1. 2

    I think the URL needs #fn2 removing to link to the top of the post - confused me starting at the bottom as I didn’t realise I wasn’t at the top of the page initially.

    1. 2

      Thanks for the report but looks like I can’t change that.

      1. 3

        I’ve removed it. Thanks, @caius.

    1. 1

      Note that I’m a big fan of squash/rebase, but I still think this option is interesting and worth surfacing, even if I don’t necessary 100% embrace the workflow.

      1. 7

        Is anyone still adopting CMake since Meson exists?

        1. 2

          CMake is still in wide use in the field and I can personally say I’ve seen it adopted on a bunch of new projects.

          1. 1

            I had never heard of Meson, but in checking it out, it seems to have existed since 2011. Might I suggest a marketing campaign? What advantages does Meson have over CMake? Why are there two commands, meson and ninja? Is meson opinionated (it seems to be) or flexible?

          1. 8

            This advice should be expanded. Do not under any circumstance use any kind of 3rd party VPN at all.

            1. 4

              VPNs are this decade’s antivirus.

              1. 2

                This advice is hyperbolic…. there are tons of valid uses for a 3rd party VPN. For example, I use a 3rd party VPN to torrent over networks that punish me for doing so (LTE, university WiFi).

                1. 1

                  OK… this is not very helpful advice. But, if you have something constructive to say on the subject, I’d like to hear it!

                  I don’t suppose you’re saying that you should just trust your ISP.

                  Perhaps you’re saying that you should set up and maintain your own VPN? Do you have any helpful resources to suggest for those of us who might want to do that? Because I can imagine a few ways to get that wrong too.

                  But perhaps more to the point, what do you suggest for less technical people who are concerned about their privacy, or those who don’t want to maintain that much infrastructure?

                  1. 3

                    I don’t suppose you’re saying that you should just trust your ISP.

                    If you’re using a VPN service, that’s exactly what you’re doing - just trusting the VPN operator.

                    But perhaps more to the point, what do you suggest for less technical people who are concerned about their privacy, or those who don’t want to maintain that much infrastructure?

                    “If you’re telling people not to buy these rocks, what do you suggest for people who are concerned about keeping tigers away and can’t afford fences and guns?”

                    If you genuinely need to access the internet without being tracked, you need to put the legwork in and use Tor; this is not something you can afford to trust someone else to do for you (though there are bundled installers etc. that can make it slightly easier).

                    1. 2

                      Sometimes I trust my VPN operator more than my ISP. Thus using the VPN is nicer

                      Example cases:

                      • being in China
                      • airport wifi
                      1. 1

                        Using tor for many tasks is no harder than a vpn anyway

                      2. 3

                        There was another blog post not too long ago about not using VPNs. This article does state all the reasons to use a VPN: protect your from your ISP and protect your location data.

                        However a VPN isn’t TOR. They can still keep logs on the VPN side and turn them over to police, even in other countries. It has a limited use and people need to understand what those uses are. Too many people use it without understand what VPNs do and don’t do (similar to the confusion around Private Window browsing .. even though there’s a clear wall of text describing the limitations, most people don’t read it).

                      3. 1

                        I’d argue that pretty much anyone who reads this site has the wherewithal to set up their own VPN. Check out Streissand or Algo

                      1. 3

                        This looks like a great kick start guide.

                        Would also be great to see (although this is a different thing) a guide for folks inheriting a legacy CMake codebase, because I dealt with that at my last job and it made my head explode.

                        1. 2

                          While I don’t want to try to belittle or negate your personal experience, but it flies in the face of a lot of industry best practice.

                          Also, you don’t actually give us any data. You say “This wasn’t helpful for my daily work”. Why not? What were you measuring to gauge the lack of effectiveness?

                          For a whole lot of people (myself included) code kata are a great way to hone your problem solving skills while at the same time increasing your fluency in your programming language of choice.

                          1. 6

                            Wow I couldn’t agree more with his assertions around e-mail. I’m seeing a generational divide happen, ADD youngsters are telling me “Email is awful!” on a fairly regular basis now. WHY? I’ve yet to get an actual, viable, useful answer.

                            Mostly what I get is “It’s so 5 minutes ago”.

                            1. 6

                              This is a good point. Email and Slack are just communication tools. The workplace is full of low-quality communication because most workplaces are low in quality: inept management, no real desire to motivate people, stupid projects, and crappy ideas. The problem never was email itself. Nor is it Slack per se.

                              It’s like the common comment about dating sites: the sites are a solved problem, but people are broken.

                              Now, Jira is evil and should die in a taint fire. That’s just an objective fact.

                              1. 3

                                I’m on board with your core sentiment here, and broadly characterizing a generation as suffering from a disability isn’t much better of a rationale than those “youngsters” are giving you for not liking email.

                                (Having spent a decade as a teacher and middle school administrator before venturing into dev work, I’m well aware of the very real challenges of keeping the attention of people younger than me…)

                                Not trying to poke you in the eye (metaphorically or otherwise). Just saying… 🍻

                                1. 2

                                  What’s doubly amusing about your choice of wording is that I am in fact blind in one eye and low vision in the other, so go ahead and poke away as long as it’s the left side :)

                                  And, to address the meat of what you’re saying, you’re right. I had no business being cavalier about the term ADD. Thanks for pointing that out.

