Older blog entries for bradfitz (starting at number 283)

Why, hello...

Long time no see.

How's my baby doing?

Syndicated 2012-09-17 14:24:33 from Brad Fitzpatrick

Contributing to Open Source projects

Prior to joining Google I always joked that Google was the black hole that swallowed up open source programmers. I'd see awesome, productive hackers join Google and then hear little to nothing from them afterwards. When I joined I decided I'd solve this mystery and post about it but it's been over 2.5 years and I've been busy and somewhat forgot. Fortunately a discussion at work last week reminded me of this again, and a bunch of us got to talking about the phenomenon.

Just as there are rarely absolutes in anything, there are no absolutes about open source programmers' activities after joining Google. The main reasons for them sometimes disappearing, as far as I can tell, are:

  • Many open source programmers are just programmers. They like working on fun, hard problems, whether on open source or otherwise.
  • They're busy. Google seems to suck everybody's free time, and then some. It's not that Google is forcing them to work all the time, but they are anyway because there are so many cool things that can be done. I often joke that I have seven 20% projects.
  • The Google development environment is so nice. The source control, build system, code review tools, debuggers, profilers, submit queues, continuous builds, test bots, documentation, and all associated machinery and processes are incredibly well done. It's very easy to hack on anything, anywhere and submit patches to anybody, and notably: to find who or what list to submit patches to. Generally submitting a patch is the best way to even start a discussion about a feature, showing that you're serious, even if your patch is wrong.
Personally, my increased involvement with Google side-projects and decreased involvement with public open source projects is a bit of all three of those bullets.

Notably, though, I want to discuss the last bullet.

It's pretty difficult to figure out how to contribute in the open source community. Given some package on your system or some tarball you downloaded, it's not always obvious what the right process is for that community to get patches upstream. It's often a research project just to find the upstream version control system, or bug tracker, or the mailing list to send patches to. CONTRIBUTING files in tarballs, if present at all, are often out of date.

When you're used to this, perhaps it's not so bad, but inside a company with a very consistent and easy-to-hack-hack-hack environment, this can be daunting. I'm not just talking about Google here. I'm sure most companies have more internal consistency in tools & processes than the collective open source community.

My request:
So here's my request to the open source community: make a webpage for your project that summarizes your community's development resources & process . And then link the hell out of it. Link it from all over your project's documentation. Make sure you have a CONTRIBUTING file, but don't put the current information in the file.... it'll just get stale. Instead, put your contributing documentation URL in your CONTRIBUTING file. Tools and processes change, but tarballs get old, and distros are rarely bleeding edge.

Good examples of people doing this already (from a quick search) include Django, Mono, and MySQL.

If your project doesn't already do this, as most of mine haven't, or haven't well enough, I made a website to make this easy:

Contributing: http://contributing.appspot.com/

Anybody can (and should!) use that for their project to create a project page with a stable URL listing their project's resources and quick summary of the project's development workflow. Where's your source, bug tracker, code review tool, style guide, mailing list, etc?

I've been creating project pages for all projects I'd started in the past, and making sure to update all their docs and websites with links to the Contributing page.

Here are some of mine:

http://contributing.appspot.com/memcached
http://contributing.appspot.com/perlbal
http://contributing.appspot.com/sgnodemapper
http://contributing.appspot.com/contributing
http://contributing.appspot.com/djabberd
....

Still creating them, but afterwards I hope to be able to filter more of my mailing list subscriptions and not feel guilty about people having out-of-date information and emailing me directly.

From now on I will never either a) fail to document the contribution process for a new project I start, or b) document that sending me patches directly is the answer. That may be true for a bit, but projects often change hands, and stale documentation sucks.

Syndicated 2010-03-21 01:13:17 from Brad Fitzpatrick

Realtime LiveJournal -> Buzz

If you've seen all my "test" posts over the past few days, you probably knew I was up to something.

Indeed....

If you add your LiveJournal to your Google Profile (and your LJ links to your Google Profile and is crawled), and then you "Connect" your LJ to your Google Buzz account by adding it as a connected site, all your LJ posts flow into Buzz in 1-2 seconds, using PubSubHubbub.

And hopefully LiveJournal will support the Salmon Protocol so comments left in Buzz will flow back to LiveJournal, and vice-versa. But that's the future.

Much love to Brett Slatkin, the Reader team, Brian Stoler and the Buzz team, Sebastian Kanthak, John Panzer, and others who made all this work. Huge team effort, but in the end I think open, decentralized protocols will win and are the future.

Syndicated 2010-02-09 20:24:14 from Brad Fitzpatrick

Thirty.

I'm 30 today. Happy Birthday to me! :)

Come party tonight if you're around SF: http://crush3r.com/page/ytziecxddo

Syndicated 2010-02-05 18:31:46 from Brad Fitzpatrick

Doing Hos is Hard Work

Etch-a-Sketch doesn't involve much hill climbing. GPS-a-Sketch in San Francisco does, however:


Merry Christmas from me and [info] whatever_art to you!

*

In other news: not going anywhere for Christmas. Staying in San Francisco, hosting a 10 person orphan dinner. But then going to the Caribbean on a 7 night cruise over New Year's with parents, Sierra, my brother Cole and his girlfriend. Should be fun. :)

Syndicated 2009-12-24 23:12:56 from Brad Fitzpatrick

Halloween Costume: Where's Waldo?

This year's costume, with [info]whatever_art:

http://picasaweb.google.com/bradley.j.fitzpatrick/Misc#5398929204952872962



I tried to get http://bit.ly/whereswaldo but it was already taken (and awesome!), so I got http://bit.ly/whereswaldo2 so people might discover the awesome version by mucking with the URL. Time to run my own URL shortener... don't trust any of them.

Syndicated 2009-11-01 00:59:49 from Brad Fitzpatrick

Speakeasy pricing confusion

Speakeasy peeps,

Am I over-paying? (I'm assuming yes.)

I currently have:

DSL: Home Plus OneLink ADSL 6.0/768 Pro-Install (C) (activated 12/21/2005) PKG1822837

which is $105.95 (+ $6 fees) per month.

I called to get it reduced and the guy on the phone was super vague and generally useless. Between grunts and burping and "Oh that's interesting!" interjections as he played on his computer, I heard various tidbits which I couldn't connect:

* I'm currently running at 4.0/768 because of noise on the line.
* He could give me $10 off.
* He couldn't give me $10 off.
* There's an unlisted 4.0/768 speakeasy package. Could I move to it? He'd give me $10 off.
* But I thought you were already going to give me $10 off.
* You could move to the 3.0/768.
* No prices are listed on the website. Just the cheapest, slow one.

Apparently no love for long-time loyal customers.

I'm tempted to drop Speakeasy, but where would I go? Cable? Aren't they all dicks? I want to vote with my dollar and not give money to stupid companies blocking/intercepting/rewriting traffic and other lame practices.

Who's the most money-worthy broadband company lately?

Syndicated 2009-10-08 17:19:59 from Brad Fitzpatrick

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