FOSDEM: more boring shit (2019/01/30)
Let's take a look at my annotated copy of the FOSDEM 2019 main talk schedule, shall we?
The sign-in sheet for this session doubles as a census of people nobody wants to talk to.
Some bureaucrats make excuses for the conference attendees' hypocrisy. In place of productive information or actual technical content, the speakers will whine about which programs nobody's writing for free. The audience will take notes on Macbooks, iPads, and other Apple products.
A primordial webshit travels to a conference devoted to serving a specific copyright cult, and then holds a lecture about why the copyright cult is really important. Nobody in the room will learn anything new, and the speaker will not reach any audience not already in the cult. While this is arguably a massive failure of advocacy, it's also about on par with copyright cultists' track record to date.
Another bureaucrat speaks to a very specific confluence of misapprehensions, to wit:
- Any functioning human gives a shit about bitcoin,
- Bitcoin has any effect on human society at all,
- Anyone has found a valid use case for blockchain technology,
- Blockchain dunces are ever given any position of responsibility,
- Anyone cares about the ethical value judgments of a professional copyright cultist
Nobody attending the talk will have the heart to point any of this out.
The speaker is very angry that people are using computers in a manner that renders specific copyright licenses irrelevant. The audience will be instructed to care even harder, even though no solutions are available. The speaker works for a company whose profitability depends on a customer base who gives a shit about copyright licenses.
Jon Hall observes the 50th anniversary of the creation of UNIX, and generously includes Linux in the observance. Linux does not deserve this, and the FOSDEM audience does not deserve Jon Hall, but on the bright side this talk will ruin the "100% useless dipshittery" streak in this year's FOSDEM lineup. That's right: they can't even fuck things up correctly.
if they'd just started with this talk we'd all be spared a lot of noise
Why, you might ask, would "open source" layered extensibility be different from any other extensibility approach (layered or otherwise) in any other software? It would not, of course, but the CEO of the company needed a reason to fly to Brussels for the weekend, and this is as good a reason as any to write it off as a business expense. Spoiler alert: "layered extensibility" here is a code for "everything is webshit."
A webshit will try to convince the audience that replacing other protocols with webshit is healthy and good. "Why" will be answered with "because we want to track you more closely," "how" will be answered with "extremely poorly," "when" will be answered with "as soon as the Chrome team tells you to" and "who gets to control how names are resolved" will of course be "Google."
A corporate drone explains that using non-Linux operating system makes it easier to get your company's shitware committed upstream, spreading out the maintenance burden and magically converting some of your operating expenses into externalities you can ignore. Sorry, I mean "engaging with a close-knit developer community benefits your product's ROI."
A database management program has not yet ceased development. The speaker will read the version control commit log for one hour.
A Postgres will mumble about RAM management features that everyone has been using for approximately twenty years. This talk belongs at some kind of professional database symposium, but it's happening at FOSDEM, so the audience will consist entirely of the speaker's co-workers and the people who are going to use the room next.
Another Postgres regrets to inform us that they've been fucking up basic storage primitives for at least the entirety of the 21st century, and continue to fuck them up today. This talk will comprise an extended apology, followed by a lot of excuses and whining, wrapping up with wholly unsubstantiated claims regarding future improvements. The only people who care already know.
The programmer behind an also-ran database program will discuss the only interesting aspect of that program: someone else's algorithm. The program in question is a port from Java to C++ of a database management program so shitty that Facebook, who created it, almost immediately discontinued all use and development thereof and donated the software to the Office of Software Terminal Care, also known as the Apache Foundation. The speaker chooses to work on this disgraceful travesty full-time.
Some corporate programmers are released from the mines long enough to pretend anyone cares about the things they work on. The anxiety and excitement induced by being allowed out of the cave caused them to paste the talk description into the web form twice. Nobody noticed.
This talk is an hour-long sales pitch for the speaker's employer, which sells a product that other companies can use to provision TLS certificates and spyware updates to touchscreen refrigerators. In order to lure idiots into attending the sales talk, the speaker will point out that the license of the software conforms to the thematic goals of the conference.
