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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Data Scraping - Increasing Accessibility by Scraping Information From PDF

You may have heard about data scraping which is a method that is being used by computer programs in extracting data from an output that comes from another program. To put it simply, this is a process which involves the automatic sorting of information that can be found on different resources including the internet which is inside an html file, PDF or any other documents. In addition to that, there is the collection of pertinent information. These pieces of information will be contained into the databases or spreadsheets so that the users can retrieve them later.

Most of the websites today have text that can be accessed and written easily in the source code. However, there are now other businesses nowadays that choose to make use of Adobe PDF files or Portable Document Format. This is a type of file that can be viewed by simply using the free software known as the Adobe Acrobat. Almost any operating system supports the said software. There are many advantages when you choose to utilize PDF files. Among them is that the document that you have looks exactly the same even if you put it in another computer so that you can view it. Therefore, this makes it ideal for business documents or even specification sheets. Of course there are disadvantages as well. One of which is that the text that is contained in the file is converted into an image. In this case, it is often that you may have problems with this when it comes to the copying and pasting.

This is why there are some that start scraping information from PDF. This is often called PDF scraping in which this is the process that is just like data scraping only that you will be getting information that is contained in your PDF files. In order for you to begin scraping information from PDF, you must choose and exploit a tool that is specifically designed for this process. However, you will find that it is not easy to locate the right tool that will enable you to perform PDF scraping effectively. This is because most of the tools today have problems in obtaining exactly the same data that you want without personalizing them.

Nevertheless, if you search well enough, you will be able to encounter the program that you are looking for. There is no need for you to have programming language knowledge in order for you to use them. You can easily specify your own preferences and the software will do the rest of the work for you. There are also companies out there that you can contact and they will perform the task since they have the right tools that they can use. If you choose to do things manually, you will find that this is indeed tedious and complicated whereas if you compare this to having professionals do the job for you, they will be able to finish it in no time at all. Scraping information from PDF is a process where you collect the information that can be found on the internet and this does not infringe copyright laws.

Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?Increasing-Accessibility-by-Scraping-Information-From-PDF&id=4593863

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Web Scraping: working with APIs

APIs present researchers with a diverse set of data sources through a standardised access mechanism: send a pasted together HTTP request, receive JSON or XML in return. Today we tap into a range of APIs to get comfortable sending queries and processing responses.

These are the slides from the final class in Web Scraping through R: Web scraping for the humanities and social sciences

This week we explore how to use APIs in R, focusing on the Google Maps API. We then attempt to transfer this approach to query the Yandex Maps API. Finally, the practice section includes examples of working with the YouTube V2 API, a few ‘social’ APIs such as LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as APIs less off the beaten track (Cricket scores, anyone?).

I enjoyed teaching this course and hope to repeat and improve on it next year. When designing the course I tried to cram in everything I wish I had been taught early on in my PhD (resulting in information overload, I fear). Still, hopefully it has been useful to students getting started with digital data collection, showing on the one hand what is possible, and on the other giving some idea of key steps in achieving research objectives.

Download the .Rpres file to use in Rstudio here

A regular R script with code-snippets only can be accessed here

Slides from the first session here

Slides from the second session here

Slides from the third session here

Source: http://www.r-bloggers.com/web-scraping-working-with-apis/

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Three Common Methods For Data Extraction

Probably the most common technique used traditionally to extract data from web pages this is to cook up some regular expressions that match the pieces you want (e.g., URL's and link titles). Our screen-scraper software actually started out as an application written in Perl for this very reason. In addition to regular expressions, you might also use some code written in something like Java or Active Server Pages to parse out larger chunks of text. Using raw regular expressions to pull out the data can be a little intimidating to the uninitiated, and can get a bit messy when a script contains a lot of them. At the same time, if you're already familiar with regular expressions, and your scraping project is relatively small, they can be a great solution.

Other techniques for getting the data out can get very sophisticated as algorithms that make use of artificial intelligence and such are applied to the page. Some programs will actually analyze the semantic content of an HTML page, then intelligently pull out the pieces that are of interest. Still other approaches deal with developing "ontologies", or hierarchical vocabularies intended to represent the content domain.

There are a number of companies (including our own) that offer commercial applications specifically intended to do screen-scraping. The applications vary quite a bit, but for medium to large-sized projects they're often a good solution. Each one will have its own learning curve, so you should plan on taking time to learn the ins and outs of a new application. Especially if you plan on doing a fair amount of screen-scraping it's probably a good idea to at least shop around for a screen-scraping application, as it will likely save you time and money in the long run.

So what's the best approach to data extraction? It really depends on what your needs are, and what resources you have at your disposal. Here are some of the pros and cons of the various approaches, as well as suggestions on when you might use each one:

Raw regular expressions and code

Advantages:

- If you're already familiar with regular expressions and at least one programming language, this can be a quick solution.

- Regular expressions allow for a fair amount of "fuzziness" in the matching such that minor changes to the content won't break them.

- You likely don't need to learn any new languages or tools (again, assuming you're already familiar with regular expressions and a programming language).

- Regular expressions are supported in almost all modern programming languages. Heck, even VBScript has a regular expression engine. It's also nice because the various regular expression implementations don't vary too significantly in their syntax.

Disadvantages:

- They can be complex for those that don't have a lot of experience with them. Learning regular expressions isn't like going from Perl to Java. It's more like going from Perl to XSLT, where you have to wrap your mind around a completely different way of viewing the problem.

- They're often confusing to analyze. Take a look through some of the regular expressions people have created to match something as simple as an email address and you'll see what I mean.

- If the content you're trying to match changes (e.g., they change the web page by adding a new "font" tag) you'll likely need to update your regular expressions to account for the change.

- The data discovery portion of the process (traversing various web pages to get to the page containing the data you want) will still need to be handled, and can get fairly complex if you need to deal with cookies and such.

When to use this approach: You'll most likely use straight regular expressions in screen-scraping when you have a small job you want to get done quickly. Especially if you already know regular expressions, there's no sense in getting into other tools if all you need to do is pull some news headlines off of a site.

Ontologies and artificial intelligence

Advantages:

- You create it once and it can more or less extract the data from any page within the content domain you're targeting.

- The data model is generally built in. For example, if you're extracting data about cars from web sites the extraction engine already knows what the make, model, and price are, so it can easily map them to existing data structures (e.g., insert the data into the correct locations in your database).

- There is relatively little long-term maintenance required. As web sites change you likely will need to do very little to your extraction engine in order to account for the changes.

Disadvantages:

- It's relatively complex to create and work with such an engine. The level of expertise required to even understand an extraction engine that uses artificial intelligence and ontologies is much higher than what is required to deal with regular expressions.

- These types of engines are expensive to build. There are commercial offerings that will give you the basis for doing this type of data extraction, but you still need to configure them to work with the specific content domain you're targeting.

- You still have to deal with the data discovery portion of the process, which may not fit as well with this approach (meaning you may have to create an entirely separate engine to handle data discovery). Data discovery is the process of crawling web sites such that you arrive at the pages where you want to extract data.

When to use this approach: Typically you'll only get into ontologies and artificial intelligence when you're planning on extracting information from a very large number of sources. It also makes sense to do this when the data you're trying to extract is in a very unstructured format (e.g., newspaper classified ads). In cases where the data is very structured (meaning there are clear labels identifying the various data fields), it may make more sense to go with regular expressions or a screen-scraping application.

Screen-scraping software

Advantages:

- Abstracts most of the complicated stuff away. You can do some pretty sophisticated things in most screen-scraping applications without knowing anything about regular expressions, HTTP, or cookies.

- Dramatically reduces the amount of time required to set up a site to be scraped. Once you learn a particular screen-scraping application the amount of time it requires to scrape sites vs. other methods is significantly lowered.

- Support from a commercial company. If you run into trouble while using a commercial screen-scraping application, chances are there are support forums and help lines where you can get assistance.

Disadvantages:

- The learning curve. Each screen-scraping application has its own way of going about things. This may imply learning a new scripting language in addition to familiarizing yourself with how the core application works.

- A potential cost. Most ready-to-go screen-scraping applications are commercial, so you'll likely be paying in dollars as well as time for this solution.

- A proprietary approach. Any time you use a proprietary application to solve a computing problem (and proprietary is obviously a matter of degree) you're locking yourself into using that approach. This may or may not be a big deal, but you should at least consider how well the application you're using will integrate with other software applications you currently have. For example, once the screen-scraping application has extracted the data how easy is it for you to get to that data from your own code?

