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    Hey @mtnygard, I’m thrilled to see the Lobsters codebase used to help teach, thanks for writing this up.

    One thing I don’t love in the Lobsters codebase is that it’s very relaxed about RESTfulness. I’ve specifically considered reworking the hat code to separate hats from hat requests, each with the standard REST verbs. I’ll have to read some more of your blog posts, because I can’t make it down to Florida for your workshop. :)

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      Alas, the Florida workshop didn’t happen. Somehow I couldn’t convince enough people to come to Florida in March when it was still blizzards and nor’easters up north.

      I’ll have more to come on the topic of hats, but take it with a grain of salt. My audience is people who’ve already decided that microservices make sense for them. I really don’t know that the added complexity and operational expense would be right for Lobste.rs.

      I picked this code base because I think it’s good for teaching. It is a well structured monolith in a domain with which most people will be familiar.

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        It is a well structured monolith in a domain with which most people will be familiar.

        I really wish more people were comfortable with the idea of such things. Thank you for mentioning it!

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          Ah, too bad. Good luck in the future, and please share your blog posts (especially those that happen to use our codebase).

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        On HN someone said: “This will be a tongue in cheek comment, but there’s another thing Datomic isn’t making you do either: GDPR compliance.”

        Immutable data stores are great but the world wants some level of mutability. I’ll link to the comment and responses if anyone is interested.

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          I’m probably biased, but I think Datomic’s model of deletion is perfect for GDPR.

          When you delete something permanently, we call it “excision.” (As in “cutting out”.) After the excision, the data is gone, gone, gone. Any old storage segments that held the excised data get reindexed and garbage collected.

          But, we record the event of the excision as its own transaction. So there’s a permanent record of what got deleted (by the matching criteria) and when. And like any transaction, the excision transaction can have extra attributes attached like who did it and in response to what document number, etc.

          With any other database, once data is deleted, you don’t know that it ever existed and you don’t know who deleted it, when, or why.

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            The link @mfeathers linked to says that excision is very expensive but it’s unclear what that means for use. Do you have any guidance on that?

            1. 1

              Excision does require a full scan of the log, plus a full index job. Depending on the size of your database that can take a while. Because this has to be done atomically, the transactor can’t do anything else while that excision runs.

              This is for the on-prem version of the product. I don’t know how the cloud version does it… it may be friendlier to throughput there.

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                The way you describe it seems like it could be so expensive as to not be viable in production.

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                  EDIT: Sorry for the wall of text… I wanted to say a bit more than “you have to design for it.”

                  I have seen installations where we had to get creative to work around 3 or 4 hour excision times. But I’ve also seen installations where it took a couple of minutes. But even on the low end, it requires design work to handle those delays.

                  There’s a cluster of related design techniques to achieve high throughput with Datomic. I’m still learning these, even after 6 years with the product. But it turns out that designing for stability under high throughput makes you less sensitive to excision time.

                  Mostly it comes down to the queue. Datomic clients send transactions to the transactor via a queue. (This is actually true for any database… most just don’t make the queues evident.) Any time you look at the result of a transaction, you’re exposed to queuing time. “Transaction” here specifically means changing data, not queries. Those are unaffected by excision or the tx queue.

                  I design my systems to start with a DB value that I capture at the beginning of a request. That means I freeze a point in time and all my queries are based at that point in time. This would be similar to a BEGIN TRAN with repeatable read isolation. Then while processing a request, I accumulate all the transaction data that I want to submit. At the end of the request, I make a single transaction out of that data so all the effects of the request happen atomically.

                  When I call the transact function, I get back a future. I pass that future off to an in-memory queue (really a core.async channel, if you’re a Clojurist.) A totally different thread goes through and checks the futures for system errors.

                  All this means that even if the tx-queue is slow or backed up, I can keep handling requests.

                  As a separate mechanism, I’m also exploring the idea of separating databases by the calendar. So like you’d roll a SALES table over each year and keep a history of SALES_2016, SALES_2017, etc. Since I can query across multiple databases quite easily, I can keep my working set smaller by doing that.

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                    All this means that even if the tx-queue is slow or backed up, I can keep handling requests.

                    Can you? For example, let’s say we have a request from the web that is updating my Tinder profile and we’re running an excise to remove old GPS coordinates and this takes 3 minutes. That means my request will hang 3 minutes, right? While you might technically be correct, from a UX perspective, you’re not continuing to handle requests. Or did I misunderstand your description? If I understand you correctly, if you were pitching this technology to me I would probably reject it. I can’t have multi-minute write outages in my super important most popular product ever.

                    like you’d roll a SALES table over each year and keep a history of SALES_2016, SALES_2017,

                    I haven’t used Datomic so maybe the model is so great putting up with things like this is worth it, but I do really dislike having to decide a sharding strategy (should I do years? months? weeks? how do I know? How expensive is it to change after I decide?). Certainly most databases have pretty miserable payoffs, though. Also, is excise just inside a DB or is it across all DBs?

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            1. 1

              That was one of my points against blockchains due to encumberance pollution attacks repos. I had ideas for dealing with it but each had tradeoffs. Tricky paradox to address.

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              Datomic is really great, I just want to use Go or python and those don’t work so well with with it iirc :(

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                And there’s you a startup idea. ;)

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                  When did you last try those? I’m asking because there’s a new “client” API that might make it easier to access.

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                  When I read that GDPR is not enough (which is probably true) I also remember myself that a tremendous amount of companies are totally panicked about this subject. Some friends are running some basic shops (not even online) some of them are pretty bad at technology. From their point of view, GDPR is another trick to kill little business in favor of bigger ones that will have no issues at following the directives.

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                    The thing that keeps nagging me about GDPR is that the complexity seems to stem from the optionality of it. What I mean is that it’s harder to respond to selective individuals’ requests for information about data usage or deletion than it would be to just delete everyone after 90 days.

                    No question, it would be enormous amounts of work to age out PII that quickly. But at least it would be uniform instead of conditional.