This talk is from a VA Linux alum, which means the talk will almost certainly be a story about how the speaker spent way too much money on poorly-performing hardware, then made it worse by crowbarring a half-working Linux installation onto it, resulting in a very expensive disaster that works about a third of the time. This will be followed by an invitation to others to follow suit in purchasing and then ruining a hundred-thousand dollar car, leading to a brand-new interpretation of the well-worn phrase "malfunctioning Linux driver."
Some rando is excited because you can now check if err != nil on smaller processors than ever before. Like literally every other language, the entire project is just transpiling to llvm intermediate code and then letting the existing toolsets handle the rest, completely removing any advantage of using a specific programming language.
A bureaucrat will ramble incoherently about seeking life advice from copyright law cultists.
Some Googles will present propaganda in order to sell low-quality laptops, on the principle that they can sometimes be tricked into functioning like actual laptops. With any luck, this will give Adsense valuable insights into the behavior patterns of gullible idiots, which sounds like a pretty juicy demographic to advertise in front of.
The speaker would like anyone at all please to use software maintained by the speaker. To achieve this goal, the speaker will try to convince a bunch of random strangers to choose graphical design tools not on their suitability for a given task, but based on the copyright licenses under which they are available. This conference is ridiculous.
A Microsoft tries to convince everyone to install a shitload of .dll files onto their Linux systems in order to use expensive IDEs to produce the same shit everyone else already does. Along the way, the Microsoft will brag about tricking many rubes into working for free on corporate platform code.
The rich and lengthy tradition of the Free Software community making inferior copies of other, better-engineered systems continues, in this instance enabling underemployed nerds the world over to shout things at their computers. Shouting at computers while some shoddy software desperately attempts to parse and respond to this input is apparently preferable to using any of the well-supported existing input devices that come with every single computer on earth, so this talk will be well-attended and extremely beneficial to anyone who has nothing better to do on Sunday afternoon.
This talk, from a Facebook lawyer apparently being punished with public relations duty, has nothing to do with privacy at all. The entire point of the talk is to make the audience believe that Facebook gives a single shit about their opinions regarding intellectual property law. The actual product whose weaponized license caused a shitstorm in nerd circles is not mentioned even once: misdirection, or idiocy? That's a trick question; nobody can tell the difference.
An academic, enrolled in the Tim Berners-Lee fan club, will engage in a performance-art piece hypothesizing about a world where anyone gives a shit about what Tim Berners-Lee wants. In accordance with the colorful tradition of web-reinvention nutcases, bold claims and broad promises will rain down upon a rapt audience. After forty minutes, the speaker will ask for questions from the audience, who will respond by spending ten minutes' sober contemplation of profound questions like "what if we COULD do things better?," "I wonder what room I was supposed to have been in?," and "if I leave now, can I get something to eat before the next unhinged rant?"
The United States Defense Department's most successful honeypot sends its apex bureaucrat to reassure paranoid Europeans that they can still totally trust all this stuff, you guys. Everything's fine. We're on your side. Route all your traffic through us. It's for your own good.
A researcher would like the audience to consider what happens when government oppression is executed in a mode that allows blame to be shifted to ostensibly-unbiased computer programs, but the talk description suffered a transporter malfunction and was merged with every edition of Roget's Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases. Those audience members with a sufficiently enhanced vocabulary will have to undertake the task of translating the meaning of this talk into emoji for wider dissemination.
A search engine programmer will deliver a sales talk.
The audience for this talk, whose topic is low-level systems diagnosis, will consist entirely of webshits who are under the delusion that "distributed" means it uses http as a core protocol. None of them will understand it, but understanding is not required to paste the relevant keywords into the end of their resumes.
Because Kubernetes, a clustered-application execution platform, was invented by Google, there is no way to usefully inspect any aspect of it. The speaker is one of a large class of poor sods who have to resort to injecting code at runtime into the kernel to make up for the absense of fundamental operational functionality. The talk will be well-attended, because injecting code at runtime into the operating system kernel is simpler than debugging Kubernetes.
A programmer will attempt to Fix All The Problems with perl by reimplementing all of the other projects created to Fix All The Problems with perl. This talk was primarily scheduled to keep the room available for people who couldn't get into the ChromeOS talk in the other room.
A Red Hat drone thinks that the problem with local filesystems is they don't have enough of the network stack involved. This talk will explain how to rectify this omission, as well as some tips on how to make block storage as unreliable as everything else Red Hat pays to develop.
