Request for help: when sites are updated?

Perhaps I’m missing the obvious here, but is there an easy way to automatically tell when a website was lasted updated? I now have 25 or 30 websites that I check regularly for updates, and it would be handy to have a quick visual way of know which have changed since my last surf ‘round.

I recall that in earlier version of Netscape or Internet Explorer there was a method for setting up your Bookmarks/Favourites to provide this visual indicator, but this seems no longer present.

I took a try at creating a system based on auto-grabbing the contents of my bookmarks list every 30 minutes, created a MD5 checksum, and then comparing this to the previous checksum, but ran into problems with sites that have rotating banner ads and/or a constantly updated date/time.

I invite your suggestions.


Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on September 3, 2001 - 21:44 Permalink

My friend Oliver pointed me to spyonit, which offers a site-change reminder service. I can’t figure out whether it works or not: I get the “the site has changed” emails, but at seemingly random times.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on September 3, 2001 - 23:24 Permalink

I’ve had a bit more of a chance to use spyonit now and it appears to suffer from an assumption that the need for updating is on a daily rather than a minute-by-minute cycle. In other words, it’s good for telling you which sites you check regularly have changed since yesterday, but not very good at telling you which sites have changed in the last hour.

Gordie Noye's picture
Gordie Noye on September 6, 2001 - 00:50 Permalink

I had an association with a company called Tierra Communications (now defunct) that attempted to address just this problem. The product (called Highlights) would poll a configured web site and determine if it had changed. The program checked file sizes, alteration dates, and the content of the web page. The program would also analyze the changes in the web page and create a new page with the changed portions of the page highlighted (thus the product name) in a colour of the user’s choice. It was also possible to exclude areas of change (banner ads and the like) to avoid fetching, and marking as changed, pages that had changed in a manner that was unimportant to the user. At the time, there was no real competition and I have not heard of any since. The company folded about three years ago and the product was destined for the bargain bin. At the time, the buzz was about pushing content and people could not see the value in Highlights. I would regularly monitor about fifty pages (with different polling frequencies) with ease.