2x15: One Mouse in a Row

Stuart Langridge, Jono Bacon, and Jeremy Garcia present Bad Voltage, in which we will not be your friend, we learn some Italian, the show actually gets mixed on time, and:

  • [00:02:09] The news... Google "manifestbro" posts a screed about Google's internal attitudes to diversity and opposing affirmative action programmes, says that the way to fix the gender gap is to stop alienating conservatives, gets fired (and we have a discussion thread going on this already)... Creators of GRSecurity Linux kernel security patches sue Bruce Perens after he says that using their stuff might lead to legal trouble... UK data protection people worrying about government employees use of Slack because it makes freedom of information and transparency harder...
  • [00:19:40] What should you use to run your website? Lots of people reach for WordPress, and that's got a broad community; what else is out there? If you are using WP, are there a good set of plugins and themes that you might find good? Also including a whole discussion about IFTTT and Zapier and "glue code" for tying many services together
  • [00:44:33] Ben Thompson put forward the idea of "curated journalism": that publishers stop being employers of creators and start instead being curated publications of creators who already exist, in a detailed article for Stratechery. Does this idea actually hang together? Is it just the obvious next step? And are we likely to see new companies spring up or existing companies pivot to becoming the service provider to creators rather than the owner of them?

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Hey fellas, so wordpress drives me mad…It’s nice but a little overwhelming as far as themes, plugins, and it’s various options. I avoid it.

I have used ghost.io a little. I really like it, but they are a bit pricey for their hosting and updates are a pain at this time if you self host. But again, ghost is really nice.

What I started using as of late is http://blot.im . I created my posts as markdown with sublime text… then I just upload it to a folder in my dropbox and it posts… you can look at http://www.timapple.com . Note I create and delete blogs regularly so I never have content…I more or less play around with things.

I’m surprised you guys didn’t mentioned Django. It’s not a CMS but it is really handy since it is written in Python and has the app stuff. I don’t use it for my own site (because my hosting provider does WP pretty handily) but I would if I was doing anything particularly interactive like what Jono was talking about, feck I would abandon Google forms completely and just use the Django forms too, it looks decent and you can style them how you want and a form takes like 5 minutes to create.

A good (and well mixed show tehehe)
I enjoyed the conversaion about websites, back about 12 years ago I also wrote a custom CMS system.
It was PHP4 on IIS with an MS Access database, it maintained a tree of pages down from the homepage and built the files statically into an output directory that I used to FTP upto production, memories, it was one of the first things I wrote that was acutally useful, I might put the code on GitHub for nostagia’s sake.

@sil how is learning Italian going? I am a little skeptical about apps to learn new social skills, I heard about a thing online where you can Skype to people online in other counties so you can chat to them in their language, that seems to me like a super idea (although I haven’t tried it).

Recently in my team we had an intern that is deaf, and we where all tasked with learning the alphabet using British Sign Language, I found that a fun new skill to learn and it is quite useful.

I did think about Fawlty Towers as you talked about learning Italian though lol

I hadn’t had a chance to read the full Google memo, so I was excited when I read the show notes and saw you were discussing it since I could listen to the podcast before I’d have time to read the thing. I was pretty disappointed by the discussion. It is kind of ironic, given that the author was complaining about an echo chamber, that you would discuss the author with such negative language without actually reading the memo (I guess you were echoing the opinions of people in your social network who maybe had read it?).

I have read the full memo now. I wonder about the motivations for writing it. Perhaps the author just wanted to express his conservative viewpoint, but he couches everything he says with so many caveats that it makes me wonder if maybe he was daring Google to fire him with the belief that he had left enough wiggle room to win a law suit if they did. It’s hard to comment on the content, partly because of all the caveats and weasel words used and partly because I didn’t read all of the citations. The assertions he makes about gender differences largely disagree with what I thought was the state of research. From what I had heard, disparities between gender vanish when other factors are properly controlled for, but this subject is so fraught with ingrained bias that it is hard to trust any study. The sentiment that everyone should be treated as an individual is nice, but there are a lot of studies that show that even when people try to be fair they have unconscious biases. Combating these biases is why diversity programs exist.

…but I’m falling into the trap of engaging his points. The more interesting questions are whether or not Google should have fired him and what message Google sent by firing him. The author left himself a lot of slack. To me, Google firing him basically says that no Google employee can acknowledge any difference between any classes of people. Pichai’s statement that the memo argued that women were less “suited” for certain jobs than man is hard to parse. Usually “suited” in this context means women don’t have the innate abilities to perform the tasks in quesiton, but it seemed like teh author was trying to argue that women were less likely to want to have certain jobs, not that they were less likely to have the innate ability to perform those jobs (though the point about women being more likely to have anxiety might contradict this – it depends on if you think anxiety is something that can be dealt with or not).

