Something New Every Day

A record of doing a new thing every day in 2011

Helping Facebook's world domination one site at a time (56/365) Friday February 25, 2011

I’ve been doing some more playing about with the Facebook SDK, and yesterday I added login functionality to my website at

I’m actually really impressed with the simplicity of Facebook’s architecture, and how easy they’ve made it to program their network. There are very few people I know who don’t have a Facebook account, so it makes it the natural choice any time having a social graph is useful. Obviously this is giving massive power and influence to Facebook, but this probably isn’t the right time for Brave Location to take them on.

It was trivially easy to use the JavaScript SDK with the Python SDK for the back end code so add a login button to the page header, and to show the user’s profile picture and name when they are signed in.

If you want to try it out, feel free - rest assured I don’t do anything with the account information - for now ;-)

P.S. You might also appreciate the much improved - and not half bad now - mobile friendly design

Travel Woes == Bus Home (55/365) Thursday February 24, 2011

Thursday night is travel home night, and once again the Kings Cross - Newcastle train was delayed (power failure at Doncaster). I missed my connection to Hexham and would have had to wait over an hour for the last train home, so I decided on a new adventure and tried to find a bus home instead.

I couldn’t find a timetable on my phone so I headed up to Eldon Square and luckily there was a number 10 to Hexham at 10 o’clock. It didn’t really get me home an earlier, but at least I didn’t have to hang about the railway station. I also got to see the delights of Crawcrook late a night too, and found out the bus actually went from outside the  train station so I won’t need to trudge up into town if I do it again.

Not the most exciting new experience, but useful to know what to do if I’m late again - and I will be :-(

Bought a DAB radio. And it works. (54/365) Wednesday February 23, 2011

I’ve been listening to the radio a lot more in my new flat, and realised the other day I could take advantage of not living in the middle of nowhere and upgrade to a DAB radio. 

We have a big old DAB radio at home that we bought when we lived in Brighton, but since we’ve moved to Northumberland such technological marvels don’t actually pick up any digital signals. I thought about bringing it down to London, but with space at a premium in my room I decided to get a new smaller model.

I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, so I went for a Pure One Mi which was just £34.95 from John Lewis (so I’m sure you can get it cheaper online). The reception and sound is pretty good for a small radio, and I’m reasonably happy with it so far. One downside is it uses a custom battery pack which isn’t included if you want to use off the mains (which I probably don’t)

I was a bit concerned when it didn’t find Five Live Sports Extra when doing the auto-tune to find the stations, but according to this FAQ I need to rescan when there is a show being broadcast. Phew.

A teriyaki tofu bento box lunch (53/365) Tuesday February 22, 2011

I’ve written before  about our continual lunchtime prevarications about where to go for lunch - there really is too much choice in Soho.

For a change yesterday we went to Arigato, a Japanese supermarket just around the corner from our office and I had a bento box for lunch - something I hadn’t done before.

I had a teriyaki tofu box, which had 6 large pieces of fried tofu in a lot of teriyaki sauce, plus sticky rice, what seemed like a mini-portion of mashed potato but probably wasn’t, fried onion and a mystery orange vegetable/fruit.

It was very tasty, and decent value (for Soho!) at £4.80. Recommended.

Planned my Olympic ticket application (52/365) Monday February 21, 2011

I’m very excited about the Olympics coming to London in 2012, particularly now I have a room here to stay (assuming I can keep up my long distance commuting lifestyle for another year).

I’d got confused by the various ticket announcements, thinking that the ticket ballot was already open when it’s actually in a few weeks time. However the timetable for events has been released as well as the ticket prices, so last night I spent a fun couple of hours planning what I’d like to see.

I’d already gone through the sports with Hilary seeing what she’d like to see, and seeing if they matched any of my preferences. Luckily they’re not too far off, so I now have an “ideal” schedule worked out. It’s interesting with the ballot system in place, as it would be fantastic to see those events where we have a chance of winning a medal, but I’m sure those events will be over-subscribed. Tough choices!

I think I’ve optimised my application plan now, and am applying for tickets for:

  • Tennis
  • Table Tennis
  • Gymnastics
  • Weightlifting
  • Cycling
  • Athletics
  • Diving
  • Handball
  • Basketball

I’d love to see the Athletics and Cycling, but not confident I’ll beat the rush. I love the Weightlifting so I’m hoping that’ll work out, and I have no idea about Handball but I’m assuming no one else does either, so I’ll definitely get to see one event!

What are your plans?

Brave Location now has a Facebook page (51/365) Sunday February 20, 2011

I’ve been meaning to play about with the Facebook SDK for a while now without really knowing what to do - more out of interest finding out what you can do using it than than anything else.

Anyway as a “Hello, World” style beginning I decided to set up a Facebook Page for Brave Location, the name of my company I used when I was contracting and the web site I use for various bits of code and details about me.

