1. 1

    I’m on a System76 Kudu circa 2015

    • 16GB ram
    • 1080p matte screen
    • 2.80 GHz i7-4810M

    Build quality is pretty good. I love the keyboard generally, but it’s off-center which is strange. But only way to fit a full keyboard. The support from system76 has been excellent and they fixed every problem I have had, including sending me free parts. I bought a newer desktop from them because I liked them that much.

    1. 8

      I believe Winston Royce regrets writing the paper the way he did. Seems nobody reads past the first page. It’s like when people read Adam Smith describing division of labor and think “Wow, division of labor is good” and then neglect to read 300+ pages in where he says division of labor makes people as stupid as a creature can be.

      1. 1

        This post was most enjoyable, however, a deep part of me thinks it’s too late. Global Warming will require the remaining energy budget we have to tackle it. Another part of me wants to keep trying. Alan Kay said the computer revolution hasn’t happened yet. Global warming and the mass extinction we are in might mean it may never happen. Oh, have you guys heard of flutter? I hear electron has some competition.

        1. 3

          Global Warming will require the remaining energy budget we have to tackle it.

          That’s a bold, unsupportable, and deeply pessimistic and nihilistic claim. We’ve used a tiny fraction of the available energy budget. There are tremendous amounts of potential energy still available in economically viable Uranium and Thorium reserves, and humanity’s energy usage is still dwarfed by solar irradiance. The primary risk of global warming and climate change, in my opinion, is that they will incite human-human conflicts on a global scale, not that they will be too expensive, energy wise, to handle.

          1. 3

            It’s not about pessimism, or nihilism. It’s not even about predictions. It’s about projections. Some projections say we have until 2021, just 2 years until we blow past budget to 1.5C warming. All likely scenarios now require pulling vasts amount of carbon out of the air.

            Should organized human life not be possible, the warming from a cleaner sky will be drastic (read about global dimming). Who will build the nuclear reactors, or even maintain the current ones should that happen?

            1. 0

              That’s a very different claim, and still a very pessimistic one. Human life was possible in an ice age, I see no reason it would be impossible with average temperature 2C higher. It will certainly strain every government and society, but there’s a large distance between strain and extinction.

              1. 2

                I didn’t say anything about human extinction. I was talking about being in the 6th mass extinction. There has been a shocking 60% decline in animals, birds, and fish in just 44 years (1970-2014). The extinction rate is 100 to 1000x faster than normal.

                Soon there will virtually not be any animals left on the planet except the ones we domesticated. I literally live surrounded by trees and a forest in my backyard, and I haven’t seen all but a few birds and squirrels in the last year. The number of bugs is shockingly small (no flying insects, I leave the lights on all night around house).

                Now here is where I bring in my opinion. I believe the IPCC reports are conservative and there is lots of uncertainty with what will happen. It could be better, but it also could be worse. There will be a strain of government, society, and everything else…..including technological development. If it’s worse than predicted, At BEST we will probably enter a new dark ages (who will maintain the education and supply of scientists engineers to fabricate computers, when there will be challenges fabricating bread?).

                I think we should acknowledge the uncertainty. The climate is a dynamic system, which has a tipping point. Once the tipping point happens, the amount of energy to put the system back in the previous state will be a lot greater than it would have been to prevent the tipping point.. There are many guesses of when this will happen, some say it has already, some say in the next couple of years, some say in about 10-20. That’s a broad range of uncertainty that I don’t think anyone here should be comfortable with.

        1. 81

          I beg all my fellow crustaceans to please, please use Firefox. Not because you think it’s better, but because it needs our support. Technology only gets better with investment, and if we don’t invest in Firefox, we will lose the web to chrome.

          1. 59

            Not because you think it’s better

            But that certainly helps too. It is a great browser.

            • privacy stuff — the cookie container API for things like Facebook Container, built-in tracker blocker, various anti-fingerprinting things they’re backporting from the Tor Browser
            • honestly just the UI and the visual design! I strongly dislike the latest Chrome redesign >_<
            • nice devtools things — e.g. the CSS Grid inspector
            • more WebExtension APIs (nice example: only on Firefox can Signed Pages actually prevent the page from even loading when the signature check fails)
            • the fastest (IIRC) WASM engine (+ now in Nightly behind a pref: even better codegen backend based on Cranelift)
            • ongoing but already usable Wayland implementation (directly in the official tree now, not as a fork)
            • WebRender!!!
            1. 7

              On the other hand, WebSocket debugging (mostly frame inspection) is impossible in Firefox without an extension. I try not to install any extensions that I don’t absolutely need and Chrome has been treating me just fine in this regard[1].

              Whether or not I agree with Google’s direction is now a moot point. I need Chrome to do what I do with extensions.

              As soon as Firefox supports WebSocket debugging natively, I will be perfectly happy to switch.

              [1] I mostly oppose extensions because of questionable maintenance cycles. I allow uBlock and aXe because they have large communities backing them.

              1. 3

                Axe (https://www.deque.com/axe/) seems amazing. I know it wasn’t the focus of your post – but I somehow missed this when debugging an accessibility issue just recently, I wish I had stumbled onto it. Thanks!

                1. 1

                  You’re welcome!

                  At $work, we used aXe and NVDA to make our webcomponents AA compliant with WCAG. aXe was invaluable for things like contrast and missing role attributes.

                2. 3

                  WebSocket debugging (mostly frame inspection) is impossible in Firefox without an extension

                  Is it possible with an extension? I can’t seem to find one.

                  1. 1

                    I have never needed to debug WebSockets and see no reason for that functionality to bloat the basic browser for everybody. Too many extensions might not be a good thing but if you need specific functionality, there’s no reason to hold back. If it really bothers you, run separate profiles for web development and browsing. I have somewhat more than two extensions and haven’t had any problems.

                    1. 1

                      I do understand your sentiment, but the only extension that I see these days is marked “Experimental”.

                      On the other hand, I don’t see how it would “bloat” a browser very much. (Disclaimer: I have never written a browser or contributed to any. I am open to being proved wrong.) I have written a WebSockets library myself, and it’s not a complex protocol. It can’t be too expensive to update a UI element on every (websocket) frame.

                  2. 5

                    Yes! I don’t know about you, but I love the fact that Firefox uses so much less ram than chrome.

                    1. 2

                      This was one of the major reasons I stuck with FF for a long time. It is still a pronounced difference.

                    2. 3

                      honestly just the UI and the visual design! I strongly dislike the latest Chrome redesign >_<

                      Yeah, what’s the deal with the latest version of Chrome? All those bubbly menus feel very mid-2000’s. Everything old is new again.

                      1. 3

                        I found a way to go back to the old ui from https://www.c0ffee.net/blog/openbsd-on-a-laptop/ (it was posted here a few weeks ago):

                        Also, set the following in chrome://flags:

                        • Smooth Scrolling: (personal preference)
                        • UI Layout for the browser’s top chrome: set to “Normal” to get the classic Chromium look back
                        • Identity consistency between browser and cookie jar: set to “Disabled” to keep Google from hijacking any Google > - login to sign you into Chrome
                        • SafeSearch URLs reporting: disabled

                        (emphasis mine)

                      2. 1

                        The Wayland implementation is not usable quite yet, though, but it is close. I tried it under Sway, but it was crashy.

                        1. -3

                          Not really. Not to mention Pocked integration and recent vpn advertisement. Ah, and they have removed RSS support.

                          It’s just another product made by a for-profit corporation.

                          I think web got over-complicated. There are none usable truly independent browsers and probably will never be. It’s a read-only “opensource”.

                          1. 16

                            It’s just another product made by a for-profit corporation.

                            They (Mozilla) are actually a non-profit.

                            1. 2

                              There is also Mozilla corporation.

                              1. 12

                                …which is 100% owned by the Mozilla Foundation, and:

                                The Mozilla Corporation reinvests all of its profits back into the Mozilla projects.

                                Forming for-profit corporations is not uncommon for NGOs, because NGOs in many countries are severely legally limited in the amount of commercial activities they’re able to do.

                                1. 3

                                  Adding to that, funding FOSS software development is not considered 501(c)3-eligible in the US.

                            2. 5

                              I had the same impression with that over-complication of JS into ES6. CSS is also looking more like a programming language. HTTP/2 is now a binary protocol. So to have a modern web platform, you need to support all of these, and none are trivial anymore. On the other hand, I find it amazing to be able to do netwroking, audio, video, 3d and highly customizable user interfaces with (relatively) few efforts at a pretty good speed. As a platform for creativity and experimentation, it is without equivalent.

                              1. 2

                                without equivalent.

                                Java applets - done right?

                                1. 3

                                  Or Flash/Shockwave done openly and right?

                                  1. 4

                                    Both Java applets and Flash were actually more like trojan horses. See how Flash ( very good scenegraph at the time) became Air (ie. a tentative to take over the Web like Java) and thankfully died because Apple killed it with the iPhone. The intention was to run programs within a walled garden, not to interoperate with the Web at large. At least that’s how I read it.

                                    1. 4

                                      Good point on long-term risk. Do note I said Flash/Shockwave the tech. That was made by Macromedia, not Adobe. Macromedia was a company whose pricey tech was kick-ass but no attempt to be open or interoperate past maybe Dreamweaver. Catchy name many lay people could spell, too.

                                      I think Adobe acquiring them made me drop some F-bombs, sigh a bit, eye rolls, and so on. I knew there would be short-term improvements before the large company FUBARed its value over time. Apple’s position sealed its fate.

                                      1. 2

                                        Indeed, Macromedia had a much better stewardship than Adobe in this respect. What I find really ironic is that before the acquisition, Adobe was pushing SVG and SVG animations as an alternative to Flash, embracing and pushing the web standards. After the acquisition, everything stalled and it’s only with Apple creating the Canvas API and standardizing it through the newly created WHATWG that we started to catch up and be able to do so fast interactive graphics on the Web. What we lost, though, is one of the best tool to create vector animations with programmatic behaviour. One step ahead, two steps back some might say.

                                    2. 3

                                      I think the difference is that aplets and flash were supposed to extend the web experience, new technologies are replacing it. It’s convenient but dangerous as it promotes monoculture. I don’t know if there is a safe middle ground.

                                      1. 5

                                        There is a lot being lost with the death of Flash. It was amazingly lightweight when it started out. You can take that Homestar Runner e-mail and the original Flash, resize it to 4k, and it will still render correctly and sharply. You can’t do that when you export animation to YouTube at a set resolution. Not to mention all the games that were made in Flash that we’ll loose soon.

                                        Adobe really butchered all the Macromedia stuff when they acquired that company. It’s pretty sad.

                                2. 2

                                  What does “removes RSS support” mean? Was it possible to use it as a feed reader before?

                                  1. 3

                                    Yeah, it was called “Live Bookmarks” and basically made your RSS feed subs show up in your bookmarks bar (or accessible from a page). It actually looked really neat, but I only found about it when/because they removed it.

                                    1. 10

                                      “Live Bookmarks” still exist, in Firefox 63.0.3 released on Nov 15th, 2018. I use them. Go to any RSS feed in FF and they will pop up. I use them for multiple Discourse forums.

                                        1. 1

                                          Ah, sad times, thanks for the link!

                                    2. -1

                                      Sure, using live bookmarks and integrated reader. But RSS collided with the their new commercial and closed product namely Pocket.

                                      1. 4

                                        That’s not completely fair. I’m not sure if anything has happened yet, but Mozilla does have plans to open-source Pocket:

                                        As a result of this strategic acquisition, Pocket will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Mozilla Corporation and will become part of the Mozilla open source project.

                                3. 16

                                  I switched to Firefox last year, and I have to say I don’t miss Chrome in the slightest.

                                  1. 13

                                    And those with a little financial liberty, consider donating to Mozilla. They do a lot of important work free a free and open web.

                                    1. 10

                                      I recently came back to Firefox from Vivaldi. That’s another Chromium/Webkit based browser and it’s closed source to boot.

                                      Firefox has improved greatly in speed as of late and I feel like we’re back in the era of the mid-2000s, asking people to chose Firefox over Chrome this time instead of IE.

                                      1. 2

                                        I’d love to switch from Vivaldi, but it’s simply not an option given the current (terrible) state of vertical tab support in Firefox.

                                        1. 2

                                          How is it terrible? The hiding of the regular tab bar is not an API yet and you have to use CSS for that, sure, but there are some very good tree style tab webextensions.

                                          1. 2

                                            The extensions are all terrible – but what’s more important is that I lost the belief that any kind of vertical tab functionality has any chance of long-term survival. Even if support was added now, it would be a constant battle to keep it and I’m frankly not interested in such fights anymore.

                                            Mozilla is chasing their idealized “average user” and is determined to push everyone into their one-size-fits-all idea of user interface design – anyone not happy with that can screw off, if it was for Mozilla.

                                            It’s 2018 – I don’t see why I even have to argue for vertical tabs and mouse gestures anymore. I just pick a browser vendor which hasn’t been asleep on the wheel for the last 5 years and ships with these features out of the box.

                                            And if the web in the future ends up as some proprietary API defined by whatever Google Chrome implements, because Firefox went down, Mozilla has only itself to blame.

                                            1. 2

                                              The extensions are all terrible – but what’s more important is that I lost the belief that any kind of vertical tab functionality has any chance of long-term survival. Even if support was added now, it would be a constant battle to keep it and I’m frankly not interested in such fights anymore. The whole point of moving to WebExtensions was long term support. They couldn’t make significant changes without breaking a lot of the old extensions. The whole point was to unhook extensions from the internals so they can refactor around them and keep supporting them.

