Simon Willison’s Weblog

Entries in Nov

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Weeknotes: Python 3.7 on Glitch, datasette-render-markdown

Streaks is really working well for me. I’m at 12 days of commits to Datasette, 16 posting a daily Niche Museum, 19 of actually reviewing my email inbox and 14 of guitar practice. I rewarded myself for that last one by purchasing an actual classical (as opposed to acoustic) guitar.

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Weeknotes: More releases, more museums

Lots of small releases this week.

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Zeit 2.0, and building smaller Python Docker images

Changes are afoot at Zeit Now, my preferred hosting provider for the past year (see previous posts). They have announced Now 2.0, an intriguing new approach to providing auto-scaling immutable deployments. It’s built on top of lambdas, and comes with a whole host of new constraints: code needs to fit into a 5MB bundle for example (though it looks like this restriction will soon be relaxed a littleupdate November 19th you can now bump this up to 50MB).

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New in Datasette: filters, foreign keys and search

I’ve released Datasette 0.13 with a number of exciting new features (Datasette previously).

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Datasette: instantly create and publish an API for your SQLite databases

I just shipped the first public version of datasette, a new tool for creating and publishing JSON APIs for SQLite databases.

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Running a load testing Go utility using Docker for Mac

I’m playing around with Zeit Now at the moment (see my previous entry) and decided to hit it with some traffic using Apache Bench. I got this SSL handshake error:

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Using “import refs” to iteratively import data into Django

I’ve been writing a few scripts to backfill my blog with content I originally posted elsewhere. So far I’ve imported answers I posted on Quora (background), answers I posted on Ask MetaFilter and content I recovered from the Internet Archive.

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Best way to take shareable meeting minutes

Google Docs is a fantastic tool for meeting notes, because the collaboration features are second-to-none: in the meeting itself you can have multiple people adding notes and it Just Works. Provided everyone has a google account the sharing features for both during and afterwards are clear and easy.

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Good travel book for recently retired man?

The new Atlas Obscura coffee table book is worth a look.

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Generating interactive HTML charts from Python?

D3 is absolutely amazing but the learning curve is a bit steep. Totally worth the effort to learn it in the long run, but it’s not so useful if you want to get something done quickly.

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How do I put my Twitter picture on my company’s about page so that it automatically updates?

This used to be pretty easy, but Twitter made it a lot harder with their APIv1. You need to do authenticated API calls to access their image API now, which means it’s best to set up a cron job and cache the correct URL.

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Where can I find a copy of Y Combinator’s user manual (as mentioned in the most recent book by Randall Stross)?

You can’t—the manual is confidential and only available to YC founders. If you want to read it, you need to get in to YC!

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Can Meetup be used to organize virtual events?

I don’t think so. From http://help.meetup.com/customer/...

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How does one actually find Angel investors, when our business/startup is taking off and we need to grow fast?

The best way to approach angels is via introductions. To get introductions, you need connections to people who are known and trusted by angels.

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Using AWS, as my cloud, what is left for me to work on? Is it enough for me to just write the html+css code and programming language code (python)? Or do I stil have to work with mysql and backend stuff? I am pretty new at programming, so I hope it i...

Using a cloud server platform like Amazon EC2 unfortunately will not protect you from needing to understand basic server adminstration—it’s not that different from running your own physical server, except that if you screw up the configuration it’s much easier to throw everything away and start from scratch.

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I’ve been working alone for about a year, how do I get out of this feeling of loneliness because no one is around me?

This is why co-working spaces exist. I don’t know which country you are based in but here in the UK most cities and many larger towns now have at least one tech-focused co-working space where you can rent a desk on a month-to-month basis and have a work environment outside your home with other freelancers with whom you can socialize.

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Has anyone been through Y Combinator more than once?

Yes, this isn’t that rare. I think the Hipmunk crew went through YC, despite having previously gone through as part of reddit. The Erics from clutch.io had previously participated in YC as part of Convore.

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How log in my e-mail and send sms via php?

If you want to send SMS via PHP I suggest taking a look at www.twilio.com—they are pretty inexpensive and ridiculously easy to get started with.

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If Sheryl Sandberg cannot  code, how can she manage a leading software company like Facebook?

There is way more to running a technology company than just writing or understanding code. According to Wikipedia, Sheryl “oversees the firm’s business operations including sales, marketing, business development, human resources, public policy and communications.”—that means that among other things she’s responsible for the parts of Facebook that make the money!

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What’s involved in making a site like JibJab go from conception to reality?

I’m afraid you don’t get to create a hit website just by having an idea: You have to have the skills and focus to actually make it happen.

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Are there any good bootcamps, such as Code Fellows, DevBootCamp for mobile (iOS/Android)?

Big Nerd Ranch have been offering iOS and Android for several years now. A friend of mine went in the iOS course a while ago and spoke highly of it—he has since released an app to the App Store.

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How do I overcome my fear of public speaking (of people just “switching off”, or simply getting up and leaving the room)?

Look for opportunities to give “lightning talks”—5 minute talks given as part of a series of talks. These are excellent for beginner speakers as they help force you to get to the point as quickly as possible, and you only have to survive for five minutes! They are good for the audience too as if they don’t enjoy our talk they only have to sit politely for a couple of minutes before the next talk comes along.

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Why doesn’t Google use their resources to improve coding languages?

Google invest vast resources in to language improvements, and have been doing so for over a decade now. Just off the top of my head...

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Online Ticketing: Is Biletto a good way to find music / entertainment events in London, or are there any other alternatives? What are some problems you see with the site?

It looks like a clone of http://www.yplanapp.com/ to me, but without the exclusive inventory.

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Do all incubators / accelerators welcome their startups getting funding?

Yes. The goal of incubators and accelerators is to obtain a small amount of low-cost equity in promising companies and then help them grow and reach their potential.

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Which is more productive for a professional software engineer: Sublime Text or Notepad++?

Sublime Text 2. It is cross-platform and hence won’t lock you in to Windows.

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Does Facebook fly you to London when you apply for this office or are the interviews done remotely?

If they are anything like Google (which I expect they are) they will do the initial interviews remotely and then fly promising candidates to the London office (or even to California) for in-person interviews.

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Should I pull the plug?

Is there any way if turning this in to a recurring revenue product? It’s enormously easier to get money from an existing customer (since they already know that your product works for them and is worth the cash) than to sign up a brand new customer.

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What computers do Google engineers use when doing heavy programming?

Loads of people at Google use Macs. Google as a company is way too smart to stop using a good product just because it is produced by a competitor.

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What are some great board games to play for 3 or more people?

I suggest looking in to German-style board games. They tend to be quick to learn and extremely well balanced but with a great deal of strategic depth once you get in to them, and they also have running times in the order of 45 minutes to an hour and a half. They’re ideal for games nights, especially if you might be playing with people who think they don’t like board games.

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