Getting your Instagram feed to Discord

Not so long ago, it was possible with a bit of effort, a third party feed generator and a Discord bot, to get Instagram to feed new images from your page to a Discord channel, complete with image preview. This then stopped working because as far as I can tell Instagram’s /p/<post> link is now behind their login wall, so anonymous feeds can’t get it. Result, lots of ugliness on my Discord, viz:

This bugged me enough to find a better solution, and one of my co-admins suggested IFTTT: some Googling later I found the bones of a recipe, which didn’t work. So here’s the result of me fixing it.

Step 1: create a Discord Webhook

Go to Server Settings (c’mon, you should know where that is by now), Webhooks, and hit the blurple[1] Create Webhook button.

Fill in the fields, upload an avatar image for the webhook if you want. Most importantly, you need to pick which channel you want the webhook to post to, and then copy the webhook URL (keep it private) and hit Save.

Step 2: use IFTTT to scrape your Instagram feed

Go to IFTTT, hit Explore, scroll down to Make your own from scratch. then hit Create. Hit +This, search for Instagram, select it and pick one of the triggers (I chose ‘Any new photo by you’). Easy.

Step 3: feed it to Discord

Now hit +That, and search for Webhooks – there is only one result, and from there only one action (‘Make a web request’), so select it. Now you need to configure it.

Easy bits first – paste your webhook URL into the URL field. Set the Method to POST, and the Content Type to application/json.

Finally, copy this into the Body field (or use the Add Ingredient button to add the Caption, Url and SourceUrl ingredient tokens):

{
  "content": "{{Caption}} {{Url}}",
  "embeds": [
    {  
      "image": {
        "url": "{{SourceUrl}}"
      }
    }
  ]
}

Hit Save. Go post to your Instagram feed and wait.

And there you are!

[1] ‘Blurple’ is the name of Discord’s official button colour

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Virtual Un-distancing and De-isolation #4 – Video Chat 1

It is, eventually, kinda nice to see people’s faces, and a voice on a phone or a line of text is only so good. There are quite a few solutions out there. Let’s mention in passing some of the more long established ones:

  • FaceTime – if you have an iPhone, or even a Mac with a webcam (most of them these days), then you’re set
  • Skype – if you’ve been using this already, then no reason not to carry on
  • Google Hangout – again, if you use Google Talk regularly, then you can add video to your text chat just by clicking on the little camera icon and allowing the browser to access your camera, like so…

If you’re on your phone, I’d recommend at least headphones, as this stops the sound from your speakers getting back into your mic, which tends to either a) cause nasty feedback or b) cause the people at the far end of your call to hear themselves delayed by the time it takes for sound to get from them to you and back, which is really off-putting. We’ll talk about better approaches to sound in another post, but headphones of some sort are probably a bare minimum. (Some apps do have clever noise-cancelling software to combat the whole hearing yourself on someone else’s mic thing, but in general? Headphones.)

Next choice, and obviously, if you’ve been following the previous posts, you’ll be wondering how long before I got there, is Discord.

Discord Voice channels are just that – voice only – but you can do video chat with someone you’re having a Direct Message conversation with now optionally video as well. You’ll find when you connect to a ‘voice’ channel there’s a big ‘Video’ button now!

In Direct Messages, just select the video icon (or obviously the phone icon if you want voice only)… and hey presto. Like a lot of video chat tools, you have the option to screen share as well.

It’s also worth noting that you can create group chats with up to 10 people: click on the + next to Direct Messages in the sidebar and you can add friends to a group chat.

…thank you to my wife Anne for being online for once….

There are a bunch of settings you can tweak – go click on the gearwheel icon bottom left by your account name, and find the Voice and Video section.

First up, the audio bit: if like me you have a headset, you can switch to that rather than speakers (mine plugs into the iMac’s audio socket, which handles both). You can choose push to talk (another common feature on video chat these days), which means the spacebar acts as a transmit switch.

