1x41: Second Lunch is my Favourite Lunch

This is not a case of us having the tools available but they are difficult to discover and use, the tools and facilities simply do not exist in large part. There are no DBUS interfaces for a substantial number of apps on Linux. This is not that the bindings are hidden or undocumented…they don’t exist.

I agree that discovering bindings can be done with dfeet, and while more complicated than the AppleScript editor, someone could figure out how to write DBUS code to exercise the apps, but the crux here is that when I explore AppleScript interfaces on a mac, most apps have both interfaces and docs, but on Linux a large number of apps don’t have interfaces and docs.

I think this is the whole in your argument: I would agree with you if the same number of apps exposed DBUS interfaces that this is a hidden tooling issue, but I think this is more an app issue.

… yeah. Yeah. I agree with that.

Though, as someone who had to live and breath “AppleScript” for a few years, consistency on the other platforms isn’t really there on MacOS – even though it seems like it should be. The language syntax remains similar… but the differences in Dictionaries across applications renders the similarity in the language itself a bit moot.

And I’m not simply talking about needing to learn the “API” of each app. The entire style and approach to the Dictionary changes (often radically) between applications. To the point where writing a single script to work with multiple applications can, often, be rather maddening.

I don’t bring that up to bash on Apple (though that is one of my favorite pastimes) – but to point out that consistency is astoundingly hard to solve when talking about scripting a large, varied set of applications. I’m not sure there’s anything Apple could actually do to solve that particular problem, just as I’m not sure there’s much of a way to solve it on the Linux side.

DBUS is only part of the tool-set. Most of the scriptability of a UNIX/Linux workstation rests in the shell. Let’s not focus entirely on one (of a few) of the available scripting options. :smile:

I’m not a programmer but I had to use dbus for something a couple of weeks ago, never even glanced at how it worked before that. Found plenty of good documentation on freedesktop.org and soon I had a crappy bash script humming along without any issues.

If you think there’s an issue though, maybe it’s as you said, because we don’t care about it as much. I think this might just be an example of the polarisation in the linux community:

Half the distros and developers are working to try bring Linux to grandmothers and primary school children. In some regards modern linux desktops are actually more newbie friendly than any other offerings. There has been an endless drive to stuff all the complicated configuration options behind ever simpler and less featureful UI’s and hide “intimidating” features away.

Equally on the other side you have another group of people, people who were never really that interested in the world domination sorta thing, who just enjoyed having a playground of technical excellence and customisibility even if it had some rough edges. People who probably would not think to try and automate existing large applications to do what they want, more encourgage the old “Small programs that can do a small amount of things well” and are happy managing a flow of data through these small applications in a bash script or the like.

Perhaps, considering the limited scope of the linux desktop developer base, its just a case that we do not have enough developers available to work on the features to satisfy both groups. The GUI applications don’t have the support for advanced features due to the stigma that Linux is still too hard and the main objective is still accessibility for new users. Meanwhile the more advanced user group haven’t enough hands of deck to maintain such a large collection of small modular programs through the “itch scratch” mentality (because this isn’t the stuff companies are supporting)

That was one of the most enjoyable episodes I’ve listened to. Fantastic! And I totally second the idea of doing a joint podcast one time!


Glad you liked it. :slight_smile:

I read somewhere that part of the UNIX Way is the concept of “do one thing well”. Tools built with that philosophy are easy to glue together with shell scripts. But when you take on a complex problem like media editing, as in the Audacity example, is it realistic to think of the solution as a “one thing” anymore?

And that is a brilliant idea–being able to glue different components together in arbitrary ways. The way Unix does it is by providing each app with a standard input and a standard output “API” for exchanging text. That’s good for what it is, but the problem is there’s no obvious/easy way to extend that same idea to Linux GUI apps. If the “one thing” Audacity is good at is manipulating WAV files why shouldn’t I be able to pipe Audacity’s output into another app instead of using some Python/Ruby/whatever WAV library that’s not as good as Audacity in the first place?

It thoroughly enjoyed the podcast :smile: Lots of interesting ideas to talk about. Also, this is my first post :blush:


There is even a bigger issue that showed up on this show. Ageism. Really, when I heard what sounded like @sil and @bryanlunduke snickering that @jeremy’s grandfather has a flip phone, my teeth about flew out on the floor with the spew of Ensure coming out of my mouth. I’m thinking of writhing a letter to the AARP. Perhaps a call to the Depends brigade is in order.

