DSN Antenna

On the #gemini protocol there is one really prominent content aggregator (think RSS feed) that's been active over the several years of the life of Gemini: Antenna.

Antenna basically works this way: a person writes a gemlog (a blog on Gemini), and then updates an index page that's a list of links to the logs with the dates and titles. A user then submits the that index page to Antenna and it ingests it into a database and displays everyone's entries in chronological order. So instead of having an aggregator poll a list of sites periodically, a user will submit their list. In doing so, it puts the onus on the user to aggregate their content, and ensures that Antenna isn't polling dead gemlogs for months on end.

Well, for a few days I noticed (as well as the community), that Antenna was down. There was a post about it on the new BBS (bulletin board system), and it was mentioned that someone could theoretically create another Antenna. I don't know why I wanted to do this for the community, but I suddenly had to do it.

Now, I have two small kids at home so personal time is the most premium of commodities, and that free time is usually spent relaxing because I'm too tired to do anything else, but sometimes I get this idea in my head and I have to do it. So, I set out making my own version of Antenna after someone pointed me to the code repo.

Much to my chagrin, the instructions were way out of date from the actual code, but luckily it was written in Python and it gave me an opportunity to brush back up on my Python skills. After much digging around and seeing how it works, I finally got my version of Antenna up and running...and if I remember correctly it was about two evenings of trying to get things working.

I posted up on the BBS that I got it working and for folks to try it out. The creator of Gemini, Solderpunk, replied and asked if I would try and theme it so eventually I came up with Deep Space Network Antenna, named after the NASA program. I also changed the allowable posts to be non-technical. The problem with the last part was that most people only had 1 index page for all their gemlogs and in order to not submit technical gemlogs alongside non-technical ones, you'd have to have two. I went to BBS to get opinions on this and there were of course some on both sides, but in general, I decided to leave it up to the capsule owner (gemlog writer) to do this separation.

For a while it was pretty dead on DSN Antenna, but now some folks have started posting to it, and Skyjake (the creator of the best Gemini browser, LaGrange, and gemini's first BBS) added it to Cosmos, his super aggregator, which is an aggregator of aggregators, designed to catch replies between gemlog posts. So it seems fairly official now, and I'm happy about that.

If you have a Gemini browser, you can check it out here: gemini://gemini.smallweb.space/antenna