department of hack
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I started this project in 2015 with cute animals doing funny...

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I started this project in 2015 with cute animals doing funny sounding new economy jobs. As it grew it added visionaries, disruptors and hackers. Then opportunists and con men. Violent billionaire dictator is not a random result here; it’s a parallel outcome of move-fast-and-break-things culture — an idea that only works for people who are so privileged and insulated that they have little to lose by plowing ahead without thinking about the consequences. 

Stop idolizing a few jackasses that won the VC lottery and listen to marginalized people instead. Have the hard conversations with our kids that so many of our parents avoided. 

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brennen
22 hours ago
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Boulder, CO
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webshit weekly

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An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the last week of May, 2020.

MacOS Catalina: Slow by Design?
May 22, 2020 (comments)
Apple programs their customers' computers to ask for Apple's permission before following customers' instructions. This fucks up a bunch of shit, so Hackernews whiles away the afternoon writing tools to verify the fuckery or screeds dictating terms under which it is permissible to put programs on your own computer. Later, some Hackernews express concern that their laptops are performing network traffic without being asked to, but it's never clear why this is bad from Apple but okay from every single web browser on the market.

Unable to deal with Chrome Extension Team, Kozmos is shutting down
May 23, 2020 (comments)
A webshit abandons a sandcastle when the tide comes in. Hackernews is frustrated with the arbitrary and impersonal havoc that Google wreaks among people who are dependent on Google, and issues their standard advice: switch to Fastmail and DuckDuckGo. Hackernews isn't going to make this switch, because of extremely tedious reasons, but they recommend that everyone else do so. Along the way we're treated to about six different economic theories explaining why the natural evolution of any market leads directly to browser extension vendors getting vigorously fucked by disinterested webshits.

How the biggest consumer apps got their first 1k users
May 24, 2020 (comments)
A parasite shits out about four thousand words of advice that boil down to "do something useful or burn venture capital for fuel." Hackernews is skeptical of the proffered advice, both because "doing something useful" isn't an inherently meaningful statement to webshits and "burn venture capital" is something they're having a really hard time doing right now. Most of the conversation lands squarely back in Hackernews' home turf: spamming people on the web and hoping some people are dumb enough to follow up.

I wrote Task Manager and I just remembered something
May 25, 2020 (comments)
An Internet reminisces about writing two of the most important activities for Microsoft Windows: killing malfunctioning programs and avoiding work. The author recounts some hidden functionality present in the software. Hackernews is very sad that nobody is compiling such information, which they regard as "folklore," eschewing traditional labels for such information, like "documentation." The rest of the comments are whining that Microsoft painted the bikeshed a color Hackernews doesn't like.

AWS services explained in one line each
May 26, 2020 (comments)
A webshit tries to figure out what the fuck Amazon is selling. Hackernews votes for the article and bookmarks it in case anyone expects them to understand AWS products in the future. Another Hackernews has a similar (but less comprehensive) list of definitions, so the gang spends an afternoon bikeshedding it. Other Hackernews are insufficiently pleased with existing definitions, but don't have much else to say about it.

The Day AppGet Died
May 27, 2020 (comments)
An Internet abandons a sandcastle when the tide comes in. In a major business-process innovation, Microsoft executes all three phases of 'embrace, extend, extinguish' simultaneously. The author then shows up on "Hacker" "News" to complain about not having been awarded a participation trophy. Some Microsofts show up to nod sagely and recommend against pissing into the wind. Hackernews tries to determine the best process for a massive multibillion dollar company to assimilate some rando's code; the conclusion is "money."

Tools for Better Thinking
May 28, 2020 (comments)
A webshit illustrates some buzzwords. Hackernews declares that the best way to think is by typing things into a computer, which explains the infallibility, style, and grace of the author of Webshit Weekly. Hackernews then links to every other buzzword-illustration resource they've come across.

