Zap2It Status


Current Status (February 20, 2003)
IMPORTANT!!! If you currently use version 0.3 or 0.3.1 of this program, you must upgrade to 0.4 immediately. Version 0.3 and 0.3.1 contain serious bugs that can cause the scanner to spend hours doing nothing but wasting time and bandwidth both for you and for the good folks at zap2it.com without ever actually coming up with any search results.

I originally wrote this program in October of 2001 when I realized that I was spending a lot of time running searches through GIST.COM's search function to try to find out if my favorite actors and/or movies are going to be on TV soon. The purpose of this program was to automate those searches.

In early February of 2003, I noticed that my GIST.COM search result Emails were all suddenly coming back empty. On February 12th, 2003 I sat down to investigate what was going on and realized that GIST.COM had made their search function a pay function. I did some quick searching and located another TV listings site that seemed to offer similar search features, ZAP2IT.COM.

I released a copy of this program designed to work with ZAP2IT's site on February 13, 2003. On the morning of Wednesday, February 19th, 2003, I came home at about 20 minutes after midnight to discover my copy of the scanner (which was scheduled to run at 5 after midnight) was sitting there using lots of processor time and bandwidth but not actually getting any searching done. I quickly stopped it and began to investigate what was going on.

Turned out my ZAP2IT user account was no longer in existence. My first (and very childish) reaction to this was to say "To heck with this, I can come up with a way to automatically circumvent almost any type of ban they try to put on me." But I quickly thought better of this idea and decided to Email them and see what's going on.

It is now the evening of February 20th, 2003. Today I received an extremely curteous response to my enquieries from ZAP2IT's Vice President in charge of technology, Jay Brodsky. Mr. Brodsky told me that "what [my] software does is a blatant violation of [their] terms and conditions" but told me that they are only "a little grumpy about what [I've] created." Mr. Brodsky assured me that my account was not terminated because of this program, but rather that ZAP2IT had suffered an unfortunate server crash which caused many recently added user accounts to stop functioning. He expressed some concern over the fact that there is a bug in this program which has caused a situation in which, if a user tries to do searches with an invalid account, the scanner will sit there re-loading the same page over and over again (a page that basically says something to the effect of "We don't know who you are, please at least tell us your zipcode so that we know what listings you want searched."), wasting time and bandwidth both for the user running the program and for ZAP2IT. (Version 0.3 and 0.3.1 make *no* output to standard out while doing this re-loading, so users who aren't attentive enough to notice the spikes in their CPU usage and bandwidth consumption will probably see no reason to hit break immediately.)

Of course, this bug probably became much more serious than it was initially due to the fact that most of the newly-added accounts created by users of this program were probably rendered inactive by their server crash, and that since these accounts were completely deleted by this crash, the Email addresses associated with them were not available to ZAP2IT in order that they might inform the effected users of what had happened.

In attempt to make Mr. Brodsky and the rest of ZAP2IT happier with this program's existence, I am hereby making the following changes:

Again, these changes are all being made by me on a completely voluntary basis. No one at ZAP2IT has asked me to do any of these things in any way. They only told me that they are "a little grumpy" and that they'd like to hear my suggestions about how to fix the situation. I am attempting to fix it as best I can while still maintaining as much as possible of the valuable functionality of this program. ZAP2IT is definitely not some kind of big, ugly corporation out to make the Internet a less fun place. The DMCA (or any other ugly acronym) was not brought up in any way during any discussion with them. Yes, if you're even a moderately competent C++ programmer, you can go through this code and disable all the ZAP2IT-friendly features, and since it's GPL'ed, you can then release your source code with these changes in place and no one will stop you. But I'd like to make it very clear that I'm firmly against anyone doing this, that I feel very strongly that if someone does this ZAP2IT will be a lot more likely to become a pay site like GIST (so we'll all lose out) or at the very least to come up with a system to automatically disallow all access to users of this program (which I'll gladly help them set up if they were to ask for my help), and that if you do this you suck and I hate you.

Thank you.

Note: It appears that ZAP2IT's search engine currently always returns no results for actor searches, whether they're done through 6sTVList or through a regular web browser. I don't know what to do about this. I guess for the time being you shouldn't put any A: lines in your config file.

March 6th, 2003: Just got an Email from Mr. Brodsky, Zap2It's VP in charge of technology, informing me that their actor search has been fixed.

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