A Weird Imagination

Reacting to screensaver starting/stopping

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The problem#

I want my computer to act differently when I'm actively using it as opposed to away from. I almost always lock the screen when I step away from my computer, so I want to have the same signal do more than just start the screensaver.

The solution#

Save the follow script which is slightly modified from the example in the man page for xscreensaver-command as watch-xscreensaver.pl:


my $blanked = 0;
open (IN, "xscreensaver-command -watch |");
while (<IN>) {
    if (m/^(BLANK|LOCK)/) {
        if (!$blanked) {
            system "on-xscreensaver-lock";
            $blanked = 1;
    } elsif (m/^UNBLANK/) {
        system "on-xscreensaver-unlock";
        $blanked = 0;
if ($blanked) {
    system "on-xscreensaver-unlock";

Either call it from your ~/.xsessionrc file or just manually run from a terminal in your X session. I run it from a screen session so I can reattach to it and see the output:

screen -d -m -S xscreensaver-watch watch-xscreensaver.pl

My on-xscreensaver-lock and on-xscreensaver-unlock scripts are below and may be a good starting place, but yours will probably be different depending on your needs.

The details#

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Mysterious Twitter scraping bug

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The bug#

A couple days ago my Twitter screen scraper stopped working in Liferea. I hadn't changed anything, and the script's output at the command-line still looked okay to my inspection, but Liferea started giving the message

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Twitter via RSS

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Twitter no longer offers an RSS feed. That thread offers a few workarounds which involve external or non-free services or require creating a Twitter account. One of those external services, TwitRSS.me is open-source with its code on GitHub. This code can be run locally to view Twitter streams in Liferea (or any other news aggregator) without relying on an external service.

Specifically, the Perl script twitter_user_to_rss.pl is the relevant part. It's intended to be used on a webserver, so the output includes HTTP headers:

Content-type: application/rss+xml
Cache-control: max-age=1800

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

which can be cleaned out with tail in the script twitter_user_to_rss_file, which assumes it's in the same directory as twitter_user_to_rss.pl:

"$(dirname "$0")/twitter_user_to_rss.pl" "user=$1&replies=1" \
    | tail -n +4

twitter_user_to_rss_file also handles the argument format of the script, so it just takes a single argument which is the Twitter username. The replies=1 part tells the script to use the Tweets & replies view which includes tweets that begin with @.

When creating a subscription in Liferea, the advanced options include a choice of source type. To use the script, set the source type to Command and the source to

/path/to/twitter_user_to_rss_file username

My version of twitter_user_to_rss.pl includes a few differences from the original that make it a bit more usable. Most importantly, links are made into actual links (based on this code), images are included in the feed content, tweets are marked with their creator to make it easier to follow retweets and combinations of tweets from multiple feeds together in a single stream.