                                              1. 0

                                                That’s like a car manufacturer removing all electronics from a car – sure it makes the car easier to support … but now the car doesn’t even turn on anymore!

                                                Considering that cars are usually used for transportation, not for having them sit in the garage, you shouldn’t be surprised that customers buy other cars in the future.

                                                (And no, blaming “car enthusiasts” for having unrealistic expectations, like it happens in the case of browser users, doesn’t cut it.)

                                                1. 3

                                                  So you’d rather they didn’t improve it at all? Or would you rather they broke most extensions every release?

                                                  1. 3

                                                    I’m not @soc, but I wish Firefox had delayed their disabling of old-style extensions in Firefox 57 until they had replicated more of the old functionality with the WebExtensions API – mainly functionality related to interface customization, tabs, and sessions.

                                                    Yes, during the time of that delay, old-style extensions would continue to break with each release, but the maintainers of Tree Style Tabs and other powerful extensions had already been keeping up with each release by releasing fixed versions. They probably could have continued updating their extensions until WebExtensions supported their required functionality. And some users might prefer to run slightly-buggy older extensions for a bit instead of switching to the feature-lacking new extensions straight away – they should have that choice.

                                                    1. 1

                                                      What’s the improvement? The new API was so bad that they literally had to pull the plug on the existing API to force extension authors to migrate. That just doesn’t happen in cases where the API is “good”, developers are usually eager to adopt them and migrate their code.

                                                      Let’s not accuse people you disagree with that they are “against improvements” – it’s just that the improvements have to actually exist, and in this case the API clearly wasn’t ready. This whole fiasco feels like another instance of CADT-driven development and the failure of management to reign in on it.

                                                      1. 3

                                                        The old extension API provided direct access to the JavaScript context of both the chrome and the tab within a single thread, so installing an XUL extension was disabling multiprocess mode. Multiprocess mode seems like an improvement; in old Firefox, a misbehaving piece of JavaScript would lock up the browser for about a second before eventually popping up a dialog offering to kill it, whereas in a multiprocess browser, it should be possible to switch and close tabs no matter what the web page inside does. The fact that nobody notices when it works correctly seems to make it the opposite of Attention-Deficient-Driven-Design; it’s the “focus on quality of implementation, even at the expense of features” design that we should be encouraging.

                                                        The logical alternative to “WebExtension For The Future(tm)” would’ve been to just expose all of the relevant threads of execution directly to the XUL extensions. run-this-in-the-chome.xul and run-this-in-every-tab.xul and message pass between them. But at that point, we’re talking about having three different extension APIs in Firefox.

                                                        Which isn’t to say that I think you’re against improvement. I am saying that you’re thinking too much like a developer, and not enough like the poor sod who has to do QA and Support triage.

                                                        1. 2

                                                          Improving the actual core of Firefox. They’re basically ripping out and replacing large components every other release. This would break large amount of plugins constantly. Hell, plugins wouldn’t even work in Nightly. I do agree with @roryokane that they should have tried to improve it before cutting support. The new API is definitely missing many things but it was the right decision to make for the long term stability of Firefox.

                                                          1. 1

                                                            They could have made the decision to ax the old API after extension authors adopted it. That adoption failed so hard that they had to force developers to use the new API speaks for itself.

                                                            I’d rather have extension that I have to fix from time to time, than no working extensions at all.

                                                  2. 1

                                                    Why should Mozilla care that much about your niche use case? They already have a ton of stuff to deal with and barely enough funding.

                                                    It’s open source, make your own VerticalTabFox fork :)

                                                    1. 3

                                                      Eh … WAT? Mozilla went the extra mile with their recent extension API changes to make things – that worked before – impossible to implement with a recent Firefox version. The current state of tab extensions is this terrible, because Mozilla explicitly made it this way.

                                                      I used Firefox for more than 15 years – the only thing I wanted was to be left alone.

                                                      It’s open source, make your own VerticalTabFox fork :)

                                                      Feel free to read my comment above to understand why that doesn’t cut it.

                                                      Also, Stuff that works >> open source. Sincerely, a happy Vivaldi user.

                                                      1. 2

                                                        It’s one of the laws of the internet at this point: Every thread about Firefox is always bound to attract someone complaining about WebExtensions not supporting their pet feature that was possible with the awful and insecure old extension system.

                                                        If you’re care about “non terrible” (whatever that means — Tree Style Tab looks perfect to me) vertical tabs more than anything — sure, use a browser that has them.

                                                        But you seem really convinced that Firefox could “go down” because of not supporting these relatively obscure power user features well?? The “average user” they’re “chasing” is not “idealized”. The actual vast majority of people do not choose browsers based on vertical tabs and mouse gestures. 50% of Firefox users do not have a single extension installed, according to telemetry. The majority of the other 50% probably only have an ad blocker.

                                                        1. 3

                                                          If you’re care about “non terrible” (whatever that means — Tree Style Tab looks perfect to me) vertical tabs more than anything — sure, use a browser that has them.

                                                          If you compare the current state of the art of vertical tabs extensions, even Mozilla thinks they suck – just compare them to their own Tab Center experiment: https://testpilot.firefox.com/static/images/experiments/tab-center/details/tab-center-1.1957e169.jpg

                                                          Picking just one example: Having the navigation bar at a higher level of the visual hierarchy is just wrong – the tab panel isn’t owned by the navigation bar, the navigation bar belongs to a specific tab! Needless to say, all of the vertical tab extensions are forced to be wrong, because they lack the API do implement the UI correctly.

                                                          This is how my browser currently looks like, for comparison: https://i.imgur.com/5dTX8Do.png

                                                          But you seem really convinced that Firefox could “go down” because of not supporting these relatively obscure power user features well?? The “average user” they’re “chasing” is not “idealized”. The actual vast majority of people do not choose browsers based on vertical tabs and mouse gestures. 50% of Firefox users do not have a single extension installed, according to telemetry. The majority of the other 50% probably only have an ad blocker.

                                                          You can only go so far alienating the most loyal users that use Firefox for specific purposes until the stop installing/recommending it to their less technically-inclined friends and relatives.

                                                          Mozilla is so busy chasing after Chrome that it doesn’t even realize that most Chrome users will never switch. They use Chrome because “the internet” (www.google.com) told them so. As long as Mozilla can’t make Google recommend Firefox on their frontpage, this will not change.

                                                          Discarding their most loyal users while trying to get people to adopt Firefox who simply aren’t interested – this is a recipe for disaster.

                                                      2. 1

                                                        and barely enough funding

                                                        Last I checked they pulled in half a billion in revenue (2016). Do you believe this is barely enough?

                                                        1. 2

                                                          For hundreds of millions users?

                                                          Yeah.

                                                    2. 1

                                                      At least with multi-row tabs in CSS you can’t dragndrop tabs. That’s about as bad as it gets.

                                                    3. 2

                                                      Are vertical tabs so essential?

                                                      1. 3

                                                        Considering the change in screen ratios over the past ten years (displays get shorter and wider), yes, it absolutely is.

                                                        With vertical tabs I can get almost 30 full-width tabs on screen, with horizontal tabs I can start fishing for the right tab after about 15, as the tab width gets increasingly smaller.

                                                        Additionally, vertical tabs reduce the way of travel substantially when selecting a different tab.

                                                        1. 1

                                                          I still miss them, didn’t cripple me, but really hurt. The other thing about Tree (not just vertical) tabs that FF used to have was that the subtree was contextual to the parent tree. So, when you opened a link in a background tab, it was opened in a new tab that was a child of your current tab. For doing like documentation hunting / research it was amazing and I still haven’t found its peer.

                                                      2. 1

                                                        It’s at least partially open source. They provide tarballs.

                                                        1. 4

                                                          https://help.vivaldi.com/article/is-vivaldi-open-source/

                                                          The chromium part is legally required to be open, the rest of their code is like readable source, don’t get me wrong that’s way better than unreadable source but it’s also very wut.

                                                          1. 2

                                                            Very wut. It’s a weird uneasy mix.

                                                            1. 1

                                                              that’s way better than unreadable source but it’s also very wut.

                                                              I wouldn’t be sure of that. It makes it auditable, but has legal ramifications should you want to build something like vivaldi, but free.

                                                        2. 8

                                                          firefox does not get better with investment, it gets worse.

                                                          the real solution is to use netsurf or dillo or mothra, so that webmasters have to come to us and write websites that work with browsers that are simple enough to be independently maintained.

                                                          1. 9

                                                            Good luck getting more than 1‰ adoption 😉

                                                            1. 5

                                                              good luck achieving independence from Google by using a browser funded by Google

                                                              1. 1

                                                                I can achieve independence from Google without using netsurf, dillo, or mothra; to be quite honest, those will never catch on.

                                                                1. 2

                                                                  can you achieve independence from google in a way that will catch on?

                                                                  1. 1

                                                                    I don’t think we’ll ever get the majority of browser share back into the hands of a (relatively) sane organization like Mozilla—but we can at least get enough people to make supporting alternative browsers a priority. On the other hand, the chances that web devs will ever feel pressured to support the browsers you mentioned, is close to nil. (No pun intended.)

                                                                    1. 0

                                                                      what is the value of having an alternative, if that alternative is funded by google and sends data to google by default?

                                                                      1. 1

                                                                        what is the value of having an alternative

                                                                        What would you like me to say, that Firefox’s existence is worthless? This is an absurd thing to insinuate.

                                                                        funded by google

                                                                        No. I’m not sure whether you’re speaking in hyperbole, misunderstood what I was saying, and/or altogether skipped reading what I wrote. But this is just not correct. If Google really had Mozilla by the balls as you suggest, they would coerce them to stop adding privacy features to their browser that, e.g., block Google Analytics on all sites.

                                                                        sends data to google by default

                                                                        Yes, though it seems they’ve been as careful as one could be about this. Also to be fair, if you’re browsing with DNT off, you’re likely to get tracked by Google at some point anyway. But the fact that extensions can’t block this does have me worried.

                                                                        1. 1

                                                                          i’m sorry if i misread something you wrote. i’m just curious what benefit you expect to gain if more people start using firefox. if everyone switched to firefox, google could simply tighten their control over mozilla (continuing the trend of the past 10 years), and they would still have control over how people access the web.

                                                                          1. 1

                                                                            It seems you’re using “control” in a very abstract sense, and I’m having trouble following. Maybe I’m just missing some context, but what concrete actions have Google taken over the past decade to control the whole of Mozilla?

                                                                            1. 1

                                                                              Google has pushed through complex standards such as HTTP/2 and new rendering behaviors, which Mozilla implements in order to not “fall behind.” They are able implement and maintain such complexity due to funding they receive from Google, including their deal to make Google the default search engine in Firefox (as I said earlier, I couldn’t find any breakdown of what % of Mozilla’s funding comes from Google).

                                                                              For evidence of the influence this funding has, compare the existence of Mozilla’s Facebook Container to the non-existence of a Google Container.

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                what % of Mozilla’s funding comes from Google

                                                                                No word on the exact breakdown. Visit their 2017 report and scroll all the way to the bottom, and you’ll get a couple of helpful links. One of them is to a wiki page that describes exactly what each search engine gets in return for their investment.

                                                                                I would also like to know the exact breakdown, but I’d expect all those companies would get a little testy if the exact amount were disclosed. And anyway, we know what the lump sum is (around half a billion), and we can assume that most of it comes from Google.

                                                                                the non-existence of a Google Container

                                                                                They certainly haven’t made one themselves, but there’s nothing stopping others from forking one off! And anyway, I think it’s more so fear on Mozilla’s part than any concrete warning from Google against doing so.

                                                                                Perhaps this is naïveté on my part, but I really do think Google just want their search engine to be the default for Firefox. In any case, if they really wanted to exert their dominance over the browser field, they could always just… you know… stop funding Mozilla. Remember: Google is in the “web market” first & the “software market” second. Having browser dominance is just one of many means to the same end. I believe their continued funding of Mozilla attests to that.

                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                  It doesn’t have to be a direct threat from Google to make a difference. Direct threats are a very narrow way in which power operates and there’s no reason that should be the only type of control we care about.

                                                                                  Yes Google’s goal of dominating the browser market is secondary to their goal of dominating the web. Then we agree that Google’s funding of Firefox is in keeping with their long-term goal of web dominance.

                                                                                  if they really wanted to exert their dominance over the browser field, they could always just… you know… stop funding Mozilla.

                                                                                  Likewise, if Firefox was a threat to their primary goal of web dominance, they could stop funding Mozilla. So doesn’t it stand to reason that using Firefox is not an effective way to resist Google’s web dominance? At least Google doesn’t think so.

                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                    Likewise, if Firefox was a threat to their primary goal of web dominance, they could stop funding Mozilla. So doesn’t it stand to reason that using Firefox is not an effective way to resist Google’s web dominance?

                                                                                    You make some good points, but you’re ultimately using the language of a “black or white” argument here. In my view, if Google were to stop funding Mozilla they would still have other sponsors. And that’s not to mention the huge wave this would make in the press—even if most people don’t use Firefox, they’re at least aware of it. In a strange sense, Google cannot afford to stop funding Mozilla. If they do, they lose their influence over the Firefox project and get huge backlash.

