brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
2017-04-23 03:32 pm
Entry tags:

"Antitrust" (2001), copyleft, and disruption

I saw Antitrust on an airplane in the summer of 2001. I didn't leave with a high opinion of it; it seemed campy fun.

I found a used DVD at a local thrift shop last weekend, so last night I watched it with my spouse.

It actually holds up better than I predicted on a technobabble level! We freeze-framed a lot and marvelled at how reasonable (mostly) all the command-line stuff was. And as mainstream fiction movies go, I think there still hasn't been a movie that takes the conflict between proprietary and open source software more seriously than Antitrust (I'd welcome corrections on this point).

details, including spoilers )

At some point in the future I will watch the special features and listen to the commentary. (One of the special features is a music video for the Everclear song that plays at the end of the movie. The music video includes clips from the movie. It's like Everclear made a vid!) I imagine I'll have more thoughts then.
brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
2017-04-20 09:13 am

Penguicon in a little over a week

I'm one of the Guests of Honor at Penguicon, April 28-30 in Southfield, Michigan. Penguicon is a combination of an open source conference and a science fiction convention. Here's my schedule including some more funny bits and some more thinky bits. It'd be lovely to see some Dreamwidth acquaintances there!
brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
2017-04-19 07:51 pm

request: visit this webpage on computers worldwide to help research censorship

My longtime friend Zack Weinberg ([personal profile] zwol) needs help in his research to measure Internet censorship. He's a grad student at Carnegie Mellon University, an sf fan, and a longtime open source software hacker.

The short version is: go to https://research.owlfolio.org/active-geo/ and hit the Start button on the map.

More details:

Zack's doing experiments in "active geolocation", which is when you try to figure out where a computer physically is by measuring how long it takes a packet of information to go round-trip between one computer and other computers in known locations. This has been studied carefully within Europe and the continental USA, but much less so elsewhere.

More specifically, Zack is trying to develop a technique for verifying that VPN exits are in the country that their operator claims they are. His larger research focuses on measuring Internet censorship, for which he needs network vantage points in precisely the countries where it's hardest to get reliable server hosting. He could go with the commercial virtual private network (or VPN) providers who say "sure, I have a host in Malaysia/Ukraine/Iran/etc. you can choose to use," but how can Zack know that they're telling the truth? Commercial VPN operators may prefer to locate their hosts in countries where it's easier to do business, and only label them as being in harder-to-access countries.

So Zack is looking for volunteers who can visit that page, which will run measurement scripts, on computers physically located all over the world. South America, sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and Oceania locations are especially helpful, but he can use data from anywhere.

Once you click "Start" on the map at https://research.owlfolio.org/active-geo/, the page will run a test/demo to see whether you could help. If you can, then you'll see the consent form below to ask for more information about your location and you'll see the CMU’s Office of Research Integrity and Compliance notice.

Here's more about the research questions he is investigating, here's how to help using a command-line tool in case you'd like to give him data from a computer that you only have remote shell access to, and

In case you want to spread the word about this request, here's a public tweet you can retweet:

I'm looking for volunteers to help with a research project: https://research.owlfolio.org/active-geo/ Especially want people outside Europe and North America.


And you can ask [personal profile] zwol for more info if you have any questions.

Thanks!
brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
2017-04-17 09:16 am

Alternate Questions

Is it still in vogue for US tech companies to ask quantitative estimation/implausible-problem questions like "how many phone booths/piano tuners are there in Manhattan?" in hiring interviews, particularly for programming-related jobs? Fog Creek asked me one of those in 2005. There was even a book, How Would You Move Mount Fuji?: Microsoft's Cult of the Puzzle -- How the World's Smartest Companies Select the Most Creative Thinkers.* How many companies are still into that?**

I ask because I came up with a couple you could use, maybe for a digital humanities kind of position:

  1. How many people, throughout history, have actually been named "Flee-From-Sin"? I feel like you see this as a jokey Puritan first name in books like Good Omens or the Baroque Cycle, but was it a name that some non-negligible number of people actually had?
  2. Out of all the people currently within New York City limits, have more of them written a sonnet or a dating profile? What's the ratio?



