Simon Willison’s Weblog

Entries in Jan, 2011

Filters: Type: entry × Year: 2011 × Month: Jan ×

What are the most recent Y Combinator startup companies as of 2011?

We (Lanyrd) are a YC startup! We’ve just announced our participation:

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How do you stay up to date with Open Source products and technologies?

Lots of blogs and RSS feeds—in particular, I subscribe to the feed of the authors of the software that I’m using, if I can find them.

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Is Node.js a strong platform to use to build a RESTful API platform?

Yes. It’s very, very good at speaking HTTP.

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Who is attending Webstock 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand?

We have a list of 46 Twitter users who are attending Webstock 2011 here:

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What are the must visit web conferences in the UK for 2011?

We’ve pretty much hit critical mass in the UK web scene with Lanyrd now, so there are very few notable UK web conferences in 2011 that aren’t listed. Here are some useful starting points:

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What are the best design conferences or meetups in Switzerland?

I haven’t been myself, but Lift has an excellent reputation:

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What are some of the wackiest panel discussion formats?

There’s a format called a fish bowl which is pretty fascinating:

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Which web server suits Django best? Apache, Nginx or something else?

I’m still a big fan of a stripped down Apache+mod_wsgi running behind nginx.

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Why exactly isn’t TextMate available for other platforms like Ubuntu?

Because it was written in Objective-C using the Cocoa framework, which is only available on OS X. Porting it would not be at all easy.

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Why would someone browse the web with JavaScript disabled?

Security conscious users (who understand the implications of XSS and CSRF attacks) sometimes disable JavaScript completely, or use a tool like the NoScript extension to disable it for all sites and only re-enable it on a small whitelist of sites that they trust.

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Are Silicon Valley entrepreneurs taking less risk than 8-9 yrs ago?

I’d guess internet startups today are taking advantage of the fact that there’s a LOT more knowledge now of what works online and what doesn’t. 9 years ago people were still figuring out what the internet is useful for. Today it’s easier to figure out a product that people are likely to want, based on nearly 20 years of experience of how people use the Web.

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How does FriendFeed work, and what programming languages are used?

It was written in Python, using the Tornado asynchronous web server (which the FriendFeed team developed themselves). They used their own schemaless NoSQL-style store based on keeping serialized objects in MySQL.

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What are some great stories about Steve Jobs?

The stories on are fantastic—here’s their collection about Steve Jobs:

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What programming conferences are in Romania in 2011?

How To Web looked like an excellent conference last year. They haven’t announced dates for 2011 yet but I’d keep an eye on their Twitter account:

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Is there a way of tracking shortened URLs with Twitter streaming API?

Think about it like this: the whole point of the Twitter streaming API is to get you the tweets as soon after they are posted as possible. If the API were to provide access to the lengthened URLs, it would have to delay emitting a Tweet on to the stream until a resolver had gone through each shortened URL in the tweet and checked to find what it redirects to. This would mean that the speed with which the streaming API could deal out tweets would be dependent on the speed of the third party servers that serve up the redirects. I doubt Twitter would ever want to implement this.

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How do you find conferences that interest you?

We had this exact same problem, which is why we created—it’s a wiki-style conference listing site (currently listing over 1,000 upcoming events) which lets you sign in with Twitter and uses the people you follow on Twitter to suggest events you might want to go to.

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What are some other conferences/expos similar to BlogWorld and Internet Retailer?

SOBCon Chicago has four speakers this year who spoke at BlogWorld last year: /

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Simon Willison: What are new interesting technologies in your radar as of January 2011?

I’ve been head down building Lanyrd for the past 4 months, so not much time to check out new stuff. I’m still very excited by Node.js and Redis, but I was excited about those last year. ElasticSearch looks very interesting (we’re currently using Solr but I’d contemplate a switch). I’m looking forward to giving CoffeeScript another go now that it’s matured a bit. Other than those I’m too busy learning operations software (syslog-ng is next on my list) to play with much other new stuff.

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Why do so many web developers hate Microsoft?

It’s because by far the least enjoyable part of web development is dealing with bugs in IE.

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What conferences should a programmer working in the industry follow?

If I had to pick just one programming-related conference a year, it would probably be OSCON. The maintainers of pretty much every piece of software I use on a daily basis go there.

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What are some recommendations for good social media and/or digital marketing conferences to attend in 2011?

Our list of social media conferences on Lanyrd currently shows 46 upcoming events:

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What is the best way to debug a Django app?

The Django Debug Toolbar is essential:

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Is there an online calendar for all the Ruby / Rails conferences to be held in 2011?

Have you tried both our Ruby and our Rails topic pages?

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Public Speaking: Where is a good place to get started as a speaker?

Start small. There are plenty of small local events around that accept (and even encourage) first-time speakers. The single most valuable thing you can do to improve as a speaker is to get as much experience as possible.

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Is there any fairly easy way to travel internationally without taking a corporate airline, cruise, bus etc?

Apparently there is—I haven’t tried it myself, but it’s not impossible to hitch hike on someone’s yacht. It helps if you know how to sail, but if you know how to cook that can get you on board as well.

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What is a good business model for open source projects?


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What boardgame is the best to play for a scheming rat bastard?

Junta is a lot of fun:

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What is the best way to find about the upcoming startup events in India?

There are quite a few events of interest to entrepreneurs showing up on Lanyrd:—you can also subscribe to our Atom feed for that page to hear about future events.

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Who are the best female speakers on the topic of social media who are equal parts knowledgeable and engaging?

Meg Pickard from the Guardian
Suw Charman-Anderson

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Are there any tech conferences in Miami around the time that WMC takes place (March 8-12)?

There’s SuperConf on the 25th-26th of February: /

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