node created 2020/05/08
Recently I needed to retrieve a zip file of some old work attached to my copy of an email that I sent to someone in 2011, using Gmail. It wouldn't let me, because the attachment contained "a potentially dangerous file". It informed me that "If you're sure the file is safe, you can ask the sender to upload the file to Google Drive." So somehow I'm supposed to send a message back in time to myself and tell him to upload the file to a service which didn't even exist yet? Absolutely ridiculous.

After a long and extremely frustrating conversation with a support person I was able to establish that the "dangerous" file was... JavaScript. They retroactively banned all .js files without warning. I tried forwarding it to a different email provider: forbidden. "For security reasons, Gmail does not allow you to use this type of file as it violates Google policy for executables and archives."
I live in Eastern Europe. A local city with a population of 300-400k was hit with a near total ransomware attack. The hackers asked for 400 bitcoin.

The mayor answered to them on TV "You fools, we still do most things on paper here ! We'll just spend the week-end installing windows and word and F** Y* !!!"
Personal data, access to it, the right to spy on millions of people, carried out by the private sector, is now being fought over by nation states. Younger generations should be up in arms over surveillance. Instead, at least in the US, they want to use these apps and work for these shameful companies. Older generations, who should know better, are willingly using Alexas and the like. Interesting times.
People blame developers but it's all driven by a product mentality that favors rapid iterations and technical debt to run business experiments on customers. Slow-and-steady, carefully written software isn't tolerated within many product orgs these days.
Apple values my blood sweat and tears at $0.99/user/lifetime - 30% Apple tax - government taxes.

I don't mean to compare it to a sweat shop, because I live in the first world and have opportunities, but this is a demeaning shakedown and devaluation of my pride, product, and work.

Apple:

1. Shifted where generic computing happens

2. Downplayed the web as the end-all, be-all of application delivery. (It could have been amazing with WASM and sandboxing back in the 00's!)

3. Prevents generic apps from gaining distribution outside of Apple's control and tax

They took advantage of open source, the web, and the Internet. Then they shit on it and offered up the App Store protection racket as salvation.

It's only one of several themes where the giants of today crush the little guy. Computing is less free today than it was a decade ago.

Before Apple I had reach and distribution. Now I have less than 50% of that. And I don't have liberty and control over my own narrative anymore.

the web dies one corporate whimper and one consumer shrug at a time

In order to refocus the Firefox organization on core browser growth through differentiated userexperiences, we are reducing investment in some areas such as developer tools, internal tooling, and platform feature development
I don't think the user population is aware how disingenuous all of this tech crap is. It could be so awesome, and they don't even understand what's not awesome about it. It hurts in a deep, emotional space.

I have found so much inspiration in some of the great programmers of two generations ago. The writings of Chuck Moore and Alan Kay convince me that we somehow took two orders of magnitude of backwards steps in creating the present milieu of dysfunctional technology.

The worst part, IMO, is that it's all opaque. I don't control the device that I hold in my hand. I can't fix it because Google or Apple don't want me to. It is a tool of economic and social control, not a powerful technology that I can wield.
.. we're just writing too much code. Companies have hundreds of millions of lines of code in production right now and nobody who knows how it works, and what we're doing is a kind of runaway train where we're just hiring more and more people to write more and more code, and trying to ramp education up to be able to produce more and more people, and - I can only say this from the sidelines, as I don't have a degree - we seem to, at least as per these individuals, be cheapening computer science at the (possibly indirect) behest of these businesses who aren't willing or able to step back and try things differently.
Nothing fucking works. Nothing. Turning it off and back on again isn't a cute ritual, it's the cornerstone of all modern electronics. Everything ships with zero day patches. My $3000 TV crashes when you navigate an OSD menu the wrong way. Not the unnecessary smart features that it shipped with - that I of course augmented with a separate $300 purchase - but the actual 'treat me like a display' menu.

I work for a SaaS company and just as if not more work goes in to deciding how we measure uptime as goes in to designing for it. "Well, no customer incidents were reported, so that doesn't count as being down", "We have 1 hour of scheduled maintenance every week, but we still achieved 99.99 uptime" - it's creative, I'll give them that.

We talk about the network being unreliable as if a 200km 28ghz link and a trunk connection in a data center are the same thing. It's unqualified, and unhelpful, and nobody really knows what they are doing.

We "dismantle" waterfall as if it's not the same type of people who misunderstood the original publication doing the same thing with every other methodology and fad. (If you have not read "the leprechauns of software engineering" yet, it's an interesting read and worth a little bit of your time).

My house is full of devices, my history is full of purchases, that are a disappointment. I can't remember the last time I went a single. god. damn. day. without the things that are suppose to be helping me misbehaving in some way. And the worst part, is many of them can't even be fixed. They will putter along, the occasional patch, until they lose the attention of some swim lane on a plan of record somewhere and become e-waste.

I have been programing since I was eight. It was the most obvious passion I have ever found in life, but it feels like we're stuck. The arguments all feel the same boring old rehashed ones from over the last 20 years, probably longer. I'm bored. Is anybody else just tired of it all? Everything is amazing and crappy at the same time.
Isn't it weird that we have entire companies like Intercom or Rasa whose value add is pushing automated, AI-driven "assistants" onto websites, and then the companies that buy into that entire value add and codebases hacked on by ML experts find that none of it even works better than how it was in 1998?
As more and more domains centralize email in the handful of mega-corp hosted solutions the hosts have less and less reason to care about accepting mail from outside the walled gardens.

emphasis mine

So I'm from Newark, NJ, didn't really grow up around many good examples of work ethic nor wealth, really shit neighborhoods every time I moved. My brother discovered the "view page source" context menu item back in the day on myspace and decided to see what this is about, went to college, came back and I picked up some code skills now 8 years later, we both make the same amount. Now to be fair, of the two of us, I'm the better dev and he even says it to his friends and bosses often.
This is why I hate the layers of bloat and abstraction, and think all the big "web companies" today are basically trash. The results usually look terrible, are slow and riddled with spyware, AND you can't even learn from them... that is, if you do, you just learn some watered down walled garden bullshit that will be completely revamped in 3 years while the fundamentals (they try their best to keep you away from) haven't really changed.

