Simon Willison’s Weblog

Entries in 2006

Filters: Type: entry × Year: 2006 ×


How is Google giving me access to this page?

Google have an open URL redirector, so you can craft a link that uses that:

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Sending a postal letter via the internets?

Thanks mycapaciousbottega. It looks like there’s still a business opportunity here because emailbypost.com doesn’t work! I got through the create-your-letter step, but when I hit the “pay” button I got an error from the payment service stating that their user account didn’t exist.

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What is the physically smallest and cheapest laptop capable of running OS X?

Apple rumors are worth approximately nothing, but there’s one going around that a ultra-slim 12“ MacBook Pro is going to be announced at MacWorld Expo some time in the second week of January; might be worth holding on until then to see if there’s any truth to it. There’s certainly a 12” sized hole in the line-up at the moment.

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OpenID screencast

OpenID’s biggest problem is its learning curve. Using it as actually really simple, but if you’re not technical the amount of stuff you have to know before you can understand it is enormous. If you are technical, it just doesn’t seem like it should work—there are a bunch of questions that come up every time OpenID is discussed anywhere (“but surely there’s nothing to stop someone else from spoofing your ID”) which OpenID has answers for, but which are easily misunderstood.

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Why JSON isn’t just for JavaScript

Dave Winer’s discovery of JSON (and shock that “it’s not even XML”) has triggered an interesting discussion thread, on his blog and elsewhere. Plenty of people have re-assured him (and themselves) that it’s only used for JavaScript—it’s convenient in the browser but irrelevant elsewhere.

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How to turn your blog in to an OpenID

Wouldn’t it be great if you could use the same account to log in to multiple sites and applications, without having to trust them all with your password? Wouldn’t it be even better if you could do this without having to hand ownership of your online identity over to some monolithic third party? (I’m looking at you, .NET Passport Microsoft Passport Windows Live ID.)

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Finally powered by Django

It’s been way too long, but I’ve finally replaced the ball of PHP duct tape that has run this site for the past four years with a shiny new blog engine powered by Django.

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Freeing the postcode

UK postcodes have some interesting characteristics: a full six character post code identifies an average of around 14 house holds, and postcodes are mainly hierarchical—W1W will always be contained within W1 for example. They’re useful for a huge range of interesting things.

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WriteRoom

I had a look at WriteRoom a few months ago and wasn’t impressed, but Leonard just convinced me to give it another look and I’m completely sold. It’s a free text editor for OS X with two killer features:

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Tamarin

On Tuesday, the Mozilla Foundation and Adobe announced the Tamarin project, an open-source ECMAScript virtual machine based on the ActionScript engine used by Flash Player 9.

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Fun with ctypes

This probably only works on Intel-based OS X machines:

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Graphing requests with Tamper Data

I spent the weekend in Boston, speaking at GBC/ACM’s Deep Ajax seminar with Alex Russell and Adrian Holovaty. I’ll be posting some notes on this later, but I wanted to share a really neat Firefox extension that Alex showed me: Tamper Data.

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Keep your JSON valid

I’m a big fan of JSON, and it’s great to see it turning up as an output option for so many Web APIs. Unfortunately, many of these APIs are getting the details slightly wrong and in doing so are producing invalid JSON.

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What I’m excited about, post-conference edition

Wow, I’ve had a really busy month. I’ve attended (and spoken at) BarCamp London, Media in Transition, d.Construct, RailsConf Europe, Euro Foo and EuroOSCON. All were excellent, and each one nicely complemented the others. I’m exhausted. I think my brain is full.

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The YDN Python Developer Center

I recently had the opportunity to put together the Python Developer Center for the Yahoo! Developer Network. YDN is one of my favourite parts of Yahoo! so I jumped at the chance, and the resulting mini-site is now online (YDN blog post here).

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Sticking with Opera 9

It’s been a month and a half since I started using Opera 9, with a promise to report back later. I’m still using it, although some of the things I liked initially have faded while others have emerged.

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LUG Radio Live and Ask Later

I attended two grassroots technology events in the past two weeks: LUG Radio Live 2006 and London Ask Later (previously known as Techa Kucha night, name changed after some emails from the holders of the UK Pecha Kucha trademark). Both were excellent events in their own right, and great examples of event organisation done on a small to non-existent budget.

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Notes on JavaScript Libraries

@media 2006 was a blast. Great talks, great people and some of the highest production values I’ve ever seen at a conference (check out the bags!).

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Fjax: Just say no

To my utter amazement, a decent amount of buzz appears to be building around a new “technology” called Fjax—much of it centred around this interview on Webmonkey, but also benefiting from a mention on the O’Reilly Radar and of course the obligatory Digg story.

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Two revolutionary features in Opera 9

Wow, if I’m not careful this is going to turn in to a promotional blog for Opera.

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EasyEclipse

Back in November of 2004 I posted a rant about how difficult it was to download and install the Eclipse IDE from the official site. I’m delighted to hear that my rant was partially responsible for the creation of the EasyEclipse project, which not only provides easily installable packages for setting up a Java development environment but also covers LAMP development as well.

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Web APIs, not Web Services

In Web Services are Dead, Long Live Web Services, Mark Nottingham suggests HTTP Web Services as a better phrase for discussing machine-to-machine communication using HTTP where the WS-* stack isn’t assumed.

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Notes from my Yahoo! UI Library talk

I gave my talk on the Yahoo! User Interface Library here at XTech on Tuesday. There’s so much great stuff in the library that cramming it all in to 45 minutes proved impossible, so I ended up focusing on the utilities (dom, event, connection, animation and dragdrop) and providing an overview of the controls at the end.

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Opera Mini 2.0

Just as I was getting thoroughly sick of the whole X-2.0 trend along comes a product I can really get excited about. Opera Mini 2.0 is a truly lovely piece of software. It’s a free web browser for your phone, accompanied by a free proxy:

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So long Safari?

All browsers have bugs—especially relating to fancy JavaScript stuff. Any truly complex web application is likely to run in to browser bugs, and fixing them takes a whole bunch of time. Bugs in IE and Firefox are pretty well understood, as are the workarounds for them.

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Speaking gigs

I’ve been doing a fair amount of public speaking recently, based on the principle that the only way to get good at it is to get a lot of practise. My last two talks were a session on Django and Web Application Frameworks at the ACCU 2006 conference and a talk on the Yahoo! Developer Network for NMK’s Beers and Innovation series.

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Exciting stuff in Python 2.5

Python 2.5 alpha 1 is out, and as usual the What’s New in Python 2.5 document provides a pleasant overview of the new features. There are some real treats in there. While I’m hoping that the syntax for conditional expressions will grow on me, I’m looking forward to Partial function application becoming a common Python idiom. Relative imports are going to make Django applications a lot easier to redistribute, and I can’t wait to see all the crazy hacks that result from the introduction of coroutines.

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Naked day

Naked and proud.

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Learning Flash for programmers?

I’ve decided it’s about time I learnt some Flash, mainly because of the exciting opportunities posed by the Flash-JavaScript bridge. It’s become pretty obvious now that Flash is the most practical option for dealing with audio and video on the Web, and the bridge means that anything Flash can do is now available to JavaScript as well. Google Finance and the Yahoo! JS-Flash Maps API are just two recent examples of why this stuff is worth knowing more about.

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My ETech JavaScript tutorial

I gave a three hour JavaScript tutorial at ETech this morning, aimed at people with previous programming experience who hadn’t yet dived deep in to JavaScript as a programming language. It seemed to go pretty well—some good questions were asked at various points and a few people told me afterwards that they had found it interesting.

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