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Mother of Internet Speaks Out 114

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the now-that's-a-big-baby dept.
Anonymous Coward writes to tell us that Radia Perlman, sometimes called the "Mother of the Internet" for her invention of the spanning tree algorithm used by bridges and switches, recently gave a very candid interview with NetworkWorld. From the interview: "The taste of whoever is in the funding agencies tends to cause everyone to look at the same stuff at the same time. Often technologies get hot then go away. There was active networking for a while, which always mystified me and has now died. In security the money is behind digital rights management, which I think ultimately is a bad thing -- not that we need to preserve the right to pirate music, but because the solutions are things that don't solve the real problems in terms of security."
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Mother of Internet Speaks Out

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  • by parasonic (699907) on Monday May 08, 2006 @07:31AM (#15284401)
    I thought that Tipper Gore is the Mother of the Internet...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Spanning Tree is a Layer2 Protocol and not used for IP Routing... How would that make her the mother of the internet?
    • Spanning Tree is a Layer2 Protocol and not used for IP Routing...

      Sure, but the algorithm makes the interconnecting of layer 2 networks easy, permitting IP routing to do its job of traversing those L2 networks.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Sure it makes routing easier (it pretty much allows it to keep working), but that's not a very good way to explain STP, makes it sound like a routing protocol.

        STP, in a nutshell, stops router loops from happening. When a router loop happens, all packets caught in the loop will just keep going and going and going, kinda like the energizer bunny, around in a circle amongst some routers not actually going anywhere useful. Once enough packets get caught in the loop either your routers die or there's so much tra
        • STP, in a nutshell, stops router loops from happening.

          I call BS!
          STP is a layer two protocol mostly implemented in Ethernet PHY switches to prevent SWITCHING loops from occurring. When more than one physical connection is present between switches, STP turns off a switching port to prevent the loop.
          In modern telecoms networks, the switching architectures mainly use Frame relay, SDH / SONET, MPLS or ATM. These switching architectures do not use STP in any form, since they use virtual circuits to perform

        • Spanning tree has nothing to do with routing. The following may be useful to anyone who would like a refresher on the topic: http://searchnetworking.techtarget.com/sDefinition /0,290660,sid7_gci214602,00.html [techtarget.com] You may also want to check out the idea of 'time to live' (TTL) which is used for preventing routing loops.
        • STP stops bridging loops. For IP routing loops we have TTL.
        • STP, in a nutshell, stops router loops from happening. When a router loop happens, all packets caught in the loop will just keep going and going and going, kinda like the energizer bunny, around in a circle amongst some routers not actually going anywhere useful. Once enough packets get caught in the loop either your routers die or there's so much traffic you would think your routers are dead. So anyways, because the Internet is so complex with all it's routers, routing loops would happen all the time. So

    • The Internet does not exist by IP routing alone....

      STP prevents loops that will take a network down. We are currently going through all of our layer 2 switches and enabling it as loops have cost us a lot. Yes, our network uses IP routing to run, but that doesn't negate any layer beneath layer 3. The layers build on one another, and, thus, her invention provided stability for layer 2 and everything above it....
  • by mulhollandj (807571) on Monday May 08, 2006 @07:49AM (#15284502)
    I find it interesting that all real R&D is now done by the government. Professors get funding almost exclusively through DARPA, NSF, military branches, etc. It used to be research was done primarily by private industry. Where did we get the transistor from? But now industry R&D is really just product development because they don't fund things that will not be profitable in a few years. So perhaps that is why we are seeing things disappear. The new general/funder isn't interested and there is no quick turn around for the company.
    • by corellon13 (922091) on Monday May 08, 2006 @08:25AM (#15284702)
      "It used to be research was done primarily by private industry."

      I think it's safe to say that most research throughout history has always been driven by government and specificially the military. The vast majority of inventions and innovations come from the military and government. So, I'm not sure what you are basing this on, but I don't think that having government involvement in funding research is a new thing or a bad thing.
    • by TrappedByMyself (861094) on Monday May 08, 2006 @08:42AM (#15284788)
      It used to be research was done primarily by private industry. Where did we get the transistor from?

