blp'd out

April 5, 2015

Any number of people have contacted me about my thoughts for the ONF Extensibility Working Group and its future, now that Jean Tourrilhes has resigned as chair and left ONF. Here are my current thoughts, to give me a place to refer people in the future.

First, I don't think that anyone is going to be able to step into Jean's shoes. Jean was so thorough, so knowledgeable of the OpenFlow specification and its history, and so willing and able to use a great deal of his valuable time for the working group, that no one can match it. Simply on that basis, the extensibility working group is going to change.

Second, we now have numerous ways to extend the spec without changing the main specification. This means that working groups outside extensibility can do their work without needing to go through extensibility. There is this perception that extensions are second-class citizens, compared to what actually goes into the main specification. I think that we need to fight against that: extensions, when released through a reasonable process by a reputable group, are just as legitimate as incorporated pieces of the main specification.

Finally, I think that it's OK to slow down. It would not be the first time that we've had a period during which only bug fixes go into the spec. The new features being proposed now are pretty limited, and vendors need time to catch up to 1.4 and 1.5 anyhow.

April 4, 2015

Major progress on my fancy cat tree. I wove and stapled vinyl into a pattern along the post, punching holes to expose the holes in the post. I built and tried out a couple of prototype cat shelves, finally just before bedtime coming up with one that worked out OK. The cats were happy with even the prototypes that I rejected, though.

April 3, 2015

Today was Jeremy Stribling's last day at Nicira/VMware. He was one of our early hires, and one of our distributed systems experts. We had a farewell lunch in his honor at Steins in Mountain View. End of an era II. Too many of those coming along lately.

April 2, 2015

Jean really has left ONF now. There was no Extensibility WG meeting this morning because OpenFlow 1.3.5 was released, which was his final goal, and thus he very quietly stopped organizing the meetings. End of an era.

April 1, 2015

Taxes. Ugh.

March 31, 2015

In the afternoon Justin and Guru and I went up to San Francisco for a meeting with Madhu from Socketplane (now acquired by Docker). Docker has beautiful offices up there, I'm jealous (and I say that as working from the rather nice VMware offices in Palo Alto). We had about a 90-minute meeting to talk about integrating OVN with Docker. It sounds like there are two important steps. First, for basic integration, Docker has to implement its proposed network plugin architecture, which is planned for Docker 1.7. Second, for better integration, Docker needs to support labels on its network endpoint objects (though we can work around this until then).

March 30, 2015

Worked from home all day and managed to send out some patches for converting Boolean expressions to OpenFlow flows in OVN. Pretty happy with them.

I made the ginger pork with gojiberries recipe for dinner. It's a house favorite around here ever since I received a clay pot for Christmas a couple of years ago. I don't follow the recipe exactly: I substitute cranberries for gojiberries and any cooking wine I have on hand for the plum wine. It's delicious. I wonder whether it would be better with the “real” ingredients, but it's hard to imagine how.

March 29, 2015

I put the foam on top of 3/4-inch plywood and upholstered it, around the hole, using staples to hold the fabric in place. No problem. I did have to cut half an inch off two sides of the foam because my plywood was only 23 inches wide. Unfortunately I poorly chose a marker for marking the place to cut so now I have some blue marks bleeding through in few places on the fabric. Oh well, the cats won't care.

March 28, 2015

Spent a lot of the day at home working on my fancy cat tree. I drilled 17 1-inch holes through a 4x4, plus 17 half-inch holes perpendicular to them, generating a huge pile of sawdust in the garage.

In the evening Kate had her hockey championship game. Her team won the “Stanley Keg.” Cassie and I went to watch.

March 27, 2015

I dropped by House of Foam in Palo Alto and bought a 2-foot square chunk of 3-inch extra firm upholstery foam for the base of the cat tree. Good upholstery foam is expensive (about $75 after tax for those 4 square feet) but it's comfy as heck. There's no way you can bottom out on 3-inch foam even if you just rest one knee on it. Bob Tallman at the store kindly cut a 3.5x3.5 inch hole in the center of the foam for the cat tree post.