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I use Pelican for a platform but I may be looking for something else soon. I’m a big fan of reStructuredText which swayed me quite a bit. I needed a blogging platform that supported easily adding blocks of code with syntax highlighting. At the time I couldn’t find a single platform that didn’t make it look terrible unless you wanted to spend hours hand editing every single post.

I’d be interested to know if there are any platforms that can now actually do a better for this (preferably not Wordpress).

Once example I remember of @sil’s “not your friend” license was Cedega (previously WINEX), the original implementation of DirectX on WINE before CrossOver came along and did it upstream.

As I remember, you had to pay for the binaries, then they also made the source code available do you (just a zip on a server somewhere), but with the stipulation that if anyone redistributed it they’d stop developing the software.

Oh BTW, saying “Eye-Eff-Tee-Tee-Tee” is longer than saying “If-This-Then-That”.

erm. What makes you think we hadn’t read the memo?

Jono introduced the item by saying “like many of you I haven’t had the heart to go and read it, did a bit of a scan over it,” and you and Jeremy didn’t say either way, but you two also didn’t say much about it other than that it was too big of a topic for a news item which is fair. I listened to it again and Jono wasn’t that negative (just summarizing it by saying “women can’t work in technical jobs because of biological reasons” doesn’t seem like a fair description and his tone was kind of negative but I think he was just talking that way to be entertaining). Calling it a “manifestbro screed” in the show notes is pretty negative though – maybe that was written by someone who had read the memo?

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Yup; show notes are written by me, and I’ve read the memo (and I know Jeremy has too, and I imagine that Jono has red it since) :slight_smile:

I’d like to echo this in that I too was surprised by the negative language used about the memo author, in absence of reading the memo. Whilst everyone is entitled to an opinion it should be a learned one.

Now awaiting the “I’ve now read it and he’s still a d1ck” response…

Again. As @wsha says, we weren’t particularly negative in the show – I specifically was and called the author a dick, and that’s because I’ve read what he wrote (and I had at the time) and I think he’s a dick and completely in the wrong in both what he thinks and how he presented it. The show notes put “manifestbro” in quotes – fine, that’s a derogatory name for this whole affair, but that’s what you get for being a bro and writing a manifesto, and we didn’t make it up. Screed means “a long piece of writing, especially one that is boring or expresses an unreasonably strong opinion”, and I will happily stand behind that definition, but if everyone’s seeing that as pejorative then I would like to make it clear that that’s my choice of word and not necessarily Jono and Jeremy’s. But I’m getting a strong sense here of “you were negative about it!” which actually means “you didn’t push back against it”; Jono is explicitly a bit ambivalent on this subject; Jeremy explicitly said it was too big a subject to be discussed in the news; I said, and continue to think, that the bloke is a dick. (If the other two chaps feel I’ve misrepresented them or the show then my apologies to them and I’ll try to correct it.) Meanwhile, the show notes explicitly directed people to the already-existing thread exactly because we want discussion on this whole topic, so perhaps we should continue there.

Fair enough. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

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Graciously done, thank you! I’d be interested in your thoughts in more detail in the other thread on the content of the memo itself?

@sil duolingo’s business model is actually quite neat: http://www.ted.com/talks/luis_von_ahn_massive_scale_online_collaboration.html. I took a look at it years ago after watching this ted talk, but never pushed through. I can’t even remember the language I attempted to learn.

Ah. Sadly, their idea to do lots of translation stuff didn’t actually work out – https://techcrunch.com/2017/07/25/duolingo-raises-25m-at-a-700m-valuation/ has more details about their business model now that they’ve tried that. (I liked their idea too, when I found out about it, but the market seemingly didn’t…)

Thanks for that update. What a pity!

I don’t see how you came to this conclusion. I didn’t share a view on this, neither did @jeremy. In fact we deliberately agreed before the segment to not get into it as we knew it would suck up an entire show. @sil did say he thinks the guy is a dick, which is really the only clear opinion I think was shared. So, I don’t understand how you could take this as “such negative language” - I think you are reading more into than existed.

Well, basically, I agree :slight_smile: That’s why I said you weren’t that negative in my second post. I still think your summary of the memo was inaccurate (I read it as arguing women prefer other jobs to software engineering for biological reasons, not that they lacked the ability), and the dick comment and show notes were somewhat negative. Any way, I think we’ve spent more than sufficient time on the topic. I’m not particularly sympathetic to the memo’s arguments. I just think that the author tried very hard to cover his behind and couch his words in a way that would be harder to write off as sexist and racist without some explanation and I’m interested in what the most effective way to respond to it is. The response I have seen online has largely been to write it off out of hand like Google did which reinforces the divisions between the right and left on the subject (I looked at the front page of some conservative sites the day the memo story came out and they were plastered with stories about Google’s “war on the right”).

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