1. 4

    As someone who is building a new tool to generate ePubs right now, I feel your pain. At the same time, I’m happy that I’m not alone doing these kinds of spec juggling.

    1. 3

      I’m disconcerted that I’ve had nobody come along and say “you’re doing it wrong, use this tool to turn an ODT or DOCX into something that passes epubcheck first time, you foolish person.” Like, not even LO’s internal ePub export passes epubcheck. I thought this would be a sufficient nerdbait …

      1. 4

        This article is pretty old now but it suggests the author is using just Pandoc to create the EPUB. It’s not clear how much testing and validation they did on different ereader devices and programs, though.

        1. 1

          I went and tried pandoc (ver 2.5 from Ubuntu 20.04) and it did a mostly okay job from DOCX. It still messed up cross-reference endnotes, but everything does. And the output doesn’t pass epubcheck. Tralala!

        2. 4

          In my book, the more tools the better! It has been 15 minutes since a book built by my own tool passed epubcheck for the first time without any error or warning. I still need better markup for the cover and some way to generate a proper table of contents.

          I’m wishing you all the luck with your books!

      1. 6

        this one is weird:

        Calibre adds an <ol><li></ol> to every heading and subheading. Every ePub reader seems to handle this fine — except FBReader, my favoured ebook reader on Android, which displays a “1.” before each header.

        Solution: after you’ve unzipped the files, go through and remove every <ol></ol>, convert the <li></li> to <p></p> and remove the value= attribute from the <p> or else epubcheck complains.

        i considered poking at the fbreader source and seeing if i could fix it but thinking more about it it seems like fbreader is technically doing the right thing? i can’t figure out what the tags are for in the first place.

        1. 2

          Oh, arguably! But it’s also pretty much never what I actually want, and other ebook readers don’t do that?

          I didn’t even mention other stuff, like how I’m using zip -f because that way the “mimetype” file stays both uncompressed and first in the zip file - if you just get your files and zip them up, epubcheck isn’t happy with that either. ePub is weird and annoying.

          (edit: just adding that as a note!)

          1. 3

            yeah, i admit i don’t know much about epub generation; that line item just caught my interest because fbreader is my preferred epub reader too.

            edit: ugh, just saw it was no longer open source. so much for that, then!

              1. 2

                thanks, i’ll check it out!

                1. 2

                  will check :-) Annoyingly, FBReader is still popular enough I should probably allow for it.

          1. 2

            This is awesome. Thank you!

            1. 4

              Haven’t heard anything about the buttcoin circus in ages, I honestly kinda forgot about it. It’s kinda surreal that lots of people work with cryptocurrency as their day job, while I forget that it even exists.

              ERC-777 is an updated version of the ERC-20 standard

              LOL, did they just put a… casino-sounding number instead of a sequential one on a new spec?

              It’s an incorrect function name (optionIDs instead of optionsIDs). This function unlocks liquidity in expired contracts. If it doesn’t work, funds are just forever locked

              Wait, what? Does the compiler just proceed full steam ahead if you call a nonexistent function?? Is this PHP?

              Nah, that would be actually nuts, their official tweet is a bit wrong. Actually they used options.length instead of optionIDs.length while they had options defined in outer scope. Well, still, I’m not the only one who thought of PHP :D

              Why are people iterating over lists with indexes?! Is there no for..of / iterators type thing in Solidity?!?!

              Also now that I think about it, this reminds me even more of C++, where this-> is optional, so you can easily mistype a class member name instead of a similar sounding local variable of the same type.

              1. 8

                Putting millions of (pseudo?) dollars under the control of immutable code written in what is more or less JavaScript is utterly insane. There seems to be a large supply of people to whom that is not immediately obvious.

                1. 3

                  Everyone who’s on the JS-hate-bandwagon latched on to this JS comparison, but it’s completely unfair.

                  “Solidity was influenced by C++, Python and JavaScript”. All three have proper iteration: for (auto x : xs), for x in xs, for (let x of xs). The Solidity examples have stuff like for (uint p = 0; p < proposals.length; p++), which makes it most inspired by… well known super safe language C, haha.

                  1. 8

                    I’m told (by early Ethereum guys I can’t name) that they actually wanted to use just JavaScript with added built-ins, but couldn’t make it work. So Solidity is definitely a JavaScript descendant, and more from JS than anything else. And they were absolutely targeting middling JavaScript coders with Solidity.

