Mon, 18 Feb 08

What I've been up to - Projects and Ideas

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front (to be fair, I’ve always been a bit slack) but I think it’s for good reason: I’ve re-discovered a love for programming, and in particular, creating things that I (and hopefully others) find useful.

So, as a bit of an update, and a bit of a reminder for me, I thought I’d list all the things I’m either working on or thinking about. Feel free to ask questions in the comments or by emailing me (chris at this domain).


Atom (like RSS) feed for thisiskent news content

I’m interested in reading news articles from the local area but the thisiskent website doesn’t provide a feed for me to subscribe to. I’ve created a little project that scrapes the news content from that site and produces a feed. The feed is currently at but will possibly move in the future.

The Local Paper

I wanted to give each article, in our local papers, a permalink so that people had a way to reference an article they were talking about. I’ve started building the site over at There’s a long way to go but I really wanted to start getting some content up so that I had more incentive to continue.

Related posts: An open letter to my local newspapers

Sending trackbacks to pages that I bookmark in

I asked for this a while back in the group. It occurred to me that I could add the functionality myself to the firefox extension, so I did. It’s more of a proof of concept at the moment but you can follow these instructions if you wish to try it out.

Related posts: Sending trackbacks to the sites that you bookmark in

Adding permalinks to bookmarks

This was the precursor to the trackbacks project above. I’ve created a firefox extension that, building on the extension, adds a ‘permalink tag’ to each bookmark you create. You can read more here or visit the installation page to install the extension.

Related posts: Extracting my permalinks functionality into its own firefox extension, Commenting on my bookmarks, Patching the firefox extension to add permalinks, Permalinks for bookmarks (posts)

Some blogging software

I decided that I really didn’t need the overhead of typo to produce what is essentially a static site. The result is some software that produces the website that you’re reading now. I actually need to get some work done on this because I’m currently in a position where it’s harder for me to add content now than it used to be with typo. D'oh.

Related posts: Migration from typo to a static site is complete, Migrating this blog from Typo to a static site

An SMS service to lookup train information

I’ve built a service on top of twitter that allows you to request departure information. This is actually live now (read the instructions) but could be a lot more useful. I’ve found that my main use case is to find the next few trains from a specific station within the next half hour or so - I’m hoping to make the interface better suit this need.

Related posts: Train times by SMS (or, improving National Rail Enquiries)

Software to interface with banking websites and download/convert the data to OFX (for upload to wesabe)

A while back, I got quite addicted to using wesabe in an attempt to manage my finances (as it happens I’ve been very slack on this front too - managing money is just boring). I wrote some scripts to download data from my banks' websites and additionally to convert that data to OFX.

Related posts: Automatically downloading my Ing Direct transactions, Automatically download egg credit card transactions, Automatically downloading my recent transactions from Lloyds TSB, Automatically downloading my most recent Hsbc transactions, Converting Egg Credit Card Statements to Ofx (for upload to wesabe)

A ruby implementation of pwdhash

I wanted a command line version of the pwdhash tool. I knocked up a ruby implementation but haven’t really got round to making it command line friendly.

Related posts: Getting to grips with pwdhash

A web service that converts a UK postcode to Latitude/Longitude

It currently lives at

Related posts: Web service to convert UK Postcodes (outcode) to Latitude and Longitude, Obtaining latitude/longitude for UK postcodes


A extension that mines (and magnolia etc) to find similar sites to those that I’m looking at

I did a fair bit of investigation into this, although I’m not sure any of it is of any real use. I was working on the theory that if the page I’m looking at is tagged with, for example, ‘train’, ‘uk’ and ‘travel’ then other pages tagged in the same way would probably also be of interest. Check the delicious_similar_sites and delicious-sidebar projects to check my progress.

Related posts: Finding similar sites by mining the data

A hosted trackback / pingback service

I’m thinking of something like disqus (hosted comments service) but for trackbacks/pingbacks. I did find a site called trackbackr that would appear to offer something similar but I haven’t looked into it in any detail.

A hosted redirection service

I want an easy way to create short/friendly URLs for a domain that I own. I’ve started exploring the possibility of a RESTful service to do just this. There’s some initial code over on google code

Related posts: More on those friendly URLs, Short, Human friendly, Permalinks

A mobile friendly version of the National Rail Enquiries website

I need to check whether this is already covered by the accessible national rails website.

An SMS alert with train information

For three mornings a week, I get a regular train. I’d like to receive a text message, half an hour (or so) before I leave house, that tells me whether the train is running on time.

A receipt tagging application ( for receipts)

Until recently I had a lot of receipts stored on my email server. This didn’t feel like the right place for them so I’ve placed them all on my laptop, in a folder that gets backed up to Amazon S3 with the help of jungledisk. I’d like to be able to tag these receipts to make retrieval easier. Ooh, I just had a thought - I wonder if I could just bookmark their S3 URL in…

Some software to track my unsubscriptions

Marketing emails annoy me. I almost certainly don’t want them. More importantly, when I state that I don’t want them, I want to have my wishes respected. I knew that I was getting emails from companies that I’d unsubscribed from and wanted to track the offenders. I’ve been using the stikipad wiki to do this but it’s not exactly ideal. I’d like a service that will collect these emails (I’m thinking that I’ll forward them straight there) and report on those naughty companies that keep spamming me.

Related posts: Naughty spammy Tesco Entertainment, Companies. You must make it simple for me to unsubscribe from your marketing shite, Orange, orange, orange

A firefox extension/greasemonkey script to determine the canonical URL of a resource

At one stage I was trying to use to manage the stuff I had for sale on ebay. Unfortunately, ebay is a bit naughty with their URLs (the same item for sale is available at different URLs) which meant I could end up bookmarking one URL and then not find my bookmark notes again - even though I knew I was looking at the same item. I figure that we could maintain a list of rules that allow you to turn any URL into its canonical version. This wouldn’t be ebay specific.

Related posts: Web pages should specify their canonical URL (permalink)

A website with lots of info about swimming pools

I’ve found it quite hard to find swimming pools close to work in the past. I’d like a site that has a map of all swimming pools in the local area along with info (opening times, costs) and reviews of those pools (when’s a good time to go).