Simon Willison’s Weblog

Blogmarks in Nov

Filters: Type: blogmark × Month: Nov ×


Why is Apple’s M1 Chip So Fast? (via) This explanation by Erik Engheim is exactly the right level of nerdery for me. # 30th November 2020, 11:20 pm

Datasette Weekly volume 4. Datasette Office Hours, Personal Data Warehouses, datasette-ripgrep, datasette-indieauth, Datasette Client for Observable and more. # 30th November 2020, 11:02 pm

Datasette Office Hours (via) I’ve decided to try running Datasette Office Hours every Friday. If you’d like to chat with me over Zoom about the project for 20 minutes for any reason at all you can grab a slot here using Calendly. # 30th November 2020, 11:01 pm

Datasette 0.52. A relatively small release—it has a new plugin hook (database_actions(), for adding links to a new database actions menu), renames the --config option to --setting and adds a new “datasette publish cloudrun --apt-get-install” option. # 29th November 2020, 12:56 am

Unravelling `not` in Python (via) Part of a series where Brett Cannon looks at how fundamental Python syntactic sugar works, including a clearly explained dive I to the underlying op codes and C implementation. # 27th November 2020, 5:59 pm

Datasette Client for Observable (via) Really elegant piece of code design from Alex Garcia: DatasetteClient is a client library he built designed to work in Observable notebooks, which uses JavaScript tagged template literals to allow SQL query results to be executed against a Datasette instance and displayed as inline tables in a notebook, or used to return JSON data for further processing. His example notebook includes a neat d3 stacked area chart example built against a Datasette of congresspeople, plus examples using interactive widgets to update the Notebook. # 24th November 2020, 6:53 pm

datasette-graphql 1.2 (via) A new release of the datasette-graphql plugin, fixing a minor security flaw: previous versions of the plugin could expose the schema (but not the actual data) of tables in databases that were otherwise protected by Datasette’s permission system. # 21st November 2020, 10:21 pm

I Lived Through A Stupid Coup. America Is Having One Now (via) If, like me, you have been avoiding the word “coup” since it feels like a clear over-reaction to what’s going on, I challenge you to read this piece and not change your mind. # 21st November 2020, 1:21 pm

The trouble with transaction.atomic (via) David Seddon provides a detailed explanation of Django’s nestable transaction.atomic() context manager and describes a gotcha that can occur if you lose track of whether your code is already running in a transaction block, since you may be working with savepoints instead—along with some smart workarounds. # 20th November 2020, 3:57 pm

Internet Archive Software Library: Flash (via) A fantastic new initiative from the Internet Archive: they’re now archiving Flash (.swf) files and serving them for modern browsers using Ruffle, a Flash Player emulator written in Rust and compiled to WebAssembly. They are fully interactive and audio works too. Considering the enormous quantity of creative material released in Flash over the decades this helps fill a big hole in the Internet’s cultural memory. # 19th November 2020, 9:19 pm

Security vulnerability in datasette-indieauth: Implementation trusts the “me” field returned by the authorization server without verifying it. I spotted a critical security vulnerability in my new datasette-indieauth plugin: it accepted the “me” profile URL value returned from the authorization server in the final step of the IndieAuth flow without verifying it, which means a malicious server could imitate any user. I’ve shipped 1.1 with a fix and posted a security advisory to the GitHub repository. # 19th November 2020, 9:14 pm

Amstelvar (via) A real showcase of what variable fonts can do: this open source font by David Berlow has 17 different variables controlling many different aspects of the font. # 17th November 2020, 3:24 pm

Ok Google: please publish your DKIM secret keys (via) The DKIM standard allows email providers such as Gmail to include cryptographic headers that protect against spoofing, proving that an email was sent by a specific host and has not been tampered with. But it has an unintended side effect: if someone’s email is leaked (as happened to John Podesta in 2016) DKIM headers can be used to prove the validity of the leaked emails. This makes DKIM an enabling factor for blackmail and other security breach related crimes. Matthew Green proposes a neat solution: providers like Gmail should rotate their DKIM keys frequently and publish the PRIVATE key after rotation. By enabling spoofing of past email headers they would provide deniability for victims of leaks, fixing this unintended consequence of the DKIM standard. # 16th November 2020, 10:02 pm

CoronaFaceImpact (via) Variable fonts are fonts that can be customized by passing in additional parameters, which is done in CSS using the font-variation-settings property. Here’s a ​variable font that shows multiple effects of Covid-19 lockdown on a bearded face, created by Friedrich Althausen. # 15th November 2020, 10:41 pm

The Cleanest Trick for Autogrowing Textareas (via) This is a very clever trick. Textarea content is mirrored into a data attribute using a JavaScript one-liner, then a visibility: hidden ::after element clones that content using content: attr(data-replicated-value). The hidden element exists in a CSS grid with the textarea which allows the textarea to resize within the grid when the hidden element increases its height. # 14th November 2020, 5:24 am

Hunting for Malicious Packages on PyPI (via) Jordan Wright installed all 268,000 Python packages from PyPI in containers, and ran Sysdig to capture syscalls made during installation to see if any of them were making extra network calls or reading or writing from the filesystem. Absolutely brilliant piece of security engineering and research. # 14th November 2020, 4:48 am

