Carl Malamud: Internet Talk Radio, flame of the Internet. 

Malamud: This is Geek of the Week, and we’re talk­ing to Mike O’Dell. Mike is the Vice President of Research and Development at UUNET Technologies. Welcome to Geek of the Week, Mike.

Mike O’Dell: Greetings.

Malamud: What does a VP of R&D do when you’re just run­ning a net­work busi­ness­es. This is a…no-brainer, right? You don’t need research and development.

O’Dell: Uh, well I’d like to think of it as sort of chief cat herder. Well actu­al­ly it turns out there’s actu­al­ly a lot of stuff to do, sur­pris­ing­ly. Because run­ning the net­work, there’s a day-to-day real-time com­po­nent of wor­ry­ing about the routers and the links and the net­work man­age­ment soft­ware and so forth. But the oth­er jobs have to do with devel­op­ing new ser­vices. I mean, it’s one thing to think of a new ser­vice and it’s anoth­er thing to sort of know how to cause that ser­vice to exist. Because in net­works… One of the things I learned at Bellcore basi­cal­ly was that the ser­vices that net­work pro­vide are in fact… You cre­ate them by some kind of con­fig­u­ra­tion change in some of the net­work ele­ments. Like, you a wire to a port and turn on rout­ing. That’s how some­body gets Internet access. 

Or you pro­vide some oth­er kinds of ser­vice. You install fax soft­ware on a machine and bring it up and make it work. And there’s all these things that have to hap­pen before the ser­vice is real, right. So the part of the world I look after wor­ries about that, cre­at­ing new services.

And then to run a net­work you actu­al­ly need a lot of infor­ma­tion. And you need it stored in places oth­er than inside the routers. We just start­ed look­ing at writ­ing down the rout­ing pol­i­cy for UUNET in an inter­est­ing way that you can do com­pu­ta­tions about, and it’s a pret­ty amaz­ing. It’s very complicated. 

Malamud: Well what type of com­pu­ta­tions might you want to make?

O’Dell: Specifically you’d like to be able to check your rout­ing con­fig­u­ra­tion against one of your peer net­works and see that you both agree that you— You know, that we’re send­ing you the right NAPs and you’re send­ing us the right NAPs. And that we agree with that set should be. Some of this is the work that Daniel Karrenberg sort of start­ed with RIPE, with the RIPE 81 route reg­istry thing. We’re sort of work­ing with them on that. But the whole prob­lem of even just writ­ing down such things like that is… 

Malamud: Is this sim­ply a mat­ter of pre­vent­ing rout­ing loops, or are you try­ing to enforce appro­pri­ate use poli­cies and do oth­er forms of pol­i­cy work?

O’Dell: It’s all those. It’s all of those things. For what­ev­er rea­sons— I mean, you have bilat­er­al tran­sit agree­ments with some oth­er net­work, that’s behind a third one and you know, their routes come to you through a tun­nel or some­thing like. A lot of odd things hap­pen because of the real­i­ties of the well-controlled anar­chy. So uh…well-controlled.

Malamud: Well if it’s well-controlled anar­chy, right now no one real­ly gov­erns the Internet. We have an IETF and an Internet Society, and we have all these oth­er groups. But ulti­mate­ly it’s the oper­a­tors like your­self get­ting togeth­er and try­ing to decide how to do things. Is that gonna scale? Are we gonna be able to keep this some­what infor­mal coor­di­nat­ing mechanism?

O’Dell: Well… I guess if you look at busi­ness in gen­er­al, right. I mean, busi­ness rela­tion­ships in gen­er­al are con­duct­ed like this. Companies have rela­tion­ships with oth­er com­pa­nies. And one of the things you do as a busi­ness is man­age those rela­tion­ships, and make them work, because they’re…you know, no com­pa­ny does every­thing, and you have to cooperate—particularly in the Internet. I mean, it’s val­ue is that it does talk to every­thing. And if you mess that up, then every­one los­es as a result of it. 