                    Ethereum and Solidity are IMO excellent examples of “worse is better” - if you’re going to do something as self-hobbling as smart contracts, then you’re going to want provable languages, preferably not Turing-complete, preferably functional.

                    But middling programmers don’t cope well with that stuff. So, give ’em something easy to use, and add free money as an incentive! And it totally worked … if inelegantly.

                    There are better languages for the Ethereum Virtual Machine - but Solidity is still the overwhelming favourite, because its popularity means you can apply standard state of the art software engineering principles to it: that is, cut’n’paste’n’bodge.

                    1. 4

                      As I occasionally say, you can tell the difference between a salesperson and an engineer this way: the salesperson solves the easiest problem first; the engineer solves the hardest problem first.

                    2. 4

                      Substitute C++ or Python in my comment and it still stands. I actually can’t think of any language I’d be comfortable doing this in, but it would at least have a theorem prover.

                      1. 4

                        Funnily enough, Solidity can use Why3 for verification. In 2017 the translation was “not even tested”, no idea what progress has been made.

                        Either way, the human problem is still the bigger one. You can’t force everyone to verify. Especially if currently some don’t even test.

                        1. 13

                          Some serious PL people looked at this problem years ago but the Solidity language has no defined semantics and is very unprincipled as a language. Basically all these formal verification tools are some 5% finished work that some grad student who got tasked to “do formal verification” purely as a means to pump the value of some token, and then abandoned it when they realised the problem was intractable.

                          From a larger perspective, effectively a 100% of these contracts and DeFi companies are either just gambling products or thinly veiled exit-scams so whether the code works or not isn’t really important so long as the right stakeholders get their winnings out before it blows up. David’s conclusion in the article is spot on.

                  2. 1

                    Actually they used options.length instead of optionIDs.length while they had options defined in outer scope.

                    ah, thank you! I didn’t dive into the github to see if they’d described their “own” code correctly. Unsurprising, given they apparently just copied a pile of it. Correcting …

                  1. 9

                    It is depressing to see how far smart contracts have fallen. The original smart-contract concept would have worked fine without blockchains. Indeed, there is something of a bifurcation in the object-capability world, with some folks (Agoric) being very convinced that blockchains and smart contracts are not just compatible but meant for each other, and the rest of us being convinced that they are obviously and horribly wrong.

                    In capability theory, we draw a strong distinction between unguessable references vs. unforgeable references. An unguessable reference is a bitvector, and since it is plain data, it is only hard to know because it is hard to guess. However, an unforgeable reference is constructed by the surrounding environment and cannot be reduced to mere bits. Capability theory primarily relies on unforgeability for practical security; unguessability is an acceptable risk at the edges of the system which lets us weaken our proofs to be as strong as our cryptography and privacy permit.

                    And from this perspective, hopefully it’s obvious what’s wrong: all data on blockchains is, at best, unguessable, and quite a bit of it is public. We can’t extend unforgeability across networks. This means that a blockchain can’t simply host an object-capability language in a way which is compatible with invoking unforgeable privately-held capabilities.

                    I don’t think that anybody involved is acting in bad faith, but they certainly do seem blind to reason because of the potential for obtaining lots of money.

                    1. 3

                      You are much more generous than me, then! At first one could apply “never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity” to some of these things, but in this decade that’s really hard to continue doing.

                      1. 6

                        this is crypto, it’s always both.

                        Szabo’s concept of smart contracts was way more nuanced than the reality we have now, where the number one use case of his Big Idea turned out to be unregistered penny stock scams (which he’s less than thrilled about). Szabo is a computer scientist, and fully understands the engineering problems that smart contracts entail. Unfortunately, his fans didn’t listen.

                    1. 7

                      Turing complete configuration languages shepherd you into writing complex logic with them, even though they are usually not particularly good programming environments.

                      I think this one works more like: if doing the hard bit at that layer of the system would solve your problem, Turing completeness is fatally tempting.

                      (that time I wrote several hundred lines of code in ant. kill me.)

                      1. 2

                        Working on a book about Facebook Libra - a really big dumb and bad idea in cryptocurrency. Resisting the urge to compile LibreOffice git HEAD yet again, one of my favourite displacement activities.

                        Might stop down the local CEX and see about an 11” laptop - it’s time to go back to a netbook. A writing device that’s mine. And cheap enough that if it breaks, I can just get another one.

