Recruited again

This is funny:

Hi Richard,

My name is XXX XXXXXX and I am a Recruiter for the Engineering team. While searching the internet, I came across your name. We currently have positions available at Google that may be a good match for you. If you are open to exploring these opportunities further, please send an updated version of your resume in Word, HTML, or PDF to me as soon as possible.

All positions involve working in our infrastructure team, know as Engineering (which is different from our Operations group). Our engineers hold the beating heart of Google and are very well respected. They are responsible for keeping the website up and running as well as building new automation infrastructure. We are seeking Extraordinary Developers, UNIX (Linux) System Administrators, and Managers/Directors to add to our exciting team and growing organization.

*****We have multiple openings located in various places in the US (Mountain View, CA, Kirkland, WA, Santa Monica, CA, Mountain View, CA, New York, NY ) and Internationally (Dublin, Ireland and Zurich, Switzerland).****

I hope you are not bothered by my networking attempt. If you are not interested or available, but would like to forward my name and contact information to your friends or colleagues, I would be most delighted.

For more information, go to: /jobs/bin/ =23594 (see various locations) (see various locations)

Thank you and hope to hear from you soon.


P.S. If this is not a good time or if you are not interested, please reply and let us know. We will update our database and you will not be contacted again in the future.

I know very few people read this blog, but it surprises me that despite all the mean things I’ve said about Google ( their collusion with the government of China and their evil attempt to stifle the development of the Internet through Net Neutrality legislation, their lack of originality, etc.) I’m still getting such queries on a regular basis. I guess they’re less organized than I thought.


Every time a moron dies, two more take his place

The most idiotic analysis of net neutrality you’ll ever want to read has been prepared by obscure consultancy Ramp^Rate:

With the permanent barriers that the removal of net neutrality will erect for [gamers], the worst-case scenario includes three waves of change:

* One or more mainstream ISPs will introduce excessive lag that will effectively prohibit their users from participating in online games. The move will not be aimed at restricting usage per se, but rather to extract a fee from the game operator…

* Hardcore users will write strongly worded messages to their ISPs, who will classify them as unreasonable malcontents using more than their share of bandwidth.

For those who think this cannot happen, here�s a recent example: For years before the Web as we know it existed, Usenet was a core part of the Internet landscape. It was a factory for online discussion, exchange of ideas, and, ultimately, one of the better bulletin boards for content of all shapes and forms. However, as the Internet became mainstream, Usenet users were marginalized (typically with �cease and desist� letters citing excessive use of �unlimited� internet packages). Their Usenet services were then unceremoniously dumped by their providers (AOL and Comcast being two of the more notorious).

Where there was a substitute for Usenet through services such as Google or BitTorrent, there is no close substitute for online gaming.

Wow, that’s heavy. Let’s take on the history part first. Usenet is a bandwidth hog for ISPs even if none of their customers use it, because maintaining a Usenet (NNTP) server requires the ISP to process all the new posts on all the Usenet groups as they’re made. As Usenet reached the end of its useful life, it became a vehicle for copyright theft and the distribution of malicious code. So at a certain point, AOL decided not to carry it any more. Comcast still provides Usenet service, so that part of the article is simply false.

As to the paranoid conspiracy claim about ISPs introducing latency in order to extract fees, it’s hardly going to be necessary. Latency and jitter will increase on any packet network as load increases, that’s how the networks are designed. So if more people are downloading video files while their neighbors are seeking The Sword of a Thousand Truths, and the ISP isn’t willy-nilly adding more bandwidth the accommodate them, everybody’s latency and jitter will increase automatically, no conspiracy required.

The best way around this is some sort of usage-sensitive pricing that enables users who place heavy loads on the network of paying their neighbors enough to increase network bandwidth. Make no mistake about it, every network has finite capacity, and heavy users aren’t just taking bandwidth away from the ISP, they’re taking it away from the other people who use the network. So those who need low latency should be able to pay for it, and those who need massive file transfers should also be able to pay for that, and the average, normal, garden-variety web surfer shouldn’t have to subsidize them.