There’s a lot of dis­cus­sion at least on some from the mail­ing lists late­ly about an oper­a­tions task force or some­thing like that. I mean, there’ve been var­i­ous straw man pro­pos­als float­ed around about get­ting togeth­er for var­i­ous pur­pos­es like that on rout­ing coor­di­na­tion and things like that. And some of those will become more for­mal­ized in the sense that you’ll devel­op a nota­tion that lets you write it down and that it can be record­ed and ana­lyzed by pro­grams, so you can tell whether…you know, two peo­ple that think they’re talk­ing to each oth­er are in fact—you know, have very dif­fer­ent views of what’s going on. 

Malamud: But do we need an oper­a­tions area to coor­di­nate that for us? Something like a CCITT for the tele­phone world, or some­thing— Do we need the United Nations to run an oper­a­tions direc­torate, or the Internet Society, or—

O’Dell: I’m a, uh… I’m not as rav­ing a lib­er­tar­i­an as a cou­ple of friends of mine. But I think you make it in every­one’s best inter­est to do the right thing, and then let that hap­pen. I mean, again a frame­work, a place for some of that to live, a place for it hang its hat, is prob­a­bly good. And the notion that it should hap­pen in prox­im­i­ty the IETF is prob­a­bly a good thing, because the things that are being done these days are being dri­ven much more by oper­a­tional real­i­ty. I mean, if the real­i­ties of a rout­ing pol­i­cy and so forth weren’t what they are, you would­n’t need BGP 4, right, to do all of these things, right. I mean, if the world was sim­ple you would­n’t need address class­es, there’d be you know, max­i­mal­ly sim­ple cas­es there’s only one, right. So, that does­n’t work. 

Malamud: Well you worked at Bellcore for a while. Do the tele­phone com­pa­nies coor­di­nate their activ­i­ties? Surely they have sim­i­lar issues of coor­di­na­tion? Do they coor­di­nate their activ­i­ties in the infor­mal de fac­to basis, or do they have some cen­tral body that does that for them?

O’Dell: Well they have very for­mal struc­tures for doing this, main­ly because they’re large enough to— You know, they in the busi­ness are large enough to attract lots of atten­tion from peo­ple who think their job is to you know, mind oth­er peo­ple’s stores. But it’s impor­tant. I mean, a good exam­ple is the inter­na­tion­al num­ber­ing plans that let a phone switch here talk to some phone some­where else. I mean that’s a case of… You need some place to stand to have those dis­cus­sions. And how com­plex or for­mal that gets there’s some out­side pres­sures of var­i­ous you know, trust con­cerns and things like that. But it’s real­ly much more of every­body basi­cal­ly under­stand­ing that this needs to work. 

So, it will acquire more struc­ture over time. But I think it… I mean, the Internet world is still pop­u­lat­ed by the free spir­its that I don’t think there’s… I think any head­long rush into cre­at­ing some orga­ni­za­tion­al edi­fice [laugh­ing]will prob­a­bly not get very far.

Malamud: Eventually, though, will the Internet be like the tele­phone com­pa­ny? Will it be this this mas­sive, fun­da­men­tal infrastructure?

O’Dell: Gee, I don’t whether to say yes or no to that. 

I hope it’s like the phone com­pa­ny in some ways. In par­tic­u­lar that peo­ple come to under­stand that the Internet is a place to do busi­ness. It’s a tool that you can use to do busi­ness. It’s a mar­ket­place where you can do busi­ness. I think it’s the first real exam­ple of a transna­tion­al mar­ket­place. It’s a meet­ing ground where peo­ple in Tokyo and London and New York can all sit around the same vir­tu­al con­fer­ence table, and you shrink the world down to a point. And pre­vi­ous­ly you had to be in London or in Tokyo or in Singapore, or wher­ev­er, to do cer­tain kinds of com­merce at very high lev­els, right. You either had to be there or you had to have one of your peo­ple there to rep­re­sent you. And the Internet stands a chance of chang­ing that in some inter­est­ing ways. So that you don’t have to be there you could be vir­tu­al­ly there. And that might change the way some of these things hap­pen dramatically. 

