Threads for vivekgani

  1. 2

    Interesting. Could the right side of ‘computational environment’ be based around something that already exists like Jupyter notebook?

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      I’ve been using this since before the pandemic and it’s been vital to staying keyboard-centric. I think I’ve paid for it at some point but I could be misremembering.

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        Shortcat has been around for nearly a decade, and was a bit inspirational for what apples accessibility (axapi) frameworks are capable of to me. I went down a rabbit hole for a while of trying to make a multitouch gesture app using similar APIs

      1. 1

        I haven’t touched it lately, but I keep a spreadsheet rooted around Mac workflows (and apps) I’ve liked to help with switching to Linux and noting Windows apps as well: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/148zTJUwfVv9xfDcpSoH3mF-c4vqV3CqyEWXuqaAiXoA/edit?usp=drive_web&ouid=115795755008503287756

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          I think Supertag looks great, and recall trying to set it up on a ZFS backed ZVOL, maybe FUSE-on-EXT-on-ZFS. I don’t remember what stopped me, maybe I really wanted to compile it from source or just put it down one night never came back to it. Might try that again some day!

          A similar tool is found within the git-annex tooling, which I’ll refrain from trying to explain in my own words because their docs are just great:

          https://git-annex.branchable.com/tips/metadata_driven_views/

          Didn’t go through with this one either, because.. I tried to git annex add my entire drive, including old backup directories that had been rsynced over. Git (annex) isn’t made to handle that many files, but it’s mostly on me: there are some config settings that would have eg. avoided unnecessary disk reads, and the real solution is to zip/tar up any folder that I don’t expect to be adding individual files to in the future. Kinda wish there was a FUSE FS that would let me browse or even modify such archives while letting git-annex see just the broad structure (like iso archives and loopbacks), or a modification of git-annex (and presumably git) to that effect.

          1. 3

            Interesting. Motivates me a bit more to someday look into making a git-annex client for gnome a la ‘git annex turtle’ https://github.com/andrewringler/git-annex-turtle

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            I absolutely just want a tiny, silent, cool ePaper laptop capable of running Linux/BSD in a purely text mose.

            1. 9

              I would also love a Linux compatible e-ink laptop. I look for one from time to time, but there has never been one that has been worth the price for me. There are some things on the market that come close, but they normally have a few things that I don’t like and come with a price tag too high for me to want to compromise.

              1. 7

                Exactly what I’m dreaming of. I even asked MNT founder about it: https://mamot.fr/web/@ploum/109082688438688769

                I’ve written about my quest here : https://ploum.net/the-computer-built-to-last-50-years/

                I thought that Astrohaus was nailing it.

                Unfortunately, I’m really angry against Astrohaus for the Freewrite. Their software are a shame, force using a proprietary cloud and are full of bugs. My Freewrite, despite its weight, have no more battery than my laptop. The traveler has a very very bad keyboard to the point of making it unusable for me (I had to send it back because some keys were always quadrupled. Now, the space is only working if I press it really violently). See gemini://rawtext.club/~ploum/2021-10-07.gmi

                Placing all my hope on the MNT Pocket even if I would need to adapt my layout to the keyboard. Hoping to see an eink version soon to use with only a terminal. Neovim, Neomutt and Offpunk are all I need 95% of the time ;-)

                  1. 4

                    I’ve written about my quest here : https://ploum.net/the-computer-built-to-last-50-years/

                    This is very interesting, thank you for sharing. One point I’m unsure about is storage… I’m not aware of any existing storage technologies that would last more than a dozen years. Mechanical drives fail because they’re just fragile, especially in a computer than can be easily moved around. SSDs/flash are less fragile but blocks still “go bad”, though wear leveling helps a little I guess. Maybe some purpose-built SSD with a huge number of spare blocks would last 50 years?

                    1. 4

                      SSDs also require power, at least sporadically, for them to retain data. I’ve seen a recommendation to power up and read all the data on a SSD once yearly to make sure there’s no data loss.

                    2. 2

                      addendum: I think your blogpost would be worth its own submission

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                        Thanks. It has already been submitted : https://lobste.rs/s/1b1rxk/computer_built_last_50_years

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                          my bad, missed that when looking for it.