* That's right, two subtitles. That's how you know you're getting a lot for your $16.00 MSRP.

** It's hard to tell these things sometimes even if you listen to lots of people discuss hiring and recruiting. "Five Worlds" and its decade-later ramifications apply to work culture, not just software development methodology. Stripe's engineering interview aims to "simulate the engineering work you'd do day-to-day" (link via Julia Evans) so I think you can expect your interviewer won't show up wearing a question-mark costume and screeching, "Riddle me this, Batman!" This software engineer, who's just been through scads of hiring interviews, doesn't mention puzzle questions. This level of detail ain't exactly on the "How to Become a Computer Programmer" page in the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the US Department of Labor -- but then again we already knew that the assessment vacuum in software engineering skills is a huge problem.

[Cross-posted to Cogito, Ergo Sumana. I'm doing this just now for new Dreamwidth followers, but usually I don't cross-post from there to here; check out [syndicated profile] sumana_feed if you want to follow that blog.]

brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
2017-04-14 02:47 pm

Dreamwidth communities

I've been doing my own little bit to share lore and links in the comments of the latest Dreamwidth news post, and to welcome people coming to Dreamwidth in the wake of the latest LiveJournal change.

I've put a new book review, of Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad, in [community profile] 50books_poc, I've recommended several RSS feeds in [site community profile] dw_feed_promo, and I've suggested a couple of face-to-face New York City meetups in [site community profile] dw_meetups and [community profile] nyc. I've subscribed to [site community profile] dw_community_promo but haven't posted anything there yet; perhaps next week!
brainwane: My smiling face, in front of a wall and a brown poster. (smiling)
2017-04-10 12:25 pm

Media

Watching: Season 2 of Jane the Virgin. I said to a friend that my favorite character was Rogelio, and he said "Rogelio is my second-favorite character after the narrator," and I realized, yes, same here. Also watching Jon Bois's sports history/analysis videos which are, among other things, worth watching as vidding experiments.

Listening: re-listening to Cabin Pressure for pleasure, and listening to Pete Seeger stuff like "Tomorrow Is A Highway" for energy, and to the Tron: Legacy soundtrack for work background music. Also, MetaFilter Music just led me to a fun poppy synth song, "You're So Dangerous", that is now stuck in my head.

Reading: I'm partway through, like, ten books. I'm reading a lot of MetaFilter, mostly through the Popular Posts/Comments page, and Twitter, and I'm reading my Dreamwidth reading page -- sometimes I go to Dreamwidth Latest Things to find new people to subscribe to. Also I'm rereading Maureen McHugh's China Mountain Zhang again. I love that book. The interiority, the attention to the way people act when they're trying to be more decisive than they feel, the compassion, just so good.
brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
2017-02-27 07:06 pm
Entry tags:

Help me out: volunteer from home for 90 minutes of English tutoring

Summary: Have 90 minutes, between now and April 3rd, to kindly critique less-English-fluent writers over the internet? I'd love your help.

I work with a lot of non-US-based younger people (often high school or college-aged) who contribute to the open source community over the Internet. Many of them volunteer as coders in the hopes of getting internships that will help them with their careers. The engineering education system in some of these countries, especially India, doesn't help students develop their written English skills very much; many of these students are at a disadvantage in these competitive internship application programs because their written English has poor grammar, phrasing, and punctuation. Every year I see tons of these engineering students applying for internships, and I can see how English issues in their bug reports, commit messages, code comments, application proposals, e-mails, and chat messages make it harder for them to get their ideas across.

Some kind, nonjudgmental help would go a long way for these volunteers. And it'd help level the playing field a bit.

