Category Archives: Web

How to Remove Yourself from Spoke.com

Update 2012-02-23: See a newer version of this article: How to Remove Yourself from www.Spoke.com and Center.Spoke.com.

Having a result on Spoke when searching for your name is a drag. In addition to their reputation for being spammy and intrusive, the data listed is often inaccurate or out of date. To remove your profile from such public searches, their FAQ provides the clue in the answer for My information in Spoke is wrong. How do I update it?:

… Go to www.spoke.com, search for your name, click your name to access your profile, then click the “This is me” button to update your profile and set privacy preferences. … If you would prefer to permanently suppress your information from Spoke’s directory, access your profile as described above, click the “This is me” button, select the “Learn more” link, then see instructions in the “How do I claim and update my Spoke Profile?” section.

After following these steps, my Spoke.com page still shows up in search results, but presumably that will stop at some point. In any case, anyone clicking on my profile will just see the message “This profile is no longer available”.

I recommend not installing their toolbar or providing any further information on the site. You should be able to give just enough to “claim” your profile, then disable the public view of it.

Sprint Website Down for 84 Hours (and Counting)

The Sprint website has been down and unusable for over 48 84 hours now as Sprint is launching a new software release. You can follow along with their Twitter account @sprintdotcom, watching as the early enthusiasm evolves into more-infrequent, depressing updates. I realize that having the site down is probably not the end of the world (certainly, keeping the Phone network itself up should be job #1 over there), but this “upgrade” is starting to look like a real snafu.

Normally I don’t visit Sprint.com much, but this weekend I needed to activate a replacement phone and couldn’t get it done online. Visited the local Sprint store today and got it taken care of, but even the Sprint staff was grumbling about their in-store software which was also just updated.

Cute outage message screenshot (click for larger image):

Sprint Website Outage Message
Sprint Website Outage Message

Exploring GeoMaker and Yahoo! Placemaker

This week I was motivated to play with some of Yahoo’s Geo tools after hearing a talk by Christian Heilmann regarding the same.

One tool in particular is his Geomaker application which “creates microformats and maps from geographical information embedded in texts”. GeoMaker feeds your provided text into Yahoo’s Placemaker service which will identify any geo locations referenced. Geomaker then massages this data into a Yahoo map widget which can be placed on any web page such as a blog entry.

Geomaker accepts either a block of test, a web page, or an RSS feed. The RSS feed option is a great way to quickly visualize to locations being referenced. For example, the following is a map of recent items from the Yahoo! World News RSS feed:


To stress test Placemaker and see how accurate it is, I dropped in the lyrics for Johnny Cash’s rendition of “I’ve Been Everywhere“. Results? It identified 70 place references and missed 22. The detector seems to be less accurate when given place names like this in a list. It does better when places are used in context, like the news articles above.

Here is the resulting map for “I’ve Been Everywhere” (minus the outlying countries Argentina and Costa Rica):

Lorem Ipsum Text via YQL

Still finding more reasons to play with and learn YQL, and following up from my experiment with random numbers, today I implemented YQL support for lipsum.com, a “Lorem Ipsum” text generator.

What is Lorem Ipsum text? The lipsum.com site explains:

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

I made a simple custom data table to access this service via YQL. To use these services, you’ll need to reference the custom table I created, then “select” some random text. The service can create text in a specified amount of either paragraphs, words, bytes, or lists. You can also control whether or not you want each string to start at “lorem ipsum…”, or to start randomly.

For example, to request 5 paragraphs (try it in YQL Console):

use "http://scooterlabs.com/yql/lorem.ipsum.xml";
select * from lorem.ipsum
where amount="5" and what="paras";

To request 20 lists (try it in YQL Console):

use "http://scooterlabs.com/yql/lorem.ipsum.xml";
select * from lorem.ipsum
where amount="20" and what="lists";

Random Numbers via YQL

I recently discovered a very cool random number generator site appropriately called Random.org. After poking around a bit at the various generators available on the site, I discovered they also have a simple “http service” and sample client apps which use it.

As a quick exercise, I made custom data tables to access these random number services via YQL, Yahoo’s “select * from internet” service. To use these services in YQL, you’ll need to include the custom tables I created, then “select” some random numbers.

For example, to request a few random numbers (try it in YQL Console):

use "http://scooterlabs.com/yql/random.integers.xml";
select * from random.integers
where num="10" and min="1" and max="1000";

To request a random sequence, where every number in the range is used once (try it in YQL Console):

use "http://scooterlabs.com/yql/random.sequences.xml";
select * from random.sequences
where min="10" and max="19";

To generate some random strings (try it in YQL Console):

use "http://scooterlabs.com/yql/random.strings.xml";
select * from random.strings
where num="10" and len="20";

For a full description of each service, and more optional parameters, refer to the Random.org HTTP interface description.

Update 2010-02-25: I heard back from the owner of the Random.org site who said he has been blocking all Yahoo! Pipes traffic. So, this YQL query may stop working at some point.