Weeknotes 2024.20

Rough week behind us, but the developer conference season is coming. Apple dominated the news and this weeknote. On the programming side, we have open source concerns, AI and WASM to modernise IT and, again, SQLite. Plus a few struggling companies.

Rough week behind us. I was even too tired to catch a glimpse of the aurora over the weekend. We’re getting into some busy weeks and months, with Google I/O, Microsoft Build and Apple WWDC lined up. Let’s see if today’s announcement by OpenAI can derail those events.


Apple dominated the news the last week, but for all the wrong reasons. Instead of talking about the new iPads, people got riled up about the Crush! Ad, while the tech pundits quickly moved on to WWDC rumours.

Apple Event

The iPad event had no shocking reveals, maybe a few surprises. The TL;DR of the event:

The surprises:

Further reading:

Apple crushed it

While I think we have bigger fish to fry than this ad, it’s a sign of times. The ad would have probably been interpret much differently in the past, when Apple was the underdog, challenging the status quo and the monopolistic big guns.

Now Apple is one of the most valuable companies, with monopolistic behaviour of their own and sometimes an acute lack of self awareness and this ad hits as it has.

On the other hand, journalists pressed their headlines into crushing puns.

Further reading:

Apple’s AI efforts and WWDC

Ever since the release of ChatGPT by OpenAI and the frenzy of the big shots of the industry to get a piece of the pie, Apple has been labeled as the company which apparently missed the train.

As a result, Apple used the iPad Pro and M4 release to remind everyone that they started putting AI accelerators on their chip almost 7 years ago, while the rest of the industry is mostly just starting. Hence it doesn’t surprise me at all that we see more rumours of Apple using their M-series chips in special-purpose servers. Further, it wouldn’t surprise me if the chips in question are specifically built variants of M2 and M4 generation silicone with an emphasis on their AI workload.

Which brings us to WWDC, which shapes up to be one of the most exciting editions in recent history. The rumour mill sure went into overdrive immediately after the iPad event, because the general consensus is that we got hardware in search of software. That software surely has to come during WWDC, which kicks off the new OS version cycle.

Further reading:


While some think, programming is on its last rope, due to AI, there is still some interesting stuff going on without it. Maybe that last 20% of programming, you know, the hard stuff that takes 80% of the time, is still out of reach for AI.

Modern SQLite

Nice find from Simon Willison again is Anton Zhiyanov’s series on modern SQLite.

The resurgence of interest in SQLite surfaces some of the more obscure features it has had for years. Turns out this little library is plenty mighty.


Open Source

Open Source has been in the news for weeks now. Either by high-profile license changes to a not-really open source model, or by security vulnerabilities usually exploiting the supply chain.

It all comes down to sustainability. Open Source in and of itself is no more or less secure than any other software development model. It becomes skewed if the hobby project of one person, becomes the critical business infrastructure of someone else and they fail to treat it as such (i.e. supporting maintenance efforts).

It’s not a technical problem, it’s not a legal problem. It’s a systemic issue, similar to environmental issues, where we either find a voluntary way of making it sustainable or we might be forced to tame the leeches through yet another form of regulation.

Further reading:

More money for Rust from Microsoft

On a more positive note, Microsoft donated $1 million to the Rust Foundation, without any specific usage demands.

This is different to Google’s $1 million a few months back that were specifically earmarked for C++ interop work. Microsofts money can be used by the foundation how it sees fit, over the next two years.

IBM LLM for code modernisation

IBM announced releasing their coding LLMs as open source. One of the use cases mentioned was the use of these models to automatically convert COBOL to modern Java. I let everyone else decide whether this is enough modernisation, but it fits the target audience.

Fortran on Cloudflare Workers

A different way of modernisation of seemingly older code bases is Cloudflare’s approach to make that code run in WASM workers. After supporting COBOL since 2020, they now support Fortran as well.

OK, Fortran is still widely used to create new codebases, so one could argue it’s not just for modernisation.

WebAssembly to replace VMs and containers

While WebAssembly started as a browser technology to run code from various languages, it has arguably had more success on the server-side. It’s still in the early stages and I’d probably not run critical infrastructure with it, but the progress and promise of this technology is stunning me for a long time.

Now Fermyon has shown that server-side WebAssembly workloads are not only smaller, but also significantly reduce startup time, which is especially important for Functions-as-a-Service environments, where cold starts are still a problem for the end user experience.

In other news

Corsair about to acquire Fanatec

Fanatec has become an interesting case study. They were the champions of the sim racing boom during the pandemic, fell from grace with appalling customer service stories and their financial troubles quickly turned into an economic thriller that even highlighted how a German law designed to help companies in trouble can be used for the exact opposite.

In this environment the news of Corsair offering to acquire Fanatec, is probably not the worst thing.

Rivian, Lucid, and Fisker

The Verge tries to infer the current state of EVs, by looking at Rivian, Lucid, and Fisker, three EV-only companies in varying degrees of trouble.

The EV market definitely slows down, because that sweet overlapping Venn diagram of buyers wanting an EV and buyers who can afford one, is increasingly saturated.

I think their biggest troubles has nothing to do with their EV focus. It’s production. The article itself mentions it once, when it cites the “EV valley of death” when production scale hits an area, where operational costs are higher than the revenue, but you need that scale to increase revenue.

Production, let alone mass production, is a very expensive and complex endeavour, one which gets frequently underestimated.


I’m partially following the other business thriller playing out, which is Boeing. We even get into actual conspiracy territory the more is revealed. What strikes me most are the reports of repeatedly failing to observe Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

As someone who has worked in sectors guided by GMP and similar frameworks, I’m flabbergasted by what is coming to light. It’s also not surprising if you look at the general trend we’re heading, where it has become acceptable to release products that fail to do their advertised jobs, usually driven by cutting corners (see Fisker Ocean, Humane AI Pin, and Rabbit R1). It’s time for the pendulum to swing the other direction.

Final link

Slop is the new name for unwanted AI-generated content

Have a nice week!