When Ping was first described (back in 1933)

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/03/10 09:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2008/03/10/8125510.aspx

Please read the disclaimer; content of Michael Kaplan's blog not approved by Microsoft!

This one almost reminds me of that other blog, the When a mommy and a daddy love each other very much, the daddy wants to give the mommy a special gift. So he buys a 'stay-at-home' server. one. When a children's book is produced for a technology.

Anyway, when you hit that refresh button in facebook, you never know what you'll see....

Like last night, when I happened to hit F5 and see Kim's status:

Kim wants to raise awareness of the most brilliant amazon review ever, see The Story about Ping review by John E. Fracisco.

Someone pointed it out to me a few years back, I remember almost falling out of my chair laughing when they did.

The review in question can be found here, and I will quote it now like everyone seems to do when it comes up (I notice even Korby has quoted it before on this site!):


8,720 of 9,012 people found the following review helpful:

Ping! I love that duck!, January 25, 2000

John E. Fracisco (El Segundo, CA USA) - See all my reviews

PING! The magic duck!

Using deft allegory, the authors have provided an insightful and intuitive explanation of one of Unix's most venerable networking utilities. Even more stunning is that they were clearly working with a very early beta of the program, as their book first appeared in 1933, years (decades!) before the operating system and network infrastructure were finalized.

The book describes networking in terms even a child could understand, choosing to anthropomorphize the underlying packet structure. The ping packet is described as a duck, who, with other packets (more ducks), spends a certain period of time on the host machine (the wise-eyed boat). At the same time each day (I suspect this is scheduled under cron), the little packets (ducks) exit the host (boat) by way of a bridge (a bridge). From the bridge, the packets travel onto the internet (here embodied by the Yangtze River).

The title character -- er, packet, is called Ping. Ping meanders around the river before being received by another host (another boat). He spends a brief time on the other boat, but eventually returns to his original host machine (the wise-eyed boat) somewhat the worse for wear.

If you need a good, high-level overview of the ping utility, this is the book. I can't recommend it for most managers, as the technical aspects may be too overwhelming and the basic concepts too daunting.

Problems With This Book

As good as it is, The Story About Ping is not without its faults. There is no index, and though the ping(8) man pages cover the command line options well enough, some review of them seems to be in order. Likewise, in a book solely about Ping, I would have expected a more detailed overview of the ICMP packet structure.

But even with these problems, The Story About Ping has earned a place on my bookshelf, right between Stevens' Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment, and my dog-eared copy of Dante's seminal work on MS Windows, Inferno. Who can read that passage on the Windows API ("Obscure, profound it was, and nebulous, So that by fixing on its depths my sight -- Nothing whatever I discerned therein."), without shaking their head with deep understanding. But I digress.

Still just as brilliant as the first time I saw it. I admit I did not fall out of my chair this time (perhaps I am becoming more mature as I get all old and decrepit?), though I did kind of choke on the Limonata I was sipping when I hit that refresh button. Kim almost owes me a laptop keyboard, but not really as even if it had been ruined, I have Dell CompleteCare so they would just come out and replace it (I know this, I have had this service done in the past, including one time when a not quite ex-girlfriend accidentally threw up on my laptop (the breakup had nothing to do with the vomiting). But I digress.

In any case, wonderful reminder!

The funny thing about facebook, I am still learning about the consequences of it, even in the passive way I use it.

Like the fact that my IM info was available to people in my networks (I changed the setting, though unintentionally). The upside is that all 189,613 people in the Seattle network and all 19,515 people in the Microsoft network had my IM information for about a week now. Only one person actually used it, and I will talk about my scintillating conversation with Samantha some time later this week (and I have fixed the visibility thing now).


This blog brought to you by(U+1b7c, aka BALINESE MUSICAL SYMBOL LEFT-HAND OPEN PING)

John Cowan on 10 Mar 2008 12:43 PM:

*Nothing* to do with it?  Are you *absolutely* certain of that?  Vomiting is a pretty well-known psychosomatic symptom, although it certainly can have purely organic causes as well.

Note that the quotation is from Longfellow's translation of Dante's _Inferno_.

Michael S. Kaplan on 10 Mar 2008 1:01 PM:

She was not feeling well due to a stomach flu; it had nothing to do with our later breakup either temporally or causally. :-)

MSDNArchive on 25 Mar 2008 3:27 AM:

We can at least talk about reimbursement for the Limonata. For now, please put the drink aside while I quote my favorite sentence:

"I can't recommend it for most managers, as the technical aspects may be too overwhelming and the basic concepts too daunting."

Michael S. Kaplan on 25 Mar 2008 8:22 AM:

The Dilbert sentence -- my favorite too. :-)

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