                                  I need to find a new turn of phrase to describe the ever shortening attention span of humans :)

                                  1. 2

                                    Haha… Well clearly I stepped in it there with my choice of metaphor. 🤦🏻‍♂️

                                    Agreed. We definitely need a better shorthand for shrinking attention spans…

                                2. 2

                                  My main issue with email is that unless everyone uses the same email client and email client settings things become a mess. Some people add replies at the bottom of the chain, others at the top. Some people use HTML email, some don’t. Some people have signatures 8 miles long.

                                  It’s just so darn messy.

                                  What I like about instant messaging is that it is quicker, (to me) more organized, and most of his arguments against it are mostly due to not knowing how to set status. If you don’t want to be distracted set yourself to “do not disturb”. I haven’t worked with a team where this was a problem (assuming you do eventually answer questions).

                                  1. 2

                                    It doesn’t have to be messy. HTML versus not should be transparent to you (I use mutt for work) - the top posting problem is a larger issue, and I blame Google and Microsoft. They’ve attempted to make mail act like IM.

                                    There is only one true way to respond to email messages, and it was defined in RFC-1855

                                    1. 2

                                      I’m not saying it has to be messy, I’m just saying it is in the real world. And while I could start sending mail that complies with RFC-1855, I still have to deal with everyone who sends me mail and doesn’t comply to any standard.

                                      HTML versus not should be transparent to you

                                      How? I use outlook at work because I need it for meeting requests, shared address books, etc.

                                      1. 1

                                        So, wait, you’re complaining about HTML email because you choose to use a GUI client?

                                        Fascinating, captain :)

                                        I too use Outlook/Exchange for meetings, but that’s all I use it for. My mail pipeline is fetcmail/procmail and mutt and it works famously with Exchange. Google it and see :)

                                        Your point about not being able to control unruly senders is valid, but I’m not sure that merits throwing the baby out with the bath water.

                                  2. 2

                                    Email has good properties, but I see many problems with email that other tools avoid:

                                    • With email, it’s harder to jump into an existing conversation. You can’t just visit a link and read the existing conversation. You have to wait for someone to post something new to the mailing list, or ask someone to forward you the discussion so far. And then you have to read the previous messages with a zig-zag path – read top to bottom within each message, but read the list of messages bottom to top.

                                    • The culture of email suggests that you surround your message with salutations and sign-offs. In most environments, every time you write a new email, you have to write “Hi John,” or “Greetings all,” at the beginning, and then “Thanks, Rory” or “Sincerely, Rory” at the end. It takes time away from writing the content of the message, time that is usually not worth the signaling it provides.

                                    • In some companies, emails have signatures at the bottom that repeat information you already know such as the contact information of the company. It requires more scrolling and mental filtering to see the actual content.

                                    • Emails have a sending delay and require writing subject lines. This makes them less appropriate for messages that should be sent in real time, because they are relevant to a real-time conversation. For example, if you are telling a coworker about a relevant blog post and why they should read it, it’s better if you can just paste the URL into a message with them and they get it instantly.

                                    • Emails can’t be edited. If you make a stupid typo or forget an attachment, you have no choice but to either accept the error or to send another email with the correction. If you send a correction email, all readers have to manually apply in their heads your described patch to the original email – no one can apply the fix so the others don’t have to. And if someone else sends an email with a subject line that is revealed to be irrelevant, you can’t change the subject line to focus future discussion – the best you can do is send a correction email.

                                  1. 2

                                    Though this article was published recently, the author is out of touch with the current versions of software.

                                    Chat, at least on slack, isn’t grouped or threaded.

                                    Slack supports threads now. Any top-level message can be replied to in that messages thread. People aren’t notified of new messages in a thread unless they are following it.

                                    My company, which has about 35 regular users of Slack, uses that feature often. I find it easy to keep track of the current conversations.

                                    I agree that rooms don’t provide much separation of topics, but at least there is the #random room by default, so people are discouraged from posting funny links to the work-related rooms.

                                    SO has become relatively shitty now, and replaced docs for a lot of OSS libs.

                                    I don’t see the relevance of the official Stack Overflow website, which still supports the same features it used to, when the context is about a hypothetical company-specific Stack Overflow. But this statement is out of date. Stack Overflow deleted their experimental Documentation section of the site, and migrated worthy Examples from there into normal questions and answers.

                                    1. 4

                                      I’d argue that slack threads are even MORE annoying and distracting. They’re an unneeded and poorly implemented abstraction when the actual solution to room overcrowding and noise is to simply get your own room.

                                    1. 10

                                      Helpful hint: you can turn slack notifications off.

                                      1. 9

                                        When I did this my coworkers got super mad I wasn’t answering things promptly.

                                        1. 3

                                          Do they get mad when you try to negotiate for “Do No Distract” times in the day?

                                          1. 4

                                            We didn’t have a culture where people actually followed that. You could have a do not disturb time but people would interrupt you anyway. A couple of us started making fake meetings just to get some time to code.

                                            1. 3

                                              Ouch. It’s telling when things get that bad.

                                              1. 2

                                                A couple of us started making fake meetings just to get some time to code.

                                                It’s a good trick, I’ve been doing this for years so I could make sure I got lunch and time to do work.

