Unauthoritative Pronouncements

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Philip J. Fry Money Gif

I am really annoyed with the Comixology situation. Chiefly, because I actually used the damn thing, it was also easy, and it reduced physical clutter. Now, it’s less easy, but it does still reduce physical clutter. In theory, this should just make me shrug. (Anyone that doesn’t read comics is already shrugging.) In reality, I am irritated and annoyed with how all of this has transpired. I harbor no serious ill-will toward them, but they handled this in just about the worst way they could. I despise when corporate entities use the English language in inventive email communications to their customers in a pitiful attempt to mask the truth of the situation. I despised it when Dropbox wheeled out their corporateese email about arbitration, and I despise it when Comixology word-ballooned out their email.

“Dear Comics Enthusiast” — Yup, that’s me! No other words could more perfectly describe me as a human being.

“We have introduced a new comiXology [sic] iPhone and iPad Comics app,” — That’s nice, but it just auto-updates all slick, and easy unless—

“and we are retiring the old one.” — But WHY? Just update it, that’s easy!

“All your purchased books will be readable in the new app once you’ve downloaded it and taken the following steps:” — What the shit is this? I have homework? I need to do something that is not FOR me, it is FOR you?

“In the original Comics app, log in to your comiXology [sic] account.” — Hold on, is this before, or after I turn on the iPad?

“Sync your in-app purchases to your comiXology [sic] account by tapping the Restore button on the Purchases tab.” — Uh, again, why?

“Download the new comiXology [sic] app. This will be your new home for downloading and reading comics.” — Why? Why not auto-update my app? What’s so great about this new app?

“Start shopping on comiXology.com. New purchases will appear in the ‘In Cloud’ tab in our new app.” — What the hell is the matter with your people?! I have to do work for you to get an app that’s worse than my current app? I have to have a terrible customer experience from now on for some reason you aren’t going to disclose to me? You just leave this as the last fucking bullet point?

“LIMITED-TIME ONLY” banner over something that looks like a plastic credit, or gift card. “We’ve added a $5 comiXology [sic] eGift Card [again with this shitty, random caps] to your account for you to enjoy on comixology.com [lol, they didn’t capitalize the X that time!]! You don’t have to do anything, just shop for your favorite books and graphic novels. Hurry! This eGift Card expires on 5/25/14. Shop Now” — Fuck off. Seriously? A made-up form of compensation that entices me to use your crap system? This once-in-a-lifetime, limited-time offer of five WHOLE dollars is adequate compensation for forever making things worse for me?

I, being a savvy analyst/blogger/twitterer, know that this is to get out of paying Apple 30% of each in-app purchase. Comixology would have to get me to buy about 4 comics to make back the $5 eGift Card. A laughably-termed, intangible, account credit. Why should I feel any gratitude towards them for this eMarketing Act-Now Compensation? Why not just discount all the things? This isn’t fucking Robin Hood, I know they’re not going to give it to me. That just makes this ePatronizing. According to Moises Chuillan, the pool of money just shifts, so it won’t be all 30% going to Amazon. It will generally be much larger though.

A lot of people have said that it is unfair for Apple to charge 30 percent. Why is it unfair? Is it unfair because it is a lot of money? Well what if they charged 10 percent? That’s less than 30, by, like, 20! Oh, those people don’t think Apple should charge at all for IAP? Hmm. I guess. I guess they could just offer up their services as a storefront and payment processor for free, just like no one else does. It would be surprising if Tim Cook had that kind of Southern hospitality in him. Regardless, I don’t agree with the assumption that Apple’s system has damaged Comixology. Comixology would not be where it is today, let alone be acquired by Amazon, if it wasn’t for Apple’s IAP system as it exists, so let’s not pretend it’s some tyrannical system oppressing the proletariat. They willingly participated in it because it was easy to get people to use Comixology. Moises Chiullan, podcast-world-renowned for his passion for comics, and comics creators, has a very different take on it. I do disagree with Moises, and I’m more inclined to concur with internet-cranky-guy Marco Arment about what will eventually be a bad deal for comics creators.

