Creeping Emacs: Imma (Bitl)bee

In the continuing progression of Emacs taking over my life, I’ve found another service that can be replaced by Emacs: Google Talk!

For the rest of the world out there that has been using this for the last three years, please excuse my late discovery. Lately I’ve been lurking on the #emacs channel on freenode, keeping tabs on the conversation stream in the background. I was using Colloquy at first, which is a nice graphical IRC client on the mac, but I switched to ERC, an IRC client inside Emacs, and I was very impressed with how nicely it has integrated inside Emacs.

Using ERC inside of emacs.  This is the cyberpunk theme for Emacs 24.
Using ERC inside of emacs. This is the cyberpunk theme for Emacs 24.

Of course once I made that step, I stumbled upon BitlBee, which acts as an IRC-to-IM gateway of sorts. The bottom line is that I can connect to a BitlBee server, which will connect to Google Talk (or some other services), through Emacs and ERC! The one-on-one chat acts just like it would on IRC and I don’t have to leave Emacs to use Google Talk. Win-win-win. (Although, I’m not sure why I needed the third win. BTW, The Office has really struggled without Steve Carell IMHO.)

And another discovery by me that will impress no one who has used IRC lately, there is a bot <fsbot>, that serves the #emacs channel which can do various things like search google or evaluate elisp. At first, I was a bit confused as to why this was useful but then I realized that it helps the conversation flow. If there is some discussion about a particular feature or command, one can just query fsbot who will search for said answer and display it in the IRC channel. Which saves everybody from having to go perform the search themselves and therefore, everybody stays in conversation.

Installation was straightforward on my mac. All I had to do was brew install bitlbee and I went and grabbed a beer (as is the custom for anyone using homebrew). After i fixed a path problem (I needed /usr/local/sbin in my path), I launched bitlbee in forked daemon mode bitlbee -F. With ERC, or if you are resisting, your favorite IRC client, connect to localhost. For Google Talk, you will want to follow the instructions on the BitlBee wiki. Enjoy and go get yourself another beer, you deserve it.

There’s nothing like being surprised by technology developed years ago. Next up on fortune datko, I discover RSS feeds! 😉

XKCD bitlbee comic
XKCD provided this comic for the 3.0 release of BitlBee.

3 thoughts on “Creeping Emacs: Imma (Bitl)bee

  1. Heh, yes it’s all “old hat” of course, but still a great discovery when you find it and realise how useful these things are … and then you feel the urge to share the revelation.

    Sharing is good.

    I notice that you don’t have coloured nicks in ERC though. I find them incredibly useful in following conversations. Have a look at:

    and the code at:

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