1x27: Buffalo Wild Wings Dollars

Jeremy Garcia, Bryan Lunduke, Jono Bacon, and Stuart Langridge present Bad Voltage, in which there is only one. We also discuss:

  • Would it be bad if the open source desktop fails to go mainstream? Is not wanting large public success just elitism? Or is this the year that we pronounce it isn't and never will be "the year of the Linux desktop", and is that a terrible thing? (3.14)
  • We review the Canon HF-R500 digital camcorder (27.10)
  • Why do film and TV scripts get technology wrong when it would be just as easy to get it right? Should we be amused or annoyed by technobabble? (39.45)
  • Should programming be part of a school curriculum, not to program specifically but to teach skills of logically constructing an argument and meta-skills of thinking "how to think"? (50.58)

Download the show now!

[quote=“sil, post:1, topic:8272”]
Should programming be part of a school curriculum…[/quote]

Absolutely: teaching coding is a fantastic tool in learning how to think logically. The specifics of the language are not that important because who is to say what will be the major languages when our kids grow up. Rather teaching coding teaches how to break problems down into more manageable blocks and how to systematically solve these problems.

If helps in defining procedures, even when these are to be followed by people, not computers, because it forces you to think of all possible circumstances conditions.

When I started to code I learnt BASIC because that’s what my ZX81 came with though I have since learnt lots of other languages including Pascal, C, C++, Java, Python, Posix scripting amongst others together with Assembly for a number of different processors.

Most people will never need to learn all these and I can’t remember the last time I used BASIC or Pascal but even if somebody never goes on to write code a basic introduction if if is only Scratch serves to demystify what computers do and how they work.

I think that programming and match go together like pickled herring, good bear and snaps :smiley: Match is king when it comes to learning how to think abstract and logically. I think that programming could be taught as applied match, in the sense that it could bring some tangibility to match. Nobody have ever been worse of, after thinking abstract and logically about concrete problems. Lets get programming into the curriculum and kick creationism out.

The interface in Jurassic Park was a real thing called fsn. Was just for IRIX but a clone is available now called File System Visualiser for modern UNIXes.


Desktop Linux was never alive to begin with. It never had a good support from the hardware manufacturers, software companies and OEMs to begin with when it came to consumer support, so it never took off. Most hardware manufacturers never had enough incentive to develop first class support for their consumer hardware on Linux. The development model of the Linux kernel and its components (drivers, tools, system components, etc.) doesn’t help at all.

The Linux desktop will take off when a company like Apple takes the Linux kernel, develops its own software stack separate as much as possible from the current (GNU) one and proceeds with full control of all components of the stack (drivers, system tools and components, application frameworks, desktop, apps, etc.) Of course that will never happen because there is Apple already. I don’t think there’s enough space for another Apple-like company.

Great show guys, I really enjoyed all of the segments!

Just for the record, in case you’ve missed it, one of Tron Legacy’s digital effects engineers wrote about this, and his nerdiness is just awesome:

I was asked to record myself using a unix terminal doing technologically feasible things. I took extra care in babysitting the elements through to final composite to ensure that the content would not be artistically altered beyond that feasibility. I take representing digital culture in film very seriously in lieu of having grown up in a world of very badly researched user interface greeble.
In Tron, the hacker was not supposed to be snooping around on a network; he was supposed to kill a process. So we went with posix kill and also had him pipe ps into grep. I also ended up using emacs eshell to make the terminal more l33t. The team was delighted to see my emacs performance – splitting the editor into nested panes and running different modes. I was tickled that I got emacs into a block buster movie. I actually do use emacs irl, and although I do not subscribe to alt.religion.emacs, I think that’s all incredibly relevant to the world of Tron.

I totally agree with this as well, of course. Programming helps developing a sense of logic and it can be done in a very entertaining way, very suitable for children. When I was younger there was a Windows software called Click’n Play (and its sequel Games Factory) which allowed you to create video games without having to enter any code. Everything was done with a logic editor, a scene editor and a sprite editor. That was awesome!