March 26, 2015

Second day of the promotion reviews. Only a half-day. In the afternoon I managed to get some work done.

In the evening I got an inspiration to build a fancy cat tree over the weekend, so I went out to Home Depot and Jo Ann Fabric and bought a big pile of wood and fabric and paint. Let's see how it goes.

March 25, 2015

Spent all day in a meeting with all the other VMware principal engineers, going through candidates for promotion to senior staff engineer and principal engineer. It was less stressful and boring than I expected. Everyone up for promotion is very good, and we approved most of the promotions.

March 24, 2015

As a matter of habit, I always come to a complete stop at stop signs (on my bike). Since no one else does, I always get to go first. Sometimes this makes people mad. I think that a lot of drivers think that drifting forward slowly is the same as stopping.

March 23, 2015

Continuing to work madly on OVN Boolean expressions, making excellent progress on writing tests. I'm taking an exhaustive testing approach, by writing code to generate all possible Boolean expressions (up to particular limits) and testing that the various necessary transformations on them do not change their values. I've found and fixed tons of bugs, including many memory leaks, this way.

March 22, 2015

We put the rest of the plants into the ground in the afternoon. It's much easier digging in the yard than last summer, because we've added 6 inches of soft compost and wood chips. Really quite easy now. The soil is amazingly moist when you dig down an inch or two, despite our long spell of dry weather.

In late afternoon Cassie and I biked to Burton Park and played bocce.

March 21, 2015

A shipment of plants arrived yesterday, so we put them plants into the ground, then in the afternoon Kate went off to a nursery in Half Moon Bay to get some more.

March 20, 2015

Wow, all three of the papers that my group submitted to VMware's internal RADIO conference were accepted as short or long talks. I can't say how impressed I am!

March 19, 2015

I took the afternoon off from work and we all went into San Francisco for a last day together. As late afternoon approached, we took Lejna to the airport, ate dinner, and saw her off. Goodbye Lejna!

March 18, 2015

Starting to get really annoyed the number of on- and off-list email inquiring about documentation and examples on how to integrate Open vSwitch with hardware ASICs. These inquiries usually come from employees of ASIC vendors. There is no documentation and no examples for these purposes specifically because the policies of these ASIC vendors prevent them from being published! You guys fix your policies, and then people will start publishing code for your chips. Don't complain to me: it's your fault and you, not I, have the power to fix it.

March 17, 2015

Lejna's departure is coming up in two days. Everyone is starting to mope and moan a bit about it. We'll miss her.

March 16, 2015

I took a Schlage lock cylinder that I had mis-keyed into work with me today. I took it to the lockpicking interest group and, after about 30 seconds of instructions, spent about 5 minutes fiddling with a tension wrench and a pick and sprang it open. I carefully popped off the retainer ring and fitted a rekeying cylinder into it.

Locks really aren't that secure if a rank amateur can open one in 5 minutes with a couple of bent pieces of metal.

March 15, 2015

We hosted a going-away party for Lejna at our house. A lot of her friends that none of us had seen in a long time came to the party. We had a lot of good food, but the best was a strawberry-rhubarb pie that Kate made. Probably the best I've ever had.

March 14, 2015

Mailed my tax paperwork to my tax preparer. Not too happy with them because they say they're charging an extra $75 just to consider the new ACA healthcare laws; that should take them about 3 seconds with me since I have employer-provided group coverage. They also charged me an extra $240 last year for estimated taxes. If they try to charge me for both of those this year, then I'm going to find someone new.

March 13, 2015

Pi Day Eve (and Friday the 13th). VMware gave away “Pi”nt glasses at their Friday afternoon celebration. I stopped by just long enough to pick one up.

March 12, 2015

Got a prototype implementation of code to convert Boolean expressions into OpenFlow flows working in OVN. I'm happy; it seemed like it was taking too long. Still a lot of work to get it finished and bug-free though.

March 11, 2015

Program committee meeting today for VMware's internal RADIO conference. All three of the papers that I coauthored were discussed, although I don't know the decisions. A very long day: the discussions ran from 8 am until about 6:30 pm.