      My first instinct in reading your post is that you don't know what you're talking about. I think since WWII, the government, and specifically military has always been a big funder of academic and industry research.
      So... I decided to take 2 seconds and look up the history of the transitor. Now I know its a stretch sometimes looking to Wikipedia, but from here [wikipedia.org] I see

      "On 22 December 1947 William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain succeeded in building the first practical point-contact transistor at Bell Labs. This work followed from their war-time efforts to produce extremely pure germanium "crystal" mixer diodes, used in radar units as a frequency mixer element in microwave radar receivers."

      Seriously dude, I know blaming the government for everything is cool and all, but at least try.
    • Remember, though - Bell Labs did a whole heck of a lot of that research because they had the monopoly on the govt. money. When the Bells got busted up, the Labs had to scale back a whole lot of that long-term research in favor of the short term investor-improving stuff that nobody really has a use for. Sometimes a monopoly isn't such a horrible thing. At least for long-term science & research.
      • Sometimes a monopoly isn't such a horrible thing. At least for long-term science & research.

        I disagree. A monopoly is a horrible thing, unless it's heavily regulated and controlled by the government.

        If there were a choice between having an abusive monopoly doing research, or the government doing research, I'd choose the latter. The problem with abusive monopolies is that they prey on consumers, with high prices. Some good may come from it because of their research, but their main goal is profit. Wit
        • But the government PAID Bell Labs to do a lot of research! I think you might have missed the point here. They broke up the place, and removed the "protection" that Bell Labs enjoyed as being one of the few places that didn't care about shareholder return as much. T

          But I certainly agree that nobody is picking up the slack.

          And yet, I would prefer the money-hungry ogres of corp america over the kill-hungry government as funding my research.

          So much of what Darpa and NSF are funding are simply either Congression
          • So much of what Darpa and NSF are funding are simply either Congressional black holes where they dump cash for their lobby friends with no clear return on the money - or they are just working on defense projects that might possibly stumble over some inadvertent humanitarian usage, like a "search & resuce" Predator drone that has a survival kit attached onto its little Hellfire missles.. :-( Or how about the Darpa robot car? They want to put guns on the thing, they could care less about it's other skills
  • Radia Perlman presentation PDF:
    http://www.postel.org/rbridge/infocom04-talk.pdf [postel.org]

    I dunno if this is the best thing to post, but it does discuss some of the problems with bridges and a proposed solution. Note, at the time it was called "Rbridges" but was since renamed Trill.

    ietf.org has a lot of presentations on Trill/Rbridges...
  • Of all the random phrases the Slashdot editors might have allowed as the primary anchortext for this article, "Mother of the Internet" is about the least valid.

    It's mindboggling to me how slowly this supposedly tech-savvy community is coming to terms with formulating a consistent, user-friendly policy about anchortext.

    If you use the name of the magazine, it implies you're going to the homepage of the magazine, not to the article itself, so don't do that. (And we don't need a link to that homepage at all-- i
    • but nobody uses automatic link extractors anyway, so I think this theory has failed.
      Yeah, nobody uses the link contents for anything important, except that tiny search engine, what's it's name again... Google? :-)
    • But dumbing down and catering for non-nerds = more readers = more cash.

    • by patio11 (857072) on Monday May 08, 2006 @08:47AM (#15284809)
      Doesn't Google use link text to heavily bias what it perceives as the content of an article? For example, if I were to do something malicious like say some politician I don't care for is a miserable failure [example.com] that primes a Google bomb for the search term "miserable failure" even if the target page doesn't have miserable or failure on it. Given that Slashdot is a high PR site (PR9?), its link text swings around quite a lot of weight. But who searches for things like "article" or "interview"?

      This might be a quite radical conception about the hyperlink, but I think that the overwhelming majority of human users are using a browser which shows context around the link so it doesn't matter whether you say click here [example.com] or link [example.com] or "I found the most interesting description of how to build a Beowolf cluster of hot grits [example.com] while I was browsing Slashdot earlier today", the user will be able to know what the link pertains to regardless. The only major group of users who really need that extra reinforcement in the link text are spiders (and, because I should make at least a token effort to recognize that usability is important, folks with clients which have an extremely small "field of vision" whether thats because of their client not being on a traditional PC or because their client is non-visual). Both of these user groups benefit a heck of a lot more from "Mother of the Internet" than they do from "article".