                                                                                    I think this is something the Mozilla organization were well aware of when they made the decision to accept search engines as a funding source. They made themselves the center of attention, something to be competed over. And in so doing, they ensured their longevity, even as Google’s influence continued to grow.

                                                                                    Of course this has negative side effects, such as companies like Google having influence over them. But in this day & age, the game is no longer to be free of influence from Google; that’s Round 2. Round 1 is to achieve enough usage to exert influence on what technologies are actually adopted. In that sense, Mozilla is at the discussion table, while netsurf, dillo, and mothra (as much as I’d love to love them) are not and likely never will be.

                                                              2. 3

                                                                Just switch to Gopher.

                                                                1. 5

                                                                  Just switch to Gopher

                                                                  I know you were joking, but I do feel like there is something to be said for the simplicity of systems like gopher. The web is so complicated nowadays that building a fully functional web browser requires software engineering on a grand scale.

                                                                  1. 3

                                                                    yeah. i miss when the web was simpler.

                                                                    1. 1

                                                                      I was partially joking. I know there are new ActivityPub tools like Pleroma that support Gopher and I’ve though about adding support to generate/server gopher content for my own blog. I realize it’s still kinda a joke within the community, but you’re right about there being something simple about just having content without all the noise.

                                                                2. 1

                                                                  Unless more than (rounded) 0% of people use it for Facebook, it won’t make a large enough blip for people to care. Also this is how IE was dominant, because so much only worked for them.

                                                                  1. 1

                                                                    yes, it would require masses of people. and yes it won’t happen, which is why the web is lost.

                                                                3. 2

                                                                  I’ve relatively recently switched to FF, but still use Chrome for web dev. The dev tools still seem quite more advanced and the browser is much less likely to lock up completely if I have a JS issue that’s chewing CPU.

                                                                  1. 2

                                                                    I tried to use Firefox on my desktop. It was okay, not any better or worse than Chrome for casual browsing apart from private browsing Not Working The Way It Should relative to Chrome (certain cookies didn’t work across tabs in the same Firefox private window). I’d actually want to use Firefox if this was my entire Firefox experience.

                                                                    I tried to use Firefox on my laptop. Site icons from bookmarks don’t sync for whatever reason (I looked up the ticket and it seems to be a policy problem where the perfect is the enemy of the kinda good enough), but it’s just a minor annoyance. The laptop is also pretty old and for that or whatever reason has hardware accelerated video decoding blacklisted in Firefox with no way to turn it back on (it used to work a few years ago with Firefox until it didn’t), so I can’t even play 720p YouTube videos at an acceptable framerate and noise level.

                                                                    I tried to use Firefox on my Android phone. Bookmarks were completely useless with no way to organize them. I couldn’t even organize on a desktop Firefox and sync them over to the phone since they just came out in some random order with no way to sort them alphabetically. There was also something buggy with the history where clearing history didn’t quite clear history (pages didn’t show up in history, but links remained colored as visited if I opened the page again) unless I also exited the app, but I don’t remember the details exactly. At least I could use UBO.

                                                                    This was all within the last month. I used to use Firefox before I used Chrome, but Chrome just works right now.

                                                                    1. 6

                                                                      I definitely understand that Chrome works better for many users and you gave some good examples of where firefox fails. My point was that people need to use and support firefox despite it being worse than chrome in many ways. I’m asking people to make sacrifices by taking a principled position. I also recognize most users might not do that, but certainly, tech people might!? But maybe I’m wrong here, maybe the new kids don’t care about an open internet.

                                                                    1. 15

                                                                      I don’t use Linux, I use GNU, and i don’t use GNU for technical reasons. Picking GNU is like picking a punk band over rock and roll (Windows), pop (Mac), or folk/country (BSD).

                                                                      1. 18

                                                                        I hurd you.

                                                                        1. 7

                                                                          I hope that makes OpenBSD (puffer)phish.

                                                                        1. 5

                                                                          C++ was not my first language, but it was my second. I taught myself programming when I was 11 and C++ at 13. I learned it just as the first standard was created in 1998.

                                                                          Thanks to the new standards, it’s arguably much easier to learn now then when I did it.

                                                                          A great language to learn for beginners is Smalltalk, but it will spoil them because the environment is so complete.

                                                                          1. 9

                                                                            Having high standards and expectations of your tools is a good thing. It forces them to become stronger.

                                                                            1. 1

                                                                              Thanks to the new standards, it’s arguably much easier to learn now then when I did it.

                                                                              I suspect this will depend a lot on how good your teacher is. If your teacher knows ‘modern C++’[1] and provides plenty of guidance to keep you using the good bits, you might be ok. If you’re largely abandoned to explore the language yourself, who knows what horrors you’ll dredge up without knowing. This is a big problem with C++: by maintaining backwards compatibility, it can never actually escape its past.

                                                                              [1] I understand there are plenty of people in academia still teaching programming languages as they learnt them decades ago.

                                                                            1. 12

                                                                              It’s a lost cause on politics, friendlysock. The vast majority of votes in most threads favor political activism in both submissions and comments. They also favor a specific kind of leftist politics over others with consistent responses, positive and negative, over about a year. The recent thread prioritized political action, up to pushing a person to quit their job, over the technical content by around 6 to 1 votes when I last looked. Situation is similar for others. Also, low-content, political comments get more support at times than high-content, technical comments.

                                                                              Conclusion: the Lobsters community isn’t what it was when you wrote What Lobsters Is and Isnt. It is now a community that prioritizes leftist, political activism over all other activities with a small, chunk of dissenters. It’s also a link aggregator whose content is a mix of that, stuff in your Is list, and stuff in your Isnt list. It’s dishonest to say anything else that doesnt reflect what majority of voting users promote and commenters do here.

                                                                              Ill be updating my description of the site in near future to match its current mix of deep tech, HN/Reddit-like news, and leftist activism. Im also going to stop all poitical comments counter to that leftist style of politics since the dominant group has consensus that they’re not welcome here and therefore too low-impact to matter. I will note they weren’t censored: a strength of Lobsters’ moderation. Ill only comment like that further where it impacted or is aimed at me. I might also modify my submissions to reflect this community’s priorities putting the others somewhere else (eg a blog). I’ll note the changes in my profile so people in Lobsters’ minority, folks like us, can still follow that stuff if they choose.

                                                                              I’ll probably start the process next year since November and December are so busy for me. I have some other ideas that might improve things further for both political opponents and minority folks (esp anti-politics for Lobsters). I think 2019 will be an interesting time for Lobsters.

                                                                              1. 9

                                                                                Im also going to stop all poitical comments counter to that leftist style of politics since the dominant group has consensus that they’re not welcome here and therefore too low-impact to matter.

                                                                                I don’t think this is true, especially since you are the one of the few who call out the inconsistencies when you see them. The marginal value is especially important when there are few, going down from 5-4-3-2-1 against the endless horde of leftist posturing and virtue signaling makes every step the more damaging to reasons and honesty.

                                                                                The reasoning that the dominant group has consensus isn’t even an argument in my mind. To follow this line of reasoning, one should only voice one’s opinions, or the truths if they agree with the consensus view. That is clearly a bad place to be in.

                                                                                At the end of the day ethical questions will always be more relevant and more voted on. Because it impacts everyone, while technical issue can be both beyond your grasp (i.e. you don’t know enough about this particular tech to talk about it) or simply boring. Add to that the highly emotionally charged nature of ethics and politics, we shouldn’t really count number of votes and comments as to be metric by which to value opinions and discussions. I’m not going to stop speaking English because there are 15 billions or however many Chinese speakers (in some timeline).

                                                                                1. 6

                                                                                  Thanks for the encouragement. Especially from someone who doesn’t back down on their own politics in this space. I agree with most of your comment. I’m even continuing to do the dissent in places where it counts (aka mostly real life). I’m just cutting it off for Lobsters. Maybe most of these online forums with low numbers of people with leftist activists in control. Which they definitely are now.

                                                                                  You see, your post presumes two things: this is a place for actual, political discussion; the old Lobsters is worth fighting for. I disagree with both with the 2nd following from the 1st.

                                                                                  The site was a low-noise, technical site with occasional, political scuffles. The first meta where I put strong arguments for no politics or free speech had a huge number of people supporting my position. They were both putting time in with arguments (most important) and upvoting (peripherally important). There were many people on opposing side, too. Their side wanted specific kind of politics in every thread, mostly downvotes/insults anyone that disagrees (some were nice), and occasionally some would want a CoC that would let them ban dissent(ers).

                                                                                  During and after the mass invite, the people in the leftist activist crowd invited a lot more people. As I fought their false claims and demands for no dissent, more people on no politics and free speech sides droppped off in both comments and votes. Seeing patterns from other sites, they decided that Lobsters would be politically dominated and not worth further investment. Some for just politics, others for whole site. Eventually, we had a moderator and admin with similar beliefs as the crowd with most mindshare. Add to that some long-running members were telling them they’d quit Lobsters if (a) politics wasn’t allowed everywhere or (b) it became “like HN, Reddit, etc.” by allowing non-left folks to post their own links those leftist abhorred. What hypocrisy if goal is actual, political discussion and evolution. That overall combination sealed the fate of the technically-focused, less-political Lobsters.

                                                                                  Now, that site is gone. Look at the current vote counts and moderator statements on various positions here. Still consistent with my claim it’s changed. Now, if that is the environment, next question is, “Is political action worth effort?” Prior conversations indicate these people are not here for discussion. Their type of politics believes they’re already correct about the fundamentals (a religion), that people are getting harmed (mostly imagined) by every dissenting statement/action, and their moral imperative is to convert everyone to their beliefs to reduce that harm and promote the good they believe in. They’re evangelists, not philosophers or conversationalists, at least when it’s about politics. That kind of view is also why they act like a mob on anyone disagreeing even with civil posts, often with accusations of harm or discrimination. You’ll also see them throw low-effort comments while people like me in outgroup wanting actual discussion might put 30 min into making ours thoughtful and civil. That was really draining. Which was the goal, deterrence of dissent, which worked since the numbers shifted with high participation from people with their beliefs but almost zero participation from those of us with alternative beliefs.

                                                                                  Conclusion: the political aspects of Lobsters are now an echo chamber for a specific kind of politics with everything else to be heavily penalized and shunned. Most of their action is virtue signaling and/or outgroup shaming since it achieves nothing in the real world toward their goals. The actual, political discussion they intend is among people in their group evangelizing their beliefs, hashing out differences they tolerate within parameters of shared beliefs, developing plans for increasing conformance in more spaces (online/offline), and so on. Although for some it’s intentional, others seem to be just going with the flow since that’s what they believe. After increasing participation by non-leftist-activist Lobsters, turning the site around would require changing the beliefs of one moderator, maybe the admin, and maybe 40-80 voters based on last action I saw. Then, Lobsters would immediately loose key members who will quit on political grounds. The people you’re convincing value those members, too. So, that’s a monumental effort to either get politics off Lobsters or shove it into dedicated, political threads. It’s possible the latter happens as a compromise without monumental effort but I’m not holding my breath: admin probably won’t do something that makes the people who will quit follow through with their promise.

                                                                                  Conclusion 2: If I’m not extremely busy, you’ll see it by 2019. Meanwhile, I’ll be done discussing politics after a transition since Lobsters isn’t a site for political discussion: it’s a leftist-activist site dedicated to evangelizing their politics and correcting non-conformance while also enjoying reading and commenting on some technical stuff. There’s a dissenting group doing other things. They’re not in control or increasing in number, though. Do what you want on your end. Just know you’re doing it in a church expecting religious renouncement rather than a political conversation expecting evolution of thought.

                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                    yeah, you convinced me.

                                                                                2. 8

                                                                                  There are a string of sites that I’ve abandoned (Tumblr, Twitter, HN, Reddit) for similar reasons that you outline. Up until relatively recently, Lobste.rs. seemed to be a sane corner of the internet where most discussions could take place without devolving into moral posturing.

                                                                                  I’m unsure if ceding the territory to the hyper-political is the right answer. From a mental health perspective it certainly is, but from of societal perspective it appears to just lead to more isolation and polarization.

                                                                                  1. 7

                                                                                    The admin and one moderator support what I describe along with most of voters in those threads and comments. It’s already done. The environment is fixed to that situation at the moment. We have to integrate with or reject that situation. There’s at least two choices:

                                                                                    1. Ignore the politics to focus on the technical content.

                                                                                    2. Contribute to the politics to further the goals of the new, community politics while improving one’s standing in it. This will reinforce the current situation with that type of politics and focus going up from here.

                                                                                    I’m doing 1 for now after this thread unless pulled into a discussion. I’ll be doing some of 2 due to overlap between their and my politics in terms of benefiting people. Thinking about various possibilities. Retreating from political discussion in a place where it goes nowhere outside specific groups’ beliefs and practices, the community’s majority position, makes the most sense just purely on an effort/impact basis. There were some great moments that came out of all that work, though. I won’t forget them.

                                                                                  2. 10

                                                                                    For what it’s worth, I really appreciate your comments about security and building things that are reliable. I’ve learned a lot from your comments, and I hope to learn more in the future.

                                                                                    It’s pretty taxing for me personally to read your posts that go into politics. In my reading, your tone changes pretty dramatically from the endless-well of experience and good-natured sharing of knowledge to a more condescending, defensive one.

