Marginal Hacks

"I'm glad cavepeople didn't invent television, because they would have just sat around and watched talk shows all day instead of creating tools." - Dave James

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Name Rating Works? Description

Y Simple perl script for UNIX/Ubuntu/Debian systems to stream mp3/oggs to an AirPort Express Airtunes server. Requires Justeport (which requires mono to run the .NET exe)
Homepage Download Changelog album
Y An html photo album generator which descends directories and has theme support. For an example, see my photo album.
N? Gets CD cover art from for an entire tree of 'Artist/Album/' directories. Mostly works for me, has trouble finding some artists. Your mileage may vary. (I use this with XMMS and the groovy CDcover plugin and love it..) Requires Net::Amazon CPAN module as well as lynx or GET.
Homepage Download Changelog asq
Y Mame Cabinet front end, nice and simple and fast, using arcade controls. It runs in a terminal window but can display a screenshot window as well. Supports MAME as well as other emulators and various games.
Homepage Download Changelog bew
Y A webcrawler/robot for mirroring entire web sites or web trees. Just give it a URL and it gets everything underneath it. It can tell you about broken links as a helpful side-effect. If you want something more stable but don't need the recursion, see findex.
Y A perl module (Image::BMP) that can read, modify, save (and even ASCII display) BMP bitmap format images. Use 'perldoc' to read the docs.
Y/N Beginning code to deal with bookmarks. Currently reads netscape and can output KDE/Gnome menus. You might also want to see the cumbersome Yahooify script.
Y A beats-per-minute tagger. Runs through a bunch of songs and lets you tap out return every beat (or 8 beats) for a few phrases to calculate BPM and add it to the notes tag. Requires mpg123 and/or ogg123. One of my first ruby scripts!
Y Bugzilla scraper. Can get list of bugs from a bugzilla server and output them in a user-definable format. Useful for regression scripts and the like, or anyone who wants command-line read access to bugzilla.
Y Converts multi-burst photos taken on a digital camera (such as my Sony DSC-L1) into animated gifs.
Y CDcover is an XMMS plugin that shows CD Covers (see also my AmazonCovers utility). This is a skin for CDcover that matches the "Nucleo NLog" skin. Just install in .xmms/CDcover
Y A simple script that cuts columns from files (like 'cut') and allows you to do 'math' on the results, such as adding the fields from one file and removing them from another. (This is intersection/combination type math, not number math - this allows, for example, for you to list all the email addresses in one file that don't appear in a second file).
Homepage Download Changelog Contact.cgi
Y A CGI mailing form that can verify from email addresses without revealing your email, as I do at my Contact Page. Great for making a "Contact Me" page without worrying about people collecting your email. Also good for mailing lists and other websites that want to replace all their mailto: links. Themeable.
Y A simpler CGI mailing form that doesn't verify email addresses but can only send to a hardcoded destination. Themeable.
Y Does math with dates and times. As examples: "dateCalc today-6d3h2s" "dateCalc 1/2/2010-12/3/1971", etc..
Y Simple CGI bulletin board. No login required, but no editing/deletion of messages and no threading. Good for a simple board where users are essentially trusted. Read top of file for install.
Y Simple example of a Chrome browser extension that shows a PageAction button in the location bar if the page contains any forms, then clicking on the action will autofill some of the form fields. My first foray into Chrome extensions as well as into Javascript, so it may not be perfect, but it's simple and works.
Homepage Download Davent
Y Themeable event registration system which I've developed/used for our dance weekend events for over a decade now. Includes website creation, registration, payment processing, door checkin and even post-event survey. Different events are created by creating small perl files of info, allowing things like complex date-based or # sold based pricing. The biggest weakness is in dealing with more complex checkin issues, such as dealing with one email buying multiple registrations and doing registration changes and trying to figure out the correct price (some of these problems are intractable).
