- 4 min read

Podcast: Break Things on Purpose | Unpopular Opinions

Time for a bit of a review! Join Jason as he looks back on some previous guests who have shared some opinions that range from the idiosyncratic to down right unpopular. Pulling from a handful of “Breaking Things” interviews, Jason covers death to VPNs, to the validity of “AI Ops,” check out the litany!

Show Notes

In this episode, we cover:

  • 00:00:00 - Introduction
  • 00:00:38 - Death to VPNs
  • 00:02:45 - “I do not like React hooks.”
  • 00:03:50 - A Popular (?) Opinion


Pat: Good thing you're putting that on our SRE focused pod.

Brian: Yeah, well, they can take that to their front end developers and say, well, Brian Holt told me that hooks suck.

Jason: Welcome to break things on purpose, an opinionated podcast about reliability and technology. As we launch into 2022, we thought it would be fun to ask some of our previous guests about their unpopular opinions.

Zack butcher joined the show in August, 2021, to chat about his work on the Istio service mesh and its role in building more reliable, distributed systems. Here's his unpopular opinion on network security.

Zack: I mean, can I talk about how I'm going to kill all the VPNs in the world? Uh, VPNs don't need to exist anymore. and that's stuff that I've actually been saying for years now. So it's so funny. We're finally realizing multi cluster Kubernetes. Right? I was so excited maybe two years ago at Kubecon and I finally heard people talk about multi cluster and I was like, oh, we finally arrived! It's not a toy anymore! Because when you have one, it's a toy, we have multiple, you're actually doing things. However, how do people facilitate that? I had demos four years ago of multicluster routing and traffic management on Istio. It was horrendous to write. It was awful. It's way better the way we do now. But, you know, the whole point that almost that entire time, I would tell people like, I'm going to kill VPN, there's no need for VPNs.

There's a small need for like user privacy things. Right? That's a different category. But by and large, when organizations use a VPN, it's really about extending their network, right. It's about a network based trust model. And so I know that when you have reachability, that is that authorization, right? That's the old paradigm. VPNs enabled that. Fundamentally that doesn't work with the world that we live in anymore. it just doesn't, that's just not how security works, sorry. Uh, in, in these highly dynamic environments that we live in now. and so I actually think at this point in time, for the most part, actually VPNs probably cause more problems than solutions given the other tools that we have around.

So yeah, so my unpopular opinion is that I want them to go away and be replaced with Envoy sidecars doing the encryption for all kinds of stuff. I would love to see that on your machine too. Right. I would love to see, you know, I'm, I'm talking to you on a Mac book. I would love for there to be a small sidebar there that actually is proxying that and doing things like identity and credential exchange in some way. Because that's a much stronger way to do security and to build your system, then things like a VPN.

Jason: In April, 2021, Brian Holt shared some insightful, and hilarious, incidents and his perspective on Frontend Chaos Engineering. He shared his unpopular opinion with host Pat Higgins

Brian: My unpopular opinion is that I do not like react hooks. And if you get people from the react community there's going to be some people that are legitimately going to be upset by that.

I think they demo really well. And like the first time you show me some of that, it's just amazing and fascinating, but maintaining the large code bases full of hooks just quickly devolves into a performance mess, you get into like weird edge cases. And long-term, I think they actually have more cognitive load because you have to understand closures , really well to understand hooks really well. Whereas the opposite way, which is doing with react components. You have to understand this in context a little bit, but not a lot. So anyway, that's my very unpopular react opinion is that I don't like hooks and I wish we didn't have them.

Pat: Good thing you're putting that on our SRE focused pod.

Brian: Yeah, well, they can take that to their front end developers and say, well, Brian Holt told me that hooks suck.

Jason: In November, Gustavo Franco dropped by to chat about building an SRE program at VMWare and the early days of Chaos Engineering at Google, we suspect his strongly held opinion is in fact, quite popular.

Gustavo: About technology in general, the first thing that comes to mind, like the latest pet peeve in my head is really AIOps, as a term. It really bothers me. I think it's giving a name to something that is not there yet. It may come one day.

So I could rant about AIOps forever. But the thing I would say is that, I dunno, folks selling AIOps solutions, like, look into improving, statistics functions in your products first. Yeah, it's, it's just a pet peeve. I know it doesn't really change anything to me day to day basis just every time I see something related to AIOps or people asking me, you know, if my teams ever implement AIOps it bothers me.

Maybe about technology at large, just quickly, is kind of the same realm and how everything is artificial intelligence now. Even when people are not using machine learning at all. So everything quote unquote is an AI like queries and keyword matching for things. And people were like, oh, this is like an AI. This is more like for journalists, right? Like, I don't know if any journalists ever listen to this, but if they do, not everything that uses keyword matching's AI or machine learning.

The computers are not learning, people! The computers are not learning! Calm down!

Jason: The computers are not learning, but we are. And we hope that you'll learn along with us.

To hear more from these guests and listen to all of our previous episodes. Visit our website at gremlin.com/podcast. You can automatically receive all of our new episodes by subscribing to the Break Things on Purpose podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app. Our theme song is called Battle of Pogs by Komiku and is available on loyaltyfreakmusic.com.