Aditya Kane

Thoughts on the Internet, WordPress and FOSS

Author: Aditya Kane (page 1 of 12)

A haircut, a cola and a Test match

Recently, I watched in bits and pieces, India winning a test match against England on television. I am one of those cricket tragics, who watches only test matches. The rest I feel does not have enough context. I was thinking a bit about why I think of the long form game with such romance. And I remembered a very blurry memory from my childhood.

I remember as a child (and that would be the 80s) getting a haircut from the local barber shop. The cricket match was playing on a grainy television set in the shop. The great West Indies team were hurting the Indian team (sometimes quite literally with their fast bowling attack) but everyone in the barber shop was egging our cricketers along, at the same time praising the opposition’s quality and excellence. My dad having with a general receding hairline had his haircut in a few minutes. Then it would be my turn. Though I love the game of cricket, I preferred the usual soft toned Mohammad Rafi songs that usually saloons played instead of the West Indies bowling at Indian batsman.

Why you might ask?

Well, the guy with scissors would mutter a cautious word to the Indian batsman. Snip, Snip, Snip he would go around my ears and suddenly groan “Play straight, play properly. Don’t throw your wicket away”.

“Yes, please follow your advice. Don’t cut off my ear now” – I wish I had the courage to say that.

That particular day, I hated the cricket great Kapil Dev. He was not the cautious kind. If someone bounced a ball at 90 mph at this head, he was going to hook it out for a six. Sometimes he would miss, sometimes he would flamboyantly smack it out of the ground for six. While it was all riveting, I hated him for making this man with deadly sharp scissors, very excited. Kapil Dev was getting him excitedly shouting sometimes in admonishment and sometimes in pure joy.

After that near death experience at the barber shop, my dad would take me to the nearest provision store and we would share a cold drink. It was always a bottle of Thumsup. Getting a Thumsup after a haircut, was our tradition. Apparently it was older than even before I could begin to form proper words.

We would walk back home and as a family watch a slow moving and detailed drama called Test cricket. Kapil Dev, Viv Richards, Malcolm Marshall would usually write unusual twists and turns that made watching a whole day’s game worth the time spent.

Mr. Ambassador, you say light at the end of the tunnel, but how long is the tunnel?

Over the past week or so, I have been watching this riveting, well edited documentary series, namely “The Vietnam War: A film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick

I like documentaries by Ken Burns and hence started to check this one out now that it’s available on Netflix.

Ambassador Elsworth Bunker during the Vietnam war suggested that they were now looking at the light at the end of the tunnel.

The interviewer replied “Mr. Ambassador, you say light at the end of the tunnel, but how long is the tunnel?”

The political bluster, the terrifying ego of an empire willing to send thousands of their young into war and death and millions of their so called enemy, the sheer resoluteness of a people – who has just won their fight against colonialism are some of the narratives captured very well.

I am only half way through it but really liking it. Also quite disgusted by much of what it reveals.

That said I wonder what people from Vietnam think of such documentaries? 

Do they think of this as an indulgent America putting balm on their own wounds from a war, while more or less forgetting the lessons from that war?

About the title:

Ambassador Elsworth Bunker during the Vietnam war suggested that they were now looking at the light at the end of the tunnel.

The interviewer replied “Mr. Ambassador, you say light at the end of the tunnel, but how long is the tunnel?” – episode 6 of the documentary.

A couple of books about our world

I recently picked up a couple of books on Kindle. Starting with the An Era of Darkness by Shashi Tharoor. The book is highly recommended by many friends and relatives who have read it, have been surprised on India’s colonial history. I personally did not find An Era of Darkness as illuminating, but then I have been reading about colonialism for a while now.