After all, isn’t it more important to have people that use your stuff? You can say all kinds of important things about yourself when you have numbers that are bigger than other numbers. Growth rates! My god! Think of the growth rates! Let’s year-over-year some shit!

Deep breath.

The very sharp turn from “let’s participate in this system that is easy for customers, and increases our value as a company” to “let’s make customers work harder because we’ve cornered the market and sold ourselves, so YOLO” is whiplashingly abrupt.

Did you know that Comixology allowed customers to purchase through their site before today? It’s true! Did you know it would sync with all the apps, regardless of where it was purchased? Amazing! Did you know that their website is a horrible pit of despair that any reasonable person would find clumsy and irksome so even I never fucking used it? Wow!

My reasons for not using their service, effective as of their dumb-ass email, is precisely because of how little they seem to think of me.

I have several comic book stores near me. They don’t keep the best hours for when I am working late, and they are peopled with exactly the stereotypes you imagine they are peopled with, but you know what? They aren’t fucking shady with me. Hell, Comics Ink in Culver City gives you a discount if you spend $20. Let me tell you that it is very easy to spend $20 on comics if you go once a month. Even easier if you buy trades. I’ll need to come up with a more inventive solution for the storage of my illustrated literature, but so what? So I have to drive there, and talk to the balding guy with a ponytail, and a hunter-green tactical vest? So?

But Joe, you idiot, how can going to a store be easier than their simple, 28-step, web-based, purchasing system where you can jump in and out of an application in iOS because it’s SO FUN? I never said it would be easier. Also, there are other ways to buy comics digitally, they just all happen to suck. Apple will sell comics through iBooks, but that system holds no appeal for me, nor to anyone else with any interest in comics. They theoretically have the easiest, and most lucrative, path to success here and they’ve hamstrung it in traditional Apple fashion. Way to really Podcast-app it up. Image Comics will directly distribute, but then I get to manage files, and blaaaah. Marvel and DC will still sell comics through their branded Comixology apps, but the appeal of jumping in and out of different app storefronts is just not there.

Perhaps I should check my privelage and not whine so much about something so dumb? Perhaps, but once you’ve solved world poverty then come back and ask me that. Jerk.

I won’t be “going” to a “store” that isn’t very nice to Joe — err, to Me. If someone at a physical store treated me this coldly I sure wouldn’t shop there, so what’s with all the thumbs-up for for a company with a fucking capital X in the middle of their name?

I like to think I have some principles about how I would like to do business with people. Like when I told Time Warner Cable to stuff their $6 a month cable modem rental fee and bought my own modem. Or when I participated in the Amazon Prime Trial program only to discover all the ways Prime doesn’t actually fulfill the scope of its promise. Fuck you people, be fucking-nice to me. I’m a fucking-pleasant human being!

One day, in the Consolidation-Heat-Death of the Global Economy, we’ll all look back on multiple sources of distribution of physical goods, and shrug.

2014-05-01 01:13:00

Category: text


As some if you already know, I worked at Sony Pictures Imageworks from 2005 to 2012. Then four months later, back at SPI until 2013. Two months later I was hired back and worked until the first week of March. I’ve written before about how I am trying not to just be my job, and how I don’t want to let such an unstable industry define me. Barely any time passed before I was hired for a short-term, high-OT project, only four weeks, for a non-film thing. This is why I haven’t put effort in to trying to be creative. I simply haven’t had the energy. I thought some explanation here would help at least act as filler – much like my reblogged fluff – until I can have some more me-time.

Hopefully, this isn’t the part where I jinx myself. It’s almost certain I’ll never live up to my own expectations, especially when I have all the time in the world, so I’ll leave out any specific promises.

2014-04-24 23:41:05

Category: text

Things are Fine, Until They Aren't

I am not a programmer, or an engineer, or even a certified computer technician. I can “script” some stuff, and tweak some things, but Mac and iOS development is something outside the scope of my skills. It may surprise you to know that I still like reading, and listening to, programmers talk about computer programming. Not because I understand every little thing, but because I enjoy the universal truths that seem to connect people — even those of different professions.

This Debug episode is largely Guy English arguing that everything is fine with Objective-C, and that there is no reason to fear Doom befalling the platform, while John Siracusa argues that it’s really hard to see when Doom will come and that it is prudent to at least start a discussion about alternatives, and backup plans. There are some raised voices too, go figure.

