LinkedIn? In My GitHub? It’s More Likely Than You Think

Outlook Integration with LinkedIn

I didn’t much care when Microsoft bought LinkedIn, because no one actually likes LinkedIn. What little usefulness it has exists only because there’s nothing else in the space. A Facebook for work. Really? That’s boring squared. Who cares? But when Microsoft bought GitHub, I was really disappointed. I felt it was “unwarranted.”

Linus Torvalds wrote Linux, and changed the world. Despite never being able to make a dent in desktop usage, it destroyed what little progress Windows was making on the server side compared to Unix and minis, and now runs basically everything that isn’t a desktop (or an Apple device).

Then Linus changed the world again, and wrote git. Except for the absolute biggest repositories (e.g., Microsoft Windows, or, say, Oracle), it quickly ate all other source code management software, paid or free. And then Microsoft patched git to handle their codebase, and uses it now as well.

GitHub was one of the first big Ruby on Rails apps to prove the framework’s viability at scale; a huge platform success that didn’t involve either Microsoft or Oracle.

With all of this behind it, from my perspective, GitHub represented everything in the software world that was NOT MICROSOFT.

And then Microsoft threw a couple billion at the founders, the government shrugged their shoulders at such a “small” acquisition, and GitHub, like so many before, became another head on the software world’s biggest hydra. I actually felt a little betrayed by the founders, if I’m being honest. I hate the M&A activity that’s destroying our economy, capturing our government, and producing a new feudal-like aristocracy, but I suppose, of all the companies that had the resources to give the founders their exit, a DOJ-chastened Microsoft wasn’t the worst possibility. Certainly better than Oracle or Salesforce.

Now I see this tomfoolery in the updated version of Outlook, which my corporate laptop just self-installed. Uh, no thanks? In fact, I can’t imagine something I want less than this, but Microsoft is always surpassing themselves, so I’ll just give it time. I would complain about jamming more “stuff” into an already over-stuffed application, but Outlook may be the software world’s poster child for bloat at this point, so what’s another useless “social” add-on?

I’m saying all of that to say this: I fully expect GitHub to get some sort of LinkedIn integration like this in the near future as well. “Link your professional software portfolio with a click of the button!” it will say, as if you can’t stick a link in there already. And then it will build a graph of user data behind the scenes for only-God-knows-what further marketing purposes.

I also expect that there will be some linkage between GitHub and Azure Devops. I had been thinking that Microsoft would simply phase out Devops for GitHub. Devops has never been particularly interesting as a product. However, a thoughtful person on Twitter — “There are dozens of us!” — disabused me of that notion. I’m sure he’s right: Microsoft certainly has too many paying customers for Devops to do anything drastic with it now, and it has become another lame-duck victim of Microsoft’s own success, destined to limp on forever because of backward compatibility. But I’m certain that they’re not just going to leave these two, so-closely-related silos sitting right beside each other with no connection, and I’m also certain I won’t like it when they finally do something.

“How do you define ‘unwarranted?'”

The Crushing Weight of Knowing What You’re Doing

“Who are you and why are you here?” –Dave Cutler (DaveC)

Source: 012. I Shipped, Therefore I Am

Steven Sinofsky, once a huge wheel at Microsoft, for a very long time, is writing a series of articles chronicling the halcyon days of the early PC business at Substack. I can’t quite bring myself to subscribe, because most of it is free already. Plus, there aren’t many surprises for me, since I was living it during that time.

When Windows NT was introduced, I was quick to jump on board. I was already experimenting with Linux towards the end of ’94. But then I saw a disc of NT 3.5 (not even 3.51 yet) on someone’s bookshelf. He said he wasn’t using it, so I snapped it up and installed it. For the next 20 years, I would dual boot my PC’s between Windows and Linux. I only used Windows for gaming, but for that use, it was obstinate. I tried every incarnation of wine and Crossover and PlayOnLinux and everything else. Nothing has ever let me run Windows games on Linux well enough to warrant getting rid of a native partition.

