Simon Willison’s Weblog


Tuesday, 22nd July 2003

You can’t keep a good man down

John Robb: NEVER (under any circumstances) publish a weblog to a domain that you don’t control. Nice to see he’s back.

Signing comments on blogs

Adrian Holovaty has implemented reserved comment names in his blog, a feature that prevents anyone apart from him from using the names “Adrian”, “Adrian H.” or “Adrian Holovaty” when posting a comment. François Nonnenmacher suggests extending the idea to allow people to “confirm” their authorship of comments on any blog using a TrackBack sent to their site that in turn causes them to be sent an alert email, which they can then use to confirm their comment. I like his idea of authentication based on URLs (email addresses are no good; they should not be publically displayed for fear of spam harvesters) but I think I’ve come up with an alternative authentication scheme that removes the need for the user to manually confirm authorship. This is pretty complicated, so bare with me.

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BuyMusic, the latest sharecropper on the block

As seen on Blogzilla and Ordinary Life, BuyMusic are content to exist as a sharecropper. It looks like the restriction is due to their use of Windows Media as the format for their DRM protected files (BuyMusic is the Windows poor relative to Apple’s iTunes). Unfortunately, this could become common place in the next few years as the music industry tries to find ways of surviving in the digital age. After all, with more than 90% of PCs running Windows there’s no doubting that’s where most of the money is. I guess the music industry are happy to be sharecroppers, and anyone who choses non-Microsoft software will have to get used to being treated as second-class citizens.

A feature request for CSS3

One of the niggles I have with CSS 2 is that I frequently have to define colours multiple times. Consider this blog: I use orange in several places (as a background to the header, a border around the sidebar and a background to the sidebar h3 elements). Should I decide to change the shade of orange, or change it to another colour, I would have to alter my stylesheet in several places.

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Scott Andrew on Typepad

Delimiter is Scott Andrew’s new TypePad blog. Unlike his primary blog which mostly talks about his adventures as a musician, Delimiter promises to cover fun and interesting Web stuff. Should be good. Congratulations to Scott for his new job at Amazon as well.

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Python Advocacy from Bruce Eckel

Bruce Eckel is turning in to the world’s number one Python advocate. He explains his views on Python on his Weblog in Python Answers, elaborates further on the Python productivity boost in the fourth part of his conversation, and discusses Python (amongst other topics) in an interview on the Borland Developer Network. In the latter, he has this to say about Python in education:

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Scripting Open Office with Python

The Python-UNO bridge for Open Office 1.1 allows you to script OO using Python. At first glance, it seems to work a bit like Windows COM, which can be accessed from Python using Mark Hammond’s excellent Win32 extensions.

PyNewbie Tutorials

Rob Hudson is publishing a series of short Python tutorials explaining language features and standard modules as he teaches himself the language. Articles so far cover Sockets and making cryptograms using the random module.

The Art of Unix Programming

Eric Raymond’s Art of Unix Programming is due for publication in August 2003. From skimming the online manuscript it looks like it could establish itself as a classic text book. It’s also going to be long—there’s no way I can stomach reading it from a screen so I guess I’ll have to wait until the dead tree version arrives.

Second year exam results

I finally got my exam results for this semester through today. The exam results are great (three 73%s and a 76% for Graphics, which was my weakest subject!) but my average is pulled down quite a bit by my coursework marks, which include a hugely disappointing 50% for the big group software project. I ended up averaging 69.8% for the whole of the second year, which is 0.2% off a First. Hopefully I can do that tiny bit better in the final year.

Lots to come

Warning: I’m back from Germany with a back-log of blog postings as long as my arm.

2003 » July