When to use this approach: Screen-scraping applications vary widely in their ease-of-use, price, and suitability to tackle a broad range of scenarios. Chances are, though, that if you don't mind paying a bit, you can save yourself a significant amount of time by using one. If you're doing a quick scrape of a single page you can use just about any language with regular expressions. If you want to extract data from hundreds of web sites that are all formatted differently you're probably better off investing in a complex system that uses ontologies and/or artificial intelligence. For just about everything else, though, you may want to consider investing in an application specifically designed for screen-scraping.

As an aside, I thought I should also mention a recent project we've been involved with that has actually required a hybrid approach of two of the aforementioned methods. We're currently working on a project that deals with extracting newspaper classified ads. The data in classifieds is about as unstructured as you can get. For example, in a real estate ad the term "number of bedrooms" can be written about 25 different ways. The data extraction portion of the process is one that lends itself well to an ontologies-based approach, which is what we've done. However, we still had to handle the data discovery portion. We decided to use screen-scraper for that, and it's handling it just great. The basic process is that screen-scraper traverses the various pages of the site, pulling out raw chunks of data that constitute the classified ads. These ads then get passed to code we've written that uses ontologies in order to extract out the individual pieces we're after. Once the data has been extracted we then insert it into a database.

Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?Three-Common-Methods-For-Web-Data-Extraction&id=165416


Saturday, 6 June 2015

Scraping the Royal Society membership list

To a data scientist any data is fair game, from my interest in the history of science I came across the membership records of the Royal Society from 1660 to 2007 which are available as a single PDF file. I’ve scraped the membership list before: the first time around I wrote a C# application which parsed a plain text file which I had made from the original PDF using an online converting service, looking back at the code it is fiendishly complicated and cluttered by boilerplate code required to build a GUI. ScraperWiki includes a pdftoxml function so I thought I’d see if this would make the process of parsing easier, and compare the ScraperWiki experience more widely with my earlier scraper.

The membership list is laid out quite simply, as shown in the image below, each member (or Fellow) record spans two lines with the member name in the left most column on the first line and information on their birth date and the day they died, the class of their Fellowship and their election date on the second line.

Later in the document we find that information on the Presidents of the Royal Society is found on the same line as the Fellow name and that Royal Patrons are formatted a little differently. There are also alias records where the second line points to the primary record for the name on the first line.

pdftoxml converts a PDF into an xml file, wherein each piece of text is located on the page using spatial coordinates, an individual line looks like this:

<text top="243" left="135" width="221" height="14" font="2">Abbot, Charles, 1st Baron Colchester </text>

This makes parsing columnar data straightforward you simply need to select elements with particular values of the “left” attribute. It turns out that the columns are not in exactly the same positions throughout the whole document, which appears to have been constructed by tacking together the membership list A-J with that of K-Z, but this can easily be resolved by accepting a small range of positions for each column.

Attempting to automatically parse all 395 pages of the document reveals some transcription errors: one Fellow was apparently elected on 16th March 197 – a bit of Googling reveals that the real date is 16th March 1978. Another fellow is classed as a “Felllow”, and whilst most of the dates of birth and death are separated by a dash some are separated by an en dash which as far as the code is concerned is something completely different and so on. In my earlier iteration I missed some of these quirks or fixed them by editing the converted text file. These variations suggest that the source document was typed manually rather than being output from a pre-existing database. Since I couldn’t edit the source document I was obliged to code around these quirks.

ScraperWiki helpfully makes putting data into a SQLite database the simplest option for a scraper. My handling of dates in this version of the scraper is a little unsatisfactory: presidential terms are described in terms of a start and end year but are rendered 1st January of those years in the database. Furthermore, in historical documents dates may not be known accurately so someone may have a birth date described as “circa 1782? or “c 1782?, even more vaguely they may be described as having “flourished 1663-1778? or “fl. 1663-1778?. Python’s default datetime module does not capture this subtlety and if it did the database used to store dates would need to support it too to be useful – I’ve addressed this by storing the original life span data as text so that it can be analysed should the need arise. Storing dates as proper dates in the database, rather than text strings means we can query the database using date based queries.

ScraperWiki provides an API to my dataset so that I can query it using SQL, and since it is public anyone else can do this too. So, for example, it’s easy to write queries that tell you the the database contains 8019 Fellows, 56 Presidents, 387 born before 1700, 3657 with no birth date, 2360 with no death date, 204 “flourished”, 450 have birth dates “circa” some year.

I can count the number of classes of fellows:

select distinct class,count(*) from `RoyalSocietyFellows` group by class

Make a table of all of the Presidents of the Royal Society

select * from `RoyalSocietyFellows` where StartPresident not null order by StartPresident desc

…and so on. These illustrations just use the ScraperWiki htmltable export option to display the data as a table but equally I could use similar queries to pull data into a visualisation.

Comparing this to my earlier experience, the benefits of using ScraperWiki are:

•    Nice traceable code to provide a provenance for the dataset;

•    Access to the pdftoxml library;

•    Strong encouragement to “do the right thing” and put the data into a database;

•    Publication of the data;

•    A simple API giving access to the data for reuse by all.

My next target for ScraperWiki may well be the membership lists for the French Academie des Sciences, a task which proved too complex for a simple plain text scraper…

Source: https://scraperwiki.wordpress.com/2012/12/28/scraping-the-royal-society-membership-list/

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Data Scraping Services - Login to Website Programmatically using C# for Web Scraping

In many scenario the data is available after login that you want to scrape. So to reach at the page where data is located you need to implement code in web scraper  that automatically takes usename/email and password to login into website, once login is done you can do crawling and parsing as required.

Many third party web scraping application provides functionality where you can locate login url and set login parameters and that login task will be called when scraper start and do web scraping.

Below is C# example of programmatically  login to demo login page

http://demo.webdata-scraping.com/login.php

Below is HTML code of Login form:

<form class="form-signin" id="login" method="post" role="form"> <h3 class="form-signin-heading">Please sign in</h3> <a href="#" id="flipToRecover" class="flipLink"> <div id="triangle-topright"></div> </a> <input type="email" class="form-control" name="loginEmail" id="loginEmail" placeholder="Email address" required autofocus> <input type="password" class="form-control" name="loginPass" id="loginPass" placeholder="Password" required> <button class="btn btn-lg btn-primary btn-block" name="login_submit" id="login_submit" type="submit">Sign in</button> </form>

<form class="form-signin" id="login" method="post" role="form">

            <h3 class="form-signin-heading">Please sign in</h3>

            <a href="#" id="flipToRecover" class="flipLink">

              <div id="triangle-topright"></div>

            </a>

            <input type="email" class="form-control" name="loginEmail" id="loginEmail" placeholder="Email address" required autofocus>

            <input type="password" class="form-control" name="loginPass" id="loginPass" placeholder="Password" required>

            <button class="btn btn-lg btn-primary btn-block" name="login_submit" id="login_submit" type="submit">Sign in</button>

</form>

In this code you can notice there is ID for email input box that is id=”loginEmail”  and password input box that is id=”loginPass”

so by taking this ID we will use below two method of webBrowser control and fill the value of each input box using following code

webBrowser1.Document.GetElementById("loginEmail").InnerText =textBox1.Text.ToString(); webBrowser1.Document.GetElementById("loginPass").InnerText = textBox2.Text.ToString();

webBrowser1.Document.GetElementById("loginEmail").InnerText =textBox1.Text.ToString();

webBrowser1.Document.GetElementById("loginPass").InnerText = textBox2.Text.ToString();

After the value filled to Email and Password input box we will just call click event of submit button which is named as Sign In

webBrowser1.Document.GetElementById("login_submit").InvokeMember("click");

webBrowser1.Document.GetElementById("login_submit").InvokeMember("click");

So this is very basic example how you can login to website programatically when you need to access data that is available after login to website.  This is very simple way in which you can work with Web Browser control but there are some other way as well using which you can do same thing.

Source: http://webdata-scraping.com/login-website-programmatically-using-c-web-scraping/

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Data Extraction Services

Are you finding it tedious to perform your routine tasks as well as finding time to research for some information? Don't worry; all you have to do is outsource data extraction requirements to reliable service providers such as Hi-Tech BPO Services.

We can assist you in finding, extracting, gathering, processing and validating all the required data through our effective data extraction services. We can extract data from any given source such as websites, databases, printed documents, directories, etc.

With a whole plethora of data extraction services solutions; we are definitely a one stop solution to all your data extraction services requirements.

For utilizing our data extraction services, all you have to do is outsource data extraction requirements to us, and we will create effective strategies and extract the required data from all preferred sources. Then we will arrange all the extracted data in a systematic order.

