Re: Where rhetoric meets reality (routing)

Subject: Re: Where rhetoric meets reality (routing)
From: Joe Schrengohst <jschreng -at- CISCO -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 1999 11:20:40 -0700


DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed here are my own, not my client's.

While I can sympathize with your problem (fake IP addresses in examples),
if you're learning to configure routers you should be aware that these "fake"
(non-routable addresses) are used in the documentation for a good reason.

If you put real IP addresses (your own, someone else's, or a "made up" but
real address), there's some idiot out there that's not only going to "ping" it,
he's going to try all the latest "security breaches" to see if he can get into
the site, bring the site down, or otherwise create havoc and hostility. The
liability the publisher of the manual could face for using a "real" IP address
isn't worth the added "realism" for the reader.

If you have a real router and real IP addresses of your own, then using the
examples and substituting your own IP addresses shouldn't pose a problem.
The manuals you refer to should have explained what real IP addresses are,
what they look like (dotted decimal format), but they should NEVER EVER
use anyone's actual IP addresses.

And you can forget about getting "a few IP addresses set aside for examples."
It isn't going to happen because there aren't enough IP addresses to go around
as it is. Hopefully, IP Version 6 will cure this problem.

At 01:46 AM 6/17/1999 -0700, you wrote:
>My question for the list was anticipated, maybe even precipitated, by the
>recent 'fake names' thread. I'm amazed that the rhetorical use of names in
>examples can cause problems, and I've got a more extreme example of how
>this "referent problem" forces us to go to some lengths to avoid possible
>inconveniences, legal problems, etc..
>Anyway, this is a documentation issue, so I hope someone will weigh in with
>useful idea or solution.
>The problem: I used a book from one of the big computer presses to get
>some ideas on how to write about command line commands on routers. The
>examples they used were entirely made up using non-internet-routable
>addresses, even where the command syntax called for an internet-routable IP
>address. These dessicated examples are bad news for me, when I'm learning
>about this stuff!
>The risk of publishing a real routable IP address must be too great,
>(someone might actually ping it?) so we get examples that don't look right.
> This is slightly different problem from the 'fake names' problem, where a
>solution needs the form of a name to work for the reader; with IP addresses
>it is the actual numbers that look right or wrong.
>To me, these examples look egregiously wrong and misleading. It's like
>kneading a cobblestone to learn how to make bread, you loose the hands-on
>information. I wonder why real examples of network configuration tasks are
>not valued by the publishers/editors/writers/students? Is it because these
>things are usually taught in a classroom where embellishment is possible?
>For my money, the market for self-paced courseware books and certification
>is robust and publishers should be able to have a few IP addresses set
>aside for examples. A few blocks on a few different networks, a few blocks
>on different subnets and fairly lifelike examples would be easy to create.
>Clearly, non-routable addresses in routable address examples is something
>that professionals can learn to live with (the network engineers I talk to
>fairly sneer at this idea), but as an exercise in problem solving and a
>demonstration of professional demeanor, shouldn't Internic, or a standards
>body, or STC, or some big organization with lots of money/clout/ip
>addresses set up an address reservation for us poor example-starved users
>and writers of internet hardware/software docs?
>Is there a better solution that I'm overlooking?
>Edward Bedinger
>Edword Technical Communications Co.
>Seattle, WA

Joe Schrengohst
Contract Technical Writer
Cisco Systems
Network Software Services Unit
170 West Tasman Drive
San Jose, CA 95134
E-Mail: jschreng -at- cisco -dot- com
Cisco Phone: (408) 527-9844
Cisco Fax: (408) 527-1488
Home Phone: (775) 782-4129
Home Fax: (775) 782-5585

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