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My Very Own Hack-a-thon

The last couple of weeks I have been working on quite a few different projects of mine… two of which I have already commented on in my last post: Sportivo Manager Facebook App and VelloreCityFC.com.

I decided to move on to an idea that I had written down a very long time ago and sort of kept putting off because I didn’t really have any use for it at the time. This idea is for a set of tools that will let me insert, update and retrieve data for my websites using text messages. One particular use that would come in handy now would be to allow people to do real-time updates for our matches and have them displayed on VelloreCityFC.com .

In order to make that happen I needed to find a provider that would let me receive text messages from a mobile phone through a webservice so I could retrieve them with the website. After researching a bunch of different services I settled on Ipipi.com. It costs me about 15 cents per text message, but whenever a text is sent to their phone number and the message starts with my unique keyword they forward the message on to a page on my website (using http POST protocol). I then stick the data in a database table and leave it there to be processed by a second process on the server.

Right now I’ve got it setup to post data to my Rates application that I use to track my gas mileage. So every time I fill up I send the number of kilometers I drove since the last fillup and the number of litres I just bought and it posts it to the website and calculates the rate for me.

I will probably return to this again to get the real-time updates for VelloreCityFC.com working, as well as maybe create a new handy data retrieval website for storing data that you want to be able to access easily from your mobile phone.

The other project that I started working on is a GPS Tracking ‘package’. I bought the Nokia LD-4W Bluetooth GPS module for my cellphone, that gives my phone access to my position using GPS… mostly designed for getting driving directions (Nokia has a free Maps application). I had other plans however… I wrote a java program for my phone to retrieve the GPS coordinates and upload them to my website (either in real-time or in an offline capacity if you don’t have access to mobile internet). I then used the Google Maps API to map the data (I recently added support for Google’s Google Earth plugin so you can see the data in 3D), so you can view old trips online or watch the current trip data if it is being uploaded in real-time.

That project was mostly me wanting to work with GPS tracking because that kind of technology just seems like a lot of fun to play around with. I wasn’t so much looking for a way for people to know where I am, so as a result I won’t be leaving it on all the time.

I was thinking of posting the source code up on SourceForge once I’m done, since I’m sure there are other people out there that would be interested in using their phones for GPS tracking… either to spy on people (drop your phone in their trunk and see where they are going) or just to keep people notified of where they are.

As of right now I don’t have any new projects that I’m thinking of starting, but I will be periodically adding new features to the GPS Tracking project as well as VelloreCityFC.com.

I also recently got a request from some guy in Australia who is using my Simple PHP Gallery and he had some suggestions to make it support a few more file types. So I think I’ll work on that for a bit as well.

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