The content of the slide above is of no consequence, as is pretty much the case with all presentation slides. What’s interesting to me is the little toolbar on the top, left side. It’s from the early Office XP days, back when Microsoft was new and cool. “Before the dark times. Before the empire.” Seeing it evoked a visceral response. As a computer nerd, those really were interesting and exciting times to live through. From the article, that screencap is from 1992. Competing against giants like IBM, HP, and Sun, Microsoft’s eventual dominance was anything but sure at that time. And that’s what’s prompted me to write this anecdote.

In 1995, my Fortune 250 company didn’t even have an internet connection yet. I was using a phone line, and a modem that I conned my boss into letting me get. It was over this modem that I downloaded all 54 floppy drive images of Slackware Linux, on a computer running Windows 3.11 with Trumpet Winsock, connecting to a free SLIP dialup bank in California.

At first, I was much more into NT than Linux. I skipped Windows 95 entirely. I don’t think I ever had a computer that ran it.

I remember how easy it was to setup a dialup connection in NT. By 1996, I was running a dual Pentium Pro with 384 MB of RAM, SCSI hard drives, and a $2,500 video card to do FEA work. The total cost was about $10,000. A coworker got a SGI Indy to do the same sort of work, to the tune of $80,000. The company still didn’t have an internet connection, so he also got an external modem, and hired a local ISP to come set it up. The guy came and screwed around with the connection for 4 hours. I kind of razzed him, by pointing out that it took me all of 15 minutes to configure the same thing on NT. That’s how smug I was about NT versus Unix at the time.

The best part was still to come.

For the next week, the ISP guy still couldn’t get that Indy on the internet. Every time it would connect, the kernel would segfault, and the machine would crash.

But that’s not the best part.

The ISP guy worked with SGI to patch IRIX to fix the modem driver, and finally got it working. My coworker left it connected to the internet all the time to get his email. Things worked fine for a few weeks.

Then the company got a T1 internet connection, and then connected our facility to the main office via a sonet ring. I was really looking forward to not needing my dialup connection any more. But, the first morning, no one could access the internet. Complaints were made. Investigations were performed. Our internal IT would fix the problem, and then it would come back.

Here comes the best part.

Finally, someone realized that computers inside our facility were getting the wrong gateway address to get to the internet. They realized that they were picking up the IP address of my workmate’s Indy, which was advertising itself as a route to the internet, and since the number of hops from computers in the office to the Indy were less than skipping over to the central office, they were preferring its modem, and the Indy’s phone line would choke from the load.

I recall very clearly that there was a simple checkbox in the dialog for setting up a dialup connection in Windows NT for advertising the connection to the LAN as a route to wherever you were connecting. It was on by default, but when I was running through the process, I quickly realized that this was NOT what I wanted, and un-ticked it.

And I felt pretty smug about being serious about NT at the time.

I stuck with NT as my primary interest until some time around 1998 or so. Then Nat Friedman and Miguel de Icaza released Ximian Desktop for Linux, which made Linux on the desktop really pleasant to use. I wasn’t doing analysis work any more. I had transferred to become the system admin of all the Unix machines in the advanced engineering group, so running Linux was a perfect fit. After that, it was pretty much all Linux, all the time, until switching to Macs just a few years ago.

> How do you deal with Microsoft’s crap on a daily basis? I don’t use Windows 11… | Hacker News

How do you deal with Microsoft’s crap on a daily basis?

I don’t use Windows 11. On Windows 10, I modify the installation image with DISM, removing as much of the unnecessary and user-hostile stuff as possible…

I make extensive changes to the registry that disable all the unwanted stuff. Some of these settings are not documented, and even the documented ones are likely to change without notice or become re-enabled by default in subsequent builds. For this reason, to avoid such unpleasant surprises, I prevent any automatic updates.

Source: > How do you deal with Microsoft’s crap on a daily basis? I don’t use Windows 11… | Hacker News

There was a time when I was reinstalling Windows XP so often that I made a “slipstreamed” install disc with Service Pack 3 pre-integrated, but this is on a whole other level. If I’m being honest?… I kinda want to try it. If I’m reading the blurb on Microsoft’s docs correctly, DISM is not, in fact, some tens-of-thousands-of-dollars corporate thing, but something that ships with every copy of Windows? That can’t be right, can it? In any case, I never want to hear about how much “work” it is to run Linux any more, when this is what it takes to run a copy of Windows that Microsoft doesn’t actively sabotage on a routine basis.