                        I have a very powerful Lenovo X390 for work - 4-core/8-thread i7, 32GB RAM, compiles LO in 90 minutes! … and a fragile screen. I’m hell on laptops anyway, but I already broke the screen on this one previously, and I now regard this £1000 corporate beast machine as a fragile toy I don’t want to risk using.

                        Probably one of the underpowered Windows 10 Chromebook competitors - I traveled a couple of weeks ago with the loved one’s Chromebook, and while I wholeheartedly recommend Chromebooks as travel laptops precisely because it’s not a disaster if it’s lost/stolen/broken, it turns out I really like having PgUp/PgDown keys.

                        Though I’d accept a sufficiently ’l33t Chromebook. And then put GalliumOS on it.

                        I thought I wanted a Surface Go - I am deeply impressed by a 10” tablet that is genuinely a proper PC, and apparently they Linux surprisingly well - but the form factor isn’t quite right for what I want, which is sitting on the couch and typing a lot. I want a laptop, not a tablet that sorta does being a laptop.

                        And if I want literally today’s build of LibreOffice, I can build it on the work laptop and copy over the instdir :-D

                        1. 1

                          I ended up buying the Hypa Flux. I had an authentic early-2000s Linux experience with the crappy Realtek wifi, but I’m otherwise delighted with it. Review: https://reddragdiva.dreamwidth.org/608064.html

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                          I hope this makes more businesses realize that people can work from home 90% of the time for a great many positions. The amount of time saved, gas saved, and stress saved is immense….not to mention the amount saved on office space and associated costs.

                          1. 6

                            I’ve been working from home for over a week and I’ve been much happier.

                            I just need to go for a walk around my neighborhood each day to at least leave the house. I never go for a walk when I go to the office. Its nice, I went around and took some photos on my Nikon FE2 today (been getting back into film recently)

                            1. 7

                              I got a dog to force me get out every day and it’s rewarding in many ways.

                            2. 3

                              I also hope this could be the case, but I think there’s also a possibility that it could have the opposite effect, owing to:

                              1. Rushing into it without time to prepare and test remote-working infrastructure.
                              2. Being forced to suddenly go all in, rather than easing themselves into it gradually by initially having some people working from home some of the time.

                              If a company experiences problems because of it, they might be more likely to dismiss the possibility in future.

                              1. 3

                                Bram Cohen has a good Twitter thread about this - https://twitter.com/bramcohen/status/1235291382299926529 - “My office went full remote starting the beginning of this week related to covid-19 … This isn’t out of fear that going in to work is dangerous. It isn’t, at least not yet. It’s out of concern for not spreading disease and erring on the side of going full remote sooner rather than later.” Making sure you can strikes me as a good idea.

                              2. 7

                                If only I could work at McDonald’s from home. Sure would be nice if I could just receive a case of patties in the mail, cook them up, and mail them out. They have enough preservatives that it wouldn’t be an issue, right?

                                1. 10

                                  There’s something that resonates about this. I wonder if these companies also encourage their data center engineers to work from home. Or even their cleaning and cafeteria staff. ‘Working from home’ requires an economic infrastructure that we expect to keep working, even though it requires people not to ‘work from home’.

                                  I’m absolutely sympathetic to the argument that not packing people together in tight spaces might, if we’re lucky, limit the spread of the virus. Maybe this is the wrong moment to wonder about the classist aspects of this.

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                                    I think the idea of restricting workplace interaction gets a bit muddled in transmission.

                                    A pandemic of this kind is almost impossible to stop absent draconian quarantine practices.

                                    The point of getting (some) people not to take public transport, go to restaurants, hang out around the water cooler etc. is not to ensure that those people don’t get sick. A certain percentage of them will get sick, no matter what. The point is to slow the transmission, to flatten the curve of new illnesses, so that the existing care infrastructure can handle the inevitable illness cases without being overwhelmed.

                                    1. 6

                                      I’m not sure what is there about class. There are white collar jobs that can’t be remote, like doctors. And there are some blue collar ones that can, like customer support by phone.

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                                        There are always exceptions. But in general, “knowledge work” is both paid higher, and also allows the employee greater flexibility in choosing their place of work.

                                        1. 2

                                          Agreed with this take, yes.

                                        2. 8

                                          Many middle class jobs in the United States provide very few paid sick days, let alone jobs held by the working class. Paid sick leave is a rarity for part time jobs.

                                          People who hold multiple part time jobs to survive will face the choice of going to work while sick or self-isolating and losing their income.

