Some years ago, I was employed by a serious client — by ‘serious’, I mean one of the biggest names in the entire history of the World, never mind in its own sector (which it bestrode like the colossus it was).
It had been founded, over a century-and-a-half previously, in such a manner that it would be protected from hostile takeover by virtue of being constitutionally wholely managed by the Board — there couldn’t be a shareholder, or syndicate of shareholders, powerful enough to facilitate a takeover, because, according to its (legally binding) constitution, the business answered only to the Board and the Board only to the Chairman.
Whilst I was providing the business with the services for which I had been contracted, the Chairman of the Board lent his vote to the faction of said Board in favour of selling the business to another … cementing the decision to do so by one vote.
Why did it happen?
Carpetbaggers at board level?
Likely so, yes. The members of the Board all benefited handsomely from selling off (and out) a business of which they were constitutionally the guardians, not the owners … and in such a manner that the scale of their dubiously gotten gains will have been well hidden from the public eye, trust me — there are quite possibly people as rich as (if not even richer than) Elon Musk about whom we know nothing, because they keep it quiet (and, if there are, then these people are amongst them, believe me).
Hostile ‘agents’ of one sort or another (anything from various long-term plants by the business that eventually bought them out, through to others who were there, for one reason or another, to help bring about its demise for material and/or ideological reasons)?
Also, entirely possible. The kind of money flowing through it would make it easily worth a hundred-and-fifty year wait, let alone anything shorter than that, to see such a scheme come to fruition (whether for material gain or to cause the downfall of a material or ideological rival or to destroy the symbolic power of such a rival ⁴).
How did it happen?
The thing was founded during a different era with different values and, like the UK’s uncodified constitution ⁶, far too much of it relied upon the taken-for-granted assumption that the ‘good fellow’ doctrine would always hold sway and no board would ever consist of sufficiently scrupleless individuals as to threaten said doctrine or the intent of the constitution.
Disasters are what happen when failsafes fail to save. And, that’s what happens when you naively assume that present intentions will not be overtaken by future events or unscrupulous individuals either now or then
Freeman On The Land
When someone mugs you and steals your wallet/phone/everything else
The ‘good chap’ principle of governance only works so long as those governing are indeed ‘good chaps’.
Once they aren’t, the intent of the constitutional measures put in place count for nothing, all that matters is the legal letter of them.
Those who founded the business were naive and it is, in fact, a testament to how many people are ‘good chaps’ that it didn’t happen much, much sooner than it did … because, from a business perspective, the founders were hopelessly unqualified to even found, never mind run, any business, let alone the one they did.
Crudely put, the laws of Thermodynamics dictate that, if you’re not growing, you’re dying — and this is as true of a business as it is of any other lifeform.
Yes, behaviourally … functionally … a business is a lifeform and it does not exist for a purpose, any more than does any other; it exists for no more reason than does any other accident of birth (simply because it exists) and (at the risk of reifying) its only ‘goal’ is to continue to do so. Founders, owners, stockholders, shareholders .. they are mere symbiotes at best and, more often, parasites … in whose interest it lies that the business continue to thrive … but their intents and goals are of no consequence to the business — the business exists, but why that came to be is in now irrelevant … what purpose may have been intended for it as meaningless as your parents’ plans for you when they first conceived you.
And, in order to attain that goal,it must outcompete not merely any but all others.
Do not allow yourself to be beguiled by those who say competition is good for business … it isn’t.
Or rather it is good for Business (in the abstract), so long as your philosophy is that Business exists to serve human beings (and/or other living entities) — a ‘Darwinian’ evolution of Business by way of a ‘natural selection’ process applied to individual businesses is (theoretically) good for Humanity.
But it is not good for any individual business in the long term — and only the hopelessly naive (or utterly disingenuous) argue otherwise. For individual businesses, the goal is total monopoly of all available resources: 100% of institutionally available such and 100% of those available from the other members of the environment in which it operates (in modern Western Capitalist societies, this means 100% of all available government business and 100% of the population’s earned income).
Zik-Zak … We make everything you need and you need everything we make.
When a business doesn’t have total monopoly, it can move in one of two directions: towards total monopoly … or away from it, towards being less influential, less profitable than its rivals — towards growth or towards decay.