                                                1. 3

                                                  Wow. These comments, and the recent thread about maybe not working long hours, paint a bleak picture of current work practices in the US.

                                            2. 4

                                              get better co-workers

                                              1. 1

                                                I actually got the different answer. I was using slack as a message queue, when I saw a coworker that I wanted to distract, I’d slack them (via the app) and wait for an answer, but they actually prefered me to come to talk to them and bother them.

                                                I found this weird but complied…

                                              2. 7

                                                If you read the article, notifications are only a very small part of the problem. The author was speaking about wide scale effects happening at the organization level.

                                                1. 3

                                                  This. So much this. I know that the discussion can take different forms and sometimes there are also larger organizational issues at play. But with that said, I think people often forget that they can disable notification on devices. I’ve seen co-workers across two companies leave notifications on for every single message in a channel (yes, you read that correctly) and with sound nonetheless. It baffles me.

                                                  macOS comes with a built-in Do Not Disturb mode. Slack lets you configure your notifications so that you’re not getting notifications for each single message across a bajillion channels.

                                                  [Slack] normalizes interruptions, multitasking, and distractions, implicitly permitting these things to happen IRL as well as online. It normalizes insanely short reply times for questions. In the slack world people can escalate from asking in a room to @person to @here in a matter of minutes. And they’re not wrong to – if your request isn’t handled in 5 minutes it’s as good as forgotten.

                                                  Somewhere along the way we forgot that interruptions are toxic to real work. It wasn’t always this way. On day 1 of my first trading job the only instruction I received was ‘when the market is open, mute your phone.’ The subtext was ‘or else’. If someone said this to me today I’d give them a hug, and I’m not a hugger.

                                                  I think people need this reminder today. Outside of work I see people with group chats on their phones (be it Facebook, Twitter, Hangouts, whathaveyou) that bleeps and bloops without rest. I can’t imagine living in that world.

                                                1. 2

                                                  The syntax looks very terse, but this language does indeed look very interesting. I like the emphasis on live coding and that FORTH is one if its ancestors.

                                                  1. -1

                                                    it looks like the link is broken =(

                                                    1. 1

                                                      I just got to the page fine.

                                                      1. 2

                                                        weird it failed for me initially and i just assumed the link was bad, sorry for the confusion.

                                                      2. 1

                                                        Nope, seems fine?

                                                      1. 4

                                                        What changed in my reasoning?

                                                        First of all, I’m working on other problems. Whereas I used to do a lot of work that was very easy to map to numpy operations (which are fast as they use compiled code), now I write a lot of code which is not straight numerics. And, then, if I have to write it in standard Python, it is slow as molasses. I don’t mean slower in the sense of “wait a couple of seconds”, I mean “wait several hours instead of 2 minutes.”

                                                        So, basically, the author is solving problems Python isn’t good at. So, great - use another tool, Haskell or whatever. I do not see how this says anything useful or interesting about the language itself other than “Python is not optimized for solving numerical problems not addressed with numpy”

                                                        1. 2

                                                          Is Haskell well-optimized for numerical problems?

                                                          1. 8

                                                            It’s OK. The mainline compiler doesn’t have vectorization by default yet. See https://ghc.haskell.org/trac/ghc/wiki/SIMD/Implementation/Status . For some classes of numerical algorithms, you can expect performance on par with (unvectorized) C. For algorithms that are inherently mutation heavy, I generally find that making Haskell exactly as efficient as C removes many of the benefits of using Haskell in the first place. That’s fine for library writers but not great for end users.

                                                            Haskell’s main strength wrt speed is that you can compose high-level things and the abstraction overhead will be unreasonably small. If you’re churning through gigabytes of data per second, you can write Haskell that’s almost as fast as really well optimized C for a small fraction of the effort. However, I wouldn’t really describe the problems this works well on as “numerical”. When I think of “numerical” I usually thing of lots of mutations on big matrices, for which I would rather use Numpy or something. Haskell’s good for many of the things numpy isn’t.

                                                            1. 2

                                                              I may be wrong but my understanding was that haskell does have library support for generalized stream fusion which gets very good performance without having to write particularly clever code.

                                                              https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/haskell-beats-C.pdf?from=http%3A%2F%2Fresearch.microsoft.com%2Fen-us%2Fum%2Fpeople%2Fsimonpj%2Fpapers%2Fndp%2Fhaskell-beats-c.pdf

                                                              1. 1

                                                                That’s exactly what I meant by

                                                                you can compose high-level things and the abstraction overhead will be unreasonably small

                                                            2. 1

                                                              Excellent question - I have zero idea. It’s compiled, right? So I’d think there’s more room for optimization there, but I dunno.

                                                          1. 30

                                                            How do I phrase this without sounding like a horrible show-off? I’ll try to make my job sound not meaningful and meaningful and you’ll find some truth in both and have to judge for yourself.

                                                            Modern, JavaScript-capable Web Browsers: An experiment to download untrusted code from the web and run it on your computer, without allowing the code to take over your computer. Still trying.

                                                            Most, if not all other relevant web browsers exist purely to support a business model, strengthen vendor lock-in, get user data beyond search orgenerate revenue for shareholders. I’m working for the alternative web browser, which answers to no one but its users. We’re competing with the biggest and most valuable corporations in the world and I think we’re doing rather OK. I help this product being a secure choice for hundreds of millions of people.

