E-Scribe : a programmer’s blog

About Me

PBX I'm Paul Bissex. I build web applications using open source software, especially Django. Started my career doing graphic design for newspapers and magazines in the '90s. Then wrote tech commentary and reviews for Wired, Salon, Chicago Tribune, and others you never heard of. Then I built operations software at a photography school. Then I helped big media serve 40 million pages a day. Then I worked on a translation services API doing millions of dollars of business. Now I'm building the core platform of a global startup accelerator. Feel free to email me.


I co-wrote "Python Web Development with Django". It was the first book to cover the long-awaited Django 1.0. Published by Addison-Wesley and still in print!


Built using Django, served with gunicorn and nginx. The database is SQLite. Hosted on a FreeBSD VPS at Johncompanies.com. Comment-spam protection by Akismet.


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Stuff I Use

Bitbucket, Debian Linux, Django, Emacs, FreeBSD, Git, jQuery, LaunchBar, macOS, Markdown, Mercurial, Python, S3, SQLite, Sublime Text, xmonad

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At least 237132 pieces of comment spam killed since 2008, mostly via Akismet.

Google Base: What is it, man?

I'm intrigued by Google Base mostly because it's not at all clear what the hell it is. Or, more pointedly, what it's supposed to compete with. Ebay, Craigslist, a thousand little ASPs who store your data for you and republish it?

The current Google product that most resembles Base architecturally is Blogger. It's a huge Google-hosted database which serves users who can't or don't want to maintain their own. It just happens that its only output formats are static HTML and RSS.

But Blogger's purpose is obvious. Not so with Base.

The post I came across that got me thinking about this again was from Giles Turnbull, who noted a certain disingenuousness in presentation:

If I want to add an entry to the Base about myself, how should I go about it? My first thought was to include it in the People Profiles item type, but it turns out to be not for general People Profiles at all - it's all about finding a date. The default attributes for this item type include Sexuality, Marital Status, and Interests. And each entry in this item type has a maximum lifespan of 31 days.

Similar epiphanies can be had with other item types. Why doesn't Google just spit it out?

Friday, November 18th, 2005


Comment from felix , 2 days later

Because its going to get more interesting if we find our own ways to use it. Its masquerading as a "craigslist" but the implications are much greater, and so it can't be explained and shouldn't be limited to that explanation. Its basically (pun) getting people to submit structured information. I think mostly people won't go to that form unless they are submitting a personal etc. Most information will be injected into it via structured RSS.

Comment from valnur , 3 years later

We are in a similar market as Google Base but our product gives structure (while still not imposing any set of predefined categories) to our index and therefore makes it possible for users to not only perform keyword search but also browse hierarchically with the ability to specify unlimited number of filters to refine their search.

Valnur http://www.valnur.com

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