Amolith 2 years ago
parent 6e6b600f82
commit 0ba69fe1ac
Signed by: Amolith
GPG Key ID: 5548AD9930655715
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* Meta :@Meta:
* Technology :@Technology:
** TODO Audacity and the telemetry pull request
:EXPORT_FILE_NAME: audacity-and-the-telemetry-pull-request
Five days ago at the time of writing, [[][Dmitry Vedenko]] opened a Pull
Request (PR) in [[][Audacity's GitHub repository]] entitled [[][/Basic telemetry
for the Audacity/.]] About two days later, all hell broke loose. That PR
now has over 3.3 thousand downvotes and more than one thousand comments
from nearly 400 individuals. I started reading the posts shortly after
they began and kept up with them over the following days, reading every
single new post. I recognise that few people are going to feel like
wading through over 1k comments so this is my attempt to provide a
summary of the PR itself using the community's code reviews along with a
summary of the various opinions conveyed in the comments.
When I reference comments, I'll provide a footnote that includes a link
to the comment and a link to a screenshot just in case it's removed or
edited in the future.
*** Audacity's acquisition
I haven't been able to find /much/ information in this area so forgive me
if I'm scant on details.
On 30 April, a company called [[][Muse Group]] acquired [[][Audacity]]. According to
[[][their website]], Muse is the parent company behind many musical
applications and tools. It was founded by Eugeny Naidenov just days
before it acquired Audacity. Before all of this, Eugeny Naidenov founded
[[][Ultimate Guitar]] (UG) in 1998. The service grew rather quickly and now
has over 300 million users. UG acquired [[][Dean Zelinsky Guitars]] in 2012,
[[][Agile Partners]] in 2013, [[][MuseScore]] in 2017, and [[][Crescendo]] in 2018. Muse
Group was established in 2021 and it seems as if all of the services UG
acquired were (or will be) transferred to Muse Group, as well as UG
itself. Immediately following its establishment, Muse not only acquired
Audacity but also [[][StaffPad]].
I say 30 April because that's when Muse published their [[][press release]]
and when Martin Keary (Tantacrul) published a video entitled [[][/I’m now in
charge of Audacity. Seriously./]] According to his comment,[fn:17] Martin
will help with proposing Audacity's roadmap and many of its future
features as well as working with the community. This has been his role
with MuseScore since he joined that project and he will be continuing it
Looking at [[][his website,]] I also suspect he will play a large role in
redesigning Audacity's interface. Considering that he was instrumental
in designing [[][the best mobile interface I've ever had the absolute
pleasure of experiencing,]] I have high hopes that this is the case.
*** Telemetry implementation
**** Implementation Basics
A few days after the acquisition, a PR was opened that adds /Basic
telemetry for the Audacity/. This implementation collects "application
opened" events and sends those to Yandex to estimate the number of
Audacity users. It also collects session start and end events, errors
for debugging, file used for import and export, OS and Audacity
versions, and the use of effects, generators, and analysis tools so they
can prioritise future improvements. Sending this data would be optional
and the user would be presented with a dialogue the first time they
launch the application after installation or after they update to the
including release. This description was mostly copied directly from [[][the
PR description itself.]]
**** Frontend Implementation
This is fairly straightforward and a pretty standard UI for prompting
users to consent to analytics and crash logging. This section is
included because the community has strong opinions regarding the
language used and its design, but that will be discussed later. The
screenshot below is copied directly from the PR.
**** Backend Implementation
Many of the code reviews include the reviewer's personal opinion so I
will summarise the comment, provide the code block in question, and link
directly to the comment in a footnote.[fn:9]
if (!inputFile.Write (wxString::FromUTF8 (ClientID + "\n")))
return false;
[[][Lines 199-200 of TelemetryManager.cpp]] save the user's unique client ID
to a file.[fn:8] This allows the analytics tool (in this case, Google
Analytics) to aggregate data produced by a single user.
set( CURL_DIR "${_INTDIR}/libcurl" )
set( CURL_TAG "curl-7_76_0")
[[][Lines 3-6 of CMakeLists.txt]] "vendor in" libcurl.[fn:10] This is when an
application directly includes sources for a utility rather than making
use utilities provided by the system itself.