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                    What is JavaFX? Every time I’m trying to figure out what is it, I find only lots of nonsensical marketing terms like “Rich Internet Applications”, “Rich Client Platform”, as well as ancient dotcom-crash-era buzzwords like “multimedia”. Looks like it’s GUI toolkit that had been planned to replace Swing, but it completely lacks native look and everything is based on skins (hello from 2001). Is it usable toolkit, or just enterprise gimmick to display interactive sales charts?

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                      I used it on a large-ish desktop project. It’s quite a nice library. It’s easy to use in common cases, has a very clean and regular UI, and is really, really fast. We use the CSS styling just a bit (to offer a dark theme) but not much of the XML-based scripting stuff.

                      It’s much easier to use than Swing, thanks in part to backing away from the L&F split.

                      Oh, JavaFX also makes it dead easy to get an OpenGL context in a panel.

                      1. 2

                        So, it’s more similar to Qt Quick and Clutter than Silverlight or Adobe Air?

                        And is “traditional” GUI with input boxes, lots of buttons, resizable layouts doable in it? Can I just instantiate trees of these elements without dealing with skinning details or OpenGL? Do standard interactions (selecting text in text boxes with mouse or keys, clipboard, cursor movement, scrolling) work as expected, unlike, for example, some GUIs in game engines?

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                          I don’t know Qt Quick and Clutter, so I can’t comment. Definitely in the first release, JavaFX was positioned as a competitor to Silverlight and Air. JavaFX 1 was all about the XML to make it declarative and script-driven. With JavaFX 2 they seemed to back away from that positioning a bit.

                          As far as the expected complement of widgets, yep. They’re all there. You don’t have to deal with CSS or skinning if you don’t want to. Just instantiate the components and go. All the interactions you’d expect are there. It’s not like an OpenGL rebuild of a GUI toolkit. It’s a GUI toolkit that also makes it easy to show OpenGL.

                          (The docs can be a little misleading here again, because they talk about a “stage” and a “scene”, which makes it sound like a 3d engine. It’s not.)

                          Another thing I liked is that they extended the JavaBeans getter/setter model with active property objects. Instead of creating a custom listener interface for everything like in AWT, you can just bind to specific properties and get notified about changes to those. That gives you a narrower interface that’s used more broadly… which makes it super-easy to use from Clojure. :-)

                          One thing I dislike is that you’re expected to have your main class be a subclass of javafx.application.Application. They want to take control of initial class loading and application startup. There’s a goofy workaround needed if you want (like me) to have main be a Clojure function. That’s not of general interest though so I won’t clutter this post up with it.

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                        JavaFX was, if I recall properly, the first widespread attempt at doing reactive programming in the UI. I think it grew from the community (Romain Guy was the main developer), as it is too innovative to be something that was created out of a top-down approach. I was happily surprised when it got integrated into the JDK, for obvious strategic reasons at the time, as mentioned in other comments.

                        1. 2

                          Oracle’s marketing is strange. I got interest to try it only after comments here, official webpages for JavaFX only repelled me. It looked like top-down thing to resurrect applets, I didn’t even know it’s a GUI toolkit and not chart plotting or animation lib.

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                          It has confusingly referred to several different things over the past, but in this context, it’s really just a UI toolkit - it could be seen as a replacement for Swing.

                          I find that it’s nicer to use in some ways than Swing (I don’t particularly like the concept of CSS for regular UIs, but it does make altering style and positioning quick and easy), but it’s less complete, lacking features (such as an extensible text editor kit) that the more mature Swing does have. It’s also more buggy and sometimes slower than Swing, and has some ill-conceived design choices (weak references in property bindings, urgh).

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                            It’s basically like the interface builder in xcode but just for Java.

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                              Examples for beginners “Getting started with JavaFX” does not use any builder: first widgets are instantiated directly and then defined in xml. Interface builder probably exists too but it’s definitely not a killer feature of JavaFX, and UI builders exist for Swing too.

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                                Thanks for the correction! So it’s more like the XML layouts for Android?

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                                  According to other comments here and some introductional docs, it’s just another GUI toolkit for Java, alternative to Swing, but more “modern” and without native look-and-feels. XML is just one of features. It was initially marketed as alternative to Silverlight, but in reality it’s another GUI toolkit.

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                            Ironically, the biggest thing that stops people from joining a Mastodon instance is the paradox of choice. If you want a Twitter account, there’s exactly one place to go and a newcomer has zero things to figure out before joining.

                            If you want to join a Mastodon instance, you have to grok the distributed nature, figure out why some instances block other instances, which code of conduct you endorse (or pick an instance without one). All those choices create a higher barrier new users have to overcome to “get in”.

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                              Ironically, the biggest thing that stops people from joining a Mastodon instance is the paradox of choice.

                              And network effects. I am not very active on Mastodon, since most friends and colleagues (computational linguistics, ML) are not on Mastodon.

                              I also think that the default user interface, even though it is nice for advanced users, is not simple enough.

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                                I think it largerly depends on how your interests match the instance you join.

                                I was invited to join mastodon.social social but I now realize that I mainly follow people from other instances.

                                Probably the fact that I’m mostly interested in software related matters (even if from a wide range of perpectives, including law and ethics) is what make the local timeline pretty boring to me…

                                Finding the right instance might not be simple.

                                Maybe a tag cloud representing the topics threated in the instance could help in the decision (together with the code of conduct obviously).

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                                I can see why you’d think this, but my experience has been that it really doesn’t matter, other than obvious stuff like not picking a fascist-friendly place. If you’re on a small instance then your local timeline will be quieter, but personally I found the majority of people to follow thru IRC or threads like this, so the local timeline didn’t really come into it.

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                                  I have never depended heavily on the local or federated timeline for discoverability, but I joined during a wave of signups where lots of people I already knew on Twitter were already joining.

                                  I imagine that, if the one person you know on the fediverse is also the person who told you about it, and that person is also a newbie or has mostly different interests, the local timeline matters a lot more. (And, if you’re reasonably ‘normie’ – if your strong interests aren’t geared toward witchcraft, furry fandoms, communism, and the internal politics of the FSF – you might have a really hard time finding an instance geared toward you anyway.)