On the video side, you can choose your webcam (I have two, as my iMac is off to one side so I tend to use a second one on top of my second monitor). In Advanced settings, there’s a bunch of stuff you probably won’t need to touch for ordinary talking (and indeed, the default noise cancelling is pretty good at keeping noises from your speakers out of your microphone), but if you’re trying to feed audio from something more complex (like music) you might.

Next post, some of the more serious video conferencing options: Zoom, and new kid on the the block, Jitsi. And you may get to hear me vent on the subject of Microsoft Teams.

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Virtual Un-distancing and De-isolation #3 – Discord bots

Bots, for those not in the know, are handy bits of software that do assorted clever things in response to user interaction with them in Discord. They can do as simple as ‘spot a new arrival and send them a welcome message’, through ‘give someone a role if they like a certain post’ to ‘roll dice’, and a whole range of other things,

I’m going to kick off with a couple of the more popular ones: first up, MEE6. MEE6 does a bunch of handy stuff, like welcome messages, etc, and if your server grows at all, it’s probably worth having.

Here’s what you see if you go to MEE6’s home page. Click on Add to Discord, and you will see a list of all the servers you administer (you need to be an admin here), and a button to Setup MEE6. Click the appropriate one, and you’ll get this dialog:

Make sure the right server is selected. and click Continue.

This will take you to a confirmation screen (which tells you the rather scary list of permissions MEE6 is going to get – you can trust it), and then to a screen to prove you aren’t a robot.

Once you’ve proved you’re at least human enough, you will find MEE6 has arrived on your server, and you’re at the Plugins tab of the config screen in your browser like this:

Here you can start to set up various MEE6 features. Let’s start with a welcome message: so click on Welcome. Your options here include:

  • Send a message when a user joins the server
  • Send a private message to new users
  • Send a welcome picture

Click the slide button to enable the one you want, type your message or add your picture, and away you go (click on Plugins to get back to the main config screen). Most of the bot really is that simple.

Unless you enjoy keeping track of who’s talkative on your server, I’d suggest turning off the Levels plugin – just click on it, click the yellow Disble button. You might want to turn ON the Moderator plugin, depending on your audience: it allows you to detect and block various things like bad language, spam etc.

If you enable the Reaction Roles plugin, you can automatically grant a Role to people who react appropriately to a post: this is particularly useful if your server has channels not everyone is interested in, in which case you can make them private and use this plugin to save you having to add people to the appropriate Role.

Have a play – you can’t do much damage while you’re exploring what the bot can do. There are also LennoxBot and Dyno, which do very similar things.

Ok. Next up, DiceParser – if you’re running a server for any kind of games that need dice, this is very handy. Go here and click Invite to invite it to your server. The process is the same as before as regards the invitation process. It’s quite a complex bot (full docs are here) but, for example, if you say “!3d6” where it can hear you, it’ll roll 3 six sided dice and give you the result.

However, and this is probably true of a LOT of bots, people will play with it just for fun and it can get a bit spammy after a while, so here’s a way to keep it to just a small group of channels.

Go back to the previous post, create a Role called GameBots, and add DiceParser to it. Create two Categories, add all the channels you don’t want the bot to work in to one, and the ones you do to the other. In the one you DON’T want the bot to work in, right click on the Category name, and Edit Category:

Now click Permissions in the left Sidebar, and then the + next to Roles. Add the GameBots role you created, scroll down until you fund the Text Messages section (see below), click on the cross next to Send Messages to disable it from sending messages to the channel, and you’re done.

This is a handy trick for other bots as well.

Ok. Enough for now. Back with some fresh Virtual Un-distancing stuff tomorrow.

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Virtual Un-distancing and De-isolation #2 – configuring Discord

Now you have a Discord server. If (like one or two of the ones I manage) you have a largish group discussing various topics, you might want to add more channels. Easy! Click on the little + next to “Text Channels” and you’ll get a dialog:

Type your channel in there and away you go!