Homepage Download Changelog DaVite
Y This is a web invitation system, much like or, but you have total control over it! Note: I am no longer developing DaVite, as I have started to do work on MyVite
Y? Finally, sorenson plays on linux, but unfortunately, it can't handle those streaming embedded quicktime movies. debed can find the actual movie file for you, thanks to info posted on slashdot Sometimes -fetch might not work depending on the setting of $GET and whether the website you fetch from allows it.
Y Looks up word definitions, thanks to the webster gateway
Y Dials a phone number using the modem. I use this to dial numbers from my phonebook on my computer, and I use the real phone to talk. This needs to be suid (at least on my computer) to talk to /dev/modem, so it is written in C. I love it because (with some perl wrappers) my computer can now call numbers from my phonebook or my work directory, or even the yellow pages. It has some serious flakiness though, see the comments at the top of the source, and needs to be rewritten in perl properly. Here is the dial_wrap perl wrapper that I currently use. Some modems get confused if you pick up the handset during the modem dial - so do it before or after.
Y Can price diamonds or find diamond qualities in a price range, using color, clarity and carat size. Neat script. Saved me enormous amounts of money when I spent my life savings on an engagement ring. Based on Rapaport data of 11/5/1999, so you'd need to type in the new Rapaport tables if the prices have changed much. Has interesting ability to interpolate curves and search for points between points on a table.
Important note! The Rapaport price is what diamonds are traded at on the diamond market - compare these prices to a few diamond sellers to get an idea of the comparison. Sometimes you'll see lower prices, usually you'll see much higher prices. I got my diamond below Rapaport, so I was very happy
Y This project has been updated and renamed - see myfilm
Y Recursive Disk Usage Sorter. Useful for finding large files or groups of files in a directory or partition.
Homepage Download Changelog ePerl
Y Embed perl in your text files! This is a very snifty tool. It was originally written by Ralf S. Engelschall as a C program, and I realized that it should be written in perl, which I did in a program that is an order of magnitude smaller. (In fact, the source for this page is eperl).
Y This script kicks ass for code development. Watches a file and runs it (or something else) every time it changes. Write your code in one window, and watch it automatically execute in another.
Y A little less exciting, this runs a command on every line of input it gets. I've thought about adding the ability to pick fields from the input, but..
Homepage Download File_Browser.cgi
Y This is my file/database browser in a cgi script. It has a similar look as the old Windows file browser except that it can keep track of open folders inside closed folders. You can see it in action at the Fringe.
Y Efficiently finds all duplicate files in a file list and optionally removes them. Now (v2.00) with massive speedups for large sets of large files. Ran on 16Gb of 3900 files: old find_dup: 12 minutes, new find_dup: 3 minutes.
Y Fetches an index of files. Can count through numbered URLs and only grab specific types of files, etc.. Pretty darn useful for scrubbing links out of pages. Like a non-recursive but more stable version of bew. See options/usage for many ways to grab many URLs.
Y Run ImageMagick 'convert' on a batch of files, this can sometimes repair broken images. Can also be setup to easily run common convert arguments such as geometry, normalize, etc.. Simple and very useful for image processing.
N Finds/copies the hidden/deleted flash cache files that chrome (and firefox?) now store with the flash plugin, such as youtube and google videos (can find other such deleted cache files as well). UPDATE 2012/05: Seems that youtube has changed their ways and this no longer works, but I've updated myfilm which should be working again. If you have any information on how Youtube is caching their files, I'd love to hear it.
Y Creates CGI form/registration code. You describe the form inputs, and it creates the code for outputting, checking and correcting. It's pretty damn useful if you ever need to write some forms. You can look at the script directory, or else grab the tar.gz
Y Forge email. Can handle port 25 and sendmail method. If you use it by itself and don't have access to an insecure port 25, then your mail may have the "may be forged" messages. You can fix this by either downloading the suid version or, much safer, downloading the additional forge_pipe tool which forge can use for you and then:
chown root:root forge_pipe ; chmod 4755 forge_pipe
I don't guarantee that it's safe as suid!
