Monday 2022-10-31 – Link List

Blogging Intensifies Link List for Monday 2022-10-31

31-Oct-2022 – It’s faster to earn Overwatch 2 skins through playing WOW than the actual game, players suggest

31-Oct-2022 – Overwatch 2: How to Earn Overwatch League Rewards

30-Oct-2022 – G.I. Joe x Transformers Bumblebee A.W.E. Striker In-Hand Images

100 Days of Python, Projects 54-57 #100DaysofCode

Back to web development again, but with a different twist this time.  Instead of scraping things, we’re learning Flask, to produce little Python based Websites.  In doing these exercises, I find I am kind of wondering why one would use Python over say, Apache, or NGINX or even IIS.  I can sort of see where it’s useful, and maybe later we will get to more of it’s usefulness.  My primary issue is that the HTML code part of it ends up being VERY specifically Flask based.  Like flask looks for images and CSS in specific folders.  Plus if you use any sort of variables, they all get passed to the HTML in a very particular way.

I had considered that it might be useful for sharing some of the code I have written through my web server, but in my research, things like Tkinter and Turtle don’t work at all through Flask.  I was kind of hoping it was smart enough to produce little Browser pop ups or something to render the graphics out.

This section isn’t super complex so far, but it wraps up the Intermediate+ section with a little interlude for Bootstrap in between, so I figure it’s a good little chunk to keep in it’s own write up.

As usual, the code is all on Github.

Day 54 – Intro to Flask

There was literally no project today really.  We created a basic “Hello World” Flask server, then created some Decorator Functions.  It was interesting, but not really that exciting to write up.  I do somewhat question the usefulness of a Decorator a bit, versus just having a function that takes an input and modifies it directly.

## Day 55 – Higher Lower Game Returns

The Day 55 Lessons were a bit better.  We covered Decorators a bit more and how to handle URLs in Flask, which brings me back to the “Is this better” I mentioned in the opening, since once again, the code will get weird to use outside of Flask.

I had a lot of fun with the project though.  It’s a web version of the “Higher-Lower” Game from way back on Day 14.  You Pick a number, it tells you if it’s higher or lower, only with web pages.  It was essentially a way to learn about using Dynamic URLs in Flask, but spiced up for fun.  I added a nav bar to mine so the user didn’t have to type a URL and could just click the next number to guess.  I also used a bunch of silly GIFs from my favorite musicians instead of Cat GIFs on each page.  

It’s kind of useless, but it was fun to build.

Day 56 – Personal Website

This day was mostly about how to quickly import existing code to Flask.  It involved a couple of practice projects and a “real” project.  The first Practice was taking the Lesson 41-44 website and importing it to Flask.

The second practice was to use someone else’s template and import it to Flask, as well as modifying and simplifying that code.

The final project was to build a simple “Name Card” website with some social links.  Essentially, it was a repeat of the second practice, but actually replacing images and information.  I kind of prefer the previously made CV website and it’s easier to hose on the web so I’m going to stick with that for now.

Day 57 – Blog Capstone Project Part 1

This project picks up in Day 59 with the start of the Advanced Section of the course.  The basic idea here was to build a simple blog interface that would read some generic JSON Posts and display them, and then let users click into each blog post to read more.

I’m particularly proud of my result, which only uses one HTML file, that varies if the user clicked on a blog post or not.  I feel like it was a pretty slick solution.  The starter files also included a file to make a “Post class”.  Using this class was not part of the assignment, but I suspect it will come up later, so I went ahead and built it, though I didn’t use it to read the blog posts.

If this comes out alright, I may actually use it somewhere, I’ve been looking for something to put on  Though I also don’t really NEED another Blog outlet.  I barely maintain the one I regularly use now.

Sorting Out all My Writing

Coding Python isn’t the only project I’ve been working on recently, though it IS the major one.  Another project I’ve been working on, that is at least tangential to “modernizing how I code” is organizing all of my writing.  I write a LOT.  I sometimes list “writing” as a hobby, but I almost never list it as a “Primary Hobby” but it’s arguably the one hobby I have done the longest, even longer than collecting toys, and that I would like to think I do, pretty well.  Ok, no scratch that, I’ve been a “Gamer” since before I could really write.  Actually, it seems like all of my “major hobbies” started when I was like 5-10, so I guess those “formative years” really do matter.  My first programming was on the family’s old Franklin PC with two 5/25 floppy drives, writing BASIC that my dad had taught me.  He had been going to college for Computer Science at the time.