[[][Lines 29-36 of CMakeLists.txt]] add curl as a remote dependency.[fn:11]
This means that the machine building Audacity from its source code has
to download curl during that build.
S.Id (wxID_NO).AddButton (rejectButtonTitle);
S.Id (wxID_YES).AddButton (acceptButtonTitle)->SetDefault ();
[[][Lines 93-94 of TelemetryDialog.cpp]] add buttons to the dialogue asking
the user whether they consent to data collection.[fn:12] ~SetDefault~
focuses the button indicating that the user does consent. This means
that if the user doesn't really look at the dialogue and presses
Spacebar or Enter, or if they do so accidentally by simply bumping the
key, they unintentionally consent to data collection. If the user
desires, this can later be changed in the settings menu. However, if
they weren't aware what they were consenting to /or that they did
consent/, they won't know to go back and opt out.
There are other problems with the code that include [[][simple mistakes,]]
[[https://github.][styling that's inconsistent with the rest of the project,]] [[][unhandled
return values resulting in skewed data,]] [[][use of inappropriate functions,]]
and [[][spelling errors in the comments.]] I believe these are less important
that those above so they won't be discussed.
*** Community opinions
There were many strong opinions regarding both the frontend and backend
implementations of this PR, from the wording of the dialogue and
highlighting the consent button to devices running something other than
Windows and macOS not being able to send telemetry and thus skewing the
data that /was/ collected.
**** Opinions on the frontend
Really, the only frontend here is the consent dialogue. However, there
are /many/ comments about it, the most common of which is probably that
the wording is not only too vague[fn:13] but also inaccurate[fn:14]. The
assertion that Google Analytics are not anonymous and any data sent can
be trivially de-anonymised (or de-pseudonymised) is repeated many times
over. Below are a few links to comments stating such. I searched for the
term /"anonymous"/, copied relevant links, and stopped when my scrollbar
reached halfway down the page.
- [[][r628156527]]
- [[][833969780]]
- [[][833969933]]
- [[][r627995927]]
- [[][834358022]]
- [[][834377549]]
- [[][834382007]]
- [[][834385463]]
- [[][834405825]]
- [[][834531779]]
- [[][834546874]]
- [[][834638000]]
The next most pervasive comment is regarding the consent buttons at the
bottom of the dialogue where users opt in or out.[fn:15] Many individuals call
this design a /dark pattern/. Harry Brignull, a UX specialist focusing on
deceptive interface practises, describes dark patterns as [[][/tricks used
in websites and apps that make you do things that you didn't mean to/.]]
The dark pattern in this situation is the opt-in button being
highlighted. Many community members assert that users will see the big
blue button and click it without actually reading the dialogue's
contents. They just want to record their audio and this window is a
distraction that prevents them from doing so; it needs to get out of the
way and the quickest way to dismiss it is clicking that blue button.
Below is a list of some comments criticising this design.
- [[][834286641]]
- [[][834358022]]
- [[][834399813]]
- [[][834479968]]
- [[][835250737]]
- [[][835253882]]
- [[][835291066]]
- [[][835445481]]
Another issue that was brought up by a couple of individuals was the
lack of a privacy policy.[fn:16] The consent dialogue links to one, but, at the
time of writing, one does not exist at [[][the provided URL.]] I have [[][archived
the state of the page]] in case that changes in the future.
