1. 2

    I find that pencil and paper thinking is superior to type writer thinking. OneNote is the best app I’ve used for post paper and pencil thinking and it works so well because it adds scissors and glue to the metaphor, and it still feels clunkier than doing it on paper because the paper is stuck behind a screen.

    1. 4

      I’ve found that an e-note (currently the ReMarkable) does wonders for replacing pen+paper, personally.

      But, what I really want is a (word processor?) that uses both pen and typewriter for the best of both worlds.

      Also some auto-managing and a smarter UI on the RM. I swear the RM misses half the point of going digital in the first place, and also managed to get its UI’s workflow backwards in several places.

      For instance, you create a new notebook by typing a name, before writing. It should instead create a blank new notebook, then let you PHYSICALLY HANDWRITE THE TITLE at the top. This is probably due to their handwriting precognition needing network access and being provided by a third party, so they can’t just up-and-require HWR in their UI.

      But, that doesn’t explain their “name and sort first and write the content later” approach in other areas - they have a “quick sheets” button that just opens a new page on an always-available “quick sheets” notebook, but they don’t provide any decent functionality for jotting down notes and then transferring said quick notes to its appropriate spot in your filing system.

      You can technically do it, but it takes several clicks every time you do it I’d guess ~7 including a multi-second hold), and every click takes maybe 2 seconds. So you’re talking ~14 seconds, which is NOT acceptable.

      I feel like the RM could be so much better than paper, and in many ways it is - I still prefer it over dead tree - but they have a single-minded obsession on being “digital paper” without acknowledging that they’re now responsible for supplying a good digital filing interface.

      In other words, it still feels clunkier than doing it on paper because the paper is stuck behind a screen.

      1. 1

        What’s the third party software story like on it? I’ve held off buying one but hope that a software community could make it more useful

        1. 2

          What’s the third party software story like on it?

          The worst and the best - it’s fairly open, it gives you the root password and lets you SSH in (apparently in order to comply with GPL3 terms), which, combined with the fact that the official software is deliberately barebones (but polished - they have Apple/GNOME syndrome), has ironically created the biggest modding community on any e-note device.

          The problem here is that the UI is a proprietary blob that can change after any update, and half the community hacks are built around modifying said blob. I’m not a fan of this.

          I think there are two escape routes to make the system more FOSS-oriented:

          1. Parabola-RM is a port of Parabola to the RM1, and if also ported to the RM2 it could replace the default OS for anyone who’s willing to give up on the default UI.
          2. The default UI probably wouldn’t be that hard to recreate, and creating a safe drop-in replacement on Parabola-RM would simplify the situation a whole lot.
          1. 1

            Extant, sort of, and seems to grow a bit every time I check back, but not supported by the vendor and firmly located in hack space conceptually.

      1. 7

        I don’t see why this had to be implemented in C++ when you’re already working with a Lisp. The nice thing with Lisp is that the macro system allows for stuff like this to be added.

        Examples, CL: https://github.com/mrcdr/polisher and https://www.cliki.net/ugly-tiny-infix-macro

        Scheme even has a SRFI dedicated to this: https://srfi.schemers.org/srfi-105/srfi-105.html

        1. 2

          LispE is described as a pretty minimal LISP, so it may not have macros; I didn’t find any mention of them when I skimmed the language description.

          I’m wondering if this could be applied to concatenative (Forth-like) languages. I have a toy one I’m working on, that I might do some syntactic experiments with.

            1. 1

              LispE is described as a pretty minimal LISP, so it may not have macros

              Then that should probably be implemented as soon as possible, at least much sooner than infix operator features.

              I’m wondering if this could be applied to concatenative (Forth-like) languages

              If you’re referring to infix operators, it seems to be possible: https://arduino-forth.com/article/FORTH_exemples_convertInfixToPostfix

            2. 1
              1. 1

                because with macros you cannot easily handle operator precedence

                1. 1

                  But it has already been done in the examples I’ve showed.

                  Anyways, whatever. I would implement the entire thing in Lisp from the ground up, like SBCL has done, but judging from your codebase it looks like you have a strong preference for C. I won’t argue with you any further, but I urge you to explore Lisp itself a bit before taking the C route.

                  1. 1

                    You don’t even need macros, you can write an metacircular interpreter that can be switched to infix or postfix notation. Changing how a lisp is interpreted is the whole point of a lisp.

                    1. 1

                      Ah, I’m showing my ignorance it seems.

                      I haven’t had the ability to explore metacircular evaluators yet, but I am excited to see they are a topic of SICP which I am currently reading. Do you know any other introductions to the topic?

                      Changing how a lisp is interpreted is the whole point of a lisp.

                      This in particular is what piqued my interest, as I love Lisp but don’t have any experience “changing how it’s interpreted”.

                      1. 1

                        Reading the documentation of racket is probably the best place to start. It is the lisp that I would advise anyone starting off to look at. It feels like python felt in the early 00s.

                        1. 1

                          Thanks for the tip, I’ll check it out.

                  1. 26

                    I get at least 5 flags per post where I criticise open source licenses for failing at their primary purpose: letting us see the source code in the age of the three clouds. If I were to take the advice of the banner I should never talk about licenses again since it’s predictable that a loud minority will make their displeasure felt. Somehow I don’t think that’s what the original intent of the flags was.

                    1. 53

                      Licensing is one of those topics where no matter what you do, you’re evil.

                      • I prefer permissive licenses: “zomg, you’re in favour of Big Capitalist Abuse!!!”
                      • I prefer copyleft: “zomg, horrible anti-freedom viral licenses!! Also Stallman is a transphobic woman-hating nonce!!”
                      • I like not-quite-OSD-license X: “zomg, it’s not true open source! You’re against freedom!”
                      • I don’t like not-quite-OSD-license X: “zomg, are you against developers making a fair wage?!?!”
                      • I don’t like ethical licenses: “zomg, you don’t care about exploitation and oppression?! Are you literally Hitler?!
                      • I like ethical licenses: “zomg, you want to enforce your ethics for your own power!!! Are you literally Hitler?!

                      🤷

                      1. 4

                        Scott Adams once wrote about a thought experiment in politics (I’d include software licensing in that).

                        Imagine an issue where people are split between two choices - say, BSD vs GPL licensing. Now find the most intelligent people in the debate, and see where they stand. There are two possible outcomes:

                        1. All of the intelligent sample agree. That’s great! But clearly the effects of large-scale politics are to neutralise the effects of intelligence in this case.

                        2. The intelligent sample is split just like the entire population is. Clearly intelligence is irrelevant to the issue.

                        1. 7

                          I don’t think this is a particularly good thought experiment (though that is a reflection on Scott Adams, not you).

                          I question lots of assumptions here,

                          • That it’s possible (in a non-trivial sense) to have a completely well defined and agreed upon binary choice is … improbable, at best. Your licensing example implies (For all people/communities, for all software, for all purposes, for all places, for all legal situations, at all times),
                          • That there’s a objective verifiable way to determine who the “most intelligent” people are (there isn’t). There are multiple domains for intelligence; are these “most intelligent people” supposed to be intelligent in all of them? What if it requires domain knowledge (not intelligence), how does that get factored in?

                          There are certainly more than 2 outcomes, additionally

                          • The “intelligent people” agree that… it depends.
                          • Some of the intelligent people disagree, but in a different proportion than the general public.
                          • Some of the intelligent people have a clear answer, but some don’t.
                          1. 5

                            This is a cute bit of both-sides rhetoric which is worth pulling apart. Noting that intelligence is usually left undefined out of difficulty, we could replace “intelligence” and “intelligent” with any other undefinable or even unmeasurable attribute and not affect the central problem that finding “the most intelligent people” involves a personal value judgement. For example:

                            • Clearly, beauty is irrelevant to the issue.
                            • Clearly, sanity is irrelevant to the issue.
                            • Clearly, having lots of justifications for a choice on the issue is irrelevant to the issue.
                            • Clearly, being well-informed about the issue is irrelevant to the issue.
                            • Clearly, truth is irrelevant to the issue.

                            This all suggests that political issues cannot be resolved by value judgements upon members of political parties. Instead, issues must be resolved by ethical consideration of the particular effects of the available choices.

                        2. 8

                          I get at least 5 flags per post where I criticise open source licenses for failing at their primary purpose

                          Oh! I thought that, these days, its purpose was to allow the three clouds (and others) to monetise the work of volunteer programmers. Seems to be doing quite well at that.

                          Not that I’ve ever written anything with that sort of uptake, but I’ll be using the AGPL for my stuff in future, and encourage anyone writing open source software to do likewise.

                          1. 11

                            The problem with relying on user flags for moderation purposes is, a lot of people aren’t interested in opposing views or views that aren’t exactly in line with their own.

                            I completely disagree with your thoughts about AGPL and licenses. I deliberately use MIT, BSD or similar licenses wherever I can.

                            That doesn’t mean I think your view is invalid or deserves to be downvoted and thus be less likely to be read via the various methods (On the orange site, hidden from view; On here, moved to the bottom of the list, or you get a “hey bruh maybe you should just leave” type notice as the OP talks about).

                            I don’t know what the solution is, to facilitate removal of actually bad comments (e.g. spam, illegal stuff, racist/misogynistic bullshit, etc) without having false positives that mean the conversation becomes an echo chamber.

                            1. 4

                              Quite true! These flags remind me of DMCA takedowns — no one investigates is they are done in good faith.

                              1. 10

                                I promise, we do investigate before we take action. The banner and histogram are purely advisory.

                              2. 1

                                I completely disagree with your thoughts about AGPL and licenses. I deliberately use MIT, BSD or similar licenses wherever I can.

                                It feels like we may be optimising for very different things with our choice of licenses. MIT / BSD you’d be optimising for adoption?

                                I don’t know what the solution is, to facilitate removal of actually bad comments (e.g. spam, illegal stuff, racist/misogynistic bullshit, etc) without having false positives that mean the conversation becomes an echo chamber.

                                Narrowly constraining the topics of conversation seems to help, a lot. Every time I chafe about stories being removed that aren’t explicitly tech-focused, I remind myself that the alternative seems to be flag- and downvote-mediated culture wars.

                                1. 3

                                  I guess you could call it ease of adoption?

                                  I don’t buy into the common copylefter’s view about proprietary software being immoral or whatever, or have concerns about people taking what I’ve written, and making money from it.

                                  I generally don’t have an issue contributing to projects that have chosen gpl or other projects. I doubt I’d bother if they wanted me to sign paperwork and assign ownership.

                                  My goals with open source are mostly pragmatic. Better code (more eyeballs), less ‘legal’ confusion (eg if it were say just unlicensed completely).

                                  Essentially: here’s a thing I made to solve a problem I had/have. If it helps you, feel free to use it. If you want to improve it somehow feel free to do so. If you feel like sharing those improvements, that’s great too.

                          1. 4

                            Hi all, this is @nehbit here, I’m the maintainer. Happy to answer if you have any questions!

                            1. 2

                              Aether is a flood protocol. Its network topology is effectively only concerned with delivering all data to everywhere, regardless of who’s following whom.

                              is there anything stopping a person from encoding copyrighted material (or something much worse) as plaintext and then forcing every other node to receive it? I guess Usenet faces a similar problem, but they just don’t care/they have killfiles, right? If I’m hosting a node, can I opt out of hosting stuff I don’t like? Sorry if this is answered in the FAQ, but I couldn’t find it.

                              1. 3

                                We do have some equivalent of killfiles that can be shared between users and the app supplies a default one as well.

                                Hosting stuff you don’t like: this is actively being worked on. Aether being a flood network makes having ‘incomplete’ nodes (i.e. everything sans the stuff you don’t want) a little challenging because the core assumption is that every node is equivalent to each other, but it’s not an impossible problem to solve.

                                1. 1

                                  I’ve done some thinking about similar systems. My current working hypothesis is that you can keep the digest/signature metadata of a post, but not the data itself. That way your Merkle tree or graph or whatever is intact, but stuff you don’t want is just skeletal.

