Simon Willison’s Weblog

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Friday, 28th June 2024

Django: Test for pending migrations (via) Neat recipe from Adam Johnson for adding an automated test to your Django test suite that runs manage.py makemigrations --check to ensure you don't accidentally land code that deploys with a missing migration and crashes your site. I've made this mistake before myself so I'll be adding this to my projects.

# 3:23 pm / django, adam-johnson

Serving a billion web requests with boring code (via) Bill Mill provides a deep retrospective from his work helping build a relaunch of the medicare.gov/plan-compare site.

It's a fascinating case study of the choose boring technology mantra put into action. The "boring" choices here were PostgreSQL, Go and React, all three of which are so widely used and understood at this point that you're very unlikely to stumble into surprises with them.

Key goals for the site were accessibility, in terms of users, devices and performance. Despite best efforts:

The result fell prey after a few years to a common failure mode of react apps, and became quite heavy and loaded somewhat slowly.

I've seen this pattern myself many times over, and I'd love to understand why. React itself isn't a particularly large dependency but somehow it always seems to lead to architectural bloat over time. Maybe that's more of an SPA thing than something that's specific to React.

Loads of other interesting details in here. The ETL details - where brand new read-only RDS databases were spun up every morning after a four hour build process - are particularly notable.

# 4:22 pm / accessibility, go, postgresql, scaling, react, boring-technology

Accidental GPT-4o voice preview (via) Reddit user RozziTheCreator was one of a small group who were accidentally granted access to the new multimodal GPT-4o audio voice feature. They captured this video of it telling them a spooky story, complete with thunder sound effects added to the background and in a very realistic voice that clearly wasn't the one from the 4o demo that sounded similar to Scarlet Johansson.

OpenAI provided a comment for this Tom's Guide story confirming the accidental rollout so I don't think this is a faked video.

# 8:53 pm / ai, openai, generative-ai, chatgpt, gpt4