The Changelog

DevTool platform types, things to know about databases, starting with commas, Lobsters turns 10 & Upptime

Changelog News for 2022-07-04

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We’re listening! This week’s experimental, super-brief Monday edition of “The Changelog” has the following new features: It’s longer, there’s no background music during the stories, and it includes stories previously not featured in the newsletter.

If you like this better than the last one, would listen to it, and want us to keep it going… let us know in the comments or by tweeting @changelog!

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Hello friends, I’m Jerod and this is Changelog News for the week of Monday, July 4th, 2022. But we’re shipping out on Tuesday instead of Monday, because [Freedom…! unintelligible 00:00:16.11]

First up, thanks to everyone for sharing your thoughts on this little experiment of ours. We are listening and adapting, so please continue with the feedback. Here’s what’s different this time around. One, almost everyone said to make it longer. [As you wish… 00:00:37.10] This episode is about twice as long as last week’s.

Two - many of you also read Changelog Weekly, and since we’re covering the most interesting links from Sunday’s edition of the newsletter, it makes the audio version less new or interesting. So we are now mixing in stories that we haven’t previously covered. Hopefully, that keeps it fresh for everybody.

Three, many of you think the music bed is distracting, and asked us to turn it lower, or turn it off altogether. So let’s try it without, and see how that sounds. Nice and quiet.

Okay, let’s get into the news.

On DX tips, Swyx writes about the 4.5 kinds of dev tools platforms. This is his attempt to make sense of the overwhelming world of developer tooling. If you work for or invest in dev tool startups, I think this mental model is a good one. What are the 4.5? One, application platforms that make the user productive. Two, infrastructure platforms make the application run. Three, data platforms make the data useful. Four, developer platforms make developers productive. And the point five, internal services with cross-cutting needs to interface with every platform. Those are his high-level conclusions. Read the whole article for his thinking behind the matter.

Did you know there are things you should know about databases? Lots of things. And did you also know there is an excellent - and I mean, excellent post on architecturenotes.co to teach you some of those things. It’s focused mostly on indexes and transactions, explaining them in great detail with some seriously impressive diagrams to make sure it all clicks. Not much else to say about this one, except that it was the number one clicked link in the newsletter, and there’s a link for you to click in the show notes.

Brandon Rhodes wants you to start all of your commands with a comma. Why is that? If you have your own Bin directory somewhere in your path, which you probably should, and you put all your own little scripts and executable bits in there, like you probably should, eventually you’ll hit a problem or your script names start to conflict with the built-in and bundled commands. But if you start all your commands with a comma, like Brandon does, this problem melts away. [unintelligible 00:02:56.22]

As a bonus, team this technique with tab completion, and it’s super-easy to browse your collection of commands. Just type comma, then tab, and there they are.

Lobsters turns ten. Over the weekend, the website’s creator, Joshua Stein, tweeted “Ten years ago today, I “pooped out” a better version of Hacker News in my spare time.” As Thomas Ptacek eloquently put it. It didn’t really mature into the thing that I hoped it would, and I don’t use it much anymore, but I’m happy some people are still finding it a nice place to be.

Over on the site itself, current administrator [unintelligible 00:03:42.21] says “Over that time, our community of 15,013 users have submitted 87,530 stories, written 381,460 comments, and cast 2,536,117 votes.” That’s a lot. I am a fan of the site, which usually features more esoteric and engineering-heavy posts than other tech aggregators. The conversations there can still get toxic from time to time, but were on the internet is that not the case? Seriously, if you know of such a place, holler at me. [I want to go to there 00:04:18.09]

[00:04:20.28] James Hawkins and his team at PostHog have interviewed 725 people, and one of his big takeaways is “It’s normal for candidates not to ask harder questions about our company, so they usually miss out on a chance to 1) de-risk our company’s performance, and 2) increase the chances they’ll like working here.” So he shares some really important job interview questions engineers should ask, but don’t. Questions like “Does the company have product-market fit? How much runway does the company have? What’s the culture like?” and a whole bunch more. Definitely worth a bookmark for the next time you’re job shopping.

Go Time listeners already know this, but for the rest of you, our recent episode with Ron Evans a.k.a. @deadprogram is just too good to miss, even if Go isn’t your thing. Here’s the conceit - the year is 2053; the tabs versus spaces wars are long over. Ron Evans is the only Go programmer still alive on earth. All he does is maintain old Go code. It’s terrible. He must find a way to warn his fellow gophers before it’s too late. Good thing he finally got that PDQ transmission system working. What results is a hilarious and somehow still insightful conversation with so many funny moments like this one about the future of social media.

“You know, when you’re building something that’s gonna survive a two year trip to Mars, believe me, your mp3s sound pretty funny by the time the ship gets to its destination… Or so I’ve been told. I don’t know, actually those might be AIs sending back those reports. There might even be no humans that survived the trip. There’s a rumor going around they’re all just AIs.” “How’s it going around? Who’s it going around?” “Social media still exists in 2053.” “Oh, thank goodness. I don’t know what you’d do without it.” “I use Minder. You know, it’s where you’re allowed to dump your actual mind directly.” “That’s cool.” “Is it text? Is it visual?” It’s more like a feeling.” “It’s just Hex.” “Remember the feeling you used to get when there was somebody being wrong on the internet? It’s like that all the time.” “Is it XML though?” “No, you just plug directly into your brain-computer interface, and you’re just really mad right away.” “Oh, I love it.” “Yeah, it’s beautiful.”

Listen to the rest in our Go time feed, or on the web at Gotime.fm/235.

Last up for today. Upptime. Upptime. No, I wasn’t stuttering. [Did I stutter? 00:06:43.00] That’s U-p-p-t-i-m-e. That’s how you say that, right,? A super-cool uptime monitor and status page powered entirely by GitHub. It uses GitHub Actions as the uptime monitor itself, checking your website every five minutes. GitHub issues for incident reports, opening new ones when endpoints are down, and assigning team members appropriately, and GitHub Pages for a status website built with Svelte and Sapper. This project is not affiliated with or endorsed by GitHub, but it is super-cool, super-free, and endorsed by over 1,000 people who have set it up for themselves.

That’s the news for now. Let us know in the comments if you liked this better than last week; or worse, or whatever. Seriously, we do want to hear from you. We have an excellent conversation coming up for you on Friday. Brian Cantrell from Oxide Computer joins the show for a deep-dive on their attempt to build servers as they should be - hardware, with the software baked in for running infrastructure at scale. Adam’s on vacation this week, so I have a special guest/co-host joining us as well. Can you guess who? We’ll talk to you then.

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