Simon Willison’s Weblog

Entries in Jun

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Porting Datasette to ASGI, and Turtles all the way down

This evening I finally closed a Datasette issue that I opened more than 13 months ago: #272: Port Datasette to ASGI. A few notes on why this is such an important step for the project.

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Free Afternoon in San Francisco with no car

My absolute favorite thing to do in SF is to walk up a hill. My favourite hill in the city is Corona Heights over in the Castro—it’s beautiful and the view is spectacular. It’s not part of the regular tourist circuit—you can think of it as a best-kept-secret of the city.

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A thing to do in London that is special, unusual and fun

London has some of the best cocktail bars in the world. I’m a big fan of this top 50 list, which is updated every year based on an international panel of bartenders. It looks like the American Bar at the Savoy is back at the top for London now—it’s been serving cocktails for over 100 years including keeping the American cocktail tradition alive during prohibition. Sure, it’s expensive but your budget should cover a couple of drinks each (which for me is absolutely enough for an evening). Or you could hit a couple of the bars on that list and have a drink at each one

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What are useful tools for building out web app Infrastructure?

First, make sure you know your way around a command automation tool, such as Fabric (Python) or Capistrano (Ruby).

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How can you assign routes for a website in a .net environment?

You’ll have a much easier time of it if you use paths that start at the root rather than relative paths, eg <a href=“/foo/bar/”> instead of <a href=“../bar/”>

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Why does Python not have any data structures that store data in sorted order?

The bisect module provides functions for achieving this using a python list as the underlying data structure:

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If I write a blog, then use the same information to create a slideshare presentation, will that help or hurt my website’s SEO?

I would be absolutely amazed if you were hit by a duplicate content penalty for this. To a search engine spider (even a super advanced one) content formatted as a blog post and similar content repurposed as slides will look completely different.

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What do you offer to a high-profile speaker when inviting him to an event?

Unless they live locally it’s almost rude not to offer flights and accommodation—they will certainly expect it.

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Where can I get Korean alcoholic soju yoghurt in London?

We found somewhere! Han Kang near Tottenham Court Road

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What books are there for living a life as an startup entrepreneur? Giving up a job and then find a mentor, Brainstorming ideas, locating seed money. Hire Programmers. Have I got this right?

Read The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses—see also

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Does anybody get mad at the moderators here at Quora?

I get annoyed with question redirects sometimes. When I answer a question I try to take in to account the exact specifics and exact context of the question, which are usually obliterated by a merge with a similar but not semantically identical question.

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What is the best way to deploy Django?

These days a popular and reliable method is to run gunicorn behind nginx. This tutorial includes notes on using upstart for process management which is handy if you are on Ubuntu:

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What is the relationship between CTO and VP of Engineering typically like?

There was a great talk about this topic last year by the CTO and VP Engineering if Joyent at the Monkigras conference in London—slides and video available here:

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Will people pay $25 to see a blockbuster-type movie?

Here in London my closest cinema is charging £17.45 for an adult ticket to see Man of Steel in 3D, which is equivalent to $27.55. I’ve paid the same to see Star Trek Into Darkness recently.

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Do Flask and Django have a GUI interface like web2py?

No. The web2py GUI is something of an oddity in the Python world.

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Where can I find an updated DB of countries, states and cities?

This is a surprisingly complicated question. The first thing you might want to ask yourself is “what’s a country”—how do you deal with places on this List of states with limited recognition for example?

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What’s the best platform I can use for a food delivery startup? Shopify? Or should I instead learn to code?

Don’t build an e-commerce system as your first programming project—I know engineers with many years of experience who wouldn’t trust themselves to write code that handles money.

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How do some public speakers memorize so many statistics when speaking on stage?

It’s really not hard. If you’re memorising a complete speech, remembering a few statistics is easy in comparison. Also, the stats you use in a speech should be meaningful (otherwise thy include them at all?) which means the have a built in mnemonic.

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What is the best conference welcome video you’ve ever seen?

Webstock always have awesome opening titles. Here’s their 2013 one: Webstock ’13 opening—it’s worth hunting around for previous years as well.

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Who was accepted into Y Combinator’s Summer 2013 batch?

You are unlikely to get any good answers to this question for a while, because YC startups are advised not to announce their participation straight away. Instead, they usually hold the announcement until they are ready to launch something—it’s a useful hook for getting extra coverage for the story.

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What is the equivalent of E3 in the UK?

Develop in Brighton is a huge event for game developers. GameCity in Nottingham is another important one.

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What tech conferences will be taking place in Seattle the summer of 2013?

We have a list of upcoming (mostly tech) professional events and conferences in Seattle here: Conferences in Seattle | Conferences & Events | Lanyrd

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What are some personalized ways to search for an event?

For conferences and professional events, try out our service—if you sign in with Twitter (or LinkedIn) we’ll show you events the people you are connected to are speaking at or attending, and we can make further recommendations based on your interest graph if you let us know which topics you are interested in.

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What should tech conferences, events and planners do to add diversity?

JSConf did something very clever that helped them get 25% female speakers last year: Beating the Odds—How We got 25% Women Speakers for JSConf EU 2012

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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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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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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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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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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.

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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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