The other book I am reading and finding interesting is “The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith” and it was thanks to a quote by Noam Chomsky – 

People read snippets of Adam Smith, the few phrases they teach in school. Everybody reads the first paragraph of The Wealth of Nations where he talks about how wonderful the division of labor is. But not many people get to the point hundreds of pages later, where he says that division of labor will destroy human beings and turn people into creatures as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human being to be. And therefore in any civilized society the government is going to have to take some measures to prevent division of labor from proceeding to its limits.
He did give an argument for markets, but the argument was that under conditions of perfect liberty, markets will lead to perfect equality. That’s the argument for them, because he thought that equality of condition (not just opportunity) is what you should be aiming at. It goes on and on. He gave a devastating critique of what we would call North-South policies. He was talking about England and India. He bitterly condemned the British experiments they were carrying out which were devastating India.

– Chomsky

The bold letters are my emphasis. I am actually surprised how I managed to not read this book all this while.

I am looking for recommendations on books that explain our world practically and philosophically rather than spiritually.

Drop in your recommendations, I would love to check them out.

Thoughts on Microsoft Acquiring Github

I do not code for a living and that means my interactions on Github are negligible. But I have worked in the open-source world for a while now and I understand the important space Github occupies.

So yesterday, when finally the rumour came true, that Microsoft has acquired Github, there were some fear of what that means to this developer friend resource. What it means to all that code that is shared and published on Github for thousands of projects?

Image Credit

The general mood of a lot of people from my Twitter feed to some co-workers was that it sucked that something as precious to the open-source community like GitHub was not part of Microsoft.

I think some of that angst against Microsoft will eventually settle and people will end up using Github as they did before. Some might discover Gitlab as an alternative

fun fact: Gitlab responded to a Twitter hashtag to migrate from Github to Gitlab with a blog post )

But crucially, Microsoft investing billions in acquiring Github is nothing to be sad about if you are a FOSS enthusiast. Microsoft is not the Microsoft of the old. It now believes in the power of open-source. But more importantly is what the message is when Microsoft spends billions into the open-source world. 

“That open source winning!”

Open source is truly democratic, allows collaboration, better bug testing (simply because of the immense level of scrutiny of public code), and it is a more ethical and sustainable choice.

What happens to Atom?
Acquisition usually means consolidation of side-projects. For Github the side project one can say was Atom.io – a code editor. For Microsoft it is the immensely popular Visual Studio code. I am not sure which one get’s abandoned first, but bets are on the Atom.io project. That said, Atom.io is a free and open-source project and the community around might be able fork it and keep it relevant and alive, if it does get abandoned at some stage in the future.

Again, that is open-source winning! 

I have joined Automattic

Automatticians at a Grand Meetup – 2016

On 12th Feb, I joined Automattic as a Community Wrangler.

They are the fine folks behind WordPress.com, Akismet, Jetpack (two plugins this blog has be running on for a long time now), Longreads, WooCommerce and much more.

It also has open-source at the core of is DNA. The company works in a completely distributed manner, which means everyone works remotely.

As a Community Wrangler, I would be working with the volunteers and also full time folks who mainly keep the WordPress community running. This is a really exciting new journey I have embarked upon.

And yes, Automattic is hiring!

That said, starting full-time with Automattic was the second best thing to have happened to me this month. A week before I started work, I got married to my best friend Kavita. ♥️

New Year Resolutions!

A few days before 2014 dawned, I wrote a clever post about how I felt about new year resolutions. Overtime I have in a way become less ready to dismiss or accept just about anything.

I prefer to think of myself as someone who can give time to listen and understand.

So this tweet by Scott Berkun resonates well.

I agree!

So I do not care weather they are resolutions or new habits you decided randomly on 1st of January or the 1st of June. That is cool, you are trying to change something in your life. Let me know how I can help you out.

My Resolutions

  1. Write at least a 100 odd posts here
  2. Learn to be calm, meditate and find stillness
  3. Take a holiday and travel
  4. Watch a Test match live again (hopefully Wankhede)
  5. If #2 works out, read atleast 50 odd books in the whole year
  6. Learn to play a musical instrument

WordPress India is five years old!