So in that sense— In the sense that the tele­phone— You know, imag­ine what it was like to do busi­ness before there was a tele­phone. Where you had to send mail—you know, paper mail, or you actu­al­ly had to go see some­one to do a deal. Now, you can argue that you still do in a great many ways, but to order office sup­plies you pick up the phone when you called Office Whatnot, and they send the stuff over, right. I mean, that’s the way it works. And the notion that before you’d have to go shop­ping, right, is sort of hard to think about these days. So, in that sense, the impact of the tele­phone… I want it to be like the telephone. 

And in some sense that’s the posi­tion we’re in now. Imagine what it was like ear­ly on try­ing to sell a tele­phone to some­one, try­ing to sell tele­phone ser­vice, right. Trying to explain to them what this thing does that’s so inter­est­ing, right. I mean, I think that’s sort of the posi­tion we’re all in at this point now. We’re here for the rein­ven­tion of the tele­phone. I mean, you don’t get to be there very often when the tele­phone gets invent­ed. When some­thing which has the poten­tial to change the way peo­ple inter­act and the way that com­merce can be done on a glob­al scale, it’s not very often you get to be there. 

So in that case, I hope it is very much like the tele­phone. and the sense that I would hope it isn’t is that the tele­phone, for very com­pli­cat­ed rea­sons, is thought about in very niche, nar­row ways, right. And recent­ly some of the com­pa­nies are start­ing to do inter­est­ing ser­vices using the tele­phone infra­struc­ture. But it was so chan­neled into such a nar­row def­i­n­i­tion for a long time, by then there was this huge mass that sort of kept it that way. That you know, We define what the phone is and does, and any­body else’s notion about what it could be or could do you know…you know, you’re not the phone com­pa­ny. We don’t care, we don’t have to,” right. And that’s the thing that I would assid­u­ous­ly strive to avoid. And the val­ue of this thing comes from all the things we haven’t thought of, right. In the same way the val­ue of the phone— I mean, before you could buy a phone you had to think of all the things you were going to do with it, right, and sort of jus­ti­fy each one. What a wacko thing to do, right. But you know, peo­ple still have to make those same cases.

Malamud: So it’s keep­ing that inter­face open and keep­ing the focus on a general-purpose infrastructure?

O’Dell: Exactly. And the job—you know. I mean, it was inter­est­ing, and talk­ing with peo­ple at Bellcore. And the dif­fer­ence in point of view, in that they… Some of the folks there, some of the old folks out of the tele­pho­ny tra­di­tion, thought of appli­ca­tions in terms of doing spe­cif­ic things, right. And you know, many times in con­ver­sa­tions, I would say, No no, the appli­ca­tion is to sim­ply move packets.”

Well, but what’s in those packets?”

I don’t know. I won’t tell you,” right. They won’t tell you,” right. You can’t infer any­thing, just move the pack­ets, and every­thing else will take care of itself.

Malamud: Well that’s no way to run a phone company.

O’Dell: [exas­per­at­ed gasp] Well… [Malamud laughs] Good. You know. That’s fine. 

I mean, I think that’s chang­ing. I think that mind­set is chang­ing, but that’s a real men­tal shift. I mean, there are a bunch of folks there that do under­stand. But the tra­di­tion is so long, and so ingrained. So, that’s important.

Malamud: Mike O’Dell, late­ly we’ve been hear­ing a lot about con­ver­gence. We’ve been hear­ing about cable com­pa­nies, and about tele­phone com­pa­nies, and about the explo­sive growth of the Internet. What’s gonna hap­pen with all three of these dif­fer­ent mind­sets, these dif­fer­ent worlds, con­verge on the same place? How’s that going to affect the Internet, and how’re we going to affect them?

O’Dell: Well, peo­ple talk about con­ver­gence… I mean the only thing I know about con­ver­gence is that when I used to fix col­or TVs, you’d take a dot-bar gen­er— You know, you’d switch the pic­ture tube, you’d hook up a dot-bar gen­er­a­tor and get all the hash­es to line up so that you did­n’t have three dif­fer­ent pic­tures on the screen at once—that’s what I know about convergence. 