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                        It has come up in discussions around the reform in the past (I think on the reform forums), and @mntmn said that it’d be an interesting option, but at least at the time there wasn’t really anything good enough available that could be easily used.

                        Would not surprise me to see someone do it as a modding project though, if they can find a usable panel in a close-enough size.

                      3. 3

                        I haven’t tried it, but the Remarkable2 is apparently running linux; https://www.mashupsthatmatter.com/blog/USB-keyboard-reMarkable2 walks through adapting it to take a USB keyboard, but looks like it’s still a bit of work.

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                          I’ve seen that it was possible to install Parabola Linux on the rM1. I haven’t tried it yet but it’s indeed a very interesting possibiity.

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                            I have an rM2, and it has some Linux distro installed by default. I haven’t messed around with installing a totally separate OS, but I have used https://toltec-dev.org to install some homebrew apps as well as general Linux utilities

                      4. 9

                        I read this comment from my Kobo Clara HD e-reader which is running full NixOS (with Rakuten’s vendor kernel) - it’s not a laptop but it is kinda a tablet and does support OTG.

                        I’m hoping the Kobo Clara HD 2e is similarly hackable because it has Bluetooth. I’d love to be able to use a wireless keyboard and have audio, in the future.

                        1. 1

                          Since writing this, I had a quick look at the Kobo Clara 2e and it looks close enough that I’m going to gamble that my existing NixOS installation might boot. Purchased for $209AUD. Let’s see.

                          1. 1

                            Huh, nice. I have a Kobo Clara HD, but the only hacking I’ve done to it is to install KOReader. It would be pretty nice to be able to write with it, and to have a Gemini client on it.

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                              I tried Gemini yesterday! nix-shell -p castor:

                              https://i.imgur.com/TXGCfmq.jpeg

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                                Looks good!

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                            Re composability: This is a really good point, I wish the author referenced earlier demos to show what’s been possible, such as with smalltalk where alan kay states “Windows here are views of tools and the kinds of resources authors use to create the writings of the future…” https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=AnrlSqtpOkw&t=4m19s (Via https://twitter.com/i/web/status/881029891860307969 )

                            Re ui customization: I sit a bit on the other side of the fence around this, erring towards finding a design language that enables a balance of accessibility and general flow. Think there needs to be writing framed around the tradeoffs, as I find myself loving large titlebars and some of the touchscreen-accomodating design decisions the gnome team has been making.

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                              One more digression, it may be worth exploring how an IDE like VSCode could be easier to compose/composition collections of tools to spread availability of a workflow.

                              Something I’m currently exploring..doesn’t necessarily relate to the desktop environment idea but brings up a lot of questions around why we end up with ‘apps’.

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                              I may not actually finish any of these, as is always true for me, but I’m partway through each of:

                              • Governing the Commons, by Elinor Ostrom: a book about how groups deal successfully with the “tragedy of the commons” problem and related issues.
                              • Complex PTSD; from Surviving to Thriving, by Pete Walker: I enjoy reading opinionated accounts of psychology, and this one is very opinionated.
                              • Gravity’s Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon: I tried reading this in high school and got bored; I’ve recently found that many things I thought were boring when I was younger have somehow become fascinating, so I have high hopes.
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                                If you have trouble reading GR, I do recommend the audiobook. I read it once and fell for it, but listening to it gives you more of the rhythm of the story in spite of the jargon, foreign words, etc. Watching or reading about the V2 project doesn’t hurt either. If you can’t get into it, Bleeding Edge is also good and a frighteningly accurate portrayal of the silicon alley era in nyc. Unfortunately the audiobook of that one is monotone and bad (at least the version out a year or two ago)

                                1. 3

                                  Finished reading Gravity’s Rainbow a month or so ago - as you very well know, it’s a trip.

                                  But a rewarding one, I think, at the end.

                                  Good luck!

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                                    Governing the Commons

                                    Complex PTSD

                                    I haven’t read either, but have you heard of the book Prosocial & https://prosocial.world ? It sorta combines ostrom principles with acceptance-and-commitment therapy. One of the communities I’m involved in ( https://earthregenerators.org ) is fairly influenced & associated with it.

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                                      Governing the Commons is fantastic - just a model for how to write well, with vivid stores of such commons-management systems (timber near a Swiss village, irrigation networks in Indonesia, etc). A must read for anyone with a passing interest in economics. Politically, it’s super important because it busts the inevitability of private property, especially in this new world where we are more aware of sustainability issues.

