Tuesday, April 14, 2009

FreeDOS Virtual Machine

Hacking at legacy apps is always an adventure and this evening it was an enjoyable one. I just had the opportunity to set up a FreeDOS virtual machine using the fdfullcd.iso image. It was a very pleasurable experience, so hats off to you FreeDOS team. I haven't run into any issues up to now but I will be sure to report any if I do.

It's just.... beautiful....

Anchors in Trac

I had the need to use anchors today within a single page in Trac. The basic idea was to have a table of contents at the top of the page that would allow the user to link to subsections within the same page. After reading through the wikiformatting pages and google, it turns out the answer is quite simple. All of the headings are turned into anchors, whose names are the heading tokens with the spaces removed. For example, the following heading:
= My Heading =
Would be translated into the following markup:
<h2> id="MyHeading"&gtMy Heading</h2>
Within the contents section, you can link to a specific anchor via:
[wiki:somesite#MyHeading Links to My Heading Anchor]
So it turned out to be reasonably simple, just not so obvious to me at first.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Scraping Amsat Satellite Status Data

I recently had an interest in scraping out the satellite summary and band information from the Amsat website. As usual, python and beautifulsoup to the rescue! Unfortunately, the html is not structured in a very friendly way when it comes to parsing out the tags of interest. However, after brief analysis, I figured out most of the rules to apply and was able to dump the data of interest out. If Amsat decides to change the structure of their satellite status pages, this code will need to be adjusted.
import types
import urllib
from BeautifulSoup import BeautifulSoup

# strip off all the satellites summary title tokens, like oscar designation,
# oscar number, etc...
def GetSatelliteSummaryTitles(soup):
tds = soup.findAll('td', {'align':'right','valign':'top', 'nowrap':None})
titles = []
for td in tds:
#print td
b = td.find('b')
cleantitle = b.contents[0].replace(' ','').replace(':','')
return titles

# strip off all the satellie summary value tokens, like AO-51, 11.140 Kg, etc..
def GetSatelliteSummaryValues(soup):
tds = soup.findAll('td', {'valign':'top', 'nowrap':None})
values = []
for td in tds:
#print td
b = td.find('b')
if b is None:
cleantitle = td.contents[0]
return values

# return a dictionary containing mode data
def GetModeData(soup):
tds = soup.findAll('table',{'width':'75%'})
tds = tds[0].findAll('td')

currentmode = None
modedata = {}

for td in tds[1:]:
if not ' ' in td:
if not ('valign','top') in td.attrs:
b = td.find('b')
span = td.find('span')
if (not b is None) and (not span is None):
if (not 'Broadcast:' == b.contents[0]) and (not 'BBS:' == b.contents[0]):
currentmode = b.contents[0]
if not modedata.has_key(currentmode):
modedata[currentmode] = []
if 'Callsign(s)' in td.contents[0]:
cleanmode = td.contents[0].replace(':','')

for key in modedata:
for i in xrange(len(modedata[key])):
item = modedata[key][i]
if type(item) == types.InstanceType:
modedata[key] = modedata[key][0:i]

return modedata

def AppendStatusToFile(outfile,summaryMap, modeMap):

# write all the summary data
for key in summaryMap:
outfile.write(key + '\n')
outfile.write(' ' + summaryMap[key] + '\n')

# get all the mode data
modeMap = GetModeData(soup)
for key in modeMap:
outfile.write(key + '\n')
for mode in modeMap[key]:
outfile.write(' ' + mode + '\n')


if __name__ == '__main__':

output = open('allstatus.txt','w')

for i in range(1,200):

urlToProcess = 'http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/satellites/satInfo.php?satID=' + str(i) + '&retURL=/satellites/status.php'
output.write('=== STATUS URL:' + urlToProcess + '\n')

url = urllib.urlopen(urlToProcess)

pagedata = url.read()
print 'processing url: ' + urlToProcess

filename = str(i) + '.html'

soup = BeautifulSoup(pagedata)

# get all the summary data
titles = GetSatelliteSummaryTitles(soup)
values = GetSatelliteSummaryValues(soup)
summaryMap = dict(zip(titles,values))

# get all the mode data
modeMap = GetModeData(soup)


except Exception, e:
print 'ERROR processing: ', urlToProcess
print 'ERROR details: ', e


For the time being, I plan on using a template engine to format this data into an xml file that will be used as an RSS feed, this will be provided to the Amsat-bb list to see what they think.

If you have any comments or suggestions, let me know.

Joseph Armbruster

Saturday, April 11, 2009


This goes out to all of my friends.