The Changelog The Changelog #439  – Pinned

Elixir meets machine learning

This week Elixir creator José Valim joins Jerod and Practical AI’s Daniel Whitenack to discuss Numerical Elixir, his new project that’s bringing Elixir into the world of machine learning. We discuss why José chose this as his next direction, the team’s layered approach, influences and collaborators on this effort, and their awesome collaborative notebook project that’s built on Phoenix LiveView.

Nat Bennett

What happens when you pair all day, most days, for years?

There are obvious upsides to pair programming. This post from Nat Bennett shares both the ups and the downs of pairing all day for years…

So I paired all day, most days, for about five years. This had a lot of upsides, far more than I can list here. There’s a standard list of benefits and drawbacks to pairing that you might be familiar with, but the impact of pairing, especially pairing that much, goes much deeper than its impact on the code, on the particular work the team delivers that week.

Nat goes on to share when pairing took more than it gave for them.

Pairing requires being vulnerable, to another human being, for hours at a time. Intimacy, both physical and mental. I had to share space, decisions, thought processes, and often feelings with this person. … This never stopped being draining.

Over time, over years, pairing wore me down. Took a little bit more each day than I could recover. Until my life was working, and recovering from work, and then working some more.

CloudZero Icon CloudZero – Sponsored

11 DevOps metrics to monitor for organizational success

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When evaluating the effectiveness of your DevOps model, it is critical to use metrics relevant to your organization. The best approach for measuring success is to identify the key outcomes you want to achieve, and then find the right DevOps metrics to monitor those outcomes.

This post from CloudZero shares eleven performance metrics you can track to gauge the success of your DevOps approach.

Stripe Icon Stripe

Guide to managing founder stress

Stripe Atlas has a wide array of guides to running an internet business that are totally open and free for everyone. This guide, written by Dr. Sherry Walling (a clinical psychologist), on “managing founder stress” covers everything from running smart (not just hard), coping with chronic stress, mastering the ups and downs, and a reminder that as a founder you are not alone.

If you like this guide, then you’ll probably be a fan of my podcast Founders Talk too.


google/zx – a tool for writing better scripts

Bash is great, but when it comes to writing scripts, people usually choose a more convenient programming language. JavaScript is a perfect choice, but standard Node.js library requires additional hassle before using. zx package provides useful wrappers around child_process, escapes arguments and gives sensible defaults.

I wouldn’t say JavaScript is a perfect choice for this kind of scripting, but it’s definitely a suitable one (especially if it’s the language you already know well). Here’s what scripting looks like with zx:

#!/usr/bin/env zx

await $`cat package.json | grep name`

let branch = await $`git branch --show-current`
await $`dep deploy --branch=${branch}`

await Promise.all([
  $`sleep 1; echo 1`,
  $`sleep 2; echo 2`,
  $`sleep 3; echo 3`,

let name = 'foo bar'
await $`mkdir /tmp/${name}`

Top-level await sure makes things nicer. (Deno supports this out of the box, btw.)


Hosting SQLite databases on GitHub Pages

The benefits of such a setup are numerous, especially for small sites and side projects:

Hosting a static website is much easier than a “real” server - there’s many free and reliable options (like GitHub, GitLab Pages, Netlify, etc), and it scales to basically infinity without any effort.

The how is also super interesting:

So how do you use a database on a static file hoster? Firstly, SQLite (written in C) is compiled to WebAssembly. SQLite can be compiled with emscripten without any modifications, and the sql.js library is a thin JS wrapper around the wasm code.

There’s more to the story, and the resulting solution is also open source.

Linode Icon Linode – Sponsored

How to multi-cloud using Terraform

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Terraform is an open-source tool that is built by HashiCorp. Using the HashiCorp Configuration Language (HCL), you can automate deploying your infrastructure, and provisioning its resources. With only a few configuration files, you can build, manage, update, and delete your infrastructure using Terraform. This technique, enabled by Terraform, is known as Infrastructure as Code (IaC).

This guide explains how to use Terraform and HCL to define and deploy a multicloud environment that spans Linode and another vendor. Check out all the Teraform guides on Linode’s docs

Mark Eriksen

Building a distributed turn-based game system in Elixir

Mark Eriksen:

Many great Phoenix LiveView examples exist. They often show the ease and power of LiveView but stop at multiple browsers talking to a single web server. I wanted to go further and create a fully clustered, globally distributed, privately networked, secure application. What’s more, I wanted to have fun doing it.