                                          There’s absolutely a class component to consider, especially in America where social safety nets are especially weak.

                                          1. 1

                                            While it’s true that not all doctors can work remotely and others can’t all the time, telemedicine is a significant and growing part of the medical profession. Turns out there’s a lot of medicine that does not require in-person presence.

                                        3. 0

                                          What do you think this comment possibly adds to the conversation except being snide?

                                      1. 8

                                        This won’t come as a surprise to anyone working in enterprise software. There is an absolutely enormous cottage industry of consultancies selling these “blockchain” solutions to large companies when all they needed was a simple database. It’s metastasised so much that we’re seeing these second order solutions just trying to solve the original prviacy problems induced by the first order solutions. This is really the last ditch effort of IBM trying to maintain some semblance of relevance in the modern software era by creating completely unmaintainable back office software which is a loss leader for their Bluemix Cloud solution and which they can parasite off of for consulting the next decade.

                                        1. 1

                                          I was actually surprised not to see IBM’s name on this one.

                                          yeah, I fully expect there will be systems that sort of work better than not existing at all, with a gratuitous Hyperledger or private Ethereum somewhere in there that doesn’t actually do anything, and people like me will maintain these awful things for decades longer than is in any way reasonable. I think the ASX Blockchain project will end up one of these, for example.

                                          1. 3

                                            Microsoft and Ernst & Young are just playing the same game on top of this bizarre Ethereum thing they built to sell Azure products. It’s the same cargo-cultism masquerading as innovation to produce press releases. It’s all just pumped up by the public blockchain press because “any blockchain success makes number go up” and so the cycle of suffering continues for the poor programmers left to maintain this mess.

                                        1. 5

                                          We are currently doing a mandatory WFH test run where our office is closed today and everyone is working from home. So far it’s been interesting, lots of zoom meetings (context: I work for Blend, our SF office is around 300 people).

                                          We are also allowing people to electively WFH for the foreseeable future.

                                          1. 10

                                            Go you! So many places are all “I guess we’ll deal with it when it happens”, but there’s nothing like a test run.

                                            1. 2

                                              Similar. I work from home normally though, but part of a big office in London. We’ve been rotating departments the last week, each department testing their team working from home. We’re in public health though so we’re trigger happy mitigating anything that will mess with business continuity.

                                              1. 2

                                                I’m in ops, and our WFH game is 100% cos we have to be able to do our entire job from a laptop as needed when on call. Our devs are not on call, but they are similarly well set-up.

                                                The rest of the company is being dragged into the present quite nicely! We have a shiny new OpenVPN setup that’s doing the job of connection.

                                                The sticking point is phone meetings - suitable software (RingCentral sorta sucks; Google Hangouts really sucks; Slack’s audio is way better, but only tech is on Slack), and having the people in the room give a damn about making sure the microphone can hear them.

                                                1. 3

                                                  Zoom any good? Their name seems to crop up in this context a lot.

                                                  1. 1

                                                    Zoom has been excellent the few times I’ve used it this year – far above all other solutions I’ve experienced besides Blue Jeans (I’d say they’re tied for top of the heap).

                                                    1. 1

                                                      RingCentral is actually a fork of Zoom, I think. I’ve only used Zoom myself for podcast recording, and it was fine?

                                                1. 52

                                                  nine-to-five-with-kids types

                                                  God forbid people have children and actually want to spend time with them.

                                                  As someone with kids, I’m reasonably sure I’m pretty good at what I do.

                                                  1. 40

                                                    The second statements includes a retraction of sorts:

                                                    P.S. I have no problem with family people, and want to retract the offhand comment I made about them. I work with many awesome colleagues who happen to have children at home. What I really meant to say is that I don’t like people who see what we do as more of a job than a passion, and it feels like we have a lot of these people these days. Maybe everyone does, though, or maybe I’m just completely wrong.

                                                    I disagree with them that it’s wrong to see your work as a job rather than a passion; in a system where it’s expected for everyone to have a job, it’s bullshit (though very beneficial for the capitalist class) to expect everyone to be passionate about what they’re forced to do everyday. Nonetheless, the retraction in the second statement is important context.

                                                    1. 14

                                                      Owning stock was supposed to fix this, rewarding employees for better work towards company growth. However the employees are somehow not oblivious to the fact that their work does not affect the stock price whatsoever, instead it being dependent mostly on news cycle about the company and their C-level execs (and large defense contracts in the case of Microsoft).