Types of data extraction services provided by our data extraction India unit:

The data extraction India unit of Hi-Tech BPO Services can attend to all types of outsource data extraction requirements. Following are just some of the data extraction services we have delivered:

•    Data extraction from websites
•    Data extraction from databases
•    Extraction of data from directories
•    Extracting data from books
•    Data extraction from forms
•    Extracting data from printed materials

Features of Our Data Extraction Services:

•    Reliable collection of resources for data extraction
•    Extensive range of data extraction services
•    Data can be extracted from any available source be it a digital source or a hard copy source
•    Proper researching, extraction, gathering, processing and validation of data
•    Reasonably priced data extraction services
•    Quality and confidentiality ensured through various strict measures

Our data extraction India unit has the competency to handle any of your data extraction services requirements. Just provide us with your specific requirements and we will extract data accordingly from your preferred resources, if particularly specified. Otherwise we will completely rely on our collection of resources for extracting data for you.

Source: http://www.hitechbposervices.com/data-extraction.php

Monday, 25 May 2015

What you need to know about web scraping: How to understand, identify, and sometimes stop

NB: This is a gust article by Rami Essaid, co-founder and CEO of Distil Networks.

Here’s the thing about web scraping in the travel industry: everyone knows it exists but few know the details.

Details like how does web scraping happen and how will I know? Is web scraping just part of doing business online, or can it be stopped? And lastly, if web scraping can be stopped, should it always be stopped?

These questions and the challenge of web scraping are relevant to every player in the travel industry. Travel suppliers, OTAs and meta search sites are all being scraped. We have the data to prove it; over 30% of travel industry website visitors are web scrapers.

Google Analytics, and most other analytics tools do not automatically remove web scraper traffic, also called “bot” traffic, from your reports – so how would you know this non-human and potentially harmful traffic exists? You have to look for it.

This is a good time to note that I am CEO of a bot-blocking company called Distil Networks, and we serve the travel industry as well as digital publishers and eCommerce sites to protect against web scraping and data theft – we’re on a mission to make the web more secure.

So I am admittedly biased, but will do my best to provide an educational account of what we’ve learned to be true about web scraping in travel – and why this is an issue every travel company should at the very least be knowledgeable about.

Overall, I see an alarming lack of awareness around the prevalence of web scraping and bots in travel, and I see confusion around what to do about it. As we talk this through I’ll explain what these “bots” are, how to find them and how to manage them to better protect and leverage your travel business.

What are bots, web scrapers and site indexers? Which are good and which are bad?

The jargon around web scraping is confusing – bots, web scrapers, data extractors, price scrapers, site indexers and more – what’s the difference? Allow me to quickly clarify.

–> Bots: This is a general term that refers to non-human traffic, or robot traffic that is computer generated. Bots are essentially a line of code or a program that is created to perform specific tasks on a large scale.  Bots can include web scrapers, site indexers and fraud bots. Bots can be good or bad.

–> Web Scraper: (web harvesting or web data extraction) is a computer software technique of extracting information from websites (source, Wikipedia). Web scrapers are usually bad.

If your travel website is being scraped, it is most likely your competitors are collecting competitive intelligence on your prices. Some companies are even built to scrape and report on competitive price as a service. This is difficult to prove, but based on a recent Distil Networks study, prices seem to be main target.You can see more details of the study and infographic here.

One case study is Ryanair. They have been particularly unhappy about web scraping and won a lawsuit against a German company in 2008, incorporated Captcha in 2011 to stop new scrapers, and when Captcha wasn’t totally effective and Cheaptickets was still scraping, they took to the courts once again.

So Ryanair is doing what seems to be a consistent job of fending off web scrapers – at least after the scraping is performed. Unfortunately, the amount of time and energy that goes into identifying and stopping web scraping after the fact is very high, and usually this means the damage has been done.

This type of web scraping is bad because:

    Your competition is likely collecting your price data for competitive intelligence.

    Other travel companies are collecting your flights for resale without your consent.

    Identifying this type of web scraping requires a lot of time and energy, and stopping them generally requires a lot more.

Web scrapers are sometimes good

Sometimes a web scraper is a potential partner in disguise.

Meta search sites like Hipmunk sometimes get their start by scraping travel site data. Once they have enough data and enough traffic to be valuable they go to suppliers and OTAs with a partnership agreement. I’m naming Hipmunk because the Company is one of th+e few to fess up to site scraping, and one of the few who claim to have quickly stopped scraping when asked.

I’d wager that Hipmunk and others use(d) web scraping because it’s easy, and getting a decision maker at a major travel supplier on the phone is not easy, and finding legitimate channels to acquire supplier data is most definitely not easy.

I’m not saying you should allow this type of site scraping – you shouldn’t. But you should acknowledge the opportunity and create a proper channel for data sharing. And when you send your cease and desist notices to tell scrapers to stop their dirty work, also consider including a note for potential partners and indicate proper channels to request data access.

–> Site Indexer: Good.

Google, Bing and other search sites send site indexer bots all over the web to scour and prioritize content. You want to ensure your strategy includes site indexer access. Bing has long indexed travel suppliers and provided inventory links directly in search results, and recently Google has followed suit.

–> Fraud Bot: Always bad.

Fraud bots look for vulnerabilities and take advantage of your systems; these are the pesky and expensive hackers that game websites by falsely filling in forms, clicking ads, and looking for other vulnerabilities on your site. Reviews sections are a common attack vector for these types of bots.

How to identify and block bad bots and web scrapers

Now that you know the difference between good and bad web scrapers and bots, how do you identify them and how do you stop the bad ones? The first thing to do is incorporate bot-identification into your website security program. There are a number of ways to do this.

In-house

When building an in house solution, it is important to understand that fighting off bots is an arms race. Every day web scraping technology evolves and new bots are written. To have an effective solution, you need a dynamic strategy that is always adapting.

When considering in-house solutions, here are a few common tactics:

    CAPTCHAs – Completely Automated Public Turing Tests to Tell Computers and Humans Apart (CAPTCHA), exist to ensure that user input has not been generated by a computer. This has been the most common method deployed because it is simple to integrate and can be effective, at least at first. The problem is that Captcha’s can be beaten with a little workand more importantly, they are a nuisance to end usersthat can lead to a loss of business.

    Rate Limiting- Advanced scraping utilities are very adept at mimicking normal browsing behavior but most hastily written scripts are not. Bots will follow links and make web requests at a much more frequent, and consistent, rate than normal human users. Limiting IP’s that make several requests per second would be able to catch basic bot behavior.

    IP Blacklists - Subscribing to lists of known botnets & anonymous proxies and uploading them to your firewall access control list will give you a baseline of protection. A good number of scrapers employ botnets and Tor nodes to hide their true location and identity. Always maintain an active blacklist that contains the IP addresses of known scrapers and botnets as well as Tor nodes.

    Add-on Modules – Many companies already own hardware that offers some layer of security. Now, many of those hardware providers are also offering additional modules to try and combat bot attacks. As many companies move more of their services off premise, leveraging cloud hosting and CDN providers, the market share for this type of solution is shrinking.

    It is also important to note that these types of solutions are a good baseline but should not be expected to stop all bots. After all, this is not the core competency of the hardware you are buying, but a mere plugin.

Some example providers are:

    Impreva SecureSphere- Imperva offers Web Application Firewalls, or WAF’s. This is an appliance that applies a set of rules to an HTTP connection. Generally, these rules cover common attacks such as Cross-site Scripting (XSS) and SQL Injection. By customizing the rules to your application, many attacks can be identified and blocked. The effort to perform this customization can be significant and needs to be maintained as the application is modified.

    F5 – ASM – F5 offers many modules on their BigIP load balancers, one of which is the ASM. This module adds WAF functionality directly into the load balancer. Additionally, F5 has added policy-based web application security protection.

Software-as-a-service

There are website security software options that include, and sometimes specialize in web scraping protection. This type of solution, from my perspective, is the most effective path.

The SaaS model allows someone else to manage the problem for you and respond with more efficiency even as new threats evolve.  Again, I’m admittedly biased as I co-founded Distil Networks.

When shopping for a SaaS solution to protect against web scraping, you should consider some of the following factors:

•    Does the provider update new threats and rules in real time?

•    How does the solution block suspected non-human visitors?

•    Which types of proactive blocking techniques, such as code injections, does the provider deploy?

•    Which of the reactive techniques, such as rate limiting, are used?

•    Does the solution look at all of your traffic or a snapshot?

•    Can the solution block bots before they reach your infrastructure – and your data?

•    What kind of latency does this solution introduce?

I hope you now have a clearer understanding of web scraping and why it has become so prevalent in travel, and even more important, what you should do to protect and leverage these occurrences.

Source: http://www.tnooz.com/article/what-you-need-to-know-about-web-scraping-how-to-understand-identify-and-sometimes-stop/

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Roles of Data Mining in Predicting, Tracking, and Containing the Ebola Outbreak

One of the most diverse continents on earth, Africa astounds the world with its vast savannas and great deserts and with its ancient architecture and modern cities, but Africa also has its share of tragedies and woes.

