Simon Willison’s Weblog

Saturday, 11th February 2012

How can you build a search engine for a website built in PHP/MySQL?

There are a bunch of options.

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Can Scala gain wider usage than Java any time soon?

No, because Scala is harder to master than Java.

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If you missed out on joining to work at Google and Facebook, what should you do?

Remind yourself that there will always be more opportunities, and obsessing over what might have been is a huge waste of your time.

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What is the best NoSQL database to store unstructured data?

Any of the document stores are worth a look—I’d suggest investigating MongoDB, Riak and CouchDB.

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What is an intuitive explanation of Unicode and why a programmer needs to know it?

Check out “The Absolute Minimum Every Software Developer Absolutely, Positively Must Know About Unicode and Character Sets (No Excuses!)” by Joel Spolsky:

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How do you change page content and URL without reloading the whole page?

This can only be done using JavaScript. You use XMLHttpRequest to pull in new information from the server (also known as Ajax—most people use a JavaScript library such as jQuery to handle this) and then use the HTML5 history API, in particular the pushState method, to update the URL.

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Should I take the time to learn programming, or take my idea and run with it?

Stop reading, start building. You’ll progress a LOT faster if you’re solving actual problems and writing real code, rather than spending 5-8 hours a day reading but not practicing.

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Tech Startups: What skills/technologies would the ideal technical co-founder possess?

The most important indicator is: can they ship? Can they prove that they know how to take a project from idea to running code deployed to a server somewhere with actual people interacting with it?

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Which is the best open source tool to populate my database with test data for my load test?

I’ve seen tools that do this, but to be honest it’s very simple to write your own script for this (especially if you’re using an ORM). The other benefit to writing your own script for this is that you’ll have a much better chance of accurately representing your expected data, sizes etc.

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2012 » February