                                                      1. 8

                                                        Your appeal to our capitalist overlords here is incorrect. It’s a symptom of capitalism that you have people at work who are just punching in and don’t have a passion for it. If we weren’t bound by a capitalist system, people would work on whatever they’re passionate about instead of worrying about bringing home the bacon to buy more bacon with. Wanting people to be passionate about their work is a decidedly anti-capitalist sentiment, and wanting people to clock in, do their job, clock out and go home to maintain their nuclear family is a pretty capitalist idea.

                                                        1. 2

                                                          I agree with you.

                                                          in a system where it’s expected for everyone to have a job, it’s bullshit (though very beneficial for the capitalist class) to expect everyone to be passionate about what they’re forced to do everyday.

                                                          That’s true I think, undoubtedly. You can “fix” it by accepting people who aren’t passionate, or by replacing the system where people need a job to survive. I’d definitely prefer to fix it by replacing the system, but in any case, blaming 9-to-5-ers is wrong - they’re victims more than anything, forced to work a job they’re not passionate about instead of going out on whatever unprofitable venture captures their heart.

                                                          1. 1

                                                            or by replacing the system where people need a job to survive

                                                            How do you propose we do that, without literally enslaving people? And without causing necessary but often necessarily low-passion jobs (like sorting freight in a courier company, at 1AM - one of my jobs as teenager) to simply not get done?

                                                            I mean, what you’re really proposing is that some people get to go on ‘whatever unprofitable venture captures their heart’ while … what? Someone else labours to pay their way?

                                                            I personally think that it’s entirely reasonable to accept people whose passion isn’t their job, provided they’re professional and productive. There’s nothing here to fix, really, beyond rejecting the (IMO) unrealistic idea that a good employee has to be passionate about their work.

                                                          2. 2

                                                            Every time we’ve tried an alternative at scale it’s led to mass murder, or mass starvation, or both.

                                                            You’re also ignoring the fact that some jobs are just plain unpleasant. I’ve worked some in my youth. It’s reasonable not to be passionate about those; they’re either high paying because they’re unpleasant but skilled, or the lowest paying job because they’re work you do because your labour isn’t valuable in any other way.

                                                        2. 9

                                                          As another kind of beef against that line, in my experience, people working crazy long hours on a consistent basis generally aren’t doing it out of some kind of pure passion for the project, implementing a cool amazing design, etc. They’re usually pounding out ordinary boring features and business requirements, and are working long hours because of poor project management - unrealistic promises to customers, insufficient resources, having no idea what the requirements actually are but promising a delivery date anyways, etc. IMO, anyone with any wisdom should get out of that situation, whether or not they have kids.

                                                          Also IME, those who do have genuine passion to build some cool new thing often don’t work long hours at all, or only do so for a short time period.

                                                          1. 7

                                                            Someone I know could easily be working for Google or such, but he works for a smaller, non-tech, local company as a developer, so he can spend his free time building the projects he likes (or the luxury of not having to at all), instead of some absurd scale megacorp thing which will drain all the free time he has. (Or specifically, build the great thing you want to, and not be subject to what say, Facebook wants.) IMHO, it’s pretty smart…

                                                          2. 7

                                                            The anonymous author apologizes about this specifically in their follow-up.

                                                            1. 4

                                                              The apologies sound like something between a sincere apology for just blindly ranting at it all and an apology for apologies’ sake. It looks to me like the author actually feels (felt) closer to the way he described in the first message then the second. Not all the way, but somewhat.

                                                              1. 1

                                                                The apology is also written in an entirely different style. It’s not clear there’s strong reason to assume it’s the same person.

                                                                edit: reading through the comments, the blog’s owner says: “I won’t reveal how the anonymous poster contacted me, but I am 99.9% sure that unless his communication channel was hacked, he is the same person.” So, ok, it’s the same person.

                                                            2. 11

                                                              I know what people the author means though–not all these people have kids though, they’re just the ones who punch a clock from 9-5 and want to remain comfortable and don’t want push themselves to make great things. It’s not that these people want to make bad things, or don’t want to make great things, or aren’t capable of doing great work, they just don’t receive any self-fulfillment from work. I don’t blame these people for acting this way, I’d just rather not work with them.

                                                              The best dev on my team (by a long shot) is a 9-5 worker who never finished college, but accomplishes more in one day than most devs accomplish in a week or more. He aspires to do incredible work during his time and he exceeds every day.

