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Everything here is my personal opinion. I do not speak for my employer.
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2011-04-02 »

What you can't say

Normally I don't write a new post just about updates to a previous post, but I have added quite a lot of clarifications and notes to I hope IPv6 never catches on, in response to copious feedback I've received through multiple channels. Perhaps you will enjoy them.

One very interesting trend is that the comments about the article on news.ycombinator were almost uniformly negative - especially the highly upvoted comments - while I simultaneously saw tons and tons of positive comments on Twitter (it was my most popular article ever) and numerous people wrote me polite messages with agreement and/or minor suggestions and clarifications. Only one person emailed me personally to say I was an idiot (although it was my first, at least from people I don't know).

The trend is curious, because normally news.yc has more balanced debate. Either I'm utterly completely wrong and missed every point somehow (as a highly upvoted point-by-point rebuttal seems to claim)... or I seriously pinched a nerve among a certain type of people.

All this reminds me of Paul Graham's old article, What You Can't Say. Perhaps some people's world views are threatened by the idea of IPv6 being pointless and undesirable.

And all that, in turn, reminded me of my old article series about XML, sadomasochism, and Postel's Law. I was shocked at the time that some people actually think Postel's Law is wrong, but now I understand. Some people believe the world must be purified; hacky workarounds are bad; they must be removed. XML parsers must not accept errors. Internet Protocol must not accept anything less than one address per device. Lisp is the one truly pure language. And so on.

Who knows, maybe those people will turn out to be right in the end. But I'm with Postel on this one. Parsers that refuse to parse, Internet Protocol versions that don't work with 95% of servers on the Internet, and programming languages that are still niche 50+ years later... sometimes you just have to relax and let it flow.

Update 2011/04/02: Another big example of a "less good" technology failing to catch on for similar reasons as IPv6: x86 vs. non-x86 architectures. Everyone knows x86 is a hack... but we're stuck with it. (ARM is making an impact in power-constrained devices, though, just like IPv6 is making an impact in severely IPv4-constrained subnets. Who will win? I don't know, I just know that IPv4 and x86 are less work for me, the programmer, right now.)

Thinking about the problem in that way - why "worse" (hackier) technologies tend to stick around while the purified replacements don't - reminded me of Worse is Better by Richard Gabriel. In retrospect, when I divided people above into "purists" and "Postel's Law believers", I guess I was just restating Gabriel's much better-written point about "worse-is-better" vs. "the right thing." If you haven't read the article, read it; it's great. And see if you're firmly on one side or the other, and if you think the other side is clearly just crazy.

If you think that, then that, in turn, brings us back to "What You Can't Say." The truth is, you can say it, but people will jump down your throat for saying it. And not everybody will; only the very large group of people in the camp you're not in.

That's why we have religious wars. Figurative ones, anyway. I suspect real religious wars are actually about something else.

2011-04-05 »

Avery's doing a bup presentation in San Francisco

When: Saturday, April 9, 2:30 PM
Where: San... Francisco... somewhere

The venue is not quite certain yet since we don't know how many people are actually interested.

If you want to see me talk about how we took the git repository format and made a massively more scalable implementation of it, as well as my evil (disclaimer: I do not speak for my employer) schemes for the future, please email [tony at] with subject "bup SF". Thanks to Tony for organizing this little adventure.

Tell your friends!

Or skip the boring meatspace stuff and jump straight to bup on github.

2011-04-11 »

Avery is doing a presentation in Mountain View (maybe about bup)

Where: Hacker Dojo in Mountain View, California
When: 7:30pm on Tuesday, April 12
Why: Because (as I am told) I have trouble saying no.

I have heard unconfirmed rumours that there are programmers of some sort somewhere in the region of Silicon Valley, despite how silly this sounds in concept. (Silicon? That stuff you make beaches out of? Why would any nerd go anywhere near a beach?) Nevertheless, after my thrilling and/or mind boggling presentation and/or rant about bup in San Francisco on Saturday, there was some interest in having me do something similar out in the middle of nowhere, so I accepted.

You're invited! I'm not expecting a very big crowd, given the short notice, which means it will probably be more Q&A and less presentation. But I'll bring my presentation slides just in case. There will be demos. There will be oohing and aahing, I guarantee it, even if I have to do it myself.

I might also talk about sshuttle or redo, or maybe Linux arcnet poetry, if there are any poetry lovers in the audience. (I doubt there will be any arcnet users on the beach, so a talk on arcnet is unlikely.)

2011-04-25 »

Avery, sshuttle, and bup at LinuxFest Northwest (Bellingham, WA) April 30

Where: LinuxFest Northwest conference (Bellingham, WA)
When: 1:30-3:30 on Saturday, April 30 (conf runs all weekend)
Price: FREE!

You might think that now that I live in New York, I would stop doing presentations on the West coast. But no. Ironically, right after moving to New York, I'll have done three separate presentations (four, if you count this one as two) on the West coast in a single calendar month.

In this particular case, it's because I proposed my talks back when I lived in BC, when Bellingham was a convenient one-hour drive from Vancouver's ferry terminal. Now it's a day-long trip across the continent (and twice across the US/Canada border). But oh well, it should be fun.

Also, I foolishly took someone's advice from a Perl conference one time (was it Damian Conway?) and proposed two talks, under the theory that if you propose two talks, you double your chances that the conference admins might find one of them interesting, but of course nobody would be crazy enough to give you two time slots. Clearly this theory is crap, because this is the second time I've tried it out, and in both cases both of my talks have been selected. Thanks a lot.

The good news is that at least they're in consecutive time slots. So while I'll be hoarse by the end, I only have to psych myself up once.

Bellingham is convenient to reach from Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland, among other places, and the conference is free, so take your chance to come see it! If you like open source, it promises to be... filled with open source.

Um, and I promise to start writing something other than my presentation schedule in this space again soon. I realize how annoying it is when a blog diary turns into a glorified presentation schedule. I'm working on it.

Update 2011/05/02: By popular request, my slides from the conference:


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