New stuff coming in C# 7.0

Mads Torgersen wrote a blog post highlighting what’s new in C# 7.0:

C# 7.0 adds a number of new features and brings a focus on data consumption, code simplification and performance.

The changes all seem to be in line with the recent trends of borrowing syntax sugar from other languages to C#. Nothing wrong with that: copy what’s good and shed what’s bad.

One of the changes is related to out variables. These are the C# way to deal with not being able to return multiple values (see below for good news on that front). It’s basically the same as passing by reference in, say, C. For instance:

int myOutVar;
changeMyOutVar(out myOutVar);

You could have the value of myOutVar set inside changeMyOutVar. Simple. What is changing in C# 7.0 is that you would no longer need to predeclare myOutVar:

changeMyOutVar(out int myOutVar);

The scope of the new variable will be the enclosing block. I have to say it: I don’t like it. It feels obfuscated to me. The variable doesn’t look like it should be in that scope. Compare with this popular Go idiom:

if err := DoSomething(); err != nil {
    return err;
}

The variable err is created inside the if and its scope is there as well. I know a lot of people who hate this for the same reason I don’t like the way the new out variables are to be created in C#. I find it much more clear in Go though.

The feature I absolutely loved to read about is tuples. Error handling in .NET is often done with exceptions, which I find clunky and cumbersome. With tuples, we might be able to move to something more Go-like:

(User, bool) FindUser(string username) {
    var found = _userList.Find(u => u.Username == username);
    if (found == null)
        return null, false;
    return found, true;
}

So we could do something like:

var (user, ok) = FindUser("someusername");
if (!ok) {
    // user not found, deal with this
}

Check his post for more features.

Millie 0.9.6, or “installers are hard”

I’ve been terribly busy with work lately and so I haven’t really had much time for my side projects. I did however managed to get a new version of Millie out of the door.

Got get it here.

Changes are mostly infrastructural though.

User “visible” changes:

  • Add .deb installation files for Linux
  • Add support for electron-builder
  • New settings system
  • Fix missing icon on Win64 installer
  • Split generation of 32- and 64-bit installers on windows

Minor changes and fixes

  • Merge branch ‘builder’ of github.com:robteix/millie
  • Ignore backups
  • Add missing dependency
  • Ignore main.js.map
  • Remove warning on unknown props
  • Cleanup
  • Move background declaration to MillieView
  • Stop loading old settings
  • Add script to generate release files
  • Remove log file left from first commit

That said, this release reminded me of how hard installers are to get right. Actually, they’re hard to do at all.

MacOS installers can basically only be made on macOS due to there not seeming to be decent implementations of DMG anywhere else. You can compile and create a ZIP file with your binaries, sure, but who wants that? To create a nice DMG, you need to be on macOS.

Windows is also hard to do in other systems. Not impossible, just annoying. You can get by with Mono in Linux or macOS but you need to get around a bug here and there. It works though.

Linux installers (meaning .dpkg and .rpm) are easy to do in macOS but barely doable on Windows.

In practice you end up having to create each installer on its own environment. Linux and Windows are easy to do with VMs, but you’ll need a macOS box eventually.

Windows has its own share of problems though. I hear they’re working on finally fixing their dumb limitations on path length but it’s definitely not there yet. This is important when working with things like npm that create paths hundreds of levels deep. Trying to something simple like deleting a node_modules directory on Windows is an exercise in frustration.

The installers for this release were all created in a Linux VM though. It was the closest thing I got to building it all in a single platform. No DMG for macOS though.

A Swede Returns to Silicon Valley from China

Nils Pihl is a Swede entrepreneur living in China and his blog post about his feelings on Silicon Valley is making the rounds today.

I found a lot to sympathize with.

I was told not to discuss religion and politics, which is really all we talk about in Sweden, and I was confused by the sheer amount of narcissistic Ayn Rand followers.

What’s the point of innovation if you’re not building a better society?

I encountered levels of homelessness and mental illness that I was entirely unprepared for, but was repeatedly discouraged from donating any spare change by my new American community. It’s not your problem, that was the mantra that un-ironically flowed from the lips of entrepreneurs that otherwise convinced themselves that they were making the world a better place, presumably for themselves and the people who were their problem. There was something absurd and almost obscene about watching the technocrats step over and around the homeless to get to jobs where they’re given free food and drink.

 

Not long ago I was talking to my wife about Silicon Valley. She’s never been there and we were talking about (what I view as) the differences between her perception to the reality (I saw there.)

Where Silicon Valley was once heavily subsidized to be a place of technical innovation, it is now an expensive but well-funded hub focused on business execution.

This right here.

I was very disappointed at the US tech culture, of which Silicon Valley is the flag bearer. That’s one of the reasons I chose to move to Canada.

I’m sad today

So this is me today.