No, homeostasis is not an alternative. It may come about as the result of one of the other two moves, but it cannot come about in absentia of them: either the business expands in order to maintain its lead over rivals (and is, therefore, moving in the direction of monopoly, the inevitable outcome of ceaseless growth) or else it is decaying as it continues to be more successful than its rivals only by virtue of not having been overtaken by one of them (yet). Homeostasis may be the outcome of its maneuverings but it does not reflect the maneuvers themselves.
For an individual business, like any other lifeform, there are only two possible end states: life or death. And, so long as it does not strive for monopoly, it is heading for death: business is a ruthless and brutish competition in modern Western Capitalist societies, not a bunch of hippies in a commune sitting, hand-in-hand, around a campfire, singing Kumbayah and no such business can afford to allow itself to be surpassed by another on its trajectory towards monopoly; there’s room for only one in a monopoly (small fry don’t survive)) … so compete or go to the wall — and, if you aren’t aiming to achieve total monopoly, someone else who is will outcompete you to your death.
So …my then client was founded by naive fools unqualified to do so by any real metric of success — and we know this, because that business is now dead … swallowed up by a voracious competitor that wasn’t bigger or more successful, just hungrier and determined to grow, not fall into outright decay, or simply prolong death by way of homeostasis.
One upon a time, many moons ago, I was contacted by a developer who wanted to know how to prevent an application from writing to a file.
I was flummoxed.
Me: “You’re the developer?”
Me: “Is it your own code or have you inherited it from someone else or as part of an external component?”
(Not that their response to that question was going to change what I already knew to be the answer, but I wanted a sense of whom, and what situation, I was dealing with before I relayed it ti them).
Them: “My own.”
“You’re the developer, it’s your own code and you don’t want it to do something (specifically, write to a file)?”
Me: “Well, don’t tell it to then.”
Okay, I was, perhaps, a trifle succinct in my analysis, but that’s what it boils down to: if you don’t want your code to do something, don’t write code that does that thing.
As a corollary, if what you really mean is you do want it to do that thing, but only under certain circumstances and subject to certain conditions then not only is that what you should say, but … once you have said it … it should rapidly dawn on you that it means
- my answer will, of necessity, remain the same
- you should, therefore, not have needed to ask the question in the first place ¹
- you should probably hide indoors and cut yourself out of shame ².
More recently, Protonmail stopped offering free protonmail.ch — if you want a protonmail.ch account, you have to get a paid redirect to it.
Proton (as they have rebranded themselves) had decided to capitalise on their USP at last.
(What took them so long?)
Then, in the last few weeks-to-couple-of-months, they shifted from protonmail.com to proton.me.
Wait … what?
They were the only service based in Switzerland that offered both at-rest encryption and a .ch account.
Now they are no different to Swissmail … which also offers ARE from a .com account.
And, if Kolab ever get around to offering ARE, that’ll be another competitor.
So, what have they done with their USP … and why?
Moreover, they can’t even offer what little redress they might’ve got from a .com in the US legal system, because .me isn’t arguably US property ³.
And precisely what capacity does Montenegro have with which to withstand pressure (political, economic, intelligence, or military) from larger entities like, say … oh, just off the top of my head … the US, for instance?
Not only knowing where the bodies are buried but actually hiding them on your behalf has been Switzerland’s business for a very long time indeed — you start throwing your weight around and it can very easily say “Nice career and personal fortune you have there — it’d be a shame if something were to come to light that destroyed both of them forever.”
What was that you were saying?
International order, yadda, yadda, yadda?
What, like the time the US invaded a sovereign British Commonwealth territory without stopping to ask, you mean?
Premiership of Margaret Thatcher - Wikipedia
Margaret Thatcher's term as the prime minister of the United Kingdom began on 4 May 1979, when she accepted Queen…
Or interfered with democratic processes in countless nations around the World?
Or invaded countries because … erm … well, basically,just because it wanted to (for various reasons).
Sure, it could do that to Switzerland, yeah.
But it’s as likely to do so as the British government is to order a root-and-branch audit of financial transactions between the monarchy and Panama.
(Too much water has flowed under the bridges and into Lake Zürich for that).
So … why have they done it? Why have Proton chosen to destroy their USP?
Who knows? But, let’s face it … the most charitable interpretation would be that those who made the decision at the highest possible level are so incompetent that they not only didn’t understand the legal ramifications of the move, but don’t have the business sense to be aware of its impact upon the business itself either — the most charitable spin that could be put upon it is that the management is incompetent (rather than corrupt or hostile agents).
