Changelog News – Episode #44

Syncthing, Thunderbird, Baseline & vector databases


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Thunderbird is thriving on small donations, Syncthing is a super-cool continuous file sync program, LLMs are so hot right now and they’re making vectors hot by proxy & MDN defines a Baseline for stable web features.



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Notes & Links

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All links mentioned in this episode of Changelog News (and more) are in its companion newsletter.



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What up, nerds? I’m Jerod and this is Changelog News for the week of Monday, May 15th 2023.

Adam and I had a blast in Vancouver at OS Summit last week hanging out and recording conversations in GitHub’s maintainer month booth. We saw old friends, made new ones, and even saw the city a little bit.

The first episode with interviews from the hallway track will drop next week. I think you’re gonna dig it.

Ok, let’s get into the news.

Thunderbird, the FOSS email app from Mozilla that’s been around a long time but kind of flies under the radar, was in survival mode a few years ago but is now thriving thanks to… user donations.

Last year their donor base contributed a total of 6 million, four hundred and forty two thousand dollars. Even better, they don’t have any major donors. 95% of donations were less than a hundred bucks, the average is %15.78, and the largest single donation was 3000 Euro. Congrats to the Thunderbird team and community for sustaining a project the traditional way, the way nobody thinks will work.

Syncthing is a super-cool continuous file sync program. Now, it does have 51k+ GitHub stars already, so this might only be news to me, but still I wanted to feature it, because: it has no central server, encrypted network communicationss, an open protocol, it’s cross-platform, there’s no manual network config… and the list of goodness goes on and on. This one has me wondering why we’re still using Dropbox… Too good to be true? If you’re a Syncthing use and can confirm or deny, holla at me.

LLMs are so hot right now, and they’re making vectors hot by proxy. The reason for this is that AI models generate vector embeddings, a type of data representation that carries semantic information that’s critical for inference purposes.

I’m still wrapping my head around all of this, and this post by Pinecone called “what is a vector database” does a great job of explaining why vector embeddings are useful, differentiating between vector indexes and vector databases, and laying out how vector databases work.

Note: Pinecone is a venture-funded purveyor of vector databases, so keep that in mind while reading.

For an even deeper dive on the topic (also with a Pinecone employee, these folks know how to content market!) check out this episode of Practical AI.

Sponsored News!

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Believe it or not, MDN just got even better! Hermina Condei announces: “Starting today, MDN is introducing Baseline labeling on our site and we plan to cover all relevant features in the coming months.”

This is a big win for being able to quickly determine if a web feature you want to use is good to go, broadly speaking. No need to check because a Baseline graphic will be right there alongside each feature’s docs letting you know with a glance if that feature’s available in the two most recent major versions of Firefox, Chrome, Edge and Safari.

That’s the news for now. But it’s time once again for shout outs to our latest Changelog++ members: Thank you to: Nick A, Nick H, Alexander, Elmer, H, Steven, Patrick, John, Markus, Emily, Daniel, Ryan, Konstantin & Andrew for directly supporting our work, making the ads disappear from all our episodes, and getting in on bonus content and other goodies. We appreciate you.

If you, too, get value from our podcasts and want to support everything we do here at Changelog… check out our membership at

That’s the news for now. On Wednesdays interview episode we sit down with the one and only Sarah Drasner to discuss her new book, Engineering Management for the Rest of Us.

Alright, have a great week. Share this with your friends if you dig it, and we’ll talk to you again real soon.


Our transcripts are open source on GitHub. Improvements are welcome. 💚

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