640px-Sad-pug

Years ago, my wife and I had a friends couple we worked with for some years. Someday they stopped talking to us. They refused to answer our calls or answer our emails. They never accepted out friend requests on Facebook.

We never knew why.

This happened over 10 years ago so naturally life moved on. From time to time, it happens that I see something from them on Facebook seen as we have a lot of friends in common, but neither of us acknowledges the present of the other.

I recently joined a Slack team and to my (and I’m sure his) surprise, my former-friend was there as well. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’d be talking in the same channel to other people but again, never directly to each other. I wanted to but I knew he was mad at me for something and I didn’t want to force it. What I did try doing was to engage in the channel as if nothing ever happened, just like everyone else.

But it was unconfortable. There was always that elephant in the room. So last Thursday I send him a message in private. I told him I never knew what I had done but that I apologized for whatever it was. I told him that he didn’t have to forgive me but I would really appreciate knowing what it was.

But he wouldn’t answer. So today I decided that there was no point in making two people uncomfortable all the time and I left the channel.

In the end, it’s no big deal. As I said, this was something that happened (whatever it was) over 10 years ago. But it makes me sad that I’ll never know what I did wrong.

(Image CC-BY-SA by Wikimedia Commons)

Une lettre ouverte à la madame qui a pointé son doigt vers ma fille

Je suis conscient que mon français n’est pas bon. J’apprends. Mais je trouve important que ça soit écrit en français parce que vous m’avez toutefois fait savoir qu’une autre langue ne serait pas acceptable.

Il y a quelques jours, j’étais chez un restaurant Valentine avec ma fille de six ans. Nous y avions allés parce qu’elle adore leur hot-dog et puisqu’elle s’était super bien comportée, j’avais décidé de lui récompenser. Vos raisons pour y être doivent être encore plus mondaines que ça.

Nous sommes arrivés au Québec depuis moins de trois mois et ma fille est toujours en train d’apprendre le français. Et bien qu’elle fâche tout un effort pour se faire comprendre dans un monde qui ne la comprend pas, elle a encore de difficultés. Elle devient souvent frustrée.

Elle avait juste commencé aller à l’école avant les vacances d’été, juste pour apprendre le français. Un jour, les élevés devraient avoir un examen de mathématique et les professeurs avaient décidé de sortir ma fille de la salle pour continuer à étudier le français. Ma fille a commencé pleurer et supplier, mais les professeurs ne comprenaient pas pourquoi. Ils m’ont appelé et je suis allé à l’école. En y arrivant nous avons finalement compris : elle pensait qu’il s’agitait d’une punition et elle ne savait pas ce qu’elle avait fait pour le mériter. Elle suppliait de lui pardonner. C’est ce genre de choses dont elle doit affronter.

Encore une fois, elle a six ans.

Elle a perdu tous ses amies. Elle a dû laisser presque tous ces jouets. En tant que père, ça me brise le cœur de la voir en regardant des autres enfants qui jouent, parce que je sais qu’elle veut jouer avec eux mais elle est souvent gênée à cause du français.

Je suis certain que vous serez d’accord avec moi quand je dis que ça n’est pas facile pour un adulte, et encore moins pour une petite fille. Mais elle fait un vrai effort là et je suis tellement fier d’elle. Vraiment fier.

Et c’est pour cette raison qu’il m’a fait tellement mal quand vous avez décidé de lui réprimander de ne pas parler français avec son papa.

Elle jacassait comme toujours quand vous l’a interrompue pour me dire qu’il fallait parler français au Québec. Ça m’a surpris un peu, mais j’ai commencé à vous expliquer qu’elle apprenait. Vous avez décidé de m’ignorer et de pointer votre doigt à une petite fille et crier « en français ! ».

Je suis un nouveau arrivant et je n’avais aucune idée, à ce moment-là, comment réagir. Je ne savais pas si vous auriez l’appui du reste des gens chez le restaurant ou pas. Mon instinct était juste de protéger ma fille de vous. Ma petite fille qui se protégeait derrière moi, intimidée par une madame qui partait en colère pour quelque chose qu’elle ne comprenait pas.

Et pourquoi ?

Je vous demande, madame, c’est quoi exactement que vous vous attendiez ? Je comprends que vous considérez votre langue importante. En général, j’appuie l’idée que tout le monde doit être capable de se communiquer en français au Québec. Je pense que c’est absolument juste que personne ne vous demande de parler l’anglais ou autre langue quel qu’il soit. Vous êtes au Québec et le français devrait être suffisant pour y vivre. Je suis d’accord avec tout ça.

Mais si ma fille veut parler à son papa en sa langue maternelle, qu’est-ce que vous avez à avoir avec ça ?

Essayez de vous mettre dans notre place. Essayez de vous imaginer à un autre pays. Est-ce que vous parlerez avec vos enfants ou votre conjoint en autre langue que le français ? Soyez honnête.