                                                            1. 11

                                                              I just want to pipe in and say thanks for working on the development of Firefox. I have been a long time advocate and never really jumped onto the Chrome (or Chromium) bandwagon. As a web developer, FF has always been a much better platform to debug in (starting with Firebug and then its integration into the default FF inspector and dev tools), and new HTML/CSS/JS features always seemed to hit Aurora instantly. That statement always seems to start interesting debates with Chrome-jockeys where they tend to show me things I already have in FF.

                                                              I see by your hat you’re on the security team, but I thank you nonetheless.

                                                              1. 2

                                                                Ditto. I get tired of watching people take pot shots at Firefox because it’s a big target. From where I sit it is the last best hope for a truly open web browser that has anything like mass market penetration, and that’s important in all caps, bold and with flames erupting from every letter.

                                                              2. 9

                                                                I tried to answer the “is your work meaningful” question.

                                                                What I’d find more interesting: Do you find your own work meaningful (personal view in contrast to assuming objectivity) and what aspect makes it meaningful to you.

                                                                1. 1

                                                                  I think that’s a fair update to the question!

                                                              1. 57

                                                                Meaningful is…overrated, perhaps.

                                                                A survey of last four jobs (not counting contracting and consulting gigs, because I think the mindset is very different)

                                                                • Engineer at small CAD software startup, 50K/yr, working on AEC design and project management software comfortably 10 years ahead of whatever Autodesk and others were offering at the time. Was exciting and felt very important, turned out not to matter.
                                                                • Cofounder at productivity startup, no income, felt tremendously important and exciting. We bootstrapped and ran out of cash, and even though the problems were exciting they weren’t super important. Felt meaningful because it was our baby, and because we’d used shitty tools before. We imploded after running out of runway, very bad time in life, stress and burnout.
                                                                • Engineering lead at medical startup, 60K/yr, working on health tech comfortably 20 years ahead of the curve of Epic, Cerner, Allscripts, a bunch of other folks. Literally saving babies, saving lives. I found the work very interesting and meaningful, but the internal and external politics of the company and marketplace soured me and burned me out after two years.
                                                                • Senior engineer at a packaging company, 120K/yr, working on better packaging. The importance of our product is not large, but hey, everybody needs it. Probably the best job I’ve ever had after DJing in highschool. Great team, fun tech, straightforward problem space.

                                                                The “meaningful” stuff that happened in the rest of life:

                                                                • 3 relationships with wonderful partners, lots of other dating with great folks
                                                                • rather broken family starting to knit together slowly, first of a new generation of socks has been brought into the world
                                                                • exciting and fun contracting gigs with friends
                                                                • two papers coauthored in robotics with some pals in academia on a whim
                                                                • some successful hackathons
                                                                • interesting reflections on online communities and myself
                                                                • weddings of close friends
                                                                • a lot of really rewarding personal technical growth through side projects
                                                                • a decent amount of teaching, mentoring, and community involvement in technology and entrepreneurship
                                                                • various other things

                                                                I’m a bit counter-culture in this, but I think that trying to do things “meaningful for humanity” is the wrong mindset. Look after your tribe, whatever and whoever they are, the more local the better. Help your family, help your friends, help the community in which you live.

                                                                Work–at least in our field!–is almost certainly not going to help humanity. The majority of devs are helping run arbitrage on efficiencies of scale (myself included). The work, though, can free up resources for you to go and do things locally to help. Meaningful things, like:

                                                                • Paying for friend’s healthcare
                                                                • Buying extra tech gear and donating the balance to friends’ siblings or local teaching organizations
                                                                • Giving extra food or meals to local homeless
                                                                • Patronizing local shops and artisans to help them stay in business
                                                                • Supporting local artists by going to their shows or buying their art
                                                                • Paying taxes

                                                                Those are the things I find meaningful…my job is just a way of giving me fuckaround money while I pursue them.

                                                                1. 14

                                                                  I’m a bit counter-culture in this, but I think that trying to do things “meaningful for humanity” is the wrong mindset. Look after your tribe, whatever and whoever they are, the more local the better. Help your family, help your friends, help the community in which you live.

                                                                  Same (in the sense that I have the same mindset as you, but I’m not sure there is anything right or wrong about it). I sometimes think it is counter-culture to say this out loud. But as far as I can tell, despite what anyone says, most peoples’ actions seem to be consistent with this mindset.

                                                                  There was an interesting House episode on this phenomenon. A patient seemingly believed and acted as if locality wasn’t significant. He valued his own child about the same as any other child (for example).

                                                                  1. 9

                                                                    I pretty much agree with this. Very few people have the privilege of making their living doing something “meaningful” because we live within a system where financial gains do not correspond to “meaningful” productivity. That’s not to say you shouldn’t seek out jobs that are more helpful to the world at large, but not having one of those rare jobs shouldn’t be too discouraging.

                                                                    1. 4

                                                                      Meaningful is…overrated, perhaps.

                                                                      I think specifically the reason I asked is because I find it so thoroughly dissatisfying to be doing truly meaningless work. It would be nice to be in a situation where I wake up and don’t wonder if the work I spend 1/3rd of my life on is contributing to people’s well-being in the world or actively harming them.