A FreeBSD developer thinks that five-year-olds are interested in why storage software caches things into RAM and how that cache is managed. The only five-year-olds the speaker has ever met are bugs in the software being discussed. The word 'works' in the talk title is to be interpreted as an aspiration. We can reevaluate things after the FreeBSD project deletes all this shit and gets in line behind the Linux weenies.
Another sales talk designed to turn this weekend into a business expense. No apologies to this software's victims are promised. The sales talk highlights using the software as an abstraction layer for AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Storage, without mentioning what a high-maintenance treadmill nightmare the solution is.
An OpenStack refugee disguises a CV as a talk, using numbers that seem large to attract an audience. Most of the performance of the namedropped system comes from add-on 'accelerator' cards which are so unusably terrible that Intel discontinued the entire product line out of shame. If the OpenStack project had any dignity, it would follow suit. The talk description does not contain a reason the speaker would admit in public being involved with any of this.
FOSDEM: more boring shit (2018/01/28)
Let's take a look at my annotated copy of the FOSDEM 2018 main talk schedule, shall we?
Twenty-five minutes you'll never get back.
Some bureaucrats arrive to explain to everyone how important bureaucracy is. One of them takes credit for introducing Java and XML to IBM, as though that is a praiseworthy achievement instead of grounds for a war crimes tribunal. The talk description focuses heavily on namedropping corporations known for ramming code into production whether there is consensus or not.
Some academics would like anyone at all to listen to them. Their thesis is that the European Union is the right organization to reinvent the internet, presumably based on the wild success experienced during the reinvention of Europe. Nobody involved appears to have actually done anything, either in the past or the present.
A Red Hat employee who is good at ARM processors would like to lecture everyone about something. We don't get to know what, because the talk description is blank, but we can guess: the speaker's pet technologies are the solution to all our problems, assuming we can just ignore the crippling problems of those pet technologies. This is merely speculation, but it doesn't really matter which PR fluff Red Hat chooses to excrete; they paid a lot to be a "cornerstone sponsor" and by God they're going to get a keynote slot.
Ten MORE minutes you'll never get back.
Bosch, an automotive manufacturer, sends a drone to ask that programmers line up behind Bosch. Bosch has decided to base their automated driving software on Eclipse, which allows us to infer some important facts: This software will never finish loading, much less begin to work. Your car will have the ask.com toolbar installed on every update. Very soon, nobody will ever hear of OpenADx ever again, but not before it makes the news for causing massive freeway-blocking traffic fatalities because someone's car crossed a time zone.
A programmer tells the harrowing tale of doing things other than programming, fucking them all up, and trying again. The talk description does not indicate that the speaker will present a solution to one of the oldest open problems in the software engineering discipline: "why anyone should trust software written by PHP programmers."
A bureaucratic parasite tries to convince the world that the United Nations should be taken seriously as a software project management organization. The talk describes the parasite's domain as "a multilateral participatory program" and "in collaboration with partners around the world," which is ancient United Nations code for "we are going to demand resources that we can use to demand further resources."
Another bureaucrat arrives to teach us how to like our jobs, providing those jobs are "cloning Borland Delphi and giving it to the Apache Software Foundation" or "cloning Microsoft Office and giving it to the Apache Software Foundation." No advice is offered for "living with what you've done, everyday."
An academic has spent some number of years shoving unix into a github repository, and now would like to read it aloud. Presumably some Greek student is furious that they had to pay money to attend this lecture last year.
A person nobody cares about will read the names of some software nobody cares about.
A self-described "industry thought leader" invites you to "experience his musings." In fact it's another academic attempting to convince us of the importance of his job.
Some students recreate an ancient computer without any of the things that made it interesting.
An Internet invites you to simplify your program's configuration file by importing a 130,000-line software grenade, over which you have no control. Wasteful and complicated constructs like "text files" can finally be discarded in favor of a globally-addressable nested key-value datastore which requires new software to be written for every type of configuration data.
Some academics arrive to pitch their latest invention: interprocess communications in the form of a packet-switched network. All you need to get started is a packet-switched network, on top of which they may pile untold complexity. Enthusiasts of doctoral thesis-defense trial runs will be sure to love this presentation.
