A couple of weeks ago, I began a series of articles showing you how to do home automation easily and relatively cheap. In those articles (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), I introduced you to the X10 home automation products such as the screw-in lamp module, appliance module, wall switch, and controlled wall outlet. I also showed you how to use your GE Simon XT home security system with your X10 home automation network. In part 4 of the home automation articles, I introduced you to the Insteon Hub which can be used to control all of your X10 modules using your cellphone, tablet, and computer. Today, as promised, I will now show you some code that you can use to control your devices from your own software. This code can easily be ported to Java, C#, or any other language of your choice. But, for simplicity purposes I will be providing you the code written in Python. Plus, this code can be used with the other automation applications I have been showing lately and will be showing in the near future. So, let’s begin.
Any internet marketer or SEO guru will tell you that content is a major key to success when running a website. The better the content is, the better your website will be. However, as many website owners will tell you, it is sometimes difficult to come up with good quality content for your website, especially for blogs. For those days that, for whatever reason, you just can’t seem to come up with some good content for your blog, I have found that those days are especially good for revisiting previous content. Not only do I think it’s a good idea to revisit past content, but I also think it’s a great opportunity to (re-)inform your visitors about past content just in case they might have missed something. To do that in a nice clean way, I like to use something called the “periodic roundup”. Roundups are nothing more than an article / post that contains links to previous posts. You can create roundups for weekly, monthly, yearly, or any other time frame you want. It’s extremely simple to do and doesn’t take more than just a couple of minutes to create. Since roundups are so simple to do, they are ideal for automating as well.
In this article I will show you how to automate roundup creation for WordPress powered websites using Python and cron. I will provide you with code that will check your blog for any articles posted within the previous month and will generate a new post with links to each of those articles. I have made sure to add checks in the code to prevent from linking to previous weekly or monthly roundups as readers would see this and know right away that you probably either automated the roundups or that you were just lazy or incompetent. The code can be easily modified to support other time frames as well such as weekly and yearly. If you are hosting your website on Windows, you can use the built-in Task Scheduler to schedule when your Python script will run instead of using cron as explained in this article. Basically, you just need a way to run the Python script on auto-pilot on the first day of every month (week or year depending on the time frame you choose). You can also run the app manually if you don’t have a way to automate when it runs on the server. Let’s get started.
A couple of years ago, I showed you how to start your own URL shortening website. Recently I was working on an automation project that posts URLs to Twitter and I needed to keep the length of the URLs as short as possible so that they would fit within Twitter’s 140 character limit. Since I was writing the automation project entirely in Python, I needed a way to create short URLs from Python as well. So, I decided to create a super simple Python script that would utilize my personal URL shortener by posting lengthy URLs to it and have their shortened versions returned which I could then post to Twitter in my automation project. Today, I want to share that code with you in case you ever find yourself wanting to do something similar.
A while back, I wrote an article showing how to automate video games using the Cronus controller adapter. At the end of that article, I promised that I would upload the source code for the wrapper I was creating for use with C# apps. Even though I had finished that code shortly thereafter, I do not have the code available so that I can share it. However, over the weekend, I received an interest from a reader that was working on a similar project and needed help getting his C# wrapper working. During that discussion, I put together a very simple working version of the wrapper for him to use. Even though it isn’t fully functioning like the last wrapper I wrote, this wrapper still provides most of the functionality one would need for communicating with their Xbox or PlayStation from their computer. I’m also providing the source code so that anyone interested can finish out any missing pieces they might need.
Ask any website owner about their top ten list of difficulties faced when running their website and almost all of them will include getting traffic to their site when new content becomes available. For website owners using website software such as WordPress, it is actually pretty easy to notify other websites when you have added a new article or updated an existing article. For those website owners, they can rely on the built-in utility called the “pinger” which you can read about here. However, for those of you that aren’t using tools such as WordPress (or for those of you who just want to learn how to notify other sites about updates to your site using your own code), I have decided to write a short article that will show you how to do this very thing using Python. To make it even better, I will do this using only the modules that come included with the base install of Python. So, let’s begin.