                                                                      Even ignoring “the world,” it would be nice to optimize for the kind of fulfillment I get out of automating the worst parts of my wife’s job, mentoring people in tech, or the foundational tech that @cflewis talks about here.

                                                                      Work–at least in our field!–is almost certainly not going to help humanity. The majority of devs are helping run arbitrage on efficiencies of scale (myself included).

                                                                      I think about this a lot.

                                                                      1. 10

                                                                        In general I find capitalism and being trapped inside of capitalism to generally be antithetical to meaningful work in the sense that you’ll rarely win at capitalism if you want to do good for the world, no matter what portion of the world you’re interested in helping.

                                                                        A solution I found for this is to attain a point where financially I don’t have to work anymore to maintain my standard of living. It’s a project in the making, but essentially, passive income needs to surpass recurring costs and you’re pretty much good to go. To achieve that, you can increase the passive income, diminish the recurring costs, or both (which you probably want to be doing. Which i want to be doing, anyway.

                                                                        As your passive income increases, you (potentially) get to diminish your working hours until you don’t have to do it anymore (or you use all the extra money to make that happen faster). Freedom is far away. Between now and then, there won’t be a lot of “meaningful” work going on, at least, not software related.

                                                                        [Edit: whoever marked me as incorrect, would you mind telling me where? I’m genuinely interested in this; I thought I was careful in exposing this in a very “this is an opinion” voice, but if my judgement is fundamentally flawed somehow, knowing how and why will help me correct it. Thanks.]

                                                                        1. 8

                                                                          Agree re. ‘get out of capitalism any way you can’, but I don’t agree with passive income. One aspect of capitalism is maximum extraction for minimum effort, and this is what passive income is. If you plan to consciously bleed the old system dry whole you do something which is better and compensates, passive income would be reasonable; if you want to create social structures that are as healthy as possible for as many people as possible, passive income is a hypocrisy.

                                                                          I prefer getting as much resource (social capital, extreme low cost of living) as fast as possible so you can exit capitalism as quickly as possible.

                                                                          1. 1

                                                                            Are you talking about the difference between, say, rental income (passive income) and owning equities (stockpile)? Or do you mean just having a lot of cash?

                                                                            1. 1

                                                                              Yes, if you want to live outside capitalism you need assets that are as far as possible conceptually and with least dependencies on capitalism whilst supporting your wellbeing. Cash is good. Social capital, access to land and resource to sustain yourself without needing cash would be lovely, but that’s pretty hard right now while the nation state and capitalism are hard to separate.

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                Do you ever worry about 70’s (or worse) style inflation eroding the value of cash? In this day and age, you can’t even live off the land without money for property taxes.

                                                                      2. 3

                                                                        Work–at least in our field!–is almost certainly not going to help humanity. The majority of devs are helping run arbitrage on efficiencies of scale (myself included).

                                                                        This 100%. A for-profit company can’t make decisions that benefit humanity as their entire goal is to take more than they give (AKA profit).

                                                                        1. 2

                                                                          Sure they can. They just have to charge for a beneficial produce at a rate higher than the cost. Food, utilities, housing, entertainment products, safety products… these come to mind.

                                                                          From there, a for-profit company selling a wasteful or damaging product might still invest profits into good products/services or just charity. So, they can be beneficial as well just more selectively.

                                                                        2. 2

                                                                          I think you’re hitting at a similar truth that I was poking at in my response, but from perhaps a different angle. I would bet my bottom dollar that you found meaning in the jobs you cited you most enjoyed, but perhaps not “for humanity” as the OP indicated.

                                                                          1. 1

                                                                            What is the exact meaning of “run arbitrage on efficiencies of scale”? I like the phrase and want to make sure I understand it correctly.

                                                                            1. 5

                                                                              So, arbitrage is “taking advantage of the price difference in two or more markets”.

                                                                              As technologists, we’re in the business of efficiency, and more importantly, efficiency of scale. Given how annoying it is to write software, and how software is duplicated effortlessly (mostly, sorta, if your ansible scripts are good or if you can pay the Dread Pirate Bezos for AWS), we find that our talents yield the best result when applied to large-scale problems.

                                                                              That being the case, our work naturally tends towards creating things that are used to help create vast price differences by way of reducing the costs of operating at scale. The difference between, for example, having a loose federation of call centers and taxis versus having a phone app that contractors use. Or, the difference between having to place classified ads in multiple papers with a phone call and a mailed check versus having a site where people just put up ads in the appropriate section and email servers with autogenerated forwarding rules handle most of the rest.

                                                                              The systems we build, almost by definition, are required to:

                                                                              • remove as many humans from the equation as possible (along with their jobs)
                                                                              • encode specialist knowledge into expert systems and self-tuning intelligences, none of which are humans
                                                                              • reduce variety and special-cases in economic and creative transactions
                                                                              • recast human labor, where it still exists, into a simple unskilled transactional model with interchangeable parties (every laborer is interchangeable, every task is as simple as possible because expertise are in the systems)
                                                                              • pass on the savings at scale to the people who pay us (not even the shareholding public, as companies are staying private longer)

                                                                              It is almost unthinkable that anything we do is going to benefit humanity as a whole on a long-enough timescale–at least, given the last requirement.

