How I Integrated my blink(1) with PulseAudio

At work I wear some noise cancelling ear buds. I do this because just twenty feet behind me there is a one hundred person sales team who sometimes claps, ring gongs, and is just generally loud. I also like to work to music and it helps me focus.

My other coworkers all use large headphones, so they are used to being able to see at a glance if a given individual is listening to music. I thought it would be cool if I made a way to show that I was actually listening to something, so I wrote the following little script:


use strict;
use warnings;

while (1) {
   sleep 1;

   if (playing_sounds()) {
      warn "red\n";
      system 'blink1-tool', '--red';
      $off_count = 0;
   } else {
      warn "black\n";
      system 'blink1-tool', '--off';

sub playing_sounds {
   my @lines =
      grep m/RUNNING/,
      split /\n/,
      qx(pacmd list-sink-inputs);

   warn "sound is playing\n" if @lines;
   warn "silence\n" if [email protected];

   scalar @lines

This very lightweight perl script of 30 lines simply makes my blink(1) red if any sound is playing on my machine, and turns it back off when there is none.

It works amazingly well and I think it is exactly why it’s awesome to be a software engineer. I would like to have red imply sound and do something else with green and blue, but I do not yet have ideas for what those could imply. I was considering making green come on if someone sshes into my machine but that’s crazy unlikely 😆. Pretty cool eh?

Posted Tue, Nov 17, 2015

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