Simon Willison’s Weblog

57 items tagged “askmetafilter”

2016

Let’s make moving and packing FUN again

Something nice I’ve done in the past that has worked surprisingly well is to record a time lapse video of the packing. I used software for my laptop (an OS X app called Gawker, but I don’t think it works today so you may need a different solution) which takes a frame every 30 seconds and combines it into a video. Stick the laptop in a high up corner with a good wide view of the room and get to work.

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Help with next steps for a startup

Have you thought about applying to Y Combinator? The reason I ask is that “I have lots of expertise in language learning and basically zero expertise in startups, market research, business, fundraising, app pricing, etc” is pretty much YC’s sweet spot: they know that it’s much easier teaching those things to engineers and makers than it is to teach engineering to business people (I’m assuming you have product and engineering skills based on your description of your progress so far).

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I’m in Polanco (Mexico City) and I hate it. Where to go?

You said you want to avoid expensive taxis.. are you morally opposed to Uber? If not you should know that it works in Mexico City (with your regular Uber account registered in another country), it’s fast and not very espensive. It may give you a lot more flexibility for exploring the city.

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2015

Weekend travel in Europe

I’ve been using www.atlasobscura.com a lot for travel inspiration recently—it’s particularly good for finding the most interesting/weird things in a given area (it can even do geolocation in your phone to show the most interesting nearby things). I bet you could find some very exciting options there.

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2010

Nile Cruises: Does the “Oberoi Shehrayar” actually exist?

Yeah, that’s the site he showed us I think. I’m leaning towards “bog standard Nile Cruiser adopts confusing name to try and get ahead of the rest” as the explanation at the moment. There are 270 cruisers on the Nile, after all.

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2009

Ask MetaFilter’s best introductory books. Part of Phil Gyford’s ongoing quest to “learn about everything”, a list of the best introductory books to a wide range of topics collated from a thread on Ask MetaFilter. # 12th May 2009, 11:23 am

2007

Getting from point A to B (the right way)

If your laptop is relatively recent it might have hardware support for virtualization (Intel Core Duo chips do, for example). If so, it’s worth looking in to using VMWare or Parallels to run a virtual linux server locally on your machine. You’ll need a fair amount of RAM for this as well—2 GB minimum probably.

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Website for the masses!

You could try building it on top of a wiki engine, like MediaWiki—see my comment on this older question.

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What to do on vacation?

I had a fantastic (and not expensive) Cajun meal here last night at Montage—really fun place, very quirky.

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Help me figure out my Macbook Pro!

For (slightly) better diagnostics of your wireless connection problems, try running the “Console” application (use Quicksilver or Spotlight to find it). That will show your the system log which often includes more information about connection errors.

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Problems with XHTML content type.

The first question you should be asking is why you need XHTML—if you don’t have a specific reason (the need for XML parsers to be able to consume your pages) you’re much better off with HTML 4.01 for now, and HTML 5 in probably a year or so.

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San Diego, tell me more

You should totally go to Horton Plaza. It’s a shopping mall, but it’s also basically one big architectural joke. Everything is at funny angles, and stairs and ramps never take you where they think you will. I usually have no interest in visiting malls at all but I totally loved it.

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Stupid computers.....do what I want!

Look for a header called X-Forwarded-For, but be sure to read this first.

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Warning, this is a bad site!

Unfortunately it’s not a glitch in the matrix—this happened to a friend of mine. If a site gets this warning and isn’t listed on StopBadWare.org it just means that Google have blacklisted it themselves—they don’t share their reasons with StopBadWare, and provide no mechanism to find out why they’ve blacklisted you. The link to StopBadWare is something of a red herring.

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No boys allowed. Ask MetaFilter on how to build the perfect fort. # 10th February 2007, 4:29 pm

How can my non-tech-savvy Mum maintain her own website?

Here’s a trick I’ve used in the past. Find a simple wiki package (I used Tavi). Install it, twice. Point both installations at the same backend database. Now password protect one of them with .htaccess—that’s the one that gets used to edit her site. Make some simple template modifications to the other one to make it not look like a wiki—remove the edit links (and delete the edit saving code for good measure), configure it to display WikiLinks with spaces in the middle, then add the site’s navigation around the top. This wiki will be the public site.

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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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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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Patching Windows XP from burned CDs?

antifuse: that’s perfect, thanks. Unfortunately slipstreaming isn’t really an option—or at least I’d rather avoid it (I’d have to take her laptop home with me and return it another time).

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What are some good software development/open source blogs?

http://www.thedailywtf.com/ is an endlessly entertaining guide to how not to develop software.

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Can social bookmarking services prevent a bookmark from becoming dead links?

Yahoo!’s MyWeb 2.0 can do that. (Disclaimer: I work for Yahoo!, but not directly on that product).

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2005

Get tickets for filming of Jools Holland’s TV show

I was in the audience for “Later” once. I called up the BBC’s ticket office and asked for tickets—they told me there was a year long waiting list. I asked to be put on it anyway, and sure enough just over a year later I got 4 tickets in the mail. Well worth the wait!

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Space Shuttle Columbia Accident

The official accident report is surprisingly readable—I had to look at it a while back for a university project.

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Do Content Management Systems really work?

Have you considered trying a Wiki? In my experience, the more permissions / workflow / etc you have in a CMS the more likely it is that people won’t use it. Wikis may be a little unconventional but the barrier to entry is fantastically low and they can work extremely well (I like MediaWiki or TaviWiki myself).

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I need a new backpack

I’m a big fan of eBags.com for this kind of thing, because it lets you pick the model of your laptop and then tells you which bags it will fit in. I bought a bag from there last year and the e-commerce / delivery side of things was flawless.

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