Pidgin buddy pounces

I’m in an ambivalent state about Pidgin, I really have no love for the “expanding input field” “feature” the developers introduced a couple of versions back. Frankly, I think it sucks and I am not alone (search for “input” on that page), which is why, when I update to a newer version, download the source, modify it to always show, and ONLY show, four lines of text. No expanding, manual or automatic. Hard coded. I find that to be better than the alternative. My opinion is simply that the developers could have handled that issue much better.

But, Pidgin is not all suck. Far from it actually. Take the buddy pounce system for instance. That is a work of pure genius. There are so many options available! Your imagination is the limiting factor here.

Pidgin buddy pounce window

Pidgin buddy pounce window (click for full size)

Other than the devilishly annoying game you can play with other people by having  Pidgin send them a message as they start typing to you (preempting them), or return a message when you status is away and they have just sent a message.  But all this fades in comparison once you look at what options I have checked in the screenshot. When a user comes online, execute a command. I tested this, my Python script ran perfectly.

So what then could you do with this? You could turn Pidgin into a computer remote control (although I would probably advise against it) by doing something along these lines:

  1. Register a new account, and set it up to always be online on the computer to be remotely controlled
  2. Add your normal user to the contact list of the new user (disallow anyone else, for security reasons)
  3. Set up a buddy pounce for this new account, so that anytime a message is sent to it a script is executed, which reads the last line in the latest log-file for that account
  4. Do a little parsing perhaps, and then execute whatever command was sent in the message

I don’t think that I would ever use it for that, I have SSH for such things. But another thing one might do, is to create a second account, add it to the contact-list of the primary account, and have the primary account pounce when the new account sign on. And the executed command could be something as simple as opening a port in the firewall on the home computer. There would of course need to be a pounce for when the user sign off as well, to close the hole.

One could probably do something more advanced as well since, through the application, you can access databases, and thus can synchronize data over several users (what I’m thinking is that executing the same pounce for several users will mean that a command (inside the script being run for each of the users) can be executed when all of the users are online, offline or whatever, but otherwise do nothing. As I said, my/your imagination is the limiting factor here.

I’m not sure how “robust” (or fragile) the command execution is, if you have to return a value to Pidgin at end of execution, but I had my Python script terminate with a sys.exit(0) just to be on the safe side.

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