First identified in Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ebola River in 1976, Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever, a deadly zoonotic disease caused by Ebola virus, has been spreading in West Africa like a wildfire, engulfing everything on its way and creating widespread panic.

What has added insult to injury is the fact that the region has long endured the severe consequences of civil wars and social conflicts, and diseases like malaria, HIV/AIDS, yellow fever, cholera etc. have remained endemic to the region for a long time, causing tens of thousands of deaths every year.

Reportedly, Ebola has already killed at least 2,296 people, and there are about 3,685 confirmed cases of infection. Mortality rate has been swinging between 50% to 90%, depending on the quality of care and nutrition. According to WHO, the disease is likely to infect as much as 20,000 people before it is finally brought under control.

Crisis of Data

When it comes to healthcare management, clinical data is one of the key components. The value of data becomes more urgent in the emergency situation like that of West Africa. The more relevant data you have, the bigger picture you can create for taking aggressive measures. To use Peter Drucker’s words, “What gets measured gets managed.”

Factual data is a precondition for the doctors and health science experts working in the field for measuring and managing the situation. Data helps them to assess their successes or failures and reorient their actions. One of the important reasons why the fight against the Ebola outbreak is turning out into a losing battle is the insufficiency of data. Recently, Scientific American magazine wrote:

Right now, there are not even enough beds for sick patients nor enough data coming in to help track cases. Surveillance and tracking of those who were possibly exposed to Ebola remain inadequate.

In Science magazine, Gretchen Vogel suggests that the death toll of Ebola patients could be much higher than it is currently estimated. She says, “Exactly how many unrecorded Ebola deaths have occurred will never be known. Health officials are keeping track of suspected and probable cases, many of which are people who died before they could be tested.” Greg Slabodkin voices similar concerns in Health Data Management and points at the need of an integrated global biosurveillance system.

The absence of reliable and actionable data has badly hampered the efforts of combatting Ebola and providing proper medical care to the victims. CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden describes it as a “fog-of-war situation”.

Data Mining: Bots Were the First to Warn

When you flip the coin, however, the situation is not completely bleak and desperate. Even if Big Data technologies have fallen short in predicting, tracking, and containing the epidemic, mainly due to the lack of data from the ground, it has not entirely failed. Data scientists and healthcare experts world over are making concerted efforts to know, track, and defeat the Ebola virus—some on the ground and some in their labs.

The increasing level of collaboration among the biomedical specialists, geneticist, virologists, and IT experts has definitely contributed to slow down the transmission of the virulent disease dubbed as “the plague of modern day”. Médecins Sans Frontières and Healthmap.org are the excellent examples in this regard.

    “By deploying bots and crawlers and by using advanced machine learning algorithms, the Boston-based global infectious disease surveillance system, HealthMap was able to predict and raise concerns about the spread of a mysterious hemorrhagic fever in West Africa nine days earlier than WHO did.”

Run by a team of 45 researchers, epidemiologists, and software developers at Boston Children’s Hospital, HealthMap mines data from search engine queries, social media platforms, health information sites, news reports and crowd-sourced information to track the transmission of the disease and provides an up-to-date timeline report with an interactive map, making it easier for the international health agencies to devise more effective action plans.

HealthMap serves as a good example of how crucial Big Data and data mining technologies could be for handling a healthcare emergency with fact-based and data-driven decisions.

Ebola Data

In their letter to The Lancet, research scientist Rashid Ansumana and his colleagues, working on Ebola in Sierra Leone, highlighted on the need of developing epidemic surveillance systems “by adopting new data-sharing technologies.” They wrote, “Emerging technologies can help early warning systems, outbreak response, and communication between health-care providers, wildlife and veterinary professionals, local and national health authorities, and international health agencies.”

Data-Driven Initiatives to Control the Outbreak

The era of systematic use of data for making better epidemiological predictions and for finding effective healthcare solutions began with Google Flue Trends in 2007, and the rapidly developing tools, technologies, and practices in Big Data have increased the roles of data in healthcare management.

There are a number of data-driven undertakings in progress which have contributed to counter the raging spread of Ebola. Brockmann Lab, run by Professor Dirk Brockmann and his colleagues, for example, has created a computer model for studying correlations and probabilities in the explosion of new cases of infection.

World Airtraffic  Transportation and Relative Import Risk, Source: Brockmann Lab

By applying computational and statistical models, they predict which areas, cities or regions in the world are at the risk of becoming the next Ebola epidemic hotspots. Similarly, Alessandro Vespignani–a network scientist, statistical physicist, and Northeastern professor–has been using human mobility network data to track the cases of Ebola infection and dissemination.

The Swedish NGO Flowminder Foundation has been aggregating, mining, and analyzing anonymized mobile phone location data and is developing national mobility estimates for West Africa to help the local and international agencies to combat the disease.

Meanwhile, innovations with Epi Info VHF, a software tool for case management, contact tracing, analysis and reporting services for Ebola and other hemorrhagic fever outbreaks and OpenStreetMap project for getting location information and spatial data of the affected areas have further helped to guide the intervention initiatives.

However, with all optimism about the growing roles of Big Data and data mining, we also need to be mindful about their limitations. Newsweek aptly puts: “While no media-trawling bot could ever replace national and international health agencies, such tools may be starting to help fill in some of the most gaping holes in real-time knowledge.”

Source: http://www.grepsr.com/blog/data-mining-tracking-ebola-outbreak/

Friday, 22 May 2015

Hard-Scraped Hardwood Flooring: Restoration of History

Throughout History hardwood flooring has undergone dramatic changes from the meticulous hard-scraped hardwood polished floors of majestic plantations of the Deep South, to modern day technology providing maintenance free wood flooring designed for comfort and appearance. The hand-scraped hardwood floors of the South, depicted charm with old rustic nature and character that was often associated with this time era. To date, hand-scraped hardwood flooring is being revitalized and used in up-scale homes and places of businesses to restore the old country charm that once faded into oblivion.

As the name implies, hand-scraped flooring involves the retexturing the top layer of flooring material by various methods in an attempts to mimic the rustic appearance of flooring in yesteryears. Depending on the degree of texture required, hand scraping hardwood material is often accomplished by highly skilled craftsmen with specialized tools and years of experience perfecting this procedure. When properly done, hand-scraped hardwood floors add texture, richness and uniqueness not offered in any similar hardwood flooring product.

Rooted with history, these types of floors are available in finished or unfinished surfaces. The majority of the individuals selecting hand-scraped hardwood flooring elect a prefinished floor to reduce costs per square foot in installation and finishing labor charges, allowing for budget guidelines to bend, not break. As expected, hand-scraped flooring is expensive and depending on the grade and finish selected, can range from $15-40$ per square foot and beyond for material only. Preparation of the material is labor intensive adding to the overall cost per square foot dramatically. Recommended professional installation can and often does increase the cost per square foot as well, placing this method of hardwood flooring well out of reach of the average hardwood floor purchaser.

With numerous selections of hand-scraped finishes available, each finish is designed to bring out a different appearance making it a one-of-a-kind work of art. These numerous finish selections include:

• Time worn aged, dark coloring stain application bringing out grain characteristics

• Wire brushed, providing a highlighted "grainy" effect with obvious rough texture

• Hand sculpted, smoother distressed uniform appearance

• French Bleed, staining of edges and side joints with a much darker stain to give a bleeding effect to the wood

• Hand Hewn or Rough Sawn, with visible and noticeable saw marks

Regardless of the selection made, scraped flooring cannot be compared to any other available flooring material based on durability, strength and visual appearance. Limited by only the imagination and creativity, several wood species can be used to create unusual floor patterns, highlighting main focal points of personal libraries and art collections.

The precise process utilized in the creation of scraped floors projects a custom look with deep color and subtle warm highlights. With radiant natural light reflecting off this type of floor, the effect of beauty and depth is radiated in a fashion that fills the room with solitude and serenity encompassing all that enter. Hand-scraped hardwood floors speak of the past, a time of decent, a time or war and ambiguity towards other races and the blood- shed so that all men could be treated as equals. More than exquisite flooring, hand-scraped hardwood flooring is the restoration of History.

Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?Hard-Scraped-Hardwood-Flooring:-Restoration-of-History&id=6333218

Monday, 18 May 2015

Introducing ScrapeShield: Discover, Defend & Deter Content Scraping

If you're a publisher, whether an individual blogger or major media outlet, you've undoubtedly experienced content scraping. Searching the web for an article you've published or other original content you've created and you find it copied and republished on some other random website. Often the site will be full of ads. And, sometimes, it will even rank higher in search results than your original work.