                                    1. 9

                                      I had been drooling over this type of devices for years, with the dream of being able to do quick work anywhere, be it on the train, the couch, etc. Always have a tiny laptop handy that can do everything a normal laptop can.

                                      Then I got a Pinephone with the keyboard case, which promised to be exactly that. But I did not use it for long. Aside from the fact that it was massively underpowered, the form factor was not good either. It is simply not good for your posture to use this for an extended period of time. I got a stiff neck and shoulders pretty quickly, accompanied with RSI-like symptoms in my hands and fingers.

                                      In hindsight this is obvious, of course. That’s what you get with such a small keyboard and screen. But if I am only going to use it for simple commands and notes then… I can better just use my Android phone with termux that I already am carrying around. After that experience tiny laptops completely lost their appeal for me.

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                                        Being underpowered is the main concern for me. Otherwise, I don’t even consider this as a contender for the main work device. I see it as a crossover of a novelty toy and and an emergency response device. For that it needs to be small, light, and not freeze when there’s an ssh session open along a few tabs in a browser.

                                        I was tempted by a few devices before but reviews always shown that they were slow.

                                        I don’t hold my breath this will tick both boxes. But it might be ticking the novelty box really hard so I’m still kinda excited.

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                                          But I did not use it for long. Aside from the fact that is was massively underpowered, the form factor was not good either. It is simply not good for your posture to use this for an extended period of time.

                                          You might like this fellow crustacean’s setup: https://www.reddit.com/r/ErgoMobileComputers/comments/s6kgv2/split_keyboard_raised_iphone_writing_setup/

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                                          I think that this article misses the fact that there can be common paths to different goals. And those common paths are where the true collaboration happens. For what it’s worth, mass collaboration can happen even with anonymity, as evidently showed by 4chan, for example. I think the main mistake the author makes is wording it as “collaborating towards”, rather than “collaborating upon”. Because that is the main way that (at least I) see mass collaboration being done.

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                                            Yeah I had a similar thought; it may not seem like collaboration in some cases but “modern communication methods” are definitely updating our behaviour in some ways and likely we will keep evolving those methods to improve our collaboration (since that will be necessary to deal with climate change).

                                            What he points out is mostly that explicit collaboration rarely seems to succeed as intended.. while most of the actual collaboration has been incidental, which he fails to mention but you point out.

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                                              Similar sentiment but think his point at the end makes sense that “While the internet has allowed more collaboration to take place, the internet has not caused collaboration. It takes teamwork, shared goals, and relationships that work.” ,

                                              To ramble a bit, I find myself reflecting on these elements when reading such articles:

                                              environment - in this case the author is oriented more around remote internet-based activities done on a personal computer.

                                              values - could be a simple maximization (win a game, make money) derived from an environment (video game), or something with more complexity/nuance.

                                              goals - likely derived from the environment/value leading with varying temporal natures - could be something short-term like win a game, of repeated nature (win game again), or something more complex/adaptive.

                                              ‘Mass Social Change’ is also a field of research that has been discussed in academic spaces, but can get muddied or lose meaning in practice. (see https://spanda.org/assets/docs/spanda-journal-VI,1-2015.pdf , and https://www.slideshare.net/joebrewer31/why-i-am-no-longer-attempting-to-build-a-rigorous-science-of-social-change as a critique )

                                              I find myself thinking more about the articulation between something being collaborative vs. collective after hearing a software developer say their tool ( https://www.athensresearch.org/ ) is designed to be collaborative but not necessarily collective. I’m active on another internet-based group that’s become a collective organism of sorts but it’s been trying to be rooted with the teachings of https://www.prosocial.world/ to become that way. It’s worth noting that there can also be transitions where a system starts out with a pareto of a single person doing a bulk of the work (collaborative, not quite collective) then later evolves into a core group doing that work (collaborative & collective)

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                                                Written in 2010. The year arguably matters, it was a fairly emergent time for startups, particularly mobile apps.

