Book Review - Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software by Nadia Eghbal


Book cover.

Over the last 20 years, open source software has undergone a significant shift—from providing an optimistic model for public collaboration to undergoing constant maintenance by the often unseen solo operators who write and publish the code that millions of users rely on every day. In Working in Public, Nadia Eghbal takes an inside look at…

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Free Software as in Free House


Binary code displayed on a screen.

Much like a Tesla, all analogies break down eventually. As many many many people have said - free software is free, in much the same way as a free puppy is free. I prefer to think of it as being free just like being given a free house is free. Imagine that! Being given a…

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What do you call open source software that just works?


Binary code displayed on a screen.

The fashion industry has the concept of "prêt-à-porter" - ready to wear. You pick a thing off the rack and off you go. No tailoring needed. Similarly, the food industry has "prêt-à-manger" - ready to eat. No telling l'artiste du pain how much mayo you want, just grab a boxed sandwich and start munching. What's…

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Creating a public, read-only calendar


A bright and easy to use weekly view of my diary.

Last year, I blogged about why I make my work calendar public. It is useful to have a public website where people can see if I'm free or busy. But the version I created relied on Google Calendar which, sadly, isn't that great. It doesn't look wonderful, especially on small screens, and is limited to…

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Sometimes a bad patch is better than no patch


A screenshot showing the difference between two text files.

Cunningham's Law states "the best way to get the right answer on the internet is not to ask a question; it's to post the wrong answer." Edent's 7th Law (My blog; my rules!) states "the best way to get an open source project to fix an issue is to send a slightly wrong Pull Request."…

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Introducing - On This Day in Twistory


A list of columns with Tweets in them.

One of the things I loved about Facebook was its "On This Day" feature. There's something delightful about seeing what nonsense you were talking about on this day a decade ago. Twitter doesn't have anything like that. So I built it. Introducing - Twistory.ml Stick your @ name in, hit the big button, and you'll…

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Please Stop Inventing New Software Licences


Binary code displayed on a screen.

A few weeks ago, I received an unsolicited email inviting me to try out an exciting new "quantum resistant" cryptography app called Cyph. Because I hate myself, I signed up. Of particular interest to me was the fact that the homepage loudly proclaimed that it was "Open Source" - and had a public GitHub repo.…

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Do any Open Source Licences require source history?


Binary code displayed on a screen.

A question to the void. Are you entitled to get the source history of open source projects? Lots of Open Source licences give the consumer of software the right to a copy of the source code. For example, GPLv3 says that distributors of software have to: give anyone who possesses the object code ... a…

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Howto: Disable image pop-ups in WordPress comments


An mshots popup obscuring the screen.

If you have the Akismet spam plugin for WordPress, you'll be familiar with this problem. When your mouse pointer goes over any URL, you get a large website preview taking over parts of your screen. I asked for a way to turn this off and I'm happy to say the developers listened! Sadly, there's no…

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We've built a towering pile of shite


A pet cat typing on a computer keyboard.

This a rant, written at midnight, after battling software errors. Set your profanity filters accordingly. I despair over the state of software engineering - specifically, stability. We seem to have lost the understanding that computers are there to do the hard work for us. And I don't think we ever believed in a user-centred approach…

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