Y A command-line interface to google calendar using ruby. It can also add Facebook events, extracting the event code from the Facebook page. A good starting point or example code if you want to write your own interface to google calendar in ruby. Includes a setup wizard for handling the authorization process as well as script installation.
Y Simple and kicks ass. Type in decimal, octal, hex or binary, and this outputs all the possible formats.
Homepage Download Changelog html2jpg
Y Converts HTML pages to images (gif, jpg, png, ps, etc..). Very kludgy, only works with certain versions of Mozilla, but I needed a way to automate screen grabbing the HTML window out of a browser (for my album project). Maybe it'll help you. If you have KDE, I recommend khtml2png
Y Piece 'o cake webserver. No config files, no setup, no compilation. Just run it in your web root directory and go to http://localhost:3001/. Great for quick testing to see how HTML/CGI will look (I use it alot for album development).
Handles CGI, server-side-includes (.shtml!), cookies, mime types and POST.
Older versions of perl had two socket bugs that would 1) cause crashes when a download was canceled and 2) cause infinite loops when trying to send a 301 message if a '/' was missing at the end of URLs
Y Transfer images to your iPhone so the show up in "Photos" and the "Camera" applications. Can use iPod-convenience package to do the copy, otherwise can create a local directory of iPhone images that can be transferred manually with scp. Requires ImageMagick (convert/identify). Can only transfer to "Camera Roll" - if anyone knows how to create other albums, please let me know. Updated 2009/12/26 to work with v3.0+ firmware. Also see vid2iphone (doesn't do transfers).
Y My first iPhone application. Allows you to view the output from a single command (without having to open a terminal window). Not terribly exciting, but source code is included with a simple build environment, perhaps useful as a skeleton for someone trying to write iPhone apps. Only works on pre v2.0 firmware.
Homepage Download LocationExample
Y Example Android project that creates a simple but complete location app. It uses Google Play Services and Google Fused Location Services (the latest location API) to do location updates and properly handles the lifecycle as well as turning location lookups on and off.
Y Recursively links a bunch of directories with either soft (-s) or hard links. It makes a matching directory structure and then links all the files in each one. You can also specify a regexp to -ignore certain files. Useful for copying a large file tree for testing without using alot of diskspace. Can also keep a 'history' of files seen so you can remove them from the new tree and not have them re-added if you rerun lnR.
Y A perl library that writes KML files for Google Maps and Google Earth. Can do the Geocoding (latitude/longitude lookups by address) using the Google API. Includes a simple HTML example that embeds the KML map using the new Google Maps Javascript API v3 (because Google Maps no longer supports direct usage of the KML on See "perldoc" for information.
Homepage Download Changelog make_faq
Y Makes FAQs and such things. I use this to build: DaveFAQ and DaveHistory
Y "which" command for man pages. Finds man pages. (Like the linux 'man -aW' or 'whereis -m' commands)
Y? Calls up your browser showing a map given an address in various formats. I'm pretty sure the URL it builds is wrong, but that's easy to update. You need to have a browser that can pop open a new window when given a URL as an argument. You can do this with old versions of netscape with a wrapper and -remote, which kicks ass.
Y A verilog port of the Mersenne Twister RNG (random number generator). This is probably useless to you, unless you are writing random tests in verilog and realize the importance of good random number generators
Y Moves mp3/ogg file(s) according to their tags. Replaces the 'mp3mv' tool I had here previously. Requires vorbiscomment for oggs and/or id3tool for mp3s
Y Make extended xmms playlist. Takes a list or directory tree of mp3 and ogg files and creates a playlist sorted by artist, album, track, title. More importantly it can write EXT metadata for xmms (Turn on "Read meta data from playlists" in preferences) so your playlists have song name and duration info immediately available to xmms. Is currently butt-slow for oggs because ogginfo is butt-slow, run it as a cron job.
Y Simple yet kicks ass. Moves or copies files using regular expressions. Thanks to Andrew Allen for the idea, which I'm sure he stole somewhere else.
