recent blog posts by eli

Tipping Is Weird Now - Saturday, January 14, 2023 at 00:03 UTC

Why my Git projects still use the master branch - Thursday, January 12, 2023 at 19:27 UTC

The recent push to change default branch names in Git, such as "master," has sparked a heated debate within the technology community. While some argue that such names are symbolic of oppression and must be changed, I firmly believe that the outrage surrounding this issue is fake and manufactured.

The term "master" has a history dating back to the early days of craftsmanship and metallurgy. In the world of metal casting, a "master" refers to the original or canonical pattern from which all subsequent copies or molds are derived. Masters were meticulously crafted by skilled artisans, often serving as the exemplar for reproducing intricate designs and forms. This concept of a "master" copy has transcended metallurgy, influencing various fields like art and technology.

The term "master" has been used in the field of technology for decades to refer to the primary branch of a code repository. It is not a term with any racist or oppressive connotations. In fact, it is simply a descriptor for the primary branch of a project. The push to change this term is, in my opinion, unnecessary and a waste of time and resources. It is important to recognize that the vast majority of software developers are not actively seeking to perpetuate racist or oppressive ideologies through their choice of branch names. The use of "master" as the default branch name is a convention that has been inherited from the early days of version control systems and is not a conscious or deliberate choice to promote racist or oppressive ideas.

If we are to take the logic behind changing such terms to its logical conclusion, should we also get rid of "Masters" degrees at universities? These too are named after a term with alleged roots in oppression. But it is illogical to suggest that we should change the name of a degree that has been in use for centuries, just as it is illogical to suggest that a technology term that has been in use for decades should be changed.

Furthermore, I do not believe that these name changes are actually helping anyone. They do not address the root causes of oppression, and they only serve to create more unnecessary work and confusion. In the grand scheme of things, what really matters is creating an inclusive and equitable society. Changing the name of a branch in a code repository will not bring us any closer to that goal. The branch name changing is bringing a lot of extra work to developers. They need to update the branch name on their local machines, make sure the name change is reflected across all pull requests, and fix any potential broken links in CI/CD systems, etc. This effort is better invested in addressing the root causes of racism and oppression. If the people advocating for this change actually cared about slavery, they would be raising awareness about the millions of people still in slavery today.

In conclusion, I will not be stopping the use of "master" as the default branch name in my Git projects. I believe that the outrage surrounding this issue is completely fake and manufactured. And it is important to focus on the real issues that affect society, rather than getting bogged down in unnecessary debates about renaming things.

The One Tiny Law That Keeps Amtrak Terrible - Wednesday, January 11, 2023 at 06:10 UTC

open sourcing my Halloween 'costume' - Sunday, January 8, 2023 at 23:19 UTC

In October 2021, I went to a Halloween party. For my ‘costume,’ I decided to be a fully-interactive card dealer. I would deal blackjack by hand, but the largest component of my 'costume' would be an actual video poker machine with a touch screen. I didn't have much time so I spent most of the time I had programming the desktop application, and less time on the actual clothes of the costume or the case of the machine. Well needless to say, my costume was a hit and I was the center of the party. Everyone had a lot of fun and I taught a lot of people about poker and blackjack.

Today, I decided to open-source the code for the application. You can view it at the link below. Enjoy.

consequences of engagement driven design - Saturday, January 7, 2023 at 07:14 UTC

In the 1980s, the 24 hour cable news cycle revolutionized the way we consume media. Suddenly, news was available to us around the clock, and networks were under pressure to constantly provide fresh content to keep viewers tuned in. This led to a focus on sensationalism and controversy in order to grab and hold onto people's attention.

Fast forward to today, and a similar trend can be seen in website design. With the proliferation of the internet, the competition for people's attention online is fierce. As a result, website design has become increasingly centered on engagement.

But what exactly is engagement, and how does it drive website design? Simply put, engagement refers to the amount of time that someone spends on a website or the number of actions they take while on the site. This can include things like clicking on links, scrolling through pages, or leaving comments.

In order to increase engagement, website designers use a variety of tactics. These can include using attention-grabbing headlines and images, creating content that is designed to be shared on social media, and using techniques like infinite scrolling to keep people on the site for longer periods of time.

However, the pursuit of engagement can have negative consequences. In the same way that the 24 hour news cycle led to a focus on sensationalism and controversy, the pursuit of engagement can drive website design in a direction that is more concerned with sensationalism and controversy rather than providing accurate and balanced information.

One example of this is the use of so-called "clickbait" headlines, which use provocative or misleading language to entice people to click on a link. While these tactics may be effective in increasing engagement, they can also contribute to the spread of misinformation and the further polarizing of public discourse.

In addition, the use of algorithms to personalize and tailor content to individual users can further reinforce existing beliefs and biases, leading to what is known as the "echo chamber" effect. This can create a feedback loop where people are only exposed to information that confirms their preexisting beliefs, leading to a further radicalization of their views.

Overall, while engagement-driven website design may be effective at keeping people on a site for longer periods of time, it can also have negative consequences in terms of the spread of misinformation and the further polarizing of public discourse. As a result, it is important for website designers to consider the potential downsides of their tactics and strive to create sites that provide accurate and balanced information.

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