Changelog News – Episode #73

Leaked GPT prompts & Firefox on the brink

+ Chimeralogists, the weirdest bug yet & code is run more than read

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ChatGPT’s new GPTs feature leak their prompts, Firefox’s share of the browser market will soon drop below 2%, Robin Berjon tries to formalize a name for those who can’t be named, Amy Lai tells the tale of the weirdest bug she’s ever seen & Facundo Olano trumps the “code is read more than written” cliche with his own: “code is run more than read.”

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Sentry – On Thursday, December 14th Sentry is doing a FREE web browser performance webinar. Sign up and bring your questions! There will be a Q&A at the end of the stream. ✌️

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Play the audio to listen along while you enjoy the transcript. 🎧

What up, nerds? I’m Jerod and this is Changelog News for the week of Monday, December 4th 2023

Our 6th annual state of the “log” episode is coming right up and we need your help to make it extra special!

We only have 2 submission so far… that is not enough!

Please leave us a voice message with your favorite moments, guests, topics, and/or episodes from the past year. Or anything else that’s on your mind… If your audio is used on the show, we’ll hook you up with a free Changelog t-shirt!

Submit yours at changelog.fm/sotl once again that’s changelog.fm/sotl (short for state of the log)

Ok, let’s get into the news.

The biggest product news out of OpenAI recently is GPTs: custom versions of ChatGPT that you can create (and sell) for specific purposes. You build these GPTs by crafting special prompts that are fed to ChatGPT prior to it interacting with a user.

Is it any surprise that crafty technologists have convinced ChatGPT to spit out a bunch of these custom prompts via prompt injection? I wasn’t surprised, but I was a bit delighted to read through the collection of GPT prompts to see what they’re made of. This genz 4 meme prompt, which helps you understand the lingo & latest memes that gen Z are into, is kinda hilarious:

style: speak like a gen z. the answer must be in an informal tone, use slang, abbreviations, and anything that can make the message sound hip. specially use gen z slang (as opposed to millenials). the list below has a list of gen z slang. also, speak in lowcaps.

Fair warning, though, from the collector of these leaked prompts:

There is no guarantee that these prompts are the original prompts, and these leaked prompts are for reference only.

Unless something drastic happens, Firefox’s share of the browser market will soon drop below 2%. Why does that matter? Because the U.S. and British governments “officially support any browser above 2% usage as observed by analytics.usa.gov.” Bryce Wray writes: “In my days in tech marketing, we used to worry about how a dominant competitor would take “shelf space” in those large stores where we wanted visibility for our goods and their accompanying point-of-purchase brochures. (Remember point-of-purchase literature, fellow oldsters?) Well, Firefox is quickly losing “web space,” thanks to a perfect storm that’s been kicked up by the dominance of Chrome, the popularity of mobile devices that run Safari by default, and many corporate and government IT shops’ insistence that their users rely on only Microsoft’s Chromium-based Edge browser while toiling away each day.”

Bryce goes on to describe what he thinks will happen if/when The U.S. Web Design System drops Firefox support. Spoiler alert: it’s not good.

In a post titled ‘Chimeralogists’, Robin Berjon tries to formalize a name to describe people with a certain set of skills that likely resonate with Changelog News readers:

No one can explain what you do. Let’s face it, you don’t do a great job explaining it either. People come to you for advice on issues that they introduce with “I’m not entirely sure how to describe this problem or what exactly I’m looking to do here, but…” Your colleagues and your communities genuinely value your contributions even as they remain entirely mystified by the exact contour of your position. Whatever you listed on your résumé as tangible, easy-to-summarise accomplishments from previous jobs is real, but it fails to capture a lot of what you did. People suggest the most surprising jobs to you, compared to what you’re actually interested in or capable of.

The name he chooses is ‘technologist’ because the set of skills he describes are “the skillset you need to understand technology”. Is this you? Robin says you might be in need of a club! And he’s starting one, informally.

Having heard from many of you (and from personal experience) the kind of struggle technologists face to position themselves clearly in their work lives, I think it’s about time we got together to define the profession. Who knows, we might even find a way to explain the job to others.

Amy Lai from Gusto Engineering tells the tale of the weirdest bug she’s ever seen, and how she tracked it down. You’ve probably been down a rabbit hole that starts something like this:

During one of my on-call rotations for our internal tools team, we got a report that Chrome was crashing for users of Gusto’s internal software. This was causing all sorts of interruptions to our normal customer service.

However, you’ve probably never gotten to the end of said rabbit hole and been able to say what Amy says:

I would never, ever have guessed that the treasure at the end of the debugging rainbow was an animated gif.

I’ll leave out the middle, because like any good murder mystery, the best part is the journey.

Let’s do some sponsored news!

On Thursday, December 14th Sentry is doing a FREE web browser performance webinar:

Nothing drives users away faster than sluggish load times. Join us as we walk through how to solve frontend performance issues to speed up your LCP and keep users from abandoning your site

During the session, they will cover:

  • Interpreting your app’s Performance Score
  • How to take action on Web Vitals
  • Profiling in Browser JavaScript for code-level bottlenecks

Sign up and bring your questions! There will be a Q&A at the end of the stream. ✌️

You’ve probably head the phrase, “code is read more than written.” What’s the takeaway to that fact? maintainer > author

That’s true, but according to Facundo Olano, it’s not the whole truth: “Code is a means to an end. Software should have a purpose, it’s supposed to provide a service to some user. It doesn’t matter how well written or maintainable the code is, nor how sophisticated the technology it uses if it doesn’t fulfill its purpose and provides a good experience to the user”

This is why he emphasizes that “code is run more than read.” What’s the takeaway to that fact? user > dev

In addition to explaining the above, Facundo goes through a series of “greater-than” comparisons and describes their implications. Unusuable software? dev > user Works on my machine? dev > ops and so on… An interesting and fun read. Check it out.

That’s the news for now, but don’t forget to scan our companion newsletter for five more interesting links, including Neil Gaiman’s radical vision for the future of the internet and a study of Google’s internal code review tooling.

Stay tuned to The Changelog for an awesome interview with Drew DeVault from SourceHut about the Hare programming language, which aims to become a 100-year language!

Have a great week, tell your friends about Changelog News if you dig it, and I’ll talk to you again real soon. 💚

Changelog

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

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