Josh Work Professional Organizations Trip Reports Conference Report: 1998 Advanced Technical Workshop

Tuesday, December 8, 1998
Adam Moskowitz <>, Facilitator
Rob Kolstad <>, Co-chair and Scribe


We first went around the room introducing ourselves, the quantity of users and the quantity and type of hosts we supported (whether individually or as part of a team), and 2-5 topics we wanted to discuss during the day. We came up with ranges of up to 10,000 users, 10,000 PCs, 2,000 Macs, and 3,000 Unix hosts of various flavors. Other notes were multiple terabytes of disk storage (with projected short-term growth to exceed a petabyte), strange printer requirements, and extremely high growth rates (up to 400%/year).


After determining the list of possible topics, we took a quick vote of what topics would be of general enough interest to discuss in the session. We determined that we wanted to talk, in general, about:

First we discussed the issue of internal consistency and standardization in technical practices. We tried to look at the "problem," but realized that we all had slightly different ways of looking at it — which was unsurprising considering that we had 31 people in the room, all with different backgrounds and experiences and so on. We seemed to agree in general that creating standards is challenging, enforcing them is a hard problem, there are many more variables than may be obvious at first look, and so on. The concept of a "taxonomy" or categorization of problems into areas seemed to make sense to a lot of the folks present.

We next had a free-form discussion on cool systems administration tools and paradigms. Some general comments were:

Next we discussed hot technologies, rumors, and similar prognostications. One hot technology we talked about is XML, the Extensible Markup Language. It is self-verifying, easy to parse, easy to search, and has a universal file format. It's different from SGML in that it doesn't include the hard-to-implement features. XML is written in Unicode.

The next hot technology we see on the horizon is Unicode. It represents all characters (including non-Roman alphabets like Cyrillic, Hebrew, Farsi, and so on). Microsoft Office 2000 uses Unicode; rumor has it that Word already uses it too.

Other hot technologies we seemed to think were coming soon are voice over IP, directory services becoming more important, applications will support more location independence, voice input and/or recognition will grow in the next year, and digital camera use will continue to rise.

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Last update Jul16/05 by Josh Simon (<>).