Jan 07

Brokenness

Absent a societal collapse, I never thought I’d live in an era of computing where I’d observe everything getting worse and backsliding into brokenness.

Guess it was inevitable with corporate dominance and many low-knowledge, low-intelligence users. But damn is it ever disappointing.

Jan 07

Vast Stupidity

Every time I touch Firefox or something Firefox-related, I am enraged by the vast stupidity of Mozilla and all the terrible decisions that allowed that once-great browser and its extension ecosystem to become a festering vitiated wasteland of marketing and withered utility.

The miscalculations and poor data analysis that led here should be taught in schools everywhere as a glaring example of how greater intelligence can just result in more catastrophic failure.

Jan 07

L2 Booboo

Large Layer-2 Domains Strike Again.

Supposedly it was a problem with the management network used by their optical gear, but it looks a lot like a layer-2 network spanning 15 data centers and no control-plane policing on the managed devices… proving yet again that large-scale layer-2 networks are a really bad idea.

Yes! I had to argue against a stretched L2 at a previous job and almost lost that one. What happens when you stretch layer 2 all over the place? Congratulations, you’ve just created one big broadcast domain and that means when one datacenter goes down, in many cases, they all go down.

“But having one big stretched Layer 2 network makes management so easy!” you cry. It sure does. And that’s part of the problem! It virtually virtualizes (my usage is very deliberate here) what in reality is complex and discrete — so you can no longer monitor and police what in truth are real-world boundaries that actually matter a great deal.

Stretched L2 does have its uses. Sure it does. But it shouldn’t be used to thoughtlessly abstract away complexity when the complexity should be completely visible.

Jan 07

Appetite for Construction

One of the unrecognized reasons growth and productivity has slowed down is that our appetite for risk has decreased. I am not citing this as a bad thing, necessarily, just observing.

I don’t have the time nor the skill (at least not without a whole lot more work) to make a good model for this, but I’d guess this knocks about half a percent of GDP off per year. The tradeoff is that a lot fewer people die or are injured than otherwise would be. This is primarily a good thing. Heck, it might all be a good thing because about 95%+ of productivity gains go to the ultra-rich now, so giving them less money is probably a big net win.

Here I am not referring to worksite OSHA violations, more so unproven, potentially-dangerous non-online/internet technologies that in previous eras we would’ve just run with but now either get squelched or not built at all.

Again, this isn’t normative-leaning, just an observation of the world.

Jan 07

Sub Battle

Hey, I finally found one of the games that I played constantly during the 1980s. It’s Sub Battle Simulator!

I loved that game so much. Here’s what some of the screens looked like. Today, it doesn’t seem that great but for the time it was pretty advanced in its commitment to giving you some sense of realism.

Now if I could just find that game that I used to play on the Apple where you both played on the same keyboard, and you fired through walls and such to eventually try to have a clear shot to the other player. I think it had bows and arrows for the weapons? I have no interest in playing any of these games again, am more just curious about what they were.

Jan 05

Churn and Burn

Yes! I saw this at my previous job, where there were many young (almost all women) interns. There was a whole department of nearly all older women that was just utterly disdainful and contemptuous of these interns and treated them very poorly, and it just rolled off their backs like it was nothing. Most people from my generation would’ve been freaking out and in tears every day. Not the interns, to their great credit.

But I think these interns just implicitly understood that the older generation had already screwed them over, were attempting to do it again, and that it was their last Boomer hurrah before declining into cultural irrelevance.

I hung out with the intern gang as a group fairly often because I was mentoring one of them and it was hilarious and sad to hear them talk about older people and all the irrelevant crap they were consumed with. Not a bit of it mattered to these interns because they were heading into a much more precarious world. (Sample quote: “What does it matter if crazy lady from PMO gets me fired? I can’t pay my student loans either way.”)

So, indeed, millennials and younger don’t really give a single crap about the opinions of the people who screwed them over and are attempting to do it even more.

Jan 05

Sadie Plant

I normally do not watch or recommend video talks, but this one with Sadie Plant is very much worth watching. It’s from 1994 (so when she mentions “the matrix” she is not talking about the one with Keanu Reeves) and she discusses the cult of the virtual, feminism, immateriality and idealism, the desire for “escape from the meat” and many other topics. Though long, it’s great, and she’s nerdy-charming, so that helps.

I think some of her assertions and associations are wrong or misguided, but I admire someone who is actually thinking rather than parroting what a million other people are saying. She is right about many things that people are almost just now coming around to — 25 years later.