Simon Willison’s Weblog


Tuesday, 25th June 2002


Semant-O-Matic—an experimental blog search engine. This is an impressive technology demonstration. The engine indexes eleven weblogs over the period of four months (March to June 2002) using a technique called “latent semantic indexing” or LSI. A full explanation is provided on the site but this basically means that you can type in a term such as “hobbit” and recieve a bunch of results about related topics (i.e Lord of the Rings) that don’t necessarily have to mention the word itself.

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Oh ffs...

Slashdot: Shocked, Shocked at Payola. This is just tragic. American record companies are all upset about the huge amounts of money they have to spend bribing commercial radio stations to play their music... but at the same time the RIAA are killing off internet radio and p2p file sharing, activities that give bands exposure for free! OK, file sharing allows people to keep the copies they download which is something the RIAA have justification to be cautious about, but killing internet radio and then complaining about the costs of promotion on commercial radio is just farcical.

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SitePoint CSS guide

SitePoint have a good new article on CSS layout, which includes some useful tips on how to use position: float and position: absolute to create columns on a page, as well as some tips on providing Netscape 4 with only basic CSS rules and an example of a PHP browser detection script.

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Using colour safely

Mark’s latest tip is up: Using color safely. I’m aware of the rule that you should never use only colour as an indicator of something in a user interface, but I had completely forgotten that my own links on this blog were a classic example of that—all that distinguished them from the rest of the page was a difference in colour. I’ve now turned underlines back on for all links except those in the entry footers (which looked ugly with underlines), based on the principle that the text and position of the footer links should be enough to explain their purposes even without the underline.

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Kuro5hin on AudioGalaxy

Kuro5hin are running a fascinating story on AudioGalaxy, written by one of the AudioGalaxy developers who wrote a large portion of the web interface code. It covers the history of the system and its recent demise at the hands of the RIAA, with quite a few technology pointers as well (they used PHP to serve over 90 million hits a day).

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Paul back soon

Paul Sowden: I’ve finished my exams and I hope to be back soon.

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Writing IM Bots

Via Boing Boing: How to make your own IM Bots. This tutorial explains how to write a bot for both MSN and AIM using Perl running on Windows/DOS. Perl modules are provided to handle the actual protocols, and sample code is available to help you get started.

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Dot leaders in CSS

Via Brett Merkey on CSS Discuss: Dot Leaders without Tables. Dot Leaders is a publishing term that describes the rows of dots frequently used in tables of contents to connect a chapter title with its relevant page number on the other side of the page. Brett’s CSS solution resizes elegantly to fit the page, and there isn’t a table in sight. Brett’s site provides an assortment of other useful CSS resources, including a very handy CSS cheat sheet.

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2002 » June