                                  I couldn’t be the one to do it, but I wonder if it would make sense to make a handful of sports-centric nodes. It would probably attract a lot of users.

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                                  And so instead of taking the time to make informed choices, these users would rather delegate that responsibilty to a corporation which then makes all sorts of important choices for them….

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                                    I think it’s a bit flippant to say that they don’t make an informed choice. Some people really do prioritize their time over other things.

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                                      or they have no idea what advantages a decentralised system would provide, and completely overlook its existence

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                                        or they don’t value the benefits the decentralised system provides, and consider the centralisation a pro.

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                                  I suspect this will motivate some legislation to require all digital cameras embed a unique cryptographic signature in their images.

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                                    It’s going to be interesting to see whether governments actually catch up with this, or whether it’s left to industry to respond to “market” demand for “video and photos that we can trust”. Seems like a pretty good case for regulation, in that when these techniques get good enough that we can’t tell whether they’re genuine or not (without getting into an infinite ML-turtle regression), pretty much all legal infrastructure that could ever rely on visual recordings as evidence is going to be up for grabs until there’s a way of proving the evidence is valid.

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                                    I can think of a couple of stumbling blocks that might be in your way. First, how are you getting the leads in the first place? Are they coming from personal connections and referrals or are they from job boards? Your interview experience sounds like job boards. Personal connections can give you a “warm introduction” that pre-positions you as an advancing professional before you ever walk through the door or send in a resume. Friends and mentors can be a good place to start.

                                    Second, your resume may be “coded” toward lower level positions. There’s a certain way of describing projects that emphasizes the strategic or large-scale work versus detailed work. Fair or not, people expect that detail work equates to entry level whereas work described in terms of its business impact equates to senior developer or architect. This also goes for “work on tech” versus “work on people.” Senior developers, tech leads, and architects spend as much time teaching, guiding, and mentoring the team as they do implementing the code.

                                    The truth is that every position involves a combination of detail work and high level. People and code. But how you express those positions on your resume makes a statement about where your personal focus lies.

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                                      This seems like a niche begging for a product.

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                                        You mean like Ubiquiti’s AmpliFi Teleport?

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                                          Ubiquiti’s AmpliFi Teleport

                                          I hadn’t seen that before. Looks very useful.

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                                        I’m a big fan of Alan Kay and the VPRI, but I always wondered why some of their most interesting projects (COLA by Ian Piumarta, for instance) never really got much traction. It seems to me that the dynamics of innovation have drastically changed since the PARC era. Now innovation seems much more social and decentralized, and new developments happen much more organically without the need for third-party funding. The open-source distributed model is actually quite effective, see the RepRap community in 3D printing. That being said, major breakthroughs or radical ideas are probably less likely to happen without proper funding, simply because they require a critical mass of people and initial time investment. However, I can’t help but see a lot of nostalgia from Alan Kay’s recent talks and writing. Maybe it’s time for other Alan Kays to emerge from the distributed innovation community?

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                                          I wonder if an innovation needs a gradual shift from protected environment to public engagement. Really groundbreaking ideas can’t happen on a plan or in the spotlight. They take time away, as Alan says. But to go from breakthrough to impact on the world today takes vast investment from many people, usually under an open-source model. (Heavy funding can substitute for broadly distributed passion, of course.)

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                                          This is really interesting! The author hypothesized an algorithm that may or may not be how it’s really done. But the demo video looked like it was learning the programmer’s characteristic errors.

                                          I’ve had alias mkae = 'make' in my .bashrc for years. I need this feature!

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                                            I find this worrisome, since we still see nearly-daily browser hijacking exploits. It sounds like a cliche, but I have to clear out 3rd party “toolbar extensions” and “search enhancers” from my mother-in-law’s laptop about once a month.

                                            The idea that any of them could drive a payment API is troubling.

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                                              It’s good to see more research into practices/testing! I do think it’s a bit strange to say that this is how unit testing “affects” codebases though - this is only looking at correlation, not causation.

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                                                I wonder if it would be possible to use version control history to see if there’s a difference between test-first and test-after codebases.

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                                                  Yeah you can be direct without being a dick. “I won’t merge something that breaks the kernel, please find some other way.” would have worked just fine.

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                                                    And in fact, that’s how it works most of the time.

                                                    Linus’ reputation as an asshole is due, in part, to selection bias, and the high profile of Linux. Thousands and thousands of merges go into the kernel all the time without a problem, and without Linus going off on a rant.

                                                    I don’t work on the kernel, but my observation has been that the big blow ups seem to only come after people repeatedly break the rules. I won’t say Linus handles it well, but I don’t think he’s as bad as some maintainers in some smaller open source communities.

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                                                      It’s survivor bias, not selection bias. He also owes a lot of it to businesses that got his kernel out there plus make up a lot of contributions. It’s not as if him being an asshole combined with some FOSS contributors that loved that asshole equals success of Linux.

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                                                        Not that it makes a difference, but I believe I was correct in calling it selection bias. Nobody will post to Lobste.rs or write an article when Linus is being nice, so in general people only see the bitchy posts, hence the bad reputation.

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                                                          I don’t think that’s strictly true.

                                                          I think there are a few salient points here:

                                                          • If you just go by his posts that make it to lobste.rs/hacker news/reddit, you’ll get an extremely skewed view of Linus’s attitude. The vast majority of his communications are somewhere between polite and blunt. (Remember, his job basically entails reading and writing emails all day every day, and he writes something social-media worthy at most monthly.) To the best of my knowledge, he’s never exploded at a kernel newbie, only at long-time kernel hackers.
                                                          • That said, his attitude is still incredibly problematic. It’s been demonstrated to drive away talented developers. It drives away new developers, even if they are not themselves directly getting yelled at by Linus.
                                                          • Linux’s success is a complicated beast dependent on a whole host of factors, including to varying extents all of good timing (a few years later and BSD would have made it through its legal troubles), technical talent, corporate support, sheer dumb luck. Linus’s attitude certainly had an impact, but where it slots in that long list is impossible to say; I think it was a negative factor and thus, based on Linux’s evident success, had a relatively low impact, but obviously that’s pure speculation.
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                                                            Even adding in that first bullet from you and jlarocco, I think I still agree with about everything you said. It’s consistent with my position that he goes too far with the bad stuff.

