Simon Willison’s Weblog


January 2011

Jan. 1, 2011

How can you provide wireless internet at a tech conference without being overloaded?

PyCon has a very solid track record with WiFi, and they have detailed write-ups describing their setup for every conference since 2007:

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Are there any summer conferences in the Bay Area for web development (or any other technology/Internet related topics)?

Have a browse through the list here:—or filter by web development only:

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What are the strangest and weirdest conferences/expos in the world?

I was amazed to find out that “Galileo Was Wrong: The Church Was Right”, the “First Annual Catholic Conference on Geocentrism” was NOT a joke conference.

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Could browsers be made to scroll down (e.g. by 67%) if you add #67% to a URL?

I’d say no.

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Jan. 4, 2011

How do you find out about events in Birmingham, UK?

We have a page of events in Birmingham on Lanryd:

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Jan. 5, 2011

How can I determine which web server a particular website is using (Apache, IIS, Nginx, etc)?

If you’re on Linux or OS X, use curl with the -I option (to make a HEAD request and see the HTTP headers):

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The excess capacity story is a myth. It was never a matter of selling excess capacity, actually within 2 months after launch AWS would have already burned through the excess capacity.  Amazon Web Services was always considered a business by itself, with the expectation that it could even grow as big as the retail operation.

Werner Vogels

# 3:13 pm / amazon, amazon-web-services, ec2, s3, recovered

Jan. 6, 2011

What are the best things to do, see, or eat in Marrakech?

Stay in a Riad. We stayed in Riad Laârouss and absolutely loved it—the best place we stayed in Morocco or Egypt (and we were travelling in North Africa for three months). Peaceful, friendly and with a plunge pool for cooling off.

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What are the pros and cons of switching from MySQL to one of the NoSQL databases?

Pro: If your own benchmarks tell you you need to switch to a specific NoSQL solution, you’ll know exactly what the pro is.

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What are the JSON security concerns in web development?

Be very careful when implementing JSON-P for authenticated actions—evil third party sites could assemble URLs to your user’s private data and steal it. This attack has worked against Gmail in the past.

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Jan. 7, 2011

Why isn’t the schema and data migration tool South included in Django by default?

Because shipping things as part of Django means they can’t have separate releases, which means you only get a new released version every 6-12 months. South is improving far faster than that.

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What are the best blogs about NoSQL?

myNoSQL is excellent:

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What are the dates of MacWorld in January 2011? says Jan 26th-29th 2011.

Jan. 8, 2011

What do people think of Tim Ferriss?

I didn’t make it to the end of the 4-Hour Work Week because I was uncomfortable with the morality of it (the Tae Kwon Do stuff, for example). If everyone behaved like that, society wouldn’t function.

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Jan. 9, 2011

When was the 2011 Blog World Expo?

The dates haven’t been announced yet—they’ll be on when they are, and there’s a mailing list you can sign up for.

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What are some good social media events that will take place in 2011 in Middle East and North Africa region?

User StartupDigestME on Lanyrd follows entrepreneurship events in the region which may also cover social media topics:

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What makes mobile application backends different from Webapp backends?

Nothing at all.

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What are the best free resources to begin learning UX design?

We’re collecting videos and slides from conference sessions covering user experience on Lanyrd—here’s 10 videos and 14 slide decks:

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What are the reasons that make jQuery more popular than MooTools?

MooTools is the only major JavaScript library that still thinks extending the prototype of built-in JavaScript objects is a good idea.

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How are real time web applications achievable with PHP?

You don’t need to build your comet server using the same technology as the rest of your site.

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Jan. 10, 2011

Why does Facebook chat use subdomains so aggressively?

Probably because it involves long-running connections. Browsers have a limit on the number of connections you can have open to the same domain at the same time (I think it’s 8 in most browsers these days). If Facebook chat opened a connection to and you opened up 8 Facebook windows you would no longer be able to navigate to any more Facebook pages, since all 8 connections would be taken up by the long lived chat connections. By connecting to a different subdomain for each connection this problem can be avoided.

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Are there any wikis that allow the use of JavaScript on wiki pages?

Such a wiki would be grossly insecure. That said, take a look at TiddlyWiki—it’s implemented entirely in client-side JavaScript and allows plugins to be implemented by pasting JavaScript in to a textarea.

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Are there any large tech conferences in Sydney, Australia?

We have a list of conferences (tech and non-tech) in Sydney here:

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What are the most easy-to-use, effective event calendar websites?

Our site is shaping up quite nicely (in my opinion)—if you sign in with Twitter we’ll show you events your Twitter contacts are attending, tracking or speaking at. We also have a pretty powerful search interface, and you can browse the site by location and topic as well. Some examples:

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What’s a good web dev platform if I work in Python, but want something faster to set up than Django?

Sounds like the perfect use case for Google App Engine, with its offline task queues and one-click deployment.

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Jan. 11, 2011

How do Twitter apps handle username changes?

Twitter assigns each user a unique numeric ID which does NOT change when the user’s Twitter name changes, so triic number one is to key off that, not the username itself.

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Jan. 12, 2011

Are there any tech conferences in Miami around the time that WMC takes place (March 8-12)?

There’s SuperConf on the 25th-26th of February: /

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Who are the best female speakers on the topic of social media who are equal parts knowledgeable and engaging?

Meg Pickard from the Guardian
Suw Charman-Anderson

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Jan. 13, 2011

Getting Started—Google URL Shortener API. The API for the URL shortener is really nice—no API key required, easy to create a short URL and you can retrieve detailed stats breakdowns (similar to as JSON for any URL.

# 3:49 am / google, urls, recovered

Desk Depot. We picked up some chairs from here the other day—it’s a fascinating place, essentially an entire history of Silicon Valley told through second-hand furniture.

# 3:50 am / history, recovered, furniture

2011 » January