark alley and beat me up and make me suffer if I don’t stop talking about Friend Feed. What can I say? This is what it looks like when a web app gets people excited. I’ve put together two more Greasemonkey scripts to add features I want in Friend Feed.


Greasemonkey Script: Filter FriendFeed by Service

Web Browser Tips & Tricks

I’ve sipped the Kool Aid and I’m really liking Friend Feed as a lifestreaming aggregator. One feature that is a bit hard to find is filtering by individual services. I’ve created a Greasemonkey script that sticks a huge bar of icons at the top of the page to make this accessible.

  • It remembers the context you’re in.
    • If you’re browsing within friends, then clicking on the icons will filter by that service on your friends.
    • If you’re browsing within a specific user, then clicking on the icons will filter by that service on that person.
    • If you’re browsing the public timeline, then clicking on the icons will filter by that service for the public timeline.
  • It returns 100 results per page instead of 30.
  • It will automatically update itself if I update the script.

Let me know if you have any problems in the comments.


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Building an RSS Templating System

Hacking RSS with Yahoo Pipes

The blog posts might have been slow lately, but that’s only because there’s been an accumulation of interesting projects piling up on my hard drive. Here’s a few things that are in the pipe (which I’m talking about to stop my procrastination and force me to release them):

  • Sandbox Theme for Tumblr so that you can use Sandbox CSS themes on tumblr.com
  • Tumblr Theme Templates to make it easier to develop themes for tumblr.com without having to upload your theme to tumblr.com
  • Tumblr automatic backup + restore
  • WordPress.com automatic backup
  • Twitter There Will Be Followers – program to automatically follow back anyone who is following you on Twitter
  • PostMaster html2blog – automatically post formatted HTML to Tumblr, Blogger or WordPress
  • rss2html – powerful templating system for converting an RSS feed into HTML

It’s the last one I want to talk about. I’ve gotten tired of using Yahoo Pipes + Pipe Cleaner to build digest posts. It’s kind of a pain in the butt. So I want something that can take an rss feed, convert it to html so that I can use another program for automatically posting it to the blog. I’m not going the plugin route because of WordPress.com’s inability to support javascript or PHP plugins.

This is what I’ve come up with.


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Delicious Stumbles – Post to Delicious and StumbleUpon at the same time

Social Bookmarking and Social Voting

Delicious and StumbleUpon are two different social networks that let you save websites you like. Delicious Stumbles is a time saving tool for the Firefox web browser that will let you update your StumbleUpon account easily when you bookmark pages on delicious.

This video explains social bookmarking using delicious.

Yesterday Muhammad Saleem announced the Social Media extension for Firefox that lets you quickly browse how a site is saved between delicious/digg/reddit/stumbleupon. I’ve been hitting the same problem from another angle — how to quickly submit from one social bookmarking site to another.

I’m a hardcore delicious user. I use it to save everything. That’s how I build those “Best of Feeds” posts on Saturday. One problem with being a hardcore delicious user is that it means I’m not as active on other social networking sites. If I like something I save it to delicious and then get back to whatever I was doing.

I find delicious to be the quickest site for tagging and the easiest site for searching through pages I’ve bookmarked before. The problem is that I also wanted to submit my saved sites to StumbleUpon. As a blogger, StumbleUpon is a great source of traffic — not to mention a great way to find interesting sites to share and find people who have similar interests. Dosh Dosh has a great post on why StumbleUpon isn’t just a source of traffic — it’s a great tool for anyone. By crossposting the sites I find interesting to StumbleUpon as well as delicious I improve StumbleUpon’s ability to find pages I like.

Delicious Stumbles

With Delicious Stumbles I get all of the super-useful features I like about delicious (speed, recommended tags) but I also teach StumbleUpon more about what I like without having to spend all that time cutting-and-pasting between two accounts.

  • Submit a page you’ve saved to delicious to StumbleUpon using the same URL, title, tags and description
  • Use delicious’ super-quick tagging features instead of StumbleUpon’s really slow tagging
  • Stumble any of your existing bookmarks
  • Stumble a page while you’re saving it to delicious

How to Install

Delicious Stumbles works best with the “old” Delicious extension.

Show Me How It Works

Save a page how you normally would on delicious. But before you click Save, click on the Submit to Stumbleupon link.

delicious stumbles submit to stumbleupon from within the delicious extension

This will open up a new tab to submit on StumbleUpon with all of the information already prefilled.

delcious stumbles stumbleupon submission

You can even go back to any pages you have saved before on delicious and quickly stumble them.

delicious stumbles submit to stumbleupon from within the delicious extension

What Are You Waiting For?

If you use both delicious and StumbleUpon then this script can save you at least a minute every time you submit a site. How many sites do you submit a week? Install it now.

