15 episodes

Ash and Ian talk about interesting Things from the tech industry that are on their minds.

What A Lot Of Things Ian Smith & Ash Winter

    • Technology

Ash and Ian talk about interesting Things from the tech industry that are on their minds.

    Episode Fifteen - Testing Career Paths and the XZ Hack

    Episode Fifteen - Testing Career Paths and the XZ Hack

    In this latest episode of the "What A Lot Of Things" podcast, hosts Ian and Ash explore intriguing aspects of technology and its broader implications. They delve into the evolving career paths for testing specialists, discussing how testers can navigate organizational challenges and develop fulfilling careers. The conversation shifts to a significant security furore involving the XZ compression tool, where they unpack the complexities of open-source software maintenance and the vulnerabilities introduced by subtle malicious contributions. Throughout, the hosts' lively banter and insightful anecdotes make for a thought-provoking listen that bridges technical details with broader tech culture reflections.
    Links
    Guardian TechScape: How cheap, outsourced labour in Africa is shaping AI English and "ChatGPT cliches" gist iPhone 7 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S22+ (better link for the Samsung?)2030 Status meeting with Mother Nature video from Apple.Pachyderm and Hachyderm.Agile Testing FellowshipMaaret Pyhäjärvi's post on LinkedIn quoting Anna Baik, plus a Youtube video on how to pronounce Pyhäjärvi. We will do better next time! We can find other people quoting Anna saying this, but not the original source for the quotation.Articles for Thing One:Ministry of Testing: Navigating a Career Path in Software TestingTechBeacon: Two years with no testers: What I learnedDan Ashby: Dispelling the misconceptions #5 – “Lets 100% automate everything and get rid of all our testers”TestFort: AI in Software Testing: A Silver Bullet or a Threat to the Profession?Eton College King's Scholarship Exam, General Paper IAccessibility testing specialist, Ady Stokes on LinkedInThe best step-by-step story I found for the XZ backdoor was Everything I know about the XZ backdoor by Evan BoehsXKCD: All Modern Digital InfrastructureXZ maintainer Lasse Collin's page on the backdoorAndres Freund's email to the OSS Security mailing list on discovering the backdoorDosubot, an AI-powered Github maintainer agent used in Langchain's repos.The story of `left-pad`...and our new email address: technologyeeyores@whatalotofthings.com

    • 1 hr 2 min
    Episode Fourteen – Managing IT Suppliers and AI Voice Cloning

    Episode Fourteen – Managing IT Suppliers and AI Voice Cloning

    In this episode, Ian and Ash delve into the complexities of managing IT service providers, exploring the challenges and strategies of working with consultancies and independent contractors. They also discuss the cutting-edge topic of AI voice cloning, examining its potential uses and ethical implications. From historical pirate accents to futuristic technology, join them for a thought-provoking discussion on how these technologies impact our work and the broader implications they hold for society.
    Our shiny new email address, as promised in this episode, is... technologyeeyores@whatalotofthings.com
    Links
    OpenAI, and the not particularly relevant to this episode but still oft-mismentioned OpenAPI.Be More Pirate, the book where Ian found out why we think pirates all had British West Country accentsPigeon Keeping – WikipediaDiagram Industries blog, where Ash documented his learnings from the Ministry of Testing's "30 Days of AI In Testing" event.NaNoWriMo (National Novel-Writing Month)LinkedIn is experimenting with a TikTok-like video feed in its app – TechCrunch, 27th March 2024hachyderm.io, the Mastodon server that Ian fruitlessly recommended to AshNavigating the Challenges and Opportunities of Synthetic Voices, OpenAI Blog, 29th March 2024Free Software: Freedom and Cooperation - speech providing an early overview of the Free Software movement, delivered by Richard Stallman on 29th May 2001.Crack Version 4.1: A Sensible Password Checker for Unix [PDF], white paper by Alec Muffett (estimated date, November 1991)Open LLMs – Wikipedia, a list of open source LLMs, including Meta's Llama 2 as mentioned.How one developer just broke Node, Babel and thousands of projects in 11 lines of JavaScript, The Register, 23rd March 2016Everything I know about the XZ backdoor, a rather heroic and very detailed explanation last updated (at the time of writing) on 8th April 2024AI Voice Cloning news linksOpenAI deems its voice cloning tool too risky for general release – The Guardian, 31st March 2024OpenAI’s voice cloning AI model only needs a 15-second sample to work – The Verge, 29th March 2024OpenAI is pitching Sora to Hollywood. Creatives are fighting back – Mashable, 25th March 2024Resemble AI Creates Synthetic Audio Watermark to Tag Deepfake Speech – voicebot.ai, 2nd February 2023Your Scientists Were So Preoccupied With Whether Or Not They Could, They Didn’t Stop To Think If They Should – Know Your Meme