                                  1. 3

                                    You can do this, we in fact do this in Aether, it’s called the manifest and it’s the first few pages of any node’s payload. However having the manifest only makes you aware of what you have missing (i.e. saying ‘this node does not have these data’) but it does not tell you anything about where that data actually is.

                                    The usual solution to this is to stick a DHT in front of it but DHTs fail at 30%+ attrition rates. That means, for it to work, out of 10 people that download and start the app, more than 7 will need to stay for the long term, so that DHT can reliably stick indexing data into them. That is a big ask, and it is not enough resilience for a P2P network that purports to ‘just work’, and not ask its users of making sacrifices because it’s P2P.

                              2. 2

                                A while ago I checked out the docs of the Mim protocol, which Aether uses. Are there any other applications that you know of that are using Mim?

                                One thing I noticed is that, like SSB did with Node’s Json.stringify, Mim relies on the output of Go’s json.Marshal to compute and verify fingerprints and Proof of Work.

                                I’d recommend that you introduce some canonicalization step in the protocol before it causes any headaches in the future. All attempts at building SSB clients had a really hard time w.r.t this (including my own, I had to fork a json library and modify it to become compatible with Node’s). SSB is in the process of transitioning to a new feed format that uses CBOR instead of Json, which supports a canonical ordering.

                                1. 1

                                  A couple of suggestions:

                                  1). Add source code to the download list, as an archive and as a link to some git repo. Right now it’s rather unintuitive to find where the source code lives.

                                  2). Add a users guide that is easily visible and show people how to elect, filter, vote, block, delete, etc. from the js client since, again, it’s rather unintuitive how to do it.

                                  3). If possible post a repo of the website so people can send you UX improvements without needing to email and asking for the source code.

                                1. 47

                                  TeX is a really strange program by modern standards. One of my favorite tidbits about it is that you can launch external programs and read their output, but that facility works by writing the command line to a magic-number file descriptor and then reading from that file descriptor.

                                  I have been whatever the opposite of a fan is of LaTeX for a long time. I learned ConTeXt because I got sick of the magic libraries, noisy syntax and general ugliness of LaTeX. I think a lot of computer scientists and programmers hold LaTeX’s output in higher regard than it deserves, because Knuth is a genius and studied typography and Lamport’s a genius and invented LaTeX or whatever. But the defaults for LaTeX are hideous to anyone with eyes and Knuth’s fonts are not amazing outside math.

                                  ConTeXt absolutely makes more sense than LaTeX. If you need a powerful facility for generating quality PDFs for print, like the idea of using TeX and the cost, definitely check it out. A downside of ConTeXt is that it sort of assumes that you really know what’s going on with TeX for deeper customizations. This sent me down a rabbit hole with TeX.

                                  The basic ideas of TeX are definitely interesting and powerful. The problems (in my opinion) are twofold: first, the primitives you have access to just don’t seem to be powerful enough for a lot of modern problems, and second, you’re a bit hamstrung by the design constraints of the system itself. Regarding the former, (for instance) it’s rather difficult to set things up so that TeX figures out the sizes things should be, but also is able to retain those sizes across page boundaries. TeX wants to create boxes and fill them in, and it’s got a separate asynchronous thing that ships out pages when it has enough boxes to fill them. Communicating between those facilities is tricky. This makes things like facing-translation hard. At the same time, the macro facility in plain TeX, unconstrained by LaTeX’s conventions, is much better for human readability.

                                  For efficiency reasons in the early modern era, TeX wants to process the document only in a forward direction. This leads to the second problem. There’s no way (in one pass) to communicate backwards to earlier pages and there is no data structure in memory representing the document as a whole. This is why it takes many passes to generate a LaTeX document: each reference’s location gets recorded in the first pass, and on the next pass LaTeX can read the file with the references to generate the appropriate text. Of course, when a reference changes from “(?)” to “(Subrahiman, Mellish, Gazdar et. al 1977)”, that can change how many boxes fit on the page, so that can necessitate another pass. Having to do work in multiple passes is so common in TeX that there’s a primitive operation for creating a side file and writing commands into it.

                                  The mouth/gullet/stomach thing has to do with macro expansion and what knowledge TeX will let you have and when. The process overall has an intriguingly asynchronous flavor, that it’s in horizontal mode building this line, then enters vertical mode building these paragraphs, and eventually has to engage the page shipper because you have too many paragraphs. But while I’m sure that it was easy for Knuth to keep all this straight in his head, it’s quite unstraightforward for mortals. And of course it makes machine-processing of TeX source by anything other than TeX nearly impossible.

                                  Part of the popularity of LuaTeX is that it makes it really easy to do things that, while possible with plain TeX, would be incredibly onerous because it just isn’t a modern programming language. I had a macro for LuaTeX that would take some SQL, run it against a database, and then emit syntax highlighted SQL and a nicely formatted table with the real result of running that SQL. This entailed loading a common Lua library and a common TeX library for formatting code, and just sort of gluing it all together with Lua, it was simple. Conversely, the most complex thing I’ve ever tried to do with plain TeX is probably to make a résumé with colored rules and real fonts. Having a real modern language with real data structures at your disposal helps immensely.

                                  Finl is not the first bold TeX replacement I’ve heard of; lout comes to mind, and got pretty far along before it got abandoned. There are so many hard parts to this problem: dealing with PDF, fonts, page layout in full generality, math. It seems like usually one of them is fatal to a new approach. I’m often tempted to give up on this as a concept and just buy Prince XML or just say everything’s going to be HTML from now on. But sometimes you just want to see a good-looking drop cap, or you need to give someone a PDF or something. Anyway, I wish the author well on this extremely long and complex journey!

                                  1. 28

                                    Of course, when a reference changes from “(?)” to “(Subrahiman, Mellish, Gazdar et. al 1977)”, that can change how many boxes fit on the page, so that can necessitate another pass.

                                    Many years ago, I found (and have since lost) a .tex file someone designed to never converge, because the references would dance between page boundaries.

                                    1. 28

                                      It is well you lost this cursed object.

                                      1. 8

                                        Good news! I found it again: https://tex.stackexchange.com/a/79699

                                      2. 9

                                        Not quite the same, but I’ve had something similar happen on the web sometimes. Hovering over an element will cause it to move out from under the mouse, following which it will move back, so it would jump back and forth and flicker indefinitely.

                                        1. 0

                                          I find that so aggravating!

                                      3. 9

                                        Reading the TeX source code is a treat: http://brokestream.com/tex.pdf

                                        It is probably the only piece of software that’s not trivial yet is laid out so logically that I can figure out how something is done in:

                                        1). A language I don’t actually know.

                                        2). Don’t really understand.

                                        3). Am not a subject matter expert.

                                        4). Have no idea where to start.

                                        In under 20 minutes. I’ve worked on code bases for months where I would still not be half as productive.

                                        1. 4

                                          This comment was more useful than the original post and the fact that, as of this writing, the comment has more upvotes than the story, I think others agree. Thank you for this!

                                          1. 3

                                            Thanks! Glad it was useful to someone!

                                          2. 3

                                            I agree mostly but the argument for ConTeXt does not convince me. ConTeXt to LaTeX is pretty much Ruby to Perl. Neither provides a better solution. As I have most of the scripts in Perl already, I am not going to touch Ruby. I will wait until Python comes along and all the cool kids started writing all kinds of scripts, so much so that I can pip anything and forgets about cpan. Until then, I’ll stick to LaTeX.

                                            1. 1

                                              Yes, the greater your investment in LaTeX, the more difficult a switch would be. I’m fortunate in that all of my projects are pretty independent and I don’t do them very frequently, so I could afford to make these deep dives for my own edification. Most people who are using LaTeX day-to-day are compelled to do so by journals or institutional requirements and don’t have the luxury to switch to ConTeXt. Even if you have the option, I can respect not wanting to deal with a new system, especially if you have a lot of built-up knowledge about how to solve your problems with LaTeX packages. The package ecosystem everywhere else is much smaller.

                                          1. 32

                                            I find this whole thread depressing.

                                            We have a long technical and economic list of why Urbit has a lot of problems and yet 2/3rds of the comments are about the politics of the guy who wrote it and has now stepped down. Character assassination is something everyone in open source has to deal with and I would have hoped people who are at least somewhat involved in the field would know better.

                                            Sacrificing scapegoats in the hope you’re not targeted never works.

                                            1. 16

                                              Urbit submissions are third-rail submissions, and have been for as long as I’ve been a member here.

                                              The best thing to do is to hide them and get on with your day.

                                              1. 13

                                                Which is really stupid because distributed systems are the only way that we can ensure that the internet isn’t taken over but we still have no idea how to build them so they can operate at scale, work for micro-payments and not have a central server - all the crypto coins have been a huge disappointment with their ridiculous fees and the time needed for a transaction to be logged.

                                                That Ted Nelson managed to predict the problems of an internet with no payment layer in the 60s yet we’re still no closer to solving even basic routing with payment 60 years later is dismaying.

                                                1. 12

                                                  Nelson’s ideas about compensation and the value of information were simply wrong. If Nelson’s vision had taken place, then Wikipedia wouldn’t exist, because it would have been slowly cut to pieces by middlemen. Instead, those middlemen are relegated to the second page of search-engine results.

                                                  Instead, take a page from the communists, and distribute the means of production. Give people enough democratic control of enough computational power, and they’ll maintain common resources for everybody. The recent revolution of Libera from Freenode is instructive.

                                                  1. 5

                                                    Those middle man now edit Wikipedia for a fee.

                                                    Go to any medium to large corporation that you know where the skeletons are buried and read the article. Be amazed that all the publicly available information about corruption, fines, prison sentences and human rights abuses aren’t in Wikipedia and are relegated to the second page of search-engine results.

                                                    Which is ironically what Ted Nelson said would happen if we couldn’t monetize content so people could live of it in a capitalist society. Everything is now an ad, including Wikipedia. We are the product and we’re cheering on the free ed-vertisement like geese cheering the farmer for the free food.

                                                    1. 4

                                                      While I will admit that paid editors generally have a large advantage over volunteers in the amount of time they can dedicate, you can report particular instances of abuse to me, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Conflict_of_interest/Noticeboard, or other venues on or off Wikipedia, like our IRC or Discord channels.

                                                  2. 8

                                                    Monero is basically the coin you’re describing, with one-minute confirmation times and incredibly low fees (the devs are constantly solving difficult equations in the quest to lower fees), but is on the verge of being made illegal for being too-much like cash.

                                                    1. 18

                                                      I’d really like to believe that, but after bitcoin, tether, etherium and a whole bunch of other shit coins I just don’t have the mental energy to spend yet another weekend reading about a coin that will solve all the worlds problems and find out that it’s just a different flavour of pump and dump.

                                                      1. 3

                                                        Monero really does work like private cash and has quick confirmation times as @WilhelmVonWeiner said. Plus it exists right now and you can derive value from it right now. That said, it’s fair to be exhausted from the pump-and-dump garbage fest that crypto is now. I tell most of my friends that unless you’re willing to literally sift out the shit, crypto isn’t the place to be right now.

                                                        1. 3

                                                          100% agreed with you there, the early Ethereum craze really killed a lot of interest for me in shitcoins. I like the competition though because it drives innovation.

                                                          I’ll just say that Monero is at least worth reading about as it solves Bitcoin’s fungibility problem in a much more user-friendly and effective way than making people use coinjoins and careful UTXO management. Fungibility is becoming more and more important because of the advancements being made in chain analysis. KYC exchanges these days are closely watching what you do with your BTC both before & after the coins touch their systems.

                                                          It also seems to be effectively preventing mining centralization with RandomX (ASICs and GPUs aren’t cost effective to mine it), so it’s closer to the original “one CPU, one vote” idea of BTC.

                                                    2. 4

                                                      They’re third-rail submissions in large part due to the persistent campaigning of certain users, yourself included if memory serves. Let’s not pretend otherwise.

                                                      Edit: memory served poorly. :(

                                                      1. 12

                                                        I think Urbit is a project doomed for irrelevance for many reasons, and I’d rank Yarvin’s ideology around third in the list of those reasons. But if I’ve ever tried to shut down a discussion about it on this site, I’d welcome an example. It was never my intention of doing so.

