webshit weekly

An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the third week of August, 2020.

Kosmonaut: web browser from scratch in Rust
August 15, 2020 (comments)
The Rust Evanglism Strike Force desperately tries to salvage their burning platform. The latest attempt is some internet's hobby project. Hackernews debates which subsets of modern webshit are worth rescuing. The answer is "all of it," because it's an inscrutable mass grave containing the buried dreams of every standards body ever to exist, and it's no longer possible to extract one corpse without incurring the wrath of at least a dozen zombie W3C committees. The conversation repeats about three times in the halls of "Hacker" "News", with nobody admitting that the web sucks because it's developed inside a stark refusal to acknowledge that computers exist.

Web by Google (TM)
August 16, 2020 (comments)
A webshit declares The Real Problem With Webshit, and of course it turns out to be "whatever made Google rich." Hackernews decides this can't be right, because they already figured out The Real Problem With Webshit, which is that people are not as smart as Hackernews and ruined all the fun. The discussion then turns to Mozilla's ignominious surrender, and whether the only path forward is "massive government intervention at a global scale" or "waiting around for rich people to save us." The rest of the afternoon is devoted to remembrances of HTML tags gone past.

I fear App Review is getting too powerful (2015) [pdf]
August 17, 2020 (comments)
The CEO of Apple turns out to be the kind of asshole who forwards three-page emails on to lackeys with the word "Thoughts?". In this specific email, we're subjected to an iPhone enthusiast asking why Apple crushed the life out of a popular phone program. The answer will never be known; the enthusiast arrives in the comment threads to explain to Hackernews that this email generated no replies. Hackernews struggles with the idea that someone can base their entire income on another business' product and meet with anything but wild success. Meanwhile, we can only assume the answer to Tim Cook's original question was "No."

Facebook account now required to login to Oculus devices
August 18, 2020 (comments)
Facebook tells owners of its virtual reality device to present their papers or fuck off. Hackernews reports that the person who invented the device wishes it didn't have to turn out this way, but even Hackernews saw this one coming. Hackernews bikesheds the sale of the company which resulted in this mess for a while. Another Hackernews wants to know what kind of idiot would spend hundreds of dollars for a piece of equipment that the vendor can just turn off on a whim, and the rest of the comments provide the answer: other people are not as smart as Hackernews and ruin all the fun. After posting a thousand comments about it, Hackernews goes back to work for the company that fucked everyone over to start with.

Can't you just right click?
August 19, 2020 (comments)
An iPhone enthusiast writes a blog post asking why Apple is crushing the life out of popular third-party software. Hackernews is ready with the "not as smart as Hackernews and ruins all the fun" line, but stumbles for a bit as the realization dawns that this sort of shit might in fact directly affect them, not too far in the future. Hackernews debates for a moment if Richard Stallman will come and save them, or whether he already has, or whether everybody should shut up and write checks every time a programmer uploads a file. The copyright-law fetishists gear up for battle with the rent-seeking-as-a-service acolytes, while the webshits hover around the periphery waving the AGPL and telling everyone they're both right.

New academic journal only publishes 'unsurprising' research rejected by others
August 20, 2020 (comments)
An academic creates a scholarly journal which only publishes boring research. As the journal's focus is economics, this doesn't materially restrict its coverage. Hackernews spends some hours explaining to one another that academics are mostly crooks, because one time in the 90s they didn't regard Hackernews' thoughts as compelling, which can only happen when someone is being paid to be mean to Hackernews. We're then treated to a protracted period where half of Hackernews tries to explain to the other half of Hackernews how academia works (spoiler: it doesn't, and that's why Hackernews went on to corner the local ColdFusion consulting market, leaving those mean academics in the dust). To wrap things up, Hackernews incorrectly identifies all the problems with modern research efforts, and decides it would work better if it were more like venture capital.

Telegram messaging app proves crucial to Belarus protests
August 21, 2020 (comments)
Alexander Lukashenko turns out to be an incompetent fuckwad, incapable of properly oppressing even a former Soviet state. The Los Angeles Times is gobsmacked to see a social network tool that is being used against (instead of marketed by) a colossal dystopian nightmare factory. Hackernews bickers over which cellphone text messaging program is sufficiently nerdy to appease computer programmers: it is the considered opinion of Hackernews that these people in that actual country who are getting off their asses and trying to fix their country are wrong and bad because they're using a program that Hackernews does not like, instead of acting like adults and putting all their communications in the hands of some asshole who goes by "Moxie Marlinspike" and expects to be taken seriously in the process.