Simon Willison’s Weblog

Tuesday, 12th October 2010

Why don’t more people use Google Web Toolkit for web development as opposed to scripting alternatives like JavaScript?

I’m morally opposed to GWT, because I don’t believe in building sites or applications that are entirely dependent on JavaScript to function. As someone who took the time to learn JavaScript, I’m also not at all convinced that Java is a more productive language.

[... 68 words]

When should one switch from MySQL to Oracle or PostgreSQL?

When your own benchmarks prove that your application’s particular load characteristics will perform better on another database—and the difference is large enough that it’s worth the cost involved in retargeting your code. If that cost is high (and it probably will be) it may be worth paying for some expert consultants to ensure that your implementations against the different databases are properly optimised.

[... 102 words]

Is the .ly domain unsafe? Why?

It’s always been unsafe in my opinion. Why build your company around a domain name that’s controlled by the Libyan government?

[... 33 words]

Where can I find a database of the cities in the United States, their populations, and square miles?

On Freebase: http://www.freebase.com/view/use...—if you sign up for a Freebase account you can further filter this report to include areas.

[... 46 words]

What are the advantages of running Apache behind nginx as opposed to just Apache by itself?

I do this for all of my Django stuff—I have Django running on modwsgi on a stripped down Apache (almost no configuration except for the modwsgi stuff), then I put an nginx on port 80 which serves the static files directly and proxies dynamic requests back to Apache.

[... 244 words]

Is it not time for Google to redesign its search page by removing the “search” & “I’m Feeling Lucky” buttons since the buttons are now useless with the new “Instant” structure?

I don’t think so. The “Search” button defines their entire purpose. The “I’m Feeling Lucky” button is an important part of their brand.

[... 60 words]

Dark Patterns: Forced Continuity example, Audible.com. Dark Patterns are user interfaces that are designed to trick people. I just submitted Audible.com for their habit of signing up users for a $7.49 “gold membership” without making it clear on the checkout screens that this is a recurring monthly charge, not a one-off payment. # 10:55 am

What are some peculiarities of American culture which are not easily understood by foreigners?

US flags on /everything/ (the biggest ones seem reserved for used car sales lots though). In the UK it’s actually pretty rare to see a UK flag on anything—they come out for big international sporting events, but other than that they are usually ever only seen on government buildings.

[... 71 words]

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