Anyway, writing.

I write, a lot.  I write about all sorts of topics.  Sometimes I write technical write ups, sometimes I write (purposely) shitty Final Fantasy VII Fan Fiction. I write casual blog posts about music, and movies and toys, I write detailed instructions for work or FAQs for Video Games. They aren’t all “winners” but I have gotten a lot of compliments of the years for my writing style and methods.  i also save everything.  I mean, literally EVERYTHING I create.  There are a few things I no longer have and I still think about them sometimes, and wish I had copies.  A few years ago I even started transposing some of my old paper journals and stories into digital text.  

The end result is that I have a lot of files in a lot of formats. Some are text files, some are Word Files, some are exported XML archive files.  A few are PDF based exports as well as some olf “Windows Live Writer” files.

As part of my personal journey to “level up” a bit on my computer skills (which are already pretty great), I have been working on getting more accustom to using Markdown.  Markdown is essentially “Fancy Text Files”. They are plain text files, with special symbols inserted occasionally to make things look prettier in a Markdown reader.  The thing is, this means they are very compact in size and can still be read by even the most basic reader (albeit with the random symbols inserted sometimes).

Most of this effort involves a LOT of copy and pasting.  I’ve converted a bunch of Word Docs I had over to Markdown files. Text docs aren’t generally huge to start with, but the Markdown files mean files that are sometimes 1/4th the file size.  When we are talking hundreds to thousands of files, this is significant savings.  So far, I’ve been skipping reviews if they have embedded images, but I already have those images saved elsewhere, so I may revisit that concept.

This also means finally sorting through some other “to sort” boxes.  For example, for a while, I was posting blog posts with Microsoft’s now discontinued “Windows Live Writer”.  The shitty part is, it used a proprietary format that even Word can’t open.  Fortunately, there is a open source alternative, “Open Live Writer”.  I don’t use it to post, but I can open those old Live Writer Files and convert them to useful Markdown Files.

One fun thing I did was export all of my Reddit Posts, and pull out anything over 500 characters as a “Journal Entry”.

Another source is old WordPress Exports. I have used my newfound l33t Pythonista Skills to build a sweet little script that takes a WordPress XML export, and parses through it for dates, titles, and content. Next, it cleans up the post content a bit (it’s not perfect sadly), and spits it all out to a series of files in the format I want.This script could easily be modified to work with other similar data exports like Reddit)

That code can be found over on Github. It’s probably buggy, but it works for the most part.

Which brings up sorting.  I have posted a few times about digital organization, and I’ve gotten the text down to a science as well.  A folder called “Journal” in my One Drive, which syncs to several PCs and my NAS.  Inside it’s sorted by year, inside each year are files in YYYY.MM.DD –  I’ve also incorporated this into my blogging workflow, and so partially written posts in the current year get X_ added to the front, so they all sort to the bottom, but I have an idea of when I had the idea.

This whole new system also allows me an easy way to just Journal occasionally.  One thing I’ve been trying to work on is that “not everything has to be a blog post”.  Sometimes it’s good to just, write, for myself, date it, and spit it out.

It’s healthy to get those thoughts out sometimes. For example, would you like to know how many times I’ve randomly bitched about the show Glee over the past 10-15 years?  Because it’s more than is probably healthy.

Anyway, this project is still a work in progress, but I’ve made a LOT of progress and I’m pretty happy with how it’s been going.

100 Days of Python, Projects 51-53 #100DaysofCode

Here we are now with a few more automated bot tasks.  It’s been a fun series of lessons, though I enjoyed using Beautiful Soup more then Selenium.  Selenium runs into too many anti-bot measures on the web to be truly effective.  I mean, it’s definitely a useful too, but in my experience, it’s not reliable enough.  BS seems to be much more effective, though it can’t really interact with pages.