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                                                          I have never ever behaved this way to my colleagues, and I suspect you haven’t either. So to call it selection bias is to ignore that he’s doing something that the vast majority of us would be fired for. It’s not okay to rarely shout down your coworkers. Sure it’s better to do it rarely than every single day, but the fact that we keep examples of this is a clear example that he has no checks and balances.

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                                                            And generally these are people who have a corporate position that makes them believe they are entitled to break the rules.

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                                                          The only thing I’m getting tired of is people pulling the odd email out of thousands and wringing hands over how mean Old Man Linus is.

                                                          Maybe folks should reflect on how, after 25 years of loud and blatant protestations by Linus, fucking morons keep trying to merge the same types of userspace breaking bugs.

                                                          Maybe, sometimes, a broader more accepting tent isn’t the answer.

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                                                            If Linus being famously mean for 25 years hasn’t produced a productive culture, perhaps it’s time to try a new approach.

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                                                              But it has produced a plenty productive culture - a culture that produces a better end product than many more professional environments, in fact.

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                                                                Professionally “rewarding”, still toxic at the personal end. It’s mentioned in this article mentioned at the main link.

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                                                                  Professionally “rewarding”, still toxic at the personal end. It’s mentioned in this article mentioned at the main link.

                                                                  And little of value was lost. This is how Sarah Sharp tried to publicly humiliate the guy with a wife and daughter - https://lwn.net/Articles/559077/ :

                                                                  *Snort*. Perhaps we haven’t interacted very often, but I have never seen you be nice in person at KS. Well, there was that one time you came to me and very quietly explained you had a problem with your USB 3.0 ports, but you came off as “scared to talk to a girl kernel developer” more than “I’m trying to be polite”.

                                                                  I disagree with labelling things and people as “toxic” in general, but I’ll choose Linus over Sarah any day: https://linux.slashdot.org/story/15/10/05/2031247/linux-kernel-dev-sarah-sharp-quits-citing-brutal-communications-style

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                                                                    Did we read the same mail? Did you read any of the quoted parts from Linus? A guy that refuses to even consider treating people with respect is a clear-cut asshole. I’d much rather work with someone that talks about treating people with dignity than someone that refuses to consider the concept seriously.

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                                                                        You got it backward. Linus is the special snowflake here if he can continue to be that unnecessarily-abusive publicly with no consequences just because his work just happened to get popular in that way. Expecting people to deliver constructive criticism or not chase away good talent is the default for those managing good teams in most places. A manager/leaser simply getting off on abusing those doing work is adding nothing of value to the project in doing so.

                                                                        Instead of a snowflake, people just expect to be treated with decency by default with shitflakes like Linus able to get away with being exceptional jerks.

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                                                                            That would be a good trait if he had it. Instead, he’s still pushing monoliths in unsafe languages with limited metaprogramming. Took forever to get it reliable versus Minix 3’s a few developers in a few years. So much for his decisions being merit-based. ;)

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                                                                              he’s still pushing monoliths in unsafe languages with limited metaprogramming

                                                                              Linux is modular.

                                                                              There was no serious alternative to C back in 1991 and, as much as I love metaprogramming, it increases the amount of surprises for the programmer.

                                                                              Took forever to get it reliable versus Minix 3’s a few developers in a few years.

                                                                              It’s easy to be reliable when your biggest deployment is on Intel’s spy chip.

                                                                              Minix was little more than an emulator pet for a few CS students, before that. Low on drivers, low on performance, low on functionality. You might as well compare Linux with L4…

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                                                                                It’s modular in kernel mode for full compromise and crash potential. There were a bunch of memory-safe languages used in other OS’s before 1991, esp from Wirth, whose safety could be selectively disabled. Worst case compile them to C to leverage compilers while dodging programmer-related problems like some projects did.

                                                                                “It’s easy to be reliable when your biggest deployment is on Intel’s spy chip.”

                                                                                DOD is one of Red Hat’s biggest customers and sources of funding for contributions to Linux. Lots of kernel bugs were also found by analysis and testing tools from CompSci similarly funded by US-government. I agree that helps but a company just freeloaded off Minix 3. Should’ve went with GPL.

                                                                                “Minix was little more than an emulator pet for a few CS students, before that. Low on drivers, low on performance, low on functionality. “

                                                                                You should’ve seen the first Linux. It was similar but crashed more. Meanwhile, several years earlier than 1991, QNX folks were building a microkernel-based UNIX that became reliable as hell, fast, and deterministic. The Playbook versus iPad comparisons were the first I got to see with multimedia after BeOS. In both, the multithreading without stalling abilities were mindboggling versus the better-funded, older competition. My Linux systems can still come to a crawl over misbehaved applications to this day. Things that the others made highly unlikely with better architecture.

                                                                                You’re arguments were who used it and features that came with labor put in. Either one of those put into better architecture would’ve made an even better Linux. So, they’re neutral points. Mine was Linus wouldn’t listen anyway. If you believed him in Linus vs Tannenbaum, things like the Playbook w/ QNX and BeOS would’ve been impossible to program easily or perform well. Way wrong cuz he’s about politics and arbitrary preferences as much as merit. Like most developers.

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                                                                It has, though?

                                                                What I meant was that newcomers seem to be ignoring 25 years of norms and others being surprised when those newcomers–who are doing dumb things–are told to knock it off.

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                                                                  Yeah, With “productive”, which seems to have been a really poor word choice, I meant one that didn’t have to teach the same thing over and over in the way you described. Sorry to you and the other responders for the confusion.

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                                                                    Thanks for the clarification, and agreed.

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                                                                  Linux is the most successful, widespread operating system kernel of all time. You can say the man’s rude, but you can’t say the results demonstrate unproductivity.

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                                                                    The others from Microsoft, Apple, and IBM also were driven by assholes who were greedy on top of it. Just throwing that in there even though Im anti-Linus in this debate.

