... I decided to play around with GeoIP coding, EXIF data manipulation and dynamic image generation in php. Yes, yes... I know... why !? Well, as you all know I work with computers for my sins, spending my days, like many of us slumped behind a keyboard at a desk, and every now and again I'll have a moment of boredom, sit down and tinker with things ...

Computer programming is like any skill really, the more you practice it, the better you get. Anyway... so what the hell is all that I was talking about... GeoIP thinky ma' wha' !?

Well GeoIP coding is simply the abililty to translate your IP address ( a unique number, a bit like a phone number, assigned to every computer in the world ) into a physical, real world, location.

The wonderful people at www.maxmind.com have made some GeoIP databases freely available online, so I figured I'd download them and try and make something out of it. Tinker around with it. The net result is on the homepage of this site. www.tonycollings.com, if it's able to translate your IP address into a real world location you should get a link at the very top of the homepage saying "Welcome from ... " Click on that and it should give you a pretty Google Map. I know... so what !? Well that's the irony of computers, to get it to do something simple usually takes hours of coding. ( And computers save us time how !? )

Next I decided to plug the database into my website statistics monitoring software ( if your interested try this link http://www.tonycollings.com/cgi-bin/awstats.pl ) using the built in Perl Modules available in AWStats, but this proved to be an absolute nightmare. So for anyone else out there suffering the same "why the f* is this not working... " problem as I did, I wrote an article here on how to configure AWStats to use the free MaxMind GeoIP services.

http://forum.maxmind.com/viewtopic.php?p=1098#1098

Next, dynamic image generation. Why!? Well I was getting fed up of people phishing around on my websites trying to relay SPAM. Fortunately they can't, but I decided to add an extra level of Anti-SPAM'ness to my Contact Forms. You see the internet is full of all sorts of rubbish, including software robots all looking to abuse your nicely written "Contact Me" forms to send out lots and lots of lovely SPAM. Well some wonderful people at Carnegie Mellon University and IBM devised a way to stop this in the form of a CAPTCHA image.

You can usually tell a CAPTCHA image because it'll be a bunch of random digits and numbers you have to enter before submitting a form sometimes. Well I figured why not make this a bit more fun, instead of the boring box of numbers and letters, why not make it a bit more interesting, so I decided to write something for my sisters website here : www.rozphillips.com Everytime you refresh (hit f5 on your keyboard) the page, those numbers change and the image is dynamically generated. Nice ! Personally I just love the cartoon...

Not satisfied with my achievements I moved onto EXIF data. I'd been reading up alot on this the last couple of weeks because I was very interested in outputting some of this data onto my photograph pages here : http://photos.tonycollings.com

All pictures taken with most modern cameras these days automatically store some kind of EXIF information ( or meta-data ). Like weather you used a flash or not, the make and model of the camera etc... Well you may have noticed that on some photography sites all this information is displayed on screen along with the photograph. Well rather than type all this out the boring, long winded way why not do it automatically. So I did.

You can see the results on my photo gallery and my sisters website here : http://www.rozphillips.com/photos

Ah! and so that was it... like I said... a moment of boredom !