A person who maintains software targeting hardware that does not in fact exist shows up to talk about the burgeoning field of hardware fanfiction. The speaker has successfully tricked several GNU projects into supporting this nonexistent architecture, which was a natural fit for their nonexistent Hurd operating system. This is the first time on record that a complete compute stack, from absent silicon to absent operating system to absent users, has ever been announced to be released Real Soon Now.
Obviously the only place that bugs cannot survive is within software that is not ever run, so the presenter would like to discuss the many different approaches to ensuring that unused software is subjected to a mind-numbing array of bureaucratic oversight, outdated standards documents, and half-assed formal verification procedures.
A webshit would like to brag about handing control of a software project over to a monte-carlo approximation of a project manager. The software project in question is webshit designed to expose root control of your computer to a web browser. This talk is the first multi-scale integrated model of terrible decision making and questionable practice.
Someone has shoved enough bullshit into the linux kernel, the Mesa graphical library, and the Android user space that they finally work together, if you break a lot of stuff and add a lot of otherwise-unneccesary software. The speaker is here to gloat about being involved with cramming so much garbage into so many disparate projects.
Glossing over the reasons they skipped "making LibreOffice work well anywhere", a company devoted to taking credit for other people's work is here to take credit for shoving a Microsoft Office clone into a web browser.
A comedy routine in which a professional database janitor pretends to honestly believe that MySQL is capable of doing anything quickly or scaling in a manner other than "run sixty of these and have fifty-nine of them lie to clients." After the talk, several spontaneous "how to migrate to PostgreSQL" talks will break out in the hallway outside, closely attended by sweating project managers who were not previously aware of what a trash pile MySQL and its advocates are.
Elasticsearch is a distributed customer-data exposure tool with a ransomware-friendly webshit interface. The company who charges money to clean up the mess has sent one of its less useful drones to drum up audience interest in the implementation details that make their product respond reliably and quickly to random internet assailants scanning AWS for data left unprotected by morons.
The Gluster team at Red Hat, bereft of customers, whiles away the hours by pretending it takes any work at all to reap performance benefits from faster hardware. The thesis seems to be that shitty software was acceptable when the hardware was shitty, but since storage platforms have improved, the bad programming and awful architecture of their project has become more obvious. Evidently it takes three people to apologize.
A Python arrives to tell us that Python 2 is irretrievably fucked and everyone should switch to Python 3, just like they've been telling us for the past decade. The primary products of the speaker's own employer rely entirely on Python 2, just like they have for the past decade. The talk will include plans for replacing Python 3 with Python 4, by the team who fucked up the previous transition so badly that Python 2 has been "deprecated" longer than the release interval between 2.0 and 3.0.
A monster uses a Python subset as a C++ templating language. The monster will be on hand to explain how to secure funding for similar monstrosities.
The speaker presents a horrible chimera of a programming language, wherein the drawbacks and limitations of Python are augmented by the drawbacks and limitations of C. The result is a language that introduces header files to Python and requires breathtaking amounts of boilerplate. The primary goal of Cython appears to be transforming the programming experience from "implementing a solution to a given problem" to "trying to guess when to turn off exception handling so that your code runs marginally faster."
Since nobody uses the eighteen million web services that Mozilla starts, ignores, deprecates, and discontinues each month, Mozilla has devoted actual resources to creating software devoted to making themselves feel like they have users. The speaker is willing to educate the audience on how to replace market penetration with a few hundred lines of code. The talk is in the Python track because of an implementation detail and because there is no "software nobody wants" track.
Security and Encryption
A buzzword enthusiast will talk about some software nobody will use, designed to run on hardware nobody wants. Another refugee from the "software nobody wants" track FOSDEM has once again failed to implement.
An IBM arrives to teach us how to use hardware he doesn't use. Lots of words will be expounded about integrating all kinds of software into this hardware chip, but a cursory glance at the speaker's own website reveals all this crap is such a pain in the ass that he just uses ssh-agent anyway.
Red Hat explains how they're fixing all their previous fuckups with linux disk encryption.
An LDAP programmer arrives to explain why we should all give a shit about the Bitcoin knockoff whose primary use is chewing through your processor whenever you watch videos on Youtube.
Someone has noticed that most of the problems with computers are caused by people.
The speaker seems to be confused regarding employment; he either works for Greenpeace or Mozilla, but since the software on which this talk focuses appears to function as intended, we can assume he does not work for Mozilla.