I happen to agree with John (he also wants to continue to extend Objective-C while a new solution is worked on. It is an imminently reasonable position.) I have worked with people that did not want to extend what currently existed as a stop-gap. I have also had to argue in favor of The Old Way I didn’t care for, simply because no viable solution was readily available. People can also have an attachment to The Old Way in a way that is not rational.

These kinds of conversations come up where you work in all kinds of weird ways. From procedures, to manifest formats, to pipeline tools, to whatever. There is always The Old Way and The New Way. Mortal Kombat! Dun-duh-duh-duh-dun-duh-dun-duh-dun-nuh.


As I said, this kinds of Old/New things happen all the time. I am still under a NDA concerning what I did at my last job, so I’ll redact the sensitive parts. When ☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒. And then ☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒☒.

The discussions that come about because of these conflicting views are interesting. Both want the best outcome, but both object to the other’s assessment of not only the severity of the problem, but how quickly action must be taken, and what to do while the second solution gestates. Fear of failure because action was taken, or because no action was taken.

Even as someone that does not consider himself a programmer, I’ve at least screwed around in Xcode enough to know it has some things I don’t care for. I don’t find the language approachable, especially not when I’m coming from something as succinct as Python, but I do deeply respect the interface tools. You can make a text editor in a matter of minutes, with almost no actual Objective-C written. There are many other powerful interface features there, all built on Cocoa, so it’s very clear to that it would not be a simple matter to start over from scratch in this area. It helps to understand, to some degree, the unwillingness to bail on it.

Another programming analog I’ve also found fascinating are the flareups between different Python camps over how 2.x and 3.x are being handled. Many years ago, it was decided to start 3.x in parallel to 2.x, with 2.x receiving some backported things from 3.x, but there was never a plan to unite 2.x with 3.x. They would forever remain separate, with 2.x eventually terminating development with 2.7.x. This is an example where John’s position is followed, but it still doesn’t yield a pleasant outcome. It’s just not a sure thing. Alex Gaynor (developer for PyPy, Django) had a post about his thoughts, and a followup with some download statistics between versions. A survey of over 4,000 users seems to kind of line up, but it’s not exclusively pessimistic. But even Dropbox, a company that has hired Guido Van Rossum, is still on 2.7, with a new company blog post from this past week about effort being put in to a new 2.7-only JIT interpreter. This definitely isn’t like flipping a light switch, and I would assume Apple would also face many difficulties with coercing people in to The New Way as well.


2014-04-10 00:37:24

Category: text

Carousels Spin. Black Holes Spin. You do the Math.

This morning, everyone was losing their shit over Dropbox announcing things. Mostly, people just wanted free cheap less expensive stuff. As Bradley ChambersCloud Storage Super Villain — complains about the lack of an intermediary tier.

LOL, nothing like that was announced! Instead, to reinforce the worthiness of the $99 entry point, Carousel was announced.

Visions of Mad Men danced in each technophiles’ head. Don Draper, with his class, and charm (and NONE of the negative things) would sweep them off their feet.

A frenzy of praise ensued — even though the app wasn’t out yet. This went on for a while. Then people started using it. Reality is kind of rough, huh? It wants to eat all your photos so that it can fill up your Dropbox account. You can only share with other people that have the Carousel app.

Once afternoon rolled around, all of the people that were excited this morning were no longer excited, they were all actively complaining about the poor application. Several went back to lamenting the storage situation.

Usually, this unfolds on a longer time scale. Product A has leaks, or “pre-announcements”, or fancy unveilings, and then a while after that, Product A is released. All that good will that had hyped up Product A can reverse direction.

Like a big, bright, burning star, it runs out of hype-fuel and it collapses under its’ own weight. Leaving a lump of suck in its’ place. Like a black hole it can also pull in some of the good-will from nearby products. The Company’s Product A collapses in to suck, and then The Company’s Product B gets good will pulled off of it in to the suckitude of the neighboring product. (If only we had Neil’s Ship of The Imagination.)

