2x38: Rambling Uncle at Christmas

Stuart Langridge, Jono Bacon, and special guest presenter Alan Pope present Bad Voltage, in which there is temporarily less Jeremy, everyone should have a figurine on their desk which watches over them (tell us on the forum what yours is!), and:

  • [00:03:05] Debian are discussing packages in their distro which have problematic names. The main one is weboob, "Web Outside Of Browsers" and there are others. Issues were recently raised in Ubuntu and Plasma, among other places. Do people care, are these names actually a problem? Should these packages be removed or renamed?
  • [00:13:00] NVIDIA launch RTX real-time raytracing graphics cards
  • [00:27:45] If you own a car and can access it from your phone, that doesn't get revoked when you sell the car, and you can continue to access it afterwards. Do people use this stuff? Is this worrying, or just caveat emptor? And does this apply to other consumer electronics as well -- Teslas, Alexas, connected houses, orthopaedic pillows...?
  • [00:40:44] The National Library of Scotland produce a "side-by-side" map viewer of the UK, which shows a modern map and old maps from the early 1900s together, so moving one moves the other. Everyone in the UK immediately looks up where they live and their home town, and it's fascinating. Nice one, NLS. Also mentioned, pretty minimalist US city map posters
  • [00:47:10] The Google Pixel 3 is coming, and we know this because there have been a million leaks. A suspiciously high number of leaks, actually... we're starting to think that these aren't leaks at all but a carefully managed PR campaign
  • [00:56:55] Twitter remove their facebook app; every cross-posted tweet gets deleted. Er, hooray? Although good luck getting that to happen for your Facebook app...
  • [00:59:30] According to a Microsoft-commissioned survey, 50% of parents in the U.S. with children aged 18 and under believed coding and computer programming to be the most beneficial subject to their child's future employability... but interestingly major tech company CEOs tend to limit their children's use of tech and want them to read books. Which may or may not be the same issue at all...

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I will, again, say how nice it is to have @popey on the show.

Adding to the map topic…


and the Georeferencer is a good time absorber too. :smile:


I haven’t been through the entire show, but have listened up to almost the end of the discussion from package names.

The thing about package names is that you never know who you are going to offend with regards to the locale of that user.

Look at all the packages that contain the word boob, in Spanish:

[email protected]:~/source/snapcraft$ apt-cache search teta|grep teta
libkasten3controllers3 - controllers Kasten library for Okteta
libkasten3core3 - core Kasten library for Okteta
libkasten3gui3 - gui Kasten library for Okteta
libkasten3okteta1controllers1 - kastencontrollers library for Okteta
libkasten3okteta1core1 - kastencore library for Okteta
libkasten3okteta1gui1 - kastengui library for Okteta
libokteta-data - library data files for Okteta
libokteta2core2 - core Okteta library
libokteta2gui2 - gui Okteta library
okteta - hexadecimal editor for binary files
okteta-dev - Development files for Okteta
libmoosex-attributetags-perl - tag your Moose attributes

Look at that, the first results are even match to “ok boobs”.

What about things that sounds like actual swear words?

apt-cache search vitt
vit - full-screen terminal interface for Taskwarrior

vitt is pussy in Estonian.

Does this mean package names need to be a hash and translated to common names, name clashing issues would be a nightmare. I think we had the intention somewhat to do that with snaps, registering a name basically means you get a snap-id and an assertion saying you can use that name for that snap-id.

Also, there is a car analogy here to, car models have also been renamed due to oversight in model naming when languages are involved, as an example, let me tell you that the Mitsubishi Pajero (yanker) was renamed to Montero; Mazda laputa (the whore) never made it to a Spanish speaking nation IIRC;

As a side note, in Spanish, you can only spell BEBE (baby) and BOBO (dumb) in your calculators. I do not recall any swear words that were possible.

And last but not least, if you change the package names you mentioned in the show, my Spanish speaking son could care less about it as it would not ring a bell. Which also makes me think that perhaps we should check the locale of the person who created the package (like weboob) to see if this is just something that would not ring a bell at all.

Keep up the good work.


There’s something about hearing uncensored @popey that tickles me.

On package names; this is a problem in the LÖVE community. Many of the libraries for that game engine take their names from the theme of “love”. Some are safe enough, like “cupid” or “lovebird”, but there are a load that are distinctly sexual. HUMP, Möan, Swingers, Pölygamy, SLAM, Quickie, Gspöt etc etc.


Has anyone ever tried to actually use weboob? I had a horrible time when I did.

This also brings back memories to this conversation in lxqt https://github.com/lxqt/lxqt/issues/495

An avocado tree my dad planted can bed seen by google maps satetile view not even street view.

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My own personal viewpoint on this, which I tried to put across in the show, is that the point is not about removing packages because someone is inadvertently offended by their name. It’s about the intention of naming a package that way by the person who did it in the first place.

So, Okteta happens to include the Spanish slang word for breasts, but it wasn’t done deliberately. (I can’t actually find a direct reason for the Okteta name, but it’s a hex editor, and “okteta” is the word for “octet”, i.e., a byte, in various languages, so I assume it came from that.)

My objection is with someone naming a package after a slang word for breasts deliberately, because they think that it’s funny… because that makes it much harder to attract women to join the community because at lease some of them will reasonably feel that they will be seen as amusing just for having breasts.

Sure, lots of 10-year-old schoolboys feel like that – I probably did when I was 10 – but I don’t want to join a community of 10-year-old schoolboys either. It’s mostly about the intention in the mind of the package namer, not the reception in the mind of the viewer.

