Weeknotes 2024.14

Obsidian is taking over my notes and my Excalidraw sketches. DNS continues to be my foot-gun of choice. Lots of engineering links this week, with the usual regulatory and security bits thrown in.

After a few weeks of using Obsidian, I have to say I like it a lot. The switch from Apple Notes was smooth, except for all the handwritten notes, of which I had quite a few. You can basically customise it to your heart's content, which also means that in order to make it work a certain way, you have to customise it and install plugins. Maybe that’s the reason I didn’t adopt it earlier.

In the end there were two points that sold me on Obsidian: using plaintext Markdown with YAML frontmatter has become one of my favourite database frontends for some use cases and the Excalidraw plugin integrates one of the arguably best infinite canvas implementations currently existing. I’m still at the beginning of my adoption, so there will be more to report later.

I also discovered I have to change the default name servers on some of my domains, which put the brakes on what I was actually doing. There are few technical things I like less than dealing with DNS configs. Whelp!



Mostly Engineering

Report on the Server-Side Swift Developer Survey 2023 is out. It has little to no surprising findings. Swift is in an interesting place right now, where it has become a dependable technology that still has plenty of room for innovation.

Chiselled containers look interesting. Not only for Swift.

Adwaita for Swift allows you to create GNOME apps using Swift. I’m pretty removed from this ecosystem nowadays, evidenced that I didn’t even know about Adwaita, but still I cheer when Swift is coming to new environments. Theoretically you could now create Swift cross-platform UI apps for Mac, Windows and Linux in two ways: write a GTK+ based UI for all three platforms or have each platform use their native APIs for the UI. Sweet!

Simon has created a nice little tool to run OCR against PDFs and images directly in the browser.

Optimizing SQLite for servers. Had a few nuggets I wasn’t aware of or didn’t run into yet. I tell you, if you can design your application around it, SQLite is almost unbeatable. (via)

UXL Foundation aims to create an open standard for vendor-neutral CUDA competitor. Wish them all the best of luck, but it’s pretty transparent that this foundation is less about being open, rather than those companies conceding they can’t compete with Nvidia any other way. Just look at the companies missing: AMD, Apple, AWS and Microsoft. Each of which are probably in better shape than all of the founding members combined. (via)

This video on the engineering of a new hypersonic aircraft is so awesome on so many levels. It tells you a lot about that engineering mindset that is missing in many places, whether it’s “hard” engineering or software engineering. If you want to know what an MVP actually is, listen carefully whenever they say “de-risk”.

Most startup founders I came across would have started building fancy airplane models, arrogantly declaring the steps Hermeus is taking, mere implementation details with largely known solutions floating around.

Mostly AI

Good AI, lazy humans. So far all evidence points to AI accelerating the erosion of human thought. We should document a few things before handing it over to AI, you know, just in case, we have to do it again one day.

If you think, I’m doom and gloom, ask yourself what the business continuity plan is for when the AI may be unavailable for some reason.

NYC’s government chatbot is lying about city laws and regulations. The tests in the comments are hilarious. Deploying a chatbot is easy. Maintaining it is a different story, which most advocates are more than happy to ignore.

Mostly Legal

Understanding the DOJ’s Antitrust Complaint Against Apple Very good break-down of the whole complaint, if you want to explore the topic further.

The DMA saga continues. The EU has opened non-compliance investigations against Apple, Google and Meta. With all the focus that Apple got in recent weeks, I almost forgot that Google and Meta also had to implement changes. The EU hasn’t forgotten. Let’s see how long this slice-by-slice compliance will take. One thing is for sure: it doesn’t do any good to the public image of these companies.

Mostly Business

Canva acquires Affinity. Didn’t see that coming.

More vinyl records than CDs sold. Unfortunately there is little source data. I guess this is partially driven by super fans. I’d like to know how the vinyl charts compare to the general charts.

Mostly Security

The xz utils backdoor could have wider repercussions. It puts some established open source release workflows into question that are built on trust. The vulnerable SSH connections are just the tip of the iceberg.

The TL;DR: the backdoor was never in the official source repositories, but was introduced in the official tar ball that was signed by the (temporary) maintainer. It was discovered by pure chance and luck.

This could create serious damage to the open source ecosystem, which relies on trusting the core maintainers. They will have to put new contributors through way more scrutiny in the future, probably the last thing already overworked maintainers want.

Mostly Fun

Making a Macintosh Studio These are cool projects and what I like about 3D printing. Also we should use the term Macintosh way more.

8BitDo creates Commodore 64 retro keyboard. I adore this keyboard way too much. Many older keyboards had the modifier keys, like Control and Caps Lock, written out or abbreviated instead of using a symbol. It looks way better in my opinion.

Yamaha and Lola pair up to enter Formula E next season. This will only excite a very limited bunch of nerds like me. It’s not quite Tyrell Yamaha, but I take what I can get. Let’s just hope MasterCard won’t get involved this time around.