But net neutrality legislation forbids usage-sensitive pricing. The common provision in the five NN bills is a ban on service plans that provide packet prioritization for a fee, and that ban itself is the main threat to gaming. Anyone who understands how we ensure QoS for quirky applications like VoIP, gaming, and yes, real-time video streaming and conferencing, knows that prioritization is the key element.

The best solution to the dilemma that gamers pose to ISPs is to allow the ISPs to charge them more than normal web surfers and in return to provide them with the appropriate QoS. It�s ridiculous to demand a wholesale upgrade to the entire Internet access network to support this one application and to refuse to allow broadband carriers to recoup their investment in what upgrades are actually needed.

This report didn�t advance the debate on NN, it simply reinforced the ignorance and mendacity that�s motivated it so far.

UPDATE: See Adam Thierer at the PFF Blog for a more detailed economic analysis of gaming, and read the comment by reader MnZ:

Napster made the problem of network jitter go through the roof. My roommates called Time Warner to complain several times. The Time Warner representatives said that they were trying to add more capacity, but Napster was filling it up capacity as quickly as Time Warner could add it.

One overly honest representative at Time Warner told them something interesting. While online gamers were some of the first adopters of cable modems, they were relatively a small fraction of total cable modem subscribers. Moreover, online gamers were some of the most difficult subscribers for Time Warner satisfy. Finally, online gamers paid no more than any other subscriber for cable modem service. In other words, Time Warner had no incentive to fix the network jitter that online gamers were experiencing.

That’s the size of it.

The New Culture of Corruption

The more things change:

House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi’s endorsement of Rep. John Murtha for majority leader, the No. 2 position in the Democratic leaderhsip, has roiled her caucus. “She will ensure that they [Mr. Murtha and his allies] win. This is hardball politics,” Rep. Jim Moran, a top Murtha ally, told the Hill, a congressional newspaper. “We are entering an era where when the speaker instructs you what to do, you do it.”

But several members are privately aghast that Mr. Murtha, a pork-barreling opponent of most House ethics reforms, could become the second most visible symbol of the new Democratic rule. “We are supposed to change business as usual, not put the fox in charge of the henhouse,” one Democratic member told me. “It’s not just the Abscam scandal of the 1980s that he barely dodged, he’s a disaster waiting to happen because of his current behavior,” another told me.

As for Abscam, a recent book by George Crile, a producer for CBS’s “60 Minutes,” provides damning evidence that Mr. Murtha escaped severe punishment for his role in the scandal only because then-Speaker Tip O’Neill arranged for the House Ethics Committee to drop the charges, over the objections of the committee’s outside prosecutor. The prosecutor quickly resigned in protest.

See what happens when you vote? You only encourage the bastards.

Netroots Legislative Agenda

I like a good fight, no matter who’s fighting. Matt Stoller, the MyDD blogger who’s wasted so many electrons on the dubious cause of net neutrality, wrote a post immediately after the recent election in which he declared that the “netroots” legislative agenda begins and ends with his pet cause. A somewhat more serious thinker, Bob Fertik, quickly listed 140 agenda items and asked his readers to vote on them; his list includes things like raising the minimum wage, signing Kyoto, restoring habeas corpus, and all that sort of trivia. Net neutrality came in at number 14. Here’s the explanation:

Bloggers who work mainly with text and photos (and that’s most political blogs) could blog without net neutrality; it would mainly affect video bloggers since they consume far more bandwidth, and that’s what the monopoly gatekeepers want to tax.

But Bloggers couldn’t do what we do without the First Amendment…

Now that seems awfully sensible, especially for somebody who drinks the Kool-Aid. Why is it that Stoller has such a hard time keeping things in perspective?

What does Tim think?

According to reports from BBC and The Guardian, web inventor Tim Berners-Lee thinks his baby’s in danger. BBC News:

He told the BBC: “If we don’t have the ability to understand the web as it’s now emerging, we will end up with things that are very bad.