                                                HN Discussion from that time: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2037576

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                                                  Alright, this is cool, don’t get me wrong, but: Why e-ink? I too want a frontlighted panel for programming, but I feel like this usecase woul be better served by an e-paper LCD panel. Like Pebble had, but several years newer. My old laptop had a cheaper screen which was decently readable in direct sunlight with the backlight off. A grayscale trasflective panel would IMO be significantly better, as they don’t suffer from e-ink reponse times.

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                                                    You’re referring to the Sharp memory lcd panels. I don’t recall them ever selling a large panel let alone with something close to hiDPI. You’d probably need a fairly substantial volume expectation for them to consider making such a thing.

                                                    Compare to the 13.3 eink grayscale panel IIRC has been around in some form for nearly a decade.

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                                                      You’re right, I didn’t realize that discussion was only 5 days ago. This blog post was published today however and has more technical detail than any of their previous posts so I think there may be new things to discuss.

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                                                        Fair point, thanks.

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                                                      The meat of this link is their recent update https://www.modos.tech/blog/get-involved-with-modos calling for 50000 survey signups and a demo video of monochrome (not grayscale) mode eink operating at high refresh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ds38T8wVuDg

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                                                        I’m glad I watched the video demo. I didn’t realize that E-ink could refresh so quickly, that was very impressive, even if it’s only monochrome instead of grayscale.

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                                                        Stop using laptops. For the same money you can get a kickassssss workstation.

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                                                          But then for the time you want to work away from the desk you need an extra laptop. Not everyone needs that of course, but if you want to work remotely away from home or if you do on-call, then laptop’s a requirement.

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                                                            Laptops also have a built-in UPS! My iMac runs a few servers on the LAN and they all go down when there’s a blackout.

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                                                              Curious in which country you live that this is a significant enough problem to design for it?

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                                                                Can’t speak about the other poster, but I think power distribution in the US would qualify as risky. And not only in rural areas. consider that even Chicago burbs don’t have buried power lines. And every summer there’s the blackout due to AC surges. I’d naively expect at least 4 or 5 (brief) blackouts per year

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                                                            i get that, but it’s also not a very productive framework for discussion. i like my laptop because i work remotely – 16GB is personally enough for me to do anything i want from my living room, local coffee shop, on the road, etc. i do junior full-stack work, so that’s likely why i can get away with it. obviously, DS types and other power hungry development environments are better off with a workhorse workstation. it’s my goal to settle down somewhere and build one eventually, but it’s just not on the cards right now; i’m moving around quite a bit!

                                                            my solution? my work laptop is a work laptop – that’s it. my personal laptop is my personal laptop – that’s it. my raspberry pi is for one-off experiments and self-hosted stuff – that’s it. in the past, i’ve used a single laptop for everything, and frequently found it working way too hard. i even tried out mighty for a while to see if that helped ((hint: only a little)). separation of concerns fixed it for me! obviously, this only works if your company supplies a laptop, but i would go as far as to say that even if they don’t it’s a good alternative solution, and might end up cheaper.

                                                            my personal laptop is a thinkpad i found whilst trash-hopping in the bins of the mathematics building at my uni. my raspberry pi was a christmas gift, and my work laptop was supplied to me. i spend most of my money on software, not really on the hardware.

                                                            edit: it’s also hard; since i have to keep things synced up. tmux and chezmoi are the only reasonable way i’ve been able to manage!

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                                                              Agree. The ergonomics of laptops are seriously terrible.

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                                                                Unfortunately I don’t think this is well known to most programmers. Recently a fairly visible blogger posted his workstation setup and the screen was positioned such that he would have to look downward just like with a laptop. It baffled many that someone who is clearly a skilled programmer could be so uninformed on proper working ergonomics and the disastrous effects it can have on one’s posture and long-term health.

                                                                Anyone who regularly sits at a desk for an extended period of time should be using an eye-level monitor. The logical consequence of that is that laptop screens should only be used sparingly or in exceptional circumstances. In that case, it’s not really necessary to have a laptop as your daily driver.

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                                                                  After many years of using computers I don’t see a big harm of using a slightly tilted display. If anything a regular breaks and stretches/exercises make a lot more difference, especially in long term.

                                                                  If you check out jcs’ setup more carefully you’ll see that the top line is not that much lower from the “default” eye-line so ergonomics there works just fine.

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                                                                    We discuss how to improve laptop ergonomics and more at https://reddit.com/r/ergomobilecomputers .

