tools

A tiny little dpaste.com API

Paul Bissex
When I created dpaste, I tried to make it both a simple browser-based tool and a simple RESTful API. With very little work you could write a script that created a new paste item with a single POST. Over the life of the site a few people have discovered and played with that “secret” API. I’ve now made it a bit more official. The new API has its own URL (versioned, even!

Pocket Django

Paul Bissex
At the Western Mass. Developers Group meeting this week I showed a few people some of the unixy fun you can have with a (jailbroken) iPod touch and the Cydia package manager. Cydia is a port of Debian’s APT system to the iPhone platform – i.e. it’s a real package manager. It made it a snap to install Python, Mobile Terminal, Mobile Text Edit, Subversion, etc. This is the toolset that has allowed me to even do some work on the book as I mentioned in my last post.

Toolbot.com source code available on request

Paul Bissex
I’m doing a small experiment in open source distribution. I have a site, toolbot.com, which formerly was a collection of miscellaneous PHP scripts that I had assembled over the years for specific tasks – package tracking, dummy text generation, link shortening, etc. Those tools are now offline. The original cause of their disappearance was a MySQL failure, but that really just provided an opportunity for me to make a break with that pile of old code.

A weather site in six (declarative) lines

Paul Bissex
For several years I maintained a hodge-podge of little web-based utilities at toolbot.com. Recently I decided to wipe the slate clean, bringing things back selectively. One of the few that I missed personally was my weather site. It returned National Weather Service forecasts in response to compact URLs of the form weather.toolbot.com/05667, for any five-digit US zipcode. Originally, the site worked by scraping plaintext forecast files on the NWS servers. Eventually those went away; I looked at and gave up on the arcane (to me) SOAP interface that superseded them.

Free to be, you and wmii

Paul Bissex
During a quest for things that might make using my spare laptop – an old 800MHz, 256MB thing running Ubuntu – a more zippy experience, I came across “wmii”. It’s a lightweight tiling window manager with a lot of auto-sizing and keyboard control features. I’m really liking it. This laptop has never felt so responsive. Other similar tools include dwm, xmonad, Ion, and ratpoison. Of the lot I’ve only tried dwm, which was cool but a little too minimal (its customization method, by design, is edit-source-and-recompile).