It’s interesting you talked about this, because the French government has been thinking about teaching programming to children. The main concerns I’ve seen so far from tech-savvy teachers are that French children already have so many problems with the current classes (just making sure they can read and write proper French is a hassle) that adding a coding class on top of that would just make them even less proficient in basic topics. If you can read French, there is a fairly long but very interesting article about this on the blog La Vie Moderne.

That’s what Android is, isn’t it? And it did indeed take off.

1 Like

As someone how worked on elementaryos
it is frustrating to here that nothing in the linux desktop has changed or that there are no major changes.

gnome-shell alone is a prime example. Gnome2 back in the days was “The Desktop”. Then everybody hated gnome-shell 3.0. But it is a major change. Was it bad? yes. But why is Microsoft doing so much more stuff with Windows 8 then the gnome team? Now with gnome-shell 3.12/3.14 it is one of the best desktops out there.

Yes there is no photoshop, illustrator etc etc.
But your blaming the hunchback that its children are straight…
Is it Linux Desktop fault that adobe want push a linux version ?

Sry but iam totally on bryans side here


Great podcast…

Particularly liked the difference in opinions on the first segment regarding the Linux desktop. Although I agree wholeheartedly with Jono, its refreshing to have Bryan weigh in with a completely different perspective.

One thing I would add for the young people coding is that Minecraft seems to be huge now. Its not direct coding although I’ve read and talked to people who say their 7 year olds are debugging Java plugins. Whether we are happy that our children are neck deep in Java raises other questions. Another excellent thing is that Minecraft seems to be somewhat gender neutral.

As for suggestions for future shows, one thing I really enjoyed recently was your discussions about working in tech, work life balance and the experience of working in the various companies. I would love to see a section with some well known people in tech quizzed about how they manage a work/life balance.

As a reasonably fresh faced software developer (~3 years) getting a balance is something I find difficult.

The way they develop Android and provide support to big OEMs surely helped them reach success.

Whether Android took off because it was a product made and supported by Google or because it was a good enough product in a newly discovered mass market is another question. I don’t know the answer to that one. It might have been both.

Yes. Yes it is.

I don’t know if there will be ever “the year of the Linux desktop” but I think all Linux desktops are getting more and more usable and all apps are going a way where it doesn’t really matter on what OS they’re running. Most common things people are doing on desktops is using services and most Linux desktops support most services (calendar sync, mails, lots of stuff in the browser …). It still needs lots of time but I believe there will be a day where it doesn’t matter what system you’re running you will be able to do everything and you can freely choose your OS.

About tech in TV, I personally love this totally wrong and absurd things. The same way I love films like Sharktopus (a monster half shark half octopus). But I see the point that it’s difficult to take a film serious that intends to be serious when they’re telling nonsense.

Just listened to the episode, and in regards to the first part of the show, I agree with Brian. The motivations behind investments in the Linux desktop, as far as I’m concerned, is secondary and political. As long as said investment advance the technology and the desktop, I’m fine with it.

Yeah I dunno what you guys are on about. a) 14.04 is significantly more stable than 12.04 was. That whole 2 year period where they started forcing unity well before it was ready was super unstable. it started finally stabilizing somewhere in 2013.

b) I can now get netflix on my linux desktop. and a butt load of games (just picked up civ5 on the weekend).

c) window’s new interface in win8? tiles? is basically a mistake on the desktop they are backtracking on (win 8.1 has boot to desktop, win 9 has a start menu again) cus it was destroying the market. and the cool features it doest give you in desktop mode? press win key, start typing to launch, instead of navigate a menu? unity is that as well. so, I’m just not sure what radical new desktop features you are talking about that Linux desktops are keeping pace with

(also look how cranky you’ve got me, I’m practically defending unity)

Linux desktop has two new X server replacements in Mir and Wayland pushing a lot of new backend and performance and smoothness improvements brewing. And as you all said, the front end of the desktop is just a launcher, and that, imo, is on par

Now, for that apps. You keep saying that on linux you would use the same apps as you would 10 years ago, like gimp and audacity. So ok… why is that bad? there is a stable and mature solution. I don’t get what’s wrong with that. It’s not ACTUALLY the same app from 10 years ago, cus that is now shit, its a heavily upgraded and improved version as Bryan mentioned. I mean on windows you are using photoshop which is at least as old if not older. So… I don’t get what the problem is.