Y Downloads films from youtube and iFilm to your hard drive. Converts youtube flash films to .mov if "ffmpeg" is available. If the format changes, let me know. Works with youtube as of 2011/12. Works with iFilm as of 2006/05. Requires perl and "lynx" or "GET"
Y Moves ogg file(s) according to their ogginfo to a proper hierarchy (like id3mv)
Y Convert oggs to mp3s, converting ogginfo tags to id3 tags. Requires: ogg123, ogginfo, id3tool and an mp3 encoder, perl and nothing else. I've had a bug report that this might be limited to 48 minutes, I'd love more info on this.
Homepage Download perlc
Y Perl to C 'compiler' for hiding perl source code and creating an executable for distribution. Also has simple support for limiting distribution. (Not true compilation!)
Homepage Download Changelog pemf
Y I got tired of procmail and the like, so I just wrote my own mail filter that's easy to control and can do simple things like remove MIME. MIME sucks. If you can't vi it, it sucks. It can also catch SPAM, auto respond to email, forward email, blah blah blah. Everything that procmail can do, but it's perl, so it's better. Perl rocks.
Y Obsolete: Download sets of images from without the watermarks. I believe this script no longer works with their current setup, let me know if you have any success with it.
Y An example of a teeny perl shell.
Y Perl shell, almost full featured. Features: Completion, history, aliases, environment vars, dynamic tcsh-like prompts, source, globbing, job control,..
Y Command-line tool that can select or toggle the audio output when using ALSA/pulseaudio. Will automatically switch over any audio applications to start using the new audio output (for example, to switch between the line out jack and a USB audio output). Requires: pacmd (comes with pulseaudio)
Y Solves that pyramid peg game where you remove one peg and then jump pegs out of the game. A 'super' solution is when the last peg lands in the same spot where the first one was removed
Y Consists of:, mail_editor, diffsig
Random email signature generator. Instead of using pipes or cron job kludges, this simply puts a wrapper around the mail editor that my mail program invokes. This chooses the new sig, and if you don't like it, you can use diffsig to change it. I use vim, which kicks ass, so I have this mapping so I can change my sig with ",s":
.vimrc: map ,s o<ESC>:.,$d<NL>Idiffsig <ESC>!!sh<NL>
I didn't write this for other people, so you'll have to read through the code to figure out where to put all the files, sigs and whatnot.
Y Remote diff (with recursion). Similar to rsync or scp, but shows diffs between a local directory/files and the same path on a remote host. Currently requires that the absolute paths are the same on both machines, but it wouldn't be too difficult to make that an option.
Homepage Download Changelog scurvy
Y Lets you easily write screenplays or scripts in a simple text format, then converts them into the proper screenplay format. Also imports some RTF and Final Draft formats and can convert to multiple formats as well.
Homepage Download Changelog serverizor
Y Converts a generic command into a tcp server so you can disconnect and reconnect to it from the command line. This is actually pretty handy.
Homepage Download Changelog site_index
Y Multi-page HTML site index generator for local domains. See examples at any of my domains. Companion to whats_new
Homepage Download Changelog spigot
Y Spigot is an easy way to turn on and off printing of text according to patterns matched and other simple rules. Like a combination of 'expect' and 'cat' and 'head'. See usage for simple examples.
Y My first published ruby gem. A persistent simple Hash backed by sqlite3. Contains (almost) the same features/API as the Ruby 2.0.0 Hash object. Also completely tested with rspec, making it a reasonably simple rspec tdd ruby example. Alson on github
Y Submits URLs to various search engines. May need updating of the URL/search engine information, but this isn't hard to figure out. Works as of 9/6/2000.
Y A ridiculous wrapper that causes your background to slowly shift between different colors. Particularly amusing to see how long observers take to notice that it's happening. Even more amusing is the amazing suckage of resources this does. This should be done by modifying xsetroot source, not by the multiple execs.
Homepage Download Changelog tcp_forward
Y Forwards a TCP connection and lets you snoop and filter the traffic being sent. Uses the simple IO::Socket server/client examples in the perlipc manpage.
