A one page home/new tab page with random pictures, time, and weather

Thursday, April 11, 2024 

Are you annoyed by a trend in browsers to default to an annoying advertising page with new tabs? I sure am. And they don’t make it easy to change that. I thought, rather than a blank new tab page, why not load something cute and local. I enlisted claude.ai to help expedite the code and got something I like.

myHomePage screenshot

myHomePage.html is a very simple default page that loads a random image from a folder as a background, overlays the current local time in the one correct time format with seconds, live update, and throws up the local weather from wttr.in after a delay (to avoid hitting the server unnecessarily if you’re not going to keep the tab blank long enough to see the weather).

Images have to be in a local folder and in a predictable naming structure, as written “image_001.webp” to “image_999.webp.” If the random enumerator chooses an image name that doesn’t exist, you get a blank page.

Browsers don’t auto-rotate by exif (or webp) metadata, so orient all images in the folder as you’d like them to appear.

The weather information is only “current” which isn’t all that useful to me, I’d like tomorrows weather, but that’s not quite possible with the one-liner format yet.

Update, I added some code to display today and tomorrow’s events and current todos meeting specific filter tests from your Thunderbird calendar, if you have it. If not, just don’t cron the bash script and they won’t show. I also changed the mechanism of updating the weather to a 30 minute refresh of the page itself, this way you get more pix AND the calendar data updates every 30 minutes.  Web browsers and javascript are pretty isolated from the host device, you can’t even read a local file in most (let alone write one).  All good security, but a problem if you want data from your host computer in a web page without running a local server to deliver it.

My work around was to write the data into the file itself with a script.  Since the data being written is multi-line, I opted to tag the span for insert with non-breaking spaces, a weird character and the script sanatizes the input from calendar events extracted from the sqlite database in case some event title includes them.   The current config is by default:

~/.myHomePage/myHomePage.html
~/.myHomePage/getEvents.pl
~/.myHomePage/getToDos.pl
~/.myHomePage/putEvents.py
~/.myHomePage/putToDos.py
~/.myHomePage/myHomeImages/image_001.webp
~/.myHomePage/myHomeImages/image_002.webp
etc.

How to set the homepage and new tab default page varies by browser.  In Brave try hamburger→settings→appearance→show home button→select option→paste the location of the homepage.html file, e.g. file:///home/(username)/.myHomePage/myHomePage.html

Then just set a cron script like <code>*/30 * * * * /home/<username>/.myHomePage/getEvents.pl</code> for regular updates: script all the subroutines that are useful or write a little bash script to do them in sequence and call that with your favorite periodic method.

Parsing recurring events in perl is a challenge and I managed to get claude to ragequit, that’s got to be a some sort of a record:

claude rage quits

So the parsing scripts are in python using icalendar, I put them on gitlab at https://gitlab.com/gessel/myhomepage to make it a little easier to mess with, if anyone wants to.

Posted at 05:48:19 GMT-0700

Category : CodeHowToLinuxTechnologyWeather

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