The Culture War in Open Source is On

Nathan Schneider, writing at Model View Culture:

The bug that has been lurking in the open-source codebase all along, for the partisans, might be best summarized as neutrality. The OSI’s Open-Source Definition prohibits value judgments about such things as “fields of endeavor,” business models, and technology stacks. The Free Software Foundation puts the idea this way: “The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose.” As long as the code remains free and open, users—whether individual or corporate—should not be constrained by a licence in what they do or how they make money. Any such constraint, the argument goes, is a slippery slope. During his brief return to OSI’s email lists, (Eric S) Raymond quoted Thomas Paine: “He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.” Restrict others, and it will come back to haunt you.

I’ve had this link in my Pinboard for months, and just got round to re-reading it.

In reality, the “political ratfucking” and “vulgar Marxism” that Eric S Raymond bemoaned on his (brief) return to the OSI turns out to be others pointing out that perhaps we should be more thoughtful about how Open Source is used. Neutrality, in situations where Open Source is being used for ill, means you’re effectively siding with the oppressors.

[ I might make this a regular thing. No promises, though. ]

My iPad Mini 4 and iPhone SE (OG) are still on version 13.7 — I turned off Automatic Updates on both devices when I heard that 14.0 was dropping with only one day’s notice. After the hiccups that version 13 went through, I’ll wait a bit until the kinks have been ironed out.

My 2017 iMac is still on macOS Mojave 10.14.6, and I’m debating whether to upgrade to Catalina before Big Sur ships or continue to sit tight and wait for the latter to get a version bump or two. I’ve prepared a Mojave virtual machine using Parallels Desktop, which I’ll use for a few Steam games. Out of curiosity, I cloned that machine last night and upgraded the clone to Catalina just to see what changed. I’ll admit that Screen Time would be potentially useful to have, as I use that a lot on the iPad to control my gaming. The big question would be whether my printer would still work.

I’ve removed one possible pain point that was holding me back from Catalina — I recently switched from Apple Mail to Mozilla Thunderbird, and the latest version is working well for me. Those who were put off by the old-school looks of Thunderbird probably won’t be turned by the new version, but I’ll take functional over pretty any day.

The integration between Apple Mail and DEVONthink was nice to have, but I can do that just as quickly by saving emails to DEVONthink’s inbox folder.

I’ve been experimenting again with Linux, with a view to keeping this iMac working once Apple stops supporting it. I’ve got an external SSD I can use, so I don’t interfere with macOS. Dual-booting is a pain, though, and I’ve held off from installing rEFInd because it requires temporarily disabling System Integrity Protection (SIP), and I’m not sure how well that’ll work once I upgrade past Mojave.

Linux Mint works pretty well, although the built-in sound doesn’t seem to work. Luckily, the output monitor on my Blue Yeti microphone does work, as does my Bluetooth headphones, although I’ll stick to the former to avoid re-pairing every time. I could even play some modern Steam games, which pleases me a lot!

My mum’s Android phone stopped playing notification sounds the other day after a system update. I spend ages checking various settings and sending messages from my iPhone via WhatsApp to test, but nothing seemed to make any difference. In the end, I restarted the damn thing and sound notifications worked again. Go figure.

I am very glad that I no longer do technical support professionally, as stuff like this would drive me bonkers!

Back in May 2020, I mentioned that I was disconnecting my website from the community.

And now I’m back again.

What changed?

Well, I have to admit that I do miss the interactions I had on there.

Plus, the posts of the few Micronauts that I added to Inoreader can’t be replied to from outside of, unless I’m missing something. (Perhaps a WebMention interface of some kind?)

But mostly it was a recent revelation that I’ve had regarding the web versus apps. You see, most of my niggles about revolved around the apps. But lately, I’ve been experimenting with using Inoreader, Pinboard and other services directly within the browser, and it works shockingly well even on the iPad. So much so that I’ve now jettisoned a load of apps from my devices. (I’d already done this for my blogging workflow earlier this year.)

So now, when I want to comment on something on, I can just pop over to the website and do so there.

Sadly, I no longer have my original username, so I’m going by my old moniker of ‘Wears Many Hats’, a pretty apt description of my professional life. 🙂

Okay, cross-posting to is working. I’ve removed the extra RSS-only content that was being appended to the end of short posts like this one — truth be told, no one has used that link, so no loss.

I’ve just reinstalled some IndieWeb support to this blog, let’s see how it works out.

Also, hello again to folks on! 🙂

Simon Woods:

Starting to think we need a very public list of every website that has such awful tracking technology embedded into it that you need to go through a cookie manager just to use it.

All of these websites ought to be on a warning list until they renounce invasive ad tech.

I’m pretty sure that this information could be collated from data supplied (via opt-in) from users of ad-blocking and tracker-blocking extensions, as well as by those browsers that support such technology built-in.

Of course, the advertising industry — which, at this point, should really be named the surveillance capitalism industry — will balk at this. But this data would be the expression of the will of the people who are viewing the content that has those trackers stuffed into them. Combine with additional statistics on how much processing power and bandwidth is being taken up, and I think it would be very revealing indeed!

Art Kavanagh:

Somebody goes to the trouble of splitting a post/essay/article into 280-character chunks so as to tweet it and then someone else asks a Thread Reader app to “unroll” the thread. The app then reassembles the tweets into a single post. Does this make any sense?

On the one hand, there are good reasons for using Thread Reader or something similar.

On the other hand… Hello?? Links are still a thing, you know? Even if you don’t have a website of your own to post it to — which you probably should look into because posting your content to social media only is a fool’s errand — there are file-transfer platforms and ad-hoc blogging serves out there.

I had to deal with a computer problem this morning. My mum’s iMac had restarted to install a security update, but wasn’t coming back up to the desktop.

I got it into the Recovery mode and checked the hard disk for errors, but that reported no issues. It partially restarted and got as far as ‘your computer was shut down, do you want to reopen applications?’, but then was stuck at a black screen.

I rebooted back into Recovery mode and restored it from the most recent complete Time Machine backup from last night. That did the trick, and after reauthorizing iCloud and waiting for Apple Mail to import all of Mum’s email, it was back up and running.

At some point, I need to look into getting that iMac running from an external SSD to speed it up — I can’t upgrade the memory on it as it’s the 21-inch model, but I can bypass the internal hard disk, which is the other major bottleneck affecting the speed. I’ll also need to look at cleaning things up a bit, and maybe getting her back onto Safari instead of Chrome.

The moral of this story? External hard disks are cheap, and all modern operating systems come with automated backup systems built-in, so it’s not hard to make sure your computer’s data is regularly backed up. It has saved my bacon many times in the past, and I’m glad I made sure that Mum’s iMac got backed up too.

The other day, Art Kavanagh wrote a piece about RSS (Really Simple Syndication) that raised some interesting questions. And no, I’m not just mentioning this because he mentions my blog. 🙂

I stopped using RSS around the same time that Google closed Google Reader, but not because of that. As far as I remember, I hadn’t really been aware of Google Reader till I read the announcement of its end. I’ve never really liked web-based readers or used them much: I preferred an approach that allowed me to read feeds in the browser (as both Safari and IE11 did) and it was when Safari dropped that feature that I gave up on feeds, a decision reinforced by the fact that I was then relying more on Twitter to let me know when updates had been posted.

Continue readingReally Intelligent Syndication