The IETF uses Jabber for instant messaging during working group meetings, as does the IAB for its own teleconferences and meetings. Since I didn’t really feel like shopping around for a Jabber account, and XMPP integration with Google Talk shut down in the middle of the decade, I decided a few years ago to run my own server, which I pretty much only use for connecting to IETF conference rooms and for chatting with IETF folks as a backchannel during meetings.
I always love going to Schloss Dagstuhl, a retreat for computer scientists in the middle of nowhere in Saarland, Germany. It’s a little difficult to get to, but the train ride (Wallisellen to Saarbrücken via Zürich and Mannheim) is a nice, slow way to step back from whatever context-switching overhead is dominating my days at the moment and start thinking about the theme of the workshop.
Last October, I went to what’s probably my last Dagstuhl seminar for a while, spending three days around the billiard table and in the wine cellar figuring out whether there’s anything to be done about Encouraging Reproducibility in Scientific Research of the Internet.
A year and some after Switzerland’s plucky protofascist poster art collective cum Trumpist political party, the SVP (Swiss People’s Party), screamed Verfassungsbruch! (lit. “Constitution break!”; fig., accusative: “you’re breaking the Constitution!“) on the floor of Parliament at the admitted non-implementation of their unimplementable vandalism of the Swiss constitution in the name of nativism, they’re back at it again with the almost-reasonable-sounding Selbstbestimmungsinitiative (lit. “self-determination initiative”; SBI if you’re into hashtags). One has to read the details to see how broken it is.
I’m writing today from Berlin, after an excellent Passive and Active Measurement conference and a very long but fruitful week in London for IETF 101, which, for me, came to be dominated by the The Spin Bit.
The spin bit is an explicit signal for passive measurability of round-trip time, currently possible in TCP but not in QUIC due to lack of acknowlegment and timestamp information in the clear. It’s an example of a facility designed to fulfill the principles for measurement as a first class function of the network stack we laid out in an article published last year.
I don’t think I’ve ever written a completely optimisic post about politics, but today seems as good a day as any to try. Today was an Abstimmungssonntag (“referendum Sunday”) here, and the most important question before Switzerland at the national level was a revocation of the federal government’s authority to levy a compulsory television and radio fee: NoBillag. I’ve already written about this referendum, and how it represented not a mere return of four hundred francs per year to every household, not a mere privatization of a few television and radio stations (one of which I’m listening to right now), but a frontal assault on public media and an attempt to drive the country’s media landscape into low-information territory; in other words noch ein Schritt zum kriechenden Beitritt der Schweiz in die vereinigten Staaten(1).
My opinion on Billag(1) is complicated. It seems like it could fairly simply be replaced by payments from the general fund, overseen by a non-political body to evaluate applications for funding from SRF and regional providers. What we have in NoBillag, instead, is an attempt to Americanize the Swiss media landscape. Thankfully, I’m not the first to point this out, and I hope I won’t be the last. tl;dr, hey Switzerland, you want Bundesrat Trump?
Tomorrow, I’ll take part in a panel discussion at ETH Zürich, entitled “Internet and Trust”. From the flyer for the discussion: “The Internet relies on so many layers of trust that one is sometimes surprised that [it] actually works”. This is true, but I suppose that’s a property of any system of sufficient complexity, when viewed by someone who understands it well enough to know how much bubble gum and duct tape is used to hold it together.
Internet architecture and Internet-centered research being a global enterprise, I spend between four and seven weeks a year on the road, depending on which year, your definition of road and your definition of week, and a fair amount of time in teleconferences in various timezones in the time in between. One of the fixtures in my calendar is the thrice-annual meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), taking place right now in Chicago.
On the shores of Lake Sarnen in central Switzerland, there’s a museli factory. (Of course there is.) It makes many different kinds of muesli for various markets. One of these is an organic chocolate-amaranth concoction that’s basically the only thing my daughter will eat for dinner this week. I happened to glance at the ingredients, and it occurred to me that there are basically three kinds of people in the world.