Arch Linux

I finally took a look at Arch Linux. I started the process of installing it with Parallels on my MBP. I got to the GRUB configuration step, and then thought, “What in the world am I doing!?” And then I quickly deleted the VM and the install ISO. In the immortal words of Sgt. Murtaugh, “I’m getting too old for this.”

A Computer Company |

Things I want a computer company to be

  • Hardware manufacturer
  • Operating system vendor
  • Model for how to build the best software for their platform
  • Good corporate citizen
  • Inspiration

Things I don’t want a computer company to be

  • Music store
  • Music streaming service
  • Television studio
  • Movie studio
  • News aggregator
  • Fitness studio
  • Advertisement company
  • Bank
  • Credit card company
  • Bookstore
  • Subscription podcast service
  • Messaging platform
  • Video game distributor
  • Cloud storage service
  • Online meetings host
  • Email service
  • Health platform
  • Internet proxy
  • Software gatekeeper
  • Arbiter of other company’s business models
  • The entire amount of commerce
  • Monopoly
  • The Police

Source: A Computer Company |

I self-hosted my “cloud” applications on my home network for years and years. It was a LOT of work. I finally gave up and gave my digital life to Google. Then I recanted Google, and gave it all to Apple, and then doubled down. When I look at the list like this, I get really unnerved about how much of my life would be lost if my Apple account got blocked, deleted, or stolen. My fallback position is that I ran Linux on the desktop for 19 years, and it works even better for the kind of work I do than macOS. I could switch back, and leave a lot of this list behind.

This is half the reason I haven’t given up on 1Password, and let Apple’s keychain have all my passwords. At least, if I lose my Apple account, I would still have my credentials to get into everything else.

I’ve been using my Apple email for my account name on web sites for several years now. I should probably go back to using my actual address, which I can forward however I like…

Nine things we learned from the Epic v. Apple trial – The Verge

It’s particularly notable since some people are worried that macOS is inching toward the iOS model, making it a little more difficult to install unauthorized software with each new version. If you were already anxious about the Mac ecosystem closing off entirely, Federighi’s testimony gave you plenty more to worry about.

Source: Nine things we learned from the Epic v. Apple trial – The Verge

Indeed. Federighi says he’s worried about malware on macOS. I think that’s scaremongering. (Now watch me get a virus.) But, for all-around safety, I’ve come to the tenuous conclusion that requiring everything to be signed is acceptable. However, if Apple finally closes the last door, and begins to require that everything you install on a Mac to come through the App Store, we’re going to have a problem. As a Rails developer, I’m very worried about the trend of making macOS more and more like iOS, but I don’t seriously think they can ever do this, completely, and I’ll step through why.

A large part of the reason that Apple sells Macs is for development. Obviously, developers must make up a very small percentage of Mac users, being dwarfed by media creators, but the inescapable reality is that Apple themselves require a Mac to write software for their most-profitable products: the iPhone and iPad. So, even by Apple’s own rules, a generally-open development environment needs to exist to continue to support their mobile ecosystem.

Very closely related to this is that a lot of developers (like me) prefer the platform for developing web apps, which, again, is a type of development that helps Apple’s efforts. I mean, they don’t want people going off and creating Windows-native applications, right? So keeping the operating system of Macs in such a state as to make it productive for web development is — at least tangentially — also in their own best interests. However, this sort of focus almost requires the use of either Homebrew or MacPorts, which I have a hard time believing could be delivered through the App Store.

So, following the logic, and while I understand that it might be really attractive to Apple leadership to lock down macOS as tightly as iOS, I don’t see a path for getting there. At least, not in a way that won’t alienate the entire demographic of developers. Obviously, if they get really serious about it, they could lock the system down for iOS app development, but I think this would leave web development blowing in the breeze. If that were to happen, my only consolation is that Linux is just as nice for doing Rails development as macOS. It’s not as great for just about everything else, but it is a first-class platform to develop web applications on. So, moving back to Linux on the desktop is a viable fallback position for me, and the really great thing about that is that no one can take that away from me.

