March 17th, 2007

On Happiness (or, Hacking DHCPv6 for Fun and Profit)

I spent the last 3 days participating in a DHCPv6 workshop. The goals were to improve our understanding of the protocol and find recommendations on how to improve it, find and fix bugs in the various implementations, and to see how usable the state of the art is.

For the most part, it was a lot of fun (except of course the half day spent adding missing functionality that was stupid to have left out of my code).

Just helping out this kind of effort does help one feel better. So, arranging switches and setting up computers and plugging in cables was oddly rewarding. Building stuff, even a temporary lab, is cool.

Once the testing began in earnest, it was quite exciting seeing the systems actually do what they were supposed to. Many of these programs had never been tested with software written by other vendors.

I learned quite a lot. Plus we found some ambiguity with the specification... sometimes we all agreed on a recommended clarification, other times there were differences of opinion. Still, everyone understood the pluses and minuses of the various approaches, and that was quite nice. Heck, just the conversations that fleshed out the problems were enjoyable.

Spending time chatting with other people about the nitty-gritty details of the protocol, writing software, and so on was great. Since I work from home I don't get to talk shop much. Of course, conversation drifting to and from other unrelated topics, especially during (limited) after-hours socializing.

I guess you could say this workshop brought me joy.

What struck me today is the fact that happiness isn't necessarily a simple thing. All of these different aspects of the workshop were emotional pieces, tiny or small. There are different kinds of happinesses; some related, some not. Some types of reward take more effort to arrive at... certainly these geeky things aren't for everyone!

I guess at the end, all I'm really trying to say is that life is good, in ways both obvious and subtle. Enjoy them all!
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