Creating a PHP Screen Scraper

So, I guess when most people get a 3 week holiday break from work, the first thing they do is try to get away from the laptop.. where is the fun in that I ask you?

This x-mas I took a small trip around the world of PHP and took the opportunity to write some enhancements for my better half’s online retail website. PHP is very C-like in it’s syntax, but one of the easier languages to get around if you’re not working with coding on a day to day basis.

In my 3 weeks, I essentially wrote a plug-in to the aforementioned website which automatically logs in to other websites and intelligently processes the pages of tabular data behind the authenticated curtain. It then takes this tabular data and squirts it out into an XML file, which is then used for some reporting.

If you are looking to understand a bit about how screen-scraping [...]

Web 2.0 – Why the internet got better, why security got worse.

Web 2.0 was recently crowned the one millionth word of the English language. This is perhaps just one indicator of the impact that Web 2.0 has had on our everyday lives. Why? In this blog, I’m going to go into what Web 2.0 actually is, some of the underlying technologies and what challenges these bring for security.


Managed vs Un-Managed Code

I recently had a customer who was interested in the development environment and platform used for the development of the solution I was presenting. The question was simply this: Is thus product developed in managed or un-managed code (sometimes referred to as native code). At the time, I had to park the question with a commitment to come back to the customer at a later date. I didn’t really know the difference between the two, more importantly, I didn’t understand the motivation behind the question.

To understand the differences, I decided to take a cursory look at Microsoft’s C# language(an example of managed code, pronounced C Sharp) and also revised some of my old C++ (example of unmanaged/native- mostly) books. Using Visual Studio from Microsoft it’s possible to create applications in both languages. To see C# in action, I created a small app to read and manipulate some local windows registry [...]

A Brief History of Programming – Assembly to Framework

Development of the technologies, functionality, features and value proposition is fundamental to the sucess of any product within the InfoTech market place. Although Pre-Sales rarely delve deeper than the occasional script, it’s worth having an understanding of what’s going on under the bonnet of your products and solutions.

In this blog we’ll chronologically examine a brief history of the development of programming. I’ll be writing this with-out reems of reference books around the desk, so please take the dates, claims and details as generally correct (this blog is not written to be used as a reference). There are hundreds of different languages out there, most of which aren’t covered here. It’s purpose is to give you a general idea of how your developers are creating the functionality that you are ultimately trying to sell.

Before we start, I’ll pay quick homage to Charles Babbage. He’s pretty much the Grandfather [...]

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – Pre-Sales Content

The search engine has fast become the first step in any users attempt to access content on the web. Businesses and individuals alike have realised the massive potential of delivering your information to peoples web browsers at the click of a button. Targeting higher rankings on search engines, essentially pushing your content closer to the top of the search listings, has spawned an entire industry of it’s own. The act of creating, implementing and monitoring strategies for improving search engine rankings is know as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

I’ve recently been assisting my partner with her SEO strategies for her online perfume retailing website. It seems great prices on perfume, fragrances, aftershaves and gift sets isn’t going to get you to the top of google alone.