Twitter hides Donald Trump tweet for “glorifying violence”
May 29, 2020 (comments)
The United States government escalates the now-literal war against its own users. Jack Dorsey briefly looks away from Stripe earnings reports to mute a troll post. Because there is nothing productive Hackernews could possibly have to say on the matter, there are almost fifteen hundred comments. Comments range from inventing Twitter's moderation platform from first principles, to debating whether Twitter is allowed to control its own servers or should be held in thrall of whatever asshole currently happens to shit in White House bathrooms, to why it's so damn hard to get people to stop saying dumb shit on the internet.

SpaceX successfully launches two humans into orbit
May 30, 2020 (comments)
Some miscreants violate the living shit out of Florida governor DeSantis' stay-home order. Hackernews is elated that someone is being personally enriched by this, rather than the suspicious and despicable "public-interest" efforts NASA has previously undertaken. This leads to a bout of eager fantasizing about what new products might enrich future muskonauts, then exploring exactly how far away Elon Musk needs to be for a given company to be successful.

A 1/48 scale model of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket
May 31, 2020 (comments)
A toymaker introduces a new model. Toys are fun and this one is topical, since it is tangentially related to yesterday's space launch, so Hackernews votes for the article, but doesn't have anything interesting to say.

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brennen
3 days ago
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"The United States government escalates the now-literal war against its own users."
Boulder, CO
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Police Erupt in Violence Nationwide

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A row of officers in face shields, gas masks, and body armor firing tear gas canisters.

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brennen
3 days ago
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Boulder, CO
acdha
4 days ago
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Washington, DC
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1 public comment
vpatil
4 days ago
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The correct framing.

Celebrating 600,000 commits for Wikimedia

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Earlier today, the 600,000th commit was pushed to Wikimedia's Gerrit server. We thought we'd take this moment to reflect on the developer services we offer and our community of developers, be they Wikimedia staff, third party workers, or volunteers.

At Wikimedia, we currently use a self-hosted installation of Gerrit to provide code review workflow management, and code hosting and browsing. We adopted this in 2011–12, replacing Apache Subversion.

Within Gerrit, we host several thousand repositories of code (2,441 as of today). This includes MediaWiki itself, plus all the many hundreds of extensions and skins people have created for use with MediaWiki. Approximately 90% of the MediaWiki extensions we host are not used by Wikimedia, only by third parties. We also host key Wikimedia server configuration repositories like puppet or site config, build artefacts like vetted docker images for production services or local .deb build repos for software we use like etherpad-lite, ancillary software like our special database exporting orchestration tool for dumps.wikimedia.org, and dozens of other uses.

Gerrit is not just (or even primarily) a code hosting service, but a code review workflow tool. Per the Wikimedia code review policy, all MediaWiki code heading to production should go through separate development and code review for security, performance, quality, and community reasons. Reviewers are required to use their "good judgement and careful action", which is a heavy burden, because "[m]erging a change to the MediaWiki core or an extension deployed by Wikimedia is a big deal". Gerrit helps them do this, providing clear views of what is changing, supporting itemised, character-level, file-level, or commit-level feedback and revision, and allowing series of complex changes to be chained together across multiple repositories, and ensuring that forthcoming and merged changes are visible to product owners, development teams, and other interested parties.

Across all of repositories, we average over 200 human commits a day, though activity levels vary widely. Some repositories have dozens of patches a week (MediaWiki itself gets almost 20 patches a day; puppet gets nearly 30), whereas others get a patch every few years. There are over 8,000 accounts registered with Gerrit, although activity is not distributed uniformly throughout that cohort.

To focus engineer time where it's needed, a fair amount of low-risk development work is automated. This happens in both creating patches and also, in some cases, merging them.

For example, for many years we have partnered with TranslateWiki.net's volunteer community to translate and maintain MediaWiki interfaces in hundreds of languages. Exports of translators' updates are pushed and merged automatically by one of the TWN team each day, helping our users keep a fresh, usable system whatever their preferred language.