Y Give it a URL and it will return a tinyURL like
Y I gather my daily cartoons using this script. Has various methods of finding the cartoon - can grab Calvin & Hobbes and Dilbert. Not written for maintainability or configurability, in fact the code is horrible, kludgy and ugly, due to the fact that it has evolved using many different processes, and should be rewritten. So, you probably don't want this tool - you probably want to use dailystrips. Anyways, toons mostly works. Requires lynx or somesuch url fetcher.
Homepage Download thumb
Y Just a thumbnail generator, except that it makes thumbnails the same size while keeping aspect ratio by cropping - so the pictures aren't stretched. This looks better than I expected - and is the code I use for the cropping mode of 'album'
Y Recursively uploads all files that have changed in a directory structure since the last call to upchanged (using a touch file, tar and ssh)
Y Simple DB_File database text editor (with locking). (As always, If you can't vi it, it sucks)
Y Simple BerkeleyDB database text editor (Probably smarter than using DB_File) (As always, If you can't vi it, it sucks)
Y vi-grep, or emacsg (emacs-grep), pineg, etc.. etc.. This will search files (or a hierarchy of files) for regexps and bring them up in an editor or list them. Very useful for managing source code if you are IDE-allergic, as I am. (As always, If you can't vi it, it sucks)
Y Simple script that sets my soundcard volume (using alsa or aumix) to appropriate settings depending on the time of day (so I don't wake my neighbors). It has a mute and unmute function, and best of all can pop the settings onto your screen using xosd, which is a very cool tool that makes text look like when you are programming your TV/VCR. I call vol from a crontab to automatically turn down my music after "quiet hours" and turn it back up in the morning, and I also can mute from my dial script for when I'm calling people, and I unmute from a button on my bottom panel. Simple and snifty.
Y What's new generator for local domains. See my What's New page. Companion to site_index
Y I had some old DOS code that did some CarWars calculations and I wanted to look at some of the code but I don't have DOS. I looked around for a simple debug-style x86 emulator and totally failed to find anything free that wasn't a full system emulator for 386, 486, 586, Pentium, etc.. So I wrote my own. In Perl, of course, because that's funny. It's not done, but it does enough instructions for me to simulate the CarWars stuff enough to figure out how it works. Yeeha. If you emulate any more x86 instructions, please send a patch. If this was ever finished it could be a very useful student or debugging tool.
Y A complete black-box copy of GNU xargs v4.1, written in perl. Why? Just for kicks, and so I could fix some bugs and add an option. I also have a man page (html) for it. This has been submitted to the PPT Note that the code is not derivative, and hence does not have to be GPL (and isn't), while the man page is derivative, and hence is under GPL. Finally, I have some snifty simple testbench code that helped me make sure it matched xargs in every way.
Y A pretty simple and dumb xml parser, doesn't properly handle quotes in attributes yet, as well as a dozen other XML features that I'm sure I don't know about yet.
Y Simple yet kicks ass. My own version of biff - launches a mail window when mail is found.
Y Gets yellow page listings on the command line, courtesy Yahoo
Works as of 7/4/2000 [updated for 10/28/2002], and will continue to work as long as the format at doesn't change drastically.
Y Converts videos/movies/DVDs to a movie format suitable to the iPhone. Requires ffmpeg (with libfaac support!), possibly mplayer, and a UNIX-y system. Most Ubuntu ships ffmpeg *w/out* libfaac support, you will need to recompile (check google). Also see img2iphone.
Y This is a CGI polling program. I didn't write this code! I briefly worked with it when I fixed a security bug in it, and the home page and author have since disappeared, so I have a local copy available here. I am not the maintainer of this code! It is just here for convenience.

Author: David Ljung Madison [CONTACT] - My home.
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"I have an elegant script for this, but it was too big to fit in the margins.."

- Me, MarginalHacks

Thanks to Jamie Zawinsky and the Jargon File for the name

There are two ways of constructing a software design: One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies, and the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies. The first method is far more difficult. - C.A.R. Hoare

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