                                                                                    Things are more politically interesting than they were when I found this site a few years ago. Things are less stable, and we are in an increased state of conflict. Conflicts on this scale will permeate more and more of our lives until they are resolved. To the extent that this is a space of low-friction discourse, the conflict will act itself out when two sides decide to play the game. People are saying “oh, isn’t it such a bad thing that the palantir OP couldn’t respond to the top comment?” but It’s not. They chose not to play that particular game. I think you’re right to identify that your conflicts are those of your choosing.

                                                                                    1. 13

                                                                                      “For what it’s worth, I really appreciate your comments about security and building things that are reliable. I’ve learned a lot from your comments, and I hope to learn more in the future.”

                                                                                      Thank you! I’ll stay at it!

                                                                                      “It’s pretty taxing for me personally to read your posts that go into politics” … “to a more condescending, defensive one.”

                                                                                      I appreciate your honesty. Given you bring it up, I figure I’ll explain one last time unless asked again. I can at least tell you where that defensiveness comes from that ties into Lobsters in at least two, major ways:

                                                                                      1. Black students and administrators at a black school with similar beliefs and practices, esp disagreement = offense or personal attack, used them to justify silencing, shouting at, slandering, and physically beating white students on a daily basis. I endured this for years like other whites did at every black school I asked about. I got PTSD from the effects of beatings, esp having to see them coming from a mere glance. They simultaneously talked up our privilege, their oppression, and so on despite them having all the advantages and power which they used to hurt us. That led almost all white students (except a few like me) to believe similar stories in media were lies perpetuated by an aggressive race of people. The few, really-good students and teachers plus me wanting to get along kept me non-racist (biased at worst). Liberals of Lobsters’ type and blacks told me from then onto today that structural oppression against whites doesn’t exist, our claims don’t matter, and/or just perpetuate “real” racism against minorities. So, the psychological damage, PTSD cases, discrimination, and resulting racism among white victims will continue until such systematic racism against whites is exposed, squashed where possible, and sympathy extended to victims rather than denial of their existence. People said same stuff here, too, so I fought it for a while. One that switched positions floored me: it’s so, so, so rare.

                                                                                      2. Prior threads where I expressed civil disagreement with examples got me hit with personal attacks and people that misrepresented my comments on purpose. There were usually many of them at once with some having high upvotes. When a non-leftist or non-PC-leftist did that, they’d usually get slammed by the same people talking about comment quality and inclusiveness should stay up before the comment was collapsed. That difference happened a lot. Knowing there’s people watching with intent to do that either creates a chilling effect or increases agitation/resolve in most people who sense it. Even greater in me since I grew up in a murder capital with micro and overt aggression making me optimized to react fast and hard to it. I’m still so toned down compared to how folks in Mid-South, esp minority members, usually respond to personal insults tied into politics, esp racial. For the rest here, it was largely a chilling effect: many people contacted me over time after Lobsters got super-political saying they didn’t feel safe voting or commenting on political stuff since they thought they’d loose their account. A few thanked me for representing dissenting opinions. Some left.

                                                                                      Put those two together and I was still getting personal attacks, I got a little defensive when talking about the same things with the same people. It’s only natural even though I hate it had to be painful experience for onlookers who weren’t involved in such behavior. I should mention that some people here put in a lot of effort to be civil. A few even would message me links helping me understand their side of things. @pushcx and @Irene particularly handled lots of tough situations well: their responses prioritized civil discussion, tolerance of dissent, and remedial action wherever possible. The political discussions (and battles) taught me which Lobsters had good to outstanding character in difficult situations. I’ll remember them in the future if opportunities knock.

                                                                                      This is all historical, though, since I’ll be done with my form of politics on this site soon or by the end of the year. Could be a few more discussions left since there’s ongoing meta and transitional effects I might not see coming. I’m minimizing it, though, while still posting those security and reliability papers/tips yall love. We have a great, little, security/verification community here with folks good at theory, some at practice, and some that do both. Gotta keep building that up on top of other communities. There’s possibilities to bring in more experienced and CompSci people in things like UI/UX that are highly important, but get less attention.

                                                                                    2. 10

                                                                                      “Leftist political activism” is a weird way to characterize caring about our social milieu.

                                                                                      That said, I’ve seen a lack of engagement by those with contrary political views, other than to bemoan talking about any issue that isn’t narrowly technical.

                                                                                      1. 9

                                                                                        The highest-voted, leftist views are about what constitutes racism/sexism, transgender identity, political correctness with language policing, focus on inclusive behavior prioritizing non-whites/males, and telling people to quit Palantir (but not Google or Apple/Foxconn). These kind of views are most dominant in terms of upvotes and replies. When described, most people say leftist, social justice, and so on.

                                                                                        I’m open to other phrases so long as the label will indicate most or all of the above to a centrist, conservative, or other person that doesn’t closely follow such politics.

                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                          I would disagree with you on one premise. There are hardly any “leftist views” here. I would classify most of them as “right of center but not too right”. The discourse has gone so far right in the last 30 years, that fairly conservative views of old are now “leftist”. I would argue that most conservatives wouldn’t be able to identify leftist views. In fact, I find most conservatives are pretty comfortable with some of them. The ideals of freedom were often historically leftist ideas, for example. It’s pretty surprising to most Republicans that Lincoln corresponded and read Marx, and that communists joined the Republican party early on instead of creating their own. History is easily forgotten, especially in the tech world.

                                                                                          1. 5

                                                                                            This is a semantic argument. I’m sure if you go back long enough white means black or w/e.

                                                                                            Right now leftists are interested in what was described.

                                                                                            1. 0

                                                                                              It is a semantic argument, with substantial differences in perspective on how its decided. I happen to agree with mempko, there are hardly any leftist views here, either in an economic or cultural sense. Being of the left isn’t a free for all, it has very real and substantial poles around which it organizes its ideology, and I was actually taken aback to see mempko’s comment given that I agreed and usually (almost always actually) I feel very much alone in settings like this. Just because someone supports, say, civil rights does not necessarily make them of the left. Same I might add for gender issues.

                                                                                            2. 2

                                                                                              Of Democrats and Liberals in U.S., a huge chunk of them push these views. Some don’t. No Republicans or Conservatives do that I’m aware of at least for these contexts. It would be pretty fringe. The Democrats and Liberals are Leftists or Left-leaning. Therefore, they’re Leftist Views at least to Americans.

                                                                                              The situation might be different to people outside of America. The Europeans on both Hacker News and Lobsters sometimes have interesting comments about what’s called socialist here vs over there.

                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                It’s true that Europeans have different ideas of what leftist views are. But this is because Europeans still have a large base of leftists in the public sphere. But what I’m saying is that even by American standards, someone like Bernie Sanders would have been a moderate republican 50 years ago. That shift to the right has been so dramatic that people believe Democrats are “leftist”, when historically in America they are clearly right of center. 50 years of propaganda does a lot to change public views.

                                                                                                So yes, you are right to say Democrats are “leftist” because that’s what convention says they are. But this almost blinds people to actual leftist views.

                                                                                                I also think the newest generation will once again change what that means.

                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                  That all makes sense. I have to use the current terms since that’s what everone is using. It enables wider understanding.

                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                    My issue with a lot of conservatives is that they use the term “leftist” as a derogatory term. Which is sad because a lot of leftist ideas should appeal to conservatives. It’s almost as though words have the opposite meaning in the US as they do in the rest of the world. For example, the word Libertarian used to be synonymous with anarchist, and anarchists are strictly hardcore leftists. I feel the words “conservative” is similar now because to me a lot of modern conservative views are pretty extreme. I think conservatives have a lot in common with real leftists if they look closely. Many conservative talking points are basically Marxist! For example, the idea that you should be paid what you are worth. The ideas of freedom and individuality. Many leftists are against some Liberal ideas like cultural relativism. I’m sorry but genital mutilation is wrong.

                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                      I agree again that lots of groups are more similar than different in some ways and their classification changed over time.

                                                                                                      Ill add to you first line that liberals bash conservatives incessantly in every forum I see, including here. It’s impossible for most of them to have a real, political discussion if things are that antagonistic. There’s a few of us doing actual discussion here now. Most threw votes for or against on reflex to push their views with the least participation and communication possible. People, esp on HN and Lobsters, have constantly reminded me it’s part of human nature (tribal instincts).

                                                                                                      So, folks have to confront that part, say “it’s about us, too, not just them,” constantly read other side’s views/evidence, and constantly re-assess. Most important, they have to learn to fight the instinct to attack the other side in discussions. Second that happens, it becomes an emotional fight where rational arguments have no effect. If folks keep at that, they’re just bullying and dominating, not doing discussion.

                                                                                                      I appreciate you mostly staying on actual, civil discussion in our conversations despite our beliefs being far apart. I always enjoyed them even if they got stressful. I still appreciate at least one person sets standard for science on improving people’s potential/happiness even though my view is more pessimistic. ;)

                                                                                          2. 6

                                                                                            “Caring about our social milieu” is a weird way to characterize leftist political activism.

                                                                                            I’ve seen a lack of engagement by those with contrary political views, other than to bemoan talking about any issue that isn’t narrowly technical.

                                                                                            That’s pretty consistent, wouldn’t you say? Though “bemoan” is a rather impolite way of putting it.

                                                                                            (edit: on second reading, the post I’m replying to is actually some sort of low-key insult. disgusting.)

                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                              That said, I’ve seen a lack of engagement by those with contrary political views, other than to bemoan talking about any issue that isn’t narrowly technical.

                                                                                              I don’t hold particularly contrary political views, but I have to wonder if you’d actually welcome this kind of discussion from people with opposing political views, varying views on ethics, and similar?

                                                                                              1. 0

                                                                                                Why not?

                                                                                            2. 0

                                                                                              Your comments in that thread were not ‘counter to leftwing activism’. They were counter to common decency. You accused someone of being a hypocrite with no basis whatsoever.

                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                              This seems to be in Basque. The website claims there’s an English version but the page at the other end of the link is mostly blank :(

                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                oh weird. I read the English version and thought I linked to it! Now I can’t find it. WTF.

                                                                                              1. 49

                                                                                                I find this oft-seen sense of wonder about lobste.rs drifting away from people’s ideas of what it should be, and the appeal to lobste.rs being a website only about technology, with absolutely every non-technical element of discussion being off-topic, a bit tiresome.

                                                                                                Lobste.rs appealed to me – and a lot of the people I know – because of its focus on technical content, not the exclusivity of the comments to technical discourse. I don’t think discussions on ethics get you on n-gate: reinventing bad technology and misunderstanding good technology while drinking the Silicon Valley kool-aid might, and those are all things this community fairly successfully avoided.

                                                                                                If the vast majority of people here do feel it’s worthwhile to discuss technology in complete isolation from its effects on the outside world, that’s fair game, as much as it might make no sense to me whatsoever, and as much as I might not want to have any part in that. In that case, though, I’m guilty of a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of the website, and I believe this should be communicated and enforced far more explicitly, because the community obviously won’t “police” itself into it on its own.

                                                                                                1. 4

                                                                                                  What I love about your response is that it brings up some radical questions. What makes good technology? How can I, as a professional, dig deep to have creative solutions? Should I be problem solving, or problem finding?

                                                                                                  Turns out people really like their information bubbles. They are comfortable. Now that there have been some ethics discussions, they popped people’s comfort bubbles. This is a good thing for those asking the right questions.

                                                                                                1. 13

                                                                                                  I’d recommend those considering this proposal to study the history of metafilter.com. Initially open for anyone to register, the site owners experienced problems scaling community management and temporarily suspended creation of any new accounts. When registrations resumed, new accounts costed a $5 signup fee. Site “meta” discussions were moved to a dedicated subsite. Most significantly, they employed a staff of paid moderators.

                                                                                                  1. 7

                                                                                                    And MetaFilter is one of the best damn sites on the net, after all these years. I would pay $5 dollars for a Lobsters account. What we don’t want is to end up like slashdot. holy hell.

                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                      I agree, but I don’t think this site is in danger of falling that low. Slashdot enables the problem by allowing anonymous posts. They were able to handle it with a dedicated moderator community, but it seems as if no one is at the helm now.

                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                    Due to the lack of integrity validation on the underlying physical eSPI transport, physical attacks are still possible.

                                                                                                    In most cases, anonymity is probably the best security. Because physical attacks on hardware, or worse, on you have always been a gaping security hole. How paranoid can you get?

                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                      Very amusing. It’s funny how it all came down to one line. Behind that one line was a lot of work.

                                                                                                      1. 28

                                                                                                        I don’t often agree with you @friendlysock, but I think I’m with you on this one. I’m really tired of the ethical shaming that the wider Internet has become obsessed with. I am baffled that a lot of the comments here appear to see no middle ground between “low effort shaming tactics” (as seen in the thread under discussion) and “ban all ethical discussion.” We’ve apparently adopted an unstated policy that it’s totally cool to pointedly make other members feel bad just as long as it’s in service to some higher ethical goal.

                                                                                                        Personally, I don’t think this is fixable in a community that is already as established as Lobsters. You need to start fresh and you probably need stricter moderation and stricter content guidelines. But I’ve said this before; the problem is getting people to play the role of the moderator, because it’s super hard thankless work. Maybe there are some incremental changes you could make to Lobsters (e.g., a cooling off period between comments), but stuff like that is pretty hard to introduce into an established community with strong priors about what participation looks like.

