I had decided that the next iteration of the Twitterbox (note that the official spelling has now been set as the previous, rather than "TwitterBox", for reasons of idleness quite honestly) - which will be 0.3 - should incorporate some form of support for images. As is my wont, I am mostly interested in an client for Twitter in the respect that it can be individual to, and send data regarding one's activities in, Second Life itself - otherwise, why not simply use one of the other excellent methods of communicating with it?
I find the Twitterbox very convenient for taking notes of travels and the locations of things, somewhat in the same way as my existing Slurlblogger, but more immediate and clearly more fashionable; the automatic "tinyslurl" function in version 0.2 has the intention of making this even easier. (I find the tinyurl function provided by Twitter a little unreliable and unpredictable, and would rather do it all myself.) Clearly what readers really desire from a travelogue is photography, though. Twitter is not capable of delivering actual pictures, but is perfectly capable of providing links to pictures stored outside of it, on Aethernet sites such as Flickr and Snapzilla.
It is at this point that one starts to butt against the limitations of (L)SL. It is currently impossible to have a script take a picture. The only way to extract images from the Grid is for one to do it manually oneself with the "snapshot" function; this can then be saved to one's own Machine (quickest, but not terribly useful) or sent elsewhere as a rather decorated Email, or Postcard. As many will be aware, it is possible to send images directly via Email to Flickr, but Flickr considers the Postcards sent to be too confusing to manage and refuses to accept them. Snapzilla is specialised for the receipt of Postcards (and will even cross-post them to Flickr if properly instructed) but unfortunately I am having... issues with Snapzilla with which I will not bore you but which are currently preventing me from taking advantage of its existence. In either case, sending Postcards still takes a little time, and is not nearly as convenient as typing in a line of text to twitter.
Ironically the only way that automated picture-taking-and-uploading may be implemented at the present time that I know of is to modify one's own client or use an Automaton, an early example of which was Destroy Television. From that piece of November 2006 we see the following:
Jerry Paffendorf, the Sheep’s resident futurist, is hot on the idea of Destroy TV as it relates to lifelogging. He imagines residents of virtual worlds traveling around with a similar service attached to them, Flickring every moment of their virtual lives.
A noble imagining, Mr Paffendorf, and one which corresponds somewhat to my own desires here, though I have a feeling that Flickring every moment of their lives might not be universally popular with residents. However, I podo not personally have the time or quite frankly ability to modify clients to do this, and would much prefer if they were included for all to use within LSL. A thought has occurred just the moment that it might be possible for me to write some sort of Applescript which would react to the process of Second Life taking and saving pictures to one's (Apple) Machine - in other words, it throws a huge bitmap onto one's desktop - by converting the picture and sending it off to Flickr, so that just one keypress would result in an uploading... but I heartily despise Applescript and the experience for me would be rather like having a porcupine take refuge in my sock. I shall take a look to see whether it works out to be a Simple Task, but I warn you that I will not be suffering quills under the toenails for long.
I seem to have digressed somewhat from discussion of the Twitterbox here, as usual, and should return to my original point for this post before I wander completely off the face of the Grid. Sending picture links via Twitter, yes, that was it, pay attention Ordinal.
So. Last night I was thinking: how could one's Twitterbox actually find the URL of an appropriate picture to display? Well, I could have a system which received Postcards, sent them to Flickr, and then made a Twitter entry about them, but (a) I do not have the time (b) I do not have the energy (c) other people have done things like that already, for instance Kisa Naumova, which look far better than any poor effort I might be able to knock up and (d) it would result in the Twitterbox code ending up hideously bloated and unreadable, which I submit is not really the point of it. I wish to keep the thing relatively lightweight and able to be read easily by Scripters of PHP and LSL alike. Please do not tell me, readers of the Scripting persuasion, that you really love to read page after page of such stuff. Even if you do, honestly, love to read page after page of such stuff, please avoid mentioning it, as I will not cater to your peculiar fancies.
I decided instead to toy with the idea of providing a keyword, as with the one for tinyslurls ("SLURL"). This keyword, say "FLICKR", if included would result in Twitterbox Control looking back on the user's recent Flickr pictures - as taken from the RSS Feed for that person's account - and turning the link for the latest one into a tinyurl. In short, it posts a tinyurl to your most recent Flickr picture. I do not even bother to properly parse the RSS feed to be honest, just grab the first available thing and assume it is right.
To properly use this function one must have previously sent a picture to Flickr, and thus it is a two-or-more-stage process: extract a picture somehow, get it into Flickr somehow, then sent a tweet. This does in fact work as it is, but it is not particularly convenient compared to, say, a BlogHUD.
In my disheartenment this morning, though, a thought struck me: why should this be restricted to pictures? Almost everything has an RSS feed these days, and they (should) all use the same format. Why not simply have a function which can be given the appropriate RSS feed, and will extract the latest item on it to post a link to? It could be something on Vimeo, or Odeo, or even another Twitter account. It need not necessarily even be yours. The point of this is a little limited perhaps but the possibility of possibilities intrigues me.
At this moment I am considering a notecard to be placed within the device and edited by the user, which would let keywords be defined for inclusion, so a line reading
would mean that any mention of the word FLICKR would be replaced by a tinyurl to the latest Flickr entry defined by the feed at that particular address. (It is mine, in case you were wondering.) One could have several different services. Perhaps with both FLICKR and SLURL being used in the same post, the SLURL could incorporate a thumbnail from the latest Flickr post. See - I have managed to turn the fact that it does not actually do what I wanted it to into a feature! The ghastly vision of a future in sales flashes briefly before my eyes, leaving me sweaty and shaken.
Please do not take the above as being necessarily indicative of the contents of Twitterbox 0.3, but there will be at least some vague and incompetent attempt to implement them.
Post Scriptum: I am currently using the "Google Documents" system to compose this and finding it surprisingly convenient.