I implemented two new features earlier today to kill some time. The URL Content Tracker is an extremely unsexy, but very useful tool that periodically goes through a list of URLs and sends me an e-mail when the destination's content has changed since the last check. The second tool is called Geospatial Presence and uses data collected from Purple Robot on my smartphone to generate a heat map of where I've been over an unspecified period in the past.
I implemented the URL Content Tracker address the various sites that I have to check from time-to-time to see if they have changed, and I need to do something in response. In the Fresh Comics context, I use this technique to see when the next week's comics lists are up so I can start the process of assembling covers and issue metadata for the next week's listings. On the system administration side, I have to periodically check (legacy) clients' sites to see if something changed and whether those changes are something intentional or whether a blue pill vendor has hacked a client's site and is selling grey market goods.
Now that the tool is available, I've also set it up to monitor friends and family's personal sites to help me stay on top of recent changes. I'll also be pointing the monitoring tool to a variety of software sites to help me keep in top of things like Wordpress updates and security advisories. Changes are sent to me via e-mail at the moment, which should be a "quick" enough medium for this purpose, but I may extend the system to be a bit more proactive and use SMS as an alert medium in the future.
The Geospatial Presence page is a fun application of the Purple Robot integration I completed earlier this week. For those unfamiliar with the app, Purple Robot is an app that runs on Android smartphones and collects information from a variety of channels on the device to provide people like myself the data needed to construct context-aware systems. It's open source and available on the Google Play store, so check it out if interested.
In this case, Purple Robot is uploading sensor payloads to this site and a periodic job processes those payloads to extract location data and then compiles a report of the data suitable for rendering as a heat map. The heat map doesn't have a practical purpose beyond visualizing where I have been, but has been a good exercise in verifying that the integrated Purple Robot functions are working as intended and this can serve as a template for future personal visualizations.