Let's say you are thinking about moving to Rome in the near future.

Let's say you have family, and you want to find all daycares within 30 mins by public transport to your perspective new house.

Or maybe you want to find a house that's near a daycare, which in turn should be within 30 mins to your workplace.

In the past, I would have done this manually: find list of day cares, look at a map, check workplace, apartment, eventually find something that works.

But with a little javascript, some scripting skills, and a couple hours to spare, it turns out that this sort of problem is really easy to solve by using public APIs, and a little work.

Before I get started, and only if you are curious, you can see the outcome here http://rome.rabexc.org.

This article can serve as a very quick start and brief introdcution to Google Maps APIs.

The first step for me was finding the data: the list of all daycares / pre-schools in Rome.

Turns out that Google maps, yelp, or the usual suspects don't have very good data about Rome: if you just search for "scuola dell'infanzia", "asilo" or similar, you will only get a handful of results.

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Nov 30, 2016 | Life/Traveling

Let's say you want to add a search box to your web site to find words within your published content. Or let's say you want to display a list of articles published on your blog, together with snippets of what the article looks like, or a short summary.

In both cases you probably have an .html page or some content from which you want to generate a snippet, just like on this blog: if you visit http://rabexc.org, you can see all articles published recently. Not the whole article, just a short summary of each.

Or if you look to the right of this page, you can see snippets of articles in the same category as this one.

Turns out that generating those snippets in python using flask and basic python library is extremely easy.

So, here are a few ways to do it...

Before starting to talk about python, I should mention that doing this in javascript should be extremely easy and straightforward. In facts, you can find many sites that load entire articles and then magically hide portions of it using javascript.

[ ... ]

When it comes to HTML, CSS, and graphical formatting, I feel like a daft noob.

Even achieving the most basic formatting seems to take longer than it should. Giving up on reasonable compromises is often more appealing to me than figuring out the right way to achieve the goal.

Anyway, tonight I am overjoyed! I wanted to have a <pre> block, with code that:

  • had an horizontal scroll bar.
  • but only when there are lines too long.
  • and well, long lines did not wrap.

I first fidgeted with the white-space property in the attribute, which has a nowrap value, and various other ones. None of them seemed to do what I wanted, the only valid value to preserve white spacing was pre.

overflow-x: auto was easy to find. It would do the right thing except... the text was wrapping, so the scroll bar never showed up.

It took me a while to discover that a word-wrap: normal would do exactly what I wanted.

So, here is the final CSS:

pre {
  word-wrap: normal;
  overflow-x: auto;
  white-space: pre;

And here is what it looks like rendered:

This is a really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really long line

It's amazing how happiness at times can come from very little things.

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Jul 11, 2013 |

Let's say you have a CSS with a few thousand selectors and many many rules. Let's say you want to eliminate the unused rules, how do you do that?

I spent about an hour looking online for some tool that would easily clean up CSS files. I've ended up trying a few browser extensions:

  • CSS Remove and combine, for chrome, did not work for me. It would only parse the very first web site in my browser window, and seemed to refuse file:/// urls. I later discovered that chrome natively supports this feature: just go in developer tools (ctrl + shift + i), click the audits tab, click run, and you will find a drop down with the list of unused rules in your CSS.

  • Dust-me Selectors, for firefox, worked like a charm: it correctly identified all the unused selectors.

In both cases, however, the list was huge, I had thousands of unused selectors. I was really not looking forward to go through my CSS by hand, considering also that many styles had multiple selectors, and I could only remove the unused ones.

[ ... ]

Apr 10, 2013 | Technology/Python