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                                                                  There’s honestly no good reason to be hostile. It doesn’t actually help reduce the problem, evidenced by the fact that what he has done hasn’t worked. Instead they need processes for check in, code reviews, and linters. Linus should be delegating more as well if this is bothering him so much.

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                                                                    That’s not a theory supported by the evidence.

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                                                                      What he’s done hasn’t worked. Most contributions are from businesses. Many good talent say they avoid it. That seems to be evidence of something. Meanwhile, the Rust crowd managed to get piles of people early on for one of the hardest-to-learn languages I’ve seen in a while. They used the opposite approach. Now, two projects or even ten aren’t a lot of datapoints for an empirical assessment of which method is working. Oh, what can we do to see how much or how little damage Linus is doing to kernel in terms of lost contributions?

                                                                      Oh wait, it turns out researchers in universities have been doing both observational studies and surveys on large numbers of organizations and people for decades covering this very thing. A key question was which management styles have most positive impact. One thing that’s pretty consistent in the research is that people working for assholes were much more likely to half-ass their work on purpose, dodge doing work, or even sabotage that person where possible. People working for those that treated them with respect or constructive criticism did better work. That kept being a result of most studies. Crazy to ignore decades of consistency in human behavior when trying to decide how best to treat them in a FOSS project for achieving goals such as more contributors, higher-quality contributions, and so on.

                                                                      The theory supported by the evidence is that Linus’ style when doing what’s in the OP is unnecessarily rude and destructive. The evidence says he’ll loose a lot of talent since that talent just needs a worthwhile project to work on rather than his project. Just like he feels he doesn’t need them. Objectively, such a result is bad for the project if one wants it to improve. He might be willing to sacrifice features, QA, and so on for the personal enjoyment of those insults. That is what he’s doing. Anyone defending him shouldn’t pretend otherwise. Instead, they should shift to their actual argument of “I know we’re losing contributors that could’ve made the Linux kernel even better. The main reason is Linus’s personal preference. We think that’s a good status quo to maintain because…” That does look to be a harder position to defend, though, on either technical or moral grounds.

                                                                      1. 1

                                                                        Just to say, would be nice if you posted source of the research you’re referencing.

                                                                        1. 3

                                                                          I’m too much of an overloaded procrastinator to give it to you. I’d have to resurvey it as I bet the Web 1.0 sites are gone, new ones have formed, and I’ll have to dig through tons of noise. I do plan to either find or do another meta study on that in future since it’s so critical. For IT, I always told people to read the PeopleWare book and Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. Lots of managers hand out the latter believing it’s great advice. Implies they think blunt assholes are non-ideal. The No Asshole Rule book also cited a bunch of studies on effects of people being assholes downward or upward in an organizations recommending against it.

                                                                          I do need to recollect the studies, though. Plus do a new bookmarking solution I’ve been procrastinating on since Firefox is full to point it constantly looses bookmarks lol.

                                                                4. 8

                                                                  Linux would not be what it is today if they would be “merge-first-fix-later” type code-conducted safe place for noobs to mess around in.

                                                                  1. 16

                                                                    If you’re going to be derogatory, safe space is properly mocking.

                                                                    There is a near infinite gap between “let the noods do whatever they want to the codebase” and “don’t degrade people’s character because they submitted a PR you dislike”.

                                                                    I guess some people are just more tolerant of a project leader taking their anger and frustration out on people trying to get involved?

                                                                    1. 20

                                                                      The problem isn’t that he wouldn’t merge the person’s code. The problem is the unprofessional way that he treats other people. The fact that you think the problem is that he wouldn’t merge the code is either deeply concerning or purposefully avoiding the issue.

                                                                      1. 7

                                                                        If you actually read the damn thread, you see that Linus actually explained this pretty clearly: http://lkml.iu.edu/hypermail/linux/kernel/1711.2/01357.html

                                                                        The person decides to ignore Linus and Linus gets angry, I really don’t see a problem here.

                                                                        1. 2

                                                                          Ok, I read the full thread. It’s more reasonable in the other parts. Kees seems to have put some work into making it acceptable. Later on, I see someone do what Linus should’ve done in the first place in giving specific details about where he’s coming from in a way that wouldn’t have bothered me as a contributor:


                                                                          After seeing that, I’m more annoyed by whoever was half-assing security contributions to the kernel so much that it will be hard for worthwhile contributions to get in.

                                                                          1. 1

                                                                            Yeah, same here - I think there are just special snowflakes who think that human psychology has anything to do with whether or not the kernel is going to continue running reliably for me, the kernel user. Guess what snowflakes, nobody cares about the feelings if the product doesn’t work.

                                                                            Not to mention, this is only the squeaky wheel - Linus has been nice and professional and accommodating many, many times over. Many more times over, in fact. It just never makes the news ..

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                                                                            I’m not used to navigating the CVE database, is there an easy way to restrict issues to just the Linux kernel?

                                                                        3. 6

                                                                          Nope. I think he’s great. And I’m very glad that he is stewarding the Linux project to this day. Whether you think its ‘nice’ or not, his management of the Linux kernel has produced superlative results - and sometimes, in the thick of the mob, you have to be an asshole to get people to work the way they need to work to continue producing quality results.

                                                                          What I am sick of, is petulant snowflakes who think they know better than Linus how to manage the 1000’s of developers that want to have their fingers in the pie. The kernel doesn’t care about your feelings, and neither do 99.9999% of the kernels really important people: its users.

                                                                          1. 4

                                                                            Since when did asking to be treated with the bare minimum of basic human decency become a “special snowflake” thing? Nobody wants Linus to write “You’re so wonderful, and special, and beautiful, but I cannot accept this patch because, despite how wonderful and unique it and you are, it just won’t work with Linux’s performance requirements.”

                                                                            NOBODY is asking for that. So I don’t get why I keep seeing “special snowflake” thrown around. I guess it’s just a strawman? (OH WAIT I GET IT NOW!)

                                                                            Notice how your comment is verging on “nobody can critique the way Linus runs the project (that we all rely on in myriad ways)”. Aren’t snowflakes the ones who want to shut people down and stop discussion? Isn’t it the “snowflakes” that want to prevent people from having to hear mean things? (Like, stop taking your anger out on contributors because you’re not 7 anymore).