It’s easy to be cynical about this from the outset (LOL, you believed in something!) but that’s like willfully living in a universe exclusively made of black holes. Everything sucks. Contrary to what some may think, I am fully capable of thinking positively about things. I, too, can look forward to owning, or using, fancy-ass toys. I just try to keep that excitement in check. Everything about what Dropbox is doing makes me very carefully measure my excitement. Arbitration. Lame pricing. Products that exist to make you hit higher storage limits. It’s important to keep that in mind, to maintain perspective, and not melt at the first demo video. Federico Viticci seems to have taken the same tack.

Fortunately, The Prompt’s photo service was acquihired, and sunsetted, and blue-bottled to Dropbox, so hopefully they can integrate the synergies. Believe it or not, all that satire was written last week. I guess Dropbox isn’t familiar with my work.

Blaaaaack hooooles and rev-el-AAAaaAAaaAAaaaa-tttions…

2014-04-09 21:43:00

Category: text

Adventures in Server Administration II: The Quickening

This is taking a little longer than I had expected it would take. It’s almost like there’s a reason people use Tumblr and Squarespace and stuff. Who could have guessed that?

I’m kidding. It’s not like I’m really waiting on anything other than myself. I’m lazy — turns out.

I looked up how to make a named virtual server in Twisted. This is what lets Twisted serve content based on the domain name it’s receiving. The way I was doing it before was the command line arg that serves a path you pass with an arg. Which would have been fine if I wanted to only serve prompt.photos on this server. Nothing against The Prompt, but I don’t like them that much.

It’s easy enough though, you make a text file, and throw some Python code you copy and paste from the Twisted docs — Et Voilà: You’re a neckbeard! The server now correctly handles the traffic for the domains.

Crap, I have to put stuff in the directory now.

Fucking Content!

I had decided to look in to Pelican to import the Tumblr posts, and to serve the new site. I’ve heard good things for a long time about it. I have also heard about Statamic, and how Statamic is statamazing from Sid O’Neil, Cory Dransfeldt, and Eric Hess, but I’m a rebel. (Like all the other people that use Pelican.)

I installed Pelican, easy; I installed Markdown, easy; I installed Fabric, KABOOM! It seems it’s dependent on the pycrypto package which needs to make some C magic happen. LOL C. Fuck it. It’s not a requirement so I moved past it. YOLO!

I made an API key for Tumblr (just fill the form in with lies!) and then I ran the little thingy that pulled down all the files. It made a bunch of yucky, ReStructuredText files. Gross. I found the flag for Markdown, but the results were also busted.

Bad news! The Tumblr importer script not only made the files in RST, it unnecessarily parsed them in to it instead of just leaving the HTML alone inside of the file. So that’s fubbared everything.

I rewrote the part of the import script that modified the content (I commented out the subprocess to pandoc — good grief!) This successfully gave me the HTML, as-is. Unfortunately, I needed to strip the tumblr URL’s for my blog while leaving other Tumblr URL’s alone. I added kwargs to pass the appropriate info to the function and it worked. Unfortunately, it still botched a bunch of other stuff. They make it sound deceptively easy to import. I’m looking in to how to to correct the read-more references, and to correctly display reblogged content. Right now, that content is attributed to me. I can’t knowingly, in good conscience, upload these files until I figure out how to attribute the reblogs appropriately.

I did go through all the trouble to modify the default Pelican template to look exactly like what I had on the Tumblr blog. Considering the fact that I never really liked the look of Tumblr blog, this is actually disappointing. (Glares at Satatmic themes.)

You win this round, Tumblr. Be warned: I am, like, THIS close.

2014-04-08 19:01:41

Category: text

It Will Be Fine!

The Martian book cover. Art By: Eric White. Art Director: Christopher Brand. Story

Book Review: The Martian

This book is great!

You mean you want more of a review than that? So demanding.

The book is great BECAUSE it’s about a sarcastic jerk!

Still not enough? Fine, nerds.

The book is great BECAUSE it’s about a sarcastic jerk stuck on Mars trying to stay alive using math, and chemistry! Pirate-ninjas!

I picked up this book because I saw several members of The Incomparable discussing it on Twitter. (Always blame Jason Snell.) They reviewed it on their podcast. Turns out, they also liked it, but mostly talked about how they could read it in an afternoon because they’re so good at reading. Showoffs!

