What is Glass Glue For

I have some glass glue. As in, when you need to glue two pieces of glass together, this is the glue to use.

It seemed like a good idea. But in practice, nothing glass that has broken has been salvageable or glue-able.

There is a possibility that this is for glueing glass before it’s broken. When you need to attach two pieces of glass, you grab glass glue first.

I just don’t see many cases where you are going to do that. I think there is no good case for glass glue.

Limits of Corporation-Sponsored Open Source

Recently Google announced that they are limiting Chromium’s access to private APIs meant for consumption by the Chrome browser.

Chromium is the free and open source “upstream” project that Chrome overlays proprietary features on top of to create their final commercial product. It contains code for consuming private apis. However, Google never intended for any third party distribution of Chromium browsers to ship with the binary pre-authenticated to these APIs.

To be clear, end-users can always build their own version using their own api keys to enable these features. Anyone can acquire these keys from Google for free. Additionally third party distributions are not blocked from having an end user supply their self-obtained keys to use in their distribution. The big sin was baking a set of keys into the distribution.

As a result Google has announced they “are limiting access to our private Chrome APIs starting on March 15, 2021.” I assume this means that they have canceled the offending keys. Including commercial product integration in open source software is a common practice. It is always preferable to the alternative. That is, limiting such integrations to propriety software.

Overall, this incident and the incredulous, annoyed response from Google employees has generated bad optics for Google. It’s not their fault that people view their actions as taking away some rights that they are entitled to. It is remarkable how easily people conflate a free service with a positive right.

Private APIs cost money to maintain and providing them for free does not mean they have an obligation to keep doing so. They do it because it suits their business case. There is no mystery surrounding that fact. I think imposing these limits as a statement is a dick move, but that is just my opinion. They provide these APIs at their own pleasure.

It is worth noting that Google are remedying the “problem” through non-aggressive means. These limitations are implemented purely at their own gates, not from within the Chromium project itself. Most importantly, they are not seeking to brandish the sadistic justice hammer of intellectual property at the offenders. They are simply refusing to provide a service which no one can force them to provide.

Though Google is a massive government-protected corporation riddled with the endemic natural “evils” that comes with that obligation, their early decisions to make Chromium open-source has been mutually beneficial for themself and the public. They have yet to use their status to threaten the open source community as far as I know, or change the openness of the license in response to an entity taking full advantage of that license. But I say this doing exactly zero research.

In contrast, Elastic recently decided to nerf their OSI license for Elasticsearch and Kibana changing it to the Butt-hurt That Other Corporations are Actually Treating it as Free Software License (SSPL). This was in response to Amazon continuously offering managed Elasticsearch hosting without “collaborating” with Elastic.

The idea of open source licenses has always seemed to me a last resort method of using IP laws to keep things free from IP laws. The ‘legal’ aspects of requiring attribution, while vain, is intended to keep the intentions of freeness transparent. By keeping a lineage of contributions it is harder to erase those intentions and close off the code. It is ironic to use coercive measures to ensure freedoms because it is not fully free if you have limitations on how to use it. As a result, the intentions can be misunderstood. It seems that nothing is truly free as long as we rely on the law to qualify freedom.

While I find this sort of interpersonal pettiness at the corporate level funny, nevertheless it is a good thing to support your average uncompensated package maintainers. Maintaining these codebases is a thankless unprestigious job that most developer-consumers take for granted. I recommend reading this blog post by François Zaninotto about deciding to stop maintaining the popular PHP Faker package to get an idea of what they go through.

PayPal and Coinbase

PayPal is going to buy Coinbase. It’s a guess but it would make sense.

First, eBay has recently dumped PayPal as their payment provider. I assume this is a big blow to PayPal as a large part of their business model is floating payments to merchants on eBay. Will people still put up with their bullshit when they aren’t the only game in town for the largest auction site? I’m guessing not.

Consider PayPal’s acquisition Braintree Payments.

Braintree was once a disruptive force in payment gateways. Their gateway emphasized ease of integration. Their documentation has a developer-friendly, SDK-first approach.

However, since their acquisition by PayPal, Braintree has frozen in time. There has been little innovation in their core product, with the exception of a new graphQL endpoint.

Worse, they have failed to implement international payments. Though they accept “local currencies,” these are still converted to US Dollars in the backend. They do not accept payment methods other than PayPal and credit cards. They lean heavily on PayPal integration to make the feature work.

Compare with their contemporaries Stripe. Stripe has a best-in-class API. Starting from a well-designed object model they’ve had no problem incorporating new payment methods and international currencies.

So why Coinbase? Easy: Coinbase is the PayPal of crypto. I have no objective basis for this claim. However, I observe both Coinbase and PayPal to be assholes who hold your money in a non FDIC-insured limbo at their leisure. Both companies face pressure from regulatory agencies and file 1099’s.

PayPal started playing with crypto in a very PayPal way. Arbitrary holds, transfer restrictions, hidden FAQs, closing your account, keeping your money for your own safety. Customers will not take them seriously until they let customers send and receive the currency they pay for.

A couple years ago, Coinbase was valued at upwards of 8 billion. Now they boast claims of 50 billion in crypto reserves.

Still, it should still be a drop in the bucket for PayPal (who at the time of writing has a market cap of $295 billion). Coinbase’s $50 billion in bitcoin is not fully liquid. Those are reserves that can’t be lent out for interest. Being the largest holder of the currency, converting large amounts of bitcoin to cash would lower its value just as fast as they could sell it. We will soon know more of Coinbase’s worth as their IPO progresses.

PayPal will want a win to recover from losing eBay while they’ve still got come clout. They are diversified enough to be able to sit on that coin money and not need to convince people to “invest” in it at all times.

Coinbase’s stablecoin is shit. Paypal Cash Plus accounts are the equivalent of a non-collateralized stablecoin that is guaranteed to be worth less than the fiat it represents (minus fees). Imagine if they could back that imaginary cash up with made-up coins that they control the largest supply of?

Hello

This is my first post. I am forcing myself to publish it, using wordpress.com no less.

I try to take notes when trying something new so I don’t have to learn it twice. I highly recommend it to anyone doing anything technical, especially if you don’t know what you are doing.

I’m good at not knowing many people who share my interests. The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified this.

Here’s a good quote:

I don’t consider this writing, I consider this thinking. I like sharing my thoughts and I like hearing yours and I like practicing expressing ideas, but fundamentally this blog is not for you, it’s for me. I hope that you enjoy it anyway.

Aaron Swartz, http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/about