How the Internet Really Works, Part 1

I’m a bit late posting this … but this Thursday (an odd day for me) I’m running How the Internet Really Works, Part 1, over at Safari Books Online. From the page:

This live training will provide an overview of the systems, providers, and standards bodies important to the operation of the global Internet, including the Domain Name System (DNS), the routing and transport systems, standards bodies, and registrars. For DNS, the process of a query will be considered in some detail, who pays for each server used in the resolution process, and tools engineers can use to interact DNS. For routing and transport, the role of each kind of provider will be considered, along with how they make money to cover their costs, and how engineers can interact with the global routing table (the Default Free Zone, of DFZ). Finally, registrars and standards bodies will be considered, including their organizational structure, how they generate revenue, and how to find their standards.

You can register for the training at the link above. I’ll be giving part 2 of How the Internet Really Works next month.

New Video Course: How Networks Really Work

Those who follow my work know I’ve been focused on building live webinars for the last year or two, but I am still creating pre-recorded material for Pearson. The latest is built from several live webinars which I no longer give; I’ve updated the material and turned them into a seven-hour course called How Networks Really Work. Although I begin here with the “four things,” the focus is on a problem/solution view of routed control planes. From the description:

There are many elements to a networking system, including hosts, virtual hosts, routers, virtual routers, routing protocols, discovery protocols, etc. Each protocol and device (whether virtual or physical) is generally studied as an individual “thing.” It is not common to consider all these parts as components of a system that works together to carry traffic through a network. To show how all these components work together to form a complete system, this video course presents a series of walk throughs showing the processing involved in various kinds of network events, and how control planes use those events to build the information needed to carry traffic through a network.

You can find this How Networks Really Work here.

This course is largely complimentary to the course Ethan and I did a couple of years back, Understanding Network Transports. Taking both would give you a good understanding of network fundamentals. This material is also parallel and complimentary to Problems and Solutions in Computer Networks, which Ethan and I published a few years ago.

I am working on one new live webinar; I really need to get my butt in gear on another one I’ve been discussing for a long time (but I somehow dropped the ball).

Time and Mind Savers: RSS Feeds

I began writing this post just to remind readers this blog does have a number of RSS feeds—but then I thought … well, I probably need to explain why that piece of information is important.

The amount of writing, video, and audio being thrown at the average person today is astounding—so much so that, according to a lot of research, most people in the digital world have resorted to relying on social media as their primary source of news. Why do most people get their news from social media? I’m pretty convinced this is largely a matter of “it saves time.” The resulting feed might not be “perfect,” but it’s “close enough,” and no-one wants to spend time seeking out a wide variety of news sources so they will be better informed.

The problem, in this case, is that “close enough” is really a bad idea. We all tend to live in information bubbles of one form or another (although I’m fully convinced it’s much easier to live in a liberal/progressive bubble, being completely insulated from any news that doesn’t support your worldview, than it is to live in a conservative/traditional one). If you think about the role of social media and the news feed on social media services, this makes some kind of sense. The social media service tries to guess at what will keep you interested (engaged, and therefore coming back to the service), but at the same time each social media service also has a worldview they want to promote. The service largely attempts to both cater to what keeps you there and to pull you towards what the service, itself, believes.

The solution is stop getting your news from social media. period, full stop, end of sentence (although I’ve seen a recent paper indicating people find periods and other punctuation marks offensive in some way—when you find a period offensive, maybe it’s time to grow a little thicker skin).

So how should you get information instead? There are a lot of ways, from email based newsletters to watching television (please don’t, television turns everything into entertainment, including things that are not meant to entertain). My suggestion is, however, is through RSS feeds. Grab an account on Feedly or some other service, find the RSS feeds for the sites you find informative, and subscribe to their feeds. Some services have a learning mechanism that tries to accomplish the same thing as social media feeds—building intelligent filters to emphasize things you find important. I don’t tend to use these things; I have learned to just glance at the headline and first paragraph and make a quick decision about whether I think the post is worth reading.

Following RSS feeds can help you stop binging, jumping from place to place on a single site—essentially wasting time. It works against the mechanisms designers use to “increase engagement,” which often just means to consume more of your attention and time than you intended to give away. Following RSS feeds can also help you gain a broader view of the world if you intentionally subscribe to feeds from sites and people you don’t always agree with. It’s healthy to regularly read “the other side.” Following strong, well-written arguments from “the other side” will do much more for your mind than seeing just the facile, emotionally charged, straw-man arguments often presented (and allowed through the filters) on social media.