While you may envision an army of individuals copying and pasting your content on their sites, the truth is content scraping is typically an automated process with bots that grab original content and then republish it without human intervention onto link farm sites. CloudFlare has blocked many of these bots automatically in the past, but we decided it was time to do something to more actively stop them.

Introducing ScrapeShield

ScrapeShield is an app created by the CloudFlare team. It incorporates several existing CloudFlare features like email obfuscation and hotlink protection that serve to protect from content scraping and adds a number of new features as well. Because we believe every publisher of original content should be able to understand and control how their work is used, we're providing ScrapeShield free for every CloudFlare user.

Detect, Defend & Deter

ScrapeShield has different elements to help you detect when your content is scraped, defend your site against content scrapers, and even deter content scrapers from targeting you in the first place. If you enable ScrapeShield, CloudFlare will automatically insert invisible tracking beacons in your content. When automated bots scrape your content, they pull the beacons along with them. CloudFlare detects these beacons when they ping from sites that aren't your own. You can access your ScrapeShield control panel to see where your content is being republished. Not only is this useful in showing scraping, but you can also see users who are reading your content through proxy services like Flipboard or Pulse.

The data from the content beacons is fed back into CloudFlare's protection system. As CloudFlare identifies content scraping bots, we automatically prevent them from accessing your site. Just like Project Honey Pot, the original inspiration for CloudFlare, used traps to detect when spammers were harvesting email addresses, CloudFlare now uses data from ScrapeShield to identify content scrapers and keep them off publishers' sites.

Maze

We didn't want to just stop scrapers from attacking sites on CloudFlare, we also wanted to tie up their resources so they couldn't harm the rest of the web. To do this, we created Maze. Maze routes known content scrapers who are visiting ScrapeShield-protected sites into a virtual labyrinth of gibirish and gobbledygook. We dynamically throttle the bandwidth and speed so instead of the pages loading as fast as possible, the connection is held open to the scrapers and their resources are tied up.

We use excess resources on the CloudFlare network to generate Maze, and it doesn't consume any of our publishers' resources or add any additional load to their sites. What's beautiful about the system is that the only way that content scrapers can be sure they're avoiding Maze is to avoid CloudFlare's IP addresses entirely. For any content scrapers who may be reading this, here's a helpful list of all of our IPs so you can make sure to stay away.

No Pinning

Finally, with the rise of sites like Pinterest, innocent content scraping may become even more prolific. While many sites welcome their images being pinned, we wanted to make it easy to opt out. ScrapeShield includes an option to add the no-pinning meta tag to your site to prevent your images from being pinned to the site. As other similar services include a mechanism to opt out, expect that we'll include an easy way for you to do so right from the ScrapeShield interface.

The health of the web depends on publishers creating original content getting credit for their creations. Cloud Flare is committed to building a better web and we're extremely excited about ScrapeShield as a new tool to help publishers do exactly that.

Source: https://blog.cloudflare.com/introducing-scrapeshield-discover-defend-dete/

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Kimono Is A Smarter Web Scraper That Lets You “API-ify” The Web, No Code Required

A new Y Combinator-backed startup called Kimono wants to make it easier to access data from the unstructured web with a point-and-click tool that can extract information from webpages that don’t have an API available. And for non-developers, Kimono plans to eventually allow anyone track data without needing to understand APIs at all.

This sort of smarter “web scraper” idea has been tried before, and has always struggled to find more than a niche audience. Previous attempts with similar services like Dapper or Needlebase, for example, folded. Yahoo Pipes still chugs along, but it’s fair to say that the service has long since been a priority for its parent company.

But Kimono’s founders believe that the issue at hand is largely timing.

“Companies more and more are realizing there’s a lot of value in opening up some of their data sets via APIs to allow developers to build these ecosystems of interesting apps and visualizations that people will share and drive up awareness of the company,” says Kimono co-founder Pratap Ranade. (He also delves into this subject deeper in a Forbes piece here). But often, companies don’t know how to begin in terms of what data to open up, or how. Kimono could inform them.

Plus, adds Ranade, Kimono is materially different from earlier efforts like Dapper or Needlebase, because it’s outputting to APIs and is starting off by focusing on the developer user base, with an expansion to non-technical users planned for the future. (Meanwhile, older competitors were often the other way around).

The company itself is only a month old, and was built by former Columbia grad school companions Ranade and Ryan Rowe. Both left grad school to work elsewhere, with Rowe off to Frog Design and Ranade at McKinsey. But over the nearly half-dozen or so years they continued their careers paths separately, the two stayed in touch and worked on various small projects together.

One of those was Airpapa.com, a website that told you which movies were showing on your flights. This ended up giving them the idea for Kimono, as it turned out. To get the data they needed for the site, they had to scrape data from several publicly available websites.

“The whole process of cleaning that [data] up, extracting it on a schedule…it was kind of a painful process,” explains Rowe. “We spent most of our time doing that, and very little time building the website itself,” he says. At the same time, while Rowe was at Frog, he realized that the company had a lot of non-technical designers who needed access to data to make interesting design decisions, but who weren’t equipped to go out and get the data for themselves.

With Kimono, the end goal is to simplify data extraction so that anyone can manage it. After signing up, you install a bookmarklet in your browser, which, when clicked, puts the website into a special state that allows you to point to the items you want to track. For example, if you were trying to track movie times, you might click on the movie titles and showtimes. Then Kimono’s learning algorithm will build a data model involving the items you’ve selected.

That data can be tracked in real time and extracted in a variety of ways, including to Excel as a .CSV file, to RSS in the form of email alerts, or for developers as a RESTful API that returns JSON. Kimono also offers “Kimonoblocks,” which lets you drop the data as an embed on a webpage, and it offers a simple mobile app builder, which lets you turn the data into a mobile web application.

For developer users, the company is currently working on an API editor, which would allow you to combine multiple APIs into one.

So far, the team says, they’ve been “very pleasantly surprised” by the number of sign-ups, which have reached ten thousand*. And even though only a month old, they’ve seen active users in the thousands.

Initially, they’ve found traction with hardware hackers who have done fun things like making an airhorn blow every time someone funds their Kickstarter campaign, for instance, as well as with those who have used Kimono for visualization purposes, or monitoring the exchange rates of various cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and dogecoin. Others still are monitoring data that’s later spit back out as a Twitter bot.

Kimono APIs are now making over 100,000 calls every week, and usage is growing by over 50 percent per week. The company also put out an unofficial “Sochi Olympics API” to showcase what the platform can do.

The current business model is freemium based, with pricing that kicks in for higher-frequency usage at scale.

The Mountain View-based company is a team of just the two founders for now, and has initial investment from YC, YC VC and SV Angel.

Source: http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/18/kimono-is-a-smarter-web-scraper-that-lets-you-api-ify-the-web-no-code-required/

Monday, 4 May 2015

Web Data Scraping - Scrape Business Data in no time

The Internet has evolved as one of the largest repositories of information for your business. You can design intelligent business processes to access a whole host of relevant information sources that will help you strategize, implement and deliver effective business objectives. Leveraging the benefits and usefulness of Web Scraping Tools is one such methodology that most businesses have adopted. Let us take a look at some of the ways it helps you easily scrape data relevant for your business.

Scraping for Business Information

Web Data Scraping is a technique, employed by most organizations. It involves the implementation of tools that help businesses extract unstructured data and convert them into usable business information. The focus of most scraping initiatives revolves around the organization’s need to glean the following information:

•    Competitor analysis to structure and strategist effectively

•    Price comparisons to price their products competitively

•    Customer feedbacks to enhance their product portfolio and provide customers with better brand experience   Market dynamics to help them identify areas of opportunities and threats

Using Scraping Tools

The abundance of information available on the Internet that helps you build up a productive business strategy can be easily extracted and leveraged to benefit your business. Tools have been designed with intuitive interface and intelligent algorithms which help in furthering this end.

Website Data Scraping tools are equipped for compatibility with a wide variety of applications so as to be able to explore a huge range of information sources.  These tools are fully automated and display the drag and drop facility ensuring users get to leverage the benefits of speed and convenience.

Data extraction tools are not only adept at extracting data, but are also equally well-equipped to combine relevant statistics from several social media platforms like YouTube, Twitter, and Google Analytics and so on. This helps businesses to analyse trends and plan strategies accordingly.

Challenges of the Data Scraping Process

Just as there is no dearth of data to be collected from the Web, there is also an abundance of web scraping tools to execute the data collection process. However, the capability of the tool to help you collect the appropriate data needs to be assured before you can proceed with its implementation. Some of the challenges faced by most businesses owing to their wrong choice of tools include the following:

•    Run-of-the-mill extraction tools are unable to scale up sufficiently in order to capture large volumes of data

•    Some tools are also unable to establish compatibility with most data sources and therefore do not provide a holistic data collection approach

•    Some tools are also not equipped to conduct an automatic detection of updates made to a data source and therefore end up providing inaccurate data.