                                                        1. 13

                                                          I double-checked my work and I offer you my profuse apologies. In the last year at least I can’t find you having done what I complained of. Sorry about that!

                                                          1. 12

                                                            Apology accepted!

                                                            Maybe we need a RES for lobste.rs…

                                                    3. 13

                                                      All the articles that mention Yarvin’s “politics” quote from and link to primary sources. “How dare you quote the exact words I said” is kind of a flimsy basis for claims of “character assassination”, and when the project in question is meant to enact the creator’s beliefs onto the world it is always on-topic to analyze and discuss those beliefs, since acceptance of the project’s technology is, by the project’s design, inseparable from acceptance of the creator’s “politics”.

                                                      1. 20

                                                        I’d say in this case it’s not character assassination, but rather character suicide

                                                        1. 19

                                                          Terrible, he killed himself by stabbing himself in the back twelve times.

                                                          If you look at the sources on the wiki list none of them actually link to his writing, but to people writing about his writing to explain why what he said is racist, without actually linking to any of his writing.

                                                          I find it ironic that the skill of detecting character assassination I developed to find worthwhile socialist and anarchist authors in the 00s is now something I’m using to do the same for right wingers.

                                                          1. 24

                                                            I have a limited amount of time in this Earth, and I am yet to see any evidence that trying to find out whether someone that seems a nazi is a nazi is worth spending any of it.

                                                            1. 20

                                                              You would perhaps be interested in how that exact type of thinking allowed big tobacco to use Nazi anti-smoking policies to paint all its detractors as Nazis for decades after the war and kill more people than the holocaust: https://theconversation.com/smoking-rates-in-us-have-fallen-to-all-time-low-but-how-did-they-ever-get-so-high-107185

                                                              Calling someone a word doesn’t mean they are wrong, it means you don’t have anything to say.

                                                              1. 17

                                                                I am sure you might be able to raise all sorts of reasonable doubt over whether or not this dude is a nazi, specifically, just nazi adjacent, or just an asshole in general.

                                                                I am not, however, a court of law. I’m just a guy, with limited time and resources (way more limited than the justice system, by the way), so I go by general heuristics and even gut feeling. And that’s truth by pretty much all of us, really, despite how rational people think they are.

                                                                So far, all I seem of that guy points to a direction, and it ain’t a good one. There are LOTS of other people being silenced and de-platformed for inconvenient and unpopular opinions that are CERTAINLY more deserving of my time, so, this dude will seat on my nazi bucket and I will not give it a second time until extraordinary and massive evidence surfaces indicating otherwise.

                                                                The whole point of me even posting this is that it doesn’t actually talks much about the political aspects (although it doesn’t ignore it), just goes over some very technical and concrete reasons why it’s kinda crappy.

                                                              2. 6

                                                                “Always judge a book by its cover”?

                                                              3. 15

                                                                If you look at the sources on the wiki list none of them actually link to his writing, but to people writing about his writing to explain why what he said is racist, without actually linking to any of his writing.

                                                                This is not surprising given that Wikipedia cannot be trusted on controversial topics. I wish people stopped linking to Wikipedia (unless the topic is uncontroversial), and instead cited the sources directly.

                                                                1. 9

                                                                  Imagine spending your time going on the internent to cape for someone who claimed that race determines one’s “intelligence”

                                                                  Seems like a waste of time to defend nazis online but go off I guess.

                                                                  EDIT: I love that people on this website think that my comment was unkind, off-topic and/or trolling. Great to live in 2021 where people are going to bat for extremely blatant nazis because apparently arguing for a fascist state ruled by tech CEO’s, or that race determines one’s “intelligence”, or that slavery is good isn’t enough to be considered a straight up nazi. Cool. Awesome!

                                                                  1. 14

                                                                    Thanks for (implicitly) asking for feedback! That’s a great start.

                                                                    I think your comment is about as off-topic as the rest of the thread. If you’d like to know what you did differently, your comment targets and criticizes another member for having a different opinion in a mutual conversation, and with a sarcastic tone of voice at that. It seems like the kind of comment that would be better suited for Twitter than Lobsters—a short, quippy, dismissive take that adds nothing to the conversation but to half-assedly try to shut it down and embarrass others. That’s why I chose to flag your comment as “off-topic”, for lack of a better term.

                                                                    Before you commented, I saw it as an honest conversation that was less about the story and more about how we judge people online in general, often at face value whilst ignoring the substance and context of a conversation. After you commented, it became about judging people online, while ignoring the substance and context of the conversation. So ironically, your comment does the exact thing the thread debates. Maybe a better phrase than “off-topic” would be “um, hey. that thing you’re doing right now? yeah, we were just talking about that”.

                                                                    In general, I think Lobsters is better when the authors of these types of comments actually engage with the conversation. Or, failing that, if unkind things directed at fellow denizens are just left unsaid.

                                                                    1. -6

                                                                      Imagine writing all this that I won’t read just because you want to cape for nazis.

                                                              4. 9

                                                                FWIW what I think people are missing is that he was not great at advocating his beliefs, and probably considers his project a failure in that respect.

                                                                He has left the project and his writings and beliefs have been disavowed by the current maintainers of the project. See the end of the FAQ: https://urbit.org/faq/

                                                                Curtis laid the foundation for Urbit by delivering its first prototype but, since 2013, it has been refined and almost entirely rewritten by a community of developers. No one working on Urbit today had anything to do with Curtis’s writing. For the most part, we couldn’t be less interested in it.

                                                                So I would suggest that it’s OK not to take him that seriously. Maybe 5 years ago, but not now.

                                                                Also I remember that ironically his farewell blog post indicates that leaving the allocation of Urbit real estate to the free market produced a result he wasn’t happy with … it wasn’t in line with his notion of “fairness”


                                                                What seems to be happening now is that the current maintainers are actually producing useful documentation about the system, moving away from all the intentional obscurantism. It does seem like Urbit is flawed as a system, but there are some interesting design elements for sure.

                                                                Both of these docs are pretty good reading for people interested in the intersection of languages and operating systems:

                                                                https://urbit.org/docs/hoon/overview/

                                                                https://urbit.org/blog/io-in-hoon/

                                                                They use regular words and are quite readable :) (in contrast, the political stuff was always danced around in a way to create plausible deniability; there’s none of that here)

                                                                It seems obvious to me that Urbit will not succeed or become mainstream, so I’m not very threatened by it. But it has plenty of ideas that are not about policies for resource allocation (i.e. the political stuff). A lot of it is about the representation of code and data for a distributed/networked operating system.

                                                                1. 3

                                                                  I’m really glad they are working on making it less obscure, and documenting the system. The linguistic approach to operating system design is definitely fascinating, and is what originally got me interested in Urbit in the early 2010s when I came across it (before I learned about the underlying goals of the project).

                                                                  He has left the project and his writings and beliefs have been disavowed by the current maintainers of the project. See the end of the FAQ: https://urbit.org/faq/

                                                                  Curtis laid the foundation for Urbit by delivering its first prototype but, since 2013, it has been refined and almost entirely rewritten by a community of developers. No one working on Urbit today had anything to do with Curtis’s writing. For the most part, we couldn’t be less interested in it.

                                                                  In the circumstances if they really want to convince me that they’ve cut ties, I’d want them to clearly denounce the racist and pro-slavery views of the creator, and demonstrate how they are rearchitecting the project to move away from the original feudalistic, non-egalitarian aims of the project. Given the project’s history it’s important this needs is addressed explicitly, rather than hiding behind euphemistic statements which give fascists a space to continue to work unchecked.

                                                              1. 30

                                                                And I still can’t shake off a bit of a cult-ish vibe there. Regardless whether on purpose, or purely accidental.

                                                                It’s not accidental. See Who Owns the Stars: The Trouble with Urbit for more background about on the political motivations behind the project.

                                                                1. 11

                                                                  “[I]n many ways nonsense is a more effective organizing tool than the truth. Anyone can believe in the truth. To believe in nonsense is an unforgeable demonstration of loyalty. It serves as a political uniform. And if you have a uniform, you have an army.”

                                                                  ― Mencius Moldbug AKA Curtis Yarvin

                                                                  1. 2

                                                                    What’s the context? This can be read as him raising an army by nonsense or an observation of how gullible people are by contrasting the masses to an army.

                                                                    1. 4

                                                                      Why not both? There’s precedent.

                                                                      “You don’t get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion.” - L. Ron Hubbard

                                                                      1. 2

                                                                        That’s valid too, but combining them pretty much doubles the importance of actual context.

                                                                        Right now it’s the equivalent of my maybe-favorite reasoning, which is that circular reasoning works because it’s predicated on the fact that circular reasoning works.

                                                                  2. 15

                                                                    There is nothing more boring than a personal attack to a systems creator to discredit the system. You need to assume that they are a diety that can predict exactly how every part of the system will interact with every other part.

                                                                    The article may eventually get to that point, but after reading a third of it and not getting there I have better things to do with my life.

                                                                    1. 33

                                                                      Boring, sure, but not necessarily unwarranted. The author goes to great lengths to explain why it is important to him to consider not even the creator alone, but all who will benefit from a system as it grows and becomes widely known / used.

                                                                      If Urbit were some random open source library I’d agree that attacking the author is pointless. But it’s not, it’s an entire alternative socioeconomic apparatus with the author’s political views embedded within it in a meaningful way (not just in terms of language, which has actually been changed to be less political). He has said as much himself.

                                                                      To me, the article is more an explanation of why the author won’t participate in or support Urbit rather than a takedown of the system itself. Just like how many people (of all political stripes) don’t shop at certain stores or buy products from certain companies if they disagree strongly with the owners.

                                                                      1. 2

                                                                        What prevents someone from forking Urbit or starting a similar project to advance a radical anarcho-socialist platform?

                                                                        I don’t really care, but that Yarvin guy seems to have put some effort into his work, disagreeable or not, while the opposition focuses on complaining and raging.

                                                                        If Urbit really is a threat, aren’t online comments the least useful slacktivist countermeasure?

                                                                        1. 10

                                                                          What prevents someone from forking Urbit or starting a similar project to advance a radical anarcho-socialist platform?

                                                                          We have to draw a distinction between Urbit the community and Urbit the software. TFA does discuss both (for example, the author critiques Hoon, which is part of the software). However, the discussion of Yarvin and his supporters is part of a critique of Urbit the community.

                                                                          An example here might be people who are opposed to using VS Code because of the closed source and Microsoft connections. Most of them would probably feel fine about using a hard fork of the open source code, but that wouldn’t “be” VS Code, it would be some other project / community.

                                                                          Honestly, it’s even a bit more complicated than this since Urbit the software is designed to reflect a particular set of social values. But I’m not overly concerned with that since a fork could (presumably without much trouble) alter the design.

                                                                          As an aside:

                                                                          If Urbit really is a threat, aren’t online comments the least useful slacktivist countermeasure?

                                                                          If what you meant was that Lobsters comments are useless, talk about boring arguments… No one comes to Lobsters under the belief that their comments will change the world. We’re here to discuss topics we find interesting with people who also like to discuss those topics. The whole “ya’ll are so dumb for discussing something that interests you” meme is tired and unoriginal.

                                                                          If what you meant was that TFA is useless, then isn’t all political commentary useless? And wouldn’t that include Yarvin’s extensive political commentary? Making an argument about something and putting it out there for others to think about is pretty much the whole point of free speech. No one is forcing you to read it, and no one is forcing you to comment on it.

                                                                          1. 3

                                                                            Nothing prevents this. There’s even a quote from Yarvin from some years ago when he was still actively involved in the project saying that he had no problem with other people forking Urbit’s (open source) code and implementing another Urbit with a different namespace model.

                                                                            1. 2

                                                                              There have been many without the incompatable-with-existing-software low-performance VM or the intentionally hierachical and rent-seeking namespace/routing scheme. Scuttlebut is probably the most similar variant along the axis of ‘share write-only data in a censorship-resistant way’ (except it actually somewhat achieves the latter).

