The horror of good ideas

By Thursday the wind finally had finished its shift, relieving San Diego of the smoke if not the fire. The technical sessions were interesting in their own right, though many were ill suited to my own job and my own domain. Many people grew hostile when I told them this simple truth; everyone things their solution is right for everyone and their assumptions are right for everyone. I’m amazed how many sysadmins can have the intellectual audacity to hold deeply seated opinions about infrastructure and especially security in the absence of any supporting data whatsoever.

We as a profession have a skewed sense of risk management; I suspect the world is not quite as hostile as we think. Most others design their systems so as to minimize failure and breakins; my systems, given our requirements, are designed instead to minimize the cost and effects of failure and breakins. It comes down to the same results, and I am both happy and well regarded in my choices by my small band of users engaged in their various unspeakable acts of computing. However, a horde of sysadmins is absolutely convinced that I will pay dearly for my approach, despite our computing being structured this way for eight years how, despite our empirical evidence accumulated over that time, and despite the fact that they can’t really point to anyone else or any other data that supports their conclusion.

The gap between potential and actual is very strong at these conferences. I listen to talks and think “Oh, good idea!” a thousand times, but I know of them only a handful will actually turn into good ideas. But that is enough. It’s good to think in the abstract, to plot ahead a little. Ironically, I do that most in the Hallway Track; outside of the talks, at lunch or in lounges talking with others about the world. I get more ideas, thing about more things.

That night, I go to sleep while it’s still Thursday. The parties apparently grew in intensity when I left. I’m happy to be unaware of it.