also GitHub Accelerator's first cohort, improving Tailscale via Apple’s open source, GitX 1.0, Web LLM & more

Changelog News

Now with 100% more dark mode 🌚

Hello again! 👋

Jerod here, thank you for the warm reception (and solid nit picking) to our new email format! I love that you love it. Don’t forget, you can hit reply and share your thoughts whenever you like. I read every response.

Oh, and listen to the audio edition right here. It’s pretty good!

Okay, let’s get into what’s new.

Free Dolly! The world’s first truly open instruction-tuned LLM

Earlier this month, the team at DataBricks released Dolly, a large language model (LLM) trained for less than $30 to exhibit ChatGPT-like human interactivity (aka instruction-following).

Two weeks later, they released Dolly 2.0: the first open source, instruction-following LLM, fine-tuned on a human-generated instruction dataset licensed for research and commercial use.

This is, in my opinion, a huge step toward bringing production-grade LLMs to all. But just how good is Dolly 2 when compared to results you’d get from bellying up to an API from one of the big providers? The Databricks team says:

As a technical and research artifact, we don’t expect Dolly to be state-of-the-art in terms of effectiveness. However, we do expect Dolly and the open source dataset will act as the seed for a multitude of follow-on works, which may serve to bootstrap even more powerful language models.

GitHub Accelerator’s first cohort

First announced last November, GitHub Accelerator is a 10-week program where open source maintainers receive an initial sponsorship of $20K to work on their project, paired with guidance and workshops from open source leaders, with an end goal of building durable streams of funding for their work.

Kara Deloss announced the 2023 cohort which spans 20 projects and 32 participants from all over the world.

Improving Tailscale with Apple’s open source

Tailscale Engineer, Mihai Parparita:

The ability to peek under the hood of the operating system can be a powerful tool for debugging. Spelunking Apple’s Open Source, a recent blog post by Daniel Jalkut, struck a very familiar chord with me, reminding me of times I spent poring through WebKit internals at my previous employer. I’ve been able to continue that pattern at Tailscale, now more focused on Darwin (the operating system at the core of macOS and iOS), its kernel and its userland tools.

He goes on to tell a tale of how he fixed two network-interface related bugs by reading Apple’s implementation of ifconfig.

My takeaway: This post served as a solid reminder just how cool it is to be able to peak under the hood of the platforms we build upon. To learn, to adapt, and sometimes to get our job done.

Enhance your API-first design process

Thanks to Postman for sponsoring the news this week ✊

Behind the scenes we’ve been talking with Arnaud Lauret, API Handyman at Postman, about API-first design. He says, API-first design should be “reusable, interoperable, modifiable, user-friendly, secure, efficient, pragmatic, and—crucially—aligned with the organization’s goals.”

These essential traits will ensure your APIs can effectively contribute to your API-first organizational strategy and development model.

If your organization follows an API-first strategy, you know that APIs are given the highest priority, to deliver maximum value to the business. But what can be done to produce such an API design? Read this post from Arnaud to dig further into this subject. They’re also writing a book on it!

Passkeys: What the Heck and Why?

That’s the question asked and answered by Neal Fennimore for CSS-Tricks. Neal says:

They were a main attraction at W3C TPAC 2022, gained support in Safari 16, are finding their way into macOS and iOS, and are slated to be the future for password managers like 1Password. They are already supported in Android, and will soon find their way into Chrome OS and Windows in future releases.

This is probably something you want to learn more about. In fact, we had an episode request a little while back asking us to do an interview with somebody from Apple on the topic. I tried hooking up with someone, but no dice. If you want that to happen, let us know and I’ll work on it harder.

🥈 Links that almost made the audio edition

  • GitX 1.0 dropped. Not necessarily a major release, but a major milestone for a tool that’s near and dear to my heart
  • Is the FSF dying? Drew DeVault thinks so
  • 7 tips to make the most of your next tech conference. I’ll add one that you can apply liberally: get outside your comfort zone.
  • Over the past 3 years, The Smithonian’s public domain image collection has grown to 4.5 million images. Maybe give Stable Diffusion a rest and use some of these on your next project…
  • Why Prequel Ditched RabbitMQ and replaced it with a Postgres queue. This article had me at “SQL Maxis”
  • 916 days of Emacs. “Poof I made my free-time disappear”
  • Web LLM runs various language models inside the browser with no server support neccessary

⚖️ (Unpopular?) opinion pieces

1️⃣ Thorsten Ball thinks there’s two types of software engineers: One assumes it’s easy because it’s a non-technical problem, the other assumes that’s why it’s hard.

2️⃣ Jay Little believes low-code software development is a lie:

the truth is that creating software for other people is exceedingly difficult. Contrary to the opinions of non-practitioners (aka non-coders), this difficulty is not the fault of coding languages, tools and paradigms. It is actually the result of clients and developers not taking the time to understand the root causes of the problems they want to solve and not designing a solution around the conclusions you’d draw from that process.

Applied: Does Jay’s thinking align with the the current AutoGPT hype? I’m leaning towards “yes”. Jim Fan agrees.

3️⃣ htmx creator Carson Gross says when it comes to technology, fear of looking dumb drives too many decisions.

😎 Some interesting (but less useful) things

And the award for “most interesting but completely useless in practice (unless you want some exercise)” goes to… 🥁

YouTuber Everything Is Hacked’s full-body keyboard 🤯

Full-body keyboard

Source code here. YouTube video here.

🎧 ICYMI: Recent good pods from us

  • Cory Doctorow is never not interesting, and last week’s episode of The Changelog is no exception. Chickenized reverse-centaurs?! Chokepoints in open source?! Open podcasting vs other forms of media?! This one just might be a must-listen…
  • Linear co-founder Jori Lallo talks creating magical software and building high-quality software teams. My favorite part is when he tells how they deployed a Figma project as their website while fighting off a DDoS and the whole thing went viral.
  • Mat & Johnny interview ChatGPT (Natalie with a special hat) to see if it’d make a good hire as a Go dev. This one goes off the rails, but in a good way (if you can suffer Mat’s insufferable sense of humor 😉)
  • This news-disussion episode of JS Party (hosted by yours truly) is full of “Changelog & Friends” vibes. We go deep on GitHub Copilot X, I take a bathroom break while Nick talks about TypeScript 5 & we also continue the debate about the future of React.

That’s the news for now. On this week’s interview episode of The Changelog, we’ll be joined by Zach Latta from Hack Club.

Have a great week, forward this email to a friend if you dig it, and we’ll talk to you again real soon. ✌️

– Jerod