"infrastructure" entries

Four short links: 16 July 2010

Four short links: 16 July 2010

GPL Debate, Storage Costs, Social Software, Vodafone's Open Source

  1. GPL WordPress Theme Angst — a podcaster brought together Matt Mullenweg (creator of WordPress), and Chris Pearson (creator of the Thesis theme). Chris doesn’t believe WordPress’s GPL should be inherited by themes. Matt does, and the SFLC and others agree. The conversation is interesting because (a) they and the podcaster do a great job of keeping it civil and on-track and purposeful, and (b) Chris is unswayed. Chris built on GPLed software without realizing it, and is having trouble with the implications. Chris’s experience, and feelings, and thought processes, are replicated all around the world. This is like a usability bug for free software. (via waxpancake on Twitter)
  2. 480G SSD Drive — for a mere $1,599.99. If you wonder why everyone’s madly in love with parallel, it’s because of this order-of-magnitude+ difference in price between regular hard drives and the Fast Solution. Right now, the only way to rapidly and affordably crunch a ton of data is to go parallel. (via marcoarment on Twitter)
  3. Pandas and Lobsters: Why Google Cannot Build Social Software — this resonates with me. The primary purpose of a social application is connecting with others, seeing what they’re up to, and maybe even having some small, fun interactions that though not utilitarian are entertaining and help us connect with our own humanity. Google apps are for working and getting things done; social apps are for interacting and having fun. Read it for the lobster analogy, which is gold.
  4. WayfinderThe majority of all the location and navigation related software developed at Wayfinder Systems, a fully owned Vodafone subsidiary, is made available publicly under a BSD licence. This includes the distributed back-end server, tools to manage the server cluster and map conversion as well as client software for e.g. Android, iPhone and Symbian S60. Technical documentation is available in the wiki and discussions around the software are hosted in the forum. Interesting, and out of the blue. At the very least, there’s some learning to be done by reading the server infrastructure. (via monkchips on Twitter)
Comments: 2

Google Fiber and the FCC National Broadband Plan

I’ve puzzled over Google’s Fiber project ever since they announced it. It seemed too big, too hubristic (even for a company that’s already big and has earned the right to hubris) — and also not a business Google would want to be in. But the FCC’s announcement of their plans to widen broadband Internet access in the US puts Google Fiber in a new context. The FCC’s plans are cast in terms of upgrading and expanding the network infrastructure. That’s a familiar debate, and Google is a familiar participant. This is really just an extension of the “network neutrality” debate that has been going on with fits and starts over the past few years.

Comments: 13
Four short links: 22 October 2009

Four short links: 22 October 2009

Cognitive Surplus, Scaling, Chinese Blogs, CS Education for Growth

  1. Eight Billion Minutes Spent on Facebook Daily — you weren’t using that cognitive surplus, were you?
  2. How We Made Github Fast — high-level summary is that the new “fast, good, cheap–pick any two” is “fast, new, easy–pick any two”. (via Simon Willison)
  3. Isaac Mao, China, 40M Blogs and CountingToday, there are 40 million bloggers in China and around 200 million blogs, according to Mao. Some blogs survive only a few days before being shut down by authorities. More than 80% of people in China don’t know that the internet is censored in their country. When riots broke out in Xinjiang province this year, the authorities shut down internet access for the whole region. No one could get online.
  4. Congress Endorses CS Education as Driver of Economic Growth — compare to Economist’s Optimism that tech firms will help kick-start economic recovery is overdone.
Comments: 2

John Adams on Fixing Twitter: Improving the Performance and Scalability of the World's Most Popular Micro-blogging Site

Twitter is suffering outages today as they fend off a Denial of Service attack, and so I thought it would be helpful to post John Adams’ exceptional Velocity session about Operations at Twitter. Good luck today John & team… I know it’s going to be a long day! Update: Apparently Facebook & Livejournal have had similar attacks today. Rich Miller…

Comments: 2

John Adams on Fixing Twitter: Improving the Performance and Scalability of the World’s Most Popular Micro-blogging Site

Twitter is suffering outages today as they fend off a Denial of Service attack, and so I thought it would be helpful to post John Adams’ exceptional Velocity session about Operations at Twitter. Good luck today John & team… I know it’s going to be a long day! Update: Apparently Facebook & Livejournal have had similar attacks today. Rich Miller…

Comments: 2
Four short links: 9 July 2009

Four short links: 9 July 2009

  1. Ten Rules That Govern Groups — valuable lessons for all who would create or use social software, each backed up with pointers to the social science study about that lesson. Groups breed competition: While co-operation within group members is generally not so much of a problem, co-operation between groups can be hellish. People may be individually co-operative, but once put in a ‘them-and-us’ situation, rapidly become remarkably adversarial. (via Mind Hacks)
  2. Yahoo! TrafficServer Proposal — Yahoo! want to open source their TrafficServer product, an HTTP/1.1 caching proxy server. Alpha geeks who worked with it are excited at the prospect. It has a plugin architecture that means it can cache NNTP, RTSP, and other non-HTTP protocols.
  3. App Engine ConclusionsI’ve reluctantly concluded that I don’t like it. I want to like it, since it’s a great poster child for Python. And there are some bright spots, like the dirt-simple integration with google accounts. But it’s so very very primitive in so many ways. Not just the missing features, or the “you can use any web framework you like, as long as it’s django” attitude, but primarily a lot of the existing API is just so very primitive.
  4. Microsoft HohmSign up with Hohm and we’ll provide you with a home energy report and energy-saving recommendations tailored to your home. Wesabe for power at the moment, with interesting possibilities ahead should Microsoft partner with smartmetering utility companies the way Google Powermeter does. This is notable because this is a web app launched by Microsoft, with no connection to Windows or other Microsoft properties beyond requiring a “Live ID” to login. For commentary, see Microsoft Hohm Gets Green Light for Launch and PC Mag. (via Freaklabs)
Comment: 1

Announcing: Spike Night at Velocity

Guest blogger Scott Ruthfield is a Program Committee member of the O’Reilly Velocity: Web Performance & Operations Conference.  Web Operations is not for the casual observer: it’s for a particular kind of adrenaline junkie that’s motivated by graphs and servers spinning out of control.  Jumping in, on-your-feet analysis, and experience-based-experimentation are all part of solving new problems caused by unexpected user and machine behavior,…

Comments: 5

Velocity 2009 – Big Ideas (early registration deadline)

(tag cloud created from Velocity session & speaker information using wordle.net) My favorite interview question to ask candidates is: “What happens when you type www.(amazon|google|yahoo).com in your browser and press return?” While the actual process of serving and rendering a page takes seconds to complete, describing it in real detail can take an hour. A good answer spans every part…

Comments: 7
Four short links: 13 Apr 2009

Four short links: 13 Apr 2009

Worms, sorting, languages, and infrastructure:

  1. Twitter XSS Attacks (Lynne Pope) — several incarnations of a worm spread quickly across Twitter this weekend. Twitter profiles are generated by themes, whose parameters users can change. The user-supplied value for the colour was used directly in the CSS color field without filtering, which the original worm strain used to end the CSS and begin Javascript to put the worm into the profile of any Twitter user who viewed the infected profile. Infected users were made to tweet about the worm, with links that would infect anyone who viewed. The worm spread quickly through RTing