In the long run, I think I am more just irritated by “clever bull shit” on web pages that makes both pieces of software a pain to work with. Take Instagram, none of the classes or ids are anything but jumbled characters.  The code feels like it was written by a machine, and it probably was.

Also, this round is a bit shorter than before because the course is veering off into a new direction with Flask Apps, so it seemed appropriate to wrap things up on the Automation Section of the Projects.

Day 51 – Twitter Speed Complainer

This project is great, because this is something I have tried to run from other people’s code but it never seems to actually work.  Now, I just have my own code to run.

EZ Mode.

It will need something with a desktop to run it on, but I have a while Windows PC for running random shit and a mess of Raspberry Pis.  I don’t even care about the complaining part, in fact, I would rather not, I just want to track Internet speed.  I may even change this ti push to a spread sheet or database or something later.

But for now, it Tweets.

So, the Speed test part was easy, though I used instead of, because supposedly will give dodgy numbers by partnering with ISPs and putting servers in ISP data centers.  I just prefer mostly, it’s cleaner.

The Twitter part was tricky… ish…  So, a common problem I keep running into with Selenium, is it thinks my Bot Programs, are Bots.  

I’m so offended for my Bots, accusing them of being Bots.   They run into captchas and email verifications and just flat out fail to log in or load half the time. It makes sense, captchas and email verifying exist, 100% to stop people from abusing things like, Selenium. Fortunately, Twitter Bots is one thing I do have a fair amount if experience with. I wrote one ages ago that just tweeted uptime of the server.  I wrote one script that would pull lines from a text file and tweet them out at an interval.  I have another Python based bot that tweets images.  What do these Bots do differently?  They are 100% Bots, running with the proper Twitter Bot Based AI, and labeled as such.  

So, since Selenium was being a pain to deal with using Twitter, I pulled out my Image Posting Bot code and scavenged out the pieces I needed, which was about 4 or 5 lines of code.  It uses a Python Library called Tweepy.  In order to use Tweepy, you have to use the Twitter Developer console to get API Keys, which I already had.

Day 52 – Instagram Follower

Another almost useful project. For this project, you open up Instagram and log in, then it opens an account of your choosing, and follows, anyone following that account.

Now, while I have a love/hate relationship with Instagram, I am not super interested in cluttering up my feed with thousands of accounts.  So, while I did complete the task, I set it up to ONLY follow the first 10 accounts.   I also added a check to make sure I wasn’t already following said account.

I may revisit this again later with other, more useful ways to interact with IG.  Maybe instead of following random people from another account, it auto follows back.  Or maybe it goes through “suggested” and looks for keywords in a person’s profile and follows them.

Day 53 – Zillow Data Aggregator Capstone

The final project for this section combines Selenium and Beautiful Soup to aggregate real estate listings from Zillow into a Google Spreadsheet doc.  I quite liked this one actually, it’s straight forward and relatively harmless.  I did run into an issue where it started thinking I was a Bot, but by that point, I knew I could successfully scrape what I needed from Zillow, so I commented out the Zillow call and replaced it with a file load using an HTML file snapshot of the Zillow page.

This was very easy to slide in as a fix because I was already pulling the source code using Selenium into a variable, then passing that variable to Beautiful Soup.  It was simply a matter of passing the file read instead.

Scraping the data itself was a bit tricky, Zillow seems to do some funny dynamic loading so my number of listings and addresses and prices didn’t always match.  To solve this, I added a line that just uses whichever value is the smallest.  They seem to capture in order, but eventually, some fell off, so if I got 8 prices and 10 addresses, I just took the first 8 of each.

Another issue I came across, the URLs for each listing, don’t always have a full URL.  Sometimes you had to add “” to the front.  It wasn’t a hard fix,

if “zillow” not in link:

link = “”+link

There was also an issue with the links because each link shows up twice using the scrape I was using.  A quick search gave a clever solution to remove duplicates.  It’s essentially:  list = dictionary converted to list(list converted to dictionary).  A Dictionary can’t have duplicate keys, so those get discarded converting the list to a dictionary, and then that result just gets flatted back out into a dictionary.

