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wallpaper_swipe is a quick script that scrapes photos off of The Boston Globe's
"The Big Picture" site [] and downloads it for 
use as a desktop wallpaper. It's geared towards OS X; if anybody wants to patch
it for other OSes that'd be cool too.


1. Run the script once by hand. This will take a long time.

  $ ruby wallpaper_swipe.rb


  $ LOGGING=true ruby wallpaper_swipe.rb # Lots of log messages

This will download every image it can find based on The Big Picture's current
RSS feed and download it into ~/Pictures/wallpaper_swipe. It will then open
that directory in Finder and you can scan through (Cover Flow is great for 
this). Every image that you like should go into the subdirectory 
~/Pictures/wallpaper_swipe/approved .

The reason there's a manual approval process is that some of TBP's photos are 
of, say, a dead child after a terrorist attack: Stirring photography, perhaps, 
but maybe not something you want as a desktop image. Or pictures of scantily 
clad people during Carnival, which might be NSFW, depending on where W is.

2. Set your System Preferences to use the "approved" folder for desktop images.

Open System Preferences and go to the Desktop & Screen Saver pane. Add the 
~/Pictures/wallpaper_swipe/approved folder to the folder pane on the left (use 
the "+" button, or just drag the folder into the folder pane). Select that 
folder and tweak your settings.

3. Setup a cron to download incremental updates.

After you've run the script once, running it again will only download new
photos. I set this up to run every day at 4 a.m.:

  0 4 * * * cd /Users/francis/Tech/ruby/wallpaper_swipe; /usr/local/bin/ruby wallpaper_swipe.rb

If it downloads any new photos, it will open the ~/Pictures/wallpaper_swipe 
folder in the Finder again. That way when I get on my computer in the morning I 
know if I have any new images to sort through.

Comments or patches welcome. And it would be great if nobody used this code to 
take credit for or profit from TBP's photos. Most photographers work very hard 
for not much money, and deserve our consideration.

Copyright (c) 2009 Francis Hwang, released under the MIT license