                                                                            Doesn’t it kind of seem like–and bear with me here, I know it hurts–that you’ve become the special snowflake? Stifling discussion, needing a space where someone you look up to is immune to criticism, insulting people who are just trying to have a conversation?

                                                                            Isn’t it your post that seems to be the petulant one here?

                                                                            1. 2

                                                                              Since when did asking to be treated with the bare minimum of basic human decency become a “special snowflake” thing?

                                                                              Precisely at the point where well-established ground rules, respected by the rest of us, were continually broken with no regard for the work load incurred, nor the hassle of having to deal with all the noise. Or did you miss the part where known, functional, productive policies were repeatedly ignored in the rush to get this patch included in the next release?

                                                                              Its one thing for a contributor to feel like they should be treated with respect as a special snowflake whose feelings are more important than the work, or in this case non-work, that they are contributing to the lives of others; its another thing to respect the very foundations of the activity from which one is attempting to derive that respect in ones own life.

                                                                              Perhaps you missed the part where this could have been a disaster for the Linux kernel, and a lot of time was wasted having to deal with it, since the original developer decided to ignore the policies, well-since established as being necessary to the task of managing the Kernel patch integration process?

                                                                              “nobody can critique the way Linus runs the project (that we all rely on in myriad ways)”

                                                                              Well, whether you like it or not, its the truth: Linus has guided the way through decades of these kinds of events, and we have an extraordinarily powerful tool that has revolutionised computers as a result. Perhaps you ought to consider whether the quality of your own work and contributions might improve if you harden up a little and don’t take offence so easily. Time and again, this proves to be true - in the real world and in this fantasy land we’re currently sharing as participants in this thread.

                                                                              The poster involved in this incident seems to have accepted that they were, in fact, violating a fundamental policy of the Linux kernel developer group, and has addressed the issue in a way that moves things forward - how, exactly, would Linux kernel development be pushed forward by your insistence at being treated like a snowflake?

                                                                              A mistake was made - the policy was not followed - and Linus jumped on the guy. He’ll never do it again, many many others have also learned the importance of the check-in policy (Rule #1: Don’t Break The Kernel.) and he doesn’t seem at all worse for the wear, personally, as a consequence; its really only folks such as yourself who are getting so easily upset about this, because Linus somehow doesn’t conform to your particular cultural ideal.

                                                                              Perhaps you haven’t been following Linux kernel development for long, or with much attention - there are many, many counter-cases of Linus having great relations with the developer group, which don’t seem to figure into your equation that “Linus is rude”. He’s precisely rude when he needs to be, and an awesome, polite, respectful individual, all the while. Please try to avail yourself of that truth before you continue ad-hoc insults and insinuations against random Internet strangers. It hurts my feelings to be challenged by an ignoramus.

                                                                              Doesn’t it kind of seem like–and bear with me here, I know it hurts–that you’ve become the special snowflake?

                                                                              Are you assuming that I wouldn’t want to be called a snowflake when appropriate? Because, I’m quite a snowflake, and often, when its appropriate or otherwise. Absolutely nothing with being called one, when you are one. Or, is there some other kind of kettle we should be boiling for tea?

                                                                          2. 2

                                                                            If a security vulnerability is introduced by design it’s still a bug. It just means the mistake was made at design time as opposed to implementation time.

                                                                            1. 2

                                                                              In all sincerity here, what would it mean for a person to say, “I’m not going to tolerate this behavior?”

                                                                              Linus would still own the Linux trademark. He’d still control the mainline kernel repo. The “lieutenants” that manage various areas of the kernel would still control those areas and report to him. It seems very unlikely that they would support a coup. (Anyone who had a major problem with Linus’ behavior wouldn’t have lasted long enough to get one of the top positions.)

                                                                              As a user, you can choose not to use or support Linux. But as a user, you don’t get to change the way the project runs.

                                                                              I think the most extreme option you’d have would be to fork the source code and try to attract both a large developer community and a large user base on the basis of running a more inclusive community. But there’s a chicken-and-egg problem to that approach.

                                                                              There’s an implicit hypothesis that says, “A more inclusive community will produce a better kernel.” Let’s assume that proves to be true. Some users would switch on that basis alone, but most will wait to see practical benefits. Since it would still take time for a fork to produce tangible benefits, you’d have to attract developers and users with the promise alone. We have a small set of cases to examine, where a major open source project was forked with the intention of creating a better community. It appears that the majority of users will hang back with a “wait and see” approach.

                                                                              I really don’t know what kind of negative feedback anyone could apply to Linus that would have an effect.

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                Working code doesn’t care about your feelings. Working code is completely orthogonal to human emotions. My computer runs whether I’m crying or not.

                                                                              2. 0

                                                                                This behaviour would violate the code of conduct of any sensible project.

                                                                                Maybe you should run a kernel made by the CoC crowd. I’ll stick with the foul-mouthed guy.

                                                                                1. 5

                                                                                  The only one I know off top of head is Redox OS since it used Rust CoC. It’s got potential but is alpha software. All the rest that are good seem to be made with different philosophies with a range of civility.

                                                                                  I am interested if anyone knows of another usable OS made with all activity enforced with a CoC a la Rust/Redox. At least the basic console or GUI apps so it’s usable for some day to day stuff.

                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                      Good catch. This one…

                                                                                      “There can be no place within the FreeBSD Community for discriminatory speech or action. We do not believe anyone should be treated any differently based on who they are, where they are from, where their ancestors were from, what they look like, what gender they identify as, who they choose to sleep with, how old they are, their physical capabilities or what sort of religious beliefs they may hold. What matters is the contribution they are able to make to the project, and only that.”

                                                                                      …is where the politically-motivated try to find a lot of wiggle room for censorship as beliefs vary. One reason I collect these is so we can look back at data in commits or on forums to see what impact they have. Note I said OS that was made with the activity enforced this way. Some could have it added as an evolution of moderation policies well after it’s a successful project that was built on a different philosophy. How long has that CoC been in FreeBSD?