March 10, 2015

Sunday night, I introduced Lejna to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Back when I was a teenager I learned all of the audience participation lines, and so at the beginning, at least, I was calling out pretty often, but I quickly got tired of doing it alone.

Kate and Lejna think Rocky Horror is pretty weird; they're not wrong.

March 9, 2015

Got familiar yesterday with what might be a new chore every year or two. About a week ago, we noticed that the swinging glass door on the shower in the master bedroom had started to hit the fixed frame. Not good—if it hit too hard it would surely chip or break. Yesterday I finally looked up the procedure for adjusting it. Loosen the screws top and bottom (required an unusually large Philips #3 screwdriver), adjust the position carefully, tighten again with screwdriver. The door is heavy and unwieldy enough that I had Kate do the tightening while I held it in place.

March 8, 2015

I responded to a couple of surveys from ACM on open access to research. I'm so glad to see that ACM is thinking about opening up its publications to the world. It's a “moral imperative” in my opinion, in the words of an answer to one of the survey questions. USENIX manages to do this, without charging those who submit papers, without charging ridiculous membership dues, and still retains high quality conferences and submissions, so I don't know why ACM can't do the same thing.

March 7, 2015

This evening was the annual Spring Gala from the San Carlos Education Foundation, which supports the San Carlos public schools. Kate and I won the auction for a vacation for 8 in Montana at a dude ranch. The trip has to be between November and April, so I guess we're in for a winter vacation.

March 6, 2015

Went out tonight with Mike Dalton, a friend from Stanford, to Dave & Busters in Milpitas. We ran out of games we wanted to play pretty quickly—they have less variety than I remembered from years ago. It's pretty much all shooters and racing games, other than the ticket games that are really only fun for kids. I do like shooters and racing games, but I can only play them for so long. The best game was a new Star Wars game with a pretty immersive view, although the controls didn't seem too responsive.

March 5, 2015

Getting a lot done on OVN. Hope to get out another patch series next week.

March 4, 2015

Jarno and I biked home together, as we do from time to time. Jarno has a brand new carbon fiber Cannondale with fancy electronic shifting. It's noticeably lighter than my aluminum Trek from 2002. I think we were about the same speed before (when he was on a $300 hybrid), but now I have to work to keep up. It has a built-in power meter. He reported that we were (well, he was) using 300 W to go up the first hill and that he got up to 450 W briefly on another. I'm surprised—I had an idea that only pros could put out over 400 W.

March 3, 2015

Back to code reviews today. I've been ignoring them for a while to get some coding done on OVN, but they really piled up. I spent the day on reviews. The most significant result was that I was able to commit the SPBM Auto-Attach support from Dennis Flynn at Avaya.

March 2, 2015

I spent a lot of time over the weekend thinking about how to reduce the general Boolean expressions that I want to use for flow matches in OVN to the form that Open vSwitch supports. I think that this comes down to what one might think of as a nonstandard “normal form” that so far I think of as “disjunctions of conjunctions of disjunctions.” Today, I had a good conversation with Tim Hinrichs, the best guy I know in logic, about the possibilities. I was a little surprised to learn that this isn't something that I can just read a bunch of papers about. Maybe, if I come up with a good solution, there'll be a paper to write about it, who knows.

March 1, 2015

Spent most of the day with some friends, first at Coyote Point and then later at home. We rarely see these friends but when we do it seems like we always spend a long time together.

Feb 28, 2015

Finally got a little way into The Art of Community only to realize that all of the figures are missing. A web search shows a few other people with the same problem. Fortunately none of them so far seem important to the message but only really for amusement.

Feb 27, 2015

Had a meeting at Mesosphere. They helped us to understand how the container model works in the environments that they work in. It also sounds like OVN is a pretty good match for what they need for DCOS. I was pleased to see Christos Kozyrakis again; I don't think I'd run into him since I was a grad student years ago.

It's so great going to go meet people at startups. The energy level and the excitement is so high, I really enjoy it. And Mesosphere is in a nice building, only a short walk from Caltrain. Some day…

Feb 26, 2015

Went to listen to a Customer Advisory Council session on NSX this morning. When I saw one of the attendees, it reminded me of how the classic example of separation between tenants is always that Coke and Pepsi don't want their opposite number to be able to spy on their secrets—one of them was in attendance!