                                                              1. 9

                                                                Once organizations get to a certain threshold of complexity, though, you need to be thinking much more about the incentives that are offered rather than the micro-level of which people want to do excellent things. You have to make it easier to do the excellent thing than not, and that can be difficult, or, in an org the size of Microsoft’s Windows kernel groups, basically, impossible.

                                                                1. 5

                                                                  The comment was directed at the author’s “9-5 with kids” comment since the author is referring to the contributions of those people. Organizational structure produces different effects on products based on the personalities and abilities of those people within the organization.

                                                                  In general, the bigger the organizational, the less risk-tolerance, but most actions incur some sort of risk. Also, staying with the crowd and doing what you’re told is safest, so inaction or repeating previous actions often becomes the default.

                                                                  1. 2

                                                                    Good point. It never makes sense to innovate and take risks in a large organization. If your gamble pays off, the pay off will invisibly pump up some vaguely connected numbers that will look good for some manager higher up. If it doesn’t pay off, it’s your fault. So, regardless of how good a gamble it was based on risk-reward ratio, it’s never favorable for you personally. Don’t expect your immediate superior to appreciate it either, even if the gamble pays off, because that person is also facing the same odds.

                                                                2. 7

                                                                  As an anecdote, the eventually worst workplace I’ve been had a deeply ingrained culture of being passionate about work, and about being part of “a family” through the employer. It’s not entirely a healthy stance.

                                                                  1. 4

                                                                    I don’t blame these people for acting this way, I’d just rather not work with them.

                                                                    Why not?

                                                                    You said they want to make good things, great things, and can do great work. Why does someone else’s opinion of their job matter to you?

                                                                    1. 5

                                                                      It’s when people’s opinions affect the work they do. My point is they can do great work, but many don’t. Sometimes it manifests as symptom fixing rather than problem solving because it’s “whatever gets me out today by X, screw consequences later.” Other times it manifests as “I wasn’t told to do this, so I won’t”. When I’ve seen it, it’s often pervasive short term thinking over long term thinking.

                                                                1. 2

                                                                  There’s a third tech critique of Libra: https://twitter.com/mcclure111/status/1142496050177105923

                                                                  currently an epic Twitter thread, the author is cleaning it up to make it a blog post at some point

                                                                  1. 31

                                                                    A rebuttal, though from an OpenLibra contributor rather than Facebook.

                                                                    1. 9

                                                                      I suspect Facebook’s longer term plans, were they to actually launch Libra, are to move to a permissionless proof-of-stake model […]

                                                                      some of the testnets we are running for other BFT protocols are operating at those performance levels or above

                                                                      Is it actually sound? I don’t know, it’s brand new and looks unfinished to me […]

                                                                      Right now Libra is missing many features of other proof-of-stake blockchains like governance, however these mechanisms can be used to implement things like payment reversals […]

                                                                      Nothing in the rebuttal other than the cryptography section sounds particularly strong.

                                                                      1. 8

                                                                        The cryptography section isn’t wrong but it misses my point entirely. I claim that the more mission critical the cryptography is in a piece of software the more scrutiny it should be given and that these libraries are relatively new and not as tested as older ones. A company with resources like Facebook could have put a lot more resources into this and it would have been good for the Rust community for this to happen as it makes the whole ecosystem more robust.

                                                                        When you’re going before congress to testify that this system can safely handle private user data, the QA should be much higher on your software because the public’s interest is involved. I thought this was a fairly uncontroversial opinion.

                                                                      2. 8

                                                                        the original: “these ideas are bad and incoherent, and this code cannot possibly implement reality consistently”

                                                                        the riposte: “but look how shiny the pieces are! also, it has to suck cos it’s a blockchain,”

                                                                        that’s really not a good rebuttal

                                                                        1. 5

                                                                          I agree, it isn’t a rebuttal of my original points. It’s more a statement of blind faith that the technology just needs to be invented and that the public should just trust that currently intractable problems will just be somehow solved before it goes live. I don’t have any faith in blockchain tech, I only look at what exists and is provable today.

                                                                        2. 4

                                                                          Thanks for finding this, always interesting to read a rebuttal on a similar level.

                                                                          For context, I am a contributor to OpenLibra, a group independent of Facebook (or should I say “FACEBOOK”)

                                                                          I struggle to understand the joke here, unless it’s a poke at cryptocurrency boosters to refer to conventional money as “FIAT” (in all caps).

                                                                          1. 18

                                                                            Probably related to the rebrand.