                                                                                                        Lobsters is still a place where I can find satisfying discussion occasionally, but that’s true even at places like HN. I’ve come close to deleting my account a few times recently because of how awful some of the comments have been. But then I realized that if I stopped setting my expectations so high and look at Lobsters as just another HN or another subreddit, then it’s much easier to stomach. Because, to me at least, that’s really all it is. But it didn’t start that way.

                                                                                                        1. 12

                                                                                                          You are absolutely right about setting proper expectations!

                                                                                                          I kind of want to elaborate on what you said. And it’s really directed towards the general audience and not you. My response is not going to be a feel-good comment about old Lobsters.

                                                                                                          I see a lot of people claiming that Lobsters used to be a place about technical discussion, and now it has too much talk about politics and ethics. This is simply a false claim at least as of 4 years ago when I joined. Maybe it was true 6 years ago?

                                                                                                          I have seen very little deep technical discussion in the last 4 years about anything here. I don’t romanticize the old Lobsters because it wasn’t that romantic. It was never say lambda-the-ultimate or the kind of technical discussion on say realclimate.org. If you want deep technical discussions, you won’t find too many in old Lobsters.

                                                                                                          No, Lobsters, similar to other tech sites I see has always been more about pop-culture. So, before, there was pop-culture discussion of tech, and now there is a political discussion of tech. I personally can’t stomach more pop-culture.

                                                                                                          If we want to get serious about technical discussion, let’s get serious about the technical discussion. What I don’t want is people to stop talking about ethics if it means going back to the “pop-culture” techinical discussion we had before. Because at least discussion about ethics is serious. What I don’t want is more talk about how I’m not unit-testing correctly. For the love of everything holy, please no more talk about how I’m not unit testing correctly.

                                                                                                          I’m going to highlight what I consider “technical articles” from today’s the front page. Notice the discussion…

                                                                                                          That’s it. Nothing else was really that technical. No discussion. This is not a new problem with Lobsters.

                                                                                                          Here is what I promise I’ll do.

                                                                                                          1. Submit technical stuff.
                                                                                                          2. Participate in the discussion.

                                                                                                          Problem is, most of the technical stuff I submit gets zero comments. and it always has. Let’s raise the bar, not go back to where we were before.

                                                                                                          1. 5

                                                                                                            I would add to that list:

                                                                                                            Those submissions have the same level of discussion but this is not a bad thing in my opinion. Most of the time only a small fraction of users should have anything to contribute in comments section - that’s how it should be with technical posts from many different fields when submitted to general site such as lobste.rs.

                                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                                              I think you hit the nail on the head, this is a general site and always has been. Also, the SBCL thing was amusing, thanks, not sure how I missed that one.

                                                                                                            2. 4

                                                                                                              I am certainly not immune to the problem of looking at history with rose tinted glasses. Another possible explanation is that the amount of noise has dramatically increased over the years, even if the absolute amount of technical discussion hasn’t changed too much.

                                                                                                            3. 8

                                                                                                              Personally, I don’t think this is fixable in a community that is already as established as Lobsters

                                                                                                              Maybe there are some incremental changes you could make to Lobsters

                                                                                                              I believe it is fixable, and you even named how to fix it: incremental suppression of off-topic, inappropriate, or incorrect behavior and their associated impositions on our commons, leaving no alternative to constructive participation on the site.

                                                                                                              It’s even appropriate: moderation discovers and punishes known, demonstrably poor behavior (discovered, articulated and limited), leaving all other behaviors available. Anything not bad is good. i.e., not a topic for moderation.

                                                                                                              Incremental changes are the only thing works: via discovery of ‘bads’ and subsequent intolerance of them.

                                                                                                              Really.

                                                                                                              1. 4

                                                                                                                I’m happy to be wrong. I don’t want to get into the weeds, but my perspective is that changes like that would be a radical departure from how Lobsters has operated. On that principle alone, the social and cultural capital required to affect such a change is immense.

                                                                                                            1. 96

                                                                                                              I’m sorry to bring this up, and it’s probably considered off-topic here on Lobsters, so feel free to flag this.

                                                                                                              I know that OpenBSD and SQLite and lots of great pieces of software have been funded by the US military, and computing and military have a long and complicated relationship, but where do we as developers draw the line as to whom we are willing to accept contributions from?

                                                                                                              This is from Palantir, the company providing the technology for Trump’s deportation machine. I don’t think that this is a black/white issue, and I guess it may be possible to work at a seedy company and still do good stuff. But the docs include a FlightSearch example; is that really appropriate given the context?

                                                                                                              Regardless, thanks for releasing this as free software.

                                                                                                              1. 37

                                                                                                                Thank you very much for saying it. I think making sure these ethical topics aren’t ignored is the very least we all have a responsibility to do. It’s also entirely possible that there are people here who didn’t know about it, so it’s always worth saying.

                                                                                                                1. 37

                                                                                                                  Thank you for saying this. I’m troubled by the cavalier attitude of techies toward ethics lately, and it’s nice to know I’m not alone.

                                                                                                                  1. 23

                                                                                                                    I don’t think a forum where this response is off-topic is worth participating in. The tech industry spends too little time thinking about the ethical implications of it’s products.

                                                                                                                    1. 25

                                                                                                                      Even today, we debate the ethics of using the data gathered from unethical experiments in WW2.

                                                                                                                      I agree that there is a massive ethical issue working for Palatir - and I am not sure it’s ethical to use the work they have produced. Particularly if it’s a Swagger-like clone not yielding substantive value to humanity.

                                                                                                                      1. 10

                                                                                                                        While we’re at it, you probably typed that on a machine made by highly-exploited workers in a corrupt country that does far worse, added to the lake in the process, probably paid a surveillance-enabling company in a police state to send it over the network, and possibly wearing clothes made by kids in a sweatshop. And you did all this to get online suggesting moral folks maybe shouldn’t contribute to a HTTP/JSON thing that’s open source since a bad company might misuse [more] open source. Seems hypocritical to me.

                                                                                                                        Where to we draw the line on how our consumption and contribution harms or helps others? And do you regularly do that for every product and service you buy? Most of them? Have you been active in government on laws, treaties, court cases, etc? The stuff that stops things like you describe. Or just some quick, social signaling on Lobsters getting feel-good points? If you care, I encourage you to put time into legal reform or bootstrapping alternatives to each of the things I mentioned. Maybe make for better opportunities for immigrants in whatever your country is, too. Maybe host some coding bootcamps or something for those in the slums. What you’re doing here is adding to the noise but not helping Trump’s victims or your country’s immigrants in any way.

                                                                                                                        1. 71

                                                                                                                          I feel like this is a great example of whataboutism.

                                                                                                                          I think that if this approach was applied to tech, we’d never fix a bug because “what about the other bugs that could crash the app, this is just virtue signaling because physical compromise means game over”. Why fix a bug when you can say “What about the terrible state of security education in general, why fix a security bug when developers are just adding more?”

                                                                                                                          It’s ok to make a judgement call and improve one thing in this messy world. It’s ok to try and reduce your footprint/total harm while hypocritically still participating in the system that feeds you. In fact that’s sort of core to improving those systems in a democracy.

                                                                                                                          Sorry if I misinterpreted your statement, I greatly enjoy your comments across the internet.

                                                                                                                          1. 11

                                                                                                                            Whataboutism is a common reply on HN or Lobsters when a popular group decries their outgroup’s activities, third party points out their actions are contrary to their own beliefs, adds that the biases indicate they’re scoring political points rather than really care, and someone pops in to say third party is whataboutism to silence those views. Thing is, whatever 3rd party brings up is almost never on these forums, getting crowd support, or whatever. Always absent. Rather than likely-intended purpose, the whataboutism claim just reinforces specific types of people supporting/rejecting specific activities by silencing dissenters. I mean, if commenter really cares about Trump’s horrors or not contributing to evil organizations, why the hell are they funding evil, slaving companies to buy toys to spend so much time on the programming projects? So, they probably don’t care or are acting like it now. Then, I do to them as they do to others.

                                                                                                                            Far as what I’m doing, I’ll tell you straight up. There’s been an increase over time of political comments that are about shaming people into behaving certain ways for a perceived, social good. Almost all of them are coming from hypocrits and/or slactivists. I mean, they’re talking on a forum no politician reads with low views. It’s not going to change Palantir’s or Trump’s practices. They know they avoiding stuff that can get results to spend time on Internet forums. So, they’re just getting an emotional high off attacking their opponents, looking like they’re responsible, or getting meaningless votes from people that agree with them. They also tie up our threads with that shit. So, as a real activist doing real-world work, I just call out their selfish, hypocritical bullshit to (a) deter more comments like that here and/or (b) encourage them to actually work on the causes they claim to work on.

                                                                                                                            Disclaimer: In fairness, people could (and do) call me out for not putting more time into actually building and deploying secure goods rather than high-level designs posted online. Although I defended my choice, I’m probably guilty of screwing up on a reasonable ratio between the two. Anything above zero code might be better. I plan to work on that more next year after I change circumstances.

                                                                                                                            Disclaimer 2: I say “almost all” cuz a few people here are legit activists or doing things at a loss to address the causes they’re talking about. I respect them a lot.

                                                                                                                            “It’s ok to make a judgement call and improve one thing in this messy world. It’s ok to try and reduce your footprint/total harm while hypocritically still participating in the system that feeds you. “

                                                                                                                            I totally agree with you. That’s not what the person was doing, though. It won’t stop Palantir’s contracts, it won’t stop the government’s activities, and proliferation of HTTP/JSON libraries will continue. The latter will even be FOSS so anyone, including Palantir, can use them. Maybe person complaining should start an alternative to Palantir that’s more ethical, organize boycotts of their products, get in a HR office poaching all their smartest talent (or delivering idiots), make enough money to pay off politicians to change government policies, and so on. Stuff that actually affects Palantir or Trump’s agencies.

                                                                                                                            “I greatly enjoy your comments across the internet.”

                                                                                                                            Thanks and same to you. :)

                                                                                                                            1. 25

                                                                                                                              Maybe person complaining should start an alternative to Palantir that’s more ethical, organize boycotts of their products, get in a HR office poaching all their smartest talent (or delivering idiots), make enough money to pay off politicians to change government policies, and so on.

                                                                                                                              This objection is absurd on its face. You can’t ethically compete in a market for unethical services. An ethical alternative to Palantir is an oxymoron, because Palantir’s ethical issues are fundamental to the things that Palantir sells. You also can’t “organize a boycott” of a defense contractor. Your final two points are literally “just have enough money to fix the problem”.

                                                                                                                              How does starting a company which sells the same thing as Palantir to the same customers Palantir sells to, hires the same people as Palantir, has the same wealth as Palantir, and bribes politicians the way Palantir does, stop the problem of companies that behave like Palantir? You’re objecting to someone criticizing the status quo by telling them they should instead… further reinforce the status quo?

                                                                                                                              1. 19

                                                                                                                                I think you misapprehend what is going on here. This is a forum for highly technical people; by raising the serious ethical space Palantir exists in, it directly bears on creating difficulty in recruiting, along with decreasing retention.

                                                                                                                                You, of all people, should understand the power of words on an internet screen to influence readers: you’ve been writing long & grammatically correct essays on security across multiple major internet fora for years. I’ve seen you on Schnier and HN, :) Communication, persuasion, and discussion are an essential activist activity. (And for my money, it is substantially more effective than picketing and marching 95% of the time…)

                                                                                                                                1. 7

                                                                                                                                  (I suspect this was meant as a reply to the person I replied to.)

                                                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                                                    “by raising the serious ethical space Palantir exists in, it directly bears on creating difficulty in recruiting, along with decreasing retention.”

                                                                                                                                    I agree with you. I actively do that in real life every day for customers and coworkers wanting something better in a lot of areas. I have plenty of results to show for it. That’s because I put the time in where it gets results and consistently do it rather than one-off’s we sometimes see here. Companies like Palantir use recruiting practices that cast a wide net. Anyone wanting to disrupt their recruiting should be posting such comments on sites with massive numbers of page views that are mostly developers. Big, social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and Hacker News. LinkedIn, too, if you can do it that way but I haven’t been on in long time. That’s why I encourage them to put political efforts in front of literally millions of developers instead of a hundred or less participating here if aiming for a big wave of change.

                                                                                                                                    “You, of all people, should understand the power of words on an internet screen to influence readers: you’ve been writing long & grammatically correct essays on security across multiple major internet fora for years. I’ve seen you on Schnier and HN, :) “

                                                                                                                                    You said long and grammatically correct. You gotta be messing with me on second half lmao. I agree with the power of words and persuasion as stated above. Hell, you had to have seen me do it there, esp to “Skeptical” (troll or near-perfect DOD apologist) before I left. That’s why I tell them to use that power where it gets results instead of Lobsters. Then, we keep Lobsters focused on deep, technical stuff with low noise. Anyone wanting to achieve political action can ping Lobsters, via dedicated threads or private messages, to go where the action is to get actual, Palantir-scale results.

                                                                                                                                    ““It is what it is”, which is what your comment & Nick’s comment promote, simply promotes apathy; history provides many examples of change taking place. I encourage people to shake off the belief that things will always stay the same.”