Apparently, the author wrote it, and released it, as a serial story. This explains a lot of times when he referenced what he had done in a previous chapter. I didn’t understand the constant need to recap things as I was reading it. Remember when I said I didn’t understand the need to constantly recap things? Because I said it.

The other thing, that Scott McNulty points out, is that there really aren’t any characters in this story. You mostly read it for the humor the protagonist conveys in his log entries. It isn’t super realistic because he doesn’t really seem as stressed out as he ought to. The way the other characters in the novel are introduced is also a little strange and I attribute this to it’s serial origins. Recap: Remember when I said it was a serial story?

I still thoroughly enjoyed it, and whole-heartedly recommend it. The only part where you might want to give up is right at the beginning of the book where our intrepid protagonist goes in to math problem after math problem. You seriously have never read this much math in a novel in your life. It’s like a textbook. The math dies down, thankfully, so just skim it if your eyes start to cross.

Remember when I recommended The Martian to you?


My favorite part of the book starts when he goes to get Pathfinder. As an audience, we’re seeing his journey through NASA’s eyes and we aren’t sure if he’s gone nuts and he’s already driving to the Ares IV MAV. It was a good way to build tension. The reverse is true when he does finally go to the Ares IV MAV, and we can see through NASA’s eyes the problem that he doesn’t know anything about: The dust storm. These were both high points of the book, in my opinion.

Another thing, that might be controversial, is when he was dumb enough to break the source of communication that he had put all that time and energy in to. This was actually a good thing, because it made it Mark’s journey, again, instead of NASA just telling him what to do, which was less dramatic.

I thought we could have done with a few things going well though. Seriously, everything was going wrong. Everything. You’d turn a page (scroll) and something benign would be his death, and then he’d be fine again. Since I knew that there was little chance of Mark dying once we got to a certain point in the book, those problems were tiring to read. They were certainly imaginative though.

The rhythm of the chapters is that they largely end on an optimistic note, and the subsequent chapter starts on a negative note about the thing he was just optimistic about. It’s cute. I made reference to it the other day in my post, Adventures in Server Administration.

In the non-spoiler section I mentioned that Scott McNulty had complained about the characters not really being characters. Everyone on the podcast, and myself, essentially agreed that the NASA people were cardboard cutouts, the people on the Ares III were (at best) unrealistic tropes and stereotypes, and that Mark was basically just the author, Andy Weir. I think it’s fine, because Andy is probably a really funny guy, in real life. The worst person in the book was German Guy. I call him German Guy, because that is all he amounts to. At one point, Mark even cracks a joke about what a stereotype German Guy is because he wants to have sausage for breakfast. It’s fine to hang-a-lantern on it, to make a joke out of something like that, but German Guy never broke the mould in any other way, and he was supposed to central to the story, not a one-off joke.

The same goes for the quiet, meek computer scientist that lacks confidence in herself. She had several moments in the book geared towards her, more so than some of the other crew, like Martinez or Lewis, and that time was spent on how meek she was. Really a lot more could have been done with her.

I liked Annie, the public relations rep for NASA, because she was foul-mouthed, and sarcastic, in a charming way. Unfortunately, she also didn’t develop.

Mindy Park, the satcom tech, developed but she just got sarcastic. Her humor started to resemble Mark’s (the author’s). There’s more to humor than sarcasm, as much as it PAINS me to say it. Even if the characters were not going to develop much I would have liked it if they had some variation between one another. You know, other than being German.

The other thing that bothered me was Lewis. It was great that she was a female commander, and she was a very fine commander. The author went to great lengths to make her competent, even in a situation where a member of her crew was stranded. I did not like her infatuation with 70’s TV and disco music. It rang hollow. Even though Andy tried to make it a funny laugh, it seemed like something that didn’t ring true for her. It was important to not have to invent the media that Mark would have to watch, and listen to, from whole cloth — to ground the story in media we know — but this odd. It was like reading a book written by someone that grew up watching syndicated 70’s TV in the 80’s and 90’s. That’s not necessarily a problem, but we don’t even syndicate that stuff now, and Lewis isn’t a super-old person. She’d more likely be watching syndicated TV from the 90’s and 2000’s. That a huge nit that I’m picking here, but it was something that irked me over and over because so many references were made to her music and TV show collection through the course of the book.