“Certain undemocratic things could emerge and misinformation will start spreading over the web.

“Studying these forces and the way they’re affected by the underlying technology is one of the things that we think is really important,” he said.

And The Guardian:

The creator of the world wide web told the Guardian last night that the internet is in danger of being corrupted by fraudsters, liars and cheats. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the Briton who founded the web in the early 1990s, says that if the internet is left to develop unchecked, “bad phenomena” will erode its usefulness.

His creation has transformed the way millions of people work, do business, and entertain themselves.

But he warns that “there is a great danger that it becomes a place where untruths start to spread more than truths, or it becomes a place which becomes increasingly unfair in some way”. He singles out the rise of blogging as one of the most difficult areas for the continuing development of the web, because of the risks associated with inaccurate, defamatory and uncheckable information.

But Tim says he was misquoted both times, and the web is really in fine shape:

A great example of course is the blogging world. Blogs provide a gently evolving network of pointers of interest. As do FOAF files. I’ve always thought that FOAF could be extended to provide a trust infrastructure for (e..g.) spam filtering and OpenID-style single sign-on and its good to see things happening in that space.

In a recent interview with the Guardian, alas, my attempt to explain this was turned upside down into a “blogging is one of the biggest perils” message. Sigh. I think they took their lead from an unfortunate BBC article, which for some reason stressed concerns about the web rather than excitement, failure modes rather than opportunities. (This happens, because when you launch a Web Science Research Initiative, people ask what the opportunities are and what the dangers are for the future. And some editors are tempted to just edit out the opportunities and headline the fears to get the eyeballs, which is old and boring newspaper practice. We expect better from the Guardian and BBC, generally very reputable sources)

So what’s going on here, was the venerable scientist misquoted by a sensationalist press? I think not, as both BBC and The Guardian are well known for the sobriety of their analysis of technical subjects. At this stage in his career, Berners-Lee is more a politician than a scientist, and he needs to learn the politician’s skill of talking to journalists so they can understand what, if anything, he thinks. He tends to speak out both sides of his mouth, as he’s done on network neutrality. He claims to support the principle while endorsing commercial arrangements that happen to be forbidden by proposed neutrality laws, and that’s hard to dance around.

The web, like any number of things, is a mixture of good and bad, and the challenge is always to maximize the one while minimizing the other. That’s not too hard to express, is it?

When Nunberg attacks

Geoff Nunberg, the leftwing political activist and linguist who wrote Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism into a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times-Reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak Show, is upset with me for connecting George Lakoff with his former professor, Noam Chomsky:

Many people assume that there’s some connection between Chomsky’s politics and his linguistics, and a lot of them go on to conclude that linguistics itself is constituitively a leftish discipline. So when Lakoff emerged as an influential political figure, it seemed natural to blur both his politics and his linguistics with Chomsky’s, particularly if for those who didn’t know jack about linguistics. Whatever your political views, it’s a depressing reminder of how widespread the ignorance about the field of linguistics is (not that we exactly needed another one). But then it’s probably asking too much to expect people who find it expedient to conflate Lakoff’s garden-variety liberalism with Chomsky’s anarcho-syndicalism to take the trouble to learn the difference between Chomsky’s minimalism and Lakoff’s cognitive linguistics. Oh well, they have the sense they were born with.

Please. I called Lakoff a “protege” of Chomsky’s because one of the meanings of that word is “pupil”. I’m aware that Lakoff went on to develop his own school of linguistics and a set of political beliefs that differ from Chomsky’s at the margins. But it’s impossible to ignore the fact that Chomsky was the prototype of linguist-cum-lefty-activist, and Lakoff was a student who follows in the master’s footsteps along the broad program while differing in some of the details. Nunberg follows the same (by now) well-worn path, so (naturally) he sees distinctions that don’t matter to civilians. For the record, Lakoff’s linguistics are much less loony than Chomsky’s, but that never was the issue. I’m concerned about the use of the science of linguistics to mislead voters, and on that front Chomsky and Lakoff are strongly aligned.