Related Posts

Managing Spam Maintenance with Akismet Auntie Spam Version 2

WordPress Tips and Tricks

Akismet Auntie Spam is a maintenance script for WordPress administrators. One of the problems with the Akismet spam protection service is that sometimes it misidentifies a real comment as spam. WordPress has a spam recovery console that I like to call the spam inbox.

akismet auntie spam helper script for akismet administration

Have you ever stuck your hand as far back at you can into the crannies of your couch and pulled out what you found? That’s kind of what going into the default Akismet spam inbox is like. It’s a dark and evil place, filled with things that will make your eyes burn. You only wanted to find the quarter you lost, but before you know it your hand is stuck and something is touching you back.

Akismet Auntie Spam is a kind old lady who will come to your house and give it a thorough cleaning. She’s not afraid of the dark corners, particularly the spam inbox because she knows exactly how to handle the creepy crawlies hiding out of sight.

Akismet Auntie Spam is not a WordPress plugin. It is a script for the Firefox web browser that will work with any installation of WordPress or WordPress Multi-user — that means you can use it with WordPress.com, Edublogs.org, Blogsome.com and any site that is running WordPress with Akismet. Version 2 is a complete rewrite from scratch, and it is much less complicated now. There are no knobs and buttons for users to twiddle with — it works out of the box, the same way for everyone. Auntie Spam is here for one reason and that’s to save you time.

Akismet Auntie Spam is in no way affiliated with WordPress or Auttomatic — it’s a script I created to make it a hell of a lot easier to watch out for false spam.

How to Install

Slight gotcha: if you are an old time user of Akismet Auntie Spam (from before August 2007) then you’ll want to uninstall your old version before installing the new version of the script. Find out how to uninstall a Greasemonkey script.

What Does Akismet Auntie Spam Do?

Much less time is spent navigating your spam inbox. You can see it all on one page, and it doesn’t take nearly as long to scroll through as it would without Akismet Auntie Spam installed.

  • Fetches all of your spam comments and displays them on one page.
  • Sorts spammers by the amount of spam they’ve sent.
  • Shows only the first line of spam, so less time is spent scrolling.
  • Completely hide obvious spam.
  • Automatically checks for a new version of itself every two weeks.
  • Install it once into your Firefox browser and it will work with *ALL* your WordPress blogs.

Show Me How It Works

Go to your spam inbox on your WordPress dashboard console.

wordpress comments akismet dashboard

Auntie Spam will immediately kick in and download all of the spam at once — no navigating between 10s to 100s of individual pages of spam.

Akismet Auntie Spam will automatically download all of your spam

You can do something else like check your RSS feeds while she grabs all of your spammy comments and organizes them.

Auntie Spam has finished downloading

Spam is sorted from newest to oldest and categorized from most spammy to least spammy. She groups spam by identifying the computer it came from, so surprisingly enough the more spam you have the easier it is to look through it all. She even summarizes it all by only showing the first line.

Spam is compressed - only the first line

Auntie Spam hates those idiots who keep sending you spam again and again. They can be completely ignored.

obvious spam is completely hidden

As you read through all the comment summaries, you may come across one that looks like it isn’t spam. Click on the ‘# comments’ link and Auntie Spam will show you the full text of the comment and give you the option to mark it as not spam.

Click to see the full comment and to mark it as not spam

Once all the spam is loaded there no need to reload it all because you want to search for something specific — hit Ctrl+F and use Firefox’s built in page search.

Search from within your browser instead of using the website

When it comes to de-spamming marked comments, or deleting all comments, Auntie Spam gets out of the way and things work the same way they always have.

despaming or deleting all comments

all spam deleted -- no spam found

If Auntie Spam is doing something you don’t want here to, you can return to way things have always been with a single click on the Greasemonkey icon and reloading the page.

turn greasemonkey on and off

What Are You Waiting For?

If you’re running WordPress and you’ve ever had to go dumpster diving for a comment that was accidentally marked as spam then you need Akismet Auntie Spam.

Related Posts

The Programmable Web – Yahoo Pipes

Posted in IDT Labs Software Development, Perl, Technology, Yahoo Pipes by engtech on May 30, 2007

Duct tape is a great tool because it is so shiny and sticky. You can use it to glue so many things together, even if they end up looking like Frankenstein by the end of it. All you need is a camera, a cellphone, an MP3 player and a piece of duct tape to get yourself the only mobile convergence device worth having. The programming language Perl has quite often been called “duct tape for the internet” because it lets you easily transform text and interact with web sites.

(photo by philgarlic)

Here is a simple Perl script that downloads an RSS feed and bookmarks each entry to del.icio.us:

my $delicious = Net::Delicious->new(
my $feed = XML::FeedPP::RSS->new($rss_url);
$feed->normalize();         # Sort by pubDate and remove non-unique
foreach my $item ($feed->get_item()) {
  my $description = $item->description();
  $description =~ s/<.*?>//g; # remove HTML
  my %args = ('url'=>$item->link(),
  my $retval = $delicious->add_post(%args);

The problem with Perl is that you have to either run it on your own machine, or buy web hosting that lets you run your own Perl scripts (or Python/Ruby). This is a real pain in the butt.

