Geek Tool

Take a cron job, add a transparent eterm, mix with the tail command, throw in a friendly Mac OSX interface and season with some imaging capabilities and you end up with something that might slightly resemble Geek Tool. I had read about the tool itself a while back when it was reviewed on, but for whatever reason at the time I didn’t install it. It basically allows you to set up a customizable window which by default is transparent with tiny black text. On this window, which can be positioned anywhere and either anchor to the desktop or float above everything, you can display a file, the output of a shell process or a picture.

All of that is fairly flexible too, the picture can be local, or it can be drawn from the internet (which is no longer a capitalized word) which makes it good for things like weather maps and such. Essentially any command that you can run in a terminal will work, as long as it isn’t interactive. You even have the option of hiding the output of the command and simply displaying an icon based on the success or failure of the command - which can be used to report on server status and other similar elements. The file option is meant primarily to monitor system logs like console.log or Apache’s access_log.

Right now I use it to power eight windows (with more to follow I’m sure): o My current IP address (which for my desktop, doesn’t change much, but meh.) o Four ‘cal’ windows displaying text representations of four different months: last month, this month, next month and the month after that. The current month is larger and a different colour from the others. o My schedule which is a graphic on my website. o The word ‘athena’ in a fancy font with a drop shadow. o A list of important events and birthdays that occurred on this day in history.

While you might think that I connect to the internet for this last bit of information, I actually don’t need to. Unix systems tend to include all sort of weird things and OS X is no different. There are actually files which list important events in a number of different categories that I can pull this information from.

Aug 29, 2004 11:49 pm By popular request I have uploaded a screenshot of Athena showcasing my GeekTool setup.

Written by Colin Bate