Dec. 17th, 2009 09:10 am:
Distributed Denial of Satire

IT professionals are often familiar with the Network/Server/Application blame game. "Whatever the problem, it’s never our problem." The avoidance of this blame game is one of the key reasons network monitoring and network management products exist; to avoid the blame game and get straight to the root cause of a problem.

But if you were to give an award for the mother of all network performance blame games, a good candidate for the honor would be the spat AT&T and Apple are having regarding whether Apple’s iPhone design, Apple’s iPhone users, or AT&T’s network are the cause of problems like dropped calls and slow data transfer speeds.

In the midst of all of this, satirist, "The Fake Steve Jobs," a.k.a. Newsweek’s Dan Lyons, proposed to his users that in order to protest "AT&T’s bastardly behavior over bandwidth usage," that users should attempt to overwhelm the AT&T 3G data network at Friday, December 18th, at noon PST, by using the most data-heavy apps possible.

The intention, I believe, is to "send a message" to AT&T about their service – and a spike of traffic at that time would be a quick way to give AT&T hard numbers on how many of their customers are ticked off.

An AT&T spokesman responded by saying:

"We understand that fakesteve.net is primarily a satirical forum, but there is nothing amusing about advocating that customers attempt to deliberately degrade service on a network that provides critical communications services for more than 80 million customers. We know that the vast majority of customers will see this action for what it is: an irresponsible and pointless scheme to draw attention to a blog."
Lyons, as Fake Steve Jobs, on the other hand, claimed that the CEO of AT&T tried to call him, but:
"He started shouting, but just then — I’m not kidding — the call got dropped, because, see, I was on my goddamn iPhone and the damn thing can’t hold on to a call in downtown Palo Alto.

I tried moving six inches to my left, and got a signal. Then I moved back, and I lost it. This took place in downtown Palo Alto at my yoga studio. I tried going outside, and got a signal again. Randall [Stephenson] called, I picked up, got dropped. I walked down the block, and dialed him back. Finally got him. He’s like, "Just don’t f***ing move, okay? Just stand right where you are and let me shout at you for a minute." I was like, Fine, whatever, shout away, and I put the phone down on a bench and did some stretches.
Which to me implies three life lessons. Number one, when you know you’re going to have an abnormal influx of traffic due to some event, monitor it and be prepared to switch it over to a different class of service in order to maintain mission critical applications. Number two, be proactive in avoiding network performance problems rather than playing the blame game. And number three, never, ever pick a fight with a satirist.
 
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