Enter Yahoo Pipes

Yahoo created one of the most innovative web tools I’ve ever seen. Yahoo Pipes lets you do all kinds of conversions and filtering on the web without requiring a web host to host your programs. If you want to convert XML/RSS data to other XML/RSS then look no further.

There’s still room for improvement:

  • Scraping web sites that do not have information in XML/RSS. There are other companies that let you do this, but they’re even harder to use than Pipes (IE: dapper.net).
  • Notifying you when your pipes don’t work. That makes finding existing pipes and mashing up multiple pipes tricky as best. It’s hard to use a tool when things constantly change underneath you.
  • It would also be nice if allowed HTML in the Pipes descriptions as it is hard to describe how to use them sometimes.
  • Better debugging messages when developing your own Pipes

Yahoo Pipes is targeted towards programmers, not casual users, but there is still a million and one things you can do with it. Here are some of my pipes that are free for other people to use.


Social Sites


Got Pipes?

Are there any specific RSS feeds mashups you’re looking for but don’t have the Yahoo Pipes expertise to create? Leave a comment on this post and I’ll see what I can come up with.

See the full list of free software I have created.

You can get frequent updates about all of my new software, tools or blog themes by subscribing to IDT Labs by RSS or by email. Or you could just subscribe to my main blog, Internet Duct Tape.

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Technorati Program – Automatically Favorite Anyone Who Favorites You

Posted in IDT Labs Software Development, Technology, Technorati by engtech on April 27, 2007

What Are Technorati Favorites?

Technorati is one of the two largest blog search engines. Technorati Favorites is a way to bookmark other blogs on the Technorati site. By favoriting a blog on Technorati it shows up on your favorites list and you can limit your blog searches to only search within your favorites. It’s a good way to track blogs you only casually follow.

technorati favorites - posts from favorites

What is Technorati Favorite Your Fans?

This is a program that connects to the Technorati.com service, finds everyone who has favorited your blog and automatically favorites them back.


Get RSS Updates when your Site is Submitted to Digg or Reddit (Yahoo Pipes)

Posted in Digg, IDT Labs Software Development, Reddit, Technology, Yahoo Pipes by engtech on March 28, 2007

I’ve put together an RSS widget that I like to call Social Site Submission Watchdog. It creates an RSS feed for when people submit your site to digg.com or reddit.com. The reddit results are tweaked so that they link to the voting page on reddit instead of the page on your site. The link title indicates which site the source is coming from. I’ve also created a Reddit-only version of the Pipe.

This is an essential tool for building a dashboard for your blog.

This is an essential way to keep track of your site so that you can prep a post for the potential wave of traffic heading towards it by doing things like adding a Digg This widget. It’s also a good way for a reader to keep track of specific sites they want to support.

digg reddit rss mashup yahoo pipes

Any feature requests? Leave a comment.

Digg Pipes

Related Posts

See the full list of free software I have created.

You can get frequent updates about all of my new software, tools or blog themes by subscribing to IDT Labs by RSS or by email. Or you could just subscribe to my main blog, Internet Duct Tape.

Subscribe to feed

Hack – Display Your Technorati Rank in a Sidebar RSS Widget (Dapper + Yahoo Pipes)

Posted in IDT Labs Software Development, Technology, Technorati, Yahoo Pipes by engtech on March 26, 2007

technorati rank imageWordPress.com bloggers can’t use nifty WordPress plugins or Javascript to doing something as simple as displaying their Technorati rank in their sidebar. Dapper.net and Yahoo Pipes both give the users the ability to create their own mashups of existing web services. Neither of them quite get it right — Dapper doesn’t give you enough output / programming options and Yahoo Pipes doesn’t give you an interface for scraping any page the way Dapper does. Which is my long-winded way of saying I got Dapper to create RSS feeds that contain nothing but your Technorati rank.

Of course, the interface to the Dapper RSS feed is less than stellar, which is where Yahoo Pipes comes in. Yahoo Pipes also lets me create several flavours depending on what people want.

See the full list of free software I have created.

You can get frequent updates about all of my new software, tools or blog themes by subscribing to IDT Labs by RSS or by email. Or you could just subscribe to my main blog, Internet Duct Tape.

Subscribe to feed


Tag Cloud Generator – New Version

Posted in IDT Labs Software Development, Technology by engtech on March 12, 2007

A new version of Tag Cloud Generator is available (07/03/11)

Download it here

Sample here

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed bug with some CSS styles not being created unless you had a lot of categories.