In the light of all this it is essential that you identify the right tool for your need and select one that is embedded with an updated technology to help you achieve the following:

•    Ensure that you are able to access the appropriate data that you want

•    Help you structure it in the format you want

•    Provide quick and easy access to all available data sources no matter how complex

•    Run accurately and is a reliable source to help you churn out usable information.

Source: http://scraping-solutions.blogspot.in/2014_07_01_archive.html

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Web Scraping – Effective Way of Improving Market Presence

Web scraping is a technique that is fast making its presence felt in the world of internet by its sheer weight of being effective. It is a technique that uses software to crawl through the internet and gather up all the relevant and important information that one would need for their products.

The information gathered by the web scraping can be used for various things such as data integration, web mashup, online comparison of price and much more. Web scraping uses sophisticated software that crawls through the internet and gathers up all related information for the entity that you are looking for. The information that is gathered up is an automated, systematic, and very structured way. This allows for easy understanding of the gathered information. Though this is one of the best ways for data extraction there are quite a few things that one must be aware of before getting into web scraping.

Being aware of the following things keep you at a better position not only leverage the best deal, but also to negotiate properly.

•    For data mining the first thing that one should be very sure of is the kind of data they want. One has to define properly what kind of data they want and also what would be the purpose of the same. For an instance if you wish to get a closer look at your competitors, it would be a wise to let the data scraping service providers know who your competitors are. This would allow them to gather better information. Similarly if you are looking for getting new customers getting contact data from existing players in the respective industry would be helpful.

•    One should also be aware of the structure in which they want the data. A simple data structure has the entity name in the row and the property of the entity is kept in the cells of the rows. However, one can also opt for data structure in chart. Apart from the above, there is just one more thing that one needs to keep in mind while using the data mining services; it is the number of data extraction. At times a onetime data extraction would be sufficient whereas at other times periodic extractions or general reports are required.

If you are aware of all the above points, then you are very much inline of going ahead and taking the help of scrape website data. Knowing the above points would allow you to know what exactly to ask from your vendor and likewise quote. One can make the most of the data extraction services with the help of either the web scraping or web crawling services.

Source: https://3idatascraping.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/web-scraping-effective-way-of-improving-market-presence/

Monday, 27 April 2015

Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel - The Perils of Online Article Marketing

Many online article marketers so desperately wish to succeed, they want to dump corporate life and work for themselves out of their home. They decide they are going to create an online money making website. Therefore, they look around to see what everyone else is doing, and watch the methods others use to attract online buyers, and then they mimic their marketing, their strategies, and their business models.

Still, if you are copying what other people (less ethical people) are doing in online article marketing, those which are scraping the bottom of the barrel and using false advertising and misrepresentations, then all you are really doing is perpetuating distrust on the Internet. Therefore, you are hurting everyone, including people like me. You must realize that people like me don't appreciate that.

Let me give you a few examples of some of the things going on out there, thing that are being done by people who are ethically challenged. Far too many people write articles and then on their byline they send the Internet surfer or reader of the article to a website that has a squeeze page. The squeeze page has no real information on it, rather it asks for their name and e-mail address.

If the would-be Internet surfer is unwise enough to type in their name and email address they will be spammed by e-mail, receiving various hard-sell marketing pieces. Then, if the Internet Surfer does decide to put in their e-mail address, the website grants them access and then takes them to the page with information about what they are selling, or their online marketing "make you a millionaire" scheme.

Generally, these are five page sales letters, with tons of testimonials of people you've never heard of, and may not actually exist, and all sorts of unsubstantiated earnings claims of how much money you will make if you give them $39.35 by way of PayPal, for this limited offer "Now!" And they will send you an E-book with a strategic plan of how you can duplicate what they are doing. The reality is whatever they are doing is questionable to begin with.

If you are going to do online article marketing please don't scrape the bottom of the barrel, there's just too much competition down there from what I can see. Please consider all this.

Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?Scraping-the-Bottom-of-the-Barrel---The-Perils-of-Online-Article-Marketing&id=2710103

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

What are the ethics of web scraping?

Someone recently asked: "Is web scraping an ethical concept?" I believe that web scraping is absolutely an ethical concept. Web scraping (or screen scraping) is a mechanism to have a computer read a website. There is absolutely no technical difference between an automated computer viewing a website and a human-driven computer viewing a website. Furthermore, if done correctly, scraping can provide many benefits to all involved.

There are a bunch of great uses for web scraping. First, services like Instapaper, which allow saving content for reading on the go, use screen scraping to save a copy of the website to your phone. Second, services like Mint.com, an app which tells you where and how you are spending your money, uses screen scraping to access your bank's website (all with your permission). This is useful because banks do not provide many ways for programmers to access your financial data, even if you want them to. By getting access to your data, programmers can provide really interesting visualizations and insight into your spending habits, which can help you save money.

That said, web scraping can veer into unethical territory. This can take the form of reading websites much quicker than a human could, which can cause difficulty for the servers to handle it. This can cause degraded performance in the website. Malicious hackers use this tactic in what’s known as a "Denial of Service" attack.

Another aspect of unethical web scraping comes in what you do with that data. Some people will scrape the contents of a website and post it as their own, in effect stealing this content. This is a big no-no for the same reasons that taking someone else's book and putting your name on it is a bad idea. Intellectual property, copyright and trademark laws still apply on the internet and your legal recourse is much the same. People engaging in web scraping should make every effort to comply with the stated terms of service for a website. Even when in compliance with those terms, you should take special care in ensuring your activity doesn't affect other users of a website.

One of the downsides to screen scraping is it can be a brittle process. Minor changes to the backing website can often leave a scraper completely broken. Herein lies the mechanism for prevention: making changes to the structure of the code of your website can wreak havoc on a screen scraper's ability to extract information. Periodically making changes that are invisible to the user but affect the content of the code being returned is the most effective mechanism to thwart screen scrapers. That said, this is only a set-back. Authors of screen scrapers can always update them and, as there is no technical difference between a computer-backed browser and a human-backed browser, there's no way to 100% prevent access.

Going forward, I expect screen scraping to increase. One of the main reasons for screen scraping is that the underlying website doesn't have a way for programmers to get access to the data they want. As the number of programmers (and the need for programmers) increases over time, so too will the need for data sources. It is unreasonable to expect every company to dedicate the resources to build a programmer-friendly access point. Screen scraping puts the onus of data extraction on the programmer, not the company with the data, which can work out well for all involved.

Source: https://quickleft.com/blog/is-web-scraping-ethical/

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

How to Build Data Warehouses using Web Scraping

Businesses all over the world are facing an avalanche of information which needs to be collated, organized, analyzed and utilized in an appropriate fashion. Moreover, with each increasing year there is a perceived shortening of the turnaround time for businesses to take decisions based on information they have assimilated. Data Extractors, therefore, have evolved with a more significant role in modern day businesses than just mere collectors or scrapers of unstructured data. They cleanse structure and store contextual data in veritable warehouses, so as to make it available for transformation into useable information as and when the business requires. Data warehouses, therefore, are the curators of information which businesses seek to treasure and to use.

Understanding Data Warehouses


 Traditionally, Data Warehouses have been premised on the concept of getting easy access to readily available data. Modern day usage has helped it to evolve as a rich repository to store current and historical data that can be used to conduct data analysis and generate reports. As it also stores historical data, Data Warehouses are used to generate trending reports to help businesses foresee their prospects. In other words, data warehouses are the modern day crystal balls which businesses zealously pore over to foretell their future in the Industry.

Scraping Web Data for Creating Warehouses


The Web, as we know it, is a rich repository of a whole host of information. However, it is not always easy to access this information for the benefit of our businesses through manual processes. The data extractor tools, therefore, have been built to quickly and easily, scrape, cleanse and structure and store it in Data Warehouses so as to be readily available in a useable format.

Web Scraping tools are variously designed to help both programmers as well as non-programmers to retain their comfort zone while collecting data to create the data warehouses. There are several tools with point and click interfaces that ease out the process considerably. You can simply define the type of data you want and the tool will take care of the rest. Also, most tools such as these are able to store the data in the cloud and therefore do not need to maintain costly hardware or whole teams of developers to manage the repository.

Moreover, as most tools use a browser rendering technology, it helps to simulate the web viewing experience of humans thereby easing the usability aspect among business users facilitating the data extraction and storage process further.

