June 17, 2004

"I'd Like to Thank the Academy..." -- The Award for Best Euphemism Goes to Dave Winer

For calling a "Deliberate" shutdown an "Outage." Congrats! Dave also won for his supporting role as Oxymoron!

I've done a quick transcription of Dave' latest audio post about what he phrases a "deliberate" "outage" below. Enjoy... 'Specially the part about his glass balls... I always knew he had glass ones.


Hi. This is Dave Winer. It’s a little bit after 1:00 Eastern Time, June 17th 2004. I just posted the transition plan for the weblogs.com hosted sites. It looks like we’re going to be able to exceed the commitment by a lot. Basically, the free hosting will continue for 90 days on the new server that’s hosted by Rogers Cadenhead, who I trust. He’s a guy I’ve worked with now for a few months on various different projects. He’s very well educated on the Userland platform; he’s new to Manila, so he’s going to have a learning curve here, but we’ve set up a server and we’ve moved the sites from my server to Rogers’ server, and so I believe we’ve exceeded, well we will when this is working, have dramatically exceeded the commitment and also done it quite a bit sooner than July 1, which was the commitment date.

You should read the new document, which is at newhome.weblogs.com/hostingtransitionplan. And what I want to do in this voice post is to just thank the people who have been incredibly supportive. You know, there are so many good human beings on the Internet, and they are so often overshadowed by the loudest people on the Internet who often aren’t very nice. And, you know, try to give everybody the benefit of the doubt, and don’t focus too much on people who try to give you pain, don’t give them what they’re looking for, and try to teach whatever I learn, is also part of my philosophy. This time there were a combination of factors, however many, maybe five different factors that when all put together created an outage. It was an outage every bit as real as a denial of service attack, or script kiddies, or some horrible operating system bug, or a disk crash, or anything like that.

Since one of the factors was my health, people tended to discount that. And I think that’s mostly young people that have bodies that don’t get sick. When I was in my twenties, my body didn’t get sick and boy did I do things to it (chuckle), and you know I’m now 49 years old, a lot wiser for the wear and tear, but on the other hand, when I get sick, I really do get very sick sometimes. And stress of course is one thing I can’t do. Or at least the kind of stress that comes from hosting and serving people for free when, you know, you can’t even hire people to help.

I think it was hard for people to understand that this was an outage and when you’re dealing with an outage you basically say how can I help and you leave it at that. You don’t do anything that’s beyond that until the outage is cleared. And then you can do a post mortem on it. A thoughtful person will have probably better insights on what could have been done better than somebody who’s not close to the situation.

So we will do that. I mean, I will do that. And I will share what I’ve learned. But first we have to finish the cornerturn and the passoff. I need to move a lot of stuff from Boston to New York this weekend. Lots of other things to deal with…so in any case...so I want to… so the purpose here is to acknowledge and thank the people who made a public or private statement of support—not just support for me, that’s not even the important part. In situations like this what matters is the support for the users. If technology is a profession, the users are our patients. And maybe more accurately, their websites are our patients. And that’s what comes before everything else. So the support here mattered a lot and I appreciated it.

There are two people I want to call out. One is Evan Williams at Blogger. Evan posted a very simple message yesterday, and I linked to it from today’s scripting news, and I would highly recommend people go look at it. Evan and I have had some major disagreements, we actually have a disagreement out right now. But when an outage comes and somebody’s fighting to keep the servers operating, all that goes into the background and what comes to the foreground is that support thing, and that’s a very big picture type view of things and that’s what makes, what can make, an industry great, that if we know in the moment we need help it’s going to be available to us, we can try to do bigger things. I really appreciate what Evan did and if given the chance I will reciprocate and do it with absolute pleasure and pride, so thanks Evan and thanks for setting such a great example.

And then the one other I want to call out as special comes from Michael Winser. Michael is I think still a programmer at Microsoft. I know he has a Microsoft email address. I’ve never actually met him face to face, but Michael’s been a correspondent for probably eight years, since I started writing davenet, he’s been a regular reader and contributor. He was working on the browser team during the browser wars, and we were communicating constantly. And it was always a two-way communication thing. … It’s been a good relationship. Today after he sent me an email, I’m going to read you a quote he provided, I wrote back and said we’re friends, and that’s not a word I don’t use lightly, and I don’t.

So here’s what he wrote, a quote from Sandra Pianalto, who is the president and Chief Executive Officer of the federal reserve bank of Cleveland. This is part of the talk she gave at the graduation commencement at Ursuline College this year 2004. She says:

”Here’s a technique I find very helpful in reminding me to keep a work-life balance. You will have many responsibilities simultaneously in your life, like having to juggle several balls at once. Visualize that in one hold you hold a rubber ball, and in the other hand you hold a beautiful fragile glass ball. The rubber ball represents your career, your work and your volunteer activities. The glass ball represents your family, your friends, and your health. What happens when you drop the rubber ball? It will bounce. Someone will pick it up for you or it will stay put until you are able to pick it up again. What happens if you drop the glass ball? If you’re lucky, it will crack. But it may smash into a million pieces. Either way it will never be the same. So along with everything that you learn, there is something you should learn not to do. Don’t let your justifiable concern about your career
Cause you to drop the precious ball that represents your family, your friends, and your health.”

So what Michael said to me, he says, it’s very simple to me, you dropped the rubber ball. And it’s true, I certainly did. It was done deliberately, it was done by choice, and I wouldn’t do it any differently if I had it to do over again. I think what people responded to, people who were shocked at it, is that they don’t really ever see people do that. But I made a choice, and I decided I want to be healthy and I don’t want to give my life to this free hosting business. [sigh].

There was more that he said that helped me put things in perspective and if I get it I’ll post it. So anyway that’s it for this morning coffee note or non coffee note or afternoon air conditioner note, you can hear in the background the air conditioner running because it’s pretty darn hot here in Boston.

I’m gonna get some exercise, drink lots of water and I’m gonna enjoy my life, and I’m gonna help Rogers Cadenhead, Steve Kirks, and anybod else who wants to show up and help the weblogs.com community, I’m all over it. Just don’t look to me to do the hosting. Okay?

Thanks very much. Talk to you soon. Bye.