Linux desktop as a platform has been going gang busters getting huge improvments from multiple sides in the last few years. Valve/steam and other game shops are pushing games on the platform and tons of refinements and pokes to graphics driver manufactures to make stuff better for them and everyone else. Improvements on web stuff are rolled into chrome and firefox like netfllix so that part of the platform expands and gives us access to more stuff (https://www.humblebundle.com/)

So the platform itself is still getting lots of improvements which are leading to more traction and more apps. It’s the best time ever to be a Linux desktop user. So I don’t get your complaints about it being dead. I’m solidly with @bryanlunduke on this one!

I was thinking that another benefit of teaching coding is to learning the habit of paying attention to detail and getting it right the first time to avoid errors. Or at least try.

Does the success of the Linux desktop depend on market share or commercial value?

The Linux desktop as a platform has failed and will fail time and time again because people simply don’t care. However as a desktop environment its the best desktop out there IMO.

Programming itself isn’t important, but maybe having a problem solving only class would be much better. But don’t call it problem solving. My favourite math lecture in university was in game theory. Make it fun and people go out of their way to learn.

I think the main point that @sil and I were trying to make here is that there are major changes happening in the desktop, but that in the bigger picture, these changes are not important.

Let’s face it, the majority of desktop needs that most people have are well served:

  • Launching apps
  • Configuring your desktop/system
  • Using virtual desktops
  • File management

These were largely solved back with KDE 1.0. Since then we have seen constant iterations of largely the same stuff over and over again. KDE, GNOME Shell, Unity, Elementary…they are all largely variations of the same core functions.

The point @sil and I are making is that it is the apps that matter. Speaking personally, I use Chromium, LibreOffice, the GIMP, Inkscape, and a smattering of other apps on a daily basis. All those apps can be started by pretty much any desktop…it is the apps where I do my work, not the desktop.

If we really want to move Linux forward, it is with apps, not desktops. This was the point we made when we interviewed @danrabbit - rebuilding desktops is less interesting…creating cool new apps is more interesting. What excites me about Elementary is not the desktop…whatever…but the apps do look interesting and innovative…and that is what will separate it from the flock…but we need more of those apps, and fewer desktop features.

Well since you pinged me I’ll bite.

The interesting work being done on the desktop/system itself (as opposed to which apps we ship) is in building a platform for 3rd parties to create better apps. So yes, building the best DE is very cool. But the most important thing we can do is build the best platform. Stuff like (P/U/G)OA, Contractor, LibUnity, FD.o Launcher actions, Notifications APIs, Granite, a toolkit that supports animations and CSS theming, all the work that goes into GLib, LibChamplain, LibFolks, Telepathy Tubes, (all the non-obvious, non-GUI stuff) are all desktops features that we need in order to attract developers that will build the cool apps that we spend most of our time in.

So yes. But also kind of no. It’s the apps yes. But it’s also a platform that supports killer apps.

1 Like

I am not sure I would agree. Sure, having a killer platform makes it possible to build better apps, but I would argue that you already had enough of a platform a while back to build killer apps. GTK and GStreamer as two examples have been more than capable for building awesome apps for many, many years. Sure, you can add more awesome platform pieces, but I think the crux of my argument here is to focus that energy on writing better apps.

I love the work you guys are doing, and particularly the design focus, but I have just seen the same issue over and over again with desktops. They build a tonne of cool frameworks, and then ultimately a handful of apps get written. I would argue that it is better to build a few frameworks, just the core bits that are needed (which we have had for a long time), and then focus on getting awesome apps running on the desktop.

As an example, I think if Elementary had an Open Source video editor and image editor that epitomizes the Elementary design ethos…that would get you much further than the focus on desktop tweaks.

Eh, We disagree then ;p Btw, there’s a a little Tumblr that just started about apps that were made for elementary OS if you’re interested :slight_smile: http://madeforelementary.tumblr.com/

1 Like
Please respect our code of conduct which is simple: don't be a dick.