Um… I don’t know what’s going to hap­pen. If I could tell the future that well I would­n’t have to do this for a liv­ing. [chuck­les]

Malamud: When you’re run­ning an Internet ser­vice provider—

O’Dell: Right.

Malamud: —you’re doing R&D for them. And let’s see some large cable com­pa­ny walks up to you and says, Gee, we want to do this Internet thing,” what does Internet” mean in the con­text of your con­sumer’s cable TV sys­tem? What does that mean? Can they send email from their cable box?

O’Dell: Uh…I sus­pect it won’t be very long before that’s pos­si­ble. I mean you hear… Just read­ing between the lines, and this is pure spec­u­la­tion on my part. You know, the zeroth order of machin­ery is that yes, you can cer­tain­ly run data over cable sys­tems or at least mod­ern cable sys­tems that’re bidi­rec­tion­al in var­i­ous speeds. I mean oth­er folks are doing it. That’s doable. And then you read that peo­ple are doing set-top box­es that will run you know, Modular Windows and have proces­sors in them and so forth. 

So, the issue here is I sus­pect not fun­da­men­tal­ly tech­no­log­i­cal. In the sense that you know, the box­es will get pow­er­ful enough. I think there was an arti­cle in EE Times about how Bell Atlantic imag­ines hav­ing a cable box with 1,000 MIPs of per­for­mance in it. Sort of…maybe that’s if you include the DSPs to decom­press the dig­i­tal video, but— 

Malamud: Should I be able to devel­op my own box and put it on there and get rid of theirs? Should there be some kind of a require­ment that any­body’s box can fit on there, or—

O’Dell: Well, it depends on what their” means. The cable sys­tems prob­a­bly have some inter­est in at least some kind of inter­op­er­abil­i­ty spec that says that you know, if you put the thing on the net­work it won’t blow us up. Because cable sys­tems are actu­al­ly fairly…creaky ana­log crea­tures in a lot of ways. And even when they’re dig­i­tal they’re still ana­log. So they have an inter­est in mak­ing sure that you know, you don’t put 110 volts back into it. Or what it has to get bul­let­proofed to the lev­el that the tele­phone net­work is in that sense. 

Traditionally the cable peo­ple haven’t been big fans of you buy­ing your own box and plug­ging them in, main­ly because they got mon­ey for rent­ing that. For large val­ues of Gee, I have no idea…“ For instance like you know, Apple just announced the TV Mac, which is the 14” inte­grat­ed Mac, 14-inch col­or, and it’s basi­cal­ly an LC III inside except it has a TV tuner in it. So you can watch TV and…I don’t quite under­stand what this gad­get’s sup­posed to be oth­er than you know, of oth­er than an inter­est­ing straw man to put out there and just see— Because I think the real­i­ty at this point is that nobody real­ly knows. I mean all this is so new, and I think nobody real­ly knows what any­one wants because this is a case of in some sense the enabling tech­nol­o­gy lead­ing the require­ments in the sense that if you sim­ply wait­ed around for some­one to write a require­ments doc­u­ment on what home infor­ma­tion access would mean, then you would sit there for a long time. And I think that’s an exam­ple. I think peo­ple will try a lot of things. 

It will always be impor­tant that if the their” you men­tioned was The Internet. That yes, it will be very impor­tant for peo­ple to always to be able to plug their box into the Internet. Because again, the thing that will make it flour­ish and thrive are all the new ser­vices that nobody involved today can imag­ine. And the abil­i­ty to plug that in and make that go will remain crit­i­cal­ly important.

Malamud: Mike O’Dell, it used to be that life was very sim­ple. There was one net­work, it was the ARPANET. There was this world of the Usenet out there, but that was­n’t on the map as far as the cen­tral bureau­cra­cy was con­cerned. In a way, your com­pa­ny has made life dif­fi­cult. Because now we don’t have a sin­gle back­bone, there’s NSFNET as a tran­sit net­work, but UUNET Technologies has the alter­nate tran­sit. And NASA runs a tran­sit net­work. End there’s one called EBONE in Europe. How are we going to make all these net­works talk to each oth­er? You’ve been involved in the Global Internet Exchange, for exam­ple. Is the solu­tion for glob­al con­nec­tiv­i­ty in the future?