Now, this is fine, but what if you want to restrict the channel to certain people? Again, simple. First off, let’s go to the server menu (click on the downward V top left by your server name).

Select ‘Server Settings’ (ignore the others for now), and then Roles, and then the little + just to the right of the ‘ROLES’ in the centre column.

Now you can create a new rôle: give it a name (I chose Admins) and a colour, and for now that’s it – hit the green Save Changes button bottom right and then the close x top right (or the ESC key).

Now let’s create another channel. Because you now have a rôle defined, you can create a Private Channel, which is what we’re going to do.

Select the rôle you want to have access to the channel: everyone else won’t.

“But wait”, I hear you ask. “How do I give someone a rôle?” Easy. Right click on their name in the user list on the right (or swipe right to display it, tap, and hit Manage on a phone), and then select Roles and check the box for the rôle you want them to have.

All of these also apply to voice channels.

You will notice that your text channels are in a category called ‘Text Channels’. You can add other categories. Go to the server menu, select Create Category:

Categories allow you to group channels together, and more usefully share the same permissions. Notice again, you can make a category private, so any channel in that category will share those permissions.

We can also drag any existing channel onto that category, and if it doesn’t already have the same permissions, you will be asked if you want to give it those permissions:

And there you go. I think that’s enough for one post, so we’ll save discussion of bots and such until the next one.

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Virtual Un-distancing and De-isolation: #1 – Discord

No, I’m not suggesting you immediately head outside and start hugging everyone you meet.

This is a series of posts, for the slightly technical at heart, covering how to set up various means of contacting your fellow human beings, above and beyond the likes of Facebook and Twitter. Not that there’s anything wrong with either of the above, but sometimes it’s good to hear a voice or see a face. With that in mind, then, let’s get cracking.

Discord is a text based chat app (at least on the surface) that started life as an outside-the-game means of video gamers keeping in touch. As such, it also has group voice chat channels, and 1:1 or small group voice and video chat.

Most of the time, you’ll get brought into Discord via an invite link: just click it, create a Discord account (they’re centralised) if you don’t have one already, and off you go. You can survive on the website, or there are clients for computers and tablets.

If you want to create your own server, it’s surprisingly simple:

On almost all the clients, down the bottom of the left hand sidebar is a big plus sign. Click it, select Create A Server, give it a name, and off you go.

Next, you’ll be prompted with a list of friends to invite and also an invite link, like the one you probably got to start your time on Discord. The default link expires after a day, or you can choose to create one with a longer expiry time up to and including never. Guard it relatively jealously, if you’re creating a server for a closed community, so Not Just Anyone can join (I just expired the one below :D)

Click the X to make that go away (you can always find the invite link again if you need to) and there you are – a Discord server with one text channel (#general) and one voice channel (called General as well) and a page of useful links.

Text chat is easy: just type in the channel, and people will see. If you have other folks (who’ve accepted your invite), and you type @, it will auto-complete as you keep typing with people’s nicknames, if you need to get their attention. Note that as well a visible nickname, which you can set per server, there’s a full nickname (usually the first one you picked plus a string of numbers) which is unique across all of Discord.

Text chat is persistent, and you will be able to catch up on what you missed when you weren’t logged in, Also, you can edit and delete posts after the fact, as well as share links and images.

Voice chat requires a mic and speakers, though I’d recommend headphones so the sound from the speakers doesn’t get into your mic. If you right click on the gear icon next to your nickname (bottom left of screen) you can get into Voice and video settings, and set up audio. Down bottom left you’ll also find ‘mute’ and ‘deafen’ icons to turn off your mic and/or audio, and just above it a little handset icon with a cross, which is where you can disconnect from the voice channel.

Next time, I’ll explain about Roles (to restrict who can do what on various channels) and also some useful bots you can invite to your server to help out with various functions.

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Hello world!

Welcome to altrion.org, the home of Mike and Anne Whitaker on the internet.

For now, this is just a holding page while we move a bunch of stuff over from the old site.

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