Cruijff. RIP

It was a few years ago, perhaps this time of the year in 2009. One evening in Amsterdam, I went to a restaurant with a group of people. Just as I entered, I immediately caught the gaze of a world famous person, sitting and facing the door. I would have always instantly recognise even a silhouette of his face, any time of the day. I was surprised. I held his gaze, he maintained eye contact, we both smiled. Our reserved seats were just a couple of tables away from where he sat with his friends. So I would be walking past him. I had chanced this close to several famous people before, but none went like this one.

So I walked on and found myself just in front of him, both still looking maintaining eye contact. I then made one more step, and I extended my hand to him. He took my hand and shook it warmly. Then I said, Hi Johan, hoe gaat het? And he said to me, Uitstekend! En hoe gaat het met jouw? And I also said Uitstekend! He said Prima! Then I wasn’t sure what to say now, I definitely didn’t want to say anything silly. So I quickly said Geniet van je avond!, and he said Dank je. Jij ook! He kept looking as I swiftly continued on to my own table. He then resumed talking to his friends as if nothing had happened, every now and then he’d look in my direction. My companions were smiling and a little intrigued, they said to me, Wow, we never knew that you were friends with Johan. And I said: Actually I am not friends with Johan. This is the first time I ever shake hands with him, we didn’t even meet before. I don’t know why, maybe he mistook me for an acquaintance.

When I was a kid, people would simply say Cruijff! And nothing more, you’d see nods and various murmurs of appreciation, and that was typical. On this particular evening, I was gratified with a celebrity handshake out of nowhere. This wasn’t much, but it meant something for me. I felt humbled that someone could have been so illustrious as Johan, and yet remain so warm and down to earth in a social context, even with a complete stranger. What surprised me is that, I was quite sure that he realised his mistake, but still remained cordial when he absolutely didn’t have to. That was the sign of a great man to me.

This was my only experience meeting with Johan Cruijff. It will stay with me.

RIP.

Some believe “Google is evil”. Apple is vocal on privacy. Apple going to use Google Cloud?

Funny. If you’ve followed tech news recently, you couldn’t have missed Apple’s high profile court battle on user privacy. A lot of people, namely tech savvy people, are rather vocal in their belief that Google might be too casual with user privacy. The news that Apple is signing up to use Google Cloud should sound kind of ironic. To the fanbois at least.

This is business, though. As it should always be. Whether this turns out to be true or not, despite all the fuss made about Steve Jobs’ alleged vindictiveness, Apple has demonstrated pragmatism time and again. I remember the early days of Apple’s iCloud, some tinkerer had found out that it was using Microsoft Azure. Apple never said a thing about that back then.

This kind of news item should also send a message to the business decision maker. There are just too many decision makers out there that would rather not think for themselves. Whatever provider you might feel more trustworthy, at the end of the day, building the capability to leverage any Cloud service would wind up the winning strategy.

A chosen quote from the news article:

Apple signed a contract reportedly worth as much as $600 million to use Google’s cloud platform.

Source: How Google Just Landed Apple as a Customer–and Beat Amazon to It | Inc.com

Eclipse Che looks promising, the cheese’s moved around

A very quick look at Eclipse Che shows a promising concept. I thought let’s have a look. When I’m serious about a technology I take the time to read the documentation before diving in. In this case I wanted to follow the typical journey that most folks take, just dive in, never bother with documentation, upon the first hurdle start complaining like a bewitched mad dog with an exaggerated sense of entitlement – ok, minus the last bit of attitude.

I installed Eclipse Che, easy peasy. Then I fired it up. Oops! I can’t connect to it. The first time ever I couldn’t just use an Eclipse release after installing it. It was time to look under the bonnet. So I did. I saw it’s deployed on Docker… What!? Why!? Ahem, ok, move on. I stopped it, also stopped Docker Machine. Then I manually started Docker Machine, readied the environment, then started Che again. This time I tried http://localhost:8080 and I got in. Cool. Everything looks familiar, except it’s all now in one web browser window.

Time to look back and reflect on what I’ve learned here. The fact I couldn’t connect the first time might have to do with RTFM that I didn’t. Anyway, not a big deal, it took me a couple of minutes.

Nothing much to it, just an IDE inside a web browser. It’s the same old thing, in a new cloak. The most obvious/visible differences I spotted can be depicted in a simple diagram, BEFORE and AFTER.

before_reinvention_classic_eclipse_ide

With Eclipse Che,

after_reinvention_eclipse_che

I’m oversimplifying, but highlighting the most visible changes. It seems that when we get to modernising our software stack, adding Docker and JavaScript are passage-obligé. So, somehow people think that deploying a Java app on Docker is a better architectural choice than only targeting the JVM? In my case, since I’m using a Mac, which runs OSX, hence requires an extra VM (VirtualBox in my case) in order to run Docker containers, I actually end up with a more complicated stack for just an IDE. I don’t know where this is going. Now trying the IDE.

eclise_che_ide_in_action

 

I haven’t gone further than this. The concept of Developer WorkStation Server can be interesting for pair programming. The Server option is perhaps more appealing. I just wonder why this couldn’t be just a Java App and why Docker was actually necessary.