Kinda like a programmer who doesn’t know how programs or computers work.
And then there’s the move from Angular to React for performance reasons — because, seemingly, a set of libraries is superior to a framework.
I’m sorry, but I just can’t …
Ask Anthony Lawrence (Pcunix) … he’ll explain it to you; I just … … … can’t — it’s too stupid … really it is. … and there comes a point where I start to lose the will to live just thinking about it.
Suffice it to say that, anything else aside, it’s slower and more broken now than it ever was before they ‘’improved’ it.
And, so, we come to Mozilla … the makers of the Firefox webbrowser.
That the C-Suite is populated by carpetbaggers and/or incompetents has been more than apparent for an alarmingly long time; you really have to ask yourself how they have managed to survive this long — because the goodwill of the users is simply not enough in and of itself, nor is it likely that Google feel that supporting that handful’s desire not to use Chrome (and thereby foster competition) is a good enough cause for them to have thrown that much cash at it over the years (especially not more recent ones) simply to be the default search engine promoted to the seven people still using Firefox.
Why do C-Suite members get remunerated so well?
In theory, to attract the best and the brightest — who might go elsewhere, if they did not feel they were adequately rewarded.
There is at least one other school of thought on this, however … that suggests it might have something to do with the C-Suite being allowed to vote in favour pf its own pay packet and that it might, therefore, be truer to say “corruption” … but it’s not for me to say. which is the more accurate point of view, only to observe that, if your only reason to stay with my business is the size of your pay packet, I might not regard you as as much of a team player as I think we need and might look around for someone else to promote (or even simply employ) in the kind of position in which you are interested.
What is largely undisputed, though, is that companies/businesses go through different phases as they grow and mature and that they need different people with different skillsets to guide them through them, if they are to be successful.
So, given Mozilla’s inexorably downward spiral over the last decade, it’s clear that the management has not consisted of the right people for the enterprise at any stage of its life fro the last ten years.
So, what have they done?
Why, they’ve increased the value of the C-Suite’s package, of course, and …
As each year has gone by and they’ve done worse than the year before, they’ve given themselves ever greater reward?
How is that supposed to work? Rewarding failure encourages success?
Well, it’s a novel idea, I grant you.
I’m not entirely convinced though — if, after ten years of throwing good money after bad, things haven’t simply not improved but have got measurably and noticeably worse, I’d suggest it were time for HR to hold a meeting with that particular shibboleth and give it a performance review.
What’s that you say … you’re giving yourself ever more money in the hope someone else will be motivated to take it from you?
Next you’ll be telling me you didn’t enjoy the chocolate cake, you just ate it all so that we’d be encouraged to buy ourselves a nicer one.
Okay … okay … maybe you’re not corrupt. Maybe you’re just so inept that … in your zeal to help the enterprise attain new heights by encouraging people better than yourselves to take it over and save it from any more of your own bumbling … it hasn’t once, in the last decade or more, occurred to you to simply step back, stand down and thereby facilitate the process of replacing you before you do any more harm … by … you know … not f*cking being there to do any more harm.
I just don’t get it.
I mean, how does it play out exactly?
You: “I’m so bad at this, you really have to get someone better than me!”
Them: “Okay, well, we’ll be sorry to see you go but, if that’s how you feel … Good luck with your future endeavours.”
You: “No! No! Not that way!”
You: “No, you need to attract a better quality of candidate first. And you’d better make it quick, because I am really damaging the business with my presence here, you know — you have to get rid of me!”
Them: “Well, what do you suggest then?”
You: “You can only attract the best, if you offer them enough to be attractive to them. So, you need to offer them more than you give me or you’ll just attract the same kind of rubbish candidates as me!”
Them: “Okay, well, we’ll certainly bear that in mind as we put our feelers out and ask if anyone would be interested in your role.”
You: “No! No! You have to give it to me first, so that they can see that you really reward people for their efforts.”
Them: “So, you want us to find someone to take your position, because you’re terrible at it and are costing us money … and you think the way to do that is by giving you even more money whilst you continue doing even more damage to the enterprise.”
You: “Yes! Yes!”
Them: “But where will the extra money come from, if you’re costing us more to start with and driving us ever further into bankruptcy as you do so? It doesn’t make sense!”
You: “It’s the only way, don’t you see!?”
Them: “Okay … well … alright then … if you say so — you’re the expert, after all.”