                                                                                                                                    That’s not true at all. I’ve just followed something like several lifetimes worth of history on the U.S. military and government under both left- and right-leaning leaders finding the military-industrial-complex just got more powerful over time. The politicians of both sides support it. The right supports companies like Palantir overtly. The left’s politicians will support the defense contractors for both payouts and to bring jobs to their districts. So, to change the situation voronoipotato describes, you have to get millions of people to vote out scumbags that take money to improve chances of elections to combat defense industry or get an anti-war, pro-immigration President in office with Congress willing to roll-back legislation.

                                                                                                                                    The last election surprised most lefter-than-I liberals that were trying to make people say the correct things on forums, etc in ways we see in some threads here. I doubt they’re capable of achieving that 180 directly if keeping same practices that failed before so hard they didn’t even see what was coming. Fingers crossed that we just get lucky that Trump does so much damage and embarrassment that a reversal happens in swing states after the Democrats get on top of their shit this time. Or we centrists get a President. Fat chance on that one since few listen to moderates. ;)

                                                                                                                                  2. 5

                                                                                                                                    The person you’re talking to likely doesn’t even think that Defense Contracting is unethical. Being said palantir is going to keep existing, boycotting doesn’t mean anything here because we don’t even buy their products. Even under a proper organized effort if we got a different defense contractor absolutely nothing would be different. The only tactics I’m aware we can do are mitigation tactics of not giving our labor to defense contractors, but this drives up the wages to the point where someone would. You can if you work there do a labor slowdown, but your ability to act in that way is limited, and useless if it’s not a group effort.

                                                                                                                                    Palantir is a bad thing but our ability to affect it is extremely limited. Electoral politics is mostly useless here. Their lobbying power affects both parties pretty evenly. IMHO it’s better to put energy into mitigation tactics into problems where it’s easier to have traction. One group has been for example paying for bail bonds for refugees.

                                                                                                                                    Defense contractor spending isn’t a symptom of capitalism but rather attached to the heart, a swollen vestigial organ from mercantilism and much like the appendix may kill you if you remove it unskillfully.

                                                                                                                                    I think it’s natural to see the biggest problem and try and lock horns with it, but sometimes a smaller problem you can solve is genuinely better than a larger problem you can’t. Obviously don’t work for them, there’s plenty of other places that pay you well and you won’t even have to think about all the bodies when you go to sleep.

                                                                                                                                    1. 7

                                                                                                                                      The person you’re talking to likely doesn’t even think that Defense Contracting is unethical.

                                                                                                                                      Yes, but the person they’re suggesting this in response to does, which was the context of nickpsecurity’s original suggestion to compete with Palantir.

                                                                                                                                      The only tactics I’m aware we can do are mitigation tactics of not giving our labor to defense contractors, but this drives up the wages to the point where someone would.

                                                                                                                                      I don’t know what your point is. Driving up wage costs for unethical corporations is the point of organizing an effort to boycott employment at specific corporations. The goal is making things like human rights violations untenable to corporations by making them unprofitable. Yes, this is a half measure - but it’s not nothing, either.

                                                                                                                                      Defense contractor spending isn’t a symptom of capitalism but rather attached to the heart, a swollen vestigial organ from mercantilism and much like the appendix may kill you if you remove it unskillfully.

                                                                                                                                      So your point is, we should leave it alone?

                                                                                                                                      I think it’s natural to see the biggest problem and try and lock horns with it, but sometimes a smaller problem you can solve is genuinely better than a larger problem you can’t.

                                                                                                                                      On the contrary - refusing to work for companies like Palantir and encouraging my fellow tech workers to do the same is one of my most fruitful opportunities to fight against systemic injustices at the moment. Each of us in the tech industry have far more influence on an our industry’s actions than on the actions of things like the federal government - there are less than four million programmers in the entire US, as opposed to the vastly higher number of voters. We should be adamant about using our privileged place as one of the few labor pools left with real negotiating power to prevent our industry from committing acts of evil, not conveniently defeatist whenever someone dares to suggest the small personal sacrifice of choosing not to directly build the tools of human misery.

                                                                                                                                      1. 7

                                                                                                                                        Fundamental changes are achieved by many people choosing to not accept what is, and coming together to push towards a major change in the status quo.

                                                                                                                                        “It is what it is”, which is what your comment & Nick’s comment promote, simply promotes apathy; history provides many examples of change taking place. I encourage people to shake off the belief that things will always stay the same.

                                                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                                                          You said it even better than me.

                                                                                                                                      2. 20

                                                                                                                                        Whataboutism is a common reply on HN or Lobsters when a popular group decries their outgroup’s activities, third party points out their actions are contrary to their own beliefs, adds that the biases indicate they’re scoring political points rather than really care, and someone pops in to say third party is whataboutism to silence those views. Thing is, whatever 3rd party brings up is almost never on these forums, getting crowd support, or whatever.

                                                                                                                                        No it’s a common reply when you distract from the discussion at hand to go ‘oh but what about these other unrelated issues?’ Your response is literally at the level of ‘capitalism made your iPhone you’re using to have this conversation so checkmate’ in a discussion about economic systems.

                                                                                                                                        There is no ‘popular group’ here, there’s no ‘outgroup’, nobody is decrying anyone’s activities. You haven’t ‘pointed out’ any actions that are contrary to anyone’s beliefs or exposed any biases or virtue signalling. All you’ve done is responded to a post pointing out that Palantir might be an unethical company, accusing them of virtue signalling! They didn’t even say ‘Palantir is bad’. They suggested that it might be, and that it was worth thinking about and discussion. Did you then discuss it? Did you think about it? No, you just launched into an attack, said that their post was social signalling and accused them of hypocrisy.

                                                                                                                                        Imagine for a moment the discussion was oil companies, and the person you were responding to had said ‘I think oil companies often act unethically and I think we should consider whether we want to be working with them and contributing to their open source software’. Your response was the equivalent of ‘you don’t have an electric car so you’re not allowed to discuss this’. I hope you can see that that is nonsense.

                                                                                                                                        I totally agree with you. That’s not what the person was doing, though. It won’t stop Palantir’s contracts, it won’t stop the government’s activities, and proliferation of HTTP/JSON libraries will continue. The latter will even be FOSS so anyone, including Palantir, can use them. Maybe person complaining should start an alternative to Palantir that’s more ethical, organize boycotts of their products, get in a HR office poaching all their smartest talent (or delivering idiots), make enough money to pay off politicians to change government policies, and so on. Stuff that actually affects Palantir or Trump’s agencies.

                                                                                                                                        When someone says ‘where do we as developers draw the line as to whom we are willing to accept contributions from?’ they are opening up a discussion. Maybe the result of that discussion would have been ‘anyone actually’. Suggesting that the first thing you should do is start boycotting companies before the issue has even been discussed is ridiculous. Discussions are fine. Discussions are not slacktivism. Posting ‘#stoppalantir #metoo #stoptrump’ at the end of your tweets and doing nothing else in your life is virtue signalling. Discussing issues is not.

                                                                                                                                        1. 10

                                                                                                                                          There is no ‘popular group’ here, there’s no ‘outgroup’, nobody is decrying anyone’s activities.

                                                                                                                                          A person submitted a HTTP/JSON toolchain that they were open-sourcing. A versatile, general-purpose tool that can be used for good if someone wants to. The comment I replied to ignored the software submission entirely to tell them they’re unethical for working at Palantir since other parts of the company uses its tech to serve an unethical customer. That’s decrying activities. Such reasoning also applies to companies like Google (or other surveillance companies), Apple/Foxconn, VC-funded companies aiming for lock-in, and so on since buying their stuff or contributing to their FOSS might support all kinds of evil. Some people supporting the decrying comment even work at such companies despite other jobs being available for people with that kind of talent. Strange.

                                                                                                                                          The fact that this accusation and suggestion to quit their job got 60 votes vs 7 about the submission… on Lobsters with lower numbers of votes to begin with… definitely says it’s popular. The marked difference between the people who support or question that tangent supports the existence of an outgroup relationship. I can’t say as much about what it means here since the outgroup receives more support on a lot of political divides. Lots of folks here hate companies like Palantir regardless of other beliefs. That’s what I’m leaning toward.

                                                                                                                                          It’s been an interesting thread to observe, though.

                                                                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                                                                            Wholeheartedly agree, there! I suspect I drew different conclusions than you, though.

                                                                                                                                        2. 3

                                                                                                                                          People can disagree with you without being part of a conspiracy to silence or shame you. Maybe a less emotional response would be more informative.

                                                                                                                                        3. 0

                                                                                                                                          One of nick’s pastimes seems to be railing against liberal “hypocrisy” on this website, mostly by deflecting into muddy tangential arguments just like so.

                                                                                                                                          1. 13

                                                                                                                                            Please don’t post ad-hominem attacks here. If you disagree with the argument, pick it apart politely.

                                                                                                                                            Lord knows you should have enough practice by now to do so.

                                                                                                                                            1. 5

                                                                                                                                              If you disagree with the argument, pick it apart politely.

                                                                                                                                              That only works if both sides are arguing in good faith though which definitely doesn’t appear to be the case with some commenters on here.

                                                                                                                                              1. 4

                                                                                                                                                If that’s the case, then arguing further with somebody in bad faith is just going to create noise and antagonize other lobsters. Best just to ignore the posts then.

                                                                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                                                                  I do but it ruins the lobsters experience for me to see people arguing in bad faith without any censure. Some of them even seem to be encouraged as a kind of clickbait/outrage generator. It’s disheartening.

                                                                                                                                              2. 4

                                                                                                                                                Lord knows you should have enough practice by now to do so.

                                                                                                                                                This is an ad-hominem, friendly.

                                                                                                                                          2. 19

                                                                                                                                            Leaving whataboutism aside, I think you cannot conflate the (delusional) idea of ethical consumption with active usage and contribution of open source software.

                                                                                                                                            Ethical consumption doesn’t work for the structure of the market, where the contribution of the individual gives no perceivable feedback to the system.

                                                                                                                                            The Open Source world and software engineering are a much smaller world. It is a realistic goal to radicalize enough software engineers inside and outside of Palantir in order to halt their production. Your target audience has contract leverage, money and is highly connected and easily reachable.

                                                                                                                                            This is a much easier and realistic goal than convince the management of some big corporation to reduce their exploitation just because a small minority of consumers is unhappy. When they realize this, instead of reducing exploitation, they invest in more marketing to wash their brand, or they simply start a new one. Much cheaper.

                                                                                                                                            Don’t conflate your power as a consumer with your power as a producer, because they very different.

                                                                                                                                            1. 11

                                                                                                                                              I used to work for Nokia. They did everything in their power to ethically source all their materials. It was the only phone company that did that. Other companies don’t do that because nobody demands it from them. While there is no ethical consumption under capitalism, there is slightly less terrible consumption. So where do we draw the line? As deep into their pocket books as it can go.

                                                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                                                I didn’t know that about Nokia. That’s awesome! Thanks for the tip.

                                                                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                                                                  Now, keep in mind the new Nokia phones are made by a different company that just licenses the brand. I’m not sure if care as much.

                                                                                                                                              2. 10

                                                                                                                                                […] the lake […]

                                                                                                                                                That is horrible.

                                                                                                                                                Seems hypocritical to me.

                                                                                                                                                Ok.

                                                                                                                                                Where would you draw the line personally? Do I understand your opinion correctly as suggesting that if you use a computer, then you shouldn’t be discussing unethical behaviour, e.g. racism? It is not my intention to judge here; just genuinely curious.

                                                                                                                                                Maybe make for better opportunities for immigrants in whatever your country is, too.

                                                                                                                                                I agree with this very much, and this is something that I aspire to do. Additionally I do have friends that have been deported, and worry a bit about my own not so distant post-Brexit situation in the UK.

                                                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                                                  Im glad you’re doing real work on this issue. I commend that.

                                                                                                                                                  Writing it here likely isn’t is the thrust of my point. Instead, it’s just adding noise to the forum plus sending a jab at one of only folks we know in Palantir doing something possibly beneficial (eg open-sourcing software for data analysis). The people here that would agree with your position already dont work for Palantir, use their services, or vote for folks that support horrible policies on immigration.

                                                                                                                                                  Those that do these thing are (a) mostly not on Lobsters where your comments bave about lowest ROI you can get and (b) usually disagree with you with no intent to change their mind based on your comment that states the obvious. So, you’re not reaching them. Goes for similar comments aiming for political impact on government-level stuff in non-political, Lobsters threads. So, I push for people not to introduce them.

                                                                                                                                                  Im at work now so responses might be delayed.

                                                                                                                                                  1. 5

                                                                                                                                                    mostly not on Lobsters where your comments bave about lowest ROI you can get

                                                                                                                                                    Yes, you are probably correct in that observation.

                                                                                                                                                    I wasn’t really sharing my thoughts here expecting any impact, but rather because I’m interested in hearing what other people think. And you are right that I’m being hypocritical here, because I doubt I’d react the same to an IBM project even though they have a shameful past; and even worse, I used to work on this phone app promoting some agrochem from DOW. At first I just kept my eyes on the code, but I couldn’t justify it to myself after reading about their role in the Vietnam War and the Bhopal Disaster and all that.

                                                                                                                                                    So, it was intended more of an open question about where people here draw the line.

                                                                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                                                                      Well, you seem to be speaking out of the heart on things you’ve been close to personally. I respect that. I still say low-ROI with better results elsewhere. You were bringing it up for good reasons, though. The community response also strongly favored your comment in a way consistent with prior threads on politics showing a shift in what Lobsters wants as a community. I’ll write on that in the future.