Even with the flaws in the novel, I couldn’t put it down once it got going. It’s an action-movie book. It has a lot of thought, of course, in the science of the book, so many might find the comparison to a thoughtless action-movie unfair, but some of those characters are too thin to say that this is a art-house book. That’s fine!

2014-04-05 13:08:00

Category: text


UPDATE: This one is pretty depressing. I wanted to put it below the line as they say. It is still important. I just don’t know if I even want to look at it all the time in the feed.

I write this stuff for myself (greatly optimized to give myself page views for myself). That includes issues that aren’t funny, or simple. A few days ago, I made a post about how Brendan Eich would have a long tenure, and that the best thing we could do was to use the time to discuss why his views were not good views.

The opposite has happened.

In the time since then, OKCupid issued a targeted open letter which further agitated things, Brendan Eich did several damage control interviews, and then he tendered his resignation yesterday. I really did not anticipate a single one of those things.

In the wreckage of yesterday, people are upset and troubled. There is backlash about the backlash now. Recriminations about gay people. Laments for Brendan. It is a total cluster. Sadness and anger permeate everything.

We still need to talk.

  1. Some people wanted Brendan to resign, whether he apologized, or not.
  2. Some people wanted him to issue a public apology, and retain his position.
  3. Some people wanted him keep his position because his personal views should not matter. (Oddly enough: a lot of straight white guys. Hmm.)
  4. Some people just want to watch the world burn.

I can’t say anything about the people spreading hate in number four, they seem to be hurt by something else in their lives. I do want to talk about the other three.

Wanting Brendan to resign is complicated. His views are not good views, and he was terrible at empathizing with others he would need support from. He gave money to an organization that made these ads. That is not a parody account, those really played in California. I really got to see people on TV say things to stir up fear in people. The ones that hurt the most are the ones asking voters to think of the bad things that will happen to their children at school. After the passage of Prop 8, non-violent, peaceful, permitted marches were organized where people could come together and walk down closed-off streets with picket signs (I know, because I was there). Media coverage of those marches made Yes on 8 very uncomfortable, they were victims. Brendan does not regret supporting that campaign. It is very sad, to me, that he doesn’t see how hard it is to shrug it off. It is like saying you’re sorry someone got their feelings hurt.

In all fairness, let us not forget that it was very popular to be “for the definition of traditional marriage” in 2008’s political climate. People can change; “evolve”.

He should not have been considered for the position unless he had changed his views of his own accord. That was a failure of Mozilla’s search for a CEO. He was asked to be CEO, he didn’t petition for it. Brendan never said who asked him, but whomever it was made a huge mistake. Chief Executive Officer is not a purely technical position, it is mostly a social one. Social on every level, from personal meetings, to keynote speaking, to interviews as a representative of the whole company. Given the social demands of the position it is difficult to recommend someone that does not regret supporting Prop 8 for the role.

Seperate calls for resignation from his resignation for a second. Anyone can call for a person to resign, literally nothing prevents a person from doing this. It is a way to express your disagreement with someone. People call for Tim Cook to resign, Howard Schulz to resign – it happens. That does not mean the person must resign. It is not the inevitable conclusion. It is important to react well to these calls for resignation. To assess if it is relevant, and if so: are there things that can be changed to quell that opposition. Brendan handled the calls for his resignation poorly. At the start, he had the company’s backing, and the backing of many employees. In a matter of days, he managed to turn more people against him. That is not how you handle a call for resignation. There were a plurality of people that would have been satisfied with an apology at the outset. He doesn’t want to apologize —this is also very un-CEO-like. It isn’t damning, in and of itself, but by the time he conducted damage control interviews with CNet, and The Guardian, he was hurting his own position. They are truly bizarre interviews with poor reasoning (the Indonesia parts, and using inclusive to mean including people that exclude) that only highlight the ways in which he was a poor choice for CEO.

Instead of rally support for the Mozilla he did the opposite.

