Simon Willison’s Weblog

Entries in Dec

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Weeknotes: Datasette internals

I’ve been working on some fundamental changes to Datasette’s internal workings—they’re not quite ready for a release yet, but they’re shaping up in an interesting direction.

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Building a search engine for datasette.io

This week I added a search engine to datasette.io, using the search indexing tool I’ve been building for Dogsheep.

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Build v.s. buy: how billing models affect your internal culture

Something to pay attention to when making a build v.s. buy decision is the impact that billing models will have on your usage of a tool.

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datasette.io, an official project website for Datasette

This week I launched datasette.io—the new official project website for Datasette.

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Weeknotes: github-to-sqlite workflows, datasette-ripgrep enhancements, Datasette 0.52

This week: Improvements to datasette-ripgrep, github-to-sqlite and datasette-graphql, plus Datasette 0.52 and a flurry of dot-releases.

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sqlite-utils 2.0: real upserts

I just released version 2.0 of my sqlite-utils library/CLI tool to PyPI.

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Weeknotes: Datasette 0.33

I released Datasette 0.33 yesterday. The release represents an accumulation of small changes and features since Datasette 0.32 back in November. Duplicating the release notes:

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Logging to SQLite using ASGI middleware

I had some fun playing around with ASGI middleware and logging during our flight back to England for the holidays.

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Better presentations through storytelling and STAR moments

Last week I completed GSBGEN 315: Strategic Communication at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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datasette-atom: Define an Atom feed using a custom SQL query

I’ve been having a ton of fun iterating on www.niche-museums.com. I put together some notes on how the site works last week, and I’ve been taking advantage of the Thanksgiving break to continue exploring ways in which Datasette can be used to quickly build database-backed static websites.

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Fast Autocomplete Search for Your Website

Every website deserves a great search engine—but building a search engine can be a lot of work, and hosting it can quickly get expensive.

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Building a location to time zone API with SpatiaLite, OpenStreetMap and Datasette

Given a latitude and longitude, how can we tell what time zone that point lies within? Here’s how I built a simple JSON API to answer that question, using a combination of data from OpenStreetMap, the SpatiaLite extension for SQLite and my Datasette API tool.

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How to tell my bosses I’m bored

The magic word here is “challenging”. Don’t say you are bored—say you do not find your current workload challenging enough. Any good manager should be ready to respond to that.

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Off the shelf question database/management system for repeated surveys?

I’ve been using Airtable for some personal projects recently and I could not be more impressed with it. It makes building a relatively sophisticated database trivial, the collaboration features are outstanding (live updates, full history tracking on everything) and it’s fully cross platform—I’ve designed new databases on my iPhone!

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Weekend travel in Europe

I’ve been using www.atlasobscura.com a lot for travel inspiration recently—it’s particularly good for finding the most interesting/weird things in a given area (it can even do geolocation in your phone to show the most interesting nearby things). I bet you could find some very exciting options there.

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What are the best strategies to get a tech job at YC-backed startups in the next 5 months?

Keep an eye on jobs | Hacker News—it’s the official listing of almost all jobs advertised at YC companies.

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When applying to Y-Combinator, if your current product is just the first step on the way to a much larger product vision which will not be realized for many years, which product should an entrepreneur discuss in an application (the current one, or th...

The YC application form has fields that cover this. You should talk about your grand ambition in the “What is your company going to make?” answer, then describe your progress so far in the “How far along are you?” answer.

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What are the best ramen places in London?

The big four are Bone Daddies, Tonkotsu, Shoryu and Ittenbari, all in or around Soho. You can find them all on my foursquare list here: Ramen in London

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What are some good resources to learn how to cleanse data using Python?

http://gnosis.cx/TPiP/ “Text Processing in Python” is a free online book that covers a bunch of useful topics related to data cleanup. It’s over 10 years old now but is still mostly relevant—the chapter on regular expressions is particularly good.

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Are Django versions released too often?

The Django release process is well documented (see Django’s release process) and has been specifically designed to address the concerns of developers who don’t want to have to spend too much time keeping up to date with the latest version.

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What are some examples of startups funded simply for the strength and uniqueness of its founders rather than for any particular idea?

A good portion of YC companies fit this definition—it’s common for YC to fund the team and then work with them to help them either fix their initial idea or find a better one.

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Is there an application like Duolingo, but for math?

Khan Academy have a points, levels and achievements system for mathematics that is similar to the method used by duolingo.

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What is the Y Combinator cycle?

The winter program generally runs from January until March, with application deadlines the previous October (this year the deadline was was October 21st). Interview invites were sent out on November 4th, and interviews themselves in Mountain View were November 15th-19th. Teams get a yes or no answer the day of their interview.

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What is currently the best technology stack for web scraping?

PhantomJS combined with CasperJS is pretty fantastic—it runs a full, headless copy of a Webkit browser so it can operate against a real DOM, execute JavaScript properly, even grab full rendered screenshots of areas of the page but is still easy to automate.

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Is it fair for someone who calls themselves a “seed” investor to require traction?

It’s completely fair. If you’re building a web-based startup these days, you should be able to demonstrate initial traction on an idea with very little up-front investment—a couple of months of your time and a few hundred dollars in hosting costs, perhaps. Being able to do that is an excellent indicator that you’re a good bet for a seed investor. If you are unable to do that, you’re a much higher risk for investment.

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Which Y Combinator companies focus on finance?

TrustEgg (YCW11) help people open trust funds for their kids: TrustEgg Allows Anyone To Set Up A Trust For Their Kids | TechCrunch

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What do Twitter and Gawker think of hash-bangs URLs?

As of December 2013 (and potentially much earlier, I don’t have the exact dates) both Twitter and a Gawker have moved away from hash bang URLs, so my guess is they turned out not to be a good idea.

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How did GitHub get its initial contributors?

The founders were active participants in the open source and Ruby on Rails communities. The first users were people they knew in those communities (GitHub accounts were invite only at first).

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Why does TED refer to its speeches as “talks”?

I think this reflects a more general trend in the tech conference world which TED emerged from.

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When did South Park characters stop calling things “gay” in the vernacular derogatory sense “not very good”?

There was actually an episode that touched on a similar issue back in 2009: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/T...—“the boys attempt to change the official definition of the word ”fag“ from an anti-homosexual slur to a term describing loud and obnoxious Harley bikers.”

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