I've successfully run little 90-minute online writing clinics via chat or collaborative document-editing platforms like Google Docs or EtherPad, where 3-4 participants bring short writing samples and I live-edit them and tell the students how to improve. They always get a lot out of it, and I can see the improvement in their writing afterwards. And when I've had time to edit their internship proposals in depth, it's helped them think better about what they actually aim to do.

Today, one of the open source projects I care a lot about, Zulip, got accepted as a mentoring organization for Google Summer of Code for the second year in a row. I've been contracting as a community coordinator for Zulip for about a year, and I love that it's a project where we nurture new contributors inclusively and have high standards of engineering rigor. (I profiled the maintainer, Tim Abbott, in this post about kind negative code review.) We have dozens of new contributors in our chat who want to work with us, and we'll be getting more between now and the April 3rd application deadline. We won't be able to accept all of them. But they'll all come away from the application process as better engineers, and I'd like for that to include better English skills that'll help them persuade, lead, get better jobs, and have better chances of succeeding as entrepreneurs.

So if you could spare 90 minutes sometime between now and April 3rd, and if you have a knack for proofreading in English and have a tolerable internet connection for web browser-based textual chat, let me know and I can probably set something up that suits your schedule. It's fine if you've never done this before and it's fine if you're not a programmer and don't know programming jargon. I'll set up the "room", and I'll be there and you can backchannel with me. You'll be helping one of the best open source communities I know, and you'll be helping make sure non-G7 voices in STEM get heard and listened to.

Leave a comment below telling me how to contact you and anything you know about your upcoming schedule, and I'll take it from there!

Edited to add: I've set this entry so people without Dreamwidth accounts are able to post comments, and so that only I will be able to see the comments (comments are screened), so you can put your contact info in there and it won't be public. And please feel free to pass this link on to other groups/people who are kind and collaboratively inclined, and repost/publicize it elsewhere!

Edited March 13th to add: I have received several offers of help -- thank you! -- and I'm getting back to everyone who's commented, albeit not always within a day or two. I'm open to more offers, but I might not be able to schedule you till April. And because of the number of offers of help I've gotten, I'm opening up the pool of learners a little bit -- I'm talking with the open source community managers at Mozilla and Wikimedia to let them know that their communities can take advantage of this opportunity, too. Thank you so much.
brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
2017-02-27 02:50 pm

Dreamwidth suggestions

[site community profile] dw_suggestions has a bunch of new suggestions for Dreamwidth improvements! It's a place to suggest things and respond to others' suggestions.

Years ago I suggested: "On the New Post and Edit pages, give the user the ability to browse freely licensed photos from Wikimedia Commons to insert into their posts." That got rejected but I think the basic idea's worth revisiting, revising, and submitting afresh. Feel free to take it up if that strikes your fancy!
brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
2017-02-26 04:19 pm

Get Out

I posted some spoilery thoughts about Get Out on FanFare at MetaFilter.
brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
2017-02-25 10:43 pm

Reading, listening, watching

Recently read: an advance copy of Cory Doctorow's Walkaway which I enjoyed -- talky like always with Doctorow but ~400 pages of "yeah this feels like a plausible future that I could belong in" with a lot of camaraderie and tradecraft. In a similar vein: "The Revolution, Brought to You by Nike", a short story by Andrea Phillips.

Also:

What We Pretend We Can't See (131279 words) by gyzym
Chapters: 14/14
Fandom: Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling
Rating: Mature
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Draco Malfoy/Harry Potter, Hermione Granger/Ron Weasley, Neville Longbottom/Ginny Weasley
Summary:

Seven years out from the war, Harry learns the hard truth of old history: it’s never quite as far behind you as you thought.



Heartwarming, funny, great unreliable narrator, touching.

I'm listening to some Decemberists and I listened to the most recent series of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme with joy.

Just saw Get Out tonight -- I rarely see horror movies and it will take me a while to calm down from this one! Funny, scary, thought-provoking, good pacing. I feel justified in my decision to watch it and feel a renewed will to chase down and watch Keanu.