  • by bensafrickingenius (828123) on Monday May 08, 2006 @07:50AM (#15284511)
    Momma says " the solutions are things that don't solve the real problems in terms of security."

    And she's exactly right. Pirates aren't defeated by DRM, but land lubbers trying to exercise their fair use rights are. Just as a f'rinstance, I just this weekend had to order a fresh copy of my favorite game (No One Lives Forever 2) because the CD got damaged. As an informed end user, I had long ago tried making a backup disk to use so as not to damage the original, but the backup disk didn't work. As a lilly-livered non-pirate type, I did not use a "no-cd" crack to circumvent the publishers wishes and violate DMCA. You can bet I will this next time around, though. What has the game publisher accomplished? They've turned an honest, paying customer into someone willing to download and use illegal cracks. Good job, guys.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      www.seedler.com and www.gamecopyworld.com is your friends.

      first thing I do when buying any new game is go download a cracked ISO of it so I can burn the copies I need. I also gram the Keygen, the cracks and specifically the no-cd crack and build a companion CD for the game. I then burn my CD copy and put the real disc away in my media safe.

      Why do I do this?? so in 5 years I can take that game out and actually play it. Too many of these asshole programmers and publishers make their crap call-home-ware and
    • There is something broken about a system which declares everybody either a coward or a thief.
    • Any parent with small children will know the importance of making copies of their favourite CDs and DVDs etc, as small children find it hard to remember to be careful with stuff and they tend to scratch the hell out of them.

      So for parents at least, there are perfectly legitimate reasons for wanting to copy DVDs.
      • Any parent with small children will know the importance of making copies of their favourite CDs and DVDs etc, as small children find it hard to remember to be careful with stuff and they tend to scratch the hell out of them.

        My kids (3 and 5) don't get to play with CDs and DVDs at all -- not even copies. Even making copies is too labor intensive, as the kids destroy them in very short order.

        Daemon Tools [daemon-tools.cc] and Daemonscript [daemon-tools.cc] and a big hard drive are my friends in that regard. The kid's computer has all

    • It's funny how the industry always says Digital Restrictions Management and copy-prevention technology "keeps an honest person honest" (or something to that effect), when, in fact, it does the exact opposite.
    • How is a crack illegal, exactly? It is the unlicensed USE of the software that is against the law. Since you're a legally licensed user, you can apply whatever modifications you might want to it, including a crack. Forget what the EULA says -- it's your copy of the program and you can do what you want with it.
      • Actually, that's backwards. The law doesn't care if you use the software, it cares if you copy it, or make a modified copy of it. (And also if you do some other things, but those are what's relevant) Of course, due to how computers work, you have to copy it to use it. There's an exception that allows that, provided that you own the underlying copy to begin with, but of course, the idea of EULAs is to prevent users from owning a copy. It's worth noting though that few are convinced that ordinary EULAs preven
    • The Forces of Darkness that are pushing DRM on everybody aren't concerned about keeping your machine secure for you. They're concerned about keeping their products secure from you, and they've chosen to do so by keeping your machine secure from you. Keeping your machine secure for you from Bad Guys is simply not a problem they're interested in, except in so far as it affects their ability to sell you products (plus some of the content providers are also spamware bad guys as well.)
    • Pirates aren't defeated by DRM...

      Once again, folks, this isn't about defeating pirates. In fact the methods being used are protecting the street vendors who usually only sell ??AA content. As been said ad nauseum, it's to keep "non-aligned"(independent) creators out of public view.

      They've turned an honest, paying customer into someone willing to download and use illegal cracks.

      That's the idea. To make you a criminal. To put you at risk of arrest and have your equipement siezed at any moment. My advice to al
  • "don't solve" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by l3v1 (787564) on Monday May 08, 2006 @07:51AM (#15284513)
    because the solutions are things that don't solve the real problems in terms of security

    Of course they don't solve security problems, but they create new problems for which they can "sell" these as solutions. This technique (create a solution then convince people they have a problem) has greatly "evolved" recently. However, besides not solving security problems, they create new meaning for "rights management", "trusted computing", etc. We could just probably get to live the day when pirate will mean police and stealing will mean giving. We will have to solve the same problems but by calling them differently they will make us believe the old problems are gone and these are new problems to be solved.