                                                                                      1. 4

                                                                                        How long has that CoC been in FreeBSD?

                                                                                        It’s relatively new - it was announced in July 2015. Even before the CoC was added a few developers were ejected for abusive behaviour (I’m not going to dig those out, but you can find references online).

                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                          Ok, so it’s not an example of an OS developed under the CoC. It was a highly-mature OS that probably started with really different kinds of people just because they were the norm for early days of BSD’s and Linux. With your comment, they were just using common sense of ejecting folks who were obviously abusive without anything more formal or constraining. That still leaves Redox as the only one I know that had the policy and supporters of it from the start.

                                                                                          The main way I think this can be tested is with frameworks or libraries that are in same language and crowd. Basically, keep the situation as close as possible so about the only strong variable is community style. Should be easier with libraries or frameworks since they’re more accessible to new contributors. People are always doing more of those.

                                                                              1. 7

                                                                                There’s a dimension that I haven’t seen mentioned yet.

                                                                                Communication norms differ wildly across cultures. For instance, people in The Netherlands speak bluntly, to the point of seeming offensive to people from the US. Contrariwise, people from the US may seem like they constantly beat around the bush and won’t just say what they mean.

                                                                                Now, I don’t know of a culture where saying “you should be ashamed of this” is considered acceptable form. But a statement like, “You’re wrong. Here’s how,” can come off as rude or belittling to people from cultures like the US and Canada, where direct criticism is not used. I’ve seen the reverse too, where “That’s bollocks” was routine business comms.

                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                  You even see this distinction within the US. I notice a lot of northeastern individuals have a more direct approach to discussion than compared to west coast people.

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                                                                                  This isn’t about debugging or UNIX for that matter. It’s about “normalization of deviance”, that one gets used to an incomplete, unfinished tool/feature/system, come to rely on it, and then something doesn’t work and isn’t transparent about “why”.

                                                                                  Reminds of Ken Thompson’s “ed” editor’s sole error message - “?”. Because you should be able to figure out why on your own.

                                                                                  So he’s right that UNIX is filled with the issue from the beginning, but he’s a bit obscure about the connection to the debugger. gdb is no different than ton’s of similar debuggers I’ve used for decades on systems unrelated to UNIX as well, so don’t blame it.

                                                                                  If something refuses to function, there needs to be a means to say “hey, this part over here needs attention”. In this case, it’s like an uncaught exception, which is shorthand for “figure it out yourself”, i.e. back to Ken Thompson’s world as above.

                                                                                  These things happen because someone doesn’t have the time or interest to finish the job. All kinds of software are left similarly uncompleted, because it works well enough to get the immediate job done, and the rest is quickly forgotten. Hardware examples abound, the the Pentium floating point errors, and like variants.

                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                    I’m reminded of this presentation, aimed at language (in a very broad sense) designers about how to make better error messages.

                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                      Thanks for that link. It is exactly what I needed at this time.

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                                                                                    I think one of the biggest “secret” is the debugging technique or method. It is kind of similar to scientific method (hypothesis, test, evaluation of result), but never explicitly described, it is just something you have to pick up as you go. That really separates those who can program anything and those who can’t.

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                                                                                      I would agree with this, and specifically the part about generation of hypotheses about what might be wrong, and how to specifically test and evaluate then, and if they’re wrong, reject them and come up with a new one afterwards. It’s hard without experience to generate hypotheses when there’s no hints and nobody who knows more than you about the problem. It also seems to be hard to be objective about your hypothesis, seek to prove if it’s right or wrong, and reject it if it’s wrong. It’s these things that you can’t learn by reading about them.

                                                                                      1. 8

                                                                                        It is frustrating.

                                                                                        We have an entire Internet or two of “programming tutorials” that frequently leave out all of the problems and mistakes that the author made while trying to write it – believing perhaps this makes them seem like less of an expert. I’d like to see more things like this gem (see the mistakes at the bottom).

                                                                                        We also have a computer science curriculum which still seems to pretend (at least at the beginning) that instructions are equal and memory is fast and “teach” binary-trees and probed hash tables as “data structures”. But whatever. How do you know this hasn’t degenerated into a linked-list? Debugging seems remarkably absent any CS curriculum being single stepping, mental simulation of an algorithm, and printf.

                                                                                        However I don’t think the scientific method is quite right. Peirce believed that too much rigour (or as he put it “stumbling ratiocination”) was inferior to sentiment, and that the scientific method was best suited to theoretical research. For more on this subject, see the Pragmatic theory of Truth, but a little background for my argument should be enough: Peirce outlined four methods of settling an opinion:

                                                                                        1. Tenacity; sticking to ones initial belief brings comforts and decisiveness, but ignores contrary information.
                                                                                        2. Authority, which overcomes disagreements but sometimes brutally
                                                                                        3. a priori – which promotes conformity less brutally but fosters opinions as something like tastes. It depends on fashion in paradigms, and while it is more intellectual and respectable it sustains accidental and capricious beliefs.
                                                                                        4. The scientific method, which obviously excels the others by being deliberately designed to arrive – eventually – at the most secure beliefs, upon which the most successful practices can be based

                                                                                        Now we still see a lot of “programming wisdom and lore” which people do because they always have, or because some blog said so. I’d argue syntax-highlighting and oh-my-zsh are fashionable, and laugh at anyone who believed that the scientific method could demonstrate these tools are ideal.

                                                                                        So what then? Well, it means we have pseudo-science in our programming.

                                                                                        It’s for this that I remain that we (as a society) don’t know how to program computers – let alone teach anyone how to program (and therefore debug). I predict this will mature over the next couple hundred years or so, but I don’t expect anyone in my lifetime to be able to teach programming itself, the way, for example, we can teach bridge-building.

                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                          “I don’t expect anyone in my lifetime to be able to teach programming itself, the way, for example, we can teach bridge-building.”