This talk focuses on the only hardware project at FOSDEM that actually exists in the physical world. This speaker does work for Mozilla, but his title is "Community Architect." Apparently Mozilla has automated their user-ignoring toolkit sufficiently that the people in charge of it have time to reach orbit, where they can pretend people haven't been doing this since the Kennedy administration.
FOSDEM: more boring shit (2017/01/05)
Let's take a look at my annotated copy of the FOSDEM 2017 main talk schedule, shall we?
The speech is 25 minutes so it will fit into your Burger King lunch break!
"GIFEE" stands for "Google Infrastructure For Everyone." Presumably your computers are too fast and you need some more abstractions to slow them back down. No, I don't know what the second 'E' stands for.
"The Free Software Commons" is just some bureaucrat's idea to put a shitload of free software on a hard drive somewhere. The talk description does not explain why archive.org is insufficient for this task. I think it's because archive.org will not establish a salary for the bureaucrat.
An FSF bureaucrat spreads FSF propaganda.
Someone is trying to use linux to do something.
This one is only ten minutes so you can attend it and get back before the fries are done.
The talk description claims RISC-V is in use in both Internet of Things and supercomputing, which is amazing since nobody's produced any working hardware yet.
Hewlett-Packard came up with a bespoke machine. They could not afford any marketing experts, so this machine is called "The Machine." The big innovation is that you just shit data onto the disk instead of bothering with a proper filesystem. The speaker is the same Keith Packard who made the X Window System even worse than it was before.
Google, typically, open-sourced some trash software that only serves their needs. This guy is here to explain to you why you should ever, ever give a shit, and also you should probably get involved with the project and give Google free labor.
In addition to "30.000" being a strange grade of precision to apply to the number thirty, the second the audience realizes this idiot is talking about Ubuntu everyone will know this "never break" bullshit is a lie.
The talk description is in English and the talk will be given in English. You can find out more on the FOSDEM web page, which is in English. This shows you how important localization is.
Someone realized that it's much easier to secure software if you throw half of it out and ignore the other half. He has started a business with this as the planned profit source.
Someone realized that "containerized applications" -- the practice of just tarring up all your shit with its shared library dependencies and treating that as a unit -- is part of what made Windows suck. The speaker's other talk involves advocating for 'rolling release' distributions. That's right: even the rolling-release idiots think AppImage sucks.
An idiot is afraid to say fuck. He works for Red Hat and Apache at the same time so obviously he is the world's leading authority on what documentation should look like: either contained entirely within runtime error messages or hidden behind a paywall.
Another Red Hat idiot wants people to stop writing documentation and write stories instead.
The talk description spouts meaningless shit about storytelling, but the real common factor between Rowling and Linux is their presence in the homes and hearts of millions of children and/or mouth-breathing retards who are impressed only because they haven't seen what competence looks like.
Finally, someone comes up with open-source gaming technology even less interesting or popular than VR.
An academic has a radio.
An idiot calls multidimensional arrays "datacubes." Nobody knows why, or wants to find out.
Daniel Stenberg is here to tell you how important curl is, because telling people how important curl is happens to be his full-time job.
All I Want To Know Is Why The Woody Allen References*
*(to a movie that came out before you were born)
An absolute asshole tries to justify the massive crowdsourced surveillance program they've built.
Organizational advice from two idiots who have never organized anything.
The idiot from last year is back, trying to sell you laptops preloaded with a version of Coreboot that has all the useful shit stripped out.
It is kind of gross to make this some kind of scheduled event. Have some class and do an informal meeting after hours for this, people.
Yet another webshit trying to make his webshit faster.
Red Hat would like the ability to significantly increase the amount of data collected for the bug reports it ignores.
Security and Encryption
Yeah, it's still just SHA-3, man.
An Exercise in Full-Stack Irrelevance!
Apparently nobody's told Red Hat that if something can be automatically decrypted you may as well never have encrypted it to start with.
Recognizing that IPSec is an overcomplicated monster that nobody uses, an idiot sets about writing a simplified monster nobody uses.
A moron thinks someone wants to use third-party servers with Open Whisper Systems' Signal protocol. Don't bother to learn his name; you won't need it.
Listening to a Russian talk about quantum computing is akin to asking your dog how to replace a circuit breaker.