Should developers stop Online Radicalisation?

I’ve tried to avoid posting too much political stuff on this page, because there’s usually two sides to every argument and things often get polarised.

However, the 1/6 mob attack on western democracy was organised online via software platforms which is within my domain. Donald Trump had spent months stirring the pot and using the Internet as a soap box in order to make people who were already radicalised and angry even more extreme. Some people reading his Tweets lacked the the ability to emotionally deal with their content in a sensible way and they became a danger to society.

Technology companies in my industry need to consider that the software we develop can be used for the radicalisation and organisation of extremists. We cannot sit back and let people abuse our platforms, using them as springboards for terrorist-style attacks. We have an ethical responsibility to our users and society as a whole to use our resources and capabilities in ways which ensure sure our systems cannot be be abused in these manners.

This is why I think blocking extremists, like Donald Trump, from social media is not censorship. It’s something that needed to be done in order to keep people safe. The mob, who had mostly been radicalised online didn’t just attack their own country’s government, they attacked the very fabric of democracy and harmed themselves in the process. Many of them will now face criminal charges, were hurt and humiliated and even killed all for some guy who told them that injecting bleach could cure coronavirus. Many of them weren’t even smart enough to know the seriousness of what they were doing. Somebody needs to be the adult in the room and technology experts are in the best place to do that. We need to protect vulnerable people. We don’t want to silence people, but we have to do what we can to prevent radicalisation. We also need to stop the spread of crazy conspiracy theories that cause people to act irresponsibly. Vulnerable people actually believe that stuff and it harms the whole of society. Software and the Internet can and should be a force for good, and it’s up to us in the software industry to find ways to maximise that and develop the positives while also designing ways that make the Internet less self-destructive.

This web page is served from my server. It’s my computer that I paid for and I’m not obligated to display content from any group which may lead to civil unrest. Twitter, Facebook and others are in the same boat. Most of us agree that there needs to be changes with how social media can be used to influence people. We need to find a way to make the Internet less angry.


Server Move

I just moved my server over to my new house. There teething issues due to using different routers and a different isp, but I think most things are fixed now.

Over the next few weeks I’m planning to do a lot of work on Timeshed. I’ve written up a list of blue prints that should make it a lot more user friendly. Should be interesting when it’s ready.

HoverRace Netfix Test Release

Last night I released a version of HoverRace that will potentially fix some of the problems that were stopping online racing from working. For the nerds out there,  I’m using upnp holepunching to handle the peer to peer data transmissions. It should work behind some routers, but not all routers. I’m still planning to make it use servers instead of peer to peer between players, but that will require a major rewrite.

Here’s the download: https://github.com/johnsie/HoverNet/releases/tag/1.24.2

HoverRace in VS 2019

It took a bit of work, but I got the HoverRace C++ solution compiling in VS 2019. The solution had previously last been compiled in VS2010 Express, so there was quite a bit of deprecation and bug fixing to deal with. Luabind had a bug that made it break with more recent Boost C++ Libraries and only the recent Boost Binaries work with VS2019. The solution was compiling a fork of Luabind with a fix applied and recompiling WGOIS and OpenAL 32 in VS2019 and loading them into the Solution.

I checked it all into Github and typed up some documentation explaining how to compile, so hopefully HoverRace will continue to exist and maybe even attract new developers.

The github for this project is at https://github.com/johnsie/HoverNet

Got a few minor fixes to to do and then the name of the game will be sockets programming in C++

Delegates in C#

Delegates are used in C# if for some reason you want to pass methods as parameters.

For example:

You have the number 10 and you want to print it out in several different formats. You might have several different methods to do this:

  • A method to print it as a whole number
  • A method to print it as monetary currency with a pound, euro or dollar sign.
  • A method to print it as a decimal

Fine… The thing that those those methods all have in common is that they take in the integer and do something with it. In this case the integer we pass will be 10, but by design it would probably be better if the methods can accept any integer eg. public void PrintAsMoney(int){}

We could create a delegate called PrintValue

public delegate void PrintValue(int value);

And that delegate can later be used in a method to represent the three methods

PrintValue printDelegate=PrintAsInt;
printDelegate+=PrintAsMoney;
printDelegate+=PrintAsDecimal;

We’ve now set which methods should be used when printDelegate is invoked. We already know that all those methods are compatible with our delegate because they can all accept an int.

So… let’s invoke the delegate

printDelegate(10);

Our program knows which methods to use and to pass the number 10 to, because we just specified that when we set the methods for printDelegate. So all in one clean swoop it passes the number 10 to each of those methods that were subscribed to the delegate and the required data is printed. This is a multicast delegate because it uses more than one method. A standard delegate will only pass one method but works pretty much the same way.



Static Classes, Methods and Variables

Today someone  asked me what the difference between a class and a static class was. Of course my mind went blank and I got to squirm for a bit. I think it’s basic software engineering that any developer should know and it was a bit embarrassing. So as soon as I got home I did some Googling, watched some videos. It’s nice being single and having time to do that kind of stuff. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

A static class is one which you don’t need to make an instance of but can contain a collection of useful functions.

For example x = Math.Sqrt(144): uses the Math class but of course you don’t need to create an instance of the Math class to do that. If you try to create an instance of the Math class you will get an error message… Because it’s static 😉

A method that belongs to a static class is therefore automatically a static method.

You identify  both by using the keyword ‘static’ to make it easier for other developers and the compiler to know what’s going on.

Eg: static class UsefulTool

public static void HelloWorld

This is useful for tools/methods that you may want to re-use in your projects. I’ve actually been using these sort of collections of functions for years, as would most developers who don’t like repeating code necessarily.

A static variable is one which is about the class, not the instance of the object. So, for example you could have a counter within your class that is incremented each time a new instance of the class is created. At any point you can get the value of the static variable without refering to the instance of the object:

x= Car.count;

The code above would display the number of instances of the Car object that we’ve created (If the static int count gets incremented each time the constructor is loaded. Ie every time there is a new instantiation of an object )

A non static class that can instantiated as an object can also have static methods. For example the Car class could have a static method called GetCount(); which returns the value of static int count.