Feb 25, 2015

Kathy Griffin came to VMware today for an hour-long interview. Kate came to campus for it and we sat in the second row. I like a lot of Kathy Griffin's humor, although some of it goes over my head because I don't keep up with celebrity news. Before the interview I had not realized that she had been on TV (“Suddenly Susan”) or that she was such a trailblazer among female comedians.

Kate and I went out to dinner afterward at Parkside Grille in Portola Valley. I was surprised to find a non-lumber-based business so far off the beaten path.

Feb 24, 2015

I've spent the last couple of days of actual coding time (as opposed to work time) working on a lexer for OVN, to use as the bottom layer of the parser for matches and actions. The strategy that OVS uses for parsing OpenFlow from strings is terrible. I don't want to repeat that mistake with OVN. Maybe it'll even be possible, eventually, to use some of the same code to parse OpenFlow.

Feb 23, 2015

The chicks are now 5 days old. They have grown visibly since we first got them at 1 day old.

Feb 22, 2015

Since Lejna has to leave for Bosnia again soon, we want to spend her last few weeks doing as many fun things as we can together as a family, so in late afternoon we went to Dave & Busters in San Jose. We played games for an hour or too, then had some dinner and went home.

Feb 21, 2015

I shingled the roof of the chicken coop, with the cedar shingles that I bought last weekend. It took a few hours because I had never done anything similar before, but it wasn't really difficult.

Feb 20, 2015

I spent much of the day making up a fairly detailed task list for OVN, and then I published it, getting some useful feedback already.

Feb 19, 2015

I got the OVN design documents to the point where I was comfortable publishing them for public discussion. I received more comments than I expected, and quite quickly.

In the afternoon I attend “Unconscious Bias Training” in VMware's cafeteria with a lot of other people. I was nervous about whether it would be useful or a waste of time, but I was pleasantly surprised. Given what I was focusing on, it was a surprise to get a text from Kate in the middle saying “Going to get chicks now.” Indeed, when I got home, there were a couple of chicks under a heat lamp in a plastic bin inside the chicken coop.

Feb 18, 2015

I had a really productive day getting together some OVN design documents for internal review.

Feb 17, 2015

Kate and I went out for a date to John Bentley's, a nice restaurant along El Camino in Redwood City.

Feb 16, 2015

Kate's parents left for the airport around noon. I spent late afternoon first buying lumber and shingles for the chicken coop, then shopping around town for a trunk or storage bench with a lock on it. I had pretty much given up on finding what I wanted until I stopped at an antique store (“Antiques Then & Now”) near our house. They had a lovely old cedar chest with built-in felt-lined compartments and a lock (with the key!). The price was right so I took it home.

Feb 15, 2015

Kate and Cassie and Grandma Pam went out for much of the day. Dave and I spent an hour or two mixing and pouring cement into some gaps between boards by the chicken coop. It will provide a step up for Cassie and keep chicken poop out of difficult-to-clean spaces.

Feb 14, 2015

Valentine's Day and Kate's birthday. Birthday presents (those diamond earrings I bought last week!), chocolate, lunch out. I made Irish stew for dinner (Kate's request). I took Kate's parents to watch her hockey game at 10:30 pm.

Feb 13, 2015

Checked in a fix for a bug that was reported via the Open vSwitch security mailing list as a vulnerability. (The commit is titled “mac-learning: Implement per-port MAC learning fairness.”) I am not convinced that the bug itself is that big of a security vulnerability, because it is only a problem if users regard MAC learning as a security feature rather than an optimization. I spent a bunch of late-night time on fixing it on Wednesday night, though, because it seemed to me that it was a serious publicity vulnerability: the bug's “security researcher” reporter seemed a bit breathless about it, and had already given a talk about it at a security conference back in September (!). Also, I had a query from CERT about the whole thing. Since it was in my power to fix it, without too much trouble, that seemed like the best solution.

The solution adds a lot of mildly tricky code. A bug could be bad. The fix was reviewed by a few very good programmers, though, so I think that the risk is minimal.

