Archive for Computers & WWW

Foursquare Auto-Checkin

Having been a recently new joiner to the foursquare phenomenon I’ve quickly decided that I like it and that it’s leaps and bounds ahead of Facebook places. That being said, it’s not without issue. The main one being that there are places I regularly frequent that I want to check into, but don’t wish to publish on twitter. “You can do that!” I hear you cry, well yes, you can, but you still have to get your phone out of your pocket.

To me, getting one’s phone out of one’s pocket should be to actually say something, such as “I’m at somewhere new” or “I’m at somewhere I normally visit but I’m here for longer this time, come and join me”. If I’m just heading to the office or going home, I want to log that onto the statistics but not shout about it. While there is of course an option on the mobile app to do this, I have to specifically choose that option. In reality, what I really want to do is only to touch my phone if I have something to say, otherwise let foursquare do the work for me.

Enter the API! I have long been a user of google latitude. This little known service allows me, via a private API key, to retrieve the latitude and longitude coordinates of my phone wherever it is. I used this feature to track my road trip progress and it worked very well. To this end, knowing that foursquare is primarily powered by coordinates and I always have access to mine, I decided to stick my coders hat on and program my way to lazy foursuare use.

Registering for a foursquare API key is easy and it arrives straight away. Getting an OAuth token using the key was also just as easy and within a minute or so I was able to call out instructions to foursquare from my server, pretending to be me. It didn’t take me long to close the loop so that to all intents and purposes my server is me as it knows where I am.

Although it’s a little rough around the edges, I now have an application running that has a pre-set list of locations that it is allowed to check me into and when my coordinates say that I am there, it calls out to foursquare and does so.

While this is far from ready for release, I do hope to do so in not too distant future, perhaps in time for WordCamp. In the meantime I’m going to sit back and enjoy ousting my colleagues as mayor of the office, just by pulling into the car park. After all, isn’t that what this whole foursquare thing is all about?

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Home VPN

I’ve written an article over on RouterTech about how to setup your own home VPN server. It’s something I’ve mentioned to a few people lately that I use so I figured it was time to share exactly how it’s done. Questions and comments are of course always welcome over on the RouterTech forums.

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Spam Insight

I read a brief but interesting article on the Akismet blog today offering an insight into the current state of web based spam.

While Akismet isn’t a blocking service I personally feel that the large IP ranges identified by the article as solely in use by spammers could do with being blocked.

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Comments on DRM

The original published date on this article, “The Day the Music Died“, is a little old but I think many of the points are still relevant to a lot of the online music services out there today. Certainly food for thought if you own an iPod or other similar device that allows you to pay for and download music that is restricted with DRM.

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WordPress Geek

I found this amusing list of things that might make you a WordPress geek. I found myself falling into a number of the categories listed so I think it’s a strong possibility that I am in fact a WordPress geek. How do you fare against this list?

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WordCamp UK is being held in Cardiff this year and on account of the fact I live relatively close by now and have always meant to go but never got around to, I’ve signed myself up. For those of you that don’t know, WordCamp is an informal gathering of bloggers and developers who use WordPress. There is an opportunity to attend talks, discuss projects and of course socialise with other technically minded individuals.

The scheduled talks look like they could prove very interesting and there is already a large group of people signed up, some of whom I have already exchanged words with over the internet on various occasions so it will be great to meet them in person. Matt Mullenweg is also attending and having the opportunity to thank him in person for creating WordPress will be really cool.

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Facebook Username

Last night facebook launched a username option which allows visitors to the site to go straight to a profile by putting the username in the URL. I of course made sure I snagged my username as soon as the system went live, so you can now access my facebook profile (if I have granted you access to it of course), on the following URL

Sadly I wasn’t able to snag “kieran” for a username as it had already been taken – Kieran Cloonan I’m looking at you – grrr! I could have had “oshea” but having that as a username seemed to bring back distant memories of being called by my surname at school so I decided against it. The username “oshea” has in fact now been taken so Ben O’Shea, I wish you the best of luck with it.

All in all I think this is a good move by facebook. While some might criticise it and say it’s just another step towards becoming MySpace, I see it as more of a step towards the modern web. PHP files and arguments in the URL are so last century. Pretty permalinks and restful behaviour are what it is all about these days. While I can’t see facebook truly implementing a restful URL structure they have certainly made an important forward step with usernames.

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Problem with lftp solved

I thought I’d share this little solution with people as its been bugging me for ages. My command line ftp client of choice, lftp, recently started not connecting. I couldn’t find a suitable solution until I noticed that the AUTH command was being used when I normally don’t make use of that for ordinary ftp sessions.

I added the following line to my lftp.conf file:

set ftp:ssl-allow false

This fixed the issue of failing to connect and everything is now working as it should. Hope this helps someone who is in a similar fix.

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Google change favorites icon

Regular Google users will have noticed that the favorites icon has recently changed from Old Google Favorites Logo to New Google Favorites Logo. Given how infrequently images and layouts related to Google’s home page have changed over the years, does this small change mean fundamental changes might be in the air at Google?

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Webperf Issues

For the last few weeks or so, Webperf has been having back-end CGI issues. This has resulted in their usual colourful array of graphical statistics being missing in action. These are an invaluable resource for web hosts and similar to keep tabs on how they are doing compared to others in terms of their availability and bandwidth provisioning etc. Without it many people, myself included, have been getting frustrated.

If Webperf are not able to keep on top of the work required to run and maintain the site they should hand over to one of the many willing volunteers that have sprung up since the downtime. We need this site and this inaction is annoying and frustrating.

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