                                                                            2. 1

                                                                              Care about your tribe, but also care about other tribes. Don’t get so into this small scope thinking that you can’t see outside of it. Otherwise your tribe will lack the social connections to survive.

                                                                              Edit: it’s likely my mental frame is tainted by being angry at LibertarianLlama, so please take this comment as generously as possible :).

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                Speaking of that, is there any democratic process that we could go through such that someone gets banned from the community? Also what are the limits of discussion in this community?

                                                                            1. 4

                                                                              Very. The turn of phrase you used “meaningful for humanity” is interesting. You should definitely pursue a line of work that makes you feel good about what you do.

                                                                              I’ve had the opportunity to work with the human genome project, a company that did fundraising for the Barack Obama campaign, It Gets Better, and innumerable other fantastic causes. Those were without a doubt meaningful jobs.

                                                                              However, meaning can be found in all kinds of ways. For the last couple of years I’ve worked with Amazon Web Services in the EFS group. I find this job every bit as meaningful as those others, but in a different way. I get to come in every day and contribute to a service that breaks the CAP theorem, working with incredibly smart talented people the likes of which I’ve not seen elsewhere. I am constantly facing tough challenges and growing both in terms of skill set and as a human being.

                                                                              Is that as “meaningful to humanity” as when I worked with the human genome project and my office mate was a scientist who was working on a cure for dengue bonebreak fever that kills thousands in the third world every dady? Absolutely not. But this job is every bit as meaningful to me personally and in many ways more so.

                                                                              Good luck with whatever path you take. We’re very lucky to work in an incredible industry with all kinds of amazing opportunities!

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                                                                                I think ads are the worst way to support any organization, even one I would rate as highly as Mozilla. People however are reluctant to do so otherwise, so we get to suffer all the negative sides of ads.

                                                                                I just donated to Mozilla with https://donate.mozilla.org, please consider doing the same if you think ads/sponsored stories are the wrong path for Firefox.

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                                                                                  Mozilla has more than enough money to accomplish their core task. I think it’s the same problem as with Wikimedia; if you give them more money, they’re just going to find increasingly irrelevant things to spend it on. Both organizations could benefit tremendously from a huge reduction in bureaucracy, not just more money.

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                                                                                    I’ve definitely seen this with Wikimedia, as someone who was heavily involved with it in the early years (now I still edit, but have pulled back from meta/organizational involvement). The people running it are reasonably good and I can certainly imagine it having had worse stewardship. They have been careful not to break any of the core things that make it work. But they do, yeah, basically have more money than they know what to do with. Yet there is an organizational impulse to always get more money and launch more initiatives, just because they can (it’s a high-traffic “valuable” internet property).

                                                                                    The annual fundraising campaign is even a bit dishonest, strongly implying that they’re raising this money to keep the lights on, when doing that is a small part of the total budget. I think the overall issue is that all these organizations are now run by the same NGO/nonprofit management types who are not that different from the people who work in the C-suites at corporations. Universities are going in this direction too, as faculty senates have been weakened in favor of the same kinds of professional administrators. You can get a better administration or a worse one, but barring some real outliers, like organizations still run by their idiosyncratic founders, you’re getting basically the same class of people in most cases.

                                                                                  2. 21

                                                                                    So Mozilla does something bad, and as a result I am supposed to give it money?? Sorry, that doesn’t make any sense to me. If they need my money, they should convince me to donate willingly. What you are describing is a form of extortion.

                                                                                    I donate every month to various organizations; EFF, ACLU, Wikipedia, OpenBSD, etc. So far Mozilla has never managed to convince me to give them my money. On the contrary, why would I give money to a dysfunctional, bureaucratic organization that doesn’t seem to have a clear and focused agenda?

                                                                                    1. 9

                                                                                      They may be a dysfunctional bureaucratic organisation without a focused agenda (wouldn’t know as I don’t work for it) which would surely make them less effective, but shouldn’t the question instead be how effective they are? Is what they produce a useful, positive change and can you get that same thing elsewhere more cost-effectively?

                                                                                      If I really want to get to a destination, I will take a run-down bus if that is the only transport going there. And if you don’t care about the destination, then transport options don’t matter.

                                                                                      1. 17

                                                                                        They may be a dysfunctional bureaucratic organisation without a focused agenda (wouldn’t know as I don’t work for it) which would surely make them less effective, but shouldn’t the question instead be how effective they are? Is what they produce a useful, positive change and can you get that same thing elsewhere more cost-effectively?

                                                                                        I am frequently in touch with Mozilla and while I sometimes feel like fighting with windmills, other parts of the org are very quick moving and highly cost effective. For example, they do a lot of very efficient training for community members like the open leadership training and the Mozilla Tech speakers. They run MDN, a prime resource for web development and documentation. Mozilla Research has high reputation.

                                                                                        Firefox in itself is in constant rebuild and is developed. MozFest is the best conferences you can go to in this world if you want to speak tech and social subjects.

                                                                                        I still find their developer relationship very lacking, which is probably the most visible part to us, but hey, it’s only one aspect.

                                                                                        1. 9

                                                                                          The fact that Mozilla is going to spend money on community activities and conferences is why I don’t donate to them. The only activity I and 99% of people care about is Firefox. All I want is a good web browser. I don’t really care about the other stuff.