                                                                                                                                                      And it’s still cool you’re another person reusing older computers with the LiveCD tests and such. Off-topic a bit, but I was wondering if the hardware vulnerabilities they probably won’t patch on 5-10 year old machines have you considering new stuff? I always knew they were there. Now, they’re coming quickly with many eyeballs on them. Might be best reason I ever heard to get the latest and greatest from Purism, Raptor, or whoever. And then most have backdoors for (insert group) but fewer hardware 0-days for (more groups). Wait, I thought this tangent-tangent could lighten things up with easier choices… Looks just as hard… ;)

                                                                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                                                                        Off-topic a bit, but I was wondering if the hardware vulnerabilities they probably won’t patch on 5-10 year old machines have you considering new stuff?

                                                                                                                                                        I don’t know enough about this; what hardware vulns are we talking about here, and how easy are they to exploit? Although it’s not really about hardware, there’s that whole Intel Management Engine issue that is avoided by using somewhat old WinXP-era 32-bit laptops, so newer is not always more secure.

                                                                                                                                                        And it’s still cool you’re another person reusing older computers with the LiveCD tests and such.

                                                                                                                                                        Oh yes that thread! At least it’s a bit less harmful if we can use computers for longer. A friend of mine has a Mac that can’t get more OS X updates now, so she’s stuck with insecure versions of Firefox and all that. Gonna put Debian on it later this week, hopefully!

                                                                                                                                                        Do you know of any somewhat more ethical laptop producers?

                                                                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                                                                          re hardware attacks.

                                                                                                                                                          Essentially, the hardware has always been secure with only elite pro’s focusing on it. Now, due to Meltdown/Spectre, hardware attacks have gone really mainstream with all kinds of university research, private research, folks describing stuff on blogs, and so on. All the CPU’s that were highly optimized (esp Intel/AMD) are vulnerable to them needing patches. They’re doing the attacks over the network now. Older systems used to be safer but now they’re not since attacks will get more numerous and effective over time.

                                                                                                                                                          About the only things that are immune were simpler, embedded CPU’s. They’re not designed for security, though, with far less attention by defenders. So, that could reduce the hardware risk adding to the software risk. Simpler boards that can run modern, security-updated OS’s might help. I’m not sure. At lot of stuff is piling in.

                                                                                                                                                          re put Debian on it.

                                                                                                                                                          Ok, you’re already using that strategy. Good thinking and being helpful! :)

                                                                                                                                                          re ethical producers

                                                                                                                                                          I can’t remember since I was buying used ones like you. The one I see in media most with good things going for it is Purism. They try to disable the ME with software changes, too. Some folks pushing high freedom were using MiniFree to get ME-less, FOSS-firmware laptops. It had downsides. My own Core Duo 2 still handles stuff nicely outside games, highest-def content, and worst of web apps. Here’s a Guardian article I just found with some recommendations. Another said iFixit can help keep things going.

                                                                                                                                                          So, not a lot of options for new hardware minimizing harm to self and others. There are options in both reuse and new categories that help us reduce harm. We can at least do that. I stay dedicating slices of my research to solving this problem. Tracking whatever can help for whoever can do it. Maybe something will shake out eventually.

                                                                                                                                                  2. 0

                                                                                                                                                    Additionally I do have friends that have been deported

                                                                                                                                                    Sorry but are we now living in a world where the ‘standard’ left-wing political view in the Anglosphere is that any kind of deportation is bad? Because that’s how I’m reading this comment.

                                                                                                                                                    Immigration policy exists for very good reasons. The American political dichotomy that either there should be zero immigration or completely unchecked immigration is, for lack of a better word, moronic.

                                                                                                                                                    1. 3

                                                                                                                                                      I think it’s fair to assume that the poster could be criticising the particular immigration policy that led to these deportations, instead of all immigration policy.

                                                                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                                                                        It could be fair, if the poster denounced similar and almost identical policies under the previous President. As it stands, the poster is mostly just criticizing immigration policies that seemed totally reasonable and main stream just eight short years ago.

                                                                                                                                                  3. 5

                                                                                                                                                    You can’t make perfect the enemy of good. Your argument essentially seems to be that if you can’t live perfectly you shouldn’t try living better at all.

                                                                                                                                                    It’s virtually impossible to operate in the modern world without using the internet, without having and using a computer. If it were possible to, for a reasonable price that I can afford but knowing I’d have to pay somewhat of a premium, buy a computer that I knew wasn’t made using exploitation of those in the third world, then of course I would buy one. But I don’t know that it is. And there are other competing priorities too, like getting a computer that is free of binary blobs and proprietary software.

                                                                                                                                                    I certainly don’t pay a ‘surveillance-enabling company in a police state’ to send anything over the internet. I pay an ISP for internet access, but I don’t live in a police state and as far as I know my ISP doesn’t enable surveillance.

                                                                                                                                                    In the same way that I think it’s perfectly reasonable for someone to say ‘I can’t afford to be vegan’ even though being vegan is morally important, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to say ‘I can’t afford to buy ethically produced clothes’. Plus there’s significant evidence that manufacturing things in third world countries has improving their living standards and wages considerably.

                                                                                                                                                    Where to we draw the line on how our consumption and contribution harms or helps others? And do you regularly do that for every product and service you buy? Most of them?

                                                                                                                                                    I like to have an idea, at least, of what goes into the things I buy, yes. It’s hard to do it with absolutely everything though, because there’s just so much different stuff.

                                                                                                                                                    Have you been active in government on laws, treaties, court cases, etc? The stuff that stops things like you describe.

                                                                                                                                                    That’s absolutely ridiculous. You do not have to be a member of government to have a political view. You do not have to negotiate an international treaty to have a political view. You do not have to sue someone to have a political view. Your standards are ridiculous.

                                                                                                                                                    Or just some quick, social signaling on Lobsters getting feel-good points?

                                                                                                                                                    Discussing important issues is not ‘virtue signalling’.

                                                                                                                                                    If you care, I encourage you to put time into legal reform or bootstrapping alternatives to each of the things I mentioned. Maybe make for better opportunities for immigrants in whatever your country is, too. Maybe host some coding bootcamps or something for those in the slums. What you’re doing here is adding to the noise but not helping Trump’s victims or your country’s immigrants in any way.

                                                                                                                                                    This has nothing to do with immigrants and everything to do with Palantir being a company that operates in an unethical manner. It’s a surveillance company. There’s absolutely nothing problematic about a company producing software on contract for a government that has immigration policies. The issue is that Trump’s policies are violating human rights in how they’re enforcing those laws.

                                                                                                                                                    You don’t solve this problem by creating ‘coding bootcamps’ for immigrants LOL.

                                                                                                                                                  4. 4

                                                                                                                                                    I guess it may be possible to work at a seedy company and still do good stuff.

                                                                                                                                                    Regardless, thanks for releasing this as free software.

                                                                                                                                                    Every field of endeavor is welcome here. Every field of endeavor is welcome here for technical discussion, free of (without expectation of) moralizing, guilt, or shame.

                                                                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                                                                      I personally already draw the line at technology coming from uber for ethical reasons, so I will not touch palantir things at all. Thanks for bringing that up!

                                                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                                                      Please don’t write code like this. Destructors are magic, they get called implicitly which makes it difficult to figure out when they actually get run and it’s very tedious working in codebases that abuse them.

                                                                                                                                                      More generally I would say RAII is ok for writing leaf code where you need some temporary allocations, but using it for longer lived things is often wrong. It’s not hard to write debug allocators that tell you when you forgot something so leaks aren’t an issue, and explicit cleanup is easier to understand than magic.

                                                                                                                                                      1. 6

                                                                                                                                                        Destructors are magic, they get called implicitly which makes it difficult to figure out when they actually get run and it’s very tedious working in codebases that abuse them.

                                                                                                                                                        Of all the things in programming to term “magic” … I am pretty sure destructors getting called on stack pops are not one of them. If you are taking references/pointers of stack-allocated things and are running into lifetime problems, that’s a separate issue, but the paradigm described in this article is eminently useful.

                                                                                                                                                        Haiku’s kernel and drivers use this paradigm literally everywhere. Consider a simple example, the thread scheduler’s main “set priority” function, which uses “Locker” objects to automatically acquire and then release various locks on function exit:

                                                                                                                                                        	InterruptsSpinLocker _(thread->scheduler_lock);
                                                                                                                                                        	SchedulerModeLocker modeLocker;
                                                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                                        	...
                                                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                                        	if (priority == oldPriority)
                                                                                                                                                        		return oldPriority;
                                                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                                        	if (thread->state != B_THREAD_READY) {
                                                                                                                                                        		...
                                                                                                                                                        

                                                                                                                                                        and so on. This function only has 3 different exits, and so in order to accomplish the same thing without the automatic destruction paradigm, we would either need 6 lines of code (2 before each of the returns), or a goto at the end of the function.

                                                                                                                                                        This is a pretty simple example. A more sophisticated one would be the vm_clone_area function, which uses a single MultiAddressSpaceLocker object and accumulates all of the objects it needs to lock into it, among other things; implementing this without automatic destruction would definitely require a goto. You could, of course, implement the same in C and have to manually call its destructor, but what would be the difference there?

                                                                                                                                                        I much prefer this to the goto model of cleanup handling, that’s for sure. It’s much easier to read, maintain, and understand.

                                                                                                                                                        1. 6

                                                                                                                                                          GC is ‘magic’, destructors are completely understandable and the best thing about C++. I wish more languages had them.

                                                                                                                                                        1. 7

                                                                                                                                                          This is quite a stretch.

                                                                                                                                                          Why is it that tech workers don’t think of themselves as “workers”?

                                                                                                                                                          Why is it that governmenty-people want everyone to think of themselves as a worker? It would benefit everyone if we moved towards more autonomy, not less. The “employee” status is a crutch, and trap, and way of giving bureaucrats more control. Why isn’t everyone their own corporation? More sovereignty, not less.

                                                                                                                                                          called out for colluding via anti-poaching schemes to suppress wages. As part of a longer-term strategy, these tech giants have also partnered with schools, supported coding bootcamps, and sponsored programs that teach minority youth groups to code.

                                                                                                                                                          Haha, that’s a hot potato. I’m guessing that message will need a massage before it reaches the union talking points slidedeck.

                                                                                                                                                          Their goal in technology education is not to simply expand their consumer base to the youngest and most marginalized of our society, but to increase the labor supply of the future and subsequently drive down wages for decades to come.

                                                                                                                                                          Unions increase friction. Friction reduces mobility. No, thanks.

                                                                                                                                                          It’s hilarious to me that we have the privilege of existing in a time where control freaks haven’t yet figured out a way to regulate this thing called software, and because of that, a very fluid and egalitarian market exists where you can go from high school, prove yourself on a whiteboard, and get a pretty nice job.

                                                                                                                                                          And yet the Local 41 people want to bring in the overalls and flannel and make this industry the same as all of the other industries that have been ruined. And they complain about whiteboard interviews, and want to replace it with committees and certifications and degrees.

                                                                                                                                                          Be careful about the people with whom you raise pitchforks. Or don’t, I don’t care. But I told you so.

                                                                                                                                                          1. 22

                                                                                                                                                            Why is it that governmenty-people want everyone to think of themselves as a worker? It would benefit everyone if we moved towards more autonomy, not less. The “employee” status is a crutch, and trap, and way of giving bureaucrats more control. Why isn’t everyone their own corporation? More sovereignty, not less.

                                                                                                                                                            There’s a difference with diagnosing how things are and how things should be.

                                                                                                                                                            Anti-poaching agreements between the top tech companies is a thing that happened. Everyone in SF had their wages surpressed because the owners of these huge places decided they shouldn’t have to fight in a fair labor market. It is undeniable, there is court evidence and everything, that there was massive collusion to make sure that those who had the shortsighted-ness to go into an employment agreement with them would have their mobility reduced.

                                                                                                                                                            Yeah, sure. Would be great if people could just work and have relations of trust. But so long as the person on the other side of the negotiating table has massive infrastructure dedicated to paying the least amount of money to you, standing alone is a sure-fire way to get a worse deal.

                                                                                                                                                            There’s tribalism and other organizational ills in unions, but…. welcome to “put more than 3 people in a room”. There’s self-interest and politics in every org.

                                                                                                                                                            The egalitarian software market creates something where people like Lewandowski can go around and collect millions off of claiming other people’s work as his own, and other people can’t even get interviews at other companies because of secret agreements. It’s a market where the loudest people get the biggest wins (see every single post about organizational dysfunction at Google that means that nothing actually gets maintained).

                                                                                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                                                                                              The egalitarian software market creates something where people like Lewandowski can go around … where the loudest people get the biggest wins …

                                                                                                                                                              Assuming unions and regulations solve that somehow, it’s a petty reason to install an long-term bureaucracy. What did we gain exactly, besides sticking it to some (imagined) character you didn’t like?

                                                                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                “other people can’t even get interviews at other companies because of secret agreements”

                                                                                                                                                                That’s not what the secret agreements were about; they agreed not to cold-call each others employees to try and get them to leave but they did not agree to not interview each others employees if they applied to positions.

                                                                                                                                                              2. 6

                                                                                                                                                                It would benefit everyone if we moved towards more autonomy, not less

                                                                                                                                                                Autonomy is (rightly) coupled to responsibility for outcomes.

