Simon Willison’s Weblog

Monday, 20th April 2009

I used to think Twitter would never catch on in the mainstream because it’s somewhat stupid. Now I realize I was exactly wrong. Twitter will catch on in the mainstream because it’s somewhat stupid. It’s blogging dumbed down for the masses, and if there’s one surefire way to build something popular, it’s to take something else that is already popular and simplify.

Matt Maroon # 8:50 pm

Inside the precision hack. How 4chan members subverted a Time.com online poll to reorder the options and spell out their own message. Partly poor application design from Time (the first version used a GET request without input validation), but I challenge anyone to design an anonymous online poll that can’t be fixed using the more sophisticated techniques 4chan eventually deployed based on HTTP proxies. # 8:36 pm

pubsubhubbub. From Brad Fitzpatrick, a simple but clever way of using web hooks (HTTP callbacks) to inform subscribers that an Atom feed has updated in almost real-time—solving the constant polling problem and making it easier for small sites to offer publish-subscribe APIs. Any Atom feed can delegate subscriber updates to a “hub” server. An example hub server implementation is provided running on App Engine. # 6:49 pm

peeping into memcached. “Peep uses ptrace to freeze a running memcached server, dump the internal key metadata, and return the server to a running state”—you can then load the resulting data in to MySQL using LOAD LOCAL INFILE and analyse it using standard SQL queries. # 6:35 pm

Phusion Passenger for nginx. Passenger (aka mod_rails / mod_rack) enables easy deployment of Rails and Ruby apps under Apache... and the latest version adds support for nginx as well. It works as an HTTP proxy and process manager, spawning worker processes and forwarding HTTP requests to them via a request queue. It can also handle Python WSGI applications—anyone tried it out for that yet? # 4:53 am

Sign in with Twitter. Intriguing: Twitter are now an OpenID-style identity provider... using OAuth. # 4:10 am