                                                                              For the ‘send someone some ETH to prove you care about the identity’ part of the system, you could just demand whoever you’re talking to have a message in their history where they mention a wallet ID and a planned transaction amount and time to the EFF. You have the added bonus of the money possibly doing something useful rather than going to people who are in a position to receive it precisely because they thought they’d make money or enjoy having power by rent-seeking. I guess this also achieves the feature where it props up Peter Thiel’s investment in Etherium.

                                                                              For the we-did-our-own-crypto-it’s-definitely-better-than-openssl in a terribly inefficient VM part, I guess you’ll have to write a scuttlebut client in brainfuck or whatever esolang takes your fancy. You could also just put in some busy loops and rewrite the hashing bit to introduce some security vulnerabilities I suppose.

                                                                              Sadly none of this comes with a central body of a few hundred people you need to seek permission from before you can discover peers or have your traffic routed. I guess we’ll just have to form a commune of rent-seeking tyrants or something. That part seems really hard to do under an actually p2p protocol so maybe scuttlebut falls down as a replacement there.

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                As somebody who’s thought a lot about what properties make technology better at advancing anarchist ideals, it’s precisely the absence of hierarchy which I would prioritize above all else. Urbit prioritizes hierarchy in every aspect of its permission and identity models. I would never use it as a starting point.

                                                                                (Edit: fix typo)

                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                  Sorry - I only now realized that this conversation took place more than a week ago. Please don’t feel any obligation to respond.

                                                                            2. 18

                                                                              It’s absolutely relevant if the system was designed to enable an anti-democratic agenda. It’s definitely boring to keep having to call the project out on that front, but it’s important to make people aware of the underlying motivations of its creator. I wouldn’t consider this necessary to do if a warning was added to the original post (I do think it’s interesting to look at the technical details of systems like this), but I assume they weren’t aware of this at the time of writing.

                                                                              1. 17

                                                                                An anti-democratic agenda is not a flaw when it comes to personal computers. If 99% of the population didn’t want me to do something with my personal computer, I would want my personal computer to anti-democratically ignore them and do what I tell it to do anyway.

                                                                                Of course the status quo isn’t democratically-controlled computing, it’s oligarchically-controlled computing. When I do my computing on privately-owned, closed-source platforms - Google, Facebook, Twitter, WeChat, etc.- it’s the fairly small number of people who work at those companies who control how I do my personal computing, rather than the electorate of the political unit I happen to live in.

                                                                                1. 8

                                                                                  An anti-democratic agenda is not a flaw when it comes to personal computers

                                                                                  I think you misunderstand “anti-democratic”. Yarvin has expressed support for dictatorship and slavery. Do you truly think that you would have more computing freedom in such a political environment than in a democracy?

                                                                                  1. 3

                                                                                    Possibly, depending a lot on the specific details of how the government of the political unit I lived in were set up. Certainly in a democracy a majority of the people could vote for politicians whose agenda includes restricting my compute freedom (for any number of reasons), and a lot of protections of individual rights in systems we call “liberal democracies” are grounded in self-consciously undemocratic processes, like judicial rulings.

                                                                                2. 13

                                                                                  Which are irrelevant because the creators aren’t omniscient.

                                                                                  Somehow Stallman enabled Google to happen with his hippie ideas about helping your neighbour. I don’t think creating the worlds largest spy agency was his primary motivation when he wanted the printers firmware source code. What matters is the interaction between the system and the world and not what the original creator intended.

                                                                                  The article at the top points out those interactions and why they are bad. The article in the comment above is pure character assassination and who ever wrote it should feel bad.

                                                                                  1. 3

                                                                                    Somehow Stallman enabled Google to happen with his hippie ideas about helping your neighbour.

                                                                                    I recommend doing some reading. The main public figure behind what you’re talking about is not RMS, but Eric S. Raymond, co-founder of the sometimes-controversial OSI and originator of the term “open source” (I think the vocabulary already illustrates a bit of a difference). Reading the FSF’s GPLv3 (or this article in particular) is enough to identify that Stallman was actively trying to forestall (wink!) the rise of something like Google on the back of FOSS. Contrast that with ESR’s term “open source”, as discussed in his book The Cathedral and the Bazaar (the name might sound familiar!).

                                                                                    tl;dr: The best reading about the whole mess by far is this two-or-so–page article from 1999 by O’Reilly.

                                                                                    As to your point: I guess it is character assassination in part? I think it’s also a decent discussion of the issues surrounding the Urbit project, and the significance of the dynamic between founder/maintainer and userbase. But I’ve only really given it a skim.

                                                                                  2. 3

                                                                                    How exactly is the design undemocratic?

                                                                                    1. 16

                                                                                      As a point of fact, the distribution of address space is explicitly feudal and meant to enable rent seeking. There are arguments for why this is a good or bad thing, but it is very much not democratic.

                                                                                      1. 4

                                                                                        Those concerns are entirely orthogonal.

                                                                                        Feudalism and rent-seeking are both definitely bad, but it’s entirely possible for a democratic society to vote themselves both. I’d argue that many have; 29% of wealth is taxed in Australia, and ‘public-private partnerships’ (yecch) are funneling vast amounts of taxpayers money into the hands of a few individuals and companies.

                                                                                        1. 5

                                                                                          I disagree that this is a category error. Societies can be more or less democratic and feudalism and rent-seeking move power from the people to an elite.

                                                                                          This is recognised by organisations like the Economist that assess a “democracy index” for various countries. Democracy is the measure of how much the people rule versus how much an elite rule and we can measure it for countries, workplaces, indeed, any community.

                                                                                          We don’t need to imagine this, we can simply look at the world as it exists. e.g. social democracies like Norway are clearly more democratic* than liberal democracies like the UK and USA where much more power is in the hands of an elite and there is much more widespread misinformation (in large part because the media is controlled by elites), voter suppression, and disenfranchisement through poor voting systems.

                                                                                          * I think Norway is a more democratic society because:

                                                                                          • it uses PR so a much greater proportion of the population has a meaningful say on their elected representatives (compare the UK and USA where only swing-constituencies really matter)
                                                                                          • there is proportionally more variety in media ownership, including significant union-allied media organisations
                                                                                          • workers benefit from sectoral-bargaining by large and powerful unions, so bosses have less power over workers
                                                                                          • income distribution is flatter, meaning elites have less economic power relative to the average person. In contrast, in the UK and USA proportionally more people are in poverty and they are much less likely than the rich to exert political power by voting, lobbying, protest or donations.

                                                                                          We can see the effect of this in the high levels of voter turnout (~75% in Norway vs ~60% in the USA and UK), high level of reported trust in government and media and perhaps more controversially in poverty rates and wealth and income equality (why would a truly free population choose to give so many resources to an elite while others are malnourished?)

                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                            It’s well known that democracies can vote themselves into, or be manipulated into authoritarianism, which is exactly why it’s important to call out these attempts when we see them.

                                                                                            1. 4

                                                                                              Yes! But @friendlysock’s point was that feudalism and rent-seeking aren’t democratic. I think that’s a category error; as you point out, it’s well known that democracy can result in either or both.

                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                It is not a category error. You can build non-democratic things out of democratic things.

                                                                                                Separating from potential semantic issues. Urbit centralizes power (power over routing, power over peer discovery, namespace being distributed with some mixture of money, seniority and nepotism, voting power only being available to a select few – the senate – who are also endowed with the most of the above) in a way that is somewhere between capital-equals-power and pre-selected, recursively appointed hierarchy (ie. feudalism).

                                                                                                The word Democracy in the context that @friendlysock used it very clearly refers to distribution of power (as opposing centralization) rather than voting-as-a-method-of-distributing power.

                                                                                                It is difficult to believe that one would respond to such a post as if it were discussing voting-as-a-means-of-power-distribution if one were having a discussion in good faith, and more difficult still to believe one would double down on such an interpretation except as a rhetorical technique.

                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                  It is difficult to believe that one would respond to such a post as if it were discussing voting-as-a-means-of-power-distribution if one were having a discussion in good faith

                                                                                                  Let’s be clear about this, instead of beating about the bush with “it is difficult to believe”. My position is as follows:

                                                                                                  • I wasn’t conflating Democracy with voting. In fact, I consider voting one of the major problems with modern Democracy. I’m a proponent of sortition as a replacement for voting as a potential solution.
                                                                                                  • Democracy is orthogonal to centralization, and orthogonal to power distribution, because …
                                                                                                  • Democracy - in the sense of Government of the people, by the people, for the people - can and has in recent times resulted in despotic centralisation of power. Steering well clear of Godwin here, I’d point to Chavez as an example.

                                                                                                  Perhaps this is the difference that’s leading you to think I’m arguing in bad faith.

                                                                                                  I’d argue that in every meaningful sense, a centralised despotic Government with widespread popular support can still be Democratic; it’s just that the will of the people here is the problem.

                                                                                                  1. 0

                                                                                                    You still seem to be intentionally confusing things that are the result of a democratic process with things that can be described as democratic.

                                                                                                    The people of england could have a vote (or the sortition lottery winners could decide) on whether Manchester should be walled off and ruled despotically by Eddie Izzard. It would be the result of a democratic process as the people of Manchester were outvoted by everyone else in England, but the power relationship between Eddie Izzard and the people of Manchester would not be democratic.

                                                                                                    Similarly decisions based on propaganda and populism are less democratic, and decisions justified via manipulated elections are not really democratic at all.

                                                                                                    Any relationship which enables rent-seeking is inherently undemocratic, and any rent-seeking-enabling structure explicitly ruled by the 256 people chosen by virtue of their capital and interest in having power over said structure is not democratic at all.

                                                                                                    Very loosely, when used as an adjective in the context above, ‘Democratic’ would mean the people with power are the people whose interests are most relevant. This is inherently and definitionally untrue in any rent-seeking relationship (although the relationship could still be a result of a greater structure which is democratic), and untrue in any system which can accurately be described as feudal.

                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                      You still seem to be intentionally confusing things that are the result of a democratic process with things that can be described as democratic.

                                                                                                      I think this is at the heart of our disagreement, and where we may have to agree to disagree.

                                                                                                      I would say that a state of affairs arrived at by a democratic process is by definition democratic; although it may also be rent-seeking, feudal, or despotic. Or some combination of all three.

                                                                                                2. 1

                                                                                                  Ahh, got you, sorry for misunderstanding!

                                                                                    2. 2

                                                                                      Indeed. But also be forewarned that the author of that article is an avowed socialist; there are distasteful politics of all flavours on display here.

                                                                                      1. 17

                                                                                        Not all distasteful things are equally distasteful.

                                                                                        1. 13

                                                                                          That’s true; but Yarvin’s politics are still pretty damn distasteful.

                                                                                        2. 10

                                                                                          wonder how he manages to reconcile his socialism with his distasteful politics

                                                                                          1. 4

                                                                                            I think gulags were the preferred mechanism?

                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                        You can’t prove everything from any single set of axioms. What most people hear is that there are theorems which are unprovable in any and all systems, which is a very different idea. For example here is a rather large number of theorems that can’t be proved in ZFC set theory, but can be proved with extensions to ZFC: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_statements_independent_of_ZFC

                                                                                        A project to formalize those ideas: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverse_mathematics

                                                                                        It would be a bigger surprise today if we can find a theorem that is unprovable in all maths systems we can devise than the original ideas of incompleteness were last century.

                                                                                        1. 12

                                                                                          My main thought is that we should stop using corporation-friendly licenses. We don’t have to be so easily exploited.

                                                                                          A surprising amount of OSS is made by former big tech developers. They can afford to subsist on meagre revenue—for a time—because their pay and stock options have left them free of debt and with well-stocked savings accounts. … Scratch away at the surface of pretty much any active OSS project that has no discernible revenue, and you either get a burnout waiting to happen, or you’ll find a formerly well-paid dev coasting on savings.

                                                                                          Why not both? Google’s interference in my FLOSS projects and spare-time activities burned me out, but at the same time they had made me a financial offer I couldn’t refuse, and so they ended up funding my work even as they tried to prevent me from releasing it.

                                                                                          1. 7

                                                                                            Why not both? Google’s interference in my FLOSS projects and spare-time activities burned me out, but at the same time they had made me a financial offer I couldn’t refuse, and so they ended up funding my work even as they tried to prevent me from releasing it.

