IBM agrees to buy Red Hat

IBM and Red Hat’s boards have approved the buyout plans they both announced last year. Red Hat included some assurances nine paragraphs into their press release:

… IBM will remain committed to Red Hat’s open governance, open source contributions, participation in the open source community and development model, and fostering its widespread developer ecosystem. In addition, IBM and Red Hat will remain committed to the continued freedom of open source.

And some nothing-will-change:

… Red Hat will join IBM’s Hybrid Cloud team as a distinct unit, preserving the independence and neutrality of Red Hat’s open source development heritage and commitment, current product portfolio and go-to-market strategy, and unique development culture. Red Hat will continue to be led by Jim Whitehurst and Red Hat’s current management team. Jim Whitehurst also will join IBM’s senior management team and report to Ginni Rometty. IBM intends to maintain Red Hat’s headquarters, facilities, brands and practices.

We’ll see how long that remains the case. The hero image from the press release already has a twilight road fading into the darkness.

Image from the press release

I remember reading years ago BenQ chose purple because it was a combination of the red in Compaq, and the blue in many other IT companies. Maybe this deal will need to be an Indigo Hat. No wait, that’d be the XFS team’s name.

Jokes aside, this is a huge change. It’ll be interesting to see how the industry responds and adapts now that the news is official. As I said the first time, I’ll be interested to see how AIX plays into this, among many other things.

I’m also feeling a bit melancholic with it all. Red Hat Linux was the first *nix I ever bought in a retail carton, from Challenger in Funan Centre. I felt like I was using the future when booting with those CDs. That distro no longer exists, the place I bought was closed down and gutted, and now the company is being absorbed.

I suppose that’s the march of progress. In the words of that mis-attributed Ghandi quote in Red Hat’s reception: First they ignore you; Then they laugh at you; Then they fight you; Then you win they buy you.

Katelyn Ohashi’s 10 point routine

I wrote earlier in the week that I was relieved seeing the Internet being used to disseminate facts, especially in light of malicious actors who most certainly want to muddy the waters and divide us. I think just as large an issue is how joyless social networks are rapidly becoming. An informed populace is critical, but the unrelenting barrage of bad news and snark is soul-crushing.

So I loved that this perfect 10 routine by UCLA student Katelyn Ohashi was briefly one of the trending topics on Twitter. She was so friggen cool! Even if you know little about gymnastics beyond the fact they do seemingly impossible acrobatics, you need to check this out.

As of posting this, she’s still #19 on YouTube; not a small feat itself.

Alongside badminton—the national sport of Singapore—gymnastics were about the only aspect of school sport I didn’t entirely suck at. I still have huge respect for people who can pull off one of these moves, let alone entire routines like that, and with such personality and good humour. I think this frame captured it best.

I’ve also decided to share more stuff like this that makes me smile. To co-opt a prase from the religiously-inclined, heaven knows we need it.

The Australian people

When did politicians and news outlets start referring to Australians as the Australian people? And why? Either this is a new trend, or my defences have worn down over time and it’s starting to grate.

I never heard a politician back in my adopted home saying the Singapore people or the Singaporean people. They would say Singaporeans: short, sweet, and to the point.

Whenever I hear someone say the Australian people, I tend to tune out because I know the next few sentences are going to be a long-winded speech charged with political gobbledygook. It’s a crutch, like mumbling and trailing sentences that seemingly…

Old computers on TV: Midsomer Rhapsody

Clara and I love watching 1990-2000s detective and crime shows of an evening, from the original Law and Order to Midsomer Murders. A function of watching shows of this vintage is witnessing the appearance of old computer hardware which I delight in screenshotting.

Today we have the Midsomer Murders episode “Midsomer Rhapsody” from October 2005, with a suspect’s lampshade iMac G4:

DCI Barnaby peering into a glass window at suspects, using an iMac G4.

The following exchange was entirely fabricated on my part, but I though the expressions fit so well.

DCI Barnaby looking at the suspect and asking questions.
“May I use your fancy computer?”
The suspect looking back at DCI Barnaby with a pensive expression.
“… no.”
A sheepish DCI Barnaby.

Setting FLAC compression in FFmpeg

The Free Lossless Audio Codec is supremely useful for archiving audio. You can compress audio using the flac tool, surprising though it may seem. This will compress it to the best size:

$ flac --best $SOURCE

But what if it can’t read the source? I’m trying really hard to avoid making one of my bad Tabasco puns I would have worked to death even a couple of years ago.

I previously batch-processed audio to aiff or wav first before feeding them in, before realising FFmpeg can transcode to flac in one step. And today I learned you can set an equivalent compression level:

$ ffmpeg -i $SOURCE -q:a flac -compression_level 12 $OUT.flac

I haven’t tested this on avconv, but I assume the same command would work.