A bit more than 5 years ago, a BBPress installation was done. No one but a few hundred bots signed up. Alex and I decided instead of people coming to our website, we would start a Facebook group.

What do we call it? We tried to keep it simple and obscure enough to everyone and not just someone who codes, feel welcome to join in.

Hence we called this Facebook group “WordPress India”. A couple of days ago, on 22nd November, we completed five years of the group.

On the 5th anniversary, Saurabh, Alex and I took part in a Live Hangout and talked about marketing yourself at WordCamps and meetups.

Catchup on the discussion here.

On the same bench together for a year, why did I not become friends with him!

Back in school, in the 6th grade I had a friend. Actually, calling him a friend today would be not fair on my part. I was never really a friend to him. We sat next to each other for a whole year. I knew him since my kindergarten years. He was known to be a problem child. He would slack off from studies, would not do his homework, often get chastised by teachers, got into fist fights with other boys.

Sitting next to me for a whole year, I never befriended him. He was muslim, he lived in a place in Goregaon known popularly as a glorified slum but labelled as a colony. His life was surely nowhere close to the privilege I had.

This was back in 1992 – 93. Mumbai as a city was swept in riots. He had disappeared for several days. His muslim dominated locality was severely affected. There were many stories of killings and shootouts that had been talked about in school. I was scared if something had happened to him, to his mother and father.

I remember his mother, stoic looking, always worried about her son. He inherited her rosy red cheeks and the resemblance was striking between mother and son. I remember his father, bent, tired and ageing yet his posture showed a proud past.

One day he returned to school. I was happy to see him back. It made me think of his as a friend, as a person, as a human being more than some problematic kid who got into fights.

A couple of weeks after he was back to school, I was hit by a cricket ball. I lost vision for a couple of weeks in my right eye. I missed school for a couple of weeks. When I was back, he warmed up to me and showed a more considerate and caring side of his. We started talking more about life and the world around us.

With an extreme lack of tact and innocence that only a twelve year old could posses I asked him about muslims and how we (read middle class, upper caste Hindus) viewed them. He answered many questions and asked an equal number of them back to me.

But we never really got the time to become long lasting friends. He had a tough time in school. He flunked subjects and had to repeat 6th grade. I moved along to the 7th grade.

Our paths went along different roads. I did say hello to his mother a couple of times, who still had that worried look on her face. But I never saw my friend after school years had passed. I had heard from other friends, that he was still getting into a lot of trouble.

Today, someone told me he was found dead. Somewhere near Goregaon station and he had possibly become an addict. Society will shrug, school friends on their whatsapp groups will say “RIP” and move on to the next meme or joke.

We were sitting on the same bench together for a whole year. Why did I not become friends with him?

How my laptop stickers gained me new friends

I often work while sipping some coffee at Starbucks. The coffee is admittedly expensive, but pretty decent to get work done. Mainly because they give decently fast WIFI and also they get the lighting right.

Once such day, someone approached me. He was wearing a “something very nice about Open-source” t-shirt. He introduced himself and asked if I worked remotely. He handed me a card very formally, told me that his wife runs a co-working space in the same building and I could check it out.

I took the card and later visited their website. Reserved-Bit came across as a very hacky, open and friendly space to co-work in. So I signed up.

Many days months later, I have had several good discussions with them over politics, feminism, equality, education and most often on open-source culture. They revealed to me later, the reason they approached me in the cafe was because I had “WordPress” stickers on my laptop.

The stickers meant I was a fan of “WordPress” and by extension possibly a fan of open-source. Long story short, the kind of people they wanted to co-work with.

The good friends I made in this story are Siddhesh and Nisha.

Tolstoy on Hypocrisy

I was reading Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism by Peter Marshall. On a chapter on Tolstoy, it quotes him about writing and exposing the hypocrisy of the wealthy and respectful, including himself.

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