    Do I make sense ? No, not really. But I'm too lazy to delete :)

  • In security the money is behind digital rights management, which I think ultimately is a bad thing

    What is a mother to do when she realizes all her children care about is making money?
  • by GundamFan (848341) on Monday May 08, 2006 @07:53AM (#15284526)
    ...Her point is very true.

    I like to think of all security as a battle of will, your willingnes to keep your stuff and a thiefs willingness to take your stuff. When you are trying ot sell somethig ad secure it thinks get tricky because you need to make it avalable to your customers but not those who would take it without alienating your potental customers.

    In the end I see the RIAA and MPAA making there products so bloated with DRM and low quality because of it that eventualy companies will wake up to the true causes of there shrinking profits and move away from the cartels.

    I see the same thing hapening in quite a few industrys in the next couple of years actualy.
  • The man could have gone a little deeper. Granted slashdot is often a place at which the obscure or what was meant to be obscure becomes widely known...

    but this guy doesn't even talk about the more important factors surrounding DRM, mainly the fact that DRM as it is currently considered and the laws which currently protect it are diametrically opposed to a free and competitive marketplace without barriers to entry.

    Every market in which DRM is perpetuated becomes gated off to only two types of competitors, c
    • Yes, forget pirating music. Concentrate on pirating movies instead.

      Only on slashdot could a rambling, confused, semi-understandable post like this one ("corporates" are bad, unless they're created for the purpose selling DVD-cracking software, in which case they contribute to the economy) get modded insightful. Apparently, OP thinks the "Mother of the Internet" is a man and that Radia Perlman is an obscure person (I'm forced to guess a bit here at the meaning). But he's "insightful" because he knows tha

      • How did you ever get a karma bonus trolling for a living.

        i was talking about the quote, not the person, and forgive me for having blurred vision while on a study break during finals pal.

        That said, you need to justify your dig at DVD decryptor as if it's some kind of evil thing. Who says it is a "tool for piracy"? I guess the vcr is also a "tool for piracy".. imagine.. millions apon millions of people "stealing" tv via these "VCR's"... the vcr is to the movie producer what the boston strangler .... oh i gi
        • Come on, if finals have your brain this wiped, then quit posting for a few days. I do troll now and then, but this wasn't one of those times (and I don't think I could make a living at it). Your post was pretty weird, what with the gender mix-up and the OT rant, and your follow-up was a glorious victory over a straw man. vcr=Boston Strangler? law=morality? "hunted like animals?" Over the top.

          When you say you were talking about "the quote" I can only assume you mean the one in the original Slashdot pos

          • I honestly don't think it's over the top. While It might not have been the subject of TFA it was a major portion of the summary. Maybe you should be going after the /. editors rather than me, a lowly poster =/? After all it was the new /. headline which "reframed" the point of the story.

            This person is obviously intelligent. She, from what i'm reading here, invented the algorith for routing table updates.

            With that said, she should know better than to speak of DRM from the security side of things because
  • Interface (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Council (514577) <rmunroe AT gmail DOT com> on Monday May 08, 2006 @07:54AM (#15284531) Homepage
    I like that she mentions "The things that seem absolutely unsolvable but that we have to solve is the user interface stuff."

    Consistently the most overlooked element of design.

    I think the problem is inherent in that the problem is that the people who know how to build things are the ones who are used to figuring things out and making things straightforward. But they're mistaken in assuming that making things "straightforward" -- making it clear how the system operates, really -- is the right way to make things easy to use. Generally, it takes a lot of cleverness to make an interface that a person who has an idea of what they want to do can sit down and use with no manual. And no one is being paid to solve that problem.

    People aren't spending time looking for better metaphors, and they're being stumbled on here and there by accident, often misapplied for years. It seems like Apple is the only group out there pouring money into UI design, and, from iPod to OS X, we're all reaping the benefits -- directly or indirectly.