Linux in 2020: 27.8 million lines of code in the kernel, 1.3 million in systemd • The Register

Another point of interest is that systemd, a replacement for init that is the first process to run when Linux starts, is now approaching 1.3 million lines of code thanks to nearly 43,000 commits in 2019.

“Everybody who has ever worked at that level in the operating system has agreed that systemd is the proper solution. It solves a problem that people have. Distros have adopted it because it solves a problem for them. If you don’t want to use it, you don’t have to use it. There’s other init replacements out there. Android doesn’t use it because they use other things,” he (Greg Kroah-Hartman) said.

Source: Linux in 2020: 27.8 million lines of code in the kernel, 1.3 million in systemd • The Register

A Linux distribution is the kernel, the userspace programs, a service management system, and a package manager. I’m still not clear on everything systemd does, and that bothers me. As it continues to grow, it’s a learning process, and I’m not down in the weeds with Linux every day like I used to be. But I appreciate what they’re doing. It always bothered me that init was just a cobbled together bunch of scripts. This feels like the proper, modern approach.

Christmas Day, 2019

Here’s how my Christmas Day went, after a lovely morning of opening presents with the family.

I just upgraded to Comcast — I mean, Xfiniti — gigabit internet service, and got rid of all TV service. (I’m going to try streaming everything now, and I’m sure that will be fodder for another post in the future.) Unfortunately, I discovered that my nifty, little, fanless, single-board-computer router, running Linux, can’t seem to push any more than about 300 mbps on its ethernet ports, no matter what I try. So I fell back to using my Linksys Velop mesh wifi as my router, and then continued to try to figure out if I could get gigabit speeds out of my little computer’s NIC’s.

I had already looked at several things in Linux. All the basics checked out. Yes, before I even got the service activated, I upgraded to a DOCSIS 3.1-compliant cable modem. Yes, the kernel thinks it should be running at 1000 mpbs. Yes, it’s set to full-duplex. So I started to get serious, and I…

  • turned off everything.
  • cleared the kernel iptables rules
  • turned off the firewall completely
  • upgraded the NIC driver using a supplemental driver in the Ubuntu repos
  • upgraded Ubuntu from LTS to current

After all of this produced no change, I noticed that the board had a firmware update available. In for a penny, right? So I…

  • failed at using their utility to create a bootable firmware update USB stick on my Mac
  • did it on my work PC
  • used it to boot the SBC, but found I couldn’t get a console
  • tried different baud rates and serial programs, to no avail
  • tried and failed to create a new bootable image, using a different program on my Mac
  • tried to create new bootable image on Windows using the different program
  • noticed that my work laptop automatically deleted the firmware image as soon as I copied it over
  • tried to create the new bootable image on Windows under Parallels
  • hassled with which “machine” has control over the USB stick
  • found I couldn’t copy-and-paste between host and guest
  • upgraded all of Parallels, and Parallels Toolbox, on both guess and host
  • finally created new bootable image, which also did not boot
  • finally tried a different USB stick, which worked the first time

I finally, finally, finally got the router’s firmware updated, and, of course, there is literally no difference in the throughput. I’ll leave it to the reader to take a guess at how long this took me.

I also discovered tuned, which I was really hopeful for, but it also does not do anything for me.

So, like a sucker, I’ve now ordered the upgraded version of this board, which should fit in the same case I already have. I’m holding my breath…

I Miss My Old Graphics

Someone on Twitter mentioned BeOS, and that got me looking over my old pictures from the previous incarnations of my blog. This was how the site looked when I hand-coded it. I miss it.

Old Graphics (RedHat & Ximian Desktop)

I had created the graphics all by hand in a graphic editing program that came with FrontPage 97, called Microsoft Image Composer. (I still can’t drive Photoshop.)

This is what it looked like before I did a big upgrade. I still like the look of the title with the color gradient.

Old Old Graphics (BeOS)

I still use the 4-corner gradient I created with that program as my desktop background on every computer I use.