The right to be rude

The historian Robert Conquest once wrote: “The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies.” Today I learned that the Open Source Initiative has reached that point of bureaucratization. I – OSI’s co-founder and its president for its first six years… Continue reading The right to be rude

30 Days in the Hole

Yes, it’s been a month since I posted here. To be more precise, 30 Days in the Hole – I’ve been heads-down on a project with a deadline which I just barely met. and then preoccupied with cleanup from that effort. The project was reposurgeon’s biggest conversion yet, the 280K-commit history of the Gnu Compiler… Continue reading 30 Days in the Hole

Fear of COMITment

I shipped the first release of another retro-language revival today: COMIT. Dating from 1957 (coincidentally the year I was born) this was the first string-processing language, ancestral to SNOBOL and sed and ed and Unix shell. One of the notational conventions invented in COMIT, the use of $0, $1…etc. as substitution variables, survives in all… Continue reading Fear of COMITment

Live from Prague!

Live from Prague! Dave Taht, he who sometimes fixes the Internet from my basement (last week was the most recent occasion) asked me to post this “because G+ is dead”: It GPLs me

Announcing a new book: “The Programmer’s Way”

A decade and change after “The Art of Unix Programming”, I’ve decided to do another book. Actually, I have more than just an intention and some notes; I’ve been working hard on it over the last five days it and have 41 Kwords of rough-cut manuscript ready.

Hacker culture and the politics of process defense

In my last two blog posts, on the attempted hijack of the Lerna license and speech suppression in the Python documentation, I have both urged the hacker culture to stay out of political issues and urged what some people will interpret as “political” stance with regard to political correctness and “diversity”-driven speech demands. The expected… Continue reading Hacker culture and the politics of process defense

Slaves to speech suppression are masters of nothing

Comes the news that the Python project has merged a request to partially eliminate the terms “master” and “slave” from its documentation on “diversity” grounds. Sensibly, Guido van Rossum at least refused to sever the project from uses of those terms in documentation of the underlying Unix APIs. I wish Guido had gone further and… Continue reading Slaves to speech suppression are masters of nothing

Unix != open source

Yesterday a well-meaning hacker sent me a newly-recovered koan of Master Foo in which an angry antagonist berated Master Foo for promoting an ethic of open-source software at the expense of programmers’ livelihoods. Alas, I knew at once that he had been misled by a forgery, or perhaps some dreadful chain of copying errors, at… Continue reading Unix != open source

How to get started on the UPSide project

The current state of play is: We have a high-level system design and a map of the behavior states. We have a capacity target (300W for 15 mins) and a peak-continuous-load spec (400W) We know we’re going to build a double-conversion design and we’re considering a couple of alternative topologies. We pretty much know the… Continue reading How to get started on the UPSide project

The long goodbye to C

I was thinking a couple of days ago about the new wave of systems languages now challenging C for its place at the top of the systems-programming heap – Go and Rust, in particular. I reached a startling realization – I have 35 years of experience in C. I write C code pretty much every… Continue reading The long goodbye to C

A teaching story

The craft of programming is not a thing easily taught. It’s not so much that the low level details like language syntaxes are difficult to convey, it’s more that (as I’ve written before) “the way of the hacker is a posture of mind”. The posture of mind is more essential than the details. I only… Continue reading A teaching story

Open Adventure 1.1, and some thoughts on software preservation

Open Adventure 1.1 has shipped. There are a lot more changes under the hood than are readily apparent. In fact there have been no changes in gameplay at all, and only minor changes to the UI (reversible with the -o oldstyle switch). We (Jason Ninneman, Per Vorpaev, Aaron Traas, Peje Nilsson and I) could have… Continue reading Open Adventure 1.1, and some thoughts on software preservation