How not to communicate novelty

Adam seems to have recovered from his initial embarrassment regarding the alleged lack of novelty around describing a Solaris 9 feature. There’s no such shame here—I look at S9 at one of our Dangerfield releases (along with S7), that didn’t get the respect it deserved. (There’s no comparison to S10.)

I mentioned in a previous entry that I wasn’t particularly proud of how I had talked about S9RM. In this vein, I dug up a paper I wrote for SUPerG 2001 in Amsterdam. SUPerG is a Sun conference for datacenter customers, and focusses a lot on best practices for large Solaris systems. I was pretty giddy after S9RM wrapped up, and wrote a paper to present there, on the various mechanisms we envisioned and were in the process of implementing. It was received very quietly.

While I was writing the paper, I was trying out various text analyzers. One that I used was the Lingua::EN::Fathom module, available at CPAN. The results?

13 $ perl superg-2001-paper.ltx
[ ... vocabulary list elided ... ]
Number of characters       : 19918
Number of words            : 2865
Percent of complex words   : 26.21
Average syllables per word : 1.9763
Number of sentences        : 104
Average words per sentence : 27.5481
Number of text lines       : 353
Number of blank lines      : 101
Number of paragraphs       : 69
Fog                        : 21.5044
Flesch                     : 11.6817
Flesch-Kincaid             : 18.4737

The Fog scale informally corresponds to the number of years of education an average reader needs to read the text once and understand it. (21.5 is somewhere in graduate school.) The Flesch scale rates text on a 100 point scale; higher is better, with 60 being a reasonable target. (It’s safe to say that 11 is not in the vicinity of 60.) The Flesch-Kincaid is meant to correlate roughly with the U.S. school grade: 18 (graduate school again) is bad. The indices agree: this text is not good, or clear, writing.

So this document is a pretty solid indicator that, indeed, I didn’t do a good job explaining the value of resource management. For posterity, I’m making the paper available. Now I work harder on not having sentences that are more than twenty seven words long, or use 25% complex words—and if there’s a resource management topic you would like to see examined, feel free to tell me and I’ll try to write something understandable.

And, yes, Tim and Andy are blameless.