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Archive for June, 2021

Searching available community pharmacies for #COVID vaccinations in Northern Ireland using C#

In northern Ireland, the over 40s should now go through the community pharmacy network to determine what pharmacies are administering the vaccine.

There is a useful web interface here: http://www.healthandcareni.net/pharmacy_rota/Covid_Vaccination_Pharmacies.html that allows you search for nearby pharmacies, but the process is quite frustrating, in that you have to click on 10-20 different pharmacies, before you find one that has slots available.

This tool allows you to search most of the the Northern Ireland pharmacy network in one go, to check for vacancies.

It’s available open source here: https://github.com/infiniteloopltd/NiCovid and I do welcome anyone to adapt this tool to something more user friendly.

It uses the SimplyBook booking system, which is used by most smaller pharmacies in northern ireland. Larger operations like boots use their own system, so this doesn’t cover other booking systems.

Technically, it extracts the list of pharmacies using the Simplybook service, and obtains a CRSF token from each site, once obtained, it makes a request to first check for services then for available days.

The date range is hardcoded, but it searches up to august 8th, I’m sure this can be changed easily.

Hope this helps someone!

Categories: Uncategorized

Using the Google search #API in C#

If you are looking to automate some SEO / SERP processing in Google, it’s not long before you look to see how to automate the Google search API, and in this case, I’m using C#

Don’t even attempt to screen-scrape google, they will spot very quickly, and you’ll have wasted time doing HTML parsing for nothing, use the official API.

Now, the official API has one huge caveat, it is only useful for searching within a set number of specified sites. This means you can’t use it to determine, is my website in position #1 for keyword “Y”, but it can be used to check what pages of your site, or a competitor’s site are indexed.

This caveat rules out 99% of standard use cases, so feel free to close the page now, if it rules out your case. – Although I have seen that it is possible to include an entire Top Level Domain in the Custom search engine, like “*.es” (spain)

So, step 1 is to create a custom search engine, you do this from https://cse.google.com, and when it is created, copy the “cx” parameter, you will need this later

Step 2, go to https://developers.google.com/custom-search/v1/introduction/?apix=true and then press “Get A Key”, you’ll need this in step 3

Step 3, build up a URL as follows;

https://customsearch.googleapis.com/customsearch/v1?cx=…&key=…&q=….&start=0

Where cx and key are from step 1 and 2 above respectively.

Q is the search query

Start is a number from 0 to 90 Which represents the start position in the search results. You cannot return more than 100 results using this API.

To request, you just use some code like this

var apiUrl =
"https://customsearch.googleapis.com/customsearch/v1?cx=....&key=...&q=" +
                        searchTerm + "&start=" + start;
var response = http.Request(apiUrl);
var jResponse = JObject.Parse(response);

And hopefully that helps someone!

Categories: Uncategorized
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