Simon Willison’s Weblog

1004 items tagged “quora”

2010

When should one switch from MySQL to Oracle or PostgreSQL?

When your own benchmarks prove that your application’s particular load characteristics will perform better on another database—and the difference is large enough that it’s worth the cost involved in retargeting your code. If that cost is high (and it probably will be) it may be worth paying for some expert consultants to ensure that your implementations against the different databases are properly optimised.

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Is the .ly domain unsafe? Why?

It’s always been unsafe in my opinion. Why build your company around a domain name that’s controlled by the Libyan government?

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Where can I find a database of the cities in the United States, their populations, and square miles?

On Freebase: http://www.freebase.com/view/use...—if you sign up for a Freebase account you can further filter this report to include areas.

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What are the advantages of running Apache behind nginx as opposed to just Apache by itself?

I do this for all of my Django stuff—I have Django running on modwsgi on a stripped down Apache (almost no configuration except for the modwsgi stuff), then I put an nginx on port 80 which serves the static files directly and proxies dynamic requests back to Apache.

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Is it not time for Google to redesign its search page by removing the “search” & “I’m Feeling Lucky” buttons since the buttons are now useless with the new “Instant” structure?

I don’t think so. The “Search” button defines their entire purpose. The “I’m Feeling Lucky” button is an important part of their brand.

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What are some peculiarities of American culture which are not easily understood by foreigners?

US flags on /everything/ (the biggest ones seem reserved for used car sales lots though). In the UK it’s actually pretty rare to see a UK flag on anything—they come out for big international sporting events, but other than that they are usually ever only seen on government buildings.

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Why do so few companies use the Dojo Toolkit?

Dojo is fantastic software, but it does a lot more than the other libraries and consequently has a much higher learning curve. It’s advanced features may serve as something of a disadvantage for achieving more widespread adoption—most developers don’t need the more advanced abstractions provided by Dojo when they start their projects, and by the time they DO need that stuff they’ve already written a ton of code using another library!

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What does the key word “yield” in Python do?

The best documentation I’ve seen on generators is this: http://www.dabeaz.com/generators/

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Is the 90-9-1 rule of user participation a myth?

Anecdotal evidence from crowdsourcing style projects I’ve worked on tend to support the basic principle (if not the exact ratios). The vast majority of the work on projects I have been involved with ends up being performed by a tiny subset of highly active users.

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What company had the first API?

They weren’t the first to have an API, but Flickr were the first consumer web site that really pushed the concept in my opinion. They originally promoted it as “you can always get your data back if you want to”, but they then greatly benefited from the ecosystem that grew up around it.

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Why is it hard to see who the poster of a question is on Quora?

This is probably my favourite thing about Quora, and one of the reasons I think it’s so much more interesting than other Q&A sites.

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What is the best way to list every key stored in memcached?

Redis might be a better bet for this—it has a “KEYS *” command which can return every key in the dataset, and its GET and SET performance are comparable to memcached.

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Does Quora have the same problem as Stack Overflow?

Quora isn’t one community, it’s thousands of separate communities—a community for each tag, and then a community for each user comprising their followers. As such, I think it will scale much better than the Stack Overflow community did, without needing to split out in to separate verticals.

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What are the best places to visit in Morocco?

We just spent six weeks travelling around Morocco. Our favourite town was Chefchaouen, up in the mountains—it has an incredible medina (walled city center) painted in different shades of blue. It’s a lot more relaxed than other parts of Morocco, though if you got there first (as we did) you may not appreciate it as much. It’s a three hour bus journey from Fez, so I’d suggest visiting Fez first.

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Are there any web design conferences in Southeast Asia?

Our site, Lanyrd, lists a few:

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Who are the best Python developers in Los Angeles?

Mahalo is based in Santa Monica, and they have a very talented team of Python/Django people. They also host a regular Django meetup: http://www.meetup.com/ladjango/

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Is there a modern, tested, reliable, standalone onDomReady function that isn’t part of a larger library?

