Getting tired of mandatory OCD
September 5, 2012 5:56 PM   Subscribe

An annoying but necessary part of my job is logging into a company website and checking to see if a number has gone up. If it has gone up, I start working on stuff to make the number go down. Checking the website every five seconds gets boring really fast and really cuts into the time I spend working on other things. Does anyone know of some programs out there that will automate this checking and notify me if the number has gone up? More deets inside!

The only program I have found that actually works for this is Website Watcher. I have it logging into the website every ten seconds, checking the number, and playing a sound if the number has changed. Thing is, Website Watcher (as far as I know) will only check if the number has changed, not specifically whether it has gone up. Everything is cool if the number has gone down - that's what it's supposed to do. I need it to only yell at me if the number has gone up so I can make it go down again.

Any suggestions? I would imagine there's some sort of scripting I could do, but I'm not the handiest with programming and would need a heck of a good tutorial.
posted by Willie0248 to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I needed something similar solved (with scripting) and there was a lot of great advice here.
posted by griphus at 6:03 PM on September 5, 2012

(I didn't actually end up coding the thing because they hired an assistant to do that part of the job, so I can't actually help beyond pointing at it.)
posted by griphus at 6:04 PM on September 5, 2012

Surely this number is coming out of a database somewhere? Can you contact your company's database administrator and talk to him/her about your need? If it was me, I'd much prefer to set you up with a simple alert rather than have you hitting the web server every 5 - 10 seconds.
posted by trunk muffins at 6:04 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

What OS are you using?
posted by odinsdream at 6:10 PM on September 5, 2012

@trunk muffins:
I wish! The website and database are through an outside firm.

Win7 64bit
posted by Willie0248 at 6:21 PM on September 5, 2012

Do you use Firefox? I found a Firefox extension which monitors website changes and you can add custom rules for the alert.


Once installed.
1) Open your website, then click on the 'bell' icon.
2) Select the area you want to monitor for change.
3) Set alert interval time and "Add Alert"
4) Click on the alert icon (0:0, 1:1, etc)
5) Click on the row of your new alert and you should see 'Options'
6) Under options you can set a 'Rule': "number increased more than"

I just tested this with a Reddit vote count.
posted by lucia_engel at 6:40 PM on September 5, 2012 [5 favorites]

I checked Website Watcher's online help and it looks like it has some scripting support; you can use variables, which should help get you where you want to go.

However, I think I like lucia_engel's solution better.
posted by Currer Belfry at 6:45 PM on September 5, 2012

Are any of the listed solutions acceptable by your company's software rules? I've worked places where they don't care, & places where every new noticed gadget was nuked from orbit (Google Desktop & Docs got huge lectures handed out). Another place was open source commercial use approved ware.
posted by tilde at 6:56 PM on September 5, 2012

The somewhat unsophisticated VBA in Excel/Word/Access etc can sneak by the radar of even the most uptight IT department. VBA can be used for inspecting the DOM of a page loaded in Internet Explorer. I've used it to screenscrape PeopleSoft, it's nice because it will keep the state of the page. It's disturbingly powerful and I have no doubt IT would outlaw it if they could (they can't).

I'm sure your task will be much simpler, so if you know a bit of VBA and can read the docs on inspecting DOMS, have at it!
posted by Yowser at 9:30 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Why would you not set up a second monitor to keep the site up and visible at all times? or a cheapie second computer?
posted by yclipse at 4:58 AM on September 6, 2012

I do a lot of this stuff.

If you're lucky, any of the scripting languages will probably allow you to do this. Python, Ruby, Perl, VBA, etc.

Lucky = web page done in HTML without any javascript.

Unlucky and unlikely is a web page using flash to display the count.

If it's a dynamic web page, then it gets a little more complicated, but still very doable.

Plenty of resources on the web on how to do this. Start with a search for "HTTP Request" and then add your choice of scripting language.
posted by w.fugawe at 9:03 AM on September 6, 2012

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