**** Opinions on the backend
if (!inputFile.Write (wxString::FromUTF8 (ClientID + "\n")))
return false;
The issue many individuals take with this snippet is saving the
~ClientID~. Say an individual has an odd file that causes Audacity to
crash any time they try to open it. Say they attempt to open it a
hundred times. Without giving the client a unique ID, it could look like
there are 100 people having an issue opening a file instead of just the
one. However, by virtue of each installation having an entirely unique
ID, this telemetry /is not anonymous/. Anonymity would be sending
statistics in such a way that connecting those failed attempts to a
single user would be impossible. At best, this implementation is
/pseudonymous/ because the client is given a random ID, you don't have to
sign in with an account or something.
set( CURL_DIR "${_INTDIR}/libcurl" )
set( CURL_TAG "curl-7_76_0")
Timothe Litt's comment gives a good description of why "vendoring in"
libcurl is a bad idea[fn:19] and Tyler True's comment gives a good
overview of the pros and cons of doing so.[fn:18] Many people take issue
with this /specifically/ because it's libcurl. Security flaws in it are
/very/ common and Audacity's copy would need to be /manually/ kept up to
date with every upstream release to ensure none of its vulnerabilities
can be leveraged to compromise users. If the Audacity team was going to
stay on top of all of the security fixes, they would need to release a
new version every week or so.
The problem with downloading curl at build-time is that it's simply
disallowed for many Linux- and BSD-based operation systems. When a
distribution builds an application from source, its build dependencies
are often downloaded ahead of time and, as a security measure, the build
machine is cut off from the internet to prevent any interference.
Because this is disallowed, the build will fail and the application
won't be available on those operation systems.
Note, however, that these build machines would have the option to
disable telemetry at build-time. This means the machine wouldn't attempt
to download curl from GitHub and the build would succeed but, again,
telemetry would be disabled for anyone not on Windows or macOS. This
defeats the whole purpose of adding telemetry in the first place.
S.Id (wxID_NO).AddButton (rejectButtonTitle);
S.Id (wxID_YES).AddButton (acceptButtonTitle)->SetDefault ();
There was a lot of feedback about the decision to highlight the consent
button but that was mentioned up in the frontend section; I won't rehash
it here.
**** Broader and particularly well-structured comments
These are simply some comments I feel deserve particular attention.
From SndChaser...
- [[][834037351]]
*** The Audacity team's response
*** My opinions
Can't decide whether to include this section or not. If you make it all
the way down here, let me know what you think.
** TODO A perfect email setup (for me)
:EXPORT_FILE_NAME: a-perfect-email-setup-for-me
@ -445,10 +721,11 @@ arguably more important so I don't actually mind that it runs Android.
The only place that Android stands out is in system operations; file
transfer uses MTP and, when you swipe down from the top of the device, a
small bar appears as in early Android. This lets you change WiFi
networks, sync between the companion app on your LAN, the remote
servers, take a screenshot, search, and access the system settings.
Nothing else about the device really makes me think of Android.
small bar appears similar to what was in early Android. This lets you
change WiFi networks, sync with the companion app on your LAN, the
remote servers, take a screenshot, search, and access the system
settings. Nothing else about the device really makes me think of
*** Community
I don't usually browse Reddit but [[][the Supernote community]] there is
@ -531,18 +808,47 @@ Viewing with my naked eye at a comfortable distance, it does look better
/At the moment,/ I am pretty disappointed with Table of Contents detection
for ePUBs. A great many of my books seem to use a legacy ToC format that
the Supernote sees and tries/fails to read before attempting to read the
more recent
more up-to-date one. This is easily remedied by editing the ePUB in
[[][Calibre]], going to Tools → Upgrade Book Internals → Remove the legacy
Table of Contents in NCX format. You might need to make a small change
to one of the HTML files and revert it before the save button is
enabled. After that, just copy it back over to the Supernote and
everything should work properly.
**** Writing notes
I write notes as often if not /more/ often than I read and annotate books.
It's the main reason I purchased the device and I love the experience.
The Supernote doesn't /really/ feel like paper despite what their
marketing materials claim, though it doesn't feel /bad/ either. It's hard
to describe but I would say it's something like writing with a
rollerball pen on high-quality paper with a marble counter underneath:
incredibly smooth with but a little bit of texture so it doesn't feel
like writing on a glass display.