                                                                    (I switched to a tablet PC, the screen is also tilted a bit but raised closer to eye level. Perhaps the photo in the ‘fairly visible blogger’s setup was setup for the photo and might be raised higher normally)

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                                                                  That assumes you’re using the laptop’s built-in keyboard and screen all day long. I have my laptop hooked up to a big external monitor and an ergonomic keyboard. The laptop screen acts as a second monitor and I do all my work on the big monitor which is at a comfortable eye level.

                                                                  On most days it has the exact same ergonomics as a desktop machine. But then when I occasionally want to carry my work environment somewhere else, I just unplug the laptop and I’m good to go. That ability, plus the fact that the laptop is completely silent unless I’m doing something highly CPU-intensive, is well worth the loss of raw horsepower to me.

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                                                                  A kickass workstation which can’t be taken into the hammock, yes.

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                                                                    I bought a ThinkStation P330 2.5y ago and it is still my best computing purchase. Once my X220 dies, if ever, then I will go for a second ThinkStation.

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                                                                      A few years ago I bought an used thinkcentre m92. Ultra small form factor. Replaced the hard drive with a cheap SSD and threw in extra RAM and a 4k screen. Great set up. I could work very comfortably and do anything I want to do on a desktop. Including development or whatching 4k videos. I used that setup for five years and have recently changed to a 2 year old iMac with an Intel processor so I can smoothly run Linux on it.

                                                                      There is no way I am suffering through laptop usage. I see laptops as something suited for sales people, car repair, construction workers and that sort of thing. For a person sitting a whole day in front of the screen… No way.

                                                                      I don’t get the need for people to be able to use their computers in a zillion places. Why? What’s so critical about it? How many people actually carries their own portable office Vs just doing their work on their desks before the advent of the personal computer? We even already carry a small computer in our pocket att all times that fills up lot of personal work needs such as email, chat, checking webpages, conference calls, etc. Is it really that critical to have a laptop?

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                                                                        I don’t get the need for people to be able to use their computers in a zillion places. Why? What’s so critical about it?

                                                                        I work at/in:

                                                                        1. The office
                                                                        2. Home office
                                                                        3. Living room

                                                                        The first two are absolutely essential, the third is because if I want to do some hobbyist computing, it’s not nice if I disappear in the home office. Plus my wife and I sometimes both work at home.

                                                                        Having three different workstations would be annoying. Not everything is on Dropbox, so I’d have to pass files between machines. I like fast machines, so I’d be upgrading three workstations frequently.

                                                                        Instead, I just use a single MacBook with an M1 Pro. Performance-wise it’s somewhere between a Ryzen 5900X and 5950X. For some things I care about for work (matrix multiplication), it’s even much faster. We have a Thunderbolt Dock, 4k screen, keyboard and trackpad at each of these desks, so I plug in a single Thunderbolt cable and have my full working environment there. When I need to do heavy GPU training, I SSH into a work machine, but at least I don’t have a terribly noisy NVIDIA card next to me on or under the desk.

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                                                                          The first two are absolutely essential, the third is because if I want to do some hobbyist computing, it’s not nice if I disappear in the home office.

                                                                          I believe this is the crux of it. It boils down to personal preference. There is no way I am suffering to the horrible experience of using a laptop because it is not nice to disappear to the office. If anything, it raises the barrier to be in front of a screen.

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                                                                          Your last paragraph is exactly my thoughts. Having a workstation is a great way to reduce lazy habits IMNSHO. Mobility that comes with a laptop is ultimately a recipe for neck pain, strain in arms and hands and poor posture and habits.

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                                                                            I have 3 places in which I use my computer (a laptop). In two of them, I connect it to an external monitor, mouse and keyboard, and I do my best to optimize ergonomics.

                                                                            But the fact that I can take my computer with me and use it almost anywhere, is a huge bonus.

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                                                                      “Inkscape’s devs have worked to design a merged Layers and Object dialog in 1.2”

                                                                      It’s been about 1.5 years since trying to use inkscape on a real project, but coming from the Adobe/Sketch world this was a huge frustration - Neat to see it’s being improved.

