August 20, 2011

Experimental Twitter Feed Now Live

Filed under: Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror — Tags: — Martin Sullivan @ 2:44 pm

As previously promised, I’ve just put a Twitter feed together that, once a day, posts stuff that has recently appeared in the Workington JCP Office, judging by the reference. The tweets should last a week, when they’re automatically deleted. The account for this is @JCPM_WCumbria (was @zois_jcpm), and I would stress its experimental and ephemeral nature. Update: The current feed is now hourly and concerns all the West Cumbria offices (Workington, Maryport, Whitehaven and Cleator Moor). See Comments (2011-08-25).

As ever, I’d like to hear from folk about this, the nature of the messages and what you’ld like to see. Already suggested is some-kind of Geolocation service, based on postcode (Twitter allows Geolocation) and the use of tags to differentiate between offices. Update: Tweets are now crudely Geolocated based on their Postcode District. See Comments (2011-08-25).

I’ll be attempting to find out what Twitter thinks of this over the next few days. The volumes could be quite large and I am still debating how these messages can be split up. An account per-office seems like an obvious choice, but there’s still 800-odd active Jobcentre Plus offices and maintaining this would probably be burdensome, even with some automation.¬†

I’m up for suggestions. One things for sure, though, that account name will probably change.


August 15, 2011

Shorter URLs

Filed under: Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror — Martin Sullivan @ 8:49 pm

Some time ago, in the last century, I acquired zois.com, and to be honest I never knew what to do with it — the web-site was built around a ‘.co.uk’ address. Continuing with my, as yet unpublished, experiments with mirco-blogging and social media has convinced me of the usefulness of short URLs. I can understand the point of bit.ly and its fellow travellers now. At the suggestion of a user I’m now using zois.com as a sort-of URL shortener, but only for Jobcentre Plus Mirror stuff. Under the covers Apache’s rewrite rules are employed to get to the regular, larger, home.zois.co.uk based URL. As an example:

The observant amongst you will see how that works. Three letters for the office code, then a number for the job. The whole lot is effectively the standard job reference without the redundant solidus (‘/’). An optional terminal ‘o’ will get you to a representation of the original Jobseekers Direct web-site posting, which will come through ZOIS‘s caches. The guessable URL should offer an advantage over more mechanical URL shortener systems, in that it can be hand-crafted, if necessary. There’s specifically no ‘www’ in front of these URLs.

This stuff works now, experiment with it. The usual caveats and feedback exhortations apply. Kudos to Paul ¬†Geraghty for suggesting re-writes, for I’d originally thought of hacking some clunky PHP.

Update: I’ve noted that some are leaving the redundant ‘/’ in the reference, a bit of cut’n’pastery gone awry, I think. Anyway, I’ve put some additional re-write rules to cope with that so, for example, http://zois.com/ROI/78785, works and doesn’t send you to some Not Found typo-madness. 2011-11-13.

August 12, 2011

A Podcast Mirror

Filed under: Lab Book — Martin Sullivan @ 1:12 pm

As a reward for wading through these missives, and not pointing and laughing, too much, I thought I’d reward you, Dear Reader, with some Perl.

I’m constantly churning out junky bits of code that I find useful in some context, but wonder if anybody else might. Such efforts are not worthy of something like a Technical Note, but since the Blog is here and seems to the lowest-common-denominator type of receptacle, I though that some of this could be dumped in it. (more…)

August 11, 2011

Being Blocked?

Filed under: Personal Observations — Martin Sullivan @ 1:53 pm

One of my ever-present fears is that somebody may think ill of the scraping that I seem to be involved in. I’m constantly getting worthy requests for scrapers that will examine more commercial things than Jobcentre Plus and its successors. These I’ve largely done, the organisations do seem to be more-or-less engaged on what I’d regard as altruistic activities, even if they charge for them in some round-about way. When they run these scrapers, in production, I insist that they do it on their Internet estate, rather than this activity appear to come from ZOIS. Nevertheless, significant amounts of traffic come from ZOIS as I work-up and test these things. I’m paranoid that somehow I’ll acquire some undeserving reputation and encounter some dubious firewall activity as a result. These fears had been unfounded, but now Jobserve, the veteran contractor jobs database, has blocked us. Or so it would appear. They’ve not seen fit to enlighten us, don’t respond to e-mails and it only appears to be one IP address. Of course I could be wrong and it may be no more than the misconfiguration of a router, or some such, but if there are others out there with similar problems I wouldn’t mind hearing from you. (more…)

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