Linux Home Automation for the Masses
Software is nothing without data. Here we discuss some places where you get useful data for home automation projects.


There are a few weather services available presently. Yahoo Weather provides data in an XML format that works well, but requires a stylesheet to convert it into anything useable. Granted it's not much, but it means you need a heavier piece of code to parse it and produce a speakable output.

Minerva comes with an update script and XSL file to download the forecast, and convert it into a speakable form.

No graphics are currently available. Although if you sign up to Weather.com (who also supply Yahoo!) you can get a script to embed into your web page, that includes graphical elements.


The are two components to this problem, knowing the radio frequencies, and knowing the programmes. The first is easier, since Ofcom maintain a complete list of these. Here's the Excel spreadsheet of radio frequencies. For those prefering XML, there's a Minerva-compatible list of UK radio station frequencies. This data applies to the UK. If you have the equivalent information for other countries, then please email me, .

To get the programme guides it's necessary to visit the web site of the station in question. For example, the main BBC stations can be found here.

I hope to provide this in a common format in the future.


Depending on how and where you usually store your diary will depend on how you can incorporate this information into other applications. If you use Outlook, for example, then you're out of luck! This is handled by the closed source Microsoft Exchange Server. Although several projects are underway to liberate this data, it's best not to advocate their use in the first place.

Most people are currently using Google calendar to maintain their schedule. Even private calendar data can be accessed remotely, if you have the right URL. The Minerva Calendar Applet can interpret this information to tell you what events are on the current day. Retrieving this magical private URL can be done quite easily, and is explained here.


Along with web surfing, TV is probably the most common waste of time on the planet :) We therefore need someway of knowing what's on. In the UK, Bleb.org is the best on-line data source for TV schedules. Period. I use this to generate automatic schedules everyday. It is also the source used for the TV Guide applet.

The only problem is that ITV is not availble. It seems that the BDS (Broadcasting Data Services) are deciding to play hardball, and stopping people from re-distributing the TV listings. So the only way to get them is to pay the licensing fee, or scrape them from the ITV web site directly.

Travel Reports

For those of us reliant on public transport for our daily commute, knowing how (and where) to retrieve the data is invaluable, and Live Departure Boards is good for that.

The National Rail site has the advantage of using GET requests, so you can bookmark your journeys. For example, this is my trip into work, and my route home.

Although I haven't found an XML feed for this data, it's easy to embed this page into another, or scrape it.

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