A long time ago, I supported a wind speed detection system consisting of an impeller, a small electric generator, a 12 gauge cable running a few miles, and a voltmeter. The entire thing was calibrated through a resistive bridge–attach an electric motor to the generator, run it at a series of fixed speed, and adjust the resistive bridge until the voltmeter, marked in knots of wind speed, read correctly.
The primary problem in this system was the several miles of 12 gauge cable. It was often damaged, requiring us to dig the cable up (shovel ready jobs!), strip the cable back, splice the correct pairs together, seal it all in a plastic container filled with goo, and bury it all again. There was one instance, however, when we could not get the wind speed system adjusted correctly, no matter how we tried to tune the resistive bridge. We pulled things apart and determined there must be a problem in one of the (many) splices in the several miles of cable.
Tom, Eyvonne, and Russ hang out at the hedge on this episode. The topics of discussion include our perception of security—does the way IT professionals treat security and privacy helpful for those who aren’t involved in the IT world? Do we discourage users from taking security seriously by making it so complex and hard to use? Our second topic is whether multicloud is being oversold for the average network operator.
How do you balance loyalty to yourself and loyalty to the company you work for?
This might seem like an odd question, but it’s an important component of work/life balance many of us just don’t think about any longer because, as Pete Davis says in Dedicated, we live in a world of infinite browsing. We’re afraid of sticking to one thing because it might reduce our future options. If we dedicate ourselves to something bigger than ourselves, then we might lose control of our direction. In particular, we should not dedicate ourselves to any single company, especially for too long.
Software Eats the World?
I’m told software is going to eat the world very soon now. Everything already is, or will be, software based. To some folks, this sounds completely wonderful, but—leaving aside the privacy issues—I still see an elephant in the room with this vision of the future.
Let me give you some recent examples.
First, ceiling fans. Modern ceiling fans, in case you didn’t know, don’t rely on the wall switch and pull chains. Instead, they rely on remote controls. This is brilliant—you can dim the light, change the speed of the fan, etc., from a remote control. No unsightly chains hanging from the ceiling.
This last week I was talking to someone at a small startup that intends to eliminate all the complex routing from campus networks. In the past, when reading blog posts about Kubernetes, I’ve read about how it was designed to eliminate routing protocols because “routing protocols are so complex.”
Color me skeptical.
Fear sells. Fear of missing out, fear of being an imposter, fear of crime, fear of injury, fear of sickness … we can all think of times when people we know (or worse, a people in the throes of madness of crowds) have made really bad decisions because they were afraid of something. Bruce Schneier has documented this a number of times. For instance: “it’s smart politics to exaggerate terrorist threats” and “fear makes people deferential, docile, and distrustful, and both politicians and marketers have learned to take advantage of this.”
I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard someone ask these two questions—
- What are other people doing?
- What is the best common practice?
While these questions have always bothered me, I could never really put my finger on why. I ran across a journal article recently that helped me understand a bit better. The root of the problem is this—what does best common mean, and how can following the best common produce a set of actions you can be confident will solve your problem?
Recent research into the text of RFCs versus the security of the protocols described came to this conclusion—
Decision making, especially in large organizations, fails in many interesting ways. Understanding these failure modes can help us cope with seemingly difficult situations, and learn how to make decisions better. On this episode of the Hedge, Frederico Lucifredi, Ethan Banks, and Russ White discuss Frederico’s thoughts on developing a taxonomy of indecision. You can find his presentation on this topic here.
Crossing from the domain of test pilots to the domain of network engineering might seem like a large leap indeed—but user interfaces and their tradeoffs are common across physical and virtual spaces. Brian Keys, Eyvonne Sharp, Tom Ammon, and Russ White as we start with user interfaces and move into a wider discussion around attitudes and beliefs in the network engineering world.