How likely are you to recommend this survey?

I got another of these increasingly popular feedback emails that ask you to rate a product or experience on an integer scale, this time from a prominent server hardware manufacturer.

These are problematic for many reasons, especially when you spam a page directly with them when you’re trying to work. I empathise companies need a lower-friction feedback mechanism that more of their clients will use, but these feedback scales feel like a blunt instrument.

Today I learned another, perhaps far more counterproductive reason they have problems. Companies understandably not only use different scales, they order them differently. Take the example I got this morning:

How likely are you to recommend $VENDOR $DEVICE?
Extremely Likely 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Not Likely

And then another one I got last week for a website:

How likely are you to use $WEBSITE for new projects?
Not likely 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Very Likely

If you weren’t paying too close attention and thought you hit the number in the same vague position, you could be saying one company is great, and another sucks! I wonder how many of their metrics are skewed because of this?

Having another Brexit vote

Brexit image by Calydeon

I’ve been keenly following the Brexit news from the tenuously-titled United Kingdom. The geopolitical and economic ramifications from it will be huge, and I don’t think the press outside Europe appreciate it.

The fantastic image above was by calydeon on pixabay.

Regardless of Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn’s opinions, there’s growing pressure for another Brexit vote. The public were lied to the first time, most transparently that their tax dollars would instead fund the National Health Service. The Leave.EU campaign broke electoral laws during the referendum, and others are under investigation. Sun readers are even realising restricting borders to others will be restricting themselves too.

A vote with an informed populace and no dishonest shenanigans this time seems reasonable; necessary even.

The pro-Brexit crowd is understandably against it, for two reasons. They know public sentiment has shifted. But the most common retort I’ve seen is that it will undermine democracy by calling referendums until the elites they get the answer they want. I’d posit democracy was already undermined with promises even the UKIP retracted within an hour of the referendum results.

Maybe honesty in elections is only something international observers should chastise developing countries for.

But even leaving those misplaced concerns aside, what do they have to fear by another vote if their case is still strong? Surely the stellar performance of Her Majesty’s Government during these negotiations informs nothing but confidence.

It’s also a tad on the nose taking democratic talking points from a group so angry that New Year London was awash in European Union colours. Either they forgot, or they were happy being hypocrites given London voted to remain.

My favourite pet theory is Brexit was decided in secret between Theresa May, Sinn Féin, and the Scottish National Party to reunite Ireland and grant Scottish independence without England losing face. Because to all but the most ardent ostriches meeting sand, that’s the clear Brexit end game.

In the meantime, we’ll continue to read about international companies and jobs leaving the United Kingdom for the mainland to keep their headquarters in the Union, and for a semblance of stability.

Scientology’s Australian recruit struggle

Ben Weir reported on the Church of Scientology for the Sydney Morning Herald, quoting a recent defector:

“Australian recruits have dwindled to virtually zero as media coverage and access to the Internet has ensured the truth about the cult is well-known here” Mr Schofield said.


It’s also a relief to see the Internet being used to disseminate truth, especially with all the conspiracy theories and alternative facts swaying public opinion and policy, right up to Prime Ministers and Presidents. I get so jaded with that dull, pandering nonsense I forget about the Internet’s capacity for good.

Rubenerd Show 389: The 2018 spectacular episode

Rubenerd Show 389

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

03:19:56 – Every unreleased episode from Q4 2018 in one stitched package! Topics include Sydney Trains, TECHNOBOYS PULCRAFT GREEN-FUND, Honda San, Singapore, flowers, rampling, cicadas, apparently unmanly things, studying, podcast elitism, indie media, late night Mascot, continents, construction, soulless glass boxes, Wikipedia, marketing language, dearth of power points, ocean liners, promises, selling an iMac, making coffee, email, the next leap for computing, Tiger Balm, and sneezes. Best to avoid listening to this all at once!

Recorded in Sydney, Australia. Licence for this track: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Attribution: Ruben Schade.

Released January 2019 on The Overnightscape Underground, an Internet talk radio channel focusing on a freeform monologue style, with diverse and fascinating hosts.

Subscribe with iTunes, Pocket Casts, Overcast or add this feed to your podcast client.

Firefox application bundle sizes

I did a back of envelope calculation in December 2016, and was surprised to find Firefox was smaller than Chrome that I kept around for testing. Not a bit smaller, half the size.

These were the original results:

$ du -sh /Applications/
==> 189M    /Applications/

$ du -sh /Applications/Google\
==> 366M    /Applications/Google

I ran it again today:

$ du -sh /Applications/
==> 179M    /Applications/

$ du -sh /Applications/Google\    
==> du: /Applications/Google\ No such file or directory

Oh yeah, I got rid of the latter entirely. Still, Firefox is even smaller now.