Conclusion

The internet as we know it is stocked with valuable data most of which are not always easy to access. Web Data extraction tools have therefore gained popularity among businesses as they browse, search, navigate simulating your experience of web browsing and finally extract data fields specific to your industry and appropriate to your needs. These are stored in repositories for analysis and generation of reports. Thus evolves the need and utility of Data warehouses. As the process of data collection and organization from unstructured to structured form is automated, there is an assurance of accuracy built into the process which enhances the value and credibility of data warehouses. Web Data scraping is no doubt the value enhancers for Data warehouses in the current scenario.

Source: http://scraping-solutions.blogspot.in/2014/09/how-to-build-data-warehouses-using-web.html

Monday, 6 April 2015

What is HTML Scraping and how it works

There are many reasons why there may be a requirement to pull data or information from other sites, and usually the process begins after checking whether the site has an official API. There are very few people who are aware about the presence of structured data that is supported by every website automatically. We are basically talking about pulling data right from the HTML, also referred to as HTML scraping. This is an awesome way of gleaning data and information from third party websites.

Any webpage content that can be viewed can be scraped without any trouble. If there is any way provided by the website to the browser of the visitor to download content and use the same in a highly structured manner, in that case, accessing of the content programmatically is possible. HTML scraping works in an amazing manner.

Before indulging in HTML scraping, one can inspect the browser for network traffic. Site owners have a couple of tricks up their sleeve to thwart this access, but majority of them can be worked around.

Before moving on to how HTML scraping works, we must understand the reasons behind the same. Why is scraping needed? Once you get a satisfactory answer to this question, you can start looking for RSS or API feeds or various other traditional structured data forms. It is significant to understand that when compared with APIs, websites are more significant.

The most important advantage of the same is the maintenance of their websites where a lot of visitors visit rather than safeguarding structured data feeds. With Tweeter, the same has been publicly seen when it clamps down on the developer ecosystem. Many times, API feeds change or move without any prior warning. Many times, it can also be a deliberate attempt, but mostly, such issues or problems erupt as there is no authority or an organization that maintains or takes care of the structured data. It is rarely noticed, if the same gets severely mangled or goes offline. In case the website has certain issues or the website no longer works, the problem is more in the form of a ball in your court requiring dealing with the same without losing any time. api-comic-image

Rate limiting is another factor that needs a lot of thinking and in case of public websites, it virtually doesn’t exist. Besides some occasional sign up pages or captchas, many business websites fail to create and built defenses against any unwarranted automated access. Many times, a single website can be scraped for four hours straight without anyone noticing. There are chances that you would not be viewed under DDOS attack unless concurrent requests are being made by you. You will be seen just as an avid visitor or an enthusiast in the logs, that too, in case anyone is looking.

Another factor in HTML scraping is that one can easily access any website anonymously. Behavior tracking can be done with a few ways by the administrator of the website and this turns out to be beneficial if you want to privately gather the data. Many times, registration is imperative with APIs in order to get key and with any request being sent, this key also needs to be sent. But, in case of simple and straightforward HTTP requests, the visitor can stay anonymous besides cookies and IP address, which can again be spoofed.

The availability of HTML scraping is universal and there is no need to wait for the opening of the site for an API or for contacting anyone in the organization. One simply needs to spend some time and browse websites at a leisurely pace until the data you want is available and then find out the basic patterns to access the same.

Now you need to don a hat of a professional scraper and simply dive in. Initially, it may take some time to work up figuring out the way the data have been structured and the way it can be accessed just as we read APIs. If there is no documentation unlike APIs, you need to be a little more smart about it and use clever tricks.

Some of the most used tricks are

Data Fetching


The first thing that is required is data fetching. Find endpoints to begin with, that is the URLs that can help in returning the data that is required. If you are pretty sure about the data and the way it should be structured so as to match your requirements, you will require a particular subset for the same and later you can indulge in site browsing using the navigation tools.

GET Parameter

The URLs must be paid attention to and see the way it changes as you indulge in clicking between the sections and the way they divide into various subsections. Before starting, the other option that can be used is to straight away go to the search functionality of the site. Certain terms can be typed and the URL needs to be focused again for watching the changes on the basis of what is being searched. A GET parameter will be probably seen like q which changes on the basis of the search term used by you. Other GET parameters that are not being used can be removed from the URL until only the ones that are needed are left for data loading. Before a query string, there must always be a “?” beginning.

Now the time has come when you would have started to come across the data that you would like to see and want to access, but sometimes, there may be certain pagination issues that require to be dealt with. Due to these issues, you may not be able to see the data in its entirety. Single requests are kept away by many APIs as well from database slamming. Many times, clicking the next page can add some offset parameter that helps in data visibility on the page. All these steps will help you succeed in HTML scraping.

Source: https://www.promptcloud.com/blog/what-is-html-scraping-and-how-it-works/

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Web Data Extraction- The most convenient and easy way to extract data from the internet

Web data extraction is the most proficient technique that will help you find the pertaining data for your existing business or any personal use. Many times, we find that experts’ copy and paste information manually from web pages or download the entire website which is a waste of time and effort.

Now with the new technique of Web data extraction you can crawl through loads and loads of web pages in order to extract particular data and at the same time save this data in the following manner
  •     CSV FILE
  •     XML FILE or
  •     Any other custom format for future use.

Below given are some instances of Web data extraction processes:
  •     Take a government portal, extracting names of citizens for a survey
  •     Search for competitor websites for product pricing and feature information
  •     Utilize web scraping to download images from a stock photography site for website design

How can Web Data Extraction serve you?

 You can extract data from any kind of websites like


Extract Data from any kind of Websites: Directories, Classified Websites, News, Websites, Blogs, Articles, and Job Portals, Search Engines, eCommerce Websites, Social Media Websites and any kind of websites whose content can be accessible. Extract Emails, Contacts, Price/Rate, Features, Contact Names, Contact Details, Full Text, Live updates, ASINs, Meta Tags, Address, Phone, Fax, Latitude & Longitude, Images, Links, Reviews, Ratings, etc. Help in Data Collection, Competitor Analysis, Research, Business Intelligence, Social Media Trend analysis, Brand Monitoring, Lead Data Collection, Website & Competitor Web Monitoring, etc. Deliver Data in any Database, Excel, CSV, Access, Text, My SQL, SQL, Oracle, etc. and in any format Custom Services of Web Data Extraction as per client need one time Data Delivery or Continued/Scheduled Data Delivery

The next is Website Data Scraping:

 Web site Data Scraping is the process of extracting data from a website by using a particular software program available from proven website only.

This extracted data can be utilized by any person and for any purposes as per their needs and wants; data extracted can be used in different industries. There are many companies providing best Website data scraping services.

It is one such field which has active developments and also shares a common objective that needs a breakthrough in the following:
  •     Text Processing
  •     Semantic Understanding
  •     Artificial Intelligence
  •     Human Computer Interactions

There are many users or end users, companies and experts that need information or data that is accessible in some or the other format. In such cases Web Data Extraction can tailor the need of extracting data from any proven source and preserve the data on a particular destination.

The source platform contains:
  •     Excel
  •     CSV
  •     MySQL and
  •     Others

Moreover, the technique of Web data extractor can also extract information from various websites like Google, Amazon, LinkedIn, EBay and many others.

It can also extract data from eCommerce shopping websites, or other social networking websites, any public websites, classifieds websites, job portal websites and any other search engine websites.

Websitedatascraping.com is enough capable to web data scraping, website data scraping, web scraping services, website scraping services, data scraping services, product information scraping and yellowpages data scraping.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Diamond Mines And Mining Techniques

Diamonds remain to this day a mystical gem with a somewhat checkered past. The story of the Hope diamond is based on a long legend of misfortunes supposedly befalling its various and colorful owners. Segregation and mistreatment of blacks in diamond mines in Africa has long been a terrible mark on humanity in that part of the world. Although early white miners were treated better the working conditions endured by all diamond miners were less than humane. Fortunately most of today's mines while still depending on human labor have most of the heavy work done with machinery.

Contrary to popular belief diamonds are mined in areas other than Africa. Some of the better known diamond mines are these.

* Argye one of the Rio Tinto company mines is located in Western Australia.

* Diavik another Rio Tinto mine is located in Canada.

* Ekati owned by BHP Billiton and located in the Northwest Territories of Canada.

* Baken owned by Trans Hexis is located in South Africa.

* Merlin owned by Striker Resources is located in Australia.

* Orapa owned by a partnership between DeBeers and the government of Botswana is in Botswana.

* Premier owned by the De Beers Company is located in South Africa.

Diamond ore is extracted from these mines using basically four mining techniques which are based on the type of geology in which the diamond bearing material is located.

Marine Mining is the most recent development introduced about 1990. This technique is similar to deep water oil drilling. A large shaft is bored into the seabed to a depth where diamond bearing soil is located and that material is sucked to the surface. Also underwater vehicles called "crawlers" move along the seabed to scoop up diamond bearing gravel and pump it to the surface.

