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 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.
What we see depends on mainly what we look for.
— John Lubbock