O’Dell: Well there’s a bunch of inter­est­ing straw men being float­ed, par­tic­u­lar­ly around the folks that’re active in the GIX, about how to do some of these things or what’s the next step. There’s a bunch of inter­est­ing ideas, and some of them will prob­a­bly get tried in the next year so. 

But again, I think the real­i­ty is that there’s nobody— I mean. You men­tioned that nobody runs the Internet. The prob­lem is nobody could run the Internet. I mean, there is no orga­ni­za­tion that is suf­fi­cient­ly pow­er­ful, or could be empow­ered suf­fi­cient­ly, to direct how it works. So in some sense I think the future is like every­thing else. At some lev­el, peo­ple have to agree to get along. Or they don’t. And if they don’t, you know, bad things hap­pen. And if they do, good things may hap­pen. So I think things like the GIX con­nec­tion points and peo­ple basi­cal­ly under­stand­ing that the val­ue they bring to the table—well, that the val­ue that they bring to their cus­tomers is not just that you can call next door, but you should­n’t call the oth­er side of the world. And that’s the win.

Malamud: Well your com­pa­ny UUNET appears to be pur­su­ing two strate­gies for con­nect­ing to the world. On the one hand, your net­work has always had lots and lots and lots of direct con­nec­tions to lots of the oth­er mid-levels and region­als. You can get right to em.

O’Dell: Mm hm.

Malamud: And so, rather than go through the NSFNET back­bone you con­nect straight to SURFnet or oth­er networks. 

The oth­er strat­e­gy appears to be this idea of an Internet exchange, the Commercial Internet Exchange—the CIX, or the Global Internet Exchange, which is a piece of vir­tu­al real estate, a ring where any­body can con­nect in.

O’Dell: Right. Well that’s real­ly not that dif­fer­ent. I mean in some sense, yes. But UUNET has always been big on bilat­er­al con­nec­tiv­i­ty agree­ments sim­ply because we start­ed out as a ful­ly com­mer­cial provider and…you know, you basi­cal­ly had to put your own wires in, right, because you could­n’t run traf­fic on wires that oth­er peo­ple bought. That’s…the rule. And so we’ve been active all along in doing that. 

And basi­cal­ly what these con­nec­tion points are is that rather than— It’s the…you know… It’s n ver­sus n‑square, in the sense that if you cre­ate these nexus points, then basi­cal­ly by pulling one wire to that point, you essen­tial­ly can cre­ate bilat­er­al agree­ments with six of the peo­ple, except you know, you don’t need six wires. 

Now, there are net­work engi­neer rea­sons why you may want six wires. If for no oth­er rea­son than sin­gle points of fail­ure and things like that. But I think those are as much… A lot of it real­ly is net­work engi­neer­ing. I mean, some of it is geopo­lit­i­cal in some real sense. But I think that’s—

Malamud: Well, as a net­work provider in some ways I’m your worst night­mare. You get some­body like me who all of a sud­den starts putting hoards of data into the net­work, and every­one starts cross­ing your back­bone and you’re unable to plan because I did­n’t tell you in advance I’m gonna start a radio sta­tion. How do you deal with the idea that the peo­ple inject­ing the data in the net­work are out of your con­trol? How do you plan a nation­al net­work in that world?

O’Dell: Well… That is one of the fun­da­men­tal prob­lems. Part of it is that the pric­ing mod­els give you some abil­i­ty to effect…you know, whether some­one is liable to do this to you. But at the same time you basi­cal­ly have to make some assump­tions about traf­fic dis­tri­b­u­tion, and then engi­neer the net­work based on that. I mean you watch it. And when you dis­cov­er that one of your assump­tions was wrong you move wires and— And that’s actu­al­ly not that big a deal. I mean, if you go back and look at the…you know. I think back when BBN was issu­ing the first net­work engi­neer­ing reports and they’d say Well, we need a link from here to here, and from here to there,” I think a lot of peo­ple that read those back then said, Okay, they moved a wire,” and it was sort of duu­uh, I won­der why they did that. But nowa­days I think a lot more peo­ple are understanding—are com­ing face to face with traf­fic con­fig­ur­ing. And I think that’s— 

