Ultra Mad Men

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PSA: Back Up Your Shit.

Here in this modern world, you talk to your friends over all kinds of different media: SMS, Facebook, Twitter DMs, GChat, and maybe even AIM if you're really old. These conversations aren't ephemeral and disposable, they are your life, and you want to save them forever. You don't just throw your letters in the trash. You might want them some day.

Unfortunately, you and your friends have become beholden to third-party corporations who don't give a shit about preserving your data. That's because you're not the customer, you're the product. You already knew that, but you go along with it anyway, because frankly you don't have much choice.

I've fixed that for you. Mostly. Here's what I've got:

  • sms-backup-iphone ~/Documents/SMS\ Messages/

    This extracts the SMSes from your iPhone backup database, and saves them to a local directory. This only works if you back up your iPhone to "This Computer" rather than to iCloud.

  • facebook-rss.pl --messages $USER ~/Documents/FB\ Messages/

    This backs up your Facebook direct messages to a local directory. It only gets things in your Facebook "Inbox" folder, not things that have been shuffled off to the "Other" folder. I'd like to back that up too but I can't figure out how to read it through the API. But you probably never look in that folder anyway.

    You have to create your own "Facebook App" to make this work. It's a pain in the ass. Do that, then run this script once with --generate-session.

  • twit-backup.pl --user $USER ~/Documents/Twitter\ Messages/

    This backs up your Twitter direct messages to a local directory.

    You have to create your own "Twitter App" to make this work. It's a pain in the ass. Do that, then run this script once with --generate-session.

    This will only archive about a year's worth of your DMs. As far as I can tell, DMs older than that are completely inaccessible to you now, even via the Twitter web interface. They're just gone now. You missed them.

    This is why you need backups: because companies like Twitter pull shit like that. All the time.

    (Though Twitter provides a way to download an archive of your public posts, that archive does not include any of your DMs. And the guy who wrote that code quit, so don't expect this feature to be updated again, ever.)

  • AIM, GChat, Jabber, IRC and whatnot:

    If you use Adium for all the protocols that it supports, it does an adequate job of archiving everything (in "Library/Application Support/Adium 2.0/Users/Default/Logs/"). The interface for accessing those logs is a pain in the ass, and searching has never worked reliably, but at least the bits are there.

    If you use Adium for Facebook Messages, it archives those just fine, but if you ever reply to someone using the FB web site or phone app, Adium will only see and archive their half of the conversation, so that's no good. Thus you still need the FB archiver, above.

Remember: if it's not on a drive that is in your physical possession, it's not really yours.

Previously, previously, previously.

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