Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest: Updates in a Mass or through a straw?

Oktoberfest is here: Lederhosen, Dirndl, and the Mass. That’s the word for the massive one-liter beer mug people drink their beer from at the Munich festival.

Beer is a traditional and historic beverage (if you forget about high-density brewing) – and so is the way it’s served. Ceramic mugs from the dawn of time, clear glass from the time of the Industrial Revolution onwards. A Mass of beer is just that: a one liter of beer and/or the beer mug (also called a Maßkrug that can hold it.

On the consumption side, a Mass is really traditional, especially in Bavaria. It’s so big, the beer can get warm by the time you reach the bottom – and the empty mug still weighs 1.35 kilos. Just for clarity, there is no discernable weight difference between light and dark beer.

Nobody said drinking a beer is easy – and delivering it is much more difficult. Think about the work of delivering 10 full beers? At a cumulative 23.5 kilos, that’s a huge workout for those beer maids.

Got a Mass for your device?

Apart from tradition, the Mass also has a very practical angle to it at Oktoberfest: People get a lot more beverage in one lump sum. It reduces the needed foot traffic to service the millions of visitors with their desired beverage by about half. Think about this, in a large Oktoberfest tent, there can be over 11,000 thirsty people.

Your computer used to get its security software in a Mass. It was just called the daily virus database update – or something like that. Every morning when starting up the device, you had to wait for your antivirus to kick in, wait for this to be downloaded, then you were all set to go out into the dangerous online world.

But then the sheer volume of malware increased along with the number of zero-day threats. Once a day was really not enough with updates getting stale and vulnerable within a day. Security firms started breaking down the daily update into smaller sized lots. Instead of a whooping huge Mass, we started getting a smaller half liter, or even a 0.3l glass of malware protection headed our way– and sent around more frequently.

Hey, there is some Artificial Intelligence in my Oktoberfest beer

Thinking outside of the glass, there is much more to the picture than a liter of beer. There are food items, a couple beer types, beer sizes, even pretzels.  What each beer tent would really like is an extra-smart waiter that sizes up potential customers and has their beverage and food choice ready for them on the table, all within that short time window between when they walk in the front door of the tent and when they sit down.

This effort to detect user desires does take place, powered by advanced statistical analysis and algorithms, although maybe not in a beer tent. The current buzzword for it is AI or machine learning. In the security field, it means that Avira sorts and sifts unknown files with a few thousand variables to find the potential threats, then slipping this info to the end user via the cloud as quickly as possible.

The cloud is someone else’s barrel … but my straw

When it comes to beer, and security information; it’s not just the size or the frequency, but it’s the connection.

Instead of a huge Mass or even a smaller shot glass, think of an online straw for sipping down updates from a barrel of information. Yep, thousands of people with their straws immersed in a shared pot of malware analysis. That doesn’t seem like Oktoberfest, because sharing glasses is a cultural fauxpas. But they do elsewhere. In East African villages they will share a pot of ajono millet beer – one person, one straw, one common pot. Sounds like the modern cloud to me, and a lot more modern than the Mass.

This post is also available in: German

As a PR Consultant and journalist, Frink has covered IT security issues for a number of security software firms, as well as provided reviews and insight on the beer and automotive industries (but usually not at the same time). Otherwise, he’s known for making a great bowl of popcorn and extraordinary messes in a kitchen.