Snickering, indeed.


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That’s not ageist, it’s Ludditeist. My grandma’s got a smartphone :slight_smile:

@sll I know you, @jonobacon @jeremy and @bryanlunduke do not want to come across as either ageist or anti-ludite, but, you need to realise that there are few people, even of my generation, only a decade older than you who understand this technology. I’m happy to share a pint with you and given you live in Birmingham I suspect I would get on well with your grandmother.

I’d be happy to discuss your thoughts on this further

Who’s the luddite here then?

Edit: Never mind, I just figured it out. Slow old brain.

I don’t want to come across as ageist, indeed. Being anti-Luddite I have no problem with. However, I would note that I don’t think that lack of ability with technology is connected to age. Some of it is about we technologists not doing a very good job at appealing to people who haven’t grown up with this stuff, true. But some of it is not; in my experience, it is exceptionally rare for people of any age to be entirely unable to deal with this stuff. They may deal with it in ways that the creator didn’t expect, but that’s a good thing.

A question regarding the perception of Microsoft. Is Microsoft being perceived as less evil as of late? Thought this would be a good question for Her Correspondancyness @christina. :smile:

There is also the issue of availability. Specifically as to the financial side. Many want, but cannot have.

Then there are some, like myself, that are tightwads and just cannot justify the purchase of some devices. I resisted a long time even purchasing a cell phone. Why? Because there was always a payphone within minutes of where I was. But, as the cell phone became more common, payphones went by the wayside and so, I was in a position that I had to get a cell phone. Now, I still use a flip phone (snickers are invited! :smile:) because, for me, I just cannot justify the extra expense that comes with a smartphone data plan. It hasn’t become a necessity for me, yet. I’m sure that day is coming though.

being serious for a second, if you don’t need a smartphone and a data plan, certainly don’t have one! It was a masterstroke of marketing that caused basically everyone in the world to start routinely paying £25 per month for a phone rather than £3 per month; that you haven’t given in when you don’t need it is encouraging!

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Speaking of Luddites, this was from 20 years ago, maybe:

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Where did the title come from? It’s one of those titles where you read it and think “OK, that’s a Bryan-ism”, but I never heard him say it… Did I miss it?

You didn’t miss it because you never heard it; it was said (by @jeremy!) in the between-recording discussions, and I was highly amused by it. The titles are a combination of stuff I think is relevant, stuff I think is amusing, things we may have said on- or off-stage, and a dive into the murky Langridge psychology :slight_smile:

Hey @oldgeek - you know, I think it’s hard to be considered the evil empire when you are so beleaguered.

Microsoft has been in a decline since Vista and that decline has allowed Mac sales to increase, allowed Google to sweep in with Chrome (which has in turn made education increasingly turn to Chromebooks), etc. Moreover, as technology has increasingly moved to mobile (whether you have a flip phone or a smartphone – and I don’t begrudge anyone who doesn’t want to pay a data plan :smile: ), that’s an area Microsoft has almost essentially ben shut-out of this generation.

So again, I think it’s hard to be seen as evil when you’re increasingly less relevant. I mean, it’s certainly still possible to be evil, but I think their poor market showing in mobile, coupled by the very stark realities that they have lost an entire generation of upcoming developers (again, because of their lack of existence on mobile) has made them come across as less evil.

And maybe I’m naive, but from my standpoint, they seem like a very different company than a decade ago – let alone 15 years ago. I think as a company, they are culturally less evil.

It’s easy to joke and say that Google is the new Microsoft – but in a lot of ways they are. I think a lot of geeks (myself included) give Google a pass at a lot of things because they were so good so early on, but increasingly, that’s the company that worries me more than anyone else. Not just because they have so much data (everyone has data), but because they are actually competent – which means they can potentially use or exploit that data in scary ways.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that for a lot of my colleagues and friends who are about 10 years younger than me, they don’t even see Microsoft as an entity. It’s kind of like how my generation (I’m 32) viewed IBM. It was like, “oh yeah, I’ve heard of them. Didn’t they used to be really big and then Microsoft took their lunch money?” That’s how I think a lot of people see Microsoft now, only it was Google/Apple/Facebook that took their lunch money in this case.

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