Again, there are mod­els that are there. Again, that’s one of the things that phone com­pa­nies do under­stand a lot about, is doing some of that. Not nec­es­sar­i­ly with our traf­fic dis­tri­b­u­tion, but they are at least com­fort­able with the scale of the prob­lem. And luck­i­ly at the moment we’re grow­ing at a rate that sort of the brain can keep in front of the reality.

Malamud: Do ser­vices like World Wide Web and Mosaic…Mosaic being the soft­ware, the Web being the under­ly­ing data. Did those take you by sur­prise? Did you expect the kind of rapid growth that we’ve seen in that area?

O’Dell: Um… I think if you had antic­i­pat­ed that kind of ser­vice, the fact that it was very pop­u­lar would not have been a great con­clu­sion to reach. The ques­tion is…predicting when dyna­mite ser­vices are going to be thought of by some­one, well I mean, you know. I think it’s eas­i­er to play the stock market.

Malamud: Did the Web influ­ence your net­work when that took off in pop­u­lar­i­ty? Did that mean you had to do things to your network?

O’Dell: In some sense… Probably but I don’t know. In the sense that the kin­da traf­fic stuff that we look at does­n’t— I mean, we look at gross traf­fic aggre­ga­tion I mean, these links car­ry giga­bytes per day. So actu­al­ly looking…trying to do very much with any­thing with very very instan­ta­neous traf­fic traces… I mean you can look at those and try to say Ooh, this is Web traf­fic” or some­thing. The prob­lem is that you can’t look at that I think on a scale that will tell you very much. I think pri­mar­i­ly you have to look at the gross traf­fic flows. Now—

Malamud: What about mul­ti­cas­t­ing? Is that an exam­ple of a sin­gle ser­vice that does [crosstalk] impact you?

O’Dell: Uh, that one yes. That you actu­al­ly wor­ry about. Because that’s an exam­ple of where one stream comes in and sev­er­al streams go out. So there’s a mul­ti­pli­er effect on that. And in some sense if you don’t do it right, then your cus­tomers will get their own tun­nels and back­haul the data the wrong way across your net­work. So mul­ti­cas­t­ing is absolute­ly some­thing that we think about a lot.

Malamud: Is that because we haven’t ful­ly deployed mul­ti­cas­t­ing in our routers yet, or is it because fun­da­men­tal­ly mul­ti­cas­t­ing is just gonna real­ly impact—

O’Dell: No, fun­da­men­tal mul­ti­cas­t­ing does some­thing the oth­er traf­fic does­n’t do. I mean, a point-to-point cir­cuit, right, there’s only that traf­fic. When a data stream goes into a mul­ti­point dis­tri­b­u­tion, it fans out eight ways, right, eight times as much goes out as went in. So that’s a very crit­i­cal thing. So the abil­i­ty mul­ti­plies the load, okay. And there you actu­al­ly have to look care­ful­ly at where you put the mul­ti­cast routers, and how much you’re load­ing links, and things like that. And I think that’s… Again, not many things… There real­ly isn’t very much expe­ri­ence in doing this kind of stuff. I mean, con­fer­ence bridges and dis­tri­b­u­tion nets that have been done before with the phone folks real­ly fair­ly dif­fer­ent crit­ters. I mean, they’re ana­log, they’re engi­neered very care­ful­ly one at a time, and they’re not the kind of…you know, what I call splat­ter­cast­ing. You know, you through this thing and it explodes and the data goes all direc­tions. That’s a fair­ly new gad­get. And understanding—you know, try­ing to think about how you want to do things, and how you think about that is a plan­ning process. I think every­body is grap­pling with how to get a han­dle on that.