                                                                                            Can you share the details of this interference, and throffer?

                                                                                            1. 5

                                                                                              Yes, but I don’t like talking about it, so I’m going to only give an abbreviated summary.

                                                                                              • I was a starving-artist university student working on university campus
                                                                                              • Google offered me an unreasonably good salary if I were to drop out
                                                                                              • After I’ve worked at Google for a year, they demanded that I relicense repositories like Bravo and Typhon and assign copyright to them, and threatened me with legal action
                                                                                              • The resulting stress accelerated my burnout and I eventually left Google
                                                                                            2. 7

                                                                                              My main thought is that we should exclude non-people from licenses. I’ve added a clause to the GPL for my software that only allows the software to be run and distributed by and on behalf of natural persons.

                                                                                              If you want limited liability for whatever it is you’re doing it with you need to pay me.

                                                                                              1. 9

                                                                                                Which makes it neither Free Software nor Open Source.

                                                                                                I very much doubt the FSF appreciates you using their license as base for yours.

                                                                                                1. 4

                                                                                                  The FSF also holds the copyright to the text of their licenses, and does not allow modification. From the GPLv3:

                                                                                                  Copyright © 2007 Free Software Foundation, Inc. https://fsf.org/

                                                                                                  Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.

                                                                                                  1. 12

                                                                                                    You can legally use the GPL terms (possibly modified) in another license provided that you call your license by another name and do not include the GPL preamble, and provided you modify the instructions-for-use at the end enough to make it clearly different in wording and not mention GNU (though the actual procedure you describe may be similar).

                                                                                                    https://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#ModifyGPL

                                                                                                  2. 2

                                                                                                    And yet it’s both for people. Raytheon is welcome to ask for a license.

                                                                                                    1. 5

                                                                                                      If the license does not allow them to use the code to begin with, it is neither an Open Source nor Free Software license. Not even freeware.

                                                                                                      You’re free to use whatever license you choose (as long as you respect the licenses of any code you use, of course). But, like that, it will amount to yet another form of shareware, and nothing more.

                                                                                                      I suspect your intent would be better served by the Affero license, but ultimately I’m neither you nor know what your intent is; I can only guess.

                                                                                                      1. 7

                                                                                                        My intent is to give power to people and not corporations. That it seems impossible for a huge number of people to understand why someone who values freedom of people might not value freedom of corporations would be worrying if not completely expected given the amount of corporate propaganda we are exposed to.

                                                                                                        My license is open source for people. That it isn’t for corporations is a feature, not a bug.

                                                                                                        1. 4

                                                                                                          Your license is not Open Source. Stop using these words.

                                                                                                          Other than that, you’re free to use whatever shareware terms you’ve come up with.

                                                                                                          1. 5

                                                                                                            It’s open source for people 😇

                                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                                              Open Source has a definition - https://opensource.org/osd

                                                                                                              Free Software has a definition - https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.en.html

                                                                                                              A license that restricts who can use the program is not a Free nor Open Source software license.

                                                                                                              1. 9

                                                                                                                “Open Source” was in usage long before OSI came up with the term, a quick Usenet search and you’ll find usage of it throughout the 90s. Besides, I reject the notion that any organisation or person has the authority to single-handedly define language in the first place. I’m sure that if Google or Apple were to try to the same thing people would be up in arms about it.

                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                  Google nor Apple are charities nor community initiatives? It’s not like it’s the Technical Dictionary of Dianetics and Scientology, they’re just explicitly defining the terms “Open Source” or “Free Software” to avoid confusion. The reason the OSD was put together is to stop the confusion on what it actually means - otherwise the MIT license and “ethical” source licenses are in the same category, when they’re designed to achieve completely different things.

                                                                                                                  1. 9

                                                                                                                    Google nor Apple are charities nor community initiatives?

                                                                                                                    So? Why does that matter?

                                                                                                                    This reminds me of the time when I asked the Dutch cancer foundation how they got my phone number, which they are legally obliged to tell me, as I was sure I never gave it to them yet they called me anyway. Their explanation was “we’re a charity”. Good for you, but that doesn’t mean the law doesn’t apply to you and can harvest/buy my data from unknown sources (I never did find out where they got it from) or engage in other dubious behaviour.

                                                                                                                    Besides, the OSD was written by a single person in 1997 (or 1998? I forgot), and the Free Software definition was written by a single person as well (who is also notoriously impervious to feedback I might add). The reality of the matter is that both terms are and always have been frequently used in ways that was not the intention of those authors as both are a common adjective + common noun, the combination of which has been independently coined dozens of times, if not more frequently, before the so-called “official definition” was written down. If they wanted to “avoid confusion” they should have picked something which isn’t confusing. It’s nice that a community formed around these terms, but that doesn’t mean you get the authority to decide how ~8 billion people use the language.

                                                                                                                    otherwise the MIT license and “ethical” source licenses are in the same category

                                                                                                                    I don’t see a problem with that.

                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                      The whole charity anecdote is a red herring as this isn’t a legal issue nor one of “dubious behaviour”. They’re both in software generally well-supported definitions as demonstrated by people’s willingness to define their licenses as Free Software or Open Source respectively.

                                                                                                                      otherwise the MIT license and “ethical” source licenses are in the same category

                                                                                                                      I don’t see a problem with that.

                                                                                                                      You don’t see a problem with the MIT license being bunched in with the Cooperative Non-Violent Public License, two completely different licensing models entirely?

                                                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                                                        My point was that being a charity isn’t important and a, well, red herring. Red herrings for everyone! 🐟

                                                                                                                        Why should the license be problematic? For a lot of people “open source” just means “access to the source code”. That this means something different to you is okay, but that discussions like this are held on a regular basis on e.g. HN demonstrates that this definition is very far from universal.

                                                                                                                        The licensing obligations between e.g. MIT and GPL are vastly different as well, and even between fairly similar licenses there can be details that differ and have a large impact. Basically, you need to read the license text (or a summary thereof) anyway to know what you can and can’t do.

                                                                                                                        At any rate, I already wrote an article about this entire thing last year which has a Lobsters discussion, so I won’t repeat it all here.

                                                                                                              2. 2

                                                                                                                Your “license” sounds like one of those ethical source licenses. It is neither free nor open source — don’t misuse those terms.

                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                  Your “license” sounds like one of those ethical source licenses.

                                                                                                                  This license is based on the BSD 3-clause license, but with specific exclusions for using licensed code to promote or profit from:

                                                                                                                  violence, hate and division,

                                                                                                                  environmental destruction,

                                                                                                                  abuse of human rights,

                                                                                                                  the destruction of people’s physical and mental health

                                                                                                                  Yeah, no.

                                                                                                                  As I said, it’s open source for people 😇

                                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                                    I meant it’s in the same vein as ethical source licenses.

                                                                                                                    As I said, it’s open source for people 😇

                                                                                                                    Okay, assuming you aren’t trolling by incessantly repeating yourself, aren’t corporations made up of people? They aren’t like, some mechatronic evil beast or something. How will your license hold up legally?

                                                                                                                    1. 5

                                                                                                                      I am made of cells yet I’m not a cell. The law still has the distinction between a natural and legal person.

                                                                                                                      How will your license hold up legally?

                                                                                                                      The same way the GPL did.

                                                                                                                      If they manage to win a court case that shows it’s not legally binding then they have been using software without a license and will need to negotiate for one going forward. I have no idea why so many programmers thing that if you ‘hack’ the legal system you magically remove all protections it provides.

                                                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                                                        There’s precedent in the USA that you don’t lose rights through association. If I, as an individual, have a right then I don’t lose that right by being a member of a company. What does it mean it a license grants right to a person, to all employees of a company, but not to the company as a whole?

                                                                                                                        I presume since you want to be like open source, you’re talking about licenses that cover distribution and modification, not end-user license agreements (EULAs)? If I can modify your code and distribute the result as an individual, a company can pay me to modify and distribute your code. If you want to place restrictions on use then that’s a very different matter. There have been a load of ‘free for non-commercial use’ licenses and they’re always a bit tricky because the boundary between commercial and non-commercial use is difficult to define. Is someone working for a charity but paid a salary engaged in commerce? Is someone who writes a blog and sticks ads on to cover some of the hosting costs engaged in commerce? Am I engaged in commerce when I update an open source project that counts some companies among its downstream users?

                                                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                                                          All the questions you ask here are quite easily answered by looking at what assets are owned by who on an assets sheet. This is not esoteric gnostic scripture open to interpretation, it is a basic document provided by any half decent accountant.

                                                                                                                          If you are using a piece of software on your corporate laptop, during your work day, doing work that is being charged to the corporate account than you are clearing not acting on the behalf of a person.

                                                                                                                          You can still provide services to a corporation by running the software for them on your own machine, one owned by John Doe as clearly stated on his tax form. Since you are, as stated, providing them a service and not distributing the software to them.

                                                                                                                          If you are redistributing the software it is quite easy to tell if you can by looking at who owns the copyright on it. If it is “John Doe, Person” then knock your self out, if it is “Doe Corp Inc.” then it’s a corporation and needs to negotiate a license.

                                                                                                                          Your tax rates very much depend on exactly which entity is doing what and as you can expect there is a very rich set of legal precedents for anything you can imagine.

                                                                                                                          There have been a load of ‘free for non-commercial use’ licenses and they’re always a bit tricky because the boundary between commercial and non-commercial use is difficult to define.

                                                                                                                          Which is why I’m making the distinction between natural persons and legal ones. A distinction that we have been able to make for close to 500 years and one that is at the basis of our tax law. It is something you have to legally declare to the government each year and trivial to check. And impacts the tax rate you pay greatly.

                                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                                            If you are using a piece of software on your corporate laptop, during your work day, doing work that is being charged to the corporate account than you are clearing not acting on the behalf of a person.

                                                                                                                            So if I require employees to bring their own laptop then I’m allowed to use your software? In a BYoD world, that’s not even unusual.

                                                                                                                            You can still provide services to a corporation by running the software for them on your own machine, one owned by John Doe as clearly stated on his tax form. Since you are, as stated, providing them a service and not distributing the software to them.

                                                                                                                            So if I am an independent contractor, I can modify and redistribute your software, but if I’m an employee then I can’t? That’s great, tax law is more favourable to corporations hiring contractors than employees already!

                                                                                                                            If you are redistributing the software it is quite easy to tell if you can by looking at who owns the copyright on it.

                                                                                                                            Uh, this is software that you’ve released, so it will have your copyright on it, not copyright of whoever is redistributing it. If my employees need to own copyright for modifications, that’s fine too. Companies have been using similar work-arounds for the US government not being able to own copyright for almost a century. The simplest way of making this work is for the employee to own the copyright and assign the enforcement rights to the company.

                                                                                                                            Your tax rates very much depend on exactly which entity is doing what and as you can expect there is a very rich set of legal precedents for anything you can imagine.

                                                                                                                            Tax law is completely different from copyright law and has a lot of corner cases that are very tricky to enforce (see: Uber).

                                                                                                                            Which is why I’m making the distinction between natural persons and legal ones. A distinction that we have been able to make for close to 500 years and one that is at the basis of our tax law. It is something you have to legally declare to the government each year and trivial to check.

                                                                                                                            Corporations are made up of natural people. Creating a license that grants rights to individuals but removes those rights from the individuals when they act as members of a collective that also counts in some cases as a legal person (which, by the way, is not a single concept even in US law, it’s a large mesh of loosely related things) is going to be incredibly hard and will almost certainly not stand up on court.

                                                                                                                            The rule of thumb I’ve learned from dealing with lawyers on IP issues is quite simple: if something seems obvious and clear, I probably don’t understand it. You should probably have a conversation with an IP lawyer about this: I suspect you will discover a similar rule.

                                                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                                                              Are you a lawyer? Because I had one check my license and he ok’d it.

                                                                                                                              So if I am an independent contractor, I can modify and redistribute your software, but if I’m an employee then I can’t? That’s great, tax law is more favourable to corporations hiring contractors than employees

                                                                                                                              Or, and this is the crazy part, they pay for the license the exact same way they license every piece of software from Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Google, either on prem or in the cloud.