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                                                                        FWIW, I curate more ‘everyday’ ergonomic mobile computing devices at https://www.reddit.com/r/ErgoMobileComputers to help anyone trying to pick out setups they might depend on over the more enthusiast/complementary ‘cyberdeck’ setups (occasionally I slip and add an inspirational cyberdeck in though)

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                                                                          It might look like prolonged human misery throughout the world.

                                                                          https://ourworldindata.org/uploads/2019/11/Extreme-Poverty-projection-by-the-World-Bank-to-2030-786x550.png

                                                                          Bluntly: capitalism, growth, wealth, technology - these are the drivers of human progress and flourishing.

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                                                                            I agree except that the poverty reduction shown in East Asia is from socialist China.

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                                                                              China’s “socialism” revolves around state-owned enterprises in a market economy. They’re pretty capitalist, even Chinese schools teach the Chinese system of government as a Hegelian derivation of socialism and capitalism.

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                                                                                What distinguishes capitalism as a system is that profit is the decisive and ultimate factor around which economic activity is organized. China’s system makes use of markets and private enterprise, but it is ultimately planned and organized around social ends (see: the aforementioned poverty alleviation).

                                                                                In China they describe their current system as the lower stage of socialism, but yes they’ve developed it in part based on insights into the contradictions of earlier socialist projects.

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                                                                                  Another, less charitable, way of looking at it: the Chinese Government is unwilling to relinquish power, but discovered through the starvation and murder of 45 million of their own people that mixed economies are less bad than planned economies.

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                                                                                    Yeah, I used to believe all that too. But eventually I got curious about what people on the other side of the argument could possibly have to say, and much to my surprise I found they had stronger arguments and a more serious commitment to truth. Then I realized that the people pushing those lines I believed were aligned with the people pushing all sorts of anti-human ideologies like degrowth.

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                                                                                      “Government willing to relinquish power” is a sufficiently low-half-life, unstable-state-of-being that the average number in existence at any given time is zero. What information does referencing it add?

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                                                                                        I disagree. Any government participating in open, free, elections is clearly willing to relinquish power.

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                                                                                          In Australia, 78 senate seats and 151 house seats change occupants at an election; the remaining 140,000 government employees largely remain the same.

                                                                                          Is replacing 0.1% of the people really ‘replacing the government’?

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                                                                                            Ah, fair - I was referring to the politicians (theoretically) in charge of the civil service. I’m intrigued by where you’re going with this, though … are you concerned about the efficacy of changing the 0.1% even in the case of democratically elected Governments?

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                                                                                              To my mind, long-term stability is the key practical advantage of constitutional democracies as a form of government.

                                                                                              Dictatorships change less frequently, and churn far more of the government when they do. Single-party rule is subject to sudden, massive policy reversals.

                                                                                              Stability (knowing how the rules can change over time, and how they can’t) is what makes them desirable places for the wealthy to live and invest, which makes larger capital works possible.

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                                                                                                Right so to paraphrase - you don’t see the replacement of politicians by democratic means as likely to effect significant change, but also, you see that as a feature not a bug?

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                                                                                                  Essentially, yes. Significant changes would imply that the voters have drastically changed their minds in a short time, which essentially never happens. The set of changes is also restricted (eg no retrospective crimes, restrictions on asset seizure).

                                                                              2. 1

                                                                                Some starting criticism: https://issforum.org/essays/PDF/CR1.pdf

                                                                                Encourage taking “our world in data” charts with a grain of salt when considering fossil fuel dependence (and our future), planetary boundaries framework losses (notably biodiversity), etc.

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                                                                                  Hunter-gatherer societies also ran up against the limitations of their mode of relating to the environment. A paradigm shift in this relationship opened up new horizons for growth and development.

                                                                                  If we’ve reached similar environmental limits then the solution is a similar advancement to a higher mode, not “degrowth” (an ideology whose most severe ramifications will inevitably fall upon the people who are struggling the most already).

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                                                                                    This is a book review. What does it do to suggest the data that the number of people in extreme poverty is decreasing are false?

                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                      Okay, go back to the linked chart, which references Poverty and Shared Prosperity, (World Bank, 2018) - here’s some reflection around the metrics - 12 Things We Can Agree On about Global Poverty (Hickel & Kenny, 2018) - notably the words of caution about such data:

                                                                                      “10. Income and consumption does not tell us the whole story about poverty. Poverty is multi-dimensional, and some aspects of human well-being can be obscured by consumption figures.”