Meanwhile, the Chrome developers ponder removing the address bar altogether, and Windows 10 brags during installation how you should "leave everything to us", and let's not even mention Apple or Facebook.
The worst programs are written by people who know how to plug a million and one things together, but can't drill down and analyse the algorithmic implications of what they're doing. Electron runs like shit and inhales RAM is because it was programmed by people who don't have solid understanding of fundamentals. They understand a huge number of horizontal abstractions but they have no concept of how it looks vertically.

Knowing how to maximally exploit a CPU is way more important than knowing eight different Javascript frameworks if good software is your objective. And frankly, learning Node is way easier than figuring out how to structure basic, bare-bones Javascript so that it leverages your L1 cache.

And therein lies the problem. How many interviewers dock marks for iterating over columns, instead of rows? Because that matters, a huge amount. How many interviewers would give credit for "how can you speed this up?" if the interviewee said, "write it in C, and simplify the datastructures you want me to use so we maximise sequential lookups over basic arrays, to maximise cache usage." They'll look at you like you have three heads.

"Don't you know Big N complexity is the only thing that really matters if you're looking for speed?" - then you get Electron.
We do programmers a disservice when we act as if the conversation about the growing threat of legacy code begins and ends with COBOL. A whole generation of software engineers are spending their careers making the problem worse by outsourcing all but the most unique aspects of their applications to armies of libraries, plugins and modules that they are powerless to monitor let alone update.

The real horsemen of the legacy apocalypse is the depth of the dependency tree. Modern software development stacks abstraction on top of abstraction. If the left-pad incident of 2016 proved nothing else it demonstrated that even experienced engineers will YOLO dependencies on to their applications if given the infrastructure to make installing them easy. Modern developer environments are a veritable candy store of cheap and convenient dependencies.
My workstation (E5-2640) has seen multiple generations of operating systems, video editing software, DAWs.

Browsers and web browsing in general is the only thing that I can tell it's getting consistently worse year after year.

I know it's an odd metric but 10-15 seconds to fully render a newspaper homepage is more than it takes for my full DAW setup (Cubase + FL Studio as VST plugin) to fully come up with tracks loaded and play button ready. I don't even recall dialup being this bad.
Sometimes, they don’t even know that their system can run their stack natively. I’ve been on teams that have said “Let’s just use Docker because X doesn’t know how to install Y.”
So we are driving company decision making based on the needs of synthetic fake financial instruments? Is there any other way to run a company that is more stupid than striving to fulfill the needs of someone else's derivative product?

I cannot imagine a worse basis on which to steer a company. It makes zero sense. Using a random number generator to pick every decision would result in better results than what we are currently doing.

An example of a company that has completely succumbed to Wall Street is Texas Instruments. They are (or used to be) a tech company. They used to have research. They used to create new products.

But in the past few years they have started committing to "returning 100% of free cash flow to investors" (quoting their own earnings release) via stock buybacks and dividends. They actually put it down in writing: we are committed to NOT reinvesting in employees, NOT doing R&D, NOT creating new products. In every earnings call about how they are still committed to getting all the cash into stock buybacks and dividends. That's it. That's the whole company now.

Wall Street loves Texas Instruments. The shiny bucket of treasure known as stock buybacks + equity based compensation is irresistible. This is going to keep happening until we make it stop happening.
Recent years saw a number of supply chain attacks that leverage the increasing use of open source during software development, which is facilitated by dependency managers that automatically resolve, download and install hundreds of open source packages throughout the software life cycle. This paper presents a dataset of 174 malicious software packages that were used in real-world attacks on open source software supply chains, and which were distributed via the popular package repositories npm, PyPI, and RubyGems. Those packages, dating from November 2015 to November 2019, were manually collected and analyzed.
Third-party delivery platforms, as they've been built, just seem like the wrong model, but instead of testing, failing, and evolving, they've been subsidised into market dominance.
“Things have really changed since I began learning, and rightly so. Instead of coding in plain HTML, CSS and JS, I'm now using endless frameworks, modules and libraries to build increasingly more complex web and mobile applications. It's great, if I didn't use these tools my code would be an unmaintainable mess.”

How sad that this has become the widely accepted narrative. There’s a lot of value right now in NOT building things that way. Last week I had to deal with fixing another dev’s mess on a stuck project. Big company website, but nothing fancy at all. Purely a marketing window. The amount of complexity he put into it by using Vue.js was insane for the scope of the project. INSANE. To do something as easy as changing the pages <title> tag we had to write an unjustified amount of lines of code. Framework-itis really is a bad disease, it not only affects your work, but it definitely clouds the simplest form of judgement, it appears. Then we have exactly this: someone who got a hammer and spent years treating everything like a nail comes to a reckoning, usually framed as a longing for the good old days when things used to be simple. Well, you know, things can still be simple, if you don’t offload to unjustifiably complex frameworks the duty of understanding what’s going on in your project.