The process was a little weird, and I think I don’t get a properly named page until I get something like 25 “fans” which will clearly take a very long time. Also you get a different experience as an owner than as a regular visitor, which makes it much harder to know what everyone else will see.

The page can be seen at but don’t expect too much right now.

I do have some plans for some Facebook apps which may or may not be more interesting, but I’m sure I’ll be blogging here about them if I actually get around to it.

Hacked together a near realtime RSS->Twitter solution (50/365) Saturday February 19, 2011

Day 50. Is that all? Seems like I’ve been desperately casting around for something new to do each day for years :-(

A technical post today.

For a while the Yeltz Forum - a discussion board that I help out on as “technical adviser” every so often - was locked down so only registered users could see the posts. If you’ve been following the recent history of Halesowen Town Football Club, you’ll know things have been pretty contentious over the past couple of years, with administration, court cases, cigarette smuggling and all sorts of fun, so we wanted the site locked down so we knew who was viewing it. However things have settled down a bit now recently (in a bad way as we’re terrible on the pitch right now) so now anyone can see what’s on the site.

What this means is that we can now get the posts from the site on Twitter. This is reasonably useful, as the “Match Updates” section is the only good way of getting near real-time reports of live games, which makes it the perfect candidate for putting on Twitter.

There are several RSS->Twitter sites out there, and I decided to go with Google’s Feedburner which offers lots of functionality as well as the Twitter integration.

The key problem I had to solve was the default update speed is every 30 minutes, which is fine for most of the time but when the match is being played I’d like updates in as near real-time as possible.

Luckily Feedburner has a Ping feature in which you can hit a URL and it will refresh the RSS feed - and hence the Twitter feed if something has changed. With a bit of simple Python programming I got a cron job running on my AppEngine site calling the Ping server every minute during game time, and we were in business.

You can see the results on Twitter at @yeltzforum - but don’t look too closely as you’ll see evidence of yet another drubbing in yesterday’s game :-(

Unbelievable! 363 downloads of phone app in first 4 days (49/365) Friday February 18, 2011

There is a bit of a delay in the reporting at the Windows Phone App Hub so yesterday was the first time I could see the download figures for my Bedside Clock WP7 app.

I would have been happy with double figures for the number of people who’ve downloaded the app - friends at work plus maybe a few random people - so I was truly shocked when I saw the figures for the first 4 days - 363 downloads!

What was even more surprising is how many countries I have users from:

  • Australia       24
  • Austria         10
  • Belgium          4
  • Canada          12
  • France          25
  • Germany         57
  • Hong Kong SAR    4
  • Ireland          2
  • Italy           21
  • Mexico           4
  • New Zealand      1
  • Singapore       11
  • Spain            6
  • Switzerland      3
  • United Kingdom  58
  • United States  121

I’d be really interested in how this compares to other apps, as I can’t believe it’s down to the quality or features of the app. Maybe the ecosystem for Windows Phone 7 is actually viable? Maybe the market for free apps will always be robust? It’s all very interesting!.

It almost makes me think I might actually add some more features to the app - or at least complete the globalization so the very small amount of text is translated to some more languages.

If you do have any more feedback for me, please leave it on the marketplace as I’m happy for everyone to see it, good or bad :-)

Got some interesting spam (48/365) Thursday February 17, 2011

My work email since I came back after my “sabbatical” is a recycled one from someone with a similar name. It turns out he clearly used his work email for a lot of things as I get loads more spam than I ever have before

Most of the time Exchange catches the dodgy messages, but yesterday one got through into my inbox and it was actually quite intriguing.

It was all in Portuguese from a Brazilian domain so I couldn’t really understand it, but it was clearly some special offer for some sort of unknown food type This provoked much speculation (well chiefly by myself) about what it actually was. Some sort of cheese-based food? A pastie perhaps?

I finally found the right term from the email to search for, and it turns out the yellow thing is a Pamonha - “It is a paste made from fresh corn and milk, boiled wrapped in corn husks” - a Brazilian specialty.

Anyway, I obviously didn’t apply for my 50% off from the email (I can forward to you on request) but at least I learnt something new


I fought Google App Engine and the App Engine won (47/365) Wednesday February 16, 2011

As I flagged up a month back I’ve got a couple of new domains I registered for some side projects I’ve been playing with. For one of them I decided it was time to put up a holding page, and was/am going to use Google App Engine to run the site.

However it’s a bit of effort to get the App Engine to use a custom domain, especially because in some slightly strange way you have to confirm you won the site via SMS. I’d already used my phone for so I’m a bit stuck. However it was late, so I’m going to have another go this weekend, Still not giving too much away on what the site is just yet - it’s nothing fantastic - but I’ve posted the logo that you would have seen on the holding page if I hadn’t failed to host it.

P.S. If you’re following along in real time I know I’m 2 days behind posting, but the streak is still on (up to yesterday anyway!)