Get A Daily Briefing Without Big Brother

I had Google suggest that it play me some news when my alarm went off. I shrugged, picked a couple of sources, and moved on.

And I really, really liked it.

But there was one big problem.

I don’t like talking to my wiretap.

So after finding the command-line podcast app PodFox (and the writeup of it on AddictiveTips), I figured I could bang something similar out quickly.

And I did.

Here’s what I did, and how. While I’m writing my script in bash, if you’re familiar with another scripting language it should be pretty easy.

There’s a detailed “HOWTO” on AddictiveTips for installing PodFox – do that first. The only difference I have is in .podfox.json . I lowercased the path (be sure to change “username” to your username!) and maxnum to 1.

{
"podcast-directory" : "/home/username/podcasts",
"maxnum" : 1
}

Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to import some (short-ish) podcast feeds from news sites. Here’s some of the ones I used (in the format you need to import them into PodFox)

podfox import https://www.npr.org/templates/rss/podcast.php?id=500005 NPR
podfox import http://wsrss.bbc.co.uk/bizdev/bbcminute/bbcminute.rss BBC_Minute
podfox import https://www.spreaker.com/show/1401466/episodes/feed AP
podfox import http://feeds.castfire.com/itunes:jjqev/1/abc-news-radio/abcit/abcit/audio:96.mp3/ ABC
podfox import http://feeds.feedburner.com/jimhightower Hightower
podfox import http://feeds.panoply.fm/WSJ4886593505?limit=20 WSJ
podfox import http://podcasts.files.bbci.co.uk/p02nq0gn.rss BBC
podfox import https://rss.acast.com/theeconomisttheweekahead Week_Ahead

After that, snag my “briefing.sh” script (git, github) and modify the path on line 21 so it has your username. If you do not wish to keep old briefings, uncomment line 11. While the script calls mplayer at the end, any player that accepts an m3u playlist on the commandline will work.

Then, all you need to do to call it is have something like this Alarm Clock applet (which I use quite happily on Openbox) which can call a script. In my case, I have it first call a long ambient track for a half hour, then a half-hour later it calls this script so it comes right afterward.

Featured Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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