                                                                                          We’ve been doing it a while if you keep the structuring simple. The first is an iterative method for doing that with low cost that combines things like lego blocks. Even students get low defect rate on quite-maintainable code. The second adds formal specifications and verifiable code to drive predictability up and defects further down. The third combined with error-handling techniques and automated testing is pretty good at dealing with stuff too complex for the rest. So, I’d say we can do quite a bit of what you describe but it’s mostly just not applied.




                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                            I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying. Maybe you don’t understand what I’m saying.

                                                                                            Clean room doesn’t help a programmer understand what’s wrong with:

                                                                                            memcpy(a, b, c*d);

                                                                                            All of these examples advise not putting bugs in the first place – sensible advice to the novice, for sure, but how exactly does that teach us how to debug programs?

                                                                                            What constitutes a bug in the first place? Eiffel sounds great not having any bugs in it, but what exactly does that mean?

                                                                                            Is “DISK 0K” a bug? There’s a wonderful story of tech support getting a report that I’m getting an error message about my disk being full, but the computer says it’s ok.

                                                                                            If you’re saving a big (multi-gigabyte) CAD drawing to disk and run out of space ten minutes in, should the system generate an error, telling you to quit and delete some files and try again later? We use multitasking systems, so why not pause and give the user the option to retry or fail? They can delete some files if they want to…

                                                                                            What about an email server? What if it runs out of disk space? Should reject a message? Could we still pause, let the client timeout while we page the sysadmin/operator?

                                                                                            Writing software is in part, being able to say what you mean (implement), and part being able to mean what the business means (specify), but it’s also clearly (still) a matter of taste because we don’t have good science to point to giving us the answers to these questions.

                                                                                            In contrast, have you seen bridge engineering handbooks? Pretty much every consideration you might have when you need to build a bridge is documented and well researched in a way that makes software development professionals look like lego builders.

                                                                                        2. 2

                                                                                          Two great talks on the topic of debugging:

                                                                                          Stu Halloway on Debugging with the Scientific Method

                                                                                          Brian Cantrill on Debugging Under Fire: Keep your Head when Systems have Lost their Mind

                                                                                          What I find interesting is that, depsite their different backgrounds and presentation styles, their advice has a lot of similarity.

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                                                                                          At work we’ve recently started using Architecture Decision Records (ADR). These are lightweight documents capturing a decision, and more importantly its context and tradeoffs. This has really cut down on rehashing conversations again and again, and lets us keep working asynchronously, while also transferring important architecture decisions.

                                                                                          I find ADR’s much easier to write than documentation, because you’re writing down what you’ve been thinking and talking about, rather than having to transform it into a documentation context.

                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                            Very cool to hear. Are any of them on open source or public projects? People are always looking for examples of ADRs they can study.

                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                              Unfortunately not, though I’ll probably use them on other open source projects I work on.

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                                                                                            It makes me sad there there are so many different instant messaging platforms in common use today and they are all proprietary and unfederated walled gardens.

                                                                                            • iMessage
                                                                                            • Skype
                                                                                            • Facebook messenger
                                                                                            • Snapchat
                                                                                            • Google Hangouts
                                                                                            • Google Allo
                                                                                            • WeChat
                                                                                            • SnapChat

                                                                                            I would like for something like XMPP to be successful, but it seems more and more unlikely as time goes on.

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                                                                                              I until recently would have agreed. However, I think that Conversations on Android showed that you can make a good client that people seem to be able to agree upon. Having something like that (a dominant, fully featured, yet simple to use) application, maybe web application could make things better again when using XMPP.

                                                                                              If not I hope that Matrix picks up some steam. It looks promising, however I think it’s too early. Currently the clients are very rough around the corners and only techy people seem to use it. That’s not a complaint, other than against myself, for not helping out - or not having time to.

                                                                                              This is all based on the assumption that the major reason for not using XMPP is the lack of easily working desktop/mobile sync, especially in combination with encryption. OMEMO to me is the best thing that has happened in a while.

                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                I’ve sometimes thought that the only reason we have good email interoperability is because there was no profit in running email systems back when the standard was written.

                                                                                                It seems that there’s no way to create a commons once a market develops. (I’m happy to be proven wrong, and would love to see counterexamples!)

                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                  XMPP is evolving with the times. You can now get end-to-end encryption, and mobile-friendly optimizations that minimize polling and save battery life.

                                                                                                  Android client: https://conversations.im/

                                                                                                  iOS client: https://chatsecure.org/

                                                                                                  Eventual codebase unification: https://chatsecure.org/blog/chatsecure-conversations-zom/

                                                                                                  Riot/Matrix isn’t XMPP but is similarly open: https://matrix.org/docs/projects/client/riot.html

                                                                                                  1. 3

                                                                                                    Not to mention KakaoTalk, WhatsApp, and LINE, which are crazy popular in places that aren’t the US.

                                                                                                    1. 3

                                                                                                      You listed Snapchat twice!

                                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                                        I think there is a slight difference with iMessage. When it comes to the Mac app, you could plug in all sorts of services that had XMPP as their baseline. This fell apart over time as Facebook, Google, etc. all closed up and in the High Sierra version of Messages you can only add smaller Jabber/XMPP services.

                                                                                                        For a lot of those services, they did start out as open XMPP services, but it’s likely the case that they realized they didn’t want the competition on the client side.

                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                          I think part of the issue has been XMPP’s lack of adoption of new market features, and how hard it’s been to keep up with the pace of innovation throughout the entire XMPP federated network. If those challenges can be made simple, I’d expect there to be an increase in adoption. I don’t know if that would be enough to start chipping away at the network effect however.

                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                          I often see code bases where every domain class has an interface, such that the signatures in the interface map one-to-one with the public signatures in the domain class. It’s usually motivated by a desire for test mocks but sometimes also as an interpretation of DIP and dependency injection.

                                                                                                          So far, every time I’ve seen that there were real abstractions struggling to get out of the mammoth interface. Usually some smaller set of methods are used together by a subset of callers. Another set of methods will be used by a different set of callers.

                                                                                                          That’s what the segregated interface principle is about. Each of those subsets of methods show cohesion, so each should be separated into a more descriptive, more abstract interface.

                                                                                                          As a rule, I scrutinize any interface that has exactly one implementer.