                                                                                          Maybe if they focused on what they’re good at, their hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue would be sufficient and they wouldn’t have to start selling “sponsored stories”.

                                                                                          1. 18

                                                                                            The only activity I and 99% of people care about is Firefox.

                                                                                            This is a very easy statement to throw around. It’s very hard to back up.

                                                                                            Also, what’s the point of having a FOSS organisation if they don’t share their learnings? This whole field is fresh and we have maintainers hurting left and right, but people complain when organisations do more then just code.

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                                                                                              To have a competitive, web browser we can trust plus exemplary software in a number of categories. Mozilla couldve been building trustworthy versions of useful products like SpiderOak, VPN services, and so on. Any revenue from business licensing could get them off ad revenue more over time.

                                                                                              Instead, they waste money on lots of BS. Also, they could do whaf I say plus community work. It’s not either or. I support both.

                                                                                              1. 8

                                                                                                To have a competitive, web browser we can trust plus exemplary software in a number of categories. Mozilla couldve been building trustworthy versions of useful products like SpiderOak, VPN services, and so on. Any revenue from business licensing could get them off ad revenue more over time.

                                                                                                In my opinion, the point of FOSS is sharing and I’m pretty radical that this involves approaches and practices. I agree that all you write is important, I don’t agree that it should be the sole focus. Also, Mozilla trainings are incredibly good, I have actually at some point suggested them to sell them :D.

                                                                                                Instead, they waste money on lots of BS. Also, they could do whaf I say plus community work. It’s not either or. I support both.

                                                                                                BS is very much in the eye of the beholder. I also haven’t said that they couldn’t do what you describe.

                                                                                                Also, be aware that they often collaborate with other foundations and bring knowledge and connections into the deal, not everything is funded from the money MozCorp has or from donations.

                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                  “Also, Mozilla trainings are incredibly good, I have actually at some point suggested them to sell them :D.”

                                                                                                  Well, there’s a good idea! :)

                                                                                              2. 3

                                                                                                That’s a false dichotomy because there are other ways to make money in the software industry that don’t involve selling users to advertisers.

                                                                                                It’s unfortunate, but advertisers have so thoroughly ruined their reputation that I simply will not use ad supported services any more.

                                                                                                I feel like Mozilla is so focused on making money for itself that it’s lost sight of what’s best for their users.

                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                  That’s a false dichotomy because there are other ways to make money in the software industry that don’t involve selling users to advertisers.

                                                                                                  Ummm… sorry? The post you are replying to doesn’t speak about money at all, but what people carry about?

                                                                                                  Yes, advertising and Mozilla is an interesting debate and it’s also not like Mozilla is only doing advertisement. But flat-out criticism of the kind “Mozilla is making X amount of money” or “Mozilla supports things I don’t like” is not it

                                                                                                2. 3

                                                                                                  This is a very easy statement to throw around. It’s very hard to back up.

                                                                                                  Would you care to back up the opposite, that over 1% of mozilla’s userbase supports the random crap Mozilla does? That’s over a million people.

                                                                                                  I think my statement is extremely likely a priori.

                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                    I’d venture to guess most of them barely know what Firefox is past how they do stuff on the Internet. They want it to load up quickly, let them use their favorite sites, do that quickly, and not toast their computer with malware. If mobile tablet, maybe add not using too much battery. Those probably represent most people on Firefox along with most of its revenue. Some chunk of them will also want specific plugins to stay on Firefox but I don’t have data on their ratio.

                                                                                                    If my “probably” is correct, then what you say is probably true too.

                                                                                                3. 5

                                                                                                  This is a valid point of view, just shedding a bit of light on why Mozilla does all this “other stuff”.

                                                                                                  Mozilla’s mission statement is to “fight for the health of the internet”, notably this is not quite the same mission statement as “make Firefox a kickass browser”. Happily, these two missions are extremely closely aligned (thus the substantial investment that went into making Quantum). Firefox provides revenue, buys Mozilla a seat at the standards table, allows Mozilla to weigh in on policy and legislation and has great brand recognition.

                                                                                                  But while developing Firefox is hugely beneficial to the health of the web, it isn’t enough. Legislation, proprietary technologies, corporations and entities of all shapes and sizes are fighting to push the web in different directions, some more beneficial to users than others. So Mozilla needs to wield the influence granted to it by Firefox to try and steer the direction of the web to a better place for all of us. That means weighing in on policy, outreach, education, experimentation, and yes, developing technology.

                                                                                                  So I get that a lot of people don’t care about Mozilla’s mission statement, and just want a kickass browser. There’s nothing wrong with that. But keep in mind that from Mozilla’s point of view, Firefox is a means to an end, not the end itself.

                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                    I don’t think Mozilla does a good job at any of that other stuff. The only thing they really seem able to do well (until some clueless PR or marketing exec fucks it up) is browser tech. I donate to the EFF because they actually seem able to effect the goals you stated and don’t get distracted with random things they don’t know how to do.

                                                                                            2. 3

                                                                                              What if, and bear with me here, what they did ISN’T bad? What if instead they are actually making a choice that will make Firefox more attractive to new users?

                                                                                            3. 9

                                                                                              The upside is that atleast Mozilla is trying to make privacy respecting ads instead of simply opening up the flood gates.

