Archive for July 28, 2023

Friday, July 28, 2023

Switching to a Mac After Decades on Windows

Anže Tomić:

The other reason I got the Mac mini is how quiet it is, which is very helpful when you record your voice for a living. […] The announcement of the M2 Pro Mac Mini with all those Thunderbolt ports at the back was the day I knew I was going to switch.


It turns out that on the Croatian keyboard layout, I can’t find the right key to press for this [Command-`] shortcut!


When Jason asked me to write about what surprised me about switching to the Mac, it never occurred to me that window management would be the main thing. But it is. I really believe this is the biggest difference between Windows and macOS nowadays. One is a desktop operating system that is worse on laptops and the other is a laptop operating system that is worse on desktops if you don’t buy a trackpad.

I frequently hear comments like this, but I don’t feel like I’m missing anything using my MacBook Pro as a desktop with a Magic Mouse. It seems much faster for me than a trackpad. And I think macOS shines as a desktop operating system, when there’s room to have a bunch of windows on screen at once.

A fair bit of the annoyance that prevents me from using the Mac the way it was intended stems from the fact that macOS does not support my language.


Those feelings extend to the apps, too. I finally got to play PCalc’s about screen! I bought Transmit, and it is the best app of its kind I have ever used. Ever. Audio Hijack is like a legal, no-side-effects performance-enhancing drug for a podcaster. There are very good Windows apps, but so far for me the Mac has some stuff that is unbeatable.


The Mess at Stack Overflow

Ayhan Fuat Çelik:

Over the past one and a half years, Stack Overflow has lost around 50% 35% of its traffic (Update: Around 15% of the observed loss seems to be related to the recategorization of the Google Analytics Cookie around May 2022.[…]). This decline is similarly reflected in site usage, with approximately a 50% decrease in the number of questions and answers, as well as the number of votes these posts receive.

Via David Mimno:

This is not sad, this is a warning. A company did everything (mostly) right: created a vitally useful free service, worked hard to keep it healthy, shared data for research. Then another company swooped the data and made it compete against itself.


To be clear, this is really bad for LLM cos as well. You can only pull the “snarf an existing web community” trick once, folks like Reddit have already wised up. Free data is as dead as zero interest rates.

I’m not sure how much of this has to do with AI. What is the evidence for that? It doesn’t seem like a good substitute, at least for the way I use Stack Overflow. Sure, some people are probably asking ChatGPT or Copilot instead, but so many so quickly?

My impression is that Stack Overflow had been kind of losing its way for years. The founders got distracted by other projects, then left, and the new management seemed more interested in business deals than in improving the product. They lost sight of what was best for the user/community.

Jon Ericson (via Hacker News):

I’ve been on vacation, so I haven’t been following the Stack Overflow moderator strike. Not that there has been much progress. Negotiations stalled for a variety of reasons. Meanwhile Stack Overflow’s CEO, Prashanth Chandrasekar, dug the company’s hole a bit deeper during an interview with VentureBeat.


By contrast Prashanth regularly talks about combining community and AI without going into detail about how that solves the problem at hand. Neither does he go into much detail about the problems the company intends to solve. I suspect one reason is that Prashanth, who has spent most of his career in management, has become something of an architecture astronaut. As Joel puts it, “architecture people are solving problems that they think they can solve, not problems which are useful to solve.” Since there is overlap between a Q&A site and generative artificial intelligence, there must be a way of jamming them together.

But there’s another factor. In May I wrote about Stack Overflow’s business, which lost $42 million over 6 months and had just laid off 10% of its employees. Since then, the company’s fiscal year-end results came out. Despite growing revenue, it lost $84 million over the year ending on March 31, 2023. In fact Prosus’ entire education technology segment lost money despite growing income[…]


While this might be the company’s public position, Prashanth privately wanted to limit who can access the data. On March 28, 2023, he ordered the data dump not be uploaded to The DBA who turned it off warned that the community would notice and it did. Rather than having an answer prepared, the company publicly struggled for an answer. Internal communication shows most of the company was as surprised as the rest of us.

It seems like they could have been profitable at a smaller size, but they grew way too much and got rid of unique features people liked, such as the jobs board.

Danny Thompson:


OverflowAI is a tool, that will also have a VS Code plugin. The way this works, if you are on the site and ask a question, it will produce the answer for you while also citing the sources it used to produce the answer.

You can then ask more in the conversational area, even including code, and through Generative AI it can continue building off of the answer.


Update (2023-08-04): Priyam (via Hacker News):

If we look closely, the most drastic drop starts around April of 2022, while ChatGPT came out 7 months later in November. While we do see drops every summer (school breaks) and winter (workplace vacations), this drop in April 2022 is sustained and only getting worse.


There are 4 reasons that explain the slow decline of Stack Overflow.

Update (2023-08-09): Rob Napier:

When someone on SO asks about the internal details of something, please stop chastising them that it’s internal and they shouldn’t need to know.

They want to know. That is all the reason they need.

Some questions are very advanced when it’s clear something simpler was meant, so probe that. But I’m tired of seeing folks who ask “just to learn” and get fussed at. Where do you think we get the next compiler devs?

Reddit Deleted Years of Chat History

Wes Davis:

Reddit users have noticed the site unexpectedly removed everyone’s chat history prior to January 1st of this year. Those asking why have been directed to a changelog update from June announcing feature updates to chats (via Mashable). The update’s headline didn’t say anything about data going away, and burying any reference to removal at the bottom with a vague, single line:

In an effort to have a smooth and quick transition to this new infrastructure, we will migrate chat messages sent from January 1, 2023 onward.

Older messages that are not migrated are effectively deleted.

I tested out the data export. The page gives you the option to initiate the request under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a pair of California regulations, or “Other.” I chose the third option and quickly received a file that appears to have my full history, though admittedly I didn’t make frequent use of the feature. But some users have said their downloads were missing chats.