                                                                                      “11. The present rate of poverty reduction is too slow for us to end $1.90/day poverty by 2030, or $7.40/day poverty in our lifetimes. To achieve this goal, we would need to change economic policy to make it fairer for the world’s majority. We will also need to respond to the growing crisis of climate change and ecological breakdown, which threatens the gains we have made.”

                                                                                      “12. Ultimately, the more morally relevant metric is not proportions or absolute numbers, but rather the extent of poverty vis-a-vis our capacity to end it. By this metric, the world has much to do—perhaps more than ever before.”

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                                                                                  I find this all to be irritatingly naive. To (re)quote just one bit:

                                                                                  Degrowth in software means that it’s okay for your software to be finished and not receive new features. ‘Growth’ is just a capitalist euphemism for ‘bloat’. Nothing in nature grows endlessly, things reach a level of maturity and they stop there. Same should be true for software.

                                                                                  Wrong analogy. A piece of software isn’t like one living thing, it’s like a species (a genome, almost literally.) So a better analogy is with evolution, which does in fact proceed endlessly. A species is never “finished” unless all its members die off, rather it keeps evolving and changing. It might change in only tiny ways, making it seem static (coelocanths come to mind, or sharks) but that depends on how well suited it is to its environment. Any species can change quickly if it needs to, to adapt to a changing environment.

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                                                                                    I think the example here would be Photoshop. You’re have a software that does everything a digital photo manipulator needs, but Adobe has to justify the need to release new versions every year, so it can keep billing people and paying engineering, marketing, legal, management teams, so you end up with new features that are not really needed by anyone…

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                                                                                      Photoshop is certainly an extreme example. And I’m not an artist or pro photographer so I can’t even judge the claim that Photoshop has too many features. But there are a pretty small number of programs of this nature. Are they actively harming the world?

                                                                                      (By comparison I’m in a slightly better place to judge audio/music software like Ableton Live or Apple’s Logic, both of which are mature but continue to add important, valuable features.)

                                                                                      I think this specific paragraph is using a straw-man: who would claim it isn’t ok for a piece of software to be “finished” and stop growing? The argument seems to be pointing farther, saying software should stop growing at a certain point. I disagree.

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                                                                                        Do people use those features though? Maybe they’re not needed, but people want them anyway.

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                                                                                        Can’t agree more. In a future where computing power growth stops or stalls (either because we reach the limits of Moore’s law, or degradation of global supply chains forcing us to do more with less) software has a critical place in coping with a diminished computing ecosystem.

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                                                                                          One could argue a user may need to change ‘species’ of software in order to continue using older hardware - such as switching from Macos/windows on an older machine that’s no longer getting updates to Linux.

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                                                                                            I don’t think it’s the wrong analogy. I think it’s spot on and we are very much at a the stage described in that quote. From a pure science point of view, life itself is a mysterious challenge of the universal entropy variation principle. A self ordering system.

                                                                                            It has been 20 years since the launch of windows XP and, in all fairness, it did everything a desktop user wanta from a desktop operative system today. Appart from window snapping, development of desktop operative systems has been dominated by trends and opinionated changes. Not by addition of features that add really practical obvious advantages.

                                                                                            The same applies to iOS and android. These operative systems offer essentially the same bulk of functionality they did a decade ago.

                                                                                            Chrome, vscode, git, SSH, grep, a terminal emulator, jq and curl account for probably 99% of what I use my computer for. Of course, some.of these include their own root and client certificates. But such things could be decoupled from them. Other tha. That, if I was given 5 year old versions of all this software, I wouldn’t even notice the difference.

                                                                                            I think it is time to bring back the old mindset of leaving a problem solved and focus on things we need, rather than things that are successful marketing wise.

                                                                                            Do you know or cafe which version of core utils you run? What about your shell? What about grep, curl, your editor, etc..?

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                                                                                            See also https://www.conservationmagazine.org/2012/12/heirloom-technology/ (Saul Griffith, 2012) for a perspective from roughly a decade ago.

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                                                                                              That’s a good read! Unfortunate to see that not a whole lot has changed on this subject after a decade; things are still “progress[ing] in a piecemeal manner” and “still largely conceptual in nature”.