Another key area is LibraryUpgrader, a custom tool to automatically upgrade the libraries we use for continuous integration across hundreds of repositories, allowing us to make improvements and increase standards without a single central breaking change. Indeed, the 600,000th commit was one of these automatic commits, upgrading the version of the mediawiki-codesniffer tool in the GroupsSidebar extension to the latest version, ensuring it is written following the latest Wikimedia coding conventions for PHP.

Right now, we're working on upgrading our installation of Gerrit, moving from our old version based on the 2.x branch through 2.16 to 3.1, which will mean a new user interface and other user-facing changes, as well as improvements behind the scenes. More on those changes will be coming in later posts.


Header image: A vehicle used to transport miners to and from the mine face by 'undergrounddarkride', used under CC-BY-2.0.

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thcipriani
5 days ago
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\o/
brennen
4 days ago
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Boulder, CO
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Justice Department to treat antifa involvement in protests as domestic terrorism

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Attorney General Bill Barr said in a statement Sunday that the Justice Department will use its network of 56 regional FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces to identify the "criminal organizers and instigators" of violence during the George Floyd protests, including antifa and similar groups.

Why it matters: Barr, President Trump and other members of the administration have pinned the blame for riots and looting over the past few days of protests against police brutality on antifa, a loosely defined far-left movement that uses violence and direct-action protest tactics.


  • President Trump tweeted on Sunday that the United States will be designating antifa, which is short for "anti-fascist," as a terrorist organization. However, the law that allows the government to designate entities as terrorists only applies to foreign organizations.
  • In addition, antifa is a decentralized organization with no designated leadership, so it may be difficult for federal authorities to determine which agitators belong to the movement.

What they're saying:

Federal law enforcement actions will be directed at apprehending and charging the violent radical agitators who have hijacked peaceful protest and are engaged in violations of federal law.
To identify criminal organizers and instigators, and to coordinate federal resources with our state and local partners, federal law enforcement is using our existing network of 56 regional FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF). 
The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly.”
Attorney General Bill Barr


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brennen
4 days ago
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"and other similar groups" sure is doing a lot of work here, isn't it.
Boulder, CO
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"That was not supposed to happen."

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In December 2016 Lightspeed published "The Venus Effect" by Violet Allen. I wish I did not think of it so often; it is an amazing story but I think of it every time I learn that an African-American has died of police brutality. It horrifies me to see what is playing out, again, in my country. The institution of policing is badly broken; as Alexandra Erin points out,
We give the police extraordinary powers of life and death and then rather than saddle them with any additional responsibility, we just give them even more power. They must be allowed to operate with impunity "because they put their life on the line"... but then we grant them even more impunity because "you can't expect them to put their life on the line." They are the noble servant and protector of the community and upholder of the law when they plead for more powers, but when held accountable, they plead that they cannot be expected to serve, must not be expected to protect, and need not have any knowledge of or respect for the law to do their job.

So what is their job?

They say, and the courts affirm, they need not serve. They need not protect. They need not uphold the law.

If we have the words of the courts and the police themselves that police cannot be compelled to serve, to protect, or to uphold the law, then what is their job? For what reason do they exist?

You can read those last questions as "therefore, abolish" (which seems to rhyme with the author's intent) but they also work as a really important and genuine question for anyone who wants laws enforced fairly and accountably, and wants our tax dollars spent sensibly. And they are a reason to follow up on this to-do list, compiled by T. Greg Doucette, for police accountability (such as: require officers to carry malpractice insurance). Because, otherwise, as Frank Wilhoit put it, "There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect."

I have also appreciated the roundup Jason Kottke put together, "Listening to Black Voices Amid Murder, Violence, Protest, and Pandemic".

But if you just can't take any more news, but you want to reflect on this current tragedy using art, do read "The Venus Effect". And if you want to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction, you can support the Carl Brandon Society. (On a much lighter note, but again with a touch of pastiche, the fanfic "Matchmaker of Mars" by Edonohana has the summary "John W. Campbell accidentally matchmakes T'Pring and Uhura.")

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brennen
4 days ago
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Boulder, CO
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