Playing With Lifestreams and SweetCron

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sweetcron logoA few months ago Stewart mentioned Sweetcron as a "lifestream" solution (You can see his here).

A "lifestream" basically acts as an aggregator of all your online activities, as many of the online services that people use, such as Twitter, Flickr etc., publish your activity via RSS.

I'd already been experimenting with Movable Type's Motion, which is a pretty cool addition to an existing MT powered site, however having a separate, standalone, solution was not without its attractions. I registered a few months ago, but apart from using it to test our Exchange mail hosting I hadn't really done anything with it.

So last night (and very early this morning) I decided to setup Sweetcron on one of our shared hosting plans. Our hosting system allows you to split your domain up across multiple hosting plans and platforms, so while the main site is now on a Linux web server the email is still on Microsoft Exchange.

I chose to setup the webspace to use PHP5, since PHP4 is defunct. In terms of the database I opted for MySQL5, since it's also the more recent version.

I'll have to admit that I hadn't used FTP for a long time. I have a habit of just doing things from the command line, but once I'd got over that it was easy enough to setup.

The documentation for Sweetcron is a bit sparse, but the basic install is easy enough. On our system you just need to remember that the MySQL database server is NOT "localhost", as the basic configuration file assumes that you're running everything on a single server.

The one step that isn't documented clearly is how to setup a simple cronjob to automate it for you. Fortunately someone else had done that already, so adding the cronjob via the hosting control panel was fine.
You just need to execute the following command every few minutes (or hours):

curl http://your/true-cron/url

You can find the actual URL in the Sweetcron admin panel. So just set that command to run via the cronjob manager and off you go.

The basic install ships with two themes, but there are several other themes available which range from the very simple to the incredibly complex. I still haven't settled on which one I actually want to use, as they all handle parts of your "stream" differently. In order to avoid duplication issues I think I'll stick with a theme that doesn't pull in the full content from blog posts and just provides a link to the original source.

So if you're bored and want to know what I'm up to you can head over to my new personal space and see!

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6 Responses to Playing With Lifestreams and SweetCron

  1. Sonny T. May 11, 2009 at 3:59 am #

    SweetCron is pretty awesome, I use it my self!
    Which Cron Type you chose? Pseudo Cron or True Cron?

  2. Michele Neylon May 11, 2009 at 9:36 am #

    True cron made more sense to use 🙂

  3. Stewart Curry May 11, 2009 at 10:03 am #

    Glad you like it – I found Twitter a PITA to set up so I had to push it through FriendFeed to work. Also, you can hack it for Facebook if you like –

  4. Michele Neylon May 11, 2009 at 10:08 am #

    Why was Twitter awkward to setup? I just used the RSS feed and it worked

  5. Bernie Goldbach May 11, 2009 at 10:09 am #

    And Michele’s lifestream confirms what I already knew: always-on scrobbled music. There’s nothing wrong with that.

  6. Stewart Curry May 11, 2009 at 10:12 am #

    Twitter must have been having a rare off-day in its usually incredibly stable and reliable service. I’ve switched them over now.

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