Lastly was the form entry itself.  The Data Entry uses a method I’ve used before for entering data to Google remotely, with Google Forms.  Essentially, Selenium fills out and submits the form over and over for each result.  I had a bit of issue here because the input boxes uses funny tags and are hard to target directly.  Then my XPATHs were not working properly.  I fixed this by adding two things, one, I had Selenium open the browser maximized, to make sure everything loaded.  Second, I added more sleep() delays here and there, to make sure things loaded all the way.  

One thing I have found working with Selenium, you can never have too many sleep()s.  The web can be a slow place.

100 Days of Python, Projects 45-50 #100DaysofCode

Things are continuing to be interesting and useful here with the introduction of Beautiful Soup, a tool used to parse unstructured data into usable structured data.  Well, more or less that’s what it does.  Useful for parsing through Scraped Web Page data that does not have it’s own API available.

As normal, everything is on GitHub.

Day 45 – Must Watch Movies List and Hacker News Headline Scraper

As an introduction to using the tool, Beautiful Soup, we had two simple projects.  The training project actually feels more useful than the official project of the day, though I also remixed the training project a bit.

The “Project of the Day” was to scrape the Empire Magazine top 100 Must watch movies and output them to a text file.  I am pretty sure this list does not change regularly and this it’s sort of a “one and done” run.

The trainer project was more interesting, because it scraped the news headlines from Hacker News, a Reddit-like site centered around coding and technology that is absolutely bare bones in it’s interface.  The course notes were just to get the “top headline of the day”, but I modified mine to give a list of all headlines and links.  I will probably combine this with the previously covered email tools to get a digest of stories each day emailed to myself.

Day 46 – Spotify Musical Time Machine

This one combines the web scraping with the use of APIs which was covered previously.  Specifically the Spotify API.  The object is to get the user to input a date, then scrape the Billboard Top 100 for that date and create a Spotify Playlist based on the return.

This one was actually tricky and, as I often do, I added a bit to keep it robust.  Firstly I created a function to verify if the entered date was, in fact, a valid date.  Knowing my luck, there is a function that does this in Date Time, but writing it up was fun.  It could be better though, it only verifies if the day is between 1 and 31, for example.  Something I may clean up later I think.

The real tricky part was dealing with the scraping.  Billboard’s tables are not very clean and not really scrap-able.  I had come up with a way to get all the Song Titles, but the resulting list was full of garbage data.  I set about collecting the garbage data out by filtering the results list through a second list of keywords, but I noticed someone int he comments had found a simple solution of using Beautiful Soup to search for “li” (list items) with an “h3” (heading 3), which easily returned the proper list.  

So I tried the same for the artists, filter by “li” then by “span” which …. returned 900 items.  So I added another filter on the class used by the “span” containing the artist, which did not help at all.  Fortunetely, I already had solved this problem before while working on the Song List.  I created a list of keywords and phrases to filter, then ran my result across it, eventually I was able to output 100 sets of “Song Title – Artist name”.

The real tricky part was using the Spotify API.   Ohhhh boy what a mess.  There seems to be several ways to authenticate, and they don’t work together, and the API Documentation for Spotify and SpotiPy are neither amazing. It took a lot of digging on searches and testing to get the ball rolling, then some more help with code around the web.  But hey, that’s part of what coding is, “Making it work”.

The first issue was getting logged in, which meant using OATH and getting a special auth token, which Spotipy would use to authenticate with.  

The second issue, once that was working, was to create the playlist, which didn’t end up being too hard, just one line of Spotipy code and output the goof ID key to a variable from the response. Still, I deleted so many “Test List” playlists from my account.

So, the real tricky part, was that Spotify doesn’t work super great if you just search with “artist” and “track”.  Instead you get the ID of the artist, then search within that artist for the track, which works much more smoothly.  Why? To add tracks to a playlist, you add them by Spotify IDs.  Thankfully, I could throw a whole List of them up at once.

The end result works pretty flawlessly though, which is cool.  Though It also shows some of the holes in the Spotify Catalogue as you get into older tracks.  My playlist for my birthday, in 1979, is missing 23 tracks out of 100.

