Repton is alive!

I have just been followed on Twitter by Superior Interactive.   Oh my, my!

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Who are Superior Interactive?   They are the company formerly known as Superior Software, who filled my BBC Micro youth with the joy of such classics as Repton (with a level editor in later versions), Thrust, Bonecrusher and more!

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Wikipedia tells me that Superior was set up by Richard Hanson and John Dyson, who I now discover were graduates of the University of Leeds, just like me.

It is a delight to make your reacquaintance, Superior, even if, as in all likelihood, it was in a completely algorithmic and impersonal manner 🙂

And who can forget “It’s Time To Play Bonecruncher!”

Open source Blockchain Meetup in Austin, TX

UPDATE!  EVENT LINKS:  Austin Bitcoin Meetup, Austin Ethereum Meetup.

Greetings!   My name is Bob Summerwill and I work for the Ethereum Foundation, mainly on the Ethereum C++ client.

ASIDE – What is Ethereum?

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I have been scheming for the last few weeks to arrange a one-off Blockchain Meetup to coincide with OSCON 2016, in Austin, TX, on the evening of Wednesday 18th May.

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I will be in town myself for OSCON, and I thought that individuals working on other blockchain and DLT projects might well be in the same position, and it would be rude to pass up the opportunity to get together and meet-and-greet!

Here is my OSCON Attendee Profile.   Please do connect!

I didn’t see any sessions at OSCON specifically related to blockchain or DLT.   If you spot anything, please do let me know.

So I contacted:

And I think we’re onto a winner.   Everybody is up for it!

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The provisional plan is for Factom to host the session at their offices (thank you, Paul!) maybe around 7pm.

We could do 10-15 minute Introduction to X presentations on our respective technology stacks, so we all have some basic common understanding, and then we just mingle and chat the night away!    Let’s make some personal connections and better understand what everybody else is working on.   No doubt we have numerous common problems and opportunities for future collaboration.

Volunteers for presentations would be much appreciated.

I am very happy to do one for Ethereum myself!

Stay tuned for an official event posting on Meetup.com.   Hope to meet a bunch of new people next month 🙂

Please do spread this post far-and-wide.   It is a completely open invitation, so please do pass it along to anybody who you think might be interested.    I will update this article with a link to the actual Meetup event URL when we have that.

I will never work for Amazon

Today I have been contacted yet again by a recruiter from Amazon:

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This is despite my LinkedIn summary starting with the following text:

(Please don’t contact me about Amazon roles. Also ONLY opportunities in Vancouver or remote-friendly please)

This is despite me having already said NO! to Amazon recruiters on numerous occasions in the past few years and explicitly asking to be blacklisted.   They obviously don’t share any information between themselves.

This is all despite me publicly boycotting Amazon since 2014.

Amazon is a horrible, horrible, company.   Please, Amazon recruiters, never darken my door again.   Seriously.    Thank you.

For any recruiters seeking to understand what I have to offer and what my requirements are, I wrote this Bob Summerwill for Recruiters article.   I am not looking for new opportunities at the moment, but that’s what I’m looking for if I become available again in the future.

And everybody, please read the New York Times article from last year: Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace

100% Ethereum

So I’m delighted to report that as of April 2016, I will be contracting for the Ethereum Foundation full time!

I started work for the Foundation part-time just over a month ago, and it’s been the most enjoyable work which I have done for many, many years.    I’ve been working on Ethereum for fun since last year at doublethink.co, and now I can focus entirely on it.

My BlockGrantX-funded work on “Ethereum for resource-constrained devices” will keep ticking along on the side.  We made Homestead releases last week and I posted an update on our status.

 

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The run up to the Homestead Release was a huge rush.    I spent much of my time that week (and weekend) working on the Ethereum Documentation.   If you have not seen that, please do check it out, including the new home of the cpp-ethereum docs.

Thanks to everybody at the Foundation and in the Ethereum community who make this project a delight to work on.    Have a great weekend, everyone!

Microsoft ♥ Xamarin!

Today saw a very happy announcement in the technology world, in which I have a particular personal interest.

Nat Friedman, CEO of Xamarin, announced that Xamarin and Microsoft love each other and are engaged to be married.   They want to make babies together.   They will be very beautiful babies.    Baby monkeys.

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Xamarin are a fantastic company, and their founders are gems.   I am just delighted for them.    I was lucky enough to attend their first conference – Evolve 2013, in Austin, TX, and to spend quality time with many of Xamarin Massive.   At that stage I was experimenting with Mono as a foundational technology for future EA Sports titles.

Mono is a fantastic enabling technology, which has spanned Linux Desktop to Windows to Mac to Consoles to Mobile.   It is the foundation of Unity3D, far and away the most successful game development technology in existence.    Mono and Xamarin’s success will have been a huge factor leading to the open-sourcing of .NET Core.