Similarly, I can find package names which inadvertently contain racial slurs, but again they weren’t named with the intention of them being racial slurs, and if someone were to complain about such packages I would defend keeping the package name as it is. This is the Scunthorpe problem, named after over-zealous web forms which refused to accept the real English town of “Scunthorpe” in an address because it contains a swear word as a substring. Someone being offended at a package named libscunthorpe should, in my opinion, be told to get over it. Someone being offended at a weather forecasting package named wetboobs is pretty much right to be offended, because that reflects badly on the package namer and on the wider community for encouraging them. And that’s in weboob – you’re right to question whether the package author named the package that way intentionally or if it’s just a coincidence, but weboob contains command-line applications called wetboobs and handjoob so I think the naming is pretty clearly deliberate.

It’s not so much that it’s offensive as that it’s crass and childish, and I would like our community to not look crass and childish because that’s unpleasant and unwelcoming.

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Yes, in the networking world we call an IP address a dotted separated number of 8 octets and when we say kilo we mean 1000 :slight_smile:

I very much agree with this comment, and the “weboobs” package seems to be the case of this childish behavior. Let’s just not make a witch hunt out of all the packages (the coincidences I showed were merely that).

From my car analogy (you can even have one when just speaking about names!), it is easy to see how marketers think about pleasing their target demographic.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with a coworker once who made a remark regarding Jews and ovens. I had no idea what he meant and inquired. He said he doesn’t believe in being politically correct and explained the Holocaust reference. I told him that, while I don’t care about political correctness, I very much dislike being intentionally offensive, which that comment he made was.

Your referring to the Scunthorpe issue reminded me of the teacher that had to publicly apologize for, in the effort to expand her classes vocabulary, bringing up the word niggardly. A mother was very offended that her child would learn such a horrible word. Many people, often in ignorance, are just too ready to be offended. One person wondered how that mother would react if she learned that her child was said to masticate in the lunch room.

I tend to deal with minor offensive things, like this boob issue, with a mental sigh and just get on with it.

I think this is the critical distinction. Even little kids aren’t going to come to the free software world unaware that some words sound like things we wouldn’t say in polite company if at all. And there really isn’t anything we can do about accidental translation issues like the apocryphal story about Chevy being unable to sell the Nova. But we can and should take the effort to make sure we’re not lazily using language that, in effect, tells certain newcomers that they’re only welcome if they’re willing to quietly tolerate a constant stream of abuse.

The entire industry could probably stand to rethink this, with terms like master/slave, blacklist/whitelist, vanilla versions of things, Chinese philosopher problems, and so forth. While most of the problematic terms probably don’t represent an etymological problem, the modern connotations are exclusionary and probably pushing away some pretty great developers. (I think André Staltz was the person who brought this up most clearly, recently.)

As for the screen time issue, there are a couple of thoughts I think might be worth unpacking from the broad concept.

First, don’t forget that it’s not so long ago that most of us learned to program (when we did) without ready access to a computer. It wasn’t so long before that when our predecessors didn’t even have access to computers while debugging, rather living in a world where you dropped off a box of punch cards on your way out for the night and got a pile of green-bar paper with your output and errors in the morning. Which is all to say that limiting screen time doesn’t mean not learning to program. Also see CS Unplugged for some really interesting ways of presenting what we do. There might be really good reasons to do so, too, including the research showing that bluish light affects our vision and sleep, not to mention…

Second, one aspect I see in all of the “tech people limit their kids’ screen time” articles is a specific focus on limiting access to social media. I’ve been thinking a lot (too much?) about this, myself, in light of the articles about Twitter bypassing rules to keep Alex Jones, and am starting to realize that it makes a lot of sense. After all, corporate-run social media is funded by advertising, meaning they show you content mostly to keep you emotionally engaged enough to pay attention to the ads. And since it’s easier to prod the lizard brain than keep us joyful, the systems are going to bias towards making us angry and fearful, so of course they’re going to drag their feet on banning a hatemonger conspiracy theorist. And because of that, the people who run those services might not want their kids participating.

That said, I think I’m ordering one of those map posters. Seems kind of pricey, depending on the quality of the print, but I like the look and I honestly don’t feel like figuring out how much it’d cost to do it myself. Thanks for bringing it up!

I am a touch younger than the hosts, but I don’t think the current issue of kids getting too much screen is particularly new. My parents were often pushing for me to do something other than watch tv or play computer games when I was growing up. This was in the early to mid 90’s when we did have some basic internet for chat rooms and MUD’s. It is true that it was not as ubiquitous (only Gameboys to carry around and most kids were not as involved with computers as now when they all have smart phones).

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@wsha, I can confirm that it goes back at least to the '70s. However, I think there’s a qualitative difference between the “prepackaged screens” then and modern screens that’ll show you whatever it takes to keep your attention, monitoring and measuring your every reaction along the way.

I hope Jeremy is enjoying his time on vacation. Thanks for the show, you three. Also good comment above in this thread, Stuart. There are also other good comments. Personally I worry about the US education more regarding screen time. Teachers don’t get paid enough, and instead schools seem to be making parents pay for a cheap Google laptop; unless you happen to be a rich kid and can stare at a better quality screen for up to 12 hours per day, it’s bound to become unpleasant for the kids. I hear that the top high schools around the world use pen, paper, and a teacher with fewer than 30 kids in a classroom. (Maybe I’m just a Luddite)

After the next show is recorded, could you let me know if it’s about iPhones a lot like last year? I listen to the show while either running or driving, and do not want to stop and change to something else midway through.
Edit: with the news about Linus I’m pretty sure the iPhone got put on the back burner.


I just remembered Jono had made a comment about YouTube Red and that the internet is funded by ads. Personally, I hate ads and pay to remove ads whenever I can. Ethically, I don’t like blocking ads, so my options for voting for less ads are to avoid sites with ads or pay to remove the ads.

Disney’s Moana was renamed “Oceania” in Italy, because over there the name is commonly associated to the late pornstar Moana Pozzi.

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