Intent to Remove: HTTP/2 and gQUIC server push (via) The Chrome / Blink team announce their intent to remove HTTP/2 server push support, where servers can start pushing an asset to a client before it has been requested. It’s been in browsers for over five years now and adoption is terrible. “Over the past 28 days [...] 99.97% of connections never received a pushed stream that got matched with a request [...] These numbers are exactly the same as in June 2019”. Datasette serves redirects with Link: preload headers that cause smart proxies (like Cloudflare) to push the redirected page to the client along with the redirect, but I don’t exepect to miss that optimization if it quietly stops working. # 12th November 2020, 1:44 am

nyt-2020-election-scraper. Brilliant application of git scraping by Alex Gaynor and a growing team of contributors. Takes a JSON snapshot of the NYT’s latest election poll figures every five minutes, then runs a Python script to iterate through the history and build an HTML page showing the trends, including what percentage of the remaining votes each candidate needs to win each state. This is the perfect case study in why it can be useful to take a “snapshot if the world right now” data source and turn it into a git revision history over time. # 6th November 2020, 2:24 pm

Learning from Mini Apps (via) WeChat, Baidu, Alipay and Douyin in China are all examples of “Super apps” that can host “Mini apps” written in HTML and JavaScript by other developers and installed via in-app search or through scanning a QR code. Mini apps are granted (permission-gated) access to further system APIs via a JavaScript bridge. It’s a fascinating developer ecosystem, explored in detail here by Thomas Steiner. # 5th November 2020, 5:21 pm

CSVs: The good, the bad, and the ugly (via) Useful, thoughtful summary of the pros and cons of the most common format for interchanging data. # 5th November 2020, 5:19 pm

selenium-wire. Really useful scraping tool: enhances the Python Selenium bindings to run against a proxy which then allows Python scraping code to look at captured requests—great for if a site you are working with triggers Ajax requests and you want to extract data from the raw JSON that came back. # 2nd November 2020, 6:58 pm

How Do You Remove Unused CSS From a Site? (via) Chris Coyier takes an exhaustive look at the current set of tools for automatically removing unused CSS, and finds that there’s no magic bullet but you can get OK results if you use them carefully. # 21st November 2019, 4:41 am

datasette-template-sql (via) New Datasette plugin, celebrating the new ability in Datasette 0.32 to have asynchronous custom template functions in Jinja (which was previously blocked by the need to support Python 3.5). The plugin adds a sql() function which can be used to execute SQL queries that are embedded directly in custom templates. # 15th November 2019, 12:59 am

Datasette 0.31. Released today: this version adds compatibility with Python 3.8 and breaks compatibility with Python 3.5. Since Glitch support Python 3.7.3 now I decided I could finally give up on 3.5. This means Datasette can use f-strings now, but more importantly it opens up the opportunity to start taking advantage of Starlette, which makes all kinds of interesting new ASGI-based plugins much easier to build. # 12th November 2019, 6:11 am

My Python Development Environment, 2020 Edition (via) Jacob Kaplan-Moss shares what works for him as a Python environment coming into 2020: pyenv, poetry, and pipx. I’m not a frequent user of any of those tools—it definitely looks like I should be. # 12th November 2019, 1:30 am

pinboard-to-sqlite (via) Jacob Kaplan-Moss just released the second Dogsheep tool that wasn’t written by me (after goodreads-to-sqlite by Tobias Kunze)—this one imports your Pinterest bookmarks. The repo includes a really clean minimal example of how to use GitHub actions to run tests and release packages to PyPI. # 7th November 2019, 8:46 pm

The first ever commit to Sentry (via) This is fascinating: the first 70 lines of code that started the Sentry error tracking project. It’s a straight-forward Django process_exception() middleware method that collects the traceback and the exception class and saves them to a database. The trick of using the md5 hash of the traceback message to de-dupe errors has been there from the start, and remains one of my favourite things about the design of Sentry. # 6th November 2019, 11:08 pm

Automate the Boring Stuff with Python: Working with PDF and Word Documents. I stumbled across this while trying to extract some data from a PDF file (the kind of file with actual text in it as opposed to dodgy scanned images) and it worked perfectly: PyPDF2.PdfFileReader(open(“file.pdf”, “rb”)).getPage(0).extractText() # 6th November 2019, 4:17 pm

selenium-demoscraper (via) Really useful minimal example of a Binder project. Click the button to launch a Jupyter notebook in Binder that can take screenshots of URLs using Selenium-controlled headless Firefox. The binder/ folder uses an apt.txt file to install Firefox, requirements.txt to get some Python dependencies and a postBuild Python script to download the Gecko Selenium driver. # 4th November 2019, 3:05 pm

Cloud Run Button: Click-to-deploy your git repos to Google Cloud (via) Google Cloud Run now has its own version of the Heroku deploy button: you can add a button to a GitHub repository which, when clicked, will provide an interface for deploying your repo to the user’s own Google Cloud account using Cloud Run. # 4th November 2019, 4:57 am