Since Optus pulled their feed of Usage info and the OptusQuota gadget stopped working. I have spent a fair amount of time to get the gadget up and running again, but have gotten to the point where I am unable to invest any more time. On the whole the gadget works fine, but there a number of niggly situations where it will error, mainly due to the way the data has to be collected.
Now it’s not all doom and gloom, I have managed to get the gadget going for some people:
- At the risk of sounding like a developer, the gadget works fine for me and my Optus account. I can also confirm it works ok for other users;
- Thanks to some of the guys on Whirlpool, I have also tested and confirmed the gadget returns and parses data from a static Fusion account usage page;
What you should be aware of is that there is some complexity around certain users where a number of http redirects occur to authenticate. It appears some users have account details stored in different machines within Optus, so when you try to logon, your credentials are handed around with hidden forms and session strings to other machines before coming back. The gadget hates this and returns the redirects. During debugging with the Grumpywookie I found four different redirects happening and decided that this was too damn hard to implement. If you account falls into this I am sorry.
Anyway, the gadget is up on my Skydrive account for downloading. I won’t be releasing it to gallery.live.com as I don’t feel it is of sufficient quality to be up there. Once Optus release a stable feed to query I hope that the gadget will once again return to it’s previous stable and working for everyone state.
Download the gadget
The most important point I need to highlight is that the gadget effectively implements screen scraping to get the data it needs for calculations and is at the mercy of Optus. If they change the source of the usage pages it may stop working again.
The best approach IMO would be for Optus to publish a secure API that we could query against. Given usage info is of no use to anyone really except the user, maybe allow the user to activate an API key, that provided anonymous usage info at http://usage.optusnet.com.au/APIKEY. It should be relatively simple to query against and would remove any of Optus’s security concerns. Given the comments recieved on this blog and on WhirlPool, I think the users would like it too. How about going on the front foot for once Optus? 😉
As for the future, well, I guess the removal of the feed without any warning (how many usage meter authors are out there you would have to alert Optus?), the price of the connection and need to bundle, two absolutely woeful technical support calls to call centres and lack of speed in my area has finally caused me to churn to a different provider. As of Friday I will be with another provider giving me ADSL2+ , a sanctioned stable usage feed and customer support from within Australia. I will still continue to develop sidebar gadgets, and provide limited support for this one, but if you are interested in taking it to the next level, drop me a line.
For those of you that are interested the release notes (as they stand) are after the break…
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