So I set out to see if I could create a fully distributed, clustered, privately networked, global game server system. Spoiler Alert: I did.

I like the way he frames his experience. He says the most remarkable thing about it is not what he built, it’s what he didn’t need to build in order to accomplish his goal.

Paul Graham

Crazy new ideas

Paul Graham on preposterous sounding ideas and how easy they are to dismiss:

Most implausible-sounding ideas are in fact bad and could be safely dismissed. But not when they’re proposed by reasonable domain experts. If the person proposing the idea is reasonable, then they know how implausible it sounds. And yet they’re proposing it anyway. That suggests they know something you don’t. And if they have deep domain expertise, that’s probably the source of it.

Such ideas are not merely unsafe to dismiss, but disproportionately likely to be interesting. When the average person proposes an implausible-sounding idea, its implausibility is evidence of their incompetence. But when a reasonable domain expert does it, the situation is reversed. There’s something like an efficient market here: on average the ideas that seem craziest will, if correct, have the biggest effect.

I’m not a big ideas guy. Never have been. Adam is, though. And I freely admit that many of his ideas sound preposterous to me at first. But I’ve learned over the years to hear him out, because he’s usually on to something, even if it’s not fully-formed yet. And it turns out I’m pretty good at taking partially-formed ideas and helping firm them up. This is one of the reasons why we make a good team.

Having new ideas is a lonely business. Only those who’ve tried it know how lonely. These people need your help. And if you help them, you’ll probably learn something in the process.


Slidev – presentation slides for developers

The motivation for building Slidev:

I always found myself spending too much time styling and layouting slides when using apps like PowerPoint / Keynote / Google Slides. Whenever I need to share code snippets, I would also need to use other tools to generate the highlighted code as images over and over again.

So as a frontend developer, why not solve it the way that fits better with what I am good at?

Looks slick: themeable, hackable, and you write your slides in Markdown. 👌

Feross Aboukhadijeh

Wormhole – Simple, fast, private file sharing ✨

Wormhole lets you share files with end-to-end encryption and a link that automatically expires. So you can keep what you share private and make sure your stuff doesn’t stay online forever.

Our #1 goal is speed – you should be able to get a share link in less than 2 seconds with the absolute minimum number of clicks.

That’s why Wormhole supports instant file streaming. There’s no need to wait for your files to finish uploading before you can copy the link and send it to your recipient. The recipient can start downloading even before the files have finished uploading.

Wormhole uses super fast peer-to-peer transfer to send files directly to the recipient when possible. This improves speed and security – especially when transferring files over a local network, like when you just want to get a file from your phone onto your computer.

In addition, Wormhole stores your encrypted files on cloud servers for 24 hours so the share link will keep working for your recipient even after you close the Wormhole site.

Practical AI Practical AI #132

Generating "hunches" using smart home data 🏠

Smart home data is complicated. There are all kinds of devices, and they are in many different combinations, geographies, configurations, etc. This complicated data situation is further exacerbated during a pandemic when time series data seems to be filled with anomalies. Evan Welbourne joins us to discuss how Amazon is synthesizing this disparate data into functionality for the next generation of smart homes. He discusses the challenges of working with smart home technology, and he describes how they developed their latest feature called “hunches.”

Awesome Lists

A collection of services with great free tiers for developers on a budget

This repository offers a collection of services with great free tiers for developers on a budget. Because not everyone has 20$ per month to spend on app or database hosting for every single side-project.

Nowadays, a lot of services are offering really good free tier more than enough for testing small apps and even put them in production. They are just waiting to be used by you.

I got a kick out of their FTDD acronym: Free Tier Driven Development


Clarity on Rails' governance

In the wake of recent events at Basecamp (and DHH’s continued involvement with Ruby on Rails), many have questioned the governance process for Rails. This post from “The Rails Team” is meant to “clarify how the team is structured,” and how they operate.

…no one on the Core team, or their employers, have sole control over the framework or community. There is no individual or subset of individuals who have power to enact policies unilaterally in the Rails community spaces that we operate (for example on issues, pull requests, or the forum).

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