I think that the fix is better than what typical physical switches implement. I like that it is adaptive, that is, there is no need to have any settings or knobs for users to tweak, it “just works” out of the box.

I wish that the reporter had let us know before making this public, instead of months afterward. (Would I have responded as quickly? I don't know.)

Kate's parents arrived today, to stay for the long weekend.

Feb 12, 2015

Our new(er) car has heated seats. I didn't think they'd be useful in our area with such mild weather, but they were part of some package that included other features that we did want. In the last week I've found that they're nice sometimes though. One day I was a bit wet from rain and the heat (at the lowest setting) felt nice and helped to dry my pants. Today, my back was a little sore, and the heat on my lower back was very soothing.

Feb 11, 2015

Kate showed me in the morning that yesterday she had attached the front and roof to the chicken coop. Now it just needs some finishing touches: chicken wire over ventilation holes, shingling the roof, and I don't know what else.

The loud weird sounds we heard last night were revealed today to be a pair of raccoons mating outside our bedroom window, on top of the garage. I hope they don't mess with the wind vane.

Feb 10, 2015

Went to an event organized by Amplify Partners in the evening, at Gravity in Palo Alto. I've been thinking a lot lately about the lack of women in (my part of) the tech industry. This kind of event really exemplifies it: I did not notice any women in attendance at all. I did enjoy it, though.

Feb 9, 2015

Lunch with Yatish Kumar from Corsa. Hi Yatish!

Feb 8, 2015

The rain continued. Kate and I spent most of the afternoon working on the chicken coop. We got the floor and the sides built and attached, and the front ready to go on. At that point it was dark and still raining, so we called it a night.

Feb 7, 2015

Two very different kinds of shopping today. In the morning, Lejna and I went to Shane Co to buy diamond earrings for Kate's birthday (after all, she had them pierced just for me). In the afternoon, all of us went to Home Depot to buy plywood and other supplies for building a chicken coop.

Feb 6, 2015

Hard rain most of the day. In the morning I helped set up the school book fair, then due to the rain I drove into work. Finished up the NSDI revisions and sent the paper in to our shepherd. Spent some time discussing the OVN database schema with Justin. I left the office about 5:10 and due to traffic it took about an hour to get home, about twice (three times?) as long as going the opposite way at 10:30.

Feb 5, 2015

A long day. I took Caltrain to meet Dan Talayco in Mountain View for breakfast, where we talked over our ideas about ONF and P4. Then I took Caltrain back north to Palo Alto, where I assumed I could catch the next Marguerite or VMware shuttle to campus. I was wrong. It was just before 10 am when I arrived, and all the shuttles and Marguerites had already gone for the day. I gave up on working from my office and just went home to work from there. (I'm not a big fan of working from home because then I end up working all day long instead of just when I'm in the office.)

Feb 4, 2015

Today I realized that revisions for the team's NSDI paper are due to our shepherd on Friday, and that I essentially hadn't done anything yet. I scrambled toward getting it done.

Feb 3, 2015

Kate and I visited our new financial advisor for an initial meeting. It's easier than I expected, so far.

Feb 2, 2015: Back Home

Came back home from the leadership summit.

Passing through security at the New Orleans airport and preparing to collect my things from the conveyor, I had to basically dive to grab my laptop and my phone, which were about to hit the floor because the bins they were in were flipping up and over due to incompetent an X-ray operator. I grabbed all my stuff and walked on, and then 100 yards away I realized that I was missing my watch. I walked back but it was gone and the TSA personnel were less than helpful. Assholes.

Kate and Lejna picked me up at the airport. Kate had had her ears pierced! I asked her a while ago to do it. I like the way it looks.

Feb 1, 2015: VMware Leadership Summit Day 3

Final day of the leadership summit. More speeches and Q&A sessions. We finished up the project planning exercise with Afterburner. A Superbowl Party was held in late afternoon.

Jan 31, 2015: VMware Leadership Summit Day 2

The summit took up all day, from 7:30 in the morning until 10 at night. The breakout sessions on planning a “mission” in teams, by Afterburner, were much more entertaining and also more useful than I would have guessed. I especially appreciated their discussion of the value of their debrief advice: always do a debrief, whether the mission is successful or not, and keep it nameless and rankless so that you get honest feedback.