Placer Diamond Mining is a technique that is seen many times in movies of the old West. The diamonds are buried in river banks or mountain sides and water canons are used to wash the material down to be processed.

Hard Rock Diamond Mining is again familiar to movie fans as they watched coal miners or gold and silver miners digging their way into deep underground tunnels. Of course the technique is modern now and makes use of many specialized machines to do the heavy work.

Open-Pit diamond mining is similar to the pit coal mines of West Virginia and some western states. Overburden which is the soil covering the diamond embedded material is moved by machinery and blasting. The diamond bearing material is then moved to processing plants. This technique is common when the diamond bearing material is found close to the surface of if the geology is so unstable that tunneling is not safe or practical.

From this short article it should be apparent that diamonds take long and interesting journeys before they find a cherished spot on your finger or ear lobes.

Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?Diamond-Mines-And-Mining-Techniques&id=4800018

Monday, 23 March 2015

Safeguarding the Future Through Data Mining

Web scraping can be a powerful tool not only in business and research. In fact, it has the capacity to protect the future by its predicting power. You may find this declaration incredible; but data mining is indeed a tangible way of predicting future events and thus protecting life in the future.

With the thousands of years of existence on earth, humans are able to gather as much information and experience to have a glimpse of what is to come. With the cycles of changes in the environment and in the whole universe aside from the human behavior, so much can be learned and applied.

At least three major things can be determined by careful and diligent data mining. These are: future threats; future trends; and future tactics.

Future threats

According to reports, the US intelligence agencies have been using web extraction as a way of studying the present and past terrorism acts and personages to predict future terrorist events. This has been actively done since the year 2010.

Data is gathered about a known terrorist such as: his activities; his contacts; his routines; the places he frequents; and other related information. These data are analyzed and classified. Any suspicious activities as well as unusual contact are monitored closely. Through these stored data and monitoring processes, any untoward activities can be precluded and preempted. You may say that terrorists can be using data mining too; and that is obviously possible. In this way, web scraping can also be used as a weapon for destruction. There is then a need for the government agencies to be very careful in protecting their data so that the enemies cannot retrieve them.

In the overall picture, you can just imagine how many lives, trauma, and damage can be prevented if future terrorist activities are prevented.

Moreover, climate change is another phenomenon that has already been predicted and is beginning to occur nowadays. Scientists have been studying the effects of global warming and environmental degradation through online data too. So much information drives and warning have been published by scholarly papers and by the experts but many of these have remained unheeded. Now that erratic weather conditions are happening, people can only regret and feel guilty that they are part of the cause of the problem.

However, it is not really too late to do some actions. People can avoid places where abnormal conditions are expected to happen; they can do some measures to protect themselves; and they can be informed ahead of time before anything catastrophic could happen.

Future trends

In relation to the predictions of possible threats, data extraction can also predict future trends. This is most helpful in businesses because they can be helped to produce items and employ strategies that will suit the expected patrons and clients.  Since history tends to repeat itself, data gathered in the past and present if studied judiciously and compared intelligently can bring in positive results.

Oftentimes, the companies that study their books as well as of those who have gone before them can gain more knowledge and expertise that will surely put them ahead of their contemporaries.

Future tactics

Naturally, along with knowing the possible events and trends in the future, strategies and ways to combat threats and cope with trends can also be predicted through web scraping.

Safeguarding the future is no longer a dream or wish. As early as today, experts can create equipment, structures, strategies, and even weapons to prevent any untoward incidents and collateral damage.

Studying the strengths and weaknesses of the past and present plans, procedures, and tools can lead to better technologies and techniques. The future can be a better and safer place if people can learn from the mistakes of the past and go from good to better.

The statement: “The best is yet to come,” will finally be realized if proper management of data and information collected and analyzed through web scraping will be conducted.

Bright future

Looking at the horizon, one can always expect the sun to shine and bring in a bright day. This same positive expectation for the future is indeed possible. Thanks to data mining; life can be handled more securely and precisely.

It does not mean that humans have become gods. It only proves that a person’s talents and skills, when used properly can make his/her future brighter and more successful. On the other hand, carelessness and lack of sensibilities to other people and the environment can surely bring in future doom.

Everything is laid bare and you are given the chance to handle the present with enough wisdom and capabilities. Although the world is too big to be understood and there is still a huge field of knowledge to be conquered, life can surely go on positively.

Source:http://www.loginworks.com/blogs/web-scraping-blogs/257-safeguarding-the-future-through-data-mining/

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

About Web Scraping and Web Data Mining

Web scraping as suggested by the name simply refers to method of obtaining data or information from an array of websites. This has greatly revolutionized how companies obtain data and put this obtained data into significant use.This has greatly helped many firms and individuals in different spheres transact in the most effective ways. With the internet offering a very large base for obtaining information, various companies have resorted to use web scraping as method of getting information. Relevance of needed data is of great importance since it is the determining factor of what and how data has to be scraped. A good number of data mining companies have come up to help individuals and organizations get the information as per their requirements. These companies also provide software which when installed in a computer may be of great importance to the business.

Depending on the organizations background it may opt to choose between mining the data for themselves or actually employing the services of a data mining company. These organizations have data mining experts who actually are better suited to handle data professionally. As it sounds it is not every ones job since it is computer languages that are used therefore it is only those with relevant knowledge that are well suited to handle this jobs.

Although short cuts are considered dangerous, in this case hiring the services of this experts may bring with it better results with minimized costs than doing the job internally What brings about the idea of a company going for a particular data mining company? For obvious reasons it may because of some eye catching advertisement somewhere. Mostly businesses do extensive research when it comes to making this choice and depending on the gravity sensitivity and format of sort data. These companies provide the needed data in the most comprehensive and in the needed format hence wastage of time as a resource is unheard in these businesses.

web scraping and data mining Research done by these companies ought to be converted to meaningful results. This is done by carrying out meaning full analysis and deducing relevant conclusions from this data. This operation greatly improves the efficiency of these organizations. Analysis done on this is carried by asking relevant questions regarding some aspects regarding the operations of the business. Questions that are frequently asked may take a certain form like, how viable could this be in the short run? In the quest of these answers it is then that meaningful analysis is done.

Data mining companies have given the business word a major boost in the accusation of data from the internet which may now be considered as the largest information resource. It also through this data mining that results from surveys across various parts of the world is acquired. This eliminates the need for this company carrying out these researches for themselves .Of particular importance is the aspect of language barriers making an individual company seeks the services of a reputable data mining firm. Therefore from all the above considerations it can be deduced that, if only a business is to achieve its objectives only proper web scraping techniques from reputable firms should be employed.

Web data mining refers to ways and methods which are used in seeking information from a wide array of websites. Companies and individuals employ this in their daily operations since in the current word lack of information can be a major setback. This is simply because it is through data mining that enterprises will be able to market their businesses, get information regarding upcoming promotions and sometimes make relevant discoveries. This explains why companies are investing lots of resources all aimed in the search of relevant information. After this organizations have gathered this information implementation of obtained information is vital. Therefore data mining should be coupled with relevant implementation to count it as a success. Analysis of information is quite important .Since bulky information obtained may not be necessarily required in that form. This is done using software that is capable of giving a good analysis of the data.

Analysis is done in different ways depending on requirements like one may require a summary or categorized data. Previously when data mining was not greatly used software developments were minimal .Recently there are great improvements in this field since many organizations are embracing it particularly those in third world countries. This has greatly improved turnovers of a good number of companies. Previously many firms used to collect data manually. This of course proved to be a very slow method and a tiring one. Many firms had to increase their staff to cope with this bulk in workload. Considering this age where capitalism is thriving they risked being faced out since it is the case where only the strongest survive and the weaker ones pave way. Time was a factor in realizing an increase in number of organization using this technologically advanced approach. Usage of this collected information is actually used to foster better growth of the company.

Based on previous findings from various analysis techniques are employed by the firms employees irrespective of their ranks. For examples managers may employ web data mining to make good and realistic decisions that are consistent or better than those which other companies are using. Information may also aid in improvement of business infrastructure since in the modern word infrastructure development is on the rise. Better infrastructure acquired on time will actually give the business a big thrust ahead of their competitors. With the relevant data mining software’s companies are able to do meaningful research and developments. For instance companies are able to address issues regarding their customers preferences, their individual wants .

A company may easily know who their customers are, what they are their likes and also their economic abilities. This can be used when the company decides to give offers, discounts and many other customer enticing actions. For example a soft drink company will have to place its promotions during winter since it is then that their customers are unlikely to buy their services. With this great increase in number of resources on the websites no individual can afford to ignore data mining.

Source: http://www.loginworks.com/blogs/web-scraping-blogs/247-web-scraping-and-web-data-mining/