Obsessive-compulsive disorder: scraping the OVH website — the nerd way (#1)

September 19, 2013 | 2 Minute Read

The very same Muse sing, time is running out.

I’ve been (and I still am) waiting for OVH to make their sweet sweet cheap Kimsufi dedicated server available.

Since they’ve been featured on Hacker News, Kimsufis have became unavailable. A good friend of mine has his order pending since mid-august.

I wrote and e-mail to customer service asking when will Kimsufis be available again and their reply was, in short, last days of september.

In short: time is running out, and like me, a lot other people are awaiting for kimsufis to be available.

Since checking the kimsufi page on ovh’s website is becoming one of my daily routines and yes, it’ bothers me a lot, I decided to mechanize it.

And it was easy.

But I came to a point when changes made to the page were detected and I had to “take action”, programmatically speaking.

So, what to do? My aim is my code alerting me kimsufis are available again, as soon as possibile.

The idea I came up with was writing myself an sms. The problem is the only website offering free sms I found required me to decode a captcha code.

This obviously mean I should be there in person, and by the way I’m weak at decoding captchas (I seldom wonder if I’m really human or if I’m a sort of android — what would be cool, indeed).

What sends sms and can be mechanized ? That’s Skype.

The Skype4Py library lets programmers automate most of skype functions.

In my case, I only had to modify an example script to have a fully functional application that could send sms via a running instance of Skype.

Now comes the funny part: you have to have Skype running somewhere to use  it to send message.

The solution I came with was running a framebuffer-based X server, running fluxbox and skype inside it, and running my script on the same host (I’ll be running it on my Linode server in London).

More details to come ;)