Goodbye Twitter – Matthew Weier O’Phinney

This is a long, personal post.

tl;dr: I’m leaving Twitter.
You can find me in the Fediverse as

In the beginning

I started using Twitter because of ZendCon 2007.
Cal Evans had the idea that if folks attending the conference were to tweet about it, those who were unable to attend would get an idea of what the conference was about, get links to slides if speakers posted them, and more; it would both feed FOMO, and respond to it.
(It also became an unofficial way for many of us to organize non-conference events during the evenings.)

Once the conference was done, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it.
There was a bit of engagement, but not a ton.
Hash tags, replies, retweets, quote tweets — none of these existed yet.
Hell, even direct messages were just a specially formatted tweet, and heaven forbid you get the initial character sequence wrong!
We started creating conventions, many of which later became codified into Twitter itself.

Over the next year or two, I found it became my “virtual watercooler.”
Being somebody who worked remotely, from home, I didn’t have office conversations.
A few of my colleagues and collaborators were on IRC, but back then, that was about it.
If I wanted to talk to a larger group, or somebody not in my regular channels… Twitter became that place.

I made friends.
I got job offers.
I learned about places to visit on my travels.
When abroad, I could coordinate meet-ups with friends.

When I realized folks couldn’t spell my handle, I reached out on Twitter to see if I knew somebody at Twitter, or if somebody had a friend at Twitter, to see if I could change my handle, as somebody was squatting on “mwop”.
A friend of a friend made it happen — and I made a new friend in the process.

That was the honeymoon period, it seems.

The start of the fall

Sometime in the early 2010s, I began seeing the ugly side of Twitter.
You know the folks, the ones who slide into your mentions or DMs when you post an opinion, the ones who ask for receipts and links or push whatabout-isms nonstop until you give in or stop replying (which they also take as victory).
The ones who treat your lived experience as invalid, because it does not match theirs.
The ones who cannot even imagine a valid experience outside their own.
The ones who would not even allow another person’s beliefs, body, heritage, circumstances to exist if they had their way.

Before muting and blocking existed on Twitter, the service was quickly becoming somewhere I did not want to engage.
Somewhere I only felt comfortable posting non-revealing content about things like my open source projects, or retweeting work-related content.
(I haven’t posted anything about my family in years.)
When Twitter allowed you to limit DMs to people you mutually followed, that helped a bit.
But even then, I’d get folks in my mentions arguing or trolling; I cannot tell you how many times I was told the projects I worked on were crap, should die in a fire, that I should be embarrassed to even share them, that I should quit and get a different job, preferably in a different field.
And this is only a fraction of what I see in the replies to women, people of color, LGBTQ+, people with accessibility issues — where the very act of existing as who they are is evidently an egregious offence.
It’s easy to see why so many leave the service, even though it can be hugely powerful at connecting you to others in your chosen community.

With muting and blocking, the service became more bearable, but only barely.
I’d still get the tweets, replies, and quote tweets, but now the first time somebody spewed vitriol at me, it would be their last.

But I still had to see them at least once.


And then 2016 came along.

I am a liberal.
My wife and I laugh at the assertion that you become more conservative with age.
If anything, we’ve become more liberal.

And the run-up to the 2016 US elections broke us.

On Twitter, I was seeing either tons of right-wing hate spewed by folks, or reactions from others to that hate.
The few times I addressed it were horrible; the amount of vitriol in my mentions shocked me.
Some people have the energy and mental reserves to fight back.
I’m not one of those; I internalize the attack, and it replays in my mind over and over.
It tears me apart.

So following the election, I started pulling back.

I created a couple lists that I’d check daily, mostly those of authors or artists I like and admire.
This created a little oasis for me, and made things somewhat manageable.

But here’s the thing: we are all political.
Living in a society means we engage with politics.
And this meant that, even following creators, I was still seeing politics; the po

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PHP 8.2.0 RC7 available for testing – PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor

The PHP team is pleased to announce the release of PHP 8.2.0, RC 7. This is the seventh release candidate, continuing the PHP 8.2 release cycle, the rough outline of which is specified in the PHP Wiki. For source downloads of PHP 8.2.0, RC 7 please visit the download page. Please carefully test this version and report any issues found in the bug reporting system. Please DO NOT use this version in production, it is an early test version. For more information on the new features and other changes, you can read the NEWS file or the UPGRADING file for a complete list of upgrading notes. These files can also be found in the release archive. The next release will be the production-ready, general availability release, planned for December 8th 2022. The signatures for the release can be found in the manifest or on the QA site. Thank you for helping us make PHP better.

