Humour

RFC 6919

I'm in the middle of several fairly large spec-writing projects at the moment, so this year's April Fool's RFC 6919 seemed particularly apt:

The key words "MUST (BUT WE KNOW YOU WON'T)", "SHOULD CONSIDER", "REALLY SHOULD NOT", "OUGHT TO", "WOULD PROBABLY", "MAY WISH TO", "COULD", "POSSIBLE", and "MIGHT" in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 6919.

I briefly considered making use of this and waiting to see if anyone noticed. So far, I have resisted the temptation, and am sticking with RFC 2119.

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Pretty Fly

Network selection dialog with "Pretty Fly For a WiFi" as an option.

Seen on my phone while in a hotel in Philadelphia last week. If you're wondering why I think this is funny, you probably need to view this reference video.

Use Maturity Fruits

Use Maturity Fruits.

Cut the top of the lemon, introduce the part of the tool with the teeths and tur it down.

Your left hand hold the cup, while the right hand twist the lemon and press her softly at variable points.

Serve her directly at the table, squeeze the lemon softly and enjoy the juice wherever you want.

At least put the lemon down in her ceramics vessel.

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Bureaucracies and Thermodynamics

Another eternal principle, well put:

Bureaucracies temporarily suspend the Second Law of Thermodynamics. In a bureaucracy, it’s easier to make a process more complex than to make it simpler, and easier to create a new burden than kill an old one.

[from The Collapse of Complex Business Models by Clay Shirky]

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How Many Elephants?

I've been thinking a fair bit these last few months about the notion of misaligned incentives. Both professionally and in the public policy sphere, people optimise for what's best for them individually; if you want a particular outcome, you need to make sure that everyone involved has an incentive towards making that outcome a reality.

I recently came across this perfect expression of the idea, which I pass along here without further comment:

It's true: never let the guy with the broom decide how many elephants can be in the parade.

[Merlin Mann said that.]

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Free Cake: Not a Lie

This was a triumph.

I'm making a note here: "Huge Success".

Portal is free for the next few days, on both PC and Mac.

If you've never played it, Portal is pretty hard to describe. Instead, I'll just direct you to the trailer.

Vendor Lock-in

I own two Uninterruptable Power Supply units. Each has a button on the front with which you can perform a self-test; I do this once a month to make sure that they are "still good".

On unit A, you tap the button and it does a self-test. If you press and hold the button then the unit turns off, taking the attached hardware with it.

Unit B (from a different vendor) requires you to hold the button in to perform the self-test. Tapping the button… no, why don't you guess what that does?

Sneakiest attempt at vendor lock-in I think I've ever come across.

RFC 5241 on Naming Rights in IETF Protocols

Not a bad one this year:

This document proposes a new revenue source for the IETF to support
standardization activities: protocol field naming rights, i.e., the
association of commercial brands with protocol fields. This memo
describes a process for assignment of rights and explores some of the
issues associated with the process. Individuals or organizations
that wish to purchase naming rights for one or more protocol fields
are expected to follow this process.

RFC 5241 for the whole thing.

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Responsible Behavior

People have observed that this blog can from time to time be characterised as "a nearly impenetrable thicket of geekitude". I can't really argue with that, and I have no intention of making any kind of New Year resolution to "mend my ways".

On the other hand, I do sometimes wonder about rating my posts in terms of a new metric: how many Wikipedia entries would you have to reference to explain this to the man on the Clapham omnibus?

One of my favourite cartoon sites — xkcd.com — also finds the need to peg the MOTCO-meter once in a while. Responsible Behavior is a good example; I have to rate it a four at least:

Never bring tequila to a key-signing party.

Do you agree? More interestingly, what do you think the answer will be in ten years?

Helpful Earthquake Suggestions

Remain Clam

I knew the seafood here in San Diego was supposed to be pretty good, but apparently it's also important to hang on to some during natural disasters.

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