Archive for the ‘SMS’ Category

h1

Free TextMarks service is over

2014-01-14

Well, since my TextMarks service expired and you can’t get their free service anymore, this “Find your local library with a text message” service is no longer hooked up to SMS.

However, if you’re curious about what the service did, you can still reach http://sylvar.freeshell.org/finder.php?use_html=yes&zip=33166 to see the text message it would have sent you. Obviously, if you have a ZIP code other than 33166, you might want to alter the URL a little bit.

Advertisements
h1

Find your local library with a text message!

2009-03-20

Today I am very proud to announce that I’ve created the service I wished for ten years ago.

Text LIBRARY 12345 to 41411, assuming that your ZIP code is 12345 (and if it is, how’s the weather in Schenectady?). You will get a text message with the name, address, and phone number of the nearest library.

Here’s how it works:

  • You send the text message “LIBRARY 12345” to 41411 (TextMarks).
  • TextMarks uses the word LIBRARY to assign the rest of the message (“12345”) to my TextMarks application.
  • My TextMarks application sends the rest of the message (in this case, your ZIP code) to a server at freeshell.org. Running PHP scripts on freeshell.org isn’t free, but for a one-time $36 donation, you get that privilege.
  • freeshell.org searches NCES IMLS for branch and central libraries, then finds the first result and identifies the name, address, and phone number in its HTML code.
  • freeshell.org sends back a very simple result with newlines where appropriate (view the source to see how it’s really formatted).
  • TextMarks sends you the literal answer from freeshell.org, plus a brief advertisement with which TextMarks pays the bills. (I don’t see a penny from this except when y’all phone up potential employers and tell them they’d do well to hire me for 2010.)

Things I’d like to add eventually:

  • Support for other location forms like SCHENECTADY[,] NY or 1060 w addison st chicago il, probably with a call to a Google Maps API
  • Support for libraries outside the US (though I caution you, if you give me a location on the south end of Grosse Ile, Michigan, my script won’t know that the Essex County Library in Amherstburg, Ontario is nearer than Bacon Memorial Library in Wyandotte, Michigan — though in that particular case you might not care unless you have a boat)
  • A minor efficiency tweak: search for libraries within 1 mile, and if none are found, try again with 5 miles, 10 miles, and 50 miles before giving up.
  • If no results are found, say so apologetically.

Please tell everyone about it, especially truckers and other business travelers, snowbirds, people who are moving to a new home, etc.

And please let me know what you think, and how to improve it! Thanks especially to Susan Hansen for suggesting IMLS as a more recent source of data.