While writing latency[fn:6] is noticeable, I really don't have a huge
issue with it. I write very quickly but find that the slight latency
actually makes writing /more/ enjoyable. It sounds weird and I'm not sure
why, but I /really/ like writing on the Supernote; it's wonderfully
smooth, pressure-sensitive, the latency makes things interesting, and
[[][the Heart of Metal pen]] feels good in my hand.
**** Surfacing Content
While organisation is done using a regular filesystem hierarchy, the
Supernote does have other ways to search for and surface your notes. As
you're writing, you can use the lasso select tool and encircle a word. A
little dialogue pops up and gives you a few buttons for things you can
do with that selection: copy, move to another page, cut, add it to the
Table of Contents, or mark it as a key word. If you select the key word
icon, the Supernote does some incredible OCR[fn:7] on it and displays a
dialogue where you can add it to the note file as a tag. This dialogue
allows you to edit the word before adding it just in case the OCR was
wonky. Even with my terrible handwriting, I've found that it works very
well and I rarely have to make edits.
*** TODO Pong Isi and Volpeon when finished
** TODO Setting LXC up for local "cloud" development
* Education :@Education:
* Education :@Education:
** TODO Homeschooling
* Music :@Music:
* Pipe Smoking :@Pipe__Smoking:
@ -550,15 +856,45 @@ It's the main reason I purchased the device and I love the experience.
* Footnotes
[fn:19] [[][Link to the comment]] and [[/assets/pngs/audacity-pr/privatelibcurl.png][link to the screenshot]]
[fn:18] [[][Link to the comment]] and [[/assets/pngs/audacity-pr/vendorproscons.png][link to the screenshot]]
[fn:17] [[][Link to the comment]] and [[/assets/pngs/audacity-pr/tantacrulrole.png][link to the screenshot]]
[fn:16] [[][Link to the comment]] and [[/assets/pngs/audacity-pr/missingprivacypolicy.png][link to the screenshot]]
[fn:15] [[][Link to the comment]] and [[/assets/pngs/audacity-pr/darkpattern.png][link to the screenshot]]
[fn:14] [[][Link to the comment]] and the screenshot is the same as previous
[fn:13] [[][Link to the comment]] and [[/assets/pngs/audacity-pr/vaguedialogue.png][link to the screenshot]]
[fn:12] [[][Link to the review]] and [[/assets/pngs/audacity-pr/defaultconsentbutton.png][link to the screenshot]]
[fn:11] [[][Link to the review]] and [[/assets/pngs/audacity-pr/externaldependency.png][link to the screenshot]]
[fn:10] [[][Link to the review]] and [[/assets/pngs/audacity-pr/vendorcurl.png][link to the screenshot]]
[fn:9] Note that because I am not a C programmer, these reviews might
not be entirely accurate and I wouldn't be able to catch the reviewer's
error. I am relying on other community members to catch issues and
comment on them; none of the reviews I link to have such comments so I'm
assuming they are correct.
[fn:8] [[][Link to the review]] and [[/assets/pngs/audacity-pr/writeanalyticsid.png][link to the screenshot]]
[fn:7] /Optical Character Recognition/: the program looks at your
handwriting and tries to turn it into text.
[fn:6] In this situation, latency refers to how long it takes for "ink"
to show up on the "page" after writing something.
[fn:5] It's not really a fountain pen even though that's what they call
it; it's just pressure-sensitive.
[fn:4] While this would be absolutely awesome, it would also be
prohibitively expensive and difficult to write software for. E-ink
displays are /far/ from cheap and the incredibly low refresh rate would
render usual computing habits ... odd. For example, words wouldn't show
up right as you type them; the delay there would be significant and the
same goes for a mouse. The idea is nonetheless compelling.
[fn:4] There does seem to be a group of people interested in just such a
thing: /[[][Challenges Building an Open-Source E Ink Laptop]]/
[fn:3]Taken from their [[][support page about the reMarkable 2]]; search the
page for /operating system/ and it should show up.