Is the Web Down: a Practical Tutorial on How the Web Works

Accepted Session
Short form
Scheduled: Thursday, June 18, 2009 from 1:45 – 2:30pm in Marquam


You click on a link and you can't get to your favorite web site. Now what? Is the web site down? Is it your connection? Is it something in between? How can you figure out what's wrong if you don't know how it works? We'll show you everything that happens after you click a link so next time the web site is down you'll know what to do to fix it.


Most users have only a vague idea of how the web works. They click on a link and their precious pictures of baby zoo animals come up… somehow. Something about HTTP or HTML… there’s a server somewhere… and some magic rainbow ponies to carry all the data around. Without knowing how it works, you can’t solve even the most basic problems. This is why you’ll hear other people ask, “is Google down for anyone else?”

We’ll explain it all. You’ll learn enough to know how it all works and what might have broken. We’ll explain how your web browser talks to web servers, how web pages show up on your screen, and what you can do to take control of your browser. How your computer knows what server to talk to and how the Internet gets information from point A to point B without anyone “owning” the Internet. We’ll explain lots of acronyms you might have heard before and what they do: HTML, HTTP, DNS, TCP, and UDP all on the PDQ with extra TLC and a touch of LOL to boot.

After this talk you’ll have a broad understanding of how the web and its plumbing works.

Speaking experience


  • N559477483 1665771 3000

    Joshua Keroes

    Integra Telecom


    Joshua has been getting paid to write Perl since 1997. His first programs fingerprinted every NNTP news server on the internet to determine what software each was using. These days, he uses Perl to manage network devices and systems.


  • Schwern round tuit oscon 2005


    Schwern has a copy of Perl 6, he lets Larry Wall borrow it and take notes.

    Schwern once sneezed into a microphone and the text-to-speech conversion was a regex that turns crap into gold.

    Damian Conway and Schwern once had an arm wrestling contest. The superposition still hasn’t collapsed.

    Schwern was the keynote speaker at the first YAPC::Mars.

    When Schwern runs a smoke test, the fire department is notified.

    Dan Brown analyzed a JAPH Schwern wrote and discovered it contained the Bible.

    Schwern writes Perl code that writes Makefiles that write shell scripts on VMS.

    Schwern does not commit to master, master commits to Schwern.

    SETI broadcast some of Schwern’s Perl code into space. 8 years later they got a reply thanking them for the improved hyper drive plans.

    Schwern once accidentally typed “git pull —hard” and dragged Github’s server room 10 miles.

    There are no free namespaces on CPAN, there are just modules Schwern has not written yet.

    Schwern’s tears are said to cure cancer, unfortunately his Perl code gives it right back.