Tilde.Town on iPhone with Blink Shell (Attempt 1)

bbj Out
bbj Out

A work-in-progress guide to using Blink Shell with one’s Tilde site on iPhone.

I can’t remember how I discovered it, exactly, but maintaining a presence on The Tildeverse was a goal of mine for a long time. I would’ve achieved it in the Summer of 2020, but I had absolutely zero understanding of how SSH worked and managed to almost instantly bunk my signup to Tilde.Town. After renewing my key at the end of 2021, however, I’ve been gradually building up My Page, and doing so exclusively on and from my iPhone 12 Pro Max. I’ve done so using a beautiful app called Blink Shell, which offers a free “Community Edition” in the form of that Testflight link. I’ve just become a subscriber of something called “Blink+” for $19.99 a year… perhaps in haste. I did so within the application entitled “Blink Shell & Code” on the App Store.

https://twitter.com/blinkshell/status/1492143584006397955

Blink+ Explanation
Blink+ Explanation

Apparently, without Blink+, users of said app will be bothered with a reminder about subscribing “no more than 3 times a day.” Personally, I was just hoping for access to Blink’s Siri Shortcuts actions, which reference starting and stopping a remote machine.

Blink Subscription Plan
Blink Subscription Plan
Blink Siri Shortcuts Actions
Blink Siri Shortcuts Actions

Anyway, Blink is gorgeous, regardless of the price, and I expect that Testflight link to last a long time. I’ll let TildeTown’s own SSH primer explain the basics, but notably, Blink Shell allowed me to simply import my SSH key from my password manager as a text file.

Importing Keys in Blink Shell
Importing Keys in Blink Shell

Now, in order to connect, all I need do is run the command ssh Tilde.Town. What I wish I’d realized weeks ago: ssh keys == mosh keys. Running mosh Tilde.Town works without any further configuration from this point.

Adding Files App Locations in Blink
Adding Files App Locations in Blink

From my perspective, Blink’s documentation regarding the addition of Files App locations in the “Hosts” menus is a bit misleading. “Just flip the switch” is more or less accurate, but regrettably, the sort of “integration” Blink allows doesn’t actually lend toward moving files between other iOS file providers, nor does it allow much access from other apps like Working Copy and Drafts, not to mention Shortcuts.

Blink File Providers
Blink File Providers

Regardless, being able to access Tilde.Town files from within the Files app GUI - which is a bit slow, but works most of the time - should be especially handy for those new to the command line. In fact, I can’t really think of any desktop equivalent to this function, but I’m quite behind on my knowledge of Linux software. Since the filesystem of any machine you’re moshing or sshing into can be shown this way, here’s an example of files on a remote Mac:

Remote Mac Files
Remote Mac Files

You’ll need to consider that compressed files cannot be reliably uncompressed from this view - you’ll have to take to the command line for that or uncompress them locally, first.

Town Help
Town Help
Town Chat in Blink
Town Chat in Blink

Chat

The IRC client TildeTown uses is called WeeChat and - especially if it’s been as long for you as it had been for me - you might find (as I did) learning the ropes to be a bit dubitable. I’ve duplicated the full User Guide for your consideration. I got stuck at the concept of switching buffers, so my Big Pro hint is to start off running /buffer 1 followed by help.

Images and Videos

What I didn’t realize until recently is that Blink actually makes my entire TildeTown presence available in the Files app.

Town Directory in the Files App with Blink
Town Directory in the Files App with Blink

This appears to be a persistent remote SSH connection because files added here become instantly viewable on the web, as illustrated by my brief video tutorial embedded below:

Mini Tutorial: Uploading images to the Tildeverse with Blink Shell

Local UNIX Commands in Blink-ManPage
Local UNIX Commands in Blink-ManPage

Local Commands

Linking The Psalms’ GitHub Repository in Working Copy with link-files in Blink had profound results. I was offered a brief glance of that enhanced productivity command line evangelists always seem to be on about, if only because the files and directories were color-coded by type so distinctly. open also somehow lead to swifter previews than in Working Copy, despite that app’s brilliance.

Repository Cleaning
Repository Cleaning

Drafts

I’ve also configured an action for AgileTortoise’s Drafts (my preferred writing space for most of my adult life) which copies the contents of my current draft as HTML via my template. I’ve also set this action to the keyboard shortcut ⇧^⌥C. I then enter blink and use GNU-nano, Tilde-side, to write the contents. I’m almost positive this is not the most elegant means of transferring content, but honestly, it’s so quick to just trigger my HTMLizing-to-clipboard action with ⇧^⌥C, switch to Blink, and then regular ole ⌘V paste into nano, ^O + ^X to (formally) write out and exit that my brief musings about the Blink URL scheme have felt particularly ridiculous.