Thursday, January 03, 2019

Land Registry house price data November 2018

The good people at the Land Registry were probably taking a well earned vacation, so the data arrived a little later than normal but house price data for England and Wales for November 2018 is now on my site. Not much to report, annual inflation is still sitting at about 2%, the number of transactions are holding steady. Maybe things will get interesting in March, I hear something might be happening around then.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Free for all

As mentioned in a previous post, Google have started charging me for some more Google Maps related things but have also given me some free credit to tide me over. In fact, they think my future usage of Google Maps is going to be so high, they have given me an absolutely huge amount of credits. Since I can’t actually do anything with those credits other than spend them on the Google Maps API, I have removed the requirement for a Google Maps API key on the pages that previously required one. This will remain in place until either my credits run out or we’re close to the end of January. So please go crazy. Happy Christmas.

Important note – if the API key field contains your API key, your API key will still be used!

Saturday, November 03, 2018

More Google Maps annoyances

The other day I got another email from Google


In June 2016, we announced a change to Maps JavaScript API requests. At that time, we gave you temporary free usage based on your consumption to ensure that your applications would continue to function. The services included in this transition period were: Elevation, Directions, Distance Matrix, Geocoding and Places.

We appreciate you as a loyal and long-standing customer. Our goal is to make sure everyone is on a simple, consistent, and scalable plan with Google Maps Platform.Starting on November 29, 2018, we will bill all your usage for Elevation, Directions, Distance Matrix, Geocoding and Places, according to our new pricing plan.

To help you with this transition, we will provide you with two months of credits, which we will automatically apply to your billing account. Please read our FAQs to understand what these credits cover and how to estimate your monthly bill.

Thank you for using Google Maps Platform.

The Google of 2016 was clearly a different company to the Google of 2018, since grandfathering of old customers when a radical change to pricing is introduced is exactly the right thing to do unlike the recent shenanigans. And generally grandfathering is a permanent thing…

So once again I’m going to have to spend some time switching things off, moving other stuff over to one of Google’s many competitors who have more sane pricing and making other things require a Google Maps API key (the route elevation page now does, sorry)

Saturday, October 27, 2018

House price data for England and Wales September 2018

I’ve uploaded the latest Land Registry data to my website. Prices continue to creep up at around 2% a year, although several regions have seen falling prices

Implementing my own version of the Google Maps Timezone API

I noticed the other day that my usage of the Google Maps Timezone API was failing. I realised this was down to me not passing in an API key with the call. In their attempts to monetise their Maps API, Google now requires the API key and each call is chargeable. So I added the key and it still didn’t work, although with a different error message. Apparently using a key with a HTTP referrer restriction wasn’t allowed.

So I decided to add a server-side handler on my server that called out to the Timezone API using a server key instead. This was fairly straightforward since it just bounced the AJAX request from the browser to the Timezone API URL.

I checked back the next day to see what my API usage looked like. I’d spent $5 in 24 hours. Continuing with that meant with my other Maps API usage I’d hit the $200 per month free limit and would have to start paying Google money again, something I’ve been loath to do since their ridiculous price increases*

I realised at that point that the Timezone API wasn’t actually doing a huge amount behind the scenes. I guessed there would be libraries out there that could do the same thing but without paying for the privilege. Turns out there is. GeoTimeZone will give the time zone ID for a location and TimeZoneConverter will convert that to a Windows TimeZoneInfo that gives me everything else I needed to build my own version of the Timezone API. The code to do that is something like this

     var lat = double.Parse(HttpContext.Current.Request.QueryString["lat"]);
     var lng = double.Parse(HttpContext.Current.Request.QueryString["lng"]);
     var tz = TimeZoneLookup.GetTimeZone(lat, lng).Result;

// get other info
var tzi = TZConvert.GetTimeZoneInfo(tz);

// write out as JSON
     var jsonObj = new JObject();
     var rawOffset = tzi.BaseUtcOffset.TotalSeconds;
     jsonObj["dstOffset"] = tzi.GetUtcOffset(DateTime.UtcNow).TotalSeconds - rawOffset;
     jsonObj["rawOffset"] = rawOffset;
     jsonObj["timeZoneId"] = tz;
     jsonObj["timeZoneName"] = tzi.StandardName;
     jsonObj["status"] = "OK";

    var json = JsonConvert.SerializeObject(jsonObj);

The only thing to consider is that time zones change so it’s worth keeping the two packages up to date.

* For the record, I used to pay about $200 a month to Google. Now I pay about the same to here maps and nothing to Google. I’m intrigued to know how their new pricing has worked out for them, I’m assuming most websites would have made the same decision I did and moved somewhere else.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Downloads on Chrome

If you’re having problems downloading files from my website, it may be down to the latest release of Chrome. It seems it’s got a bug that stops downloads working in some cases. I’ve found a workaround for some downloads but there are a few places where I haven’t figured out what to do you yet. Right clicking and selecting ‘Save link as..’ may fix the issue but if that’s not offered as an option, all I can suggest is switching to a different browser