Simon Willison’s Weblog

Entries in Aug

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Mexican bean shakshuka

The first time I ever tried a shakshuka I cooked it from this recipe by J. Kenji López-Alt. It quickly became my favourite breakfast.

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Weeknotes: California Protected Areas in Datasette

This week I built a geospatial search engine for protected areas in California, shipped datasette-graphql 1.0 and started working towards the next milestone for Datasette Cloud.

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Weeknotes: Rocky Beaches, Datasette 0.48, a commit history of my database

This week I helped Natalie launch Rocky Beaches, shipped Datasette 0.48 and several releases of datasette-graphql, upgraded the CSRF protection for datasette-upload-csvs and figured out how to get a commit log of changes to my blog by backing up its database to a GitHub repository.

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Weeknotes: Installing Datasette with Homebrew, more GraphQL, WAL in SQLite

This week I’ve been working on making Datasette easier to install, plus wide-ranging improvements to the Datasette GraphQL plugin.

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GraphQL in Datasette with the new datasette-graphql plugin

This week I’ve mostly been building datasette-graphql, a plugin that adds GraphQL query support to Datasette.

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The subset of reStructuredText worth committing to memory

reStructuredText is the standard for documentation in the Python world.

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How to Instantly Publish Data to the Internet with Datasette

I presented a session about Datasette at the PyBay 2018 conference in San Francisco. I talked about the project itself and demonstrated ways of creating and publishing databases using csvs-to-sqlite, Datasette Publish and my new sqlite-utils library.

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Analyzing US Election Russian Facebook Ads

Two interesting data sources have emerged in the past few weeks concerning the Russian impact on the 2016 US elections.

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Analyzing US Election troll tweets with Datasette

FiveThirtyEight published nearly 3 million tweets from accounts associated with the Russian “Internet Research Agency”, based on research by Darren Linvill and Patrick Warren at at Clemson University.

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What’s the cheapest or free stack solution to deploy and experiment with a realtime application in 2016?

Heroku have a good free tier, and comprehensive support for deploying both Python and Node.js. If you are mainly interested in realtime I would suggest starting out with Node.js on Heroku. Depending on the complexity of your project you might even be able to use raw Node.js without adding something like Express.

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Which VCs invest in an early stage in an IOT Technology startup in USA North East?

I can’t provide a specific list of VCs, but I can help you answer this question for yourself.

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What’s the first thing you would check if the company is losing money even though there’s a big increase in its revenue?

The company’s expenses.

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What is the single greatest value-add from Y Combinator?

It’s very difficult to pick the best one, but from our experience here’s something that really stood out: the sense of camaraderie and trust you have in others who are also going through YC.

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Does Facebook Graph Search scale linearly?

You may find the paper they released about the underlying implementation useful: https://www.facebook.com/downloa...

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What are some interesting Facebook Graph Search URLs?

I rather enjoy https://www.facebook.com/search/... because it suggests that Facebook have taken polygamy in to account.

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What are some good Facebook Graph search queries?

Employment related ones can be interesting: “friends of my friends who have worked for Google” for example.

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How to find the URL of a page in an iframe?

You can’t, as this would be a security and privacy violation. Imagine an evil website which loads up Google in a full page iframe and then tracks what the unsuspecting user searches for and clicks on.

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Benefits and disadvantages of cashflow positive startups joining an accelerator program?

YC has a very low time commitment. There is a dinner once a week (which takes up the evening from 6pm onwards), and any other sessions are 20-30 minute slots you book yourself with the YC partners and advisors. My experience was that most teams have 2-3 of these a week.

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What’s it like being an attendee at Google I/O?

It’s a fantastic opportunity to spend quality time with the Google employees who built the APIs you build software on top of—the core Android team, the Google Maps people, the Chrome engineers etc. it’s kind of like Apple’s WWDC in that regard—short of going to work for Google there is no better way to meet and interrogate that many expert Google engineers in one place.

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How scalable is Django?

Django scales in exactly the same way as PHP or Rails or any other stateless shared-nothing web technology: you ensure that the web nodes (running your Django code) are independent from your persistence layer (database, caching, session storage etc) and scale then independently.

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What is a good list of conferences, speaking gigs, hackathons, and other technology-centric events where one can reach software architects and developers?

We have a pretty comprehensive list of (mostly tech) conferences in the Midwest USA here: http://lanyrd.com/places/midwest...

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What advice would you give to a new technical co-founder at a startup?

It sounds to me like you’d be better off seeking an engineering role in an existing, relatively mature startup (one with 5-15 engineers) rather than looking to be a technical co-founder of a brand new company. Startup engineering is likely to be pretty different from what you’re used to, and there’s no better environment to learn than a fast-moving company that already has a small and highly talented group of engineers.

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What are some books that programmers should read to understand logic?

Logic is more of a mathematical concept than a computer science concept—programming books are unlikely to focus on it.

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Besides MTurk, what are some good resources to use when doing market research for a startup?

SurveyMonkey and Google both offer services where you can pay to get responses to a survey from a large number of recipients:

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I have embedded videos in a PowerPoint presentation (using a fix), but now they do not play when I save the file as a .pdf. Any idea how to make this work?

It isn’t possible to embed a video in a PDF file. If you want the embedded video to play you will need to distribute the presentation in the original PowerPoint format.

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I want to write a short summary for every article I read online for future use. What is the best tool to do this?

http://pinboard.in is well suited to this. It’s a bookmarking service (like the old Delicious) with a bookmarklet that lets you quickly annotate and add tags to a link, privately or in public. For an extra fee the site will archive copies of the pages you are linking to as well in case they vanish in the future.

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Is Quip self-funded or VC backed?

VC backed: $15,000,000 Series A from Benchmark Capital. Take a look at their Quip Company Fact Sheet linked from https://quip.com/about/

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How long should I budget for an experienced designer to design a responsive ecommerce store?

There’s no single answer to this—it depends on the scope of the project. A one-page store selling 3 items is quicker to design than a thousand page store with dozens of category homepages etc.

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If I told you "Get me a 20 minute meeting in front of xyz person and I’ll give you $20 whether or not they buy into what i have to offer, would you set up the meeting?

Absolutely not. My ability to make introductions relies on people trusting me to make good introductions. If I make a poor introduction to someone it damages or destroys my ability to make introductions to them in the future. If I get a reputation for selling introductions I’ll lose credibility with everyone in my network.

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What is a good onboarding process for a new employee at a startup?

Have them deploy the site on their first day. This ensures they know how to...

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