"Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude." - Thomas Jefferson   |    "The more difficulties one has to encounter, within and without, the more significant and the higher in inspiration his life will be" - Horace Bushnell   |    Hofstadter's Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.   |    "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." - Ralph Waldo Emerson   |    "Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash." - George S. Patton   |    "Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out." - Robert Collier   |    "Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt." - William Shakespeare   |    "Perl - The only language that looks the same before and after RSA encryption." - Keith Bostic   |    "Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome." - Samuel Johnson   |    "The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you're willing to work." - Oprah Winfrey   |    "Every artist was first an amateur." - Ralph Waldo Emerson   |    "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle   |    "If Java had true garbage collection, most programs would delete themselves upon execution." - Robert Sewell   |    "Good luck' follows careful preparation; 'bad luck' comes from sloppiness." - Robert Heinlein   |    "There is no such thing as luck; there is only adequate or inadequate preparation to cope with a statistical universe." - Robert Heinlein   |    "The talent of success is nothing more than doing what you can do, well." - Henry W. Longfellow   |    "The more you learn, the more you need to learn." - Robert Heinlein   |    "We are still masters of our fate. We are still captains of our souls." - Winston Churchill   |   

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Yahoo Pipes

*** The pipes didn’t come out yesterday, so those of you who have already heard about them, can simply skip this post.

But those who didn’t, are about to find out something wonderful!

The pipes are a web service from Yahoo and can be accessed by going to http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/

As an example of what it can do, let’s take today’s featured pipe: eBay price watch. Apparently, it gives you information about certain items from ebay, found by certain keywords that lie in a certain price range.

Without any tools at all, finding this information would require going to eBay, searching for items, sorting, finding the ones you want, and repeating that over and over again. If you are decent programmer, you could easily make a PHP script or something that does it for you: goes to eBay, fetches a page using a search request, parses it and so on. It is doable, but is it worth the trouble?

Well with yahoo pipes a script like that takes no more than 10 minutes to create! It is all because instead of writing code, you are combining structural blocks that process information in certain ways, which can include search/replace, regexps, combining functions, well basically any kind of aggregation you could possibly imagine.

Yahoo pipes are based on RSS, so the most used output method from the pipe is an RSS channel, which, if we are talking about the eBay example, could be imported into your favorite RSS reader.

Basically any data from any webpage, RSS channel or any url can be inserted into a yahoo pipe and converted to the format you want. Several sources of data can be used, records can be combined, removed, parsed, and so on, with limitless possibilities. And, what is more important, all the above is done simply, fast and visually, which, besides the development speed, also gives you a lot of room for experimentation and creativity.

(And no, I don’t work for Yahoo, it’s just that this service is really a great contribution for human kind :P)

And I haven’t even told you the best part: Yahoo pipes support information io in JSON and if I remember correctly, even PHP-serialized, which, combined with its possibility to fetch anything that has a url, effectively means that you can create your own modules for pipes that can do anything that pipes cannot do already, making the service omnipotent.

If nothing else, it is a great way to test new ideas without having to write a single line of code.

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