Simon Willison’s Weblog

Items in Oct, 2007

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“The web is fundamentally better when it’s social, and we’re only just starting to see what’s possible when you bring social information into different contexts on the web,” said XXXX.

Google's unreleased OpenSocial Press Release # 31st October 2007, 6:39 pm

Python on Leopard. readline is finally bundled, so the interactive interpreter works correctly without hunting around for frustratingly elusive add-ons. easy_install is bundled as well. # 31st October 2007, 5:53 pm

A Roundup Of Leopard Security Features (via) Thomas Ptacek’s overview of the new security features in Leopard. Guest Accounts are worthless from a security P.O.V., but I still plan to use one for our PowerBook that’s now just a media player. # 31st October 2007, 5:30 pm

Sorry PR people: you’re blocked. I was added to some PR mailing lists a few months ago and they appear to be spreading my address around like a nasty disease. I’m tempted to contribute some addresses to Chris Anderson’s block list. # 31st October 2007, 5:22 pm

Marc Andreesen on Open Social. Marc describes it as an open standard for implementing Facebook style “containers” that other applications can live in. My initial assumption that it was an implementation of the Social Graph paper ideas was incorrect. # 31st October 2007, 4:58 pm

I Love My Chicken Wire Mommy (via) Ben Brown discusses Consumating’s points system, and the problems that it caused within the site’s community. I’m always fascinated by how small features like this can have an enormous effect on how people use a site. # 31st October 2007, 4:56 pm

Google Announces the OpenSocial API. I doubt the similarity between this and Brad Fitzpatrick’s social graph paper are a coincidence—what IS impressive is that he only joined Google a couple of months ago. # 31st October 2007, 4:34 pm

LoggerFS. Clever use of FUSE: a virtual filesystem which looks out for lines appended to a log file (matched with a regular expression) and stores them in a database instead. # 29th October 2007, 10:40 am

How Time Machine works. From John Siracusa’s Leopard review. The bad news is that Time Machine doesn’t deal well with huge files that have small changes made to them... such as Parallels VM images. # 29th October 2007, 9:56 am

Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard: the Ars Technica review. John Siracusa’s 17 page review of Leopard, covering everything from UI tweaks to DTrace sample code. Smart use of embedded video and audio too—I suggest setting aside at least an hour to work through it all. # 29th October 2007, 8:55 am

Unicode code converter (via) Richard Ishida’s tool for converting pretty much any unicode representation to any other. # 28th October 2007, 6:26 pm

“Open in TextMate” from Leopard Finder (via) Bookmarked for when our copy of Leopard arrives. # 28th October 2007, 6:24 pm

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. (via) See also: Wikipedia’s “List of linguistic example sentences”. # 28th October 2007, 6:12 pm

VectorMagic. Neat online tool (with a Flex frontend) for tracing bitmap images in to vectors, based on research at the Stanford AI lab. # 28th October 2007, 11:46 am

Django security fix released. Django’s internationalisation system has a denial of service hole in it; you’re vulnerable if you are using the i18n middleware. Fixes have been made available for trunk, 0.96, 0.95 and 0.91. # 26th October 2007, 9:47 pm

CSS Transforms. WebKit can now do transforms (scale, rotate, translate and skew) in CSS via a new -webkit-transform property. Transforms behave like position relative in that they don’t affect the layout of the page. You can also provide a full affine transform matrix as a shortcut. # 26th October 2007, 9:45 pm

CouchDB “Joins”. Different approaches to indexing a blog post and its associated comments in the non-relational CouchDB. # 25th October 2007, 8:27 am

Mailplane (via) A commercial OS X Gmail client built around a site-specific browser. # 25th October 2007, 7:57 am

Site-specific browsers and GreaseKit. New site-specific browser tool which lets you include a bunch of Greasemonkey scripts. For me, the killer feature of site-specific browsers is still cookie isolation (to minimise the impact of XSS and CSRF holes) but none of the current batch of tools advertise this as a feature, and most seem to want to share the system-wide cookie jar. # 25th October 2007, 7:56 am

Virtual Machine Creator (via) Web based tool for creating blank VMware compatible virtual machine images; uses QEMU under the hood. # 24th October 2007, 10:19 pm

A school in the UK is using RFID chips in school uniforms to track attendance. So now it’s easy to cut class; just ask someone to carry your shirt around the building while you’re elsewhere.

Bruce Schneier # 24th October 2007, 8:36 pm

Using the extra() QuerySet modifier in Django for WeGoEat. You can use select() on a QuerySet to obtain extra values using subqueries. # 24th October 2007, 7:28 pm

Upgrading to Prototype 1.6: real world examples. I still don’t find Prototype as intuitive as jQuery, but the API improvements between 1.5 and 1.6 are very impressive. # 24th October 2007, 7:19 pm

In rainbows. Dopplr generates a unique colour for each city using an MD5 hash. The colours are then used in subtle but intelligent ways throughout the design—right down to the favicon. # 23rd October 2007, 10:39 pm

EventScripts 2.0, now with Python. EventScripts is a plugin that lets you write scripts to customise dedicated servers for Valve’s Source engine games (Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike, Team Fortress 2 and the like). Version 2.0 adds support for Python 2.5 as an embedded scripting language. # 22nd October 2007, 11:57 pm

OpenStreetMap on the iPhone! Via an ingenious hack. The Google Maps iPhone client caches downloaded tiles using SQLite—to display your own custom tiles, you just need to dump them straight in to the “cache”. # 22nd October 2007, 3:30 pm

If It Looks Like a Cow, Swims Like a Dolphin and Quacks Like a Duck, It Must Be Enterprise Software. Interesting discussion about why enterprise software tends to completely suck from an end-user point of view. # 22nd October 2007, 1:51 pm

ASP.NET MVC Framework. This looks pretty good. It includes clean URL support that’s very similar to how Django does things (with a nice alternative syntax for developers who don’t like regular expressions). # 22nd October 2007, 1:45 pm

Django may be built for the Web, but CouchDB is built of the Web. I’ve never seen software that so completely embraces the philosophies behind HTTP. CouchDB makes Django look old-school in the same way that Django makes ASP look outdated.

Jacob Kaplan-Moss # 20th October 2007, 1:46 pm

OPSI asks users to contribute to new web channel. The Office of Public Sector Information now has an online forum for people interested in reusing UK government information for commercial benefit, based on a recommendation in the “Power of Information” report by Tom Steinberg and Ed Mayo. # 20th October 2007, 1:18 pm