I’ve just noticed that the original comment thread on Dean Edwards blog from 2006 is still open, and a comment by byron from January 2010 has a promising looking candidate: http://dean.edwards.name/weblog/...

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What is a painless way for a non-Unix programmer to get started learning Unix or GNU/Linux?

I’d suggest getting yourself an Ubuntu virtual machine running on your own laptop—VirtualBox is free, so that’s a good starting point. That way you can play with Linux all you like without fear of breaking anything, since you can always delete the image or roll back to a snapshot.

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Is it important for modern programmers to know how to use Unix? Why?

I’d say yes. If you do any kind of server-side development, Linux/Unix etc UNIX (links to: /topic/Unix), etc., is where most of the exciting innovation is happening. Tools like HadoopApache Hadoop (links to: /topic/Apache-Hadoop), RedisRedis (links to: /topic/Redis), MongoDBMongoDB (links to: /topic/MongoDB), nginxnginx (links to: /topic/nginx), git etc Git (links to: /topic/Git-version-control-1), etc., all come from a Unix UNIX culture, and not knowing your way around a command line makes it much harder to get to grips with them.

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How does Lanyrd compare to Plancast?

Plancast is a general purpose event site. They handle concerts, birthday parties, gigs, conferences and so on. They allow you to sign in with Twitter or Facebook, and make use of your social graph from both.

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What are some tips for a new Python developer coming from C++/Java?

Read “Python is not Java” from 2004—it has some good tips on how working with the two languages differs.

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Is the complexity of basic Python data structure operations documented?

Python’s C code has some excellent documentation, including detailed write-ups of how Python’s dictionary and sorting algorithms work. They’re a great read.

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What’s the easiest way to take an existing Django view and make it “real time” via long polling?

I’d advocate decoupling your long polling endpoints entirely from the rest of your web app stack. Personally I like Node.js for this, but Tornado would work just fine too (I’ve experimented successfully with Tornado long polling in the past).

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Aside from Disrupt, what other tech conferences do you track?

Self promoting here (not sure if that’s OK by Quora community standards or not), but the site we just launched, Lanyrd.com, answers this question. It lets you sign in with Twitter and see what events your Twitter friends are tracking, attending or speaking at. It also lets you create a conference profile page—here’s mine, which shows the upcoming conferences I am tracking at the moment: http://lanyrd.com/people/simonw/

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What is the best conference for Web Designers in Australia to Attend?

I’ve not been, but I’ve always heard great things about Web Directions South. I attended/spoke-at @media in London run by the same team this year and it was excellent.

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Why are XSS attacks spreading like fire these days?

XSS attacks are common and easy, and crop up all the time. What’s new is that the number of people who are aware of the potential for XSS worms has increased hugely, so when an XSS does crop up in something popular there’s a much higher chance of someone turning it in to a worm (as happened with Twitter the other day).

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What new tools and technologies you learnt recently are worth it?

Redis: http://simonwillison.net/2009/Oc... and http://simonwillison.net/static/...

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Will Redis support per-database persistence configuration?

I don’t know if that’s on the roadmap (you’d need to ask antirez on the mailing list or Twitter), but it should be easy enough to run multiple Redis instances with different settings—especially on a multi core machine.

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Why are tech conferences so expensive to attend?

Large conferences with big name speakers are expensive to organise. They are also priced to what the market will bear.

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Why do so many Internet sites end with the letter ’r’ (but not ’er’)?  Think about Tumblr, Dopplr, Migratr.  What’s behind this?

We just launched a project called lanyrd, which is a play on lanyard. We partly picked the name because the domain was available, but there’s actually a big advantage to using a made-up word: it’s really easy to search for coverage and feedback on Twitter, Google Blogsearch and the like. The string “lanyrd” is almost exclusively used to discuss our project—had we used a dictionary word, tracking down feedback would have been a lot harder.

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