                                                                            1. 7

                                                                              Ah, I’ve missed that. Thanks. That is a fugly logo.

                                                                        1. 14

                                                                          There’s some good meaty stuff about verifiability, types etc in the Move language which should interest many here who might otherwise be turned off by the tags.

                                                                          1. 10

                                                                            This particuarly caught my interest as it’s only the second writeup I’ve seen of the technical side, and the first was the passing piece by Elaine Ou about how incomplete she thought the code dump was: https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-06-20/facebook-s-libra-cryptocurrency-isn-t-actually-supposed-to-work

                                                                            She assumed it was technically incomplete because it was for the regulators, but what Libra gave the regulators was also ridiculously incomplete …

                                                                            I think the question now is really: what on earth were they doing in there for two years?

                                                                          1. 4

                                                                            A quick book on Facebook’s Libra. “Quick” means it might take less than a year. So far I have 20k words in disjointed lumps of a few paragraphs, in several loose categories. I took a week off work last week and literally spent 14 hours/day reading absolutely all the relevant press coverage of Libra (FT, WSJ, NYT, Reuters, Bloomberg).

                                                                            it’s 0% a technology story and 100% a corporate hubris story

                                                                            working title: “Libra Unbalanced: How Facebook’s blockchain dream crashed and burned - and what happens next”

                                                                            arguably it’s too early to wrap it up as a story, but then there have been precisely two mainstream cryptocurrency stories this year, and this is the bigger one. (The other is QuadrigaCX.)

                                                                            next hard bit: ! have to write a few thousand original words on how “bank the unbanked” can only functionally mean “take over small economies entirely”, which means reading several books’ worth of text so I know what the hell I’m talking about - at the stage where 1 book -> 3 paragraphs

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                                                                              The best rants are thoroughly enjoyable even if you’re unfamiliar with the subject matter.

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                                                                                Terra’s documentation is so wrong that it somehow manages to be wrong in both directions. That is, some of the documentation is out-of-date, while some of it refers to concepts that never made it into master

                                                                                reader, I loled

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                                                                                Well said! My god, the comparisons to the internet, I’ve heard them, it’s such hype-mongering. “Bitcoin is layer 1, we need to build the efficient transports and application layers on top and suddenly everyone will use them!” Yeah that was true for the internet because it enabled interconnectivity, rather than bogging connectivity down with unsustainable requirements and fee structures before it had even taken off.

                                                                                I absolutely love that labelled hype cycle, the second graphic. Hahaha, one of the labels in the trough just says “Blockchain.” Who made that thing with a straight face XD.

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                                                                                  I KNOW RIGHT. That diagram is LITERALLY the image Gartner sent out in a press release.

                                                                                  The Fosdick article is great, actually - really spoke to me as a sysadmin, 27 years later. I might post that to lobste.rs as a separate article. Gartner’s version of it is so awful.

                                                                                  (I must note that Fosdick was delighted to have his idea put about by them.)

                                                                                  remember: whenever anyone compares Bitcoin or blockchain to the Internet, they don’t understand the technology - either technology.

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                                                                                    Also, “the bitcoin bubble gave my company enough runway to be unaffected by the beginning of the end of rampant VC lending due to low interest rates, therefore bitcoin companies will be resilient to any and all downturn in the tech sector.”

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                                                                                    And another says “Cryptocurrencies”. They wanted to show where each of the buzzwords is on the line (it’s not chronological from left to right, that took me a minute) and I guess they decided to explore how hyped every related concept is, including the basic ones, and also including the most ridiculous ones. What the hell is Blockchain Society? Sounds dystopian.

                                                                                    I love how “Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Regulation” is supposedly going through the same cycle. I guess we’re going to get REALLY hyped about banning all this nonsense, and very quickly become very very disillusioned with regulation, and so on…

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                                                                                      Hahaha, one of the labels in the trough just says “Blockchain.”

                                                                                      That one is in the first pic if it’s unclear. I totally missed it. It literally just says blockchain haha. Somehow, the blockchain itself is invented way after the, uh, blockchain is invented and used in all kinds of ways.

                                                                                      These people needed only 20 words or so of bullshit that looked believable to put on their little plot. And they still couldn’t handle it. Gartner, you slippin’!

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                                                                                        (see my comment above) it’s not chronological, left to right is how far along in the hype cycle each thing is :D

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                                                                                      Ruffle is in the proof-of-concept stage and can currently run early Flash animations.