I've now seen the first episode of Jane the Virgin and am a bit miffed that I didn't hear earlier that it would be particularly appealing to Arrested Development fans; I intend to catch up, albeit slowly.
brainwane: The last page of the zine (cat)
2016-12-30 02:07 pm

On LiveJournal

I've posted to MetaFilter about some recent goings-on at LiveJournal; if you have an LJ account you should probably take a look.
brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
2016-12-27 11:47 am
Entry tags:

Yuletide 2016 recommendations

New blog post at my other blog with some Yuletide 2016 recommendations.
brainwane: several colorful scribbles in the vague shape of a jellyfish (jellyfish)
2016-10-04 11:32 pm
Entry tags:

a sample Outreachy application

[fake example]

Name:

Samplemana Hariharapplicant


Project idea:

I'm interested in an Outreachy project where I implant parrots
with Zulip clients so they can repeat what I say into my living
room. This would be via an integration that would live in the
zulip/parrot repository (a new GitHub project I would create). I
figure, since you can teach parrots to say things, I want parrots
to speak aloud the traffic in a Zulip channel, so I can get audio
notifications in my living room, and I like hearing the sound of
the words I say, so I also want to be able to get parrots to say
a single user's words (my own), so I'll also implement
user-specific filtering. I only speak English and I don't think I
can manage supporting multiple languages right now but maybe I
will be able to do that towards the end of the 12 weeks.


Deliverables:

* bridge code and tests in the zulip/parrot repo
* documentation in zulip/parrot/docs
* 4 blog posts


Schedule:

November 8-December 6: acquire parrot, acquire cage and food, get
Digital Ocean virtual machine running

Dec 1 [starting early to make up for late December vacation] - Dec 6:
get test frameworks running, including parrot emulator

Dec 7 - Dec 15: write first test and initial functionality and docs
for stream-to-parrot syndication

Dec 15: first blog post

Dec 16 - 24: get initial test, functionality, and docs merged into
trunk, and get started on tests, functionality, and docs for emoji
support

December 25-January 1: vacation

January 2 - 14: finish tests, functionality, and docs for emoji
support, get merged into trunk

Jan 15: second blog post

Jan 16 - 18: set up multiparrot (buy a second parrot, cage, and food)

Jan 19 - Jan 30: write tests, functionality, and docs for
user-specific parrot syndication (each user's posts spoken by a
different parrot), get merged into trunk

Feb 1 - 9: fix bugs and feed bugs to parrot

Feb 10: third blog post

Feb 11 - 28: write user docs about caring for parrot, merge into
trunk; deploy in larger environment with many streams, users, and
parrots, and fix ensuing problems

March 1: fourth blog post

March 2 - 6: buffer time

Pencils down: March 6
brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
2016-08-23 10:37 am

hasty Worldcon notes

Several things I recommended during Worldcon just now:

I had a very good time at Worldcon and am recovering now.
brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
2016-08-16 07:42 pm

Worldcon

Starting tomorrow I'll be at MidAmericon II, and participating in several sessions. Perhaps I'll see you there!
brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
2016-08-15 05:52 pm
Entry tags:

what to nominate for Yuletide?

I participated in Yuletide last year and really enjoyed it, so I'll probably participate again this year. Nominations: Friday 9 September to Friday 16 September. Thinking about what to nominate...

* I am about 3/4 of the way through Neal Stephenson's Seveneves -- I see one work about it on AO3 and I'll probably read that and more after I finish the novel.
* "As Good As New" by Charlie Jane Anders
* Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
* the miniseries Tanner '88

with more ideas to come, for sure.
brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
2016-07-27 01:21 pm

Gail Carriger books -- reading sequence

If I decide to check out Gail Carriger's books, should I start by reading the Finishing School sequence or the Parasol Protectorate sequence? Or something else? Or does that reading order not matter?