                                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                                Are you a lawyer? Because I had one check my license and he ok’d it.

                                                                                                                                What questions did you ask him? In my experience, lawyers will correctly answer the questions that you ask but often won’t try to guess the questions that you mean to ask. Did you discuss any of the scenarios that I outlined? Did you say ‘is there a way that a corporation could violate the intent of the license without breaking the letter of it?’.

                                                                                                                                I’m also really suspicious of this claim, because lawyers never ‘ok’ a license, they always give caveats. You can write anything you want in a contract, a good lawyer will tell you what lines of attack someone challenging it in court will attempt and how likely they are to succeed. If they just say ‘this is fine’, then you should be very nervous if it’s anything other than an off-the-shelf contract that’s been tested in court before: it’s probably a sign that you need a better lawyer.

                                                                                                                                Or, and this is the crazy part, they pay for the license the exact same way they license every piece of software from Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Google, either on prem or in the cloud.

                                                                                                                                That really makes me doubt that your lawyer understood what you’re trying to do. Software that they pay a license fee for has an end-user license agreement. This is a completely different category of license to an open source license (which covers distribution and modification but explicitly does not restrict use in any way).

                                                                                                                                If you have written an EULA, then it’s possible that it may stand up. There’s conflicting case law around EULAs, because they’re contracts of adhesion, which is a fairly murky area in general. Open source licenses are on simpler gounds because they don’t try to restrict use (you may be able to argue that the right to use is implicit in receiving a copy of the software from a suitably licensed distributor) and only deal with modification and redistribution (which, by default, are disallowed in copyright law and require an explicit license). You are free, on receipt of a piece of open source software to refuse to accept the license and still use the software. If you redistribute it or modify it then you either accept the license or the default provisions in copyright law kick in (i.e. it’s not allowed unless you can demonstrate fair use / fair dealings to mount an affirmative defence).

                                                                                                                                But it also doesn’t answer my question. If I can work around your license by hiring an independent contractor to make the changes I want, why would I pay for it?

                                                                                                    2. 4

                                                                                                      Liability is the key concept here. A corporation sheds liability from its employees and managers, which empowers them to act beyond the typical ethical context of a human. (There’s not really a better explanation for how the lowest-level employees of a corporation can directly commit crimes on a regular basis; the story of Uber is instructive.) Because these folks are not necessarily operating according to societal norms, we should be careful about extending the legal fiction of personhood to their employer.

                                                                                                      The sibling argument is an excellent example of how this entire philosophical exploration can be easily preempted if we allow ourselves to agree with corporations that corporations are just like ordinary humans. There is some powerful memetic blindness inflicted by corporate propaganda.

                                                                                                      The main reason that Free Software cannot exclude corporations, in the USA, is because of corporate personhood in the context of copyleft as a strategy for ensuring that Free Software stays free. Non-copylefted Free Software is still Free Software, but can be made unfree by selfish folks; copyleft is a legal option for preventing those folks from acting. However, since corporate personhood is a legal fiction, it is enforced by the same system as copyleft, which requires copyleft licenses to consider corporations as people.

                                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                                        However, since corporate personhood is a legal fiction, it is enforced by the same system as copyleft, which requires copyleft licenses to consider corporations as people.

                                                                                                        I’m not sure if you’re being descriptive of current popular licenses, in which case you’re correct, or prescriptive, in which case you’re not. A software license can easily be formulated to only apply to natural persons. Since biological existence, or lack there of, is not a protected group you can enforce contracts that exclude legal persons from your license.

                                                                                                        I largely agree with the rest of your post.

                                                                                                      2. 0

                                                                                                        I hope you never distribute a binary using github, or a CDN.

                                                                                                        I hope you never want to have your software packaged in a linux distribution.

                                                                                                        I hope you do not want anybody in academia or working on any project bigger than themselves using your code.

                                                                                                        If these are in fact your wishes, then congratulations, you have outsmarted all the people who just want their stuff to make the world a better place.

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                                                                                                      There’s something a little surreal about going to a blog aggregation site like lobste.rs and reading a blog describing the demise of blogging.

                                                                                                      It’s true that OSS has a big problem with entitled users, which is leading to burnout. But it’s only unsustainable if there are more developers exiting than entering.

                                                                                                      Digital assets have always had strange economics because the cost of duplication is so low. If you can imagine a thing that 1 billion people will pay 1c for (directly or indirectly), then you have $10m in revenue. That, in turn, pushes salaries for programmers to the moon, because low value ideas are valuable given enough scale.

                                                                                                      However, increasing connectivity also means that there are billions of people capable of creating digital content in various forms. If a task is capable of being performed by a large enough set of people, the cost of that task over time goes to zero.

                                                                                                      This is really the economic consequence of the “information wants to be expensive; information wants to be free” tension playing itself out.

                                                                                                      The real anomaly IMHO is something like SSL which can only be done correctly by a small number of people, but we have an ecosystem assuming that it can be done for free by a plentiful supply of people, resulting in a lot of insecure systems.

                                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                                        There’s something a little surreal about going to a blog aggregation site like lobste.rs and reading a blog describing the demise of blogging.

                                                                                                        If you were around in the 2005-2010 period you could easily make $500 a week by running a blog on any topic after spending 6 months on it. I know, because I paid for my clubbing at university using that money.

                                                                                                        Digital assets have always had strange economics because the cost of duplication is so low. If you can imagine a thing that 1 billion people will pay 1c for (directly or indirectly), then you have $10m in revenue. That, in turn, pushes salaries for programmers to the moon, because low value ideas are valuable given enough scale.

                                                                                                        And yet the cost of the transaction in every system, including bitcoin, is higher than the payment by an order of magnitude. The reason why programmer salaries are high is because very few people are autistic enough to be programmers. The same reason why the salaries of 7 foot tall people tend to average in the millions (20% of them are in the NBA).

                                                                                                        If a task is capable of being performed by a large enough set of people, the cost of that task over time goes to zero.

                                                                                                        Tends to the average cost of raising a family of all the places where the task can be performed. Nothing can be done for free in the long term.

                                                                                                        1. 4

                                                                                                          in the 2005-2010 period you could easily make $500 a week

                                                                                                          Sure. That doesn’t happen anymore, and blogs still exist.

                                                                                                          Tends to the average cost of raising a family

                                                                                                          Plenty of aspects of human endeavor don’t pay a living wage. We often use terms like “arts”, “hobbies” or “recreation” to describe categories of things that people do which are not “business.” This can be incredibly widespread - being a full time parent doesn’t pay a living wage, and society has no incentive to provide that wage, since so many families are willing to subsidize that part of their lives.

                                                                                                          There is an alternate universe where people are paid to work in salt mines, come home and write software as a hobby.

                                                                                                          The reason why programmer salaries are high is because very few people are autistic

                                                                                                          This doesn’t explain why so much software is produced for free.

                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                        The syntax of many existing programming and input languages cannot be expressed in these formalisms because they exhibit context-sensitive features. (Such as the need to recall some earlier part of the input in order to make a parsing decision further down the line. ) Moreover, parsing tools are fairly rigid and typically cannot be easily customized. 2 Desirable customizations include custom error-reporting mechanisms and full control over the generated Abstract Syntax Trees (ASTs).

                                                                                                        So, what sort of context-dependent language parsers can’t be produced by a context free stage followed by a tree rewriting/filtering stage? Why do we need a specifically context-dependent parser?

                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                          You can always write an adhoc parser to accept any context sensitive language you could possibly want, it’s just that it accepts a lot more inputs than you want it to. Then you end up with all sorts of security bugs from letting code do things its not meant to.

                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                            But why not use a base CFG to parse (using a grammar based parser), then filter out the trees that are not in the language? The same way that we discard programs that do not type check after parsing the code using a base CFG?

                                                                                                            I agree that ad hoc parsing is where the bugs hide, but you don’t need ad hoc parsing for this?

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                                                                                                          Summary: A doctoral thesis that covers current state of the art parsing techniques. Of particular interest, and the reason why I was looking for it in the first place, is section 5.1 on context sensitive parsing.

                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                            I love parsing and this looks great! Glancing over it now, and I’ll give it the attention it deserves after work.

                                                                                                            At first glance, looking at the Autumn examples on GitHub, it looks very similar to a PEG parser combinator library. Could you give a brief blurb as to how it’s different?

                                                                                                            (Given that I’ve looked at it for all of five minutes, I could be completely wrong; feel free to tell me that I got it completely incorrect.)

                                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                                              I haven’t given it a proper deep dive, but it seems that PEG parsers don’t keep all the information you could possibly want, they are mostly acceptors of grammars and good error messages and the like are difficult to generate, and in general PEG parsers are from difficult to impossible to make commutable.

                                                                                                              The goal of Autumn seems to be to create something closer to the mathematical description of context sensitive grammars without the pathologies you get from trying to apply the definition naively.

                                                                                                              Take this with a grain of salt. I’ve only spent a few hours skimming the book.

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                                                                                                            While I think it is a good thing to learn breathing exercises for various reasons, I take issue with the term “detoxify”. To wit:

                                                                                                            If toxins did build up in a way your body couldn’t excrete, he says, you’d likely be dead or in need of serious medical intervention. “The healthy body has kidneys, a liver, skin, even lungs that are detoxifying as we speak,” he says. “There is no known way – certainly not through detox treatments – to make something that works perfectly well in a healthy body work better.”

                                                                                                            https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/dec/05/detox-myth-health-diet-science-ignorance

                                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                                              I will agree that many, maybe even most, usages of that word lack scientific basis or proof.

                                                                                                              But that quote is a bit of a cunundrom. A detox treatment could consist of a practice that promotes good function of above mentioned body organs?

                                                                                                              1. 7

                                                                                                                Then you should be able to quantify how much it promotes good function of the above mentioned body organs, with supporting evidence. Otherwise you can just syngergisticly leverage forward-thinking and sustainable gluten-free blockchains for substantial value-add.

                                                                                                                1. 7

                                                                                                                  When is your ICO?

                                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                                              Last time I saw Ada was in this series:

                                                                                                              “Finite Field Arithmetic.” Chapter 1: Genesis.

                                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                                Reading that is like listening to a carpenter promise a building is safe because all his tools are so blunt they can’t cut a finger off. And doing it in the most condescending and patronizing way possible, then never mentioning guard rails on stairwells.

                                                                                                                Congratulations, your program is unlikely to have buffer overflows. Now you merely have every other type of bug to worry about.

                                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                                  My understanding is that 70% of bugs are memory corruption problems. If you can avoid a class of bugs entirely it is worth it, I think.

                                                                                                                  1. 5

                                                                                                                    They found 70% of security bugs were memory safety issues. That was likely what you meant, but just to make sure nobody thinks we can fix 70% of all software bugs by using Rust/Ada :-)

                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                      No, but fixing 70% of all security bugs simply through appropriate choice of language is profound win.

                                                                                                              1. 4

                                                                                                                This is a time of change for the internet and for Mozilla. From combatting a lethal virus and battling systemic racism to protecting individual privacy — one thing is clear: an open and accessible internet is essential to the fight.

                                                                                                                Literally none of that is the job of the browser. The job of the browser is to render web pages. The job of the open source browser is to render web pages using a completely open stack that anyone can modify and distribute without requiring permission. Individual privacy is a nice to have, but one that’s best solved in addons, or simple patches. Something that Mozilla has made between impossible and very hard for third parties to do.

                                                                                                                Mozilla is killing Firefox.

                                                                                                                Looking at what’s happened to it over the last 10 years is like giving a rock guitar to your father when you leave for university and coming back to a banjo.

                                                                                                                People completely out of touch, making decisions about products they don’t understand, because the people who they want to work for did it that way. I don’t understand the parts of open source that want to be corporate, just go work for chrome if you want to be them so badly.

                                                                                                                1. 7

                                                                                                                  Literally none of that is the job of the browser.

                                                                                                                  What you quoted was a statement about Mozilla, which has a broader societal mission than just “render web pages”, and historically has used the browser as one way to advance that mission.

                                                                                                                  1. 5

                                                                                                                    The fact that they spun out the Rust foundation but not the Firefox foundation should tell you all you need to know about their societal mission. After all one was making over 95% of their net revenue over the past decade, the other was a rounding error.

