MailBlogging

My little spam blog has been getting some notice, which is fun, (but still no Nigerian bank scams, which are always fun to read.)

It’s really just a proof of concept for what you can do with a mail interface to weblogs. Even though it uses Moblogging (mobile weblogging) technology, it’s not a moblog. For me, I think it’s an interesting thing to find a use for.
So many devices and services and legacy applications are email-capable, but not really convenient. For example, my router can send an email when someone tries to attack. Generally, I don’t want to receive those kinds of emails on my main account, so the other choice is to have it go to an email that I rarely, if ever, read. This is where using an agregator, like NewsMonster or NetNewsWire could come in handy.
I could set my router to send status reports or alerts vi email to an address that gets added to a weblog that produces an XML feed. It’s not really an elegant solution, but since all the components exist and are tested, along with the fact that very little standardization is needed, it will be guaranteed success, with an amazing amount of flexibility.

On a unix system, it’s amazingly easy to send a mail from the command line. So to send a simple report of a server’s processes, you could do something like:
ps ax|mail moblog@server -S “Status Report”
That’s it. You can send any file and parse it on the fly. You can do it on a schedule using cron.
Of course, many blogging applications have an API called xml-rpc to do this kind of stuff, I suspect that’s how these mail to moblog services work.

A long time ago, I wrote a very slow application to process millions of lines of punch-card data for the FAA. My tests generally ran for about an hour, parsing, inserting into a database and reporting the totals and errors. Rather than sit there and watch it, I scrounged an old 2400 baud modem and set the program to use it to dial my pager and report when it was done. Then, I’d start a test and go to the nice cafe in the atrium and wait. I thought it was a pretty cool hack. When it came time to demo it for the client, I forgot to disable the feature, so when the short test was over, they looked puzzled when the modem came on and started dialing. I apologized and explained what it was doing and that I would take it out. Needless to say, they demanded that I keep it in, knowing that they’d be able to take a break when it was running and return just after it was finished.

That’s the kind of automation that I like – as it is, I generally like anything that makes my day a little nicer or more efficient.

As people write more and more XML-feed-aware applications, this kind of stuff becomes more useful…