Dealing with technical debt during the sprint – Matthias Noback

It’s quite ironic that my most “popular” tweet has been posted while Twitter itself is in such a chaotic phase. It’s also quite ironic that I try to provide helpful suggestions for doing a better job as a programmer, yet such a bitter tweet ends up to be so popular.

Twitter and Mastodon are micro-blogging platforms. The problem with micro-blogs, and with short interactions in general, is that everybody can proceed to project onto your words whatever they like. So at some point I often feel the need to explain myself with more words, in an “actual” blog like this one.

Waste in scrum processes

Hypothesis: the moment a team adds the requirement that each PR/commit should be related to a Jira issue, it will start accumulating even more tech debt than before.

We notice that one of the dependencies of our project has been marked as “abandoned” and we need to upgrade/switch to something else. When helping a new co-worker join the team, we find out that some crucial steps aren’t documented in the README. The test framework hasn’t been updated for some time, and upgrading means we have to rewrite some test setup code.

These are things that just happen to our projects from time to time. Many developers won’t go ahead and make the necessary changes. Being part of a “scrum process” they will:

  • Create an issue in the backlog
  • Bring the issue to the attention of the decision maker
  • Wait for the decision maker to assign it to a future sprint

Finally, once the issue has been assigned to a sprint, it needs to be refined. So a group of people that is often too large starts to talk about and describe what needs to be done. Why? Because scrum tradition prescribes that every person on the team should be able to pick up the issue. I don’t think that’s true at all; we’re just wasting time explaining everything to everyone, while often only 2 people are going to pick it up.

In the end we have to vote for the number of story points that we’re going to assign. This magic number has no specific meaning. If we try to describe what such a point represents, we get different answers, even within the same team:

  1. “It’s definitely not how much time we spend on it” (because we don’t want it to be an estimate)
  2. “It’s how complex we think this is” (unfortunately we all have different ideas about what “complexity 3” means)
  3. “We can do about 50 points of these in each sprint” (so it is an estimate after all; given we have two weeks, we can do 50 of them, so each point represents 2 weeks divided by 50 of our time)

Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to think about how much time something will likely take and use a rough estimate to decide if you want to start working on it. It’s just that we are guessing, and we can have huge surprises while we are actually doing the work. Or the opposite happens: we are over-complicating things in the refinement stage and it turns out the actual work was so easy, we get 5 points for the price of 1…

In both cases, a big part of the preparation phase is just a waste of time and energy. I’m certain that many scrum teams could do much, much more if they would let go of wasteful practices like those that “official scrum” or similar project management techniques prescribe.

How to deal with technical debt in a sprint

Back to the original point about technical debt. From time to time developers will notice something about the code base that really needs to be improved, something that is not part of any feature anybody is working on, just “general maintenance” or “developer experience”, and so on. Developers need to do this work because they have to battle the forces pulling the project downward. If they do not continuously do that, one day the project will be beyond repair. Yet, the scrum process prescribes that no work be done in the sprint that is not on the board. So an issue has to be created, and we jump back into the project management waterfall.

At this point a developer have several options, each of which appeared several times in the comments to my bitter tweet:

  • They can follow the process because they have to. There are strict requirements, maybe an ISO-standard, that have to be enforced. No way around it. So first they create an issue, and wait for it to be assigned to a sprint.
  • In some teams they wouldn’t have to wait, they can pick it up inside the sprint. But only if it’s small, “a 1” or “a 2”, because more would “endanger” the sprint.
  • They can play the process, and do general improvements as part of the current ticket they are working on (but these are now unrelated changes).
  • They can commit t

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PHP 8.2.0 RC 6 available for testing – PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor

The PHP team is pleased to announce the release of PHP 8.2.0, RC 6. This is the sixth release candidate, continuing the PHP 8.2 release cycle, the rough outline of which is specified in the PHP Wiki. For source downloads of PHP 8.2.0, RC 6 please visit the download page. Please carefully test this version and report any issues found in the bug reporting system. Please DO NOT use this version in production, it is an early test version. For more information on the new features and other changes, you can read the NEWS file or the UPGRADING file for a complete list of upgrading notes. These files can also be found in the release archive. The next release will be the seventh release candidate (RC 7), planned for Nov 24th 2022. The signatures for the release can be found in the manifest or on the QA site. Thank you for helping us make PHP better.

Xdebug Update: August, September, and October 2022 – Derick Rethans

Xdebug Update: August, September, and October 2022

In this monthly update I explain what happened with Xdebug development in this past month. These are normally published on the first Tuesday on or after the 5th of each month.

Patreon and GitHub supporters will get it earlier, around the first of each month.

