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.


Pile o'Tags

Stuff I Use

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

Spam Report

At least 237138 pieces of comment spam killed since 2008, mostly via Akismet.

Toolbot.com source code available on request

I'm doing a small experiment in open source distribution.

I have a site, toolbot.com, which formerly was a collection of miscellaneous PHP scripts that I had assembled over the years for specific tasks -- package tracking, dummy text generation, link shortening, etc. Those tools are now offline. The original cause of their disappearance was a MySQL failure, but that really just provided an opportunity for me to make a break with that pile of old code.

I wanted to keep the link redirection service running, since I believe that it's incumbent on people who offer such services to keep them functioning as long as possible. So even though it's not currently possible to add new links, all 90,000 old ones should still work, courtesy of a new Django-based front end.

Though I'm not interested in maintiaining most of the other tools I used to host there, I wanted to make it possible for motivated people to keep using them. So I've posted a note on the toolbot.com home page (technically, it's the 404 page) indicating that you can email me to request the source to any of the old tools. I got one request only a few hours after posting the note, and have already mailed out a tarball in response.

If I get many such requests, of course I'll have to pursue a different distribution strategy. But for now I'm enjoying the fact that getting the source code from me involves a bit of personal exchange, even if it's just an email one-liner.

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008
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