Yeeeeeeeaaaaaaaah … I don’t know ….
And then there’s Firefox itself
Leaving aside the disaster that is the Android version ⁷ it has been getting steadily worse for a while now — CPU hungry like nothing else short of full 8K CGI rendering on a 100MHz Intel Pentium without the benefit of MMX technology … and slower than a one-legged dog with arthritis trying to swim through molasses.
And, it’s been getting more intrusive: things I turned off turned on again without even notification (let alone permission) after the v100 update … new and mysterious attempts to access things I’m not at all convinced are necessary
I swear I disabled everything unnecessary in about:config before; I haven’t seen my firewall alert me to attempts to connect to any of those in literally years … and any that are necessary have long since been given a pass in my firewall rules, so what’s going on now — have the IPs changed, the protocol (would that explain the attempt to connect to ipv4only.arpa all of a sudden), are (or were) they using non-Latin characters (indicating Mozilla and/or I’ve been compromised or, worse yet, was so at some point in the indeterminate Past and it has just now been detected/fixed)?
Not to mention Normandy — which can F right off (again! ⁹ )
But I’ve turned automatic addon updates off!
I turned it off … ooooh … so long ago now that I can’t even remember f it was ten years ago or even longer ago than that.
I have to leave it on because otherwise when I try to manually update my extensions, they won’t?
What kind of half-arsed code are your so-called ‘developers’ releasing into production, Mozilla!?
That routine should only get called when
- I manually update any/all of my extensions
- automatic updates are enabled
Not when your incompetent and/or lazy developers save themselves time and effort by
- reusing code inappropriately
2. writing such poor code in the first place that it is unfit for purpose, because they don’t realise that the two use cases are … wait for it … different (the clue is in there being two of them, rather than one) and one block of code doesn’t suit both of them.
Likewise, when I decide to change what location the symlink ¹⁰ (with which I have replaced my Downloads folder) points to and it’s a directory to which I only have read and execute permissions, because it is just a container for links to other locations and I don’t want any others added/deleted by either design or accident … Firefox should not then refuse to open the location and simply flash up a failed download symbol and the (utterly pointless, because it will fail) option to try again.
You see … Grandpa and Great Auntie Ethel might not do things that way but … trust me … Enterprise does. It has to … for security and maintenance purposes: you can’t have people able to add/delete from default locations — that way lie chaos and wasted manhours as the Business/Management Information Systems Department run around like a blue-ar*ed flies tying to piece together the story of who saved what where and who deleted the VERY Important — Do NOT Delete This Folder folder. Home users might not do things the way I do … but every successful enterprise the World over does — which is why I do it that way too.
It should be of no concern to Firefox whether I have write access to the folder when I don’t actively attempt to save something to it. Until then, so long as I have read and execute access, so that I can open it and see what’s in it (and potentially, therefore, open a subfolder to which I do have write access), your browser should have no issue of any kind with any location of my choice on my computer. Especially given that this is the Always ask you where to save files option I’m using.
That it does have a problem of that nature indicates to me that … yet again … your ‘developers’ are either nothing of the sort (because, if it wasn’t a deliberate choice of mechanism then it can only be that they don’t understand what they’re doing) … or else bone-f*cking-idle. Because this is clearly the result of reusing the code behind the Save files to mechanism that doesn’t ask for a location but automatically attempts to save files to the one the user selects as the default location. Either way around, though, they didn’t think it through and … even more significantly … it wasn’t subsequently caught by the QA process ¹¹.
So, where does that leave us?
Let me see now …
- No business sense — a complete failure to grasp the most fundamental aspect of Business. Terrible management as a result.
- Incompetence — a complete failure to grasp the most fundamental aspect of development. Probably terrible software as a result.
- Neither business sense nor competence are the hallmarks of this sorry tale.
- A complete and utter farce — 3. (above) on steroids and bad acid.
Oh, yes … that’s right …
Now, I’m not suggesting you should actively listen to David Gunson’s What Goes Up Might Come Down — it’s very much of its era … which, frankly, it shouldn’t have even then … so, despite being highly amusing in many ways, also highly offensive for many reasons (casual homophobia, misogyny and xenophobia spring most immediately to mind).