Also, I may look into if there is an API for Amazon Music int he future, since that is what I use instead of Spotify, sometimes.

Day 47 – Amazon Price Tracker

Ok, this one will actually be useful to me in the long run.  Like actually useful.  I already use sites like Camel Camel Camel but running my own tracker would be even better.  Especially because one of my other primary hobbies is collecting Plastic Crack (toys).  Geting deals on things is definitely useful, especially given how expensive things are these days.

Also, I have not found a good way to monitor for sales/price drops on eBooks, which is another advantage to straight scraping web pages.  

So I even added to this one a bit.  Instead of looking for one item, it reads links and desired proces from a text file.  Now, if you look at the code, it probably could be cleaned up with a better import, treating it as a CSV instead of raw text, but I wanted to keep things as simple as possible for anyone who might run this script to monitor proces.  It’s just “LINK,PRICE”.  Easy, simple.

Day 48 – Selenium Chrome Driver

The Day 48 Lesson was an intro to the Selenium Chrome Driver software.  This is a bridge tool, that I imagine can connect to many languages, but in this case we used Python, that can open it’s own dummy web browser window, then read and interact with it.  

So the first bit was just some general example, followed by actually using it to pull the events list from and dump them into a dictionary.  I could actually see this being useful for various sites because so few sites have easy to find calendar links for events.  I’m sure there is some way to add calendar events to a calendar with Python.  Just one for the “future projects” list.

Afterwards we learned about some interaction with Selenium, filling in forms and clicking links to navigate Wikipedia.  

Finally the day’s project was to automate playing a Cookie Clicker game.  These “Clicker” games are pretty popular with some folks and basically amount to clicking an object as quickly as possible.  The game includes some upgrades and the assignment itself was pretty open on how to handle upgrades.  There was a sort of side challenge to see who would get the highest “Cookies Per Second”.  I set mine up to scan the prices each round and if something could be bought, buy it.  This got me up to about 50 CPS after 5 minutes.  It could be better.  I may go back and adjust it to stop buying lower levels once a higher level can be bought, which I think might be a better method.  Why buy Grandmas when you could buy Factories.

Day 49 – Linked in Job Applier

So, I completely overhauled this one, but kept it in the spirit of things, because the point is more to practice using Selenium in more complex ways.  The original objective, was to make a bot that would open LinkedIn, sign in to your account, go to the Jobs Page, search for “Python Developer”, find jobs with “Easy Apply” and click through the Apply Process.

I am not in the market for a job, so applying for random jobs seems like a dumb idea.  I also use 2-Factor on my LinkedIn account, so logging in automatically would be quite impossible.  It was suggested to make a “Fake Account” to get around this but that seems a bit rude.  It also suggested simply following companies instead of applying, but I’d rather not clutter up my feed with weird false signals.

So instead…

My Bot will open LinkedIn, go to to the Jobs Page for each term in an array of job terms individually, (for the test I used “Python Developer” and “Java Developer”).  Then it takes those results, strips out the Company Name and URL to the Job Opening, and compiles them into an email digest that it sends out.  

One issue I did have is that LinkedIn apparently uses different CSS for Chrome versus Firefox, because I was just NOT getting the results back for the links to each job, and it turns out the link bit has a different Class in Chrome, which Selenium was using, than Firefox, which I was using to inspect code (and use as my browser).

Anyway, it works in the spirit of what was trying to be accomplished, without actually passing any real personal data along.

Day 50 – Tinder Auto Swiper

So, I am really not in the market to use Tinder at all.  I was going to just skip this one.

Then I decided, “You know what, I can make a fake profile with a “” profile.

But then it seems dumb to get people to match with a bot.

No wait, I can set up the bot to Reject everyone, swipe, whatever direction “reject” is.  No matches!

Oh, it needs a log in via Google, Facebook, or Phone Number.  Never mind.

No wait, I have some old Facebook Profiles for a couple of my cats, I will just use one of those to log in with!

Oh, it still wants a phone number.

So anyway, I decided even trying to fake it was not worth the trouble.   But hey, Halfway there!