                                                                                                                    Mozilla is a zombie org propped up by Google cash for the sole purpose of being pointed at when Google gets asked about being a monopoly in the browser space.

                                                                                                                    The rest of it is culture war bullshit to give the people involved plausible deniability for running one of the crown jewels of open source into the ground for their 30 pieces of silver.

                                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                                      It mostly just implies, to me, that they finally got around to making it official after trying as hard as they could to imply it for years. Here’s what Graydon Hoare said about it back in 2011:

                                                                                                                      So far I’ve stated a preference for an independent branding / identity since programming languages tend to do best when they have the broadest possible community of their own, not a single promoting organization or company. If this is problematic I’m happy to discuss further, but this is why (for example) we have independent domain names (rust-lang.org and such) rather than sub-brands of “mozilla”.

                                                                                                                      A lot of people simply won’t trust languages until they’re clearly outside the control (or even direct-affiliation) of a single organization; say, subject to an international standard (ISO/ECMA or such). We don’t brand JS as “Javascript (by mozilla)”, and rightly so: everyone would steer clear of it. Even if we own the trademark. Choosing to write code in a language is a big bet on the language’s continuity and strategic development, and requires the perception (and reality) of a community larger than a single organization.

                                                                                                                      IOW, it’s essential to the project’s longevity that mozilla ceases to control it.

                                                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                                                        Everything does better when it is run by an org specifically dedicated to it.

                                                                                                                        Linux is better than XNU because one has the Linux foundation. GCC is worse than LLVM because one is part of the FSF.

                                                                                                                        Firefox with a Firefox foundation would be a better browser and might even still exist in 10 years time. Firefox as part of Mozilla, less so.

                                                                                                                  2. 3

                                                                                                                    It always puzzles me when people complain about Firefox chasing Chrome, as if that were somehow a new development. Firefox has been chasing the flavour-of-the-month popular browser since before Chrome existed and they were copying Internet Explorer 6. That’s the whole point of Firefox — to be like the popular browser but more wholesome, to give users a practical choice.

                                                                                                                    If you ever thought the point of Firefox was something else, you were misled.

                                                                                                                    1. 5

                                                                                                                      There is a difference between copying features and copying corporate press releases. I don’t see why 2/3rds of the staff of Mozilla seem to be hired for the latter.

                                                                                                                      1. 5

                                                                                                                        Also, seriously, not all features are worth copying. Back in the pre-Chrome days, and even afterwards, Firefox gained lots of users because it had all of the good parts of IE (and some of the good parts of Opera :-( ) and none, or very few, of the bad parts. Getting the bad parts in might amateur product managers happy because the feature checklists now look the same but it won’t make the software better.

                                                                                                                        If you just try to copy all of Chrome, without the kind of money that funds Chrome development, all you get is a cheap Chrome knock-off.

                                                                                                                      2. 3

                                                                                                                        In the days of ie Firefox was faster, more stable, had adblock and other extensions. It was the popular browser, not like a popular browser.

                                                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                                                          The difference was that IE was holding the web back, while Chrome is “leading” the innovation. Firefox used to be pulling ahead, while not they are struggling to keep up.

                                                                                                                        2. 2

                                                                                                                          Yet Firefox remains the only major browser platform with good and reliable ad/javascript blockers that do not get gimped by the host platform.

                                                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                                                            Yet it’s worse at it than it was a decade ago.

                                                                                                                            Since it’s worse at stopping adds, has a smaller market share and is in terminal decline it sounds like Google got its moneys worth over the last ten years. And made the web more malvertising friendly.

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                                                                                                                          In distributed systems printf debugging is your only option. “JuSt AtTaCh A dEbUgGeR” only works when you have the program running on your local development machine, frequently reality and facts will have you diagnosing faults on a machine running on the other side of the planet. Debuggers don’t really work there.

                                                                                                                          1. 13

                                                                                                                            Erlang (and thus Elixir) have some nice debuggers where you can attach to remote nodes.

                                                                                                                            If you’re able to recompile/redeploy with print statements to your remote machines, surely you could enable debugging on an open port (depending on the language and/or frameworks)?

                                                                                                                            1. 8

                                                                                                                              The point is that in distributed systems when happens is more important than what happens.

                                                                                                                              If you step through the program manually you add delays that the program will just crash on, which is equivalent to doing a single print in a whole run.

                                                                                                                              If you think that playback debugging will save you then you’re only right in the case that the hidden state during execution is small enough to be practical to record. In data analysis the intermediate data is often many orders of magnitude larger than the input and the out put which makes playback debugging impossible on regular runs of the program.

                                                                                                                              The biggest advance in debugging in my career was when I started doing a s/print/log/g on the region I was working on once I found the bug and then putting it under debug level of logs.

                                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                                Distributed systems certainly introduce a lot of failure cases where a debugger won’t help you, but it doesn’t eliminate the cases where it could. I frequently find myself frustrated at the fact that the ability to attach a debugger remotely to a process seems to be considered an unnecessary extravagance in most environments, in light of the many cases I’ve experienced where it would have been a much faster way to solve the problem than using print statements. Obviously it requires a thoughtful security policy to be able to safely offer that as a feature, but I think it’s a worthwhile investment.

                                                                                                                              2. 3

                                                                                                                                BEAM debuggers are just dynamically added prints within running system, mostly beacause there is no other way to do so, as step-debugging makes no sense in such environment.

                                                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                                                  Not when the machines belong to a customer and the problem only happens in production.

                                                                                                                                  Or rather, the turnaround time and expense for getting that sort of access can be prohibitive compared to making them a custom build with extra logging.

                                                                                                                                  Come to think of it, what’s the dividing line between printf-debugging and logging? I use the same API calls for both, and most of the printf-based debugging I do is by turning on extra layers of logging that are already in the code for this purpose.

                                                                                                                                2. 8

                                                                                                                                  “JuSt AtTaCh A dEbUgGeR”

                                                                                                                                  At the risk of going off-topic, what’s the meaning of that capitalization? It messed up the way my screen reader spoke that phrase.

                                                                                                                                  1. 13

                                                                                                                                    It communicates mocking sarcasm. Like you’re repeating what someone says in a goofy voice. It’s a somewhat-recent meme, I started seeing it around 2016.

                                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                                      i often wonder what that “goofy voice” sounds like in other peoples’ heads. use of that spongebob-case kinda smacks of 1997 when people used the “R” word indiscriminately and mocked neuroatypical behavior/speech patterns.

                                                                                                                                  2. 4

                                                                                                                                    To be fair, he literally says that

                                                                                                                                    There are many reasons why print debugging is still the best option for many developers. rr, Pernosco and similar tools can’t even be used at all in many contexts.

                                                                                                                                    (And imho he doesn’t say it in a way that makes it sound like a superficial “why don’t you just..” comment at all).

                                                                                                                                  1. 4

                                                                                                                                    This seems to miss understand how the vast majority of open source it’s made: either by a corporation or by a foundation.

                                                                                                                                    I don’t hound individual contributors who wrote some weird and wonderful little library that stopped working with the new release of libc. But when firefox, linux, systemd, gnome, gcc and any of the essential projects start doing some really dumb shit pointing out to users that the software is no longer fit for the purpose it’s been used for decades is a public service and the first step in starting a fork.

                                                                                                                                    Saying that redhat is a vampire squid on the face of open source isn’t me being entitled, it’s me letting everyone know that the interests of IBM are misaligned with the interests of the open source community and we should be really looking for option B for any software they are in charge of.

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                                                                                                                                      I’d go further to suggest an audit log of all changes.

                                                                                                                                      In my industry it’s required for most apps I work in, so I’m always surprised when I come across a scenario where data is changed and we don’t know who/when.

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                                                                                                                                        This kind of thing makes me think applications should be using log-structured databases. You get history and auditing for free. The downsides are quite obvious though; few good libraries/databases for it, and they could get quite bloated.

                                                                                                                                        1. 5

                                                                                                                                          Not to mention that out of all the places I’ve worked in precisely none got temporal data right: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temporal_database#Using_three_axes:_valid_time,_decision_time,_and_transaction_time

                                                                                                                                          Throw in changing schemas that need to be kept in lock step with the data and you have an endless source of nightmares.

                                                                                                                                          What did you think the value of row A column B would be on date Y at date Z, noting that the schema split the column into three separate columns at dates Y.0 and Y.1?

                                                                                                                                          The correct answer is of course updating your resume.

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                                                                                                                                            The correct answer is of course updating your resume.

                                                                                                                                            I LOLed at that. Thanks for making my morning!

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                                                                                                                                        As a reminder, freedom from competition is not one of the core freedoms of any FSF/GNU manifesto. Nor is suppression of competition a pragmatic goal of the Open Source movement.

                                                                                                                                        Yet all of these re-licensings have in common that their main and obvious goal – more or less openly admitted in this post – is to ensure that a core person or team get to have freedom from competition, by imposing burdens on potential competitors that put them at too much of an effective disadvantage.

                                                                                                                                        No amount of talking about “freedoms for our community” or “open source will always be at the core of who we are” can get around this. Nor can it change the fact that when these relicensings happen, people who previously were participants in an open project effectively become unpaid interns working on improving the “open source” company’s product.

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                                                                                                                                          A reminder that GNU is not open source but free software, that open source was a word used commonly at the time and redefined to mean something new and that the point of the GNU license has been and always will be freedom of the end user, not the person who owns the machine or source code.

                                                                                                                                          The amount of revisionism from people who want to make money off the backs of software others made would be disappointing if not completely expected. In todays world the AGPL is the minimal license that any software which pretends to care about users freedom should be.

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                                                                                                                                            … [and] that the point of the GNU license has been and always will be freedom of the end user

                                                                                                                                            … where “end user” is narrowly defined. I’m not opposed to the FSF’s project, but it is very rooted in a specific context.

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                                                                                                                                              In todays world the AGPL is the minimal license that any software which pretends to care about users freedom should be.

                                                                                                                                              Maybe the issue is that none of the participants really care about the end user. To me it sounds more like tool vendors who want to make money off selling support for software tooling to companies. Nothing wrong with that, but the incentives are slightly different.

                                                                                                                                              One (unintended?) consequence of removing monetary considerations from FLOSS software is that a signal path is removed. If you make software for pay, and you’re losing money, you can check what your paying customers are unhappy about and adjust from that.

                                                                                                                                              A user’s preference for Free Software as opposed to Open Source software is much less pronounced. In fact, I’d argue that the vast majority of users don’t even know the difference (as evinced by the comment I’m replying to). This leaves the next level - producing FLOSS software but charging for consulting and support (as suggested by the FSF). And then the signal is there - companies using FLOSS software and who might be prepared to pay for these services avoid GPL licenses and prefer permissive ones.

                                                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                                                A reminder that GNU is not open source but free software

                                                                                                                                                A reminder that the very first sentence of my comment began by pointing out:

                                                                                                                                                freedom from competition is not one of the core freedoms of any FSF/GNU manifesto.

                                                                                                                                                Meanwhile:

                                                                                                                                                The amount of revisionism from people who want to make money off the backs of software others made would be disappointing if not completely expected.

                                                                                                                                                A reminder that the essentially ideal software business, as advocated by the Free Software Foundation, Richard Stallman, and the Free Software movement, consists of selling the effort of software, which includes not just new greenfield development projects, but also maintenance and improvement of existing software which, yes, often will have been written by others (since in the ideal Free Software world, a recipient of software always has the freedom to perform or contract out such maintenance and improvement).

                                                                                                                                                And a reminder that this wave of recent relicensings is entirely about ensuring that the VC-backed SaaS startup of the original authors of (insert project name) get to monetize the work of everyone who contributed under the prior more-Free license, while nobody else does.

                                                                                                                                                In todays world the AGPL is the minimal license that any software which pretends to care about users freedom should be.