    • 1 hr 4 min
    Episode Thirteen – TikTok and X

    Episode Thirteen – TikTok and X

    In this episode, Ian and Ash delve into the evolving landscape of social media, examining the implications of TikTok's potential ban in the U.S., the integration of AI in testing, and the shifting dynamics of platforms like Twitter (now X). They share personal anecdotes, discuss the significance of data privacy, and explore the future of social media engagement. The conversation also considers the challenges and opportunities presented by these digital shifts, offering insights into the broader tech community's response.
    Links
    On the TikTok saga:TechCrunch: TikTok ban: How Congress could force ByteDance to sell or push the app out of the USSpiceworks: There's Nothing Confusing About TikTok's Security RisksThe Guardian: TikTok has been accused of ‘aggressive’ data harvesting. Is your information at risk?NY Times: House Passes Bill to Force TikTok Sale From Chinese Owner or Ban the AppCory Doctorow: TikTok's Ensh*ttificationVine, the story of its demise, and Ian's vines archived on the old site.Postman and PostBot30 Days of AI in Testing from Ministry of TestingThe Leeds Testing Atelier, at which Ash has performed the role of Testing Game Show Host.How To Archive Your Tweets With The Wayback MachineThe original server operated by the Mastodon gGmbH non-profit (which runs on ActivityPub)Ivory for iOS client for Mastodon, from TapBotsThreads from Meta.Bluesky which runs on the AT ProtocolThe late, lamented Apollo Reddit clientThe celebrated What A Lot Of Things LinkedIn GroupYou can find our social media links (or link, in the case of Ash) on  the website.

    • 58 min
    Episode Twelve – AI Haters and The Game That Was Too Good

    Episode Twelve – AI Haters and The Game That Was Too Good

    This episode of the podcast features Ian and Ash in a humour-filled comeback, diving into the fascinating world of generative AI and the impact of Baldur's Gate 3 on the gaming industry. They explore the nuances and controversies surrounding AI, from its potential to enhance creativity to the ethical concerns and the skepticism it faces. The discussion also highlights the importance of corporate culture in producing quality work, as exemplified by Larian Studios' success with Baldur's Gate 3. This episode is a must-listen for anyone interested in the intersection of technology, gaming, and creativity, offering insightful and engaging perspectives on contemporary digital phenomena.
    Links
    A Wizard is never lateGartner Hype Cycle Research MethodologyAnthropic, their product,Claude, and their Constitutional AI research.The Turing testReinforcement Learning from Human Feedback (RLHF)Other AI platforms mentioned: ChatGPT, Gemini, CopilotAI image generation: Midjourney, DALL·ENew York Times: Bing’s AI Chat: I Want To Be AliveIBM watsonxIA WriterHemingwayDungeons and DragonsStardew ValleySkull and BonesLarian Studios and Baldur’s Gate 3Cyberpunk 2077SendmailLoot boxesWhat A Lot Of Things – LinkedIn

    • 1 hr 2 min
    Episode Eleven – Testers vs Toxic Culture and Personal Knowledge Management

    Episode Eleven – Testers vs Toxic Culture and Personal Knowledge Management

    Ian and Ash talk about those pesky testers forming communities and taking on toxic cultures, plus forming a dilapidated mind shack using personal knowledge management tools like Obsidian.
    Links
    Zettelkasten - Slip Box not SlipKnot More Zettelkasten Obsidian Home Page Ian's Thoughts on Obsidian Testers walkout after layoffs in the QA Team Raven testers form a union NFT grifters have terrible culture - not causation yet, but the correlation is hard to ignore.

    • 50 min
    Episode Ten – Metrics and Scrum Bashing

    Episode Ten – Metrics and Scrum Bashing

    Ian and Ash talk about the (mis)use of metrics, including the big four and happiness indices plus how proud Ash was of his Certified Scrum Master qualification but now bashes Scrum with everyone else.
    Links
    Here I Belong by Matt HartleyDouglas Adams: How to stop worrying and learn to love the InternetRFC 821 - Simple Mail Transport Protocol (not RFC 822, as Ian thought, which is closely related being about the format of the files containing the messages that get transmitted over SMTP). Still, not the perfect accompaniment to a discussion about Ian’s rightness.Myth: If You Can't Measure It, You Can't Manage It DORA (Google DevOps Research & Assessment (Team)) MetricsHow to measure developer productivity - and how not to by Isaac SacolickScrums Allegiance WebsiteI've sold agile to to Brockway, Ogdenville, and North HaverbrookOwl asking Winnie the Pooh to leave his house for saying Agile Scrum

    • 49 min

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