Malamud: When we do mul­ti­cas­t­ing today we tend to do it in a glob­al sense, which the Internet has always been. I can talk to any oth­er per­son on the Internet. Is it pos­si­ble that mul­ti­cas­t­ing will force us to begin think­ing in terms of small­er spaces. I mean, might UUNET run mul­ti­cas­t­ing and just do events with­in your net­work instead of just every­thing go out to the world at the same time?

O’Dell: Um…

Malamud: Are you gonna be a TV sta­tion, in oth­er words. Is UUNET gonna have to get in the busi­ness of sched­ul­ing and dis­sem­i­nat­ing content.

O’Dell: Oh, gee. I would— Just sit­ting here think­ing about it for ten sec­onds I would hope not, sim­ply because I’ve got enough to do with what we’re doing. 

No, I think part of what we’re see­ing is part of the state of evo­lu­tion of the cur­rent mul­ti­cast stuff. I mean, Steve Deering’s new stuff that does the prun­ing so that in some sense— You know, rather than send all the data every­where all the time, you can basi­cal­ly send a con­nec­tion back up— The span­ning tree is cre­at­ed dynam­i­cal­ly, and you can send a request back up and the data tees off sort of at the best place. And I think that this is an area that’s real­ly ripe for research. And I think the real improve­ments will come in fun­da­men­tal under­stand­ings and fun­da­men­tal algo­rithm improve­ments on how to do it. I mean, this is one of the prob­lems that I think is you know, fun­da­men­tal­ly hard with a cap­i­tal H. And that it just requires seri­ous brain pow­er to get it bet­ter. So…

Malamud: Mike O’Dell, you’ve bridged two worlds for a long time. You’ve actu­al­ly bridged sev­er­al worlds. You worked at Bellcore, yet you’ve done a lot of Internet work. You’re active in the IETF, but you’re also on the USENIX board of direc­tors and you’re the edi­tor for Computing Systems for USENIX. Are these dif­fer­ent worlds, or are they com­ing togeth­er? It used to be oh I do Unix, oh I do net­work­ing, oh I do data­bas­es. Is this now one big tech­ni­cal community?

O’Dell: Yes and no. There cer­tain­ly are…there are large inter­sec­tions. And some of them unfor­tu­nate, like some­how this rumor got start­ed to you know Internet is some­thing Unix machines do.” With it with the reverse impli­ca­tion that only Unix machines do Internet, right.

Malamud: And that’s what I was lead­ing up to.

O’Dell: Right. That’s—

Malamud: I mean, is the PC world part of the Internet?

O’Dell: Oh absolute­ly. Absolutely. I have a Macintosh on my desk, that speaks TCP. I mean, and I can tel­net around just like it was some oth­er kind of com­put­er. So—

c Are you run­ning Unix on it?

O’Dell: No. It run runs MacOS.

Malamud: But how do you get a com­mand prompt?

O’Dell: [laugh­ing] Uh… I have an X Window Mac [indis­tinct] Unix machine.

Malamud: Well thank you very much.

O’Dell: That’s for when—you know, when you itch, right, and you just have to type something.

Malamud: We’ve been talk­ing to Mike O’Dell, and this has been Geek of the Week.

Malamud: This is Internet Talk Radio, flame of the Internet. You’ve been lis­ten­ing to Geek of the Week. You may copy this pro­gram to any medi­um and change the encod­ing, but may not alter the data or sell the con­tents. To pur­chase an audio cas­sette of this pro­gram, send mail to radio@​ora.​com.

Support for Geek of the Week comes from Sun Microsystems. Sun, The Network is the Computer. Support for Geek of the Week also comes from O’Reilly & Associates, pub­lish­ers of the Global Network Navigator, your online hyper­text mag­a­zine. For more infor­ma­tion, send email to info@​gnn.​com. Network con­nec­tiv­i­ty for the Internet Multicasting Service is pro­vid­ed by MFS DataNet and by UUNET Technologies.

Executive pro­duc­er for Geek of the Week is Martin Lucas. Production Manager is James Roland. Rick Dunbar and Curtis Generous are the sysad­mins. This is Carl Malamud for the Internet Multicasting Service, town crier to the glob­al village.