UPDATE: A more accurate description of Lakoff is “Chomsky wannabe.” When you criticize linguists, be very careful about your terminology as they’ll pick you to death with meaningless distinctions.

Oh joy

The Citizen Journalist meets the Citizen Engineer and soon we’ll be drowning in data:

The new site launches today and Tom Evslin writes about a very real networked journalism project to find whether there are the smoking guns of network (non)neutrality lurking in our ISP wires.

We’ve already seen network neutrality discrimination claims made by Craig Newmark that turned out to be caused by the odd configuration of his equipment, discrimination claims that turned out to be temporary service outages, and in Canada discrimination claims that turned out to be service offerings. When the citizen engineer/jour-analyst starts looking at packet delay data, no doubt every traffic-related variation in delivery times will be linked to the latest Evangelical gay sex scandal, Saddam’s WMD program, Ed Whitacres sexual preferences, and the price of soybean futures.

The trouble with citizen efforts at skilled professions isn’t a dearth of data, it’s the inability to interpret the data according to rational standards.

This is going to be fun to watch.

Techdirt reader explains the Internet

Finally, after all these years, I understand the Internet thanks to a comment on Techdirt:

Woot! First! by Rstr5105 on Nov 2nd, 2006 @ 8:00pm

This appears to be yet another case of the telcos trying to tell us how the internet is supposed to be withot bothering to take a second to trace the roots of the net.

For those of us that don’t know, the internet started as a way for universities to transmit data back and forth faster than the ol’ sneaker net method. This worked well so DARPA signed on and funded it for a while. Eventually the DoD built it’s own net, and DARPA funding ceased.

It was at this point that AT&T (as well as a few others) signed on and formed the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium(Don’t quote me on the consortium part) The W3C stated very clearly that the internet was to be used specifically for non-commercial gain. (IE Even E-Bay would not be allowed to operate under the original paramaters of the W3C.)

Then the Internet went public, I believe, although I’m not sure if this is correct, it started with a few professors and business men saying something along the lines of “Hey, this is a good thing, now if only I could connect to my computer at work from my computer at home”. It spiraled out from there.

I don’t know what caused the massive build up of the web that we saw in the nineties, but now everyone is “On Line” and looking to make a few bucks. It seems to me that although we have this powerful tool at our disposal, we are corrupting it by allowing it to remain in the hands of the telco’s.

It also seems to me, that under the terms of the original W3C, (I don’t know what it’s current rules are) the telco’s weren’t allowed to charge for the ability to connect to the net. YES, they had to run the cables to feed it, YES they have to run the servers we all log into and NO i don’t have a problem paying them to be able to connect to the net, but it seems against what the net started as for them to be able to say, “Unless you pay this much a month you’re going to be limited to seeing websites at a slower speed than somebody who pays $XX.YY a month.”

Okay sorry for the long post, but it’s my two (four?) cents on this issue.

Don’t quote me on that, of course, because none of it is true. This comment is an illustration of how net neutrality became a political issue in the US in this election year: a bunch of drolling morons have been empowered to run around spouting spew and not enough people are shooting them down. And where would you start anyway?

Deregulator’s Essay

The Progress and Freedom Foundation has published an essay based on the comment that the great Alfred Kahn originally left on their blog. It’s eminently worth reading, as we’ve said before, and here’s the conclusion:

Why all the hysteria? There is nothing “liberal” about the government rushing in to regulate these wonderfully promising turbulent developments. Liberals of both 18th and 20th–and I hope 21st–century varieties should and will put their trust in competition, reinforced by the antitrust laws–and direct regulation only when those institutions prove inadequate to protect the public.

There is no need to rush in and start regulating the Internet based on nothing but suspicion that bad things are in the offing. When and if we see some actual bad practices on the part of the telcos (or on the part of Google and Yahoo, let’s be fair) Congress can take appropriate action, whatever that is. Acting on the basis of suspicion, and with a heavy regulatory hand, will only harm the Internet. And we don’t want to do that, right? So chill, people.