                                                                                                                                                A further reminder that if you check my history, I do not personally consider the AGPL to be a Free Software license, and point out at every opportunity that it only is considered one by the FSF due to a combination of fiat (rather than adherence to principle) and an explicit AGPL-specific exception clause added to the GPLv3. The plain GPL does not allow passing on less freedom to downstream recipients than you yourself received from upstream. The AGPL requires that you pass on less freedom in certain circumstances. The moment that principle of conservation of freedom is compromised, the entirety of the Free Software moral position is not merely compromised, but utterly collapses beyond repair.

                                                                                                                                                1. 16

                                                                                                                                                  I do not personally consider the AGPL to be a Free Software license

                                                                                                                                                  Any further discussion is moot, and anything you’ve said has been pedantry at best and pointless at worst.

                                                                                                                                                  I am reminded of the discussions in the 90s as to why the GPLv2 was not free software and why the only real free software license was the MIT license for exactly the same reasons you state here.

                                                                                                                                                  Those discussions were pointless then, and this is pointless now.

                                                                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                                                                    Free Software does not mean “Free as in freedom from competition”. This relicensing is clearly being done, like all the others in this recent wave of relicensings, to make it more difficult for others to compete with a specific SaaS business. The tool used to accomplish it in this case is AGPL + a CLA, which ensures that the original SaaS business can continue to monetize the work of those who contributed back, but nobody else can.

                                                                                                                                                    You at first seemed to think that that last bit was a bad thing. Have you changed your mind in the past few hours? Does it change your mind now if you remember that Grafana itself started out as a fork of another project?

                                                                                                                                                    There is no high and lofty principle of freedom being fought for here. It’s about using copyright to squash the ability of others to compete, which is the antithesis of Free Software. And it’s using the AGPL to do this, not as some abstract hypothetical FUD you can reflexively dismiss, but as the actual thing that’s actually happening in the actual case at hand. This is why people have concerns about the AGPL, because of how often in the real world we really see it really being used for the real purpose of protecting a business’ monopoly over a software project.

                                                                                                                                              2. 7

                                                                                                                                                This seems to help me, as a user, get contributions from other users upstream.

                                                                                                                                                If I use grafana on Amazon’s hosted product, I’m paying them to change or improve it, but then lose those changes to Amazon. I would like to pay for a product, like grafana, but not lose improvements. This seems like it fixes that situation while still allowing me to choose my preferred grafana vendor.

                                                                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                                                                  The AGPL does not protect you against the original author, or against the original author prioritizing their business model over your needs.

                                                                                                                                                  All of these recent relicensings have in common that the original author(s) (really, their VC backers) are prioritizing their business model over your needs.

                                                                                                                                                  1. 4

                                                                                                                                                    This criticism doesn’t make sense since nothing stops the authors from changing the license at any point as is. The GPL and the AGPL were always about dealing with the free-rider problem where people want to extend off existing software but not contribute the changes back. It that breaks your business model, too bad, you aren’t entitled to the work of the authors.

                                                                                                                                                    It sucks if you were a contributor and you expected the software to stay on the Apache license. If you were in that boat, I’d hope you could comply with the new license without too much trouble.

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                                                                                                                                                      Could you please state were in the GPL it states you have to contribute changes back? I don’t think that’s actually in the license.

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                                                                                                                                                        You don’t have to contribute the changes back, you have to make the source code of the software available if you distribute it later. I was more stating motivation than a license clause.

                                                                                                                                                      2. 1

                                                                                                                                                        It that breaks your business model, too bad, you aren’t entitled to the work of the authors.

                                                                                                                                                        But the authors are claiming to be entitled to the work of others. People who are genuinely concerned about a free-rider problem don’t talk about the need to protect their business and go to anticompetitive licensing with CLA for “participants” in the project.

                                                                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                                                                          They are not entitled. Those people freely contributed it. And if they did so under an expectation that the more permissive license would stay, the option always exists to fork at the commit before the license changes over.

                                                                                                                                                  2. 5

                                                                                                                                                    As a reminder, freedom from competition is not one of the core freedoms of any FSF/GNU manifesto. Nor is suppression of competition a pragmatic goal of the Open Source movement.

                                                                                                                                                    So what?

                                                                                                                                                    “Open source” and “free” are neither precisely defined nor inherently good. Their value isn’t self evident, it’s a function of the positive effects they have on real human beings. And not abstract or theoretical effect in some model of reality, but real and observable effect in reality as it exists. Does freedom from competition in this specific circumstance have a net positive effect for human beings? I think you can at least argue that the answer is yes. If you don’t agree, let’s have that debate, but let’s have it on the merits, the FSF/GNU definitional stuff is just semantic noise.

                                                                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                                                                      I think “open source” and “free” are well-defined by the OSI and the FSF, respectively.

                                                                                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                                                                                        Do you believe those definitions are what most people mean when they use the terms?

                                                                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                                                                          …yes?

                                                                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                                                                            I’m surprised by that. I think very few people are aware of, much less mean to convey, the specificity in the OSI’s and FSF’s definitions of “open source” and “free” when they use those terms.

                                                                                                                                                      2. 1

                                                                                                                                                        If you don’t agree, let’s have that debate, but let’s have it on the merits, the FSF/GNU definitional stuff is just semantic noise.

                                                                                                                                                        When a relicensing whose goal is to use copyright to maintain a monopoly or monopoly-like position on commercial exploitation of a piece of software wraps itself in a cloak of high idealist language about “freedom” and “openness”, arguing about the “semantic noise” of “the… definitional stuff” is a perfectly valid response.

                                                                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                                                                          When a relicensing whose goal is to use copyright to maintain a monopoly or monopoly-like position on commercial exploitation of a piece of software…

                                                                                                                                                          …for which they are they principal authors and sole maintainers…

                                                                                                                                                          wraps itself in a cloak of high idealist language about “freedom” and “openness”, arguing about the “semantic noise” of “the… definitional stuff” is a perfectly valid response.

                                                                                                                                                          OK. They claim

                                                                                                                                                          AGPLv3 is an OSI-approved license that meets all criteria for Free and Open Source Software.

                                                                                                                                                          Is that not true?

                                                                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                                                                            for which they are they principal authors and sole maintainers

                                                                                                                                                            Let me state the argument, as clearly as I can, in order not to get dragged off into derailments like this.

                                                                                                                                                            Yes, copyright law allows this. Yes, that is a fact.

                                                                                                                                                            However, the blog post uses the language of the Free Software and Open Source movements, which tend to look beyond the mere minimal test of “does copyright law allow this”. The Free Software movement, for example, is founded on the idea that using one’s copyright in software to control what others may do with the software, for the purpose of creating and maintaining a monopoly on commercial exploitation of the software, is morally evil. Yet that is the effect of this relicensing: attempting to create a de facto commercial monopoly over the software, by controlling what others may and may not do with the software, via copyright.

                                                                                                                                                            Yes, the AGPL is considered a Free Software license by the FSF. However, I do not see a way to reconcile the practical effects of this use of the AGPL with the ideals the FSF alleges Free Software should involve.

                                                                                                                                                            Therefore I criticize the post and the relicensing on grounds that they appropriate language and ideals to which they do not live up and which, in fact, are antithetical to at least one such set of appropriated ideals.

                                                                                                                                                            Do you have a counterargument to this criticism?

                                                                                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                                                                                              Do you have a counterargument to this criticism?

                                                                                                                                                              By your own acknowledgement, they’re abiding the letter of the law, so to speak; your criticism is that they’re violating the spirit of it, by appropriating language inappropriately? I mean, I guess my counterargument would be that this is an expression of your opinion, and therefore unfalsifiable, so 🤷

                                                                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                By your own acknowledgement, they’re abiding the letter of the law

                                                                                                                                                                So your position is that anything which is legally permitted is morally good and should not be criticized?

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                                                                                                                                                      How is this related to GNU.org? It’s hard to tell from the front-page and introductory blog-post whether this is a break-off organisation, or something else entirely.

                                                                                                                                                      This sent me off searching as to whether GNU is actually trademarked in any way, but apparently it’s not? Perhaps not surprising, given Richard Stallman’s stance on intellectual property in general, but it’s interesting to see how “ownership” of a name can be very contentious – do people who toil under a name have cause to co-opt it?

                                                                                                                                                      1. 5

                                                                                                                                                        but it’s interesting to see how “ownership” of a name can be very contentious – do people who toil under a name have cause to co-opt it?

                                                                                                                                                        Ironically, a thread was circulating on Twitter the other day in which a former executive director of GNOME pointed out that GNOME is not a GNU project and they’ve asked the FSF to stop listing it as one – without success.

                                                                                                                                                        1. 10

                                                                                                                                                          Who would have thought that calling your project the GNU Network Object Model Environment would make people associate you with GNU.

                                                                                                                                                          1. 9

                                                                                                                                                            GNOME has not been an acronym for at least a decade.

                                                                                                                                                            As far as I understood it from only sort of paying attention at the time, the split away from GNU happened for a lot of reasons, not least of which was Stallman’s loud public denunciations of GNOME’s leadership, and a Stallman-endorsed attempt to impose a code of ideological censorship on the GNOME project’s blog aggregator.

                                                                                                                                                            1. 5

                                                                                                                                                              The GNU project has a habit of refusing to let go projects when their maintainer wish it. I think I remember a similar issue with Libreboot. They of course live open the door for forking the project, but they basically say that if this happen, they will search for a new maintainer on their hand.

                                                                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                The GNU project has a habit of refusing to let go projects when their maintainer wish it. I think I remember a similar issue with Libreboot.

                                                                                                                                                                I wouldn’t touch the toxic tarpit around that project with a ten mile pole, when the best defence you can come up with is “we were on drugs lol” [0] you know you’re in a special place. And the drama continues [1].

                                                                                                                                                                And people wonder why I want anonymity and privacy online.

                                                                                                                                                                [0] https://libreboot.org/news/unity.html

                                                                                                                                                                [1] https://libreboot.org/news/resignations.html

                                                                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                  I was not aware of that, tbh. Though, regarding the GNOME project, it looks like the same pattern arise (modulo the drama).

                                                                                                                                                                  1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                    I was not aware of that, tbh. Though, regarding the GNOME project, it looks like the same pattern arise (modulo the drama).

                                                                                                                                                                    The people around gnome are smarter and present themselves as a lot more photogenic, but if you want to see how hostile they are try and get a patch accepted in gnome. You will be drowned in bureaucratic red tape. In GNU land you might want to tear your hair out over terrible decisions, like not exporting the parse tree from GCC, but at least you feel like someone is listening to you.

                                                                                                                                                          2. 2

                                                                                                                                                            This is a “fork” of GNU, by people here.

                                                                                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                                                                                              What are they referring to when they say “GNU Project”? The real thing or their fork? Nevermind, they updated the page since I open it the first time.

                                                                                                                                                              This post probably explains it better. Seems like a kind of union of GNU project maintainers, not a seperate project in itself, as they are still linking to gnu.org and not hosting their own code and project tools.

                                                                                                                                                              Edit: Here some more info: https://lists.gnu.tools/hyperkitty/list/assembly@lists.gnu.tools/message/RASDB353K5ONC654JDXBQCE7PFADYBSX/

                                                                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                It was my understanding too: it’s not a fork, it’s mostly a group of maintainers aiming to coordinate their efforts within the wider umbrella of the GNU project (I guess they also hope to be able to steer the project in a direction more aligned with their values this way).

                                                                                                                                                                It sounds like a sane thing to do, but I fear like it won’t be welcomed well on the other hand of GNU.

                                                                                                                                                            2. 1

                                                                                                                                                              From r/freesoftware,

                                                                                                                                                              This is merely a resurgence of the “gnu-tools” initiative by the usual suspects.

                                                                                                                                                              Ostensibly it was an initiative to introduce more influence on the whole GNU project by maintainers (maintainers already have full control over their own GNU projects apart from redefining software freedom, which is where RMS has final say).

                                                                                                                                                              When asked the hard questions, it quickly became clear that this self-appointed shadow government was really about ousting RMS from the GNU project with hardly a though about how to continue after that.

                                                                                                                                                              Anyway, if you have several days, you can inform yourself. It’s all on display in the gnu-misc mailing list (from 2019-11 and onwards. Search for “social contract”)

                                                                                                                                                              In the end, most GNU maintainers weren’t on board and the discussion died down.