[ntp:questions] Re: kiss-of-death packet - terminology

Vernon Schryver vjs at calcite.rhyolite.com
Wed Aug 6 19:05:05 UTC 2003

>I myself play in the Professional Arrogance League, so I am in no
>position to lecture.  But we are gathered here to fuel the NTP Jihad,
>and its goal is to deliver as much benefit as possible to the human
>race through the magic of NTP.  Anything which gets in the way of that
>goal (including one's emotional foibles) must be set aside.
>I think we can safely say that nobody will object to that reasoning.
>(Because it would be far too embarrassing to do so.)

I think that position is itself embarrassing.  At this late stage in
its life, it would be embarrassing for the protocol NTP to admit caring
how many more flock to its banner, if protocols had feelings.

>In practice, though, one of the most difficult barriers to getting
>software adopted is not its technical excellence but its ease-of-use.
>"If you reduce the IQ needed to run it by 5 points, you quadruple the
>potential market."  And since the most rapidly growing part of the
>Internet is non-English-speaking, minimizing language difficulties is
>becoming an important issue.

Even if you accept the goal behind that statement, removing the colorful
language that has always been a hallmark of NTP would not be useful.

NTP cannot be a protocol for dummies because the underlying notion of
synchronizing a rabble of tickers into a hierarchy is too subtle.
It's not that people can't understand it, but that they are sure they
understand all they need to know but in fact don't have a clue.  Even
protocols that try to do simpler things like timed and SNTP are too
complicated for dummies.  (Ask me for war stories about dummies doing
their impressive best to wreck timed installations based on how they
"knew" the protocol and code worked.)  Dealing with dummies who think
they are too smart to need the easy effort of consulting the web to
decode "kiss of death" or "kiss o' death" is a frustrating waste of
time.  The best way to serve dummies is to make the documentation more
opaque to force them to hire smart people, or more accurately, people
who will make the effort required to understand.  The dummies are
usually dumb not because they lack brains but because they stop when
as soon as they think they understand, often before reading anything.
They generally cannot be convinced they missed anything, but odd turns
of phrase like "kiss o' death" might help.

Suffering fools should be left to the professionals in that field,
not by dumbing down the universe to be comfortable for fools.

All that asside, I see little or no evidence of real confusion, but
plenty of envidence of people with a need to stick their oars into
the stew pot, and never mind the danger of spilling everyone's supper
into the fire.  Too many people figure that if they can't make their
marks by inventing a protocol, they can do it by what they are pleased
to call contributions.  If I didn't already know that from watching
this and other circuses, I'd have been taught it quite forcefully
during the last year or two with my anti-spam thing, the DCC.

Vernon Schryver    vjs at rhyolite.com

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