Hang Firefox 3 on Mac with Firebug

July 4, 2008

This 2-line web page will hang Firefox 3 with Firebug on a Mac:

<body onload="debugger">
<img src="">

(With Firebug scripting enabled)

This completely hangs the Firefox user-interface, so you can’t access your other tabs. The only thing to do is a Force-Quit. I reported the bug but unfortunately I just don’t have the time and energy to learn how to fix it myself. Hoping somebody out there might have some useful insights.


Freebase, a quick reality check

May 7, 2007

With Freebase you can do amazing queries that would be impossible with Google or the Wikipedia. As Jan commented on my BrusselsBarcamp talk, you could “Look for actors from Ghent who were born between 1970 and 1999“.

Well let’s give it a shot. Here’s the Javascript query to do just that:

{
"query":[{
"a:type":"/tv/tv_actor",
"date_of_birth":null,
"date_of_birth=":"1970",
"name":null,
"place_of_birth":"Ghent",
"type":"/people/person"
}]
}

(Drum roll please …) and here are the results:

{
"result":[],
"status":"/mql/status/ok"
}

Nada. There ain’t no data in Freebase on Belgian actors from Ghent in their twenties 😦

And that’s the frustrating thing about Freebase. The data just isn’t there yet and it’s going to take a massive amount of data-entry to fulfill it’s promise. On the positive side, their API allows write access and there are a lot of open data sources out there so at least it doesn’t all have to be entered manually.

( … a few minutes pass while Will does some manual data-entry … )

Let’s re-run that same query:

{
"result":[{
"a:type":"/tv/tv_actor",
"date_of_birth":"1970-06-19",
"name":"Franky Lanckacker",
"place_of_birth":"Ghent",
"type":"/people/person"
},{
"a:type":"/tv/tv_actor",
"date_of_birth":"1972",
"name":"Miguel Wiels",
"place_of_birth":"Ghent",
"type":"/people/person"
}],
"status":"/mql/status/ok"
}

Now the world knows about Franky Lanckacker and Miguel Wiels 🙂

Freebase is an exciting idea and it may well be the next big thing, but it’s got to reach critical mass in terms of data and users to become really useful.


  • PS I cheated a little, Jan originally said 1980 (rather than 1970) but I just couldn’t find Ghent actors under 27 on the internet.
  • PPS Updated: Improved query as per Daniel’s suggestion below. (I couldn’t figure out how to constrain to type person AND type tv_actor)

Google Page Creator Reliability / Uptime problems

April 20, 2007

I recently moved my caving club website Spekul.be to Google Page Creator, citing its ease of use and rock-solid reliability.

Now I’m not so sure how reliable Google Page Creator is. The direct link to my site works fine:http://www.spekul.be-a.googlepages.com/

But trying to access www.spekul.be has just started to give the following error messages today:

Google Page Creator 502 Server Error

Google Page Creator 503 server error

Other people have reported the same hosting problems with Google Page Creator.

Does anybody know:

  • If sites hosted by Google Page Creator are frequently down?
  • Do you have accurate uptime statistics for your webpage hosted on Google Page Creator?
  • Is there an official “current Service Status” for Page Creator?

UPDATE: 12 hours later Spekul.be is back up. I’m now trying to collect statistics on Google’s reliability as a web host, if you had a similar problem then please add a comment below.