                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                For now…

                                                                                            1. 7

                                                                                              The Register is utter crap. This story was already posted here days ago in less sensationalized form.

                                                                                              Cue the hate bandwagon. Firefox is next in line. Pile on everybody! MIcrosoft, Apple and Google are so passe!

                                                                                              1. 5

                                                                                                So, yes, the Register is a tabloid. Do you have a link to the other story? I can’t find it.

                                                                                                In any case, this isn’t a hate wagon. I strongly feel that most forms of advertising are detrimental to society and our mental health, and I distance myself from ads as much as possible.

                                                                                                1. 4

                                                                                                  here is the other story.

                                                                                                  In my opinion, the categorization of the recommendations that Pocket will provide in the new tab as “advertising” is questionable.

                                                                                                  I’m a heavy Pocket user, and I use their Recommended Stories feature quite often to great effect. Their engine does in fact recommend stories I’m interested in.

                                                                                                  This isn’t Mozilla heavy-handedly blasting dialog based blocker ads to their users, this is them taking advantage of a partnership they’re in to provide users with a useful source of new content that they see as a default background in their “New” tab.

                                                                                                  And you can turn it off as a part of the regular preferences as detailed here

                                                                                                  1. 5

                                                                                                    In my opinion, the categorization of the recommendations that Pocket will provide in the new tab as “advertising” is questionable.

                                                                                                    Today it’s not “advertising.” It will be. Straight from Mozilla’s blog:

                                                                                                    we will soon experiment with showing an occasional sponsored story within the Pocket Recommendations section in New Tab Page

                                                                                                  2. 2
                                                                                                  3. 1

                                                                                                    People getting upset about this before it’s a real fiasco is probably the best possible situation. You’d rather is languish and become a festering wound before people react. It would not be better for Mozilla, in fact it would be horrible.

                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                      I disagree with the characterization of this as “advertising” - see my previous response for more color.

                                                                                                  1. 16

                                                                                                    If folks actually read this story Firefox is working pretty hard to make this a non invasive, non privacy compromising feature change, and they’re also opening themselves up for public comment.

                                                                                                    Consider voicing your objections rather than simply jumping ship. Having a viable open source option is important for the web ecosystem IMO.

                                                                                                    1. 15

                                                                                                      If folks actually read this story Firefox is working pretty hard to make this a non invasive, non privacy compromising feature change, and they’re also opening themselves up for public comment.

                                                                                                      i just want a freaking browser engine with the possibility of enhancements via extensions. i don’t want to turn off magick features. i just want a browser which displays websites. the new firefox engine is really great, but i fear that now they slowly fill firefox with crappy features until its slow again.

                                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                                        What happens on the “New Tab page has zero effect on page load times. If you don’t like what the New Tab page looks like, customize it. Some of your options are:

                                                                                                        • set it to blank
                                                                                                        • install an extension that takes over
                                                                                                        • customize the current experience

                                                                                                        For the last option, click the little gear icon in the top right and you should see this https://imgur.com/a/1p47a where you can turn off any section that you don’t like.

                                                                                                        1. 7

                                                                                                          yes, i know. i still don’t want these features shipped and active by default. if i want pocket, i could install it as extension. heck, i wouldn’t mind if they said “hey, we have this great extension named pocket, care to try it out?” on their default new page, with a link to install it. but not shipped by default.

                                                                                                          1. 4

                                                                                                            What happens on the “New Tab page has zero effect on page load times.

                                                                                                            I don’t care so much about page load times; sites which care are already fast (e.g. no JS BS), whilst those which don’t will soon bloat up to offset any increase in browser performance.

                                                                                                            My main complaints with Pocket/Hello/Looking Glass/pdf.js/etc. are code bloat, install size, added complexity, attack surface, etc.

                                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                                              You can’t do that on mobile.

                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                          Good thing this was never a known security threat vector.

                                                                                                          Between this and the other recent exploits that are aided by having EVER MORE PERFORMANT JAVASCRIPT, maybe we should pump the brakes a little on things like wasm and other tools.

                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                            Indeed, have they never read Cryptonomicon ?

                                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                                              That part of the book was so weird.

                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                I thought it rather cool actually. Defeating Van Eck phreaking by using the caps lock LED as an output device :)

                                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                                  I was referring to the first mention of Van Eck phreaking where some hackers read some very weird erotica…

                                                                                                            2. 1

                                                                                                              To be fair, they do mention related works on the github repo’s README.

                                                                                                              https://www.usenix.org/node/190937

                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                Also from the README:

                                                                                                                Publicly available documents already discuss exfiltration from secured systems using various electromagnetic radiations. This is documented in the TEMPEST guidelines published by the US National Security Agency and the US Department of Defense. This project simply adds to that discussion.

                                                                                                                (Emphasis mine)

                                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                                  To be clear, that annoyance was not for the authors of this repo (who did very neat work!), but for the public at large seemingly militantly against any form of secure practices and the devs who enable that.

                                                                                                            1. 5

                                                                                                              Yup I really liked this article. Way too many engineers treat buy versus build as a non decision and succumb to NIH.

                                                                                                              Another thing that I think tends to make people avoid buy is that too many commercial solutions don’t take into account the fact that many companies don’t and CAN’T for regulatory reasons trust services that exist on somebody else’s platform / cloud.