I spent several months in 2014 on MonoTizen and Mono for Sailfish, and the opportunity to work on Unity3D titles using Mono was one of the reasons why I left EA after 15 years.

Microsoft have had a sea-change in their culture in the last few years (see Scott Hanselman’s fantastic Microsoft Killed My Pappy for more on that).   Huge credit for that has to go to Microsoft insiders who have been pulling on the steering wheel from within, but we should also not forget individuals like those leading Xamarin, who have plotted a path for near 15 years, which has led to Microsoft coming to the conclusion that they wanted to travel in exactly the same direction too!

It is not clear exactly what this marriage will mean in the short term, but I am sure that we are going to love the outcomes.

About Hybris

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Want to run Linux on a mobile SoC?

Well good luck with that, because you probably can’t, due to the dominance of Android.

There just isn’t a market for X11 drivers, let alone Wayland drivers, so most manufacturers won’t even think about delivering SoCs which supports them.

Some options:

  1. Use Android.   Obey your new masters.    This is what most people do, if they even consider leaving “Apple world” in the first place.
  2. Use AOSP (Android Open Source Project) on stock hardware, like a Nexus device.   Except that AOSP is getting progressively crippled and abandoned, because Google’s real operating system base is actually Google Play Services.   Google really don’t have your best interests in mind with Android.   See Google’s iron grip on Android: Controlling open source by any means necessary.
  3. CyanogenMod.   Getting better.   You’ve got yourself a usable OS, which some people actually prefer to commercial Android distributions.   But you’re still in much the same place.
  4. Use Replicant, which is built from CyanogenMed, but with every single bit of proprietary stuff removed.  Better yet from a “freedom” perspective, but you are now really cutting off your own nose in regards to the hardware you can use.    Replicant only works on chronically old devices.   And it still doesn’t solve all the privacy/security issues.
  5. Opt out of Android entirely, and go for the only true mobile Linux which exists, Tizen, which is actually running on X11.  You can even buy real devices with it installed like the Samsung Z3.  But Tizen has its own problems, the most acute of which, for potential end-users, is the complete dearth of available software, combined with no ability to run Android applications as a stop-gap, which makes the platform practically unusable, IMHO.   Even Samsung struggle to get SoCs which support X11/Wayland.   And Tizen 3.0, along with its open governance, has still not arrived on commercial devices.
  6. None of the above?   There must be a better way?    Well ….

 

The primary incompatibility between Android (which uses the Linux kernel) and existing Linux distros is the C runtime.    For the Android user-land, Google chose to build bionic (primarily to avoid GPL licensing), rendering Android applications binary-incompatible with Linux, even if they are running on the same hardware.    Linux userland applications typical use the GNU C Library (glibc).

This was the problem-space facing Carsten Munk in 2012, so he tried something crazy, and it worked.   He built a compatibility layer for glibc sitting on top of bionic which allows both Android and Linux user-lands to co-exist on top of an Android kernel.

He later extended that model to GPU drivers, so you can run Wayland on top of Android drivers, which is a very neat trick.

Hybris is the “secret sauce” which lets Sailfish OS, Ubuntu PhonePlasma Mobile and AsteroidOS work on the mobile/wearable hardware which we actually have to work with right now.    You can read more about it on Wikipedia and check out the code on Github.

Hybris is the reason why the following fantastic devices coming to Mobile World Congress this year are possible:

This magic opens up the possibility of Linux user-land in a world of Android-dominance.

We can all hope-and-dream of a future of open hardware and 100% open source drivers and bootloaders for them.   In the meantime, Hybris lets those of us who cannot affect that situation continue to build freedom-respecting software in the real world.

Forever obsessing about things which are not under your control is not the path to happiness.   Let’s work on the pieces where we can make a difference today.

UPDATE:   Also check out the Open Devices project from Sony which is working on a mainline Linux kernel for xperia devices.

Dream job – working for Ethereum Foundation

I am delighted to share the news that I will be starting my dream job on Monday, as a part-time contractor for the Ethereum Foundation working on the Ethereum C++ client.

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As anybody who knows me will be aware, I’ve been rather obsessed with Ethereum over the past few months, and have been putting a lot of time and effort into the C++ client via doublethink.co, first with Anthony Cros and then more recently on my own.   It has been a real blast.

Now I get the opportunity to continue that work from the inside.  This is a real honor for me.    The Ethereum community is a delight, and I am ecstatic to have the opportunity to work directly as part of the Ethereum development team.

I truly believe that Ethereum has the potential to impact our technical and social landscape to as significant degree as the Internet did in the 90s, and the opportunity to work with the inner group building that future is a once-in-a-lifetime golden ticket of geeky joy for me.

Woot, woot – Happy Hat!

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