A brave, new post open source world, or Fly-by Software License pollution

I just read an interesting article with the title We’re in a brave, new post open source world. The article goes into the evolution of Open Source movement and the numerous licensing policies. On particularly notable phrase I saw read as follows:

…if you use someone else’s code revision from Stack Overflow, you would have to add a comment in your code that attributes the code to them.

What this means is that, if a developer uses a snippet of code taken from StackOverflow, and fail to add such an attribution, then technically the project might be in breach of StackOverflow license. I am curious how many organisations actually check this.

The whole article is a good read.

Original Article: We’re in a brave, new post open source world — Medium

Open source is a development methodology; free software is a social movement. by Richard Stallman

I just read a nice essay by Richard Stallman with the title Why Open Source Misses the Point of Free Software – GNU Project – Free Software Foundation. A chosen quote from this essay poses perfectly the problem

Open source is a development methodology; free software is a social movement.

Most people probably aren’t even aware of this difference. I never understood why and how the term open source came to be applied to hardware, government and many other areas when in fact even the English language doesn’t see any notion of source in such contexts.

The article I refer to is concerned about correct definitions, I want to look at some  of the misunderstandings.

There is an angle to this discussion, a lot of people and organisations look to Open Source Software (OSS) in search for cheap (but not cheerful) opportunities to solve their problems.  You can’t blame them for it, but this can raise several issues. I will ignore any moral aspects for now, and focus on a few practical implications.

  • Some individuals or organisations release their work as Open Source with the explicit intention to invite others to contribute to it. This is often an acknowledgement that one’s work can be bettered and perfected if others would gain access and be allowed to contribute.
  • By releasing a work as open source, there is no implicit or explicit guarantee of quality or defect. It just means use it at your own risks, your contribution would be appreciated if only in terms of signalling any defects found, or improvements that you might have been able to add to it.
  • FOSS doesn’t  opposed nor condone gainful use. Statistically however, there exist far fewer people and organisations able to contribute than those who actually use OSS. This is well understood and accepted by most. However, it is astonishing to see some people throwing a tantrum and launching on diatribes when they get frustrated by some open source software. This is just plain crazy behaviour, they not only miss the point and are showing preposterous entitlement that deserves to be frowned at.
  • Increasingly, many organisations are using OSS as a mean for attracting and retaining talent. This is an instance that stretches the notions of free and open in an interesting way, a subtle form of free promotion and marketing.

Article: Why Open Source Misses the Point of Free Software – GNU Project – Free Software Foundation

Super long Article: How Zano Raised Millions on Kickstarter and Left Most Backers with Nothing

I saw this tweet on my timeline.

I really wanted to read it but I only had 15 minutes for it. So I bookmarked it and tried to skip past, but curiosity got the better of me. I followed the link, scrolled all the way to the bottom and spotted this bit:

Way too long; didn’t read

That was a heading of the super short summary. So I read that part, and it was insightful. If and when I managed to find time again, I might read the whole thing. But for today, that section of the article makes up my recommended reading.

Source: How Zano Raised Millions on Kickstarter and Left Most Backers with Nothing — Medium

The resolution of the Bitcoin experiment — Medium

A chosen excerpt from the highly educative article about BitCoin.

Bitcoin has entered exceptionally dangerous waters. Previous crises, like the bankruptcy of Mt Gox, were all to do with the services and companies that sprung up around the ecosystem. But this one is different: it is a crisis of the core system, the block chain itself. More fundamentally, it is a crisis that reflects deep philosophical differences in how people view the world: either as one that should be ruled by a “consensus of experts”, or through ordinary people picking whatever policies make sense to t

Source: The resolution of the Bitcoin experiment — Medium

The fundamental question raised by the article’s author, is quite relevant in many other contexts than BitCoin. It is well worth reflecting on.

Qubes OS Project, a secure desktop computing platform

Given that the majority of security annoyances stem from antiquated design considerations, considering the progress made in computing, affordable computing power, this is probably how Operating Systems should now be built and delivered.

Qubes is a security-oriented, open-source operating system for personal computers.

Source: Qubes OS Project

Any shared links via Prismatic URL shortener will be broken after 20 December: Prismatic is shutting down

I saw this article over the week-end. I’ve used the service a lot without really noticing it. Via the attached post, they announce that the site is to close down, taking down the mobile apps in the process. It’s sad to see them go. The reasons invoked are familiar enough, that’s how it goes. I was never clear what their business model was. I wonder if Flipboard might be next. We’ll see.

