Mon, 22 Aug 2005

The IMDb, The AMG, etc.

Hola Lazyweb. Since adding a web browser to my Sony PSP, I’ve become obsessed with the idea of instant handheld access to reference sources. Google works reasonably well in the PSP browser by default, and the Wikipedia’s simple layout works ok on short entries, though longer ones tend to cause out-of-memory errors in the browser. Bloglines Mobile works more or less perfectly.

I could kind-of use the Internet Movie Database, though once again I had problems with really slow rendering speed and out of memory errors. I’m happy to say I found a solution, though. There’s an open source Python library that interfaces with the IMDB called, logically enough, IMDbPY. There’s a simple CGI frontend that can talk to this library. After building the library (I did it via DarwinPorts) I installed the gateway on one of my local boxes, and now I can search by tile or performer and get lightweight results pages that perform fine in the PSP browser. It’s perfect for sitting on the couch and watching TV, being able to look up J. Random Actor and see what other things they’ve performed in.

I’d love to find a similar hookup for doing searches in the All-Music Guide. I’ve been a great fan of the AMGs content for as long as I’ve been using the web, but their web presentation has always been painful (even moreso since last year’s “redesign”). Trying to work with it with the PSP’s limited browser is beyond hopeless. A quick scan through the search engines hasn’t turned up a mobile-friendly way to access the AMG. Has anyone given this a try? I imagine their Terms of use wouldn’t make it easy, but it’s worth a look.

I know the business models of a lot of reference sites make doing this sort of thing a challenge for them, but there are so many of these sorts of reference sites that potentially become even more valuable when you’re out in “the real world” rather than sitting in front of a computer. I know that in the “perfect future” when every site has a well specified API and uses smart stylesheets that gracefully degrade, we won’t have to worry so much about these things, but in 2005 it’s still a challenge.

:: 10:15
:: /tech/computers/web | [+]
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