This is the kind of stuff I hate seeing, when I’m poking around in the Android LogCat:

03-16 23:11:17.127: D/FlurryAgent(7154): generating report
03-16 23:11:17.147: D/FlurryAgent(7154): Sending report to: http://data.flurry.com/aap.do
03-16 23:11:17.427: D/FlurryAgent(7154): Report successful
03-16 23:11:17.427: D/FlurryAgent(7154): Processing report response
03-16 23:11:17.427: D/FlurryAgent(7154): Done sending agent report

Our devices are such little snitches.

Boot Camp 5

So Apple finally released version 5 of their Boot Camp software, which lets you run Windows on a Mac. Which, in my case, is entirely necessary, due to the failure of the shoddy 10-cent power button on my MacBook Pro.

But guess what? Always one to force obsolescence on people, Apple has raised the hardware requirements and discontinued support for the mid-2009 MacBook Pro (mine) if you want to run Windows 8 (which I am).

Thanks guys. It’s good to know that the hardware still works but the software will never arrive. I guess I’m supposed to buy a new Mac every 3.5 years. So I’m going to install it anyways and see if it works. Maybe they fixed the double-free that was causing their previous HAL driver to fail.

Update: Nope, BootCamp.msi doesn’t like being installed on my Mac. Some of the drivers can be individually installed, but the big-deal stuff in the HAL, like keyboard backlighting, changing the function keys to work w/o having to press Fn, and setting the secondary click on the trackpad (so you get right-mouse functionality), will all remain off-limits. What a shame.


Reading a Wired article about Ubuntu’s latest attempt to do things its own way, by developing a display server of it’s own, there’s a hilarious quote in there:

“This isn’t the first time the Ubuntu team has decided to go its own way. They’ve been catching flak ever since the company created the distribution by forking the Debian distribution. But the most significant example is Unity, a user-interface shell that runs on top of GNOME in place of the traditional GNOME shell. Unity was met with mixed reactions from users.

Unity may make more sense to users now that Ubuntu Touch has been unveiled. The trouble is Ubuntu is venturing further and further from the Linux tools used by the greater community.

What’s the problem with this? Isn’t freedom of choice a part of the spirit of open source development? Yes, but duplication of effort also flies in the face of the open source ethos. (emphasis mine) One phrase regarding the creation of Mir that came up over and over again in comment threads and discussion boards is “not invented here syndrome,” a term for “reinventing the wheel” when there is no compelling technical reason to do so. Rather than improve an existing project that does what Canonical wants, the company is investing resources in its own pet project.”

I call shenanigans on that.

It’s actually, unfortunately, a truth that petty factionalism is one of the underpinnings of the open source ethos and has been since the beginning. It’s why there’s KDE (“Experience Freedom!”) and GNOME (“Freedom for Everybody”), and why there were at some point a half dozen different audio daemons, two different audio driver architectures (OSS vs ALSA), and why there’s glibc and eglibc. It’s why a binary compiled for glibc won’t “just run” on any Linux system you throw it at. It’s why binary incompatibilities exist, even though the source code is exactly the same. It’s why I don’t, generally speaking, run Linux on a desktop anymore. Because “it just works” usually isn’t the first thing I think of when I reach for a Linux desktop anymore, I worry more about the cases where it doesn’t, and I end up blowing a weekend googling to find out why. Of course, the server stuff runs pretty well and serves its niche incredibly well, and if your favorite time is spent in emacs, or coding to a webserver, it’s fine.

But that quote is just awesome, because it’s just not true. Even in the early days, actually probably even now, Richard Stallman was always bitching and moaning (mostly, it seemed, out of jealousy) about the uptake of the Linus Torvalds’ Linux kernel versus his vaporware (but “free” as in freedom) Hurd microkernel. It’s the reason Debian switched from glibc, when the maintainer of glibc continuously and persistently refused to allow / derided superior open-source code contributions to that library or even allow people to really participate in the process. Another example is the LLVM compiler ecosystem versus the GNU Compiler Collection, showing that after years of stalling, and the fact that actually extending the GCC Objective-C compiler was made technically more difficult by GCC’s poor software architecture, Apple finally got fed up with the direction of GCC and decided to fund a clean-room implementation that now runs faster and produces more efficient compilation on common hardware.

Ultimately, the argument over freedom in open source development is misplaced, what developers (me) really want is stable, well-tested Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and the three-clause BSD license. We don’t necessarily (nor do our employers, usually) want (L)GPL libraries or the baggage that comes with them, when that baggage doesn’t guarantee API stability, or the fact that those libraries have no support guarantees or unit tests, and could turn their users into alpha testers. We don’t want to use or write autoconf/automake scripts, or read caveats about building something for our systems.

At this point, duplication of effort is actually what I think open source is all about. It’s why there are countless web frameworks, without clear winners that actually do have batteries included (I’m looking at you, Django). It’s why there are so many libraries that only have subsets of a complete functionality that I’d actually like to have. It’s why these two guides are still so hilarious. So I’m not a true believer, but it doesn’t matter, because with all the infighting, nobody’s side is winning.

The only solution to this mess is more cooperation. If open source wants to win, the number of code libraries it produces needs to stop bifurcating, and instead shift into reverse, consolidate, and stabilize, with more effort being focused on fewer projects and clear winners. But that probably won’t ever happen (with one exception that I’m aware of), because although code is ultimately rational, egos are not.

Gamifying Reading

Something I’ve noticed recently about my reading habits, since I started using my Kindle again: It’s had the effect of gamifying my reading habits. For relatively-light readers like myself, I notice that I’ve been paying attention to the percentage-status bar at the bottom of the page a lot more as I read. So I do the quick math now, if I’ve read 20% of a book in a night, I’ll be done in 5 nights.

Kindle Location Bar

Playing to my self-competive side, I’d love to have that percentage change per night be ever larger, and read ever faster. It’s not something you consciously think about perhaps, but, like the progress bar on a computer, you always want it to move to the end as fast as possible. And, of course, that helps Amazon’s bottom line.

This isn’t new, you could do this with a paper book with dog-eared pages and bookmarks, but not as easily or precisely. Having that little number there, within sight as you’re reading, is akin to whispering, “Hey, you’re not done yet, you want to finish this task, don’t you?” which is incentive enough for task-oriented people.