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Semi-Random Thoughts

By: Scott Bradner

I'm going to use the excuse of my imminent departure for a week's vacation followed by a week in Germany at Networld+Interop to write this column early and to start the vacation a bit early by just using up a few tid bits I've had floating around, none of them long enough to be a column in itself.

I got a call a while back from a reporter who wanted to know if the Internet could pay for itself and, while I was at it, was anyone making money off the Internet anyway. I thought about this for a while and have come to the conclusion that in this regard the Internet is a lot like sex. People talking about sex seem to make a whole lot more money than people selling the service. The authors and publishers of the 100's of Internet books and the speakers (including me) who talk about the Internet are doing quite well. It is sorta like the fact that Oprah Winfrey is a millionaire many times over and the Hollywood madam is on trial. I will admit that I'm not quite sure how to fit the people who are getting rich from public offerings into this picture.

I was talking the other day to a lawyer friend of mine (yes, I have lawyer friends, they are one of the best sources of lawyer jokes) about the fact that some people in the U. S. government have expressed the desire to outlaw any type of encryption which would be unbreakable by the government itself. As an aside, Russia just did that very same thing. My question to the lawyer was what would keep the bad guys from just going ahead and using encryption anyway since it can be done in such a way as to make it impossible for anyone to know that it was unbreakable until someone tries to understand an intercepted message. He agreed that not much would stop those individuals and told me the story of a prosecutor talking to a suspect on the witness stand. Prosecutor: 'Did you kill your wife?' Witness: 'No.' Prosecutor: 'Do you know the penalty for perjury?' Witness: 'No, but I expect that it's less than for killing your wife.'

I do consulting from time to time. Among the things I do is take a look at existing corporate networks or plans for new or upgraded networks. Sometimes the offered task is, lets say, more interesting than others. It is real easy to get into such a task and wonder just why I accepted the job in the first place. On more than one occasion I've been reminded of a story from a down-east humor record. It seems a clearly inebriated man was accused of smoking in bed and setting the bed on fire. His answer to the charge was 'No, your honor, the bed was on fire when I got in." I can relate.

Speaking about regulations, as I am wont to do, did the FCC sneak in a rule that requires all people portrayed in cereal commercials be no smarter than the product they are advertising?

In the last few weeks there has been quite a bit of good press about the new generation of network management software. Although I've not looked at the most recent offerings I'd be surprised if they are really designed for people to use. The tools that I've seen so far require a rather high guru quotient in the operators. I'd sure like to see a system that will tell a competent night watch person to call the right person to fix a problem, or not call if the broken device is unreachable until the morning. It also would be nice if the displays, created with so much care, were useful for more than showing your boss's boss that all is well because it does not look like Christmas lights.

Here is a concept piece for you. Leafing through the May Reader's Digest I found an article condensed from USA today. Yes there actually was some text.

Disclaimer: Harvard does not have random thoughts, only carefully considered agendas, so the above must be only from me.