Discussing software, the web, politics, sexuality and the unending supply of human stupidity.

Why Every Straight Man Needs A Gay Best Friend. And by “friend”, the author means “romantic comedy-based stereotype”. Still, it is nice that we can be accessories for straight men as well as women now. Such liberation. Maybe at some point we might collectively amount to being the progenitor in the cultural story rather than the camp wisecracking sidekick.

The opposite of “onboarding” is “walking the plank”. Silicon Valley douchebags, take note and Amazon Prime yourself a cutlass and blindfold.

Why people should be worried about NHS Care.Data: because it turns out Boris Bike data may be deanonymisable fairly trivially. If you can deanonymise data of people riding around London on a bike, just wait until some drunk contractor accidentally leaves your medical records on an unencrypted USB stick on a train.

David Cameron: “Jesus invented the Big Society 2,000 years ago. I just want to see more of it.”

Oh, do fuck off Dave, you insufferably pious, smug little prick.

It’s 2014 and I’m still using line-oriented text formats and sed to do ‘Big Data’. And I’m stilling having to tell the database the difference between an zero-length string and a NULLed int or double.

In spite of fifty years of computer science and software engineering research, I’m still having to do completely moronic shit to get data from one place to another.

Why can’t we have properly self-describing data in a tightly-compressed binary file with a clear and simple way to turn that back into a simple text format so I can read it? Hell, I’d settle with something like JSON (with an attached schema) gzipped.

A web service I use now has a Chrome app, but I can’t use the Chrome app in Firefox. The fact that this sentence even makes sense means the whole web app thing is fucked to hell already.

“The Right Honourable Member”… and with these two foundational lies, a pattern of lies is instituted.

Technolibertarians, Mozilla and boycotts

I have to say, this whole Firefox boycott is quite amusing to watch. I haven’t been participating, not because I don’t think Eich’s actions are disturbing (they are) but because I have very good reasons to use Firefox mostly around needing certain extensions in order to be able to use my computer without experiencing agonising physical pain.

Anyway, the protest isn’t one I think that will be effective (but I do think that Eich having to squirm uncomfortably because of Mozilla’s complete PR incompetence is no bad thing), but it’s interesting to watch anyway. Primarily because it’s interesting to see the backlash to such a protest.

If you listen to the libertarian wing of the technology industry—of which there are a substantial chunk—boycotts and societal shunning are an important part of how a future libertarian society would operate. If, advocates of such free market principles suggest, you just get out of the way, cut government away, then injustices will be remedied by the market, by individual players who can make the decisions as to whether or not they wish to do business with specific people and organisations. This is how libertarianism is sold to people: okay, well, we aren’t going to ban X (pornography, drinking alcohol, the current rather arbitrary set of banned narcotic drugs) but you are free to shun the people who do X.

Okay. Except when people try that, the self same people throw an absolute shit fit about how it’s terrible and intolerant to make a decision on what product to use based on the personal ethics of the person running the company that makes said product.

Witch-hunts and boycotts are bad… except when they are a key part of a libertarian ideological project that seeks to excuse the transfer of power in liberal democratic societies so that billionaires can run the world more fully than they already do.

The best thing about the Mozilla boycotts, and all the drama around Google and the NSA is that it might remind people that the technology business isn’t some radical messianic project to make the world a better place, it’s just a business. No more or less ethical than any other.

One lone nutter waving a bible on Whitehall about the same-sex marriage law. Sucks to be him today, as it probably does everyday.

I am just watched one of the first same-sex weddings from outside Islington Town Hall. At the stroke of midnight, a wedding took place. A funny time for a wedding perhaps, but the cold weather could not undermine the warmth of feeling and the happiness of the occasion.

To quote Obama: they said this day would never come.

There was one lone soul proclaiming that this would be the end of all of civilisation. But in general there were good spirited people wishing well of the couple.

This morning England and Wales wakes to find itself a little freer. There are still struggles ahead for LGBT people. The closet must be dismantled for good. Discrimination must end for good. But today is a better day. Today is a day many of us couldn’t imagine happening growing up.

To Peter and David, and to the thousands of couples around the world who now have the freedom to get married but only recently did not: have a happy and wonderful marriage.