No one made him resign. He resigned. He had power to do great things, to bring people together, and he could not execute.

This was a crisis they knew about before he had the job. As a CEO, you don’t usually get the chance to be out-in-front of something. If this was a crisis about someone else at the organization, would he have been able to communicate effectively and take appropriate action?

This angers many people that feel like he was unjustly persecuted for things outside work. That we all need to look only at what he does in the office. What someone does outside the office, and in the past, is generally not important enough to bring up because it so rarely conflicts with the job. Like I said, social. If a hypothetical Mozilla CEO had supported foundations that advertised against race, or gender, or lobbied for Jim Crow laws in his time outside the office then should that support go without comment? It was outside the office, and they promised it wouldn’t affect corporate policy. Do you feel the same? “Same-sex marriage is different.” Is it so different that a blind eye should be turned towards Brendan? I am not convinced. It is easier to think of same-sex marriage as a nice-to-have thing that some people don’t really need. It is still dehumanizing, and painful.

Where does the line get drawn for employees? Do they need to have spotless lives outside the office? There’s no answer to that. Obviously, when cries came for Eich to be removed as CTO, nothing happened. Does that mean anything? Not really. Should all Prop 8 supporters be fired, and exhiled? No, of course not. Should they be the CEO of a company that stands for equality and fair treatment? Maybe not. People can change, and they are changing. Fear is our biggest enemy; fear of “others” and what they will do.

Hampton Catlin, the head of Rarebit that pulled out of the Firefox store, even called this outcome sad. He had met, in person, with Brendan days ago over coffee to discuss, as humans, how he was hurt. How his relationship had been jeopardized because he could not marry his non-US-citizen husband. These are not two CEO-monsters slinging press releases, these were both humans interacting. Hampton was unable to persuade Brendan. Yesterday, Hampton was slammed on Twitter by people wanting to verbally abuse him for forcing Brendan to resign. A bizarre target for their ire. They bare no good will to talk about it over coffee, just to inflict pain because, from their point of view, Hampton destroyed Brendan. This is not some Obi Wan vs. Darth Vader story, no matter which role you assign to which CEO.

Brendan self-destructed in his role as CEO, but I hope he can find peace for himself. Until he can see through the eyes of others, I doubt he will. As for us, we lost the chance at a conversation about the harm anti-same-sex marriage legislation causes, and we’ve moved on to recriminations over a resignation of a poorly-selected CEO.


2014-04-04 12:12:00

Category: text

The Libertarian Police Department



Tom O’Donnell imagines how the police would function in a totally libertarian society.

I was shooting heroin and reading “The Fountainhead” in the front seat of my privately owned police cruiser when a call came in. I put a quarter in the radio to activate it. It was the chief.

“Bad news,…

2014-04-03 22:36:26

Category: link

Adventures in Server Administration

While I was on vacation last week, I saw Marco Arment publish very thoughtful posts on the importance of relying on yourself for hosting services and content. That using many of the services, and platforms, out there can quickly wind up with large fees the developers are paying for relatively simple needs. There was also a side to it concerning proprietary services offered by these companies requiring custom code that basically locks you in to their service since you don’t want to have to rewrite all that custom code.

Newsflash: I am not a developer.

Breaking: I am interested in hosting my own “content”.

Exclusive: I decided to give it a whirl, as Marco suggested.

Besides, since the goal is to basically host this (gesticulates around the screen) stuff on a server, then the risk is super low. I mean, what does something like this really need any way? I would be satisfied serving static files.

My previous adventures in webhosting didn’t go well because I either pick a service where I have no options (I host my resume and demo reel site on Dynadot’s super-thrifty-guy plan), or I pick something where I have tons of options and no help (Nearly Free Speech). NFS had a huge learning curve because it comes set up in a very specific way, and uses BSD. Which doesn’t sound like a big deal, until you realize you (I) can’t even figure out how to install shit on the server.

I went with the inexpensive $5/mo. plan on DigitalOcean (referral link) that Marco had mentioned. It was easy to set up the VPS droplet. Populating it with exactly the data I want and securing it isn’t super seamless. (What do you mean I can’t just do everything in root?!)