Further, services like feedly also allow you to follow lots of other things, including twitter accounts, youtube channels, and podcasts. I follow almost all podcasts through feedly, downloading the individual episodes I want to listen to, storing them in a cloud directory, and then deleting the files when I’m done. This gives me one list of things to listen to, rather than a huge playlist full of seemingly never-ending content.

All this said, this blog has a lot of different RSS feeds available. I don’t have a complete list, but these are a good place to start—

I keep these very same links on a page of RSS feeds you can find under the about menu. If you’re interested in the RSS feeds I follow, please reach out to me directly, as feedly no longer has any way to share your feeds other than pushing an OPML file (at least not that I can find).

The Hedge 72: Lisa Caywood and Marketectures

The open source world is not much different than the commercial world in terms of building marketectures rather than useable software—largely because open source projects still rely on sources of funding and material support to build and maintain a product. Many times, however, the focus on these marketectures get in the way of real work. Join Tom Ammon, Russ White, and Lisa Caywood as we discuss the problem of marketectures and the broader world of open source software.

download

Book Updates 0221

Someone recently asked me to suggest a list of books on thinking skills; I figured others might be interested in the list, as well, so … I decided to post it here. Further, I’ve added a few books to my “recommended book list” here on rule11; I thought I’d point those out, as well. My first suggestion, of course, is that if you want to improve your thinking skills, read. I don’t just mean technical stuff, I mean all over the place, in the form of books, and a lot.

So, forthwith, some more things to read.

Thinking Books

  1. Algorithms in a Nutshell
  2. The Inquiring Mind
  3. What Tech Calls Thinking
  4. Unintended Features
  5. The Elements of Reasoning
  6. Deep Work
  7. Being Logical

Recently Added Books

  1. From Counterculture to Cyberculture
  2. Escape from Reason
  3. The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self
  4. Death in the City
  5. Rational Cybersecurity
  6. The Age of Access
  7. Curing Mad Truths
  8. Called to Freedom

You can find my list of recommended books here, and my goodreads profile, which lists a lot of the books I’ve read, I’m currently reading, and plan to read, here.

On Important Things

I tend to be a very private person; I rarely discuss my “real life” with anyone except a few close friends. I thought it appropriate, though, in this season—both the season of the year and this season in my life—to post something a little more personal.

One thing people often remark about my personality is that I seem to be disturbed by very little in life. No matter what curve ball life might throw my way, I take the hit and turn it around, regain my sense of humor, and press forward into the fray more quickly than many expect. This season, combined with a recent curve ball (one of many—few people would suspect the path my life has taken across these 50+ years), and talking to Brian Keys in a recent episode of the Hedge, have given me reason to examine foundational principles once again.

How do I stay “up” when life throws me a curve ball?

Pragmatically, the worst network outage in the world is not likely to equal the stresses I’ve faced in the military, whether on the flight line or in … “other situations.” Life and death were immediately and obviously present in those times. Coming face to face with death—having friend who is there one moment, and not the next—changes your perspective. Knowing you hold the lives of hundreds of people in your hands—that if you make a mistake, real people will die (now!)—changes your perspective. In these times you realize there is more to life than work, or skill, or knowledge.

Spiritually, I am deeply Christian. I am close to God in a real way. I know him, and I trust his character and plans for the future. Job 13:15 and Romans 12:2 are present realities every day, from the moment I wake until the moment I fall asleep.

These two lead to a third observation.

Because of these things, I am grateful.

I am grateful for the people in my life—deeply held friendships, people who have spoken into my life, people who have helped carry me in times of crisis. I am grateful for the things in my life. Gratitude is, in essence, that which turns what you have into what you want (or perhaps enough to fulfill your wants). Gratitude often goes farther, though, teaching you that, all too often, you have more than you deserve.

So this season, whatever your religious beliefs, is a good time to reflect on the importance of all things spiritual, the value of life, the value of friendship, the value of truth, and to decide to have gratitude in the face of every storm. Gratitude causes us to look outside ourselves, and there is power (and healing) in self-forgetfulness. Self-love and self-hate are equal and opposite errors; it is in forgetting yourself, pressing forward, and giving to others, that you find out who you are.

Have a merry Christmas, a miraculous Hanukkah, or … just a joyful time being with family and friends at home. Watch a movie, eat ice cream and cookies, make a new friend, care for someone who has no family to be with.

To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, most folks are just about as happy as they choose to be—so make the choice to be joyful and grateful.

These are the important things.

This is totally random … The Art of Charity

I don’t normally do this, but … I’d like to share a couple of images of watercolors by a friend of mine. She really does do whimsical and impressive work. Links to her site off the images below.