In 1971, William Friedkin won a Best Director Oscar (and four more Academy Awards) with his 5th movie, “The French Connection”. Based on a true story, the movie’s amazing car-vs-subway-car chase sequence became famous enough that it has been referenced in video games such as Grand Theft Auto IV. In those pre-computer-graphics days, car chases were filmed by actually performing them, and in this case the chase was shot in Brooklyn in real traffic, without a permit, with the car speeding through 26 blocks of the city at 90 mph.


I’m not really a big company person. Big company recruiters look for years of experience in very specific areas. Companies looking for generalists tend to be small. I got into a big company by having some very specific experience, but I survived by being in small autonomous departments. There’s a common perception that someone who has been at IBM for 20 years has an irredeemable big company mindset; that they would have culture shock working on a small team, and probably can’t even wipe up a coffee spill without filing an APAR.

Worst summer ever

“If I owned Texas and Hell, I would rent out Texas and live in Hell.” — General Philip Henry Sheridan Back in May you might have heard that IBM decided to lay off thousands of workers in response to the coronavirus pandemic. There were apparently cuts in June too, and then North America Sales had its turn, and on July 1st I was told that my position was being eliminated at the end of the month.

Graham Linehan

Once upon a time there was a talented Irish comedy writer named Graham Linehan. He wrote for acclaimed comedy shows including Harry Enfield and Chums and The Day Today. For The Fast Show he co-created the characters of Ted and Ralph, an impoverished closeted gay English aristocrat and his Irish estate worker. The characters were carefully observed and affectionately and positively portrayed. Linehan also wrote for Brass Eye, a satirical show which, among other topics, took aim at homophobia and media hysteria over pedophilia.

On Git branch naming

What’s happening? A configurable option is being added to the Git version control software, to GitHub, and to other systems associated with Git. The option will let you configure what you want as the default branch name for the primary source code branch in newly created repositories. The default value for the name of the primary branch hasn’t been decided yet, but popular options include “main” and “trunk”. No existing repository will be affected.

Dear white people

This is the first of a series of articles I plan to write about issues relating to the Black Lives Matter movement. Because we’re in a crisis — well, a cluster of crises really — I’m going to start by writing about short term actions, and move on to history and longer term considerations later on. Over the last few weeks lot of white people have suddenly realized that America has a massive racism problem.

Plague Journal

We’ve now been isolating for well over two months, and distancing for a week or two longer than that. We went out to see a friend a couple of times, to borrow and later return an oximeter, as we were both feeling short of breath from time to time. We both measured as normal, in my case it was just normal mild panic attacks for the obvious reasons. We’ve been out and bought takeout food via curbside pickup a few times.

Unofficial Signal PIN FAQ

The Signal secure messaging app has started forcing users to set a new PIN, popping up a nag dialog saying Create a PIN PINs keep information that’s stored with Signal encrypted. They’ve done a terrible job of communicating why they’re doing this, so I went away and read a bunch of forum threads, GitHub tickets, blog posts and support documents and here’s my own attempt at an FAQ more clearly answering the questions which immediately occurred to me when I got the nag dialog this morning.

Plague journal

Greg Abbott decided it was time for Texas to reopen, in spite of the opinions of experts. In spite of Greg Abbott, all the restaurants whose mailing lists I’m on have been e-mailing me to say that no, they aren’t opening their dining rooms up yet, it’s still takeout service only for now. We went to get groceries this morning (curbside pickup, not going into the store), and it looks as if Austin is still mostly wearing masks and distancing.

Plague journal

I changed my watch to just show the time. I no longer have appointments I need reminding of out of the house, and days have ceased to have meaning. Some things will never go back to normal. Some things shouldn’t. California is saving $40 million per day by not having so much car traffic, and people are trying bikes. Some companies have been surprised to find that people are still productive working from home, and are starting to ask themselves why they have expensive office space they make people commute to every day.