Scraping for Hinman Box Numbers

Dartmouth’s CS50 “Software Design and Implementation” class is a gift that keeps on giving. Yes, it was basically a full-time job on top of my other coursework, and yes, it kept me from attending as many frat parties as I wanted to last spring. But it also taught me shell scripting, which has proven incredibly useful on numerous occasions.

The latest example: my fraternity recently had a party where we wanted everyone we invited to get physical invitations in their mailboxes. Here’s the shell script that made that possible:

while read p; do
  NAME=`echo $p | sed 's/ /%20/g'`
  curl -silent "${NAME}&fmat=1" | grep -o "HB [0-9]*"
done < $1

The script takes an input text file with one name per line and then scrapes the Dartmouth Name Directory for each person’s Hinman box using curl. I kind of feel like Mark Zuckerburg downloading Harvard’s facebook data every time I run it.


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