Unpaid Labor and Hiring Decisions Based on Free Software Contributions

Ashe Dryden with an older article on the subject of who can give their development time to free or open source software, and who benefits from it:

I don’t know that we can easily measure how much labor actually goes into creating the software that we use every day. Software that we not only benefit from by saving us time, but also makes us quite a lot of money. We work at startups, consultancies, and large enterprises that pay our salaries thanks to the financial benefit of OSS and the mostly unpaid labor of those contributing to it.

[…]

People who are contributing their unpaid and underpaid labor are investing their time into companies that are profiting greatly and giving little back in terms of financial support.

We’ve somehow been culturally talked into accepting this arrangement, not realizing how businesses are using it to further extract value from us. Businesses are choosing candidates based on their open source contributions, knowing that they are getting more value for less money out of them. These are candidates that will continue to work on things in their free time because it’s something they care about and are passionate about. This is akin to not paying someone for overtime.

Open source originally broke us free from the shackles of proprietary software which forced us to “pay to play” and gave us little in the way of choices for customization. Without realizing it, we’ve ended up in a similar scenario where we are now paying for the development of software that large companies financially benefit from with little cost to them.

We are being judged on how much we contribute to the bottom lines of companies we don’t work for and what’s worse, we are policing this amongst each other as well.

I’ve spent the past 17 years helping free and open source projects flourish as best I can, it’s not a profitable experience and it’ll tax whatever passion you have for the project you’re working on. While some things are worth doing for reasons other than money, and it has helped me in getting some work, I’m not sure I’d recommend it to anyone at this point, and demanding it of people who are applying for work is ridiculous.

There is one problem I have with the article, I see this paragraph and instantly know what some unprincipled managers would want to do:

As part of the interview, have one of your developers who is familiar with the project and is a good teacher pair with the candidate on an actual issue. See how they reason through problems, become familiar with new codebases, and what questions they ask.

“My team is having a problem, lets ‘interview’ some developers and get them to solve the problem for us.”

I have always hated when interviewers demand “homework” or in-person work that solves their actual problems today. That’s why a company hires someone, to solve business problems.

One way to work around this would be to have a set of free software projects, that don’t benefit the company, for the interviewing developer to work on. Pick a few current issues for those projects, let the developer decide which one to work on. Work on those together.

Linking 4chan to Trump

This is an excellent article from Dale Beranthat helps explain the connection from 4chan to Trump supporters:

How did we get here? What is 4chan exactly? And how did a website about anime become the avant garde of the far right? Mixed up with fascist movements, international intrigue, and Trump iconography? How do we interpret it all?

When it was discovered that Trump had bragged about sexually assaulting many women, it makes sense to me that that Trump supporters users would have supported him. Why not, they may have made mistakes in approaching women, or even done things that amount to assault.

Delete Uber Part 4000

Susan Fowler writing about a year working for the illegal taxi service, Uber, and describing what happened after reporting sexual harassment:

I was then told that I had to make a choice: (i) I could either go and find another team and then never have to interact with this man again, or (ii) I could stay on the team, but I would have to understand that he would most likely give me a poor performance review when review time came around, and there was nothing they could do about that. I remarked that this didn’t seem like much of a choice, and that I wanted to stay on the team because I had significant expertise in the exact project that the team was struggling to complete (it was genuinely in the company’s best interest to have me on that team), but they told me the same thing again and again. One HR rep even explicitly told me that it wouldn’t be retaliation if I received a negative review later because I had been “given an option”. I tried to escalate the situation but got nowhere with either HR or with my own management chain (who continued to insist that they had given him a stern-talking to and didn’t want to ruin his career over his “first offense”).

Don’t worry, you weren’t there and nothing anyone ever reported has happened:

Myself and a few of the women who had reported him in the past decided to all schedule meetings with HR to insist that something be done. In my meeting, the rep I spoke with told me that he had never been reported before, he had only ever committed one offense (in his chats with me), and that none of the other women who they met with had anything bad to say about him, so no further action could or would be taken. It was such a blatant lie that there was really nothing I could do. There was nothing any of us could do. We all gave up on Uber HR and our managers after that. Eventually he “left” the company. I don’t know what he did that finally convinced them to fire him.

This kind of harassment happens at every company in SF and the valley. The men are allowed to threaten and cajole women until the women either give in or get fed up and leave because human resources refuses to do anything.

Early Switch OS Videos

The internet has provided us with an early look of the operating system on the Nintendo Switch and it looks much better than anything Nintendo has provided us with previously.

I recently spent about two hours inside a Game Stop trying to do a system transfer from one 3DS to another, which failed the first two times and worked the third for no apparent reason. Unless the Switch literally kicked you in the crotch it couldn’t be worse.

The Switch will be out on March 3rd.

Nine people flee U.S. border patrol to seek asylum in Canada

Christinne Muschi:

Nine asylum-seekers, including four children, barely made it across the Canadian border on Friday as a U.S. border patrol officer tried to stop them and a Reuters photographer captured the scene.

As a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officer seized their passports and questioned a man in the front passenger seat of a taxi that had pulled up to the border in Champlain, New York, four adults and four young children fled the cab and ran to Royal Canadian Mounted Police on the other side.

The photos and story in this article are some of the most depressing scenes I’ve ever seen. 

