JonBlog
Thoughts on website ideas, PHP and other tech topics, plus going car-free

This page is an ideas incubator, where I present a selection of project ideas, mainly for software or websites, that I like the sound of. Some of them will have code attached, some of them will be useful as they are, and some of them are just pipedreams. If you want to collaborate on something, please drop me a line - I've love to get some reflections and feedback.

Outline

Ideas in this category are just back-of-napkin ideas, and some may always stay that way. I'm publishing them here in case someone wishes to develop them further, though of course their being public may spur me on to do something with them!

I recently donated some money to a small web-based charity, which accepts Paypal payments and electronic bank transfers. Whilst I have no fears that the charity misspends any donations, I realised after giving that I had no idea how the money had been spent. This particular organisation is run by over-worked volunteers, and whilst I […]

Introduction My experience of VirtualBox on Linux is mostly excellent, but there are a few areas in which host data would be good to bring into guests, for the purposes of updating informational widgets. For example, I’d like to see CPU activity and CPU core temperature in a guest VM, so I don’t need to […]

Some years ago I started work on a JavaScript implementation of a bad writing filter for Stack Overflow. I have some code for that sitting around, and one day I may even publish it! I find myself wanting to play around with the Stack Exchange API, partly as an excuse to learn Laravel, but sadly […]

One of the features missing from Stack Overflow is to receive a notification when a post that you’ve edited is subsequently edited again. This is useful where a post owner decides they disagree with an edit, and they wish to assert that their chatty tone, misspellings and extended downvote complaints really do belong (the community […]

As all social media users know, occasional time spent checking your various web accounts can add up during the day, and not all of it is productive. I use Twitter and Stack Overflow, primarily to help new developers, but the nature of these sites is that a new software library or interesting news story appears […]

I’m presently working on a project that handles the import of HTML from external sources, much of which will be fed through HTMLPurifier to ensure the HTML I render for the user is valid and safe. However, while pondering ways I can make this safe, I wondered how to find out quickly if some malicious […]

More outline posts…

Code

Projects in this category have some code attached to them, in varying states of completeness, and will probably be available in my public git repository.

I’ve written a simple PHP script to keep an eye on mobile internet usage, and have open-sourced it under a MIT license for anyone who wants to have a play. It scrapes account data from a provider’s website and stores that data in a local SQLite database. This mini-project gave me an opportunity to play […]

Nearly three years ago, I wrote about the difficulties of finding programming roles without involving recruiters. The problem primarily is that high-quality direct roles are mostly pushed aside in search engine results in favour of highly cross-linked agency noise. A simple solution to this is a crawler system that specifically indexes no-agency roles from their […]

One of the risks of running a public website is that there are plenty of nefarious people – usually spammers and illicit marketers – who want to crack the security systems protecting it. There’s primarily two reasons for this: stealing email addresses of comments to add them to marketing databases, and gaining access to the […]

Graph from Good Energy, illustrating fuel mix for some UK energy providers

I rather like this graph from energy provider Good Energy, which shows the renewable/traditional mix for a handful of their UK competitors. It turns out that this data has been made publicly available in the UK since 2005, some of which has been documented on this public-interest site. That site looks at the mix per […]

Rightly or wrongly, one of the primary reasons why new users get a difficult reception on Stack Overflow is sub-standard writing. This is sometimes due to the writer having English as a second language, and sometimes it down to laziness. Unfortunately, manual requests for improvement don’t always go well, which prompts me to think that […]

What is this about? Several of my blog posts are about Meshing, a P2P database layer for sharing structured data across the Internet. At the time of writing it is in a design and early implementation phase, and to guide the new reader, I’ve added this page. I’ll update it as time goes on, to […]

Finished

These projects are considered useful already, although they might be subject to further work.

This would make a nice weekend hack project! A website to report (PHP) tutorials that recommend insecure techniques, especially involving SQL injection (I just found another one, and have reported it via the comments). For novelty, render all the sites as labelled divs in a Masonry wall, and bonus points for a cheeky xkcd-style alt-text […]

I’ve been working since Christmas last year on an online PHP tutorial for beginners, which is now pretty much ready to try out. The working title during development has been “I ♥ PHP” and I still rather like that, so I’ll stick with that at least for the alpha period. The course is split over […]

Having fully switched from OS X to a proper Free operating system, I’m finding there’s a few things that the new environment doesn’t quite do as I’d like. One of them is the ability to name terminals per tab in gnome-terminal, but there’s no immediate provision for it. So, I’ve written a simple PHP script […]

When moderating comments in a WordPress blog, the usual practice on a standard install is to just replace the text with the moderator’s message. Unfortunately, this results in the offending comment being lost permanently, making it difficult to look at a particular poster’s history. So, it would be very useful to store this from within […]

WordPress is a pretty great piece of software, and the ecosystem around it is equally brilliant, but it’s probably fair to say that many a plugin is hacky and horrible inside. Everything modern programmers have learnt about separation of concerns, indentation, readability and object orientation seems to be lobbed out of the window where WordPress […]

Introduction Some years back I downloaded an amateur documentary from the ‘net, around 800MB, and wondered at the time how such a thing could be offered to more people without costing the distributor a potential fortune in bandwidth. A few solutions exist already, of course: one can create a torrent, and wait for torrent users […]

More finished posts…

Abandoned

These are projects that were started that I am unlikely to continue work on. However, if you are interested in taking one over, do please comment - my interest could well be rekindled by yours.

I was asked by a friend to look into interfacing Paypal buttons with Mailchimp. This seemed like an interesting Free Software project, so I’ve been hacking away on that on an occasional basis. This is a PHP and web-based system, which accepts IPN messages from Paypal to save purchase information to a database. Since it […]

My recent customer complaint triggered an interesting idea for a website; since I don’t think it’s been done before, I thought I’d jot it down. I am inclined to build a prototype, since it seems quite simple. OK, so here’s the pitch. After London Midland refused to refund an unused ticket, it so happened that […]