I also tried their preconfigured LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP). Then I realized that was stupid because I don’t know anything about three of the things in the list. What I needed was Python, because I have a pretty decent understanding of Python through the work I’ve done[1].

So, using my new friend, SSH, I made a directory for the files, dumped the files over SFTP with Transmit, and then said, “I’m sure there’s a web server in the Python standard library.”

Spoiler Alert: There is a web server in the python standard library!

Spoiler Alert: The one in the standard library is not so great!

My first project, was to roll out (troll out?) prompt.photos, as a joke site. That would be simple, right? I’m serving 1 4KB html document I wrote by hand, with 4 PNG files. What could go wrong?

Things Went Wrong!

The server crashed the second Stephen Hackett linked to it on 512pixels.net. I got simultaneous DMs on Twitter from Myke and Stephen. ARGGH! File a bug report guys, sheesh! I’m a pro web admin!

I simply restarted SimpleHTTPServer through ssh and it kept churning without an error (I kept checking on it). I went to sleep, and woke up at 3 AM. Sure enough, SimpleHTTPServer had SimpleSHITtheBed at 1 AM. I put it back up and then started looking on StackOverflow for a more permanent solution. SimpleHTTPServer module obviously wasn’t going to work. It wasn’t even a matter of configuring it differently.

Turns out, that looking in to Apache and Nginx serving static files at 1 AM is a headache inducing thing. Obviously, those two are the most vetted. Node.js fans LOVE their little node servers. Unfortunately, I must have done something wrong with my Node installation (both on my Mac with Homebrew and on the droplet). I nixed (get it?) that idea and went back to Python. I knew the interpreter was there, and that I had installed pip, so I theoretically had a wealth of well-tested packages I could download.

I went with Twisted. Now, if you know what I know (low barrier to entry), then you know that Twisted is a super-powerful, asynchronous, Python server (and other things). I had dismissed it precisely because I thought it would be like setting up Apache. (I basically didn’t want to edit any text files by hand last night).

Turns out, Twisted is insanely easy to deploy. You point it at a path to use as root, you run it as a daemon, and it does its thing. Compare this to Apache. Not only was it as simple to use as SimpleHTTPServer, but it was also faster, and (most importantly) it has not shit the bed. I will want to investigate another solution for serving multiple named domains from this host (since I’m not paying $5 for eternity to host a joke).

This is a tremendously helpful learning experience for me because I want to migrate (vogues your browser window) this whole thing off of Tumblr.

I had picked something easy, Tumblr, just to start writing and stop fretting over fiddly-bits. Just like SimpleHTTPServer, I wanted something that wasn’t fully featured so I wouldn’t go crazy. I sabotaged myself because Tumblr is borking my RSS feed now.

I contacted Tumblr support, and after the person told me all my posts were in my RSS feed, I convinced him they were not. He’s going to pass on my desire for a working RSS feed, but they have no plans to help me.

That’s cute! TOTES ADORBS, BRO!

Before someone helpfully points out that Tumblr is free, so I shouldn’t complain, I’d like to point out that it is advertising supported, I pay for it in eyeballs. I’ll also point out that it will be trivial to get off of their service now. I’ve said it before, but when they started getting all Yahoo(!) up in my biz, I was going to move. Hell, I’ll fucking scrape pages out of here with BeautifulSoup if I have to (I don’t have to). Pelican even has Tumblr export now.

I find this process enriching. Empowering, even.

I’m going to go all web-me-point-oh on this place. You hear me, Sid?

  1. Most graphics software used to have proprietary scripting languages. That was impractical for the software vendors to maintain, and for the users to learn new scripting languages for each package. In the 2000’s, vendors all switched over to embedding Python, Lua, or TCL (pronounced TiCkLe). This is why I have a decent understanding of Python 2.7.  ↩

2014-04-03 11:37:39

Category: text

OKCupid asks users to boycott Firefox because of CEO's gay rights stance


Uh. This wasn’t exactly what I had in mind in my previous post. This increases the conversation, but it can really antagonize people by getting in the way of what they are doing. That doesn’t really put someone in the mood to be receptive.

A for intent, D for execution.

2014-03-31 14:55:00

Category: link