                                                                                      so, there’s been what, two or three previous attempts at an open-source Flash emulator, and they all basically stalled at some point. Evidently the easy bit is easy and there’s a hard bit that’s a Great Filter for the idea. What do they all keep stalling on?

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                                                                                        Unlike most reviews, this is an in-depth one from long-time preservationist that worked on LOCKSS project. They’ve been delivering for a long time on one of the things blockchain proponents are recently hypothesizing about. The sections starting in “permissionless systems trust…” are especially interesting in that there’s lots of details worth thinking about in any implementation, decentralized or not.

                                                                                        Note: I think I got this from one of @David_Gerard’s articles during a skimming session. I couldn’t find it when I looked again. Either his blog or one he linked to. Somewhere…

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                                                                                          I found some genuinely new information in this so it was well worth the read.

                                                                                          Particular the sections on the economic constraints of a proof of work cryotocurrency.

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                                                                                            I linked it last newsletter I think ;-) DSHR knows his stuff about blockchains, and why cryptocurrencies are bad actually. I met him last year and took the photo in his Wikipedia article :-D

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                                                                                              Worked on NeWS and Andrew, too? Even more interesting guy! Cool you gave him a nice picture, too. :)

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                                                                                                The correct photo for an eminent computer scientist and software engineer: down the pub with a pint ;-)

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                                                                                                why cryptocurrencies are bad actually

                                                                                                Yes David. I know that cryptocurrencies are bad, thanks in large part to you. Bad. Very bad. You never give a believable explanation but you insist it is so. What is good, according to you? The Almighty Dollar! Thanks for repeatedly telling us that under the Lobsters cryptocurrencies tag.

                                                                                                A recent sampling from the Lobsters cryptocurrencies tag of upvoted content includes much blockchain bashing and propaganda, and not very much technical content:

                                                                                                • Blockchains: What’s Not to Like? (9 upvotes currently)
                                                                                                • the weasel term “Blockchain Technology” (38 upvotes)
                                                                                                • There’s No Good Reason to Trust Blockchain Technology (39 upvotes)

                                                                                                Meanwhile, a scan of technical articles on blockchain tech includes things like:

                                                                                                • Understanding Decentralized IDs (DIDs) (1 upvote, now 2 thanks to me)
                                                                                                • Plutus Publisher-Subscriber: a way to communicate using Cardano and Plutus Smart Contracts (1 upvote)
                                                                                                • Ethercombing: Finding Secrets in Popular Places (4 upvotes)
                                                                                                • The reports of bitcoin environmental damage are garbage (3 upvotes) <- (I include because it helps counter previously submitted nonsense, but maybe it shouldn’t be on this list, just like the nonsense shouldn’t have been posted in the first place)

                                                                                                I look forward to the day when Lobsters cryptocurrencies content consists not of cryptocurrency bashing, but about the interesting technical possibilities that blockchains offer — because they do represent new tech and new possibilities that didn’t exist before.

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                                                                                                  Let’s be balanced here. I haven’t heard anyone in the crypto currency camp explain how the economics work out. I also haven’t seen a real world example of those economics work out. The arguments all boil down to “It is essential that we have a trustless decentralized currency and this is the only currency with that property”. An argument that focuses on the math behind PoW but ignores the real world economics that make it suboptimal and potentially unworkable.

                                                                                                  The math is elegant but the currency still has to work as a currency and PoW gives every indication of requiring rampant speculation to prop it up. I haven’t seen any convincing arguments against that yet.

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                                                                                                They certainly have. All they gotta do is be curious people with access to the media, Reddit, etc. Then, they’ll run into stories about people getting rich, getting robbed, etc. They spread them around on social media. I’ve had quite a few non-technical people making minimum wage who I regularly run into stop me to ask opinions on investing in Bitcoin or blockchains. Like David_Gerard says, they hear the terms applied to specific situations or promises without actually understanding what it means.

                                                                                                I just tell them it’s like the California Gold Rush, a Ponzi Scheme, or similar scam in practice noting the losses. They usually nod saying it all sounded like bullshit. The one’s I run into investing in or day trading it are usually the smart people like geeks or programmers. No finance people so far, though.

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                                                                                                  After a few people who’d found the article said “ok smart guy, what is a blockchain then if it isn’t all that stuff”, I added a very short “what is blockchain” postscript.

                                                                                                  Blockchain itself is pretty simple - it’s the “yes, but why” that turns out to be the weird bit.