You *Are* Traffic

Driving around in traffic, one sees a lot of license plate frames. Most of them are, essentially, advertising flyers for the dealership that sold the car (or the place that last serviced the car). I think this is kind of obnoxious, and so I’m usually very happy to buy a nicely anonymous frame. (Which reminds me — I haven’t done that yet for the truck; really ought to get to that.)

There’s some dealership around here, though, that seems to sell about 80 percent of all the cars on the road. Dee gee dee gee dot com, whoever they are (they haven’t sold us anything, despite their omnipresent license plate frames), and every time I see one of these things (so, every time I’m driving anywhere) I can only think of the 1982 arcade game, Dig Dug.

As to the title of this post, the complete saying is, “You aren’t stuck in traffic; you are traffic.” So, if you’re being traffic in a Dig Dug car and suddenly a guy runs up and blows up your car with a bike pump, you know why.

Why Zero-Sum?

On the easy levels, Civilization teaches you that it’s okay if you’re a pariah state if you’ve got the biggest military. This sort of tracks with realpolitik, but it’s only a partial match. See, this bugs me. Civilization hooks me with its complexity and infrastructure. I love building a complex system. But it fails me because it is, at its heart, a zero sum game. This is just fundamentally depressing, and it’s why I like going for culture or science victory. But, and this is kind of important, the computer players *know* that it’s a zero-sum game, so you still have to spend big bucks on your military. And if you start winning and your military isn’t buff enough, they’ll stomp you. So, you have to have the *capability* of a military win, and then you can win with whatever condition you want.

What if there were a way to get everyone to win, together? What if there were a win condition like, “All players have net happiness in all cities?” Also, what if there were diplomatic options beyond, “Let’s you and him fight,” and, “Gimme your lunch money!” Maybe something like, “Look, if you stop beating up your neighbors, I’ll send some caravans your way.” There’s already this notion of players not liking you if they think you’re a war monger, but that just doesn’t have any teeth — what do you get if they like you? Not much. And so what if they don’t like you? They’re not going to like you no matter what you do, so don’t waste your time trying to placate them.

It is observably true that it is possible to increase a person’s happiness without a corresponding decrease in happiness somewhere else. Happiness is not a zero-sum game. And you know what? That’s a far, far more interesting game.

I Must Be Doing It Wrong

I’ve started this post several times, and still can’t figure out a clear path. I feel frustrated with the situation, and I don’t know enough to be able to make progress. Sometimes, writing a blog post helps me organize my thoughts so that I can see a way forward. So far, no luck. Once more, with feeling!

The Goal: learn to use Ruby and Rails.

Why: I would like to help an organization by working on software to solve their problems. To do that, I need to be familiar with the tools.

Continue reading “I Must Be Doing It Wrong”

It Writes Itself

Lotus is making an electric SUV.

My mother will probably crack up when (if) she reads that. Ars Technica is kind of excited about it, but man. You know how the Ford Pinto was really well known for exploding when it got rear-ended? So, what if, on the heels of that, Ford was all, “Okay, we see where this is going, so the next thing we’re going to build is a fuel tanker.” Go ask someone who was into cars in the 1970s about how good the electrical systems were in Lotus cars.

Electrical systems aside, I’m still coming down on the WTF side on this one. I mean, sure, the Porsche Cayenne has demonstrated that there are plenty of people who want to drive a sports car SUV, so of course Lotus will want some of that sweet, sweet money. Are you sure that Mrs. Peel will want someone to mom her ride?

Mirror, mirror

Today I wrote a simple command line utility to mirror the dependencies for a swift project. And it works! That’s pretty neat, in and of itself.

Then, because I could, I built a Docker image that has my utility installed, so I can use that image as the base for all my containerized application development. Now, when I’m on a ship in the middle of some ocean, or when my Internet connection has been severed because…well, they never do explain why…then I don’t have to sweat it.

Offline Swift – A Hint

I asked about mirroring and caching dependencies, over on the Swift forums, and I got an answer that I think might be helpful. It turns out that not too long ago, swift package manager added support for mirroring dependencies. It does this on a per-project basis, rather than being a global setting, which I can see how that’s probably a good thing. The proposal outlining how this works is described here.

So, it looks like the way to set up mirroring for a single project would be to do something like this:

  1. Resolve all the dependencies. Straightforwardly, swift build.
  2. Go through the Package.resolved file (which is JSON) and for each dependency’s repositoryURL, do a git clone of that repository into a mirror directory on the local machine.
  3. After cloning, go to your project’s directory and do a swift package config set-mirror —original-url <repositoryURL> —mirror-url <file://absolute_path_to_cloned_repo>

Now, you should be able to disconnect from the network and still be able to build your project, even if you delete the project’s .build folder. To update the mirrors, you’d want to go through the local mirror directory and for each child directory, go in and do a git pull, to fetch any updates.

And all of *that* feels like the sort of thing that a shell script, or maybe Perl, could do. Hmmmm.


Today’s newspapers offer a feast of anxiety. A quick overview:

  • Russia/Ukraine war – many, many countries are proposing to stop purchasing petroleum exports from Russia. The US is proposing to start buying oil from Venezuela to replace the Russian oil they’d been buying, to try to avoid an energy price shock.
  • The bits of tires that get worn away as vehicles drive around are “micro plastics” or even “nano plastics” and when that sticky black dust gets washed off the streets and sidewalks and buildings and trees, it goes into rivers and lakes and the oceans and then the creatures that live in the water get sick and die.
  • Shell — the petroleum company — today apologized for saying, yesterday, that money was important and so they were going to keep buying Russian oil.
  • Russia, since a bunch of big tech companies are refusing to do business with them, are thinking of legalizing software piracy.

This is a kind of radical idea. It’s impractical. Consider it an aspirational stretch goal. What if we didn’t burn fossil fuel? What if, instead of traveling around in vehicles with tires, we more or less stayed put? What if stuff moved by rail and the last mile was janky carts with wooden wheels? What if, instead of subscribing to software as a service, you just paid your money up front and then you owned it, like a book? What if it was obnoxious to go online, so you only did it once a day?

Capitalist corporations are garbage. They are anti-life. They are embodiments of neural nets with selection criteria that do not include human welfare. What if all the humans said, “It’s actually okay for a corporation to die, if it means a human gets to live.”

What if, when faced with the option to do something horrible for ourselves or for others, we just…didn’t?

Characteristic: Overkill

So, we’re refugees. Also, I’ve been thinking about store-and-forward, intermittently-connected networks for a good long while. Looking at where life is going and how we plan to navigate it, I’m only going to be more intermittently-connected, with longer periods of isolation, not less/shorter. So, I want to start solving problems now, before I’m cut off from the wider Internet’s resources.

Email: pretty much a solved problem. It’s already store-and-forward. Compose an email, queue it up for delivery, and the next time my mail client can actually reach my SMTP server, it’ll get sent.

Documentation: Dash is great. It already pulls in updated documentation packages when my computer is connected, and it doesn’t need to be connected to the Internet in order to display already-downloaded documentation packages.

Development: If I use Docker and SPM and am careful about only referencing images that I’ve cached locally, and make sure that my package files refer to dependencies that I’ve got locally, then it should be okay. This is the most problematic bit. When I was doing all my development in Java, I ran a local archiva server and that way I could even blow away my maven cache and still have access to artifacts without the Internet. I really wish there were some kind of caching proxy for git repos. A superficial look around has found some bits and pieces, but nothing so fully-developed as archiva. Goblet comes close, but would require more work to make it usable at all, and still doesn’t solve the problem of, “the Internet is on time-out.”