But … it does contain an amusing segment during which he explains that the ability to read or write is not demanded of commercial airline pilots and, so long as they aren’t colourblind, they can tell the air traffic control operatives that they “want to go down da red wun, den da bloo wun” and so on, until they’ve described all the flight paths they want to take on their journey from A to B — intellect is not an essential skill for someone who is going to flip the autopilot on and then spend the rest of the flight as a passenger (and that was in the 1970s already, let alone today!)
Well, similarly, Medium is the example non plus ultra of a site designed by people whose experience of computers as ‘digital natives’ has consisted of being presented with a tablet or phone at an early age and … since then … spending their lives interacting with sophisticated logic and technology by stabbing it with their stubby, little fingers on the grounds that “Dat wun! Erk! Dat wun! Urk! Dat wun dere! Eurk!”
I was absent from it for a lot of this year, for various reasons and have only recently returned.
Seeing how it has degenerated even further during that time, I’m really not sure how often I’ll be able to come back again: the experience was already … to put it mildly … pretty dreadful before and it has not improved in the interim; in fact, the only impressive thing is how much further around the u-bend it has got in such a short time. I’m not saying this is a sign that it’s going to flush after all … nor even, if it does, that it won’t simply block he pipe and cause a very unpleasant flood in the bathroom that will leak through the ceiling into the kitchen below. Just that it has got so significantly worse at such a rapid rate that I’m slowly beginning to wonder how much longer it will be around.
Don’t get me wrong though … Proton, Mozilla, Medium, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, you name it … they’re all terrible; Medium’s just the most pathetic so far; there’s worse to come, trust me (someone’s bound to reinvent Peeple eventually) — the only saving grace will be that it’ll be so poorly designed, whatever it is, that you won’t even need to offend anyone to get ‘cancelled’ from it … it just plain won’t work in the first place.
Idiocracy was a documentary, not fiction.
¹ If you don’t realise that, you shouldn’t be doing anything as a developer … or be left in charge of even the simplest computing device.
² Well, alright, maybe not that last thing, but you take my point.
³ The US has argued, in the Past, that anything (IP, hardware, software, data, you name it) that is owned (in whole or in smallest majority/largest minority) by any entity that represents itself … or facilitates services … by way of a .com is US owned and subject, therefore, to US law, irrespective of where in the World it is located or any technicalities such as the entity (human, business or government) not being in any way, shape or form otherwise subject to US law or the US not having any recognised jurisdiction in the territory (Cf. the CLOUD Act as well, whilst you’re contemplating that little nugget of WhatTheF*ck?ery).
⁴ No, I’m really not exaggerating; I have made some extraordinary connections during my life … collaborated and worked with and for some extraordinary people and clients, in some extraordinary places, times and circumstances ⁵ … and this was the kind of business entity certain governments, let alone business rivals, would only too happily have seen brought to its knees (or taken over by themselves).
⁵ As Aura once observed, there’s more to me than simply a DJ obsessed with ‘zones’ — as the saying goes …. I’ve seen some sh*t in my time.
⁶ Can we please put to rest, once and for all, the misconceptions … so frequently held by those who, further, erroneously believe that the Magna Carta was some sort of ‘Bill of Rights’ and the basis for anything to do with ‘the common man’ or ‘his’ rights … that “the UK does not have a constitution” or that it has an unwritten one? It not only has a constitution, it has a written one. It just isn’t codified into a single document or necessarily explicitly complete even where it is.
⁷ No, don’t try to talk to me about Firefox on the iPhone/iPad — if you do, I shall, very unkindly, laugh at your ignorance ⁸. There is only one browser on iOS: Safari. No, I’m not speaking figuratively or metaphorically, there quite literally is only Safari on iOS — everything else is just a skin on top of it (crApple won’t allow any other browser engine on their devices).
⁸ Laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh.
⁹ How many more f*cking times am I going to have to disable it!?
¹⁰ ‘Shortcut’ to those of you living in Wndowsland (only better implemented and more useful).
¹¹ It may, of course, be horribly naif of me to assume you even have a QA process these days and don’t simply rely upon your developers carrying out their own UAT ¹², ¹⁴.
¹² On themselves ¹³.
¹³ Consisting of their not actually testing it even themselves, but just telling your ML black box that it’s all 100% AOK and the ‘focus group’ of testers loved it.
¹⁴ If you don’t then be aware that I do fully appreciate that you had to get rid of a very large number of developers a couple of years ago, so it’s not that you don’t have the middle managers required but that there aren’t the employees to make up the teams for them to manage ¹⁵.
¹⁵ What do your managers do all day these days?