To Senator Bob Casey, I’m writing this open letter.
The sun has an influence on its surroundings. One of these is in the form of small particles that are constantly ejected from the sun in all directions, which exerts an outward pressure, creating an expanding sphere of particles that moves away from the sun. These particles are the solar wind. As the shell of particles expands, the density (and pressure) falls. Eventually the solar wind reaches the interstellar medium — the space between the stars — which, despite not being very dense, is not empty. It exerts a pressure that pushes inwards, towards the sun.
The idea that programmers ought to or ought not to be called “software engineers” is a contentious one. How you approach optimization and performance is one metric which can definitely push my evaluation of a developer towards the engineering side. Unfortunately, I think that a huge number of software developers today, even senior ones, are approaching this problem poorly.
The best laptop ever made is the ThinkPad X200, and I have two of them. The caveats are: I get only 2-3 hours of battery life even with conservative use; and it struggles to deal with 1080p videos.
Today I thought it’d try out something new: I have an old family recipe simmering on the stove right now, but instead of beef I’m trying out impossible beef. It cooked up a bit weird — it doesn’t brown up in the same way I expect of ground beef, and it made a lot more fond than I expected. Perhaps the temperature is too high? We’ll see how it fares when it’s done. In the meanwhile, let’s get you up to speed on my free software projects.
I’m 34,018 feet over the Atlantic at the moment, on my way home from FOSDEM. It was as always a lovely event, with far too many events of interest for any single person to consume. One of the few talks I was able to attend1 left a persistent worm of thought in my brain. This talk was put on by representatives of Microsoft and GitHub and discusses whether or not there is a sustainability problem in open source (link). The content of the talk, interpreted within the framework in which it was presented, was moderately interesting. It was more fascinating to me, however, as a lens for interpreting GitHub’s (and, indirectly, Microsoft’s) approach to open source, and of the mindset of developers who approach problems in the same ways.
And strictly speaking I even had to slip in under the radar to attend in the first place — the room was full. ↩
KnightOS is an operating system I started writing about 10 years ago, for Texas Instruments line of z80 calculators — the TI-73, TI-83+, TI-84+, and similar calculators are supported. It still gets the rare improvements, but these days myself and most of the major contributors are just left with starry eyed empty promises to themselves that one day they’ll do one of those big refactorings we’ve been planning… for 4 or 5 years now.
In the past few days, several free software maintainers have come out to discuss the stresses of their work. Though the timing was suggestive, my article last week on the philosophy of project governance was, at best, only tangentially related to this topic - I had been working on that article for a while. I do have some thoughts that I’d like to share about what kind of stresses I’ve dealt with as a FOSS maintainer, and how I’ve managed (or often mismanaged) it.
I’ve been in the maintainer role for dozens of projects for a while now, and have moderated my fair share of conflicts. I’ve also been on the other side, many times, as a minor contributor watching or participating in conflict within other projects. Over the years, I’ve developed an approach to project governance which I believe is lightweight, effective, and inclusive.
I forgot to write this post this morning, and I’m on cup 3 of coffee while knee-deep in some arcane work with tarballs in Python. Forgive the brevity of this introduction. Let’s get right into the status update.