    As another poster's sig mentioned, letting programmers name flagship applications makes as much sense as letting marketers write them. Part of the solution is hiring marketers (or UI experts), and part of it is teaching the engineers at all levels a little bit of marketing.
    • Yep, cause we want all the people making mission critical applications to hate people due to the fact that they had to learn how people get cheated. I'll remember this when I can no longer upgrade my PC due to "Trusted Computing".
    • Teach engineers Industrial Design not marketing!

      In a simplified definition, industrial design is how to make an object more user friendly/functional.

      Some industrial designers have taken an extreme of form over function but, the field is supposed to take the ideal of function over form. Industrial designers should assist in making an object-user relationship work extremely well, while also attempting to make the object look/feel very good for it's purpose.

      This almost forgotten aspect of Industrial D
  • ... what Bruce Schneier is to security. Always worth listening to and usually right on the button.
  • Why the EULA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lon3st4r (973469) on Monday May 08, 2006 @08:05AM (#15284585)
    But in the software industry, when you install something there is this 9,000-page legalese that basically says: "We have no idea what this thing does, we're not claiming it does anything, if it remotely does anything useful you should be grateful to us, but you shouldn't blame us if it doesn't do what you expect." And they get away with it!

    So true. So true! I really wonder how this trend started? And it looks like there's no going back. Are there alternates to this kind of EULA. Something like more responsible EULA. Why are the customers paying through their noses when the manufacturers accept *no responsibility*!?

    • I would submit that the vast majority of software developed does not pertain to this model. This is mostly due to the fact that much of the software being developed out there are deployments on a per-client basis, and those are contractually heavily in favour of the client.

      It is only (what I call as) *retail* software that have EULA's as vague as this, and for that, you'd have to blame software manufacturers such as Microsoft and Adobe.

  • From the interview: "But in the software industry, when you install something there is this 9,000-page legalese that basically says: "We have no idea what this thing does, we're not claiming it does anything, if it remotely does anything useful you should be grateful to us, but you shouldn't blame us if it doesn't do what you expect."

    Daydreaming... What if we could sue Microsoft for all the security loop holes?

    Seriously, what would the effect of actualy being able to successfully sue a software programmer f
  • Candor (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Billosaur (927319) *

    Where should the funding go?

    The things that seem absolutely unsolvable but that we have to solve is the user interface stuff. Everything is so complicated. People tell you to turn off cookies because they are dangerous, but you can't talk to anything on the Web without using them. People build this horribly complicated software, put up all these mysterious pop-up boxes and then blame the users when things don't go right. I keep hearing people say, like with distributed denial of service, that there a

  • by ortholattice (175065) on Monday May 08, 2006 @09:46AM (#15285159)
    Ah, Radia Perlman. I remember her at MIT in the 70s. She was nuts. She sold a self-published book (made from Xerox copies of a computer printout, folded in the middle and stapled) with a table of all the Roman numerals from 1 to 1000 or something, sorted in alphabetical order, to make them easier to look up. Another chapter had the numbers from 1 to 1000 spelled out in English and also sorted in alphabetical order. I guess I was nuts too, because I actually bought a copy which I probably still have around somewhere. I wonder if it is worth anything - is there a "nerd" section on eBay?

    Hi, Radia.

    • The funniest thing is that although she wrote the alphabetization program, she still had to type in all the words by hand. Printing was very slow in that day, so she stayed up all night waiting for it to crunch out copies. The next day, she showed it to her professor, who pointed out that the word "fourty" should be "forty." So she pulled another all-nighter to get out the corrected version, seeing as the deadline was for selling it on April Fool's Day.
  • And there I thought they were talking about Al Gore's wife.
  • Are you all so consumeristic that your world revolves around access to movies and music? It seems like every day on Slashdot there's yet another repetitive discussion about DRM, MPAA, RIAA...

    Even this article, that's mostly about networking, has elicited a predominantly DRM focussed discussion. And no, telling me to use the filters doesn't count, because she wrote over 12 paragraphs on networking and technology, and 80%+ of the discussion here is on her one DRM paragraph.

    Turn off your friggin TV, take the
  • At the mere thought of Al Gore and this lady conceiving little Internet.

Computers are useless. They can only give you answers. -- Pablo Picasso

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