You can become a patron or support me through GitHub Sponsors. I am currently 45% towards my $2,500 per month goal. If you are leading a team or company, then it is also possible to support Xdebug through a subscription.

I did not find the time to write this report in the last two months, sorry for that. So today I present you with a report for the last quarter.

In the last three months, I spend 63 hours on Xdebug, with 77 hours funded.

Xdebug Videos

I have published two new videos:

I have started writing scripts for videos about Xdebug 3.2’s features, and am also intending to make videos about “Running Xdebug in Production” and “Debugging Worker Tasks with xdebug_connect_to_client()”.

You can find all previous videos on my YouTube channel.

Neko – A brief history and porting to Javascript – Evert Pot

In the early 90’s, being a frisian kid obsessed with computers there weren’t a
ton of ways to get access to new software or learn more about computers.

The two main ways were exchanging 3.5” diskettes with friends, or go to the
library. One book I remember more than others was “Windows for Kinderen”
(“Windows for Kids”) by Addo Stuur.

I must have been around 10 years old and was obsessed by this book. It covered
Windows 3.0, and when you got the book from the library, it came with a diskette
filled to the brim with shareware. Mostly games and
useless toys, but it still baffles me thinking they were able to cram it all on
a 1.44 megabyte disk. Using floppys from the libraries was even back then a
risky business given that they’re writable! Luckily this mostly went ok.

One that I remembered particularly well was ‘Neko’, an application that
renders a cat in a window that follows your mouse. This must have been a
popular thing to make at the time, because the diskette somehow had space
for 3(!) different ports of this same application.

I don’t know what reminded me of Neko last week, but I started doing some
more research, and found out that the first version was written all the
way back in the 1980’s by Naoshi Watanabe for the NEC PC 9801.

Neko for the NEC PC 9801
Neko for the NEC PC 9801 (1980’s)

After that, it was ported to the Macintosh in 1989 by Kenji Gotoh, and this
art style seems to be the basis of almost every future port:

Neko on Macintosh
Neko on Macintosh (1989)

In 1991, IBM included it in OS/2! Apparently they paid 300,000 YEN, which
is about $3000 CAD in todays money. At this point it also became public

Neko on OS/2
Neko on OS/2 (1991)

Since then there’s been countless ports for every platform. If you’re running
linux you might be able to install one by just running:

apt install oneko

I also decided to make a version. Neko is now close to 40, so my Neko is
no longer interested in following the mouse, and prefers to just sleep all day
unless you wake it.

Taking a look at Mastodon – Evert Pot

I’ve been a Twitter user and fan since 2007. With Twitter’s future
looking a bit grim, I started looking around if there’s another place to go.

Twitter can’t really be replaced with anything else, because everyone’s
Twitter experience is unique to them and their community. For me, it’s
the main way I stay in touch with my Open Source / HTTP / API / Hypermedia
bubble and some friends. Losing that would suck! Unfortunately, there’s no way
that group would all flock to another platform.

But for the ones that do try something else, the talk of the town seems
to be Mastodon.

Mastodon is interesting. On the surface it might just seem like a
Twitter clone, but it’s based on a federated protocol called ‘ActivityPub’.
What this means in practice is that there’s no central server. There’s
many instances. Each of these instances
is managed by different people, and many of them focus on specific interests.

With email, it doesn’t matter which provider you go with Thanks to universal
SMTP standards that every server uses, you can exchange messages with everyone
else. This is the same with Mastodon. You’re not siloed into a single instance,
and you can follow people from any other instance. Unlike email, it appears
that with Mastodon you can actually migrate to different instances if you don’t
like your current one.

This has some interesting side effects too. I joined the
IndieWeb instance, which is a community I already
loved. And even though I’m not siloed in, I get access to a local feed of
like-minded people from that community. Everything feels new and more

Also, instead of one central authority that you have to trust to make the right
moderation decisions, you can join one of many that aligns with your values,
and you can block entire instances that don’t.

So should you join? If you use Twitter to stay on top of news and follow high
profile people then probably not. If you’re like me, you might be able to
find a community that fits your interest.

Will I stick to this? Who knows… but Twitter, like everything before,
will fall out of favor one day and I’m enjoying Mastodon’s ad-free, open source,
developer-friendly experience. Reminds me of early Twitter or mid-2000’s
blogging culture.

Lastly, one of the interesting results of Mastodon building on open protocols,
is that it allows alternative implementations.

The project lets you self-host a
single-user instance. Instead of joining some large instance, you deploy
an instance on your own domain that’s just for you. Can’t get more control
than that, and this might be something I’ll consider in the future.

I don’t see why this blog couldn’t one day also be a ‘microblog’ and part of the