The background for the Sudanese refugees is that their nation has been in an unending civil war since 1955. That these people can’t find refuge in the United States is truly awful.

Robots In The Wild

Games with pieces in them similar to tetrominoes aren’t usually my thing. I like them stacked up at a similar height until they’re removed. Wacky tetrominoes that don’t clear lines or have wacky physics applied to them are even worse. You think you’re better than Alexey Pajitnov? Nah, keep trying.

Robots In The Wild, from Heatbox Games, is a kind of spin on Rampart’s strategy. Instead of overhead castle building, you’re playing the side-game. Building up structures out of tetrominoes to survive and fight back. Different combinations of tetrominoes turn into energy robots, or laser shooting robots, or lanterns for night missions, and so on. Keep the heart of your base alive for multiple nights and you’re on to the next planet with a new twist.

The whole intro sequence involves the menu talking. A talking menu. Like Talkie the Toaster but without the aggravation.

I’ve played a bit of it, and enjoyed what I’ve played so far, but not enough to give it a full review yet. It’s one of the few games that aren’t Tetris and uses those tetrominoes well.

Robots In The Wild is in Steam‘s Early Access program now for a tenner on Windows and macOS.

New Roger Waters Album Soon

Roger Waters’ politics are his music, and that looks like it won’t change a bit in his next album, Is This The Life We Really Want, which was announced today as coming soon with the teaser video above. He’s also touring in the US again.

There’s a good interview with him on a recent episode of Marc Maron’s WTF podcast.

Decades ago I saw Waters in concert, and his Radio Waves solo album is one of my favorites. Can’t wait for this.

PewDiePie And YouTube Are Still Getting Paid

Jacob Clifton writing about the recently publicized (on the WSJ) anti-semetic videos from Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg:

With a celebrity like Kjellberg, it also invokes the idea that, if being a “fan” is part of your identity, any questioning of him is an indictment of you on at least two levels: both as a heroic independent thinker, and as a man with refined enough tastes to like the thing that you like. An exploration of your culture, whether that’s video games or YouTubers or white supremacy, is absolutely an attack on you, from an angle you’re no more likely to see than you are the back of your own head.

The title of the article was “PewDiePie Isn’t a Monster, He’s Someone You Know” before it was edited to “The Downfall Of YouTube’s Biggest Star Is A Symptom Of A Bigger Illness.” I suffer from the same syndrome of changing headlines, but I believe the first title was more appropriate.

There’s a combination of a 27-year-old with money and fame, and a regular theme from gaming culture online that it is standard and expected to say bad things and prove how little you care, that created this. It’s the smug attitude you might expect if you picture a late-90s hacker, or all of the communities on reddit, 4chan, IRC networks, and elsewhere that celebrate hate as a matter of course.

They will be up-in-arms at every attack on PewDiePie and their right to be assholes. I left one of my favorite gaming communities on IRC when it turned into a place where anti-semetic, racist, and homophobic views couldn’t be questioned. My hope came from the others that left first when we met up again in another online place.

Clifton:

Are they monsters? No. But you use the “monsters” to keep yourself from recognizing this about them, to avoid talking to them about it, to keep from opening the can and seeing what’s inside. You’d prefer to wait, and hope that the endpoint of the story in his case is something different. Violence, hatred, and organized activity are for the ones other people associate with, not the ones you know and love.

PewDiePie’s response, besides deleting the videos with anti-semetic messages, is that the reporters are to blame. He spends the first few minutes of the video explaining that because he’s rich, and he pushes back on “the media,” that’s why, he says, they highlighted his anti-semetic videos.

During the video Kjellberg says he’s sorry that although some people thought what he did was funny, others didn’t think like his jokes. His joke was hiring people to hold up a sign that says “Death to all jews.” It’s the kind of apology that a teacher would describe as “Not good enough.”

Kjellberg also complains in the response video that it’s a generational gap that makes people not understand his not-at-all-funny anti-semetic jokes.

Finally, Kjellberg ends the video by thanking the people that support him and flipping off the camera with a sarcastic “Thanks, Wall Street Journal.”

Kjellberg is not a monster, he’s not sorry, and he will continue to receive advertising dollars from every video he puts up. Google’s YouTube business will still get paid, as well, they only removed ads from some of his videos before but declined to remove them from YouTube. If he had actually made a sincere apology, I wouldn’t have a problem with him continuing, but without that he has emboldened his fans to make their own anti-semetic jokes and nothing has changed.

This Was The Worst Possible Time to Start a Site Called Nuclear Monster

During Trump’s 77 minute tirade on fake news about the illegal leaks that didn’t happen and definitely weren’t why he fired Mike Flynn, he happened to drop this bomb. All those hours in Fallouts 1, 2, 3,  New Vegas, and 4, are going to come in handy.

Chris Christie Will Have the Meatloaf

AP, via the Boston Globe:

The Republican governor said while guest hosting a New York sports talk radio show Thursday that Trump pointed out the menu and told people to get whatever they want. Then he said he and Christie were going to have the meatloaf.

‘‘This is what it’s like to be with Trump,’’ Christie said. ‘‘He says, ‘There’s the menu, you guys order whatever you want.’ And then he says, ‘Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.’’’

In other Chris Christie news, the official misconduct case against him is moving forward.