One small detail I noticed, which will likely bite many people, when Prismatic goes down then articles shared via links generated by Prismatic apps and web sites will likely be broken too. The culprit is, url shorterner. I’ve quickly converted the ones that I’d saved in my notebook, but I’m sure I’ve missed some. It’s not easy to find all of them. This is one of the problems with url shorteners, they are not proper permalinks.

Source: Writing the next chapter for Prismatic.

Digital Music Experience doesn’t deliver what I really want. It probably never will.

It is noticeable that music listening experience is ever decreasing in quality, the great story telling of yesteryear productions are getting rarer. I would have thought, if you wanted to sell more music then it’s actually a good thing to teach people how to appreciate music. This isn’t what I am seeing.

I waited eagerly on the launch of Apple Music. When it finally did, I signed up for the trial and started using it. It was a let down. Yet again, I wasn’t getting the music listening experience I’ve been longing for since my childhood. Worse, I had lost some of the features I already had. This was a surprise to me, given that Apple had recently joined forces with some successful music professionals.

As a young boy, I learned to appreciate the sound of the vinyl discs that played in our house. The sounds were so crisp that they felt even better than listening to a real live performance. I loved touching the sleeves, admiring the beautiful art printed on them, sometime the lyrics other time some back stories. When I liked a track, I would spend hours listening to it repeatedly on a loop, each time trying to focus on just one instrument in order to appreciate how that was played. I would often fantasise that I could hear the players responding to each other with their instruments.

Janis Joplin

I didn’t listen to music and do something else. I was either listening to music, hence dropped everything else. Or the other way around, in which case I would stop the music from playing or try to block it. I couldn’t tolerate the slightest unrelated noise disturbing my listening experience. This was frustrating for someone who lived in a compound with lots of people around. I could do this for many hours.

IMG_3304If what I considered to be great music were playing, I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to chatter and miss out of the delicate sounds. In fact, I think this trait was shared by a lot of people in Mali, where I grew up. You would often see young people sitting around quietly listening to a record, nobody making a sound.

IMG_3306

I didn’t understand anything about the pop music culture and the media, I didn’t care what anyone said, I only cared about what I could listen to and touch. In this manner, I grew my own mental model of music, that’s how I would develop an eclectic taste as I could somehow identify signature sounds across multiple recordings from different artists. Without knowing it, I was also growing an understanding of the artists, I could tell if a recording was the original or not, and I was even sometimes sure I could feel the artists emotions through their voice or the way they played. I would envision a recording as a chain of mountains and valleys, I could hear sadness and joy alternating in an artist voice on one song. One time, a Bob Marley music took me to such a roller coaster that I kept talking about it all week. I didn’t even understand the words properly because my English wasn’t good enough.

This was my music listening experience.

As I started making my own money, my Saturday afternoon were often spent in record shops looking for the next exciting album. I would always open up the booklets and whatever the cover was, read up on everything I could, as part of the selection process. I could never tire of this.

As we migrated to all streaming and downloading experience, my lifestyle also evolved and I lost the habit of going to record shops. But I still expected that somehow, the leaders like Apple would eventually bring us the kind of listening experience I was enjoying as a boy. As I listen to a track, I want to be able to navigate to the lyrics (if available), the backstories, the album artwork, see the track listing as it was originally produced, see any collaborations that the score writer or the artists might also have made. With digital, this should have been a snap. Sadly, this never materialised.

What is noticeable is that music listening experience is constantly being dumbed down, the great story telling of yesteryear’s album production is getting lost. Somehow as if none of that mattered. It’s a shame because digital could have made the experience even richer, but it isn’t. If I would make a parallel with painting, you wouldn’t dream of removing any layers from a Van Gogh or Matisse piece of work. Arguably music production itself is also degrading in quality. Pick a Jeff Beck, Radiohead or Kendrick Lamar record however, you’d notice a richness in sound and production. The CDs often come with nice artwork, lyrics. Björk’s Biophilia album is an encouraging experiment, it takes the music experience to an entirely new level. This won’t be a definite trend anytime soon. In the mean time, I do feel that some intermediate steps would be more portable than going down the mobile App route.

I would have thought, if you wanted to sell more music then it’s actually a good thing to teach people how to appreciate music. This isn’t what I am seeing. Instead we’re learning to skim on everything, take things for granted and gloss over effort, all in the rush to show a ‘buy now’ button. If I were an artist I would be livid and would want to take control over the whole thing, down to managing my fan communities, to be sure they can appreciate my work unadulterated.

PS: I am not a music professional. I know nothing about the correct terminology and concepts. I am only telling it as I experienced it.