New Features

  • Included lots of examples of how to tweak the different options.
  • Can check for updates/bug announcements from within the program.
  • Add colours to your tag cloud (IE: a heat map)
  • Every option is configurable.
    • Choose different colours, different sizes or both for the tag cloud.
    • Control the size of the smallest and largest fonts.
      • Useful for people who do not have the CSS upgrade.
    • Control the number of different CSS styles that are created.
      • You may want more or less.
    • Display the settings used in tagcloud.html and tagcloud_css.html.
      • Good for creating examples and debugging problems.
    • Tested with various self-hosted WordPress installs — it works.

Still ToDo

  • Mac/Unix versions

Tag Cloud Generator – Final?

Posted in Asides, IDT Labs Software Development, Technology by engtech on February 27, 2007

Another version of the Tag Cloud Generator has been released.

  • Fixed a bug where it only worked if your user profile was set to English
    • I only tested Spanish directly.
  • Fixed a bug with categories with non-alphanumeric/accented characters
    • I may be missing some accented characters
  • Supports any WordPress Multi-user site that’s running the same version of WordPress-MU as WordPress.com
    • It should support edublogs.org, uniblogs.org, eslblogs.org — learnerblogs.org looks like it’s running an older version of WordPress-MU and there might be issues.
    • I only tested edublogs.org directly.
  • Can edit advanced options from within the program.
    • Makes switching sorting from alphabetical/size easier.

I was looking into making a version of it for Macs and/or making an easier install version for Linux but so far no luck.

Tag Cloud Generator Update

Posted in Asides, IDT Labs Software Development, Technology by engtech on February 23, 2007

Less than 24 hrs and 40 downloads later… I have my first update based on user feedback.


  • Lesser categories are the smallest size (drmike)
  • Default sort order changed from alphabetical to biggest first, like the wordpress.com tag pages (fracas)
  • Blog url has “http://&#8221; prefilled the first time the program is run (urban semiotic)
  • tagcloud_css.html comments corrected (urban semiotic)
  • When the advanced “display count” is used, it is no longer part of the link
  • Added “line-height” to CSS styles so the cloud isn’t as messy

Known Issues

  • There may be a problem with categories that have accent characters (entomoagricola)
  • Add support for *any* WordPress MU site (edublogs/uniblogs) (mpb)

Tag Cloud Generator for WordPress.com

Posted in IDT Labs Software Development, Technology, WordPress.com Tips by engtech on February 22, 2007

Ask nicely and you shall receive. I’ve created a program that let’s you create tag clouds on WordPress.com blogs. I said I was going to do this a long time ago, but there was approximately another 30 hours of work to bring the program from the level where I could use to the level where someone else could install and use it.


Name that script

Posted in Asides, IDT Labs Software Development, Technology by engtech on January 14, 2007

Rooster so rightly pointed out that my script for “making sure you didn’t break your blog template in Internet Explorer 6 when posting new images” doesn’t have a name.

So if you can think of a good name for it, leave a comment here. :)

Greasemonkey Script: Find images that are too wide and break your blog template

Posted in Firefox and Greasemonkey, IDT Labs Software Development, Technology by engtech on January 12, 2007

Ever try to stick a 550 pixel-wide image into a 500 pixel-wide space? Firefox will increase the space, but under Internet Explorer 6 (or lower) it will move the sidebar so that it comes AFTER the blog posts.

Figure 1: Crappy MSPaint drawing explaining what I’m talking about.

Inserting an image that's the right widthInserting an image that's too wide in FirefoxInserting an image that's too wide in Internet Explorer

Blog themes come in two flavours. Fluid/liquid where the template stretches around the content to use the maximum width and fixed where the template will always be a certain number of pixels wide.

Problems can arise when using a fixed width template with images. If the image is too wide to fit it can stretch the fixed width section. This can break your sidebar in Internet Explorer 6 by pushing your sidebar so that it comes after all of your content.


Too much Spam – Akismet Auntie Spam for WordPress.com (Greasemonkey Script)

akismet spamI don’t know about you but my Akismet spam folder on my WordPress.com is filled to the brim (56 pages deep, which is ridiculous if you consider that anything older than 15 days is automatically deleted). It’s considered good form to take a peek to make sure that no one’s comments are being accidently deleted, but the sheer volume of spam makes that hard to do.

So I wrote a Greasemonkey script for Firefox that greatly condensed the view. With this script I can view 16 to 18 spam comments per page compared to 3 to 5 spam comments per page without it.

What It Does

  • Moves navigation bar to the bottom instead of the top.
  • Reduces text size.
  • Truncates long comments.
  • Click to open a popup with full comment.

Without it Akismet shows 3-6 comments per screenWith it Akismet shows 17-20 comments per screen

With Akismet Auntie Spam you can go from 3-6 comments per screen of text to 17-20 comments per screen of text.

Read more information and find out how to install it here.