Thursday, June 13, 2019

Maciej Cegłowski, the New Wilderness:

So why have the gravediggers of online privacy suddenly grown so worried about the health of the patient?

Part of the answer is a defect in the language we use to talk about privacy. That language, especially as it is codified in law, is not adequate for the new reality of ubiquitous, mechanized surveillance.

In the eyes of regulators, privacy still means what it did in the eighteenth century—protecting specific categories of personal data, or communications between individuals, from unauthorized disclosure. Third parties that are given access to our personal data have a duty to protect it, and to the extent that they discharge this duty, they are respecting our privacy.

Seen in this light, the giant tech companies can make a credible claim to be the defenders of privacy, just like a dragon can truthfully boast that it is good at protecting its hoard of gold. Nobody spends more money securing user data, or does it more effectively, than Facebook and Google.

The question we need to ask is not whether our data is safe, but why there is suddenly so much of it that needs protecting. The problem with the dragon, after all, is not its stockpile stewardship, but its appetite.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

I recently read At least one Vim trick you might not know, which is a pretty high-quality example of the stuff-about-text-editors blog post.

There are- very roughly- two categories of Vim users. Purists value Vim’s small size and ubiquitousness. They tend to keep configuration to a minimum in case they need to use it on an unfamiliar computer (such as during ssh). Exobrains, on the other hand, stuff Vim full of plugins, functions, and homebrew mappings in a vain attempt to pretend they’re using Emacs. If you took away an exobrain’s vimrc they’d be completely helpless.

Not too unreasonable a model of the thing, probably. I’m definitely somewhere in “exobrain” territory at this point.

I ought to write one of these eventually - or maybe follow Tyler’s lead and write a literate .vimrc. My existing one has a lot of comments, but it’s not exactly a coherent document.

thursday, may 9, 2019

a may snow, all day
the skies gray and
the grass growing taller
while it falls, tulips
blooming round the side of the house
the frogs across the street
sounding low and slow through
the patter of barely frozen
water falling on the just-unfolding

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Thesis: The complexity ratchet in technology is designed (or has evolved, take your pick) to drive the concentration of administrative power.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

App::WRT v6.0.0.


Despite the bump in major version number, this one is mostly a bugfix release. A hypothetical user wouldn’t notice many changes, but I’m rearranging things further in a direction I started on a year ago, abstracting interaction with the underlying directory structure to a class that caches the full set of entries and some metadata about them. More on this in the latest commit message.

This kind of change has gotten easier as I’ve added more tests, even if the tests themselves are sort of ridiculous, which is a useful lesson.

As I wrote last year:

This was an interesting way to kill some time, both because I revisited an algorithm I’d forgotten about, and because every time I hack on a project like this I’m in a dialog with basic decisions I made before I knew how to write software at all. And maybe, by the same token, looking with fresh eyes at norms that I’d take for granted in any more modern context. wrt isn’t a good piece of software by any contemporary standard, and the approach it represents isn’t one I’d use for anything bigger than a trivial shell script at my day job, but there’s a curious durability to it all the same.

Every few years I revisit some facet of this tiny, mundane tool and apply a bit of understanding I lacked when it was first written, and some structure comes a little clearer that lives in the space between my ignorance at 20 and my experience, such as it is, at whatever age I’ve reached.


the most important missing unicode extension

settlement.js not found: JavaScript package biz NPM scraps talks, fights union-busting claims • The Register — «JavaScript package registry and aspiring enterprise service NPM Inc is planning to fight union-busting complaints brought to America's labor watchdog by fired staffers, rather than settle the claims.»

Robust exception handling - Eli Bendersky's website

Darius Kazemi: "Oh wow. So that really famous centralized vs dece…" - Friend Camp

Wikimedia Release Engineering Team/Local Dev Sync - MediaWiki

The New Wilderness (Idle Words)

EditorConfig — «EditorConfig helps maintain consistent coding styles for multiple developers working on the same project across various editors and IDEs. The EditorConfig project consists of a file format for defining coding styles and a collection of text editor plugins that enable editors to read the file format and adhere to defined styles. EditorConfig files are easily readable and they work nicely with version control systems.»

Medical marijuana vs. opioid abuse: New study questions the connection | Ars Technica

André Staltz - Software below the poverty line — There's a lot to unpack in pieces like this, but I'm going to start consciously tracking the idea.

Arduino on the ID100HR fitness tracker – Roger Clark

Ask HN: Is there a fitness wristband that is hackable? | Hacker News — Obligatory orange site loathing aside, there're some interesting links here.

okinesio | open source activity tracker

Help:Puppet - Wikitech — «This document helps people understand what Puppet is, how it is used in Wikimedia Cloud VPS, and provides help on how to use it to do various common tasks.»

Git - gitattributes Documentation — «A gitattributes file is a simple text file that gives attributes to pathnames.»

PrivateBin/PrivateBin: A minimalist, open source online pastebin where the server has zero knowledge of pasted data. Data is encrypted/decrypted in the browser using 256 bits AES.

zeljkofilipin/gerrit — A simple Bash script to clone all repositories from

WMF Maniphest Query: Advanced Search

Backing up and Restoring Etherpad Lite Pads · ether/etherpad-lite Wiki

Introduction to GitLab Flow | GitLab — As per nearly every other article I have ever read about version control workflows with charts and diagrams and arrows, this makes me want to retire to a small cabin near running water and spend my days gazing calmly into the surrounding foliage while pretending that computers were never invented as small birds flit through the greenery.

API:FAQ - MediaWiki - Get the content of a page (wikitext)? — "If you just want the raw wikitext without any other information whatsoever, it's best to use index.php's action=raw mode instead of the API"

About this Documentation - Etherpad v1.7.5 Manual & Documentation