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Babies vs Wi-Fi

A month ago today, I became a father. The past thirty days have been understandably life changing, only slightly tinged by a definitive lack of sleep.

But since I write for Gestalt IT, I can’t help but look to apply some IT principals to my newfound role of dad. The problem is, while even the glacial inertia of the enterprise adapts to changing technology over time, babies are decidedly resistant to change.

The main issues with said baby is the paucity of options when it comes to troubleshooting. This got me thinking about babies and Wi-Fi.

Consider that both have generally similar ticketing systems when it comes to problem. As a Wi-Fi admin, you get the dreaded “the Wi-Fi sucks” message. As a parent, I hear the shrieks and lamentations of my child. Both are devoid of actual information that can solve the problem. But they are both indicative of a bad user experience, that either as a parent or admin, you need to figure out the problem and correct it.

But managing Wi-Fi has a distinct advantage in this regard: client-side monitoring. If my users are telling me the Wi-Fi stinks, I can use a Raspberry Pi and something like NetBeez to get actual insight into qualitative experiences on the network. Or use a more holistic monitoring solution like Cape Networks, which uses custom hardware that gives you a simple Red/Green dashboard of user experience, and can show specifically where problems come up.

But as a parent, there’s no way for me to gain insight into the experience of my child. Quite simply, his condition is opaque, and I only really here from him right now when something is wrong. At this stage my troubleshooting is down to the most rudimentary steps in IT:

  1. Is it plugged in (has the baby been fed)?
  2. Did you try rebooting (change diaper)?
  3. If the answer to both of the above is yes and he’s still crying, furiously Google.

I can come up with any number of quantitative measures that correlate to baby happiness. I can log feeding times, mental stimulation, walks, swaddle time, naps, and the like. But the legacy infrastructure that is human infancy doesn’t give me the outputs I need to be proactive. There’s no network tap for my baby’s contentment (and I think mental port mirroring would require us to live in the Matrix).

Luckily this is a temporary frustration. For all it’s temporary limitations, my child will eventually become an ecosystem that can identify a desired state, and make moves autonomously to maintain that (theoretically within my policy driven limitations). Indeed, by his adolescence I may bemoan that I now have an intent-based teenager.

Of course my child is much cuter than a Wi-Fi network, so it makes dealing with these passing frustrations a lot easier. And unlike a surly Wi-Fi user, my child has a generously short memory for any temporary contentment outages.

I can’t wait to see what IT principles I can apply to him next!

About the author

Rich Stroffolino

Rich has been a tech enthusiast since he first used the speech simulator on a Magnavox Odyssey². Current areas of interest include ZFS, the false hopes of memristors, and the oral history of Transmeta.

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