Je ne sais vraiment pas ce que vous pensiez à réussir, madame, mais ce que vous avez réussi à faire c’est de me faire repenser le Québec et les québécois. Vous m’avez fait me demander si les québécois sont tous des colons. C’est ce que vous avez réussi, madame.

Mais même là, vous avez échoué.

Lorsque vous êtes partie, des gens chez Valentine sont venus s’excuser de vous. Une femme a donné à ma fille des crayons et une feuille de papier pour qu’elle dessinait et arrêtait de pleurer.

J’ai donc conclu que non, vous ne représentez pas le Québec. La plupart des québécois avec qui j’ai eu le plaisir d’interagir m’ont traité avec respect. La plupart des québécois avec qui j’en ai parlé m’ont dit la même chose : vous, et ceux comme vous, avez perdu la guerre. Vous êtes une relique d’un passé honteux de cette belle province. Vous représentez le passé.

Ma fille est l’avenir. Deal with it.

Philae Lander signing off

And so ends one of the most exciting science missions in recent years. The team at ESA managed a remarkable feat while also engaging the rest of us emotionally. Great job to all involved.

Motorola confirms that it will not commit to monthly security patches | Ars Technica

Moto-Z-43-640x427

I’ve been a long iPhone user who moved to Android about a year ago and went back after a bad experience with a bad device. That said, coming back to iOS made me realize that although my Android device was bad, the OS was very good and now I long to go back to it — on a good device some time — except for this kind of bullshit.

Motorola says it is “more efficient” to bundle security updates into fewer releases.

And

The Moto X spent the last few months on the “February” Android security patch and only this month was updated to “May.” The Moto Z is stuck on the “May” security update as well, meaning that Motorola’s brand new smartphone is missing two months of security patches.

Say what you will about Apple, but they support their old deviced for a long time.

Cotton candy from Marissa Mayer at Yahoo – without bullshit

Josh Bernoff analyses Marisa Mayer’s memo to Yahoo! employees in Cotton candy from Marissa Mayer at Yahoo. For example:

As we work to close this agreement in Q1 2017, it’s more important than ever that we come together as one global team to continue executing on our strategic plan through the remainder of the year. We have delivered the first half of the year with pride, achieving our goals. Now, it is up to us to make Yahoo’s final quarters as an independent company count.

Yahoo is a company that changed the world.  Now, we will continue to, with even greater scale, in combination with Verizon and AOL.

Thanks,

Marissa

Translation: If you slow down now, the whole thing crashes to the ground. So please don’t. My bonus depends on you.

Worth a read, especially for his tips at the end of the article.

Best icecream I’ve ever had

Years ago, I was part of a project that went completely off the rails. A little context: we were a services company and we had local offices in cities all over the country. My team provided 2nd-level support which means we often had the PMs call us from those via an annoying Nextel radio.

I won’t go through the details but suffice it to say this project envolved one such branch going rogue and committing actual fraud, with criminal proceedings and all. People were on the edge, and the relationship with that branch was increasingly hostile. There was also an internal power struggle in the company between some directors at that point. In other words, a clusterfuck I’ll always cherish, if by cherish you mean hate hate hate. Anywho…

One time, there was a national holiday on a Thursday and we were going to make it a long weekend. As customary, I communicated with all the PMs about contigency plans. This PM then told us that we could not take Friday off because the customer wanted us to fly over there. We were supposed to be at the customer’s site early Friday morning. That meant we would have to fly Thrusday afternoon. I wasn’t happy.

It immediatly felt arbitrary too. As I said, the relationship was not good and we suspected he was just trying to cost us our days off. I knew enough of the customer to be fairly sure they would not have requested us that Friday. Why did the customer want us then? There was nothing yet on production and if it was just to show progress, surely we could move it to Monday. At worst, can’t we make it over the phone? No, no, no, he said. The customer was adamant that we be there on Friday. Sucked to be us.

So we flew over Thursday afternoon and on Friday morning we headed to the customer’s offices only to find it closed. They too had made it a long weekend and wouldn’t be back until Monday.

Normally I would be furious over the waste of time but to be honest, both I and my colleague smiled at that. It confirmed that the PM just tried to screw us and the customer have never asked for us. We headed back to the local office.

Before coming in, we both bought ourselves some icecream. My friend stayed in the little garden in front and I went in. The PM immediatly saw me and demanded to know why I wasn’t at the customer yet. I didn’t answer. Instead I grabbed the Nextel radio and headed back out with the PM following. I then sat down on the grass and called my director. Smiling and staring at the PM, I told him about the office being closed. The PM’s face froze when my director asked to talk to him.

We sat outside under the sun, enjoying our icecreams while the PM got shouted at. It was the best icecream I’ve ever had.