01 Jan 2015

Austin Google Fiber

The Fiber dream

When my wife, Jesyka, told me she got a job at IBM in Austin, TX my first thought was: CONGRATUALTIONS! My second thought was: My friends are going to be super jealous when I tell them I’m getting Google Fiber.

The Fiber reality

After scouring apartment listings in Austin, and doing a bit of research, it became clear that there were a few problems with my Google Fiber dream:

  • Roll-out was only scheduled for specific areas of Austin
  • None of the areas were a reasonable commute distance from Jesyka’s work
  • New areas were being added slowly

Google provides an excellent map of Fiber listings in Austin but there was no way to actually tell how often the listings were updated, if at all. Not to be deterred, I decided to write a webapp to track new Fiber listings, as they were added.

Reverse engineering Google Fiber listings

Using Chrome Developer Tools, I was able to check network traffic on the Google Fiber map and discovered that the data for all Fiber enabled apartments was being stored in a JSON file. This JSON file was used by Google to build the apartment map on page load.

Rather than use inline linking for my webapp, I wrote a Go tool to fetch, parse, and store apartment data in a separate database on Heroku. This prevents page loads from my app causing additional traffic on Google servers. Heroku’s background job scheduler runs the tool a few times a day, to avoid the server stress mentioned earlier.

For the front end of the webapp, I used AngularJS. The front end uses an AJAX request to query the Heroku back end for JSON apartment data. The apartment data is then loaded into a table, which lists important information such as the name of the apartment complex, address of the apartment, and time the listing was added. Using AngularJS’ built-in data filtering, users can search for listings by apartment name or address.

Check it out

The Austin Fiber site is still up here. The code is also available on Github.