Simon Willison’s Weblog


June 2012

June 20, 2012

Is there a single list of all tech conferences around the world?

We’re trying to compile such a list with our startup, Lanyrd:

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Is there a free/open-source software source code search engine?

If you want to search through actual code in open source projects, GitHub search is fantastic—e.g. here’s a search for all Ruby code that mentions oauth

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June 23, 2012

For a first-time visitor but longtime Anglophile, what’s essential to see and do in London?

Don’t spend too much time on the tube. It’s fast and convenient (and a marvellous piece of Victorian engineering) but its often better to walk if your journey is less than three stops. London is a delightful city to walk around, and you’re certain to see all sorts of interesting buildings on a 10 minute walk through any area. Get a data SIM for your phone and use your maps app to avoid getting lost and you’ll have the freedom to explore all kinds of interesting streets that most tourists who stick to the tube for everything completely miss.

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How do you know the real size of a web page?

The Google Chrome developer tools can do this, on the Network tab. Take a look at the bottom blue bar (which says “5 requests | 29.49KB transferred”)

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Is there such thing as a specific multi-site search?

Yes—Blekko does exactly this, with its “slashtags” feature:

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June 24, 2012

What should I do with a week in Brighton, UK?

Make sure you go inside the Pavilion—it’s marvellous. The outside imitates an Indian temple, but the inside (for some reason) is entirely inspired by China. Both aspects were constructed by British workmen who had never been to either, so it’s a fabulous over-the-top representation of 18th century stereotypes of those countries.

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Where is the best place to go for dinner in Brighton?

Terre a Terre is excellent—it’s vegetarian but don’t let that put you off, it just means they go the extra mile to impress. A tad pricey but great for a special occasion.

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June 26, 2012

Are there any website thumbnail services that generate images in real-time? generates images on demand—you pass the URL directly to the service and it replies with a PNG image. The first load can take a few seconds (depending on how long it takes the originating site to serve up the assets etc) but they cache the generated images so future requests for the same URL will be served instantly.

What is a more equal-opportunity way to distribute access to a free event that is expected to sell out quickly?

A much better method than releasing all of the tickets at once is to release them in batches—say 50 tickets at a time over three different releases. This greatly reduces the “only people online at the time get a chance” factor by giving people three separate chances to grab their ticket. You can vary the time of day for each batch to make it fairer for people who might be at work / in meetings / having dinner with family at certain times of day (or to take timezones in to account if you expect attendees from far away).

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June 27, 2012

Should I attend the Build 2012 conference?

It’s got a great reputation from previous years, and the speakers look really good (definitely more of a design focus, but it’s never a bad idea to get some exposure to people from disciplines related to your own). I’m going, so that’s clearly a vote in favour :)

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Ideas on how to secure good clients for web development? Or—How to turn my skills into decent pay?

Don’t get work through elance—get stuff from your personal network instead. If you don’t have a personal network, start building one!

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June 28, 2012

What are the coolest things to do in Dalston Junction (London, UK)?

That’s about 20 minutes from Broadway Market (at the south end of London Fields) which is very nice at the weekend.

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2012 » June