                                                                                                                                                                Employees are not given autonomy or responsibility for outcomes (for so, so many reasons).

                                                                                                                                                                Autonomy is worthless unless you can capture the benefits of doing a good job.

                                                                                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                  Unions increase friction. Friction reduces mobility. No, thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                  It’s hilarious to me that we have the privilege of existing in a time where control freaks haven’t yet figured out a way to regulate this thing called software, and because of that, a very fluid and egalitarian market exists where you can go from high school, prove yourself on a whiteboard, and get a pretty nice job.

                                                                                                                                                                  And yet the Local 41 people want to bring in the overalls and flannel and make this industry the same as all of the other industries that have been ruined. And they complain about whiteboard interviews, and want to replace it with committees and certifications and degrees.

                                                                                                                                                                  Be careful about the people with whom you raise pitchforks. Or don’t, I don’t care. But I told you so.

                                                                                                                                                                  The assumption that wanting to regulate the software industry is the mark of “control freak” is way off. Software is no longer marginal. It has long since eaten the world. It affects every detail of most people’s lives in the first world. Anything with those implications needs regulation. It needs a class of workers who are trained in a semi-standard fashion that includes concerns about the ethical implications of what they’re doing. In other words, it needs to be an actual engineering discipline.

                                                                                                                                                                  Also, this specifically seems way off base to me:

                                                                                                                                                                  a very fluid and egalitarian market exists where you can go from high school, prove yourself on a whiteboard, and get a pretty nice job.

                                                                                                                                                                  Is the implication there that the hiring market right now is easy to move around in, but with more standardization it wouldn’t be? That just doesn’t jive with the data that exists out there for tech hiring. It’s essentially random right now, there is literally no such thing as a meritocracy. Companies are making hiring decisions based on which way the wind blows and whether or not your interviewer liked what they ate for breakfast. More industry wide standardization would make things much better.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. 4

                                                                                                                                                                    It affects every detail of most people’s lives in the first world. Anything with those implications needs regulation.

                                                                                                                                                                    I don’t know where the idea came from, but just because something is ubiquitous does not mean it needs to be regulated. Rather it happens that ubiquitous things attract control freaks because they are predisposed to the obvious.

                                                                                                                                                                    It needs a class of workers who are trained in a semi-standard fashion that includes concerns about the ethical implications of what they’re doing. In other words, it needs to be an actual engineering discipline.

                                                                                                                                                                    “It” (software) is a very generic thing, and a future where one needs to consult a trade guild to sell software, will be sad.

                                                                                                                                                                    It’s essentially random right now, there is literally no such thing as a meritocracy.

                                                                                                                                                                    Compared to other industries, I don’t see how you can make that claim. “Merit” is demonstrated ability, and it is clearly the case that many tech professionals are hired based on some demonstration of ability rather than only credentials, connections, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. -1

                                                                                                                                                                    I agree. This socialist “class”-based thinking, along with the fundamental economic misunderstandings of the socialist worldview is fundamentally dangerous. Besides, unions are bureaucracy and bureaucracy makes everything worse for everyone. I don’t want people to organise, especially not on my behalf. It’ll undoubtedly make my life harder. Or does this writer know what’s best for me?

                                                                                                                                                                    I’ll advocate for my own interests, thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. 22

                                                                                                                                                                      I really like the bureaucracy that inspects milk for contaminents, prohibits people dumping benzene in the water, and vaccinates children. Probably I’m not a good person.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. 9

                                                                                                                                                                        It’s bizarre that as the level of union participation went down , the amount of bureaucracy went up. Also note an interesting fact, when the Soviet Union collapsed and the government industry privatized following the recommendations from Chicago school economists, the total number of government bureaucrats increased! Capitalism is really good at creating bureaucracy, both public and private.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. 6

                                                                                                                                                                          …fundamental economic misunderstandings of the socialist worldview…

                                                                                                                                                                          Besides, unions are bureaucracy and bureaucracy makes everything worse for everyone.

                                                                                                                                                                          You seem to think you know what’s best for me… This is a silly argument. No one is advocating for you any more than you are advocating for other people by advocating against socialism on the Internet.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. 8

                                                                                                                                                                            At least in Australia where I live, union political campaigns lead to:

                                                                                                                                                                            • Making employers liable for employee deaths and injuries at work (leading to a huge drop in workplace deaths and injuries)
                                                                                                                                                                            • Meal breaks (previously factory workers had a full days shift without food)
                                                                                                                                                                            • Annual and sick leave
                                                                                                                                                                            • Maternity leave
                                                                                                                                                                            • A high minimum wage (initially enough that one fulltime job could support a family; has declined since)
                                                                                                                                                                            • 15-20% more income (according to the governments Australian Bureau of Statistics)

                                                                                                                                                                            That’s not to say they don’t do any harm. Variously:

                                                                                                                                                                            • Education union rules made it impossible to fire permanent teachers, causing schools to employ tons of staff on precarious 6-months contracts.
                                                                                                                                                                            • The dockworkers union picketed after a untrained, non-union crew were brought in and did the job faster with a better safety record.
                                                                                                                                                                            • There are constant claims of criminal behavior among the CFMEU (though how much of that is true vs Murdoch is hard to say)
                                                                                                                                                                        1. 6

                                                                                                                                                                          While it’s true that there are better languages to guarantee memory safety, I would argue it’s not a huge problem in terms of cost compared to other problems of the internet. I think the larger issue is energy cost of the internet. In fact likely most code running the web is NOT c/c++ and instead IS using memory safe languages.

                                                                                                                                                                          The risk of climate change is so huge, and the costs so High (from 10 trillion to human extinction ) that security pales in comparison to the cost of global warming. I simply cannot justify sacrificing performance for security because of this. If using C/C++ can reduce your energy and server use, then it’s a superior choice over safety.

                                                                                                                                                                          Rust is interesting here because it doesn’t sacrifice speed for safety. My biggest concern with it is that it’s just not as pleasant compared to c++. Maybe it will get better genetic programming in the future. But to me energy use is the elephant in the room.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. 4

                                                                                                                                                                            The use of slower languages also favors “cloud vendors” (people spend more on compute nodes if their code is slow). Those same vendors often promote slower languages. Conflicting priorities for sure.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                              Would be interesting if someone actually tried to measure the impact of scripting language usage on the power consumption of servers around the world in general.

                                                                                                                                                                              I guess it’s not that big. It’s mostly the small sites that are written in PHP/Python/Ruby/etc. The stuff serving most of the world’s traffic is very efficient. Netflix’s CDN uses in-kernel TLS crypto. Google Search is, I think, C++. Twitter famously migrated from Ruby to Scala and other JVM stuff. And so on.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. 6

                                                                                                                                                                                The problem is that most servers are on 24/7 and mostly idle. When people use slower languages, they tend to overprovision servers to handle load spikes. So instead of thinking about “efficiency per request” this about “machines per load”. If you can reduce the number of machines you use by 1/10th by using a faster language, that’s basically a 1/10th reduction in power. And it’s not ONLY a reduction in power but a huge reduction in physical waste.

                                                                                                                                                                                I think I read somewhere that 90% of machines on the internet are sitting idle.

                                                                                                                                                                                That’s why I love the idea of unikernels since they boot in miliseconds. If you can have a machine literally turn on and serve a request when a packet comes in, vs having it running idle, it could be a huge win for power. You simply can’t do that with a VM based language whichtypically has a cost to start the VM and requires a VM warmup to be fast.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                    Nice! Didn’t know the name of that, thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                  Stuff like that exists. Hard to Google on mobile cuz lots of crap results. I did find a result that at a glance looks like kind of stuff I was thinking off. Hows this?

                                                                                                                                                                                2. 3

                                                                                                                                                                                  “In fact likely most code running the web is NOT c/c++ and instead IS using memory safe languages.”

                                                                                                                                                                                  Good point. The new ones are more efficient. That will help address this problem. Hardware people stay getting watts down. People really concerned should probably also use energy-optimized CPU’s like ARM makes for their systems with embedded or laptop peripherals since they’re low power. Such a rig wont have great performance per dollar ratio, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                    The ‘energy cost’ to create and maintain a working programmer is pretty substantial, too - to what degree does that dictate ‘use the language that lets you get the most out of that expenditure’?

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                      It’s a false dichotomy. C++ is a high level language and modern c++ is very productive. You can make code that almost looks like python but with huge performance over python.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Secondly, energy is the main cost of a data center, so let’s tackle that first. It hasn’t been true for a long time that programmers cost more than the cost of running their software.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Third, we can produce less software in general. Productivity is the greatest source of waste anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. 9

                                                                                                                                                                                        Third, we can produce less software in general.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Heh. There would be a lot fewer bugs if we fixed the software we have instead of churning out new bugs. But good luck getting developers to admit that.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                          My cookie file has the following quote:

                                                                                                                                                                                          Every program has at least one bug and can be shortened by at least one instruction—from which, by induction, one can deduce that every program can be reduced to one instruction which doesn’t work.

                                                                                                                                                                                          And before you dismiss that as silly, there was a one-instruction program that had a bug.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. 30

                                                                                                                                                                                    Props for risking high-paying jobs to stand up for your principles. I’m a pro-gun, pro-Constitution, pro-privacy American whose fine with justifiable, measured actions by U.S. military where actually needed with minimal blowback expected. I’ve opposed most of what U.S. military has done over past two decades. So, I’ll add my reaction to two quotes:

                                                                                                                                                                                    ““If big tech companies are going to turn their back on the US Department of Defense, this country is going to be in trouble,” he said. “

                                                                                                                                                                                    ““a defeat for US national security [and] patriotism”.

                                                                                                                                                                                    That’s un-American bullshit supported by a large segment of right-leaning voters. The very design of U.S. government is to limit trust to any one branch. Relevant example is Executive branch directing military-industrial complex daily theoretically kept in check by suspicious Congress and courts. If there’s argument, ask right-leaning voters if they want liberals or Hillary Clinton to decide who to kill or not kill for 4 years straight. I bet they won’t be unconditionally supportive.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Further, historical, heavy hitters that led the military like George Washington and Dwight Eisenhower cautioned us to keep it in check citing prior and likely outcomes of bad behavior that would hurt America. Most of those happened, too. The biggest critique coming from General Smedley Butler: a two-time awardee of Medal of Honor who confessed most wars he led were specifically for capitalist exploitation, not freedom or democracy. Or as George Carlin says: “War is rich old men protecting their wealth by sending lower and middle-class young men off to die.”

                                                                                                                                                                                    I’ll listen to Washington, Eisenhower, and Butler about managing a military over a Bezos or Bloomberg any day. Hell, have they even shown they understand the concept of putting their lives on the line and giving up business opportunities to protect the average American? I don’t know if they have service records or what they did if they did. Hell, I’ll even count peaceful organizations or nonprofits that require full-time work at lower-than-tech pay. Although I lack that data, I do know Bezos was willing to risk killing Americans just to make himself a bit more money and personal satisfaction. Dude isn’t much better than terrorists in my book. If it was legal, such an amoral leader would probably be killing his opponents like his ilk used to.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. 13

                                                                                                                                                                                      Eisenhower literally coined the term military-industrial complex in his farewell address to the nation. In an earlier speech he decried the buildup of defense spending, not only in terms of economic drain but also of mental and creative output:

                                                                                                                                                                                      Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. . . . This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Quite a departure from the turn of phrase on Ginsberg: “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.”

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                        Oh yeah. Thanks for posting it. He brilliantly put defense spending into perspective by showing what we sacrifice to waste that money. The hospital comparisons show we might be wasting lives, too. I’ve used paraphrased versions of his arguments in debates with die-hard military supporters for years. It doesn’t get as far as I’d like but it always works to get them to back off a bit. Gotta force them to choose between investing in America, esp American lives, versus wasting money on useless toys.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. 15

                                                                                                                                                                                        History has made it plainly clear that the constitution has failed to keep military power at bay. Our complete loss of privacy is another failure. It turns out a bunch of rich slave owners make a flawed system.

                                                                                                                                                                                        One success of the constitution is no internal wars for 150 years, which is nice.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. 16

                                                                                                                                                                                          Not descending into civil war periodically isn’t really unique to the US though, so it’s hard to say whether anything about that is really because of the constitution.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                            It might be worth looking into how many democracies avoid a civil war with and without a constitution. For a case study, did Australia have more civil war and/or less protection for individuals before its constitution or afterward?

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. 5

                                                                                                                                                                                              Australia is a bit of an odd one, since prior to the constitution it was a military-occupied colony of a country that did have a constitution.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                                Didn’t the different constituent parts of Australia have their own mini-versions of the “constitution” of the UK?

                                                                                                                                                                                                The constitution of the Confederate States of America was essentially a carbon-copy of the US one, with the right to own slaves explicitly added. In all other respects both states considered themselves as heirs to the original US constitution.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                              Which nations are you thinking of?

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                                                I mean, Australia hasn’t really descended into civil war. We’ve only been a federated country in our current form for a little under 120 years but still.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. 4

                                                                                                                                                                                          I love this post because its radical. It points out correctly that the view modifies the model correctly. People often mistakenly delegate that to the controller. Only purpose of the control is to orchestrate views. However I wish he went into more of Trygve’s latest work with DCI.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                            This is mostly due to the way web frameworks work. The router goes to a controller which can update the model.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Newer frameworks are starting to have a router call a function, which seems to bring us a bit closer to the original MVC pattern.