Today's highlight was the evening event. At 6:30, a marching band came parading along Canal Street, and all 200 of us at the conference joined in behind it. We followed the parade along Canal, turned onto Bourbon, then a few more turns and finally onto Royal where the band directed us into Latrobe's, where we had a fantastic 3-course dinner.

Jan 30, 2015: VMware Leadership Summit Day 1

I spent the day up to 1 pm working on finishing touches for two SIGCOMM papers (the deadline was 2 pm). By then I was starving, having skipped breakfast, so I walked down to the river along Canal Street and walked along the boardwalk into the riverside mall, where I ate crayfish étouffée at a local (seeming?) place in the mall food court.

The conference got under way at 5 pm with a reception followed by speeches that lasted until 9:30 pm.

Jan 29, 2015: New Orleans Trip

Traveled to New Orleans for VMware's internal leadership conference. Got in late after some delays in the airports on both ends. Ate dinner with a couple of colleagues. Feeling a bit rundown from a cold, so I went to bed without exploring the nightlife.

Jan 28, 2015: RADIO submissions

Tonight at midnight was the deadline for research paper submissions to VMware's internal RADIO conference. My team submitted three papers. I had my doubts about some of them for a while, but I think that all three of them turned out strong. If it works out, maybe some of them will turn into public papers in a while.

Jan 27, 2015: Enough with the Podcast

Recording audio wasn't much harder than writing text, and I tended to do it in the same place and at roughly the same time that I'd write text anyway. But I had an idea that I'd start getting new inspirations or make different use of an audio medium than I would a text medium. (Also, I had just bought a USB headset anyway for to be on the Packet Pushers podcast.) It didn't happen. So maybe I'll give it another shot later, but I think I'm done with audio for now.


Jan 26, 2015: More Snafu

MP3 (0:48).

Jan 25, 2015: Ladybug Girl Plays By Herself

MP3 (2:07).

Jan 24, 2015: Chicken Coop

MP3 (1:34).

Jan 23, 2015: Night Out

MP3 (1:40).

Jan 22, 2015: Busy Day

MP3 (0:22).

Jan 21, 2015: Layoffs/Lejna's Back/RADIO

MP3 (4:02).

Jan 20, 2015: Adam Carolla on Patent Trolls

MP3 (1:15).

Jan 19, 2015: Refactoring All the Way Down

MP3 (3:28).

Jan 18, 2015: Pope in Manila

MP3 (1:26).

Jan 17, 2015: Harlem Globetrotters

MP3 (3:07).

Jan 16, 2015: Bad Drivers

MP3 (1:37).

Jan 15, 2015: OFTest

MP3 (3:44).

Jan 14, 2015: Community Building

MP3 (5:06).

Jan 13, 2015: OVN

About the OVN announcement.

MP3 (5:05).

Jan 12, 2015: Big Day Tomorrow

MP3 (0:27).

Jan 11, 2015: Papers in Progress

MP3 (2:18).

Jan 10, 2015: Interview with Cassie

MP3 (2:29).

Jan 9, 2015: Transportation

MP3 (0:43).

Jan 8, 2015: Crazy Lib

MP3 (1:09).

Jan 7, 2015: OVS, ONF, and OpenFlow

Some rambling thoughts that bubbled up today.

MP3 (11:00).

Jan 6, 2015: Confusion

MP3 (0:47).

Jan 5, 2015: American Psycho

MP3 (1:43).

Jan 4, 2015: Packet Pushers

MP3 (1:22).

Packet Pushers Podcast about Open vSwitch.

Jan 3, 2015: Reading List

MP3 (8:37).

Books of 2014:

Jan 2, 2015: Future of PSPP

MP3 (8:49).

Jan 1, 2015: 2014 Retrospective

MP3 (2:59).

Older postings

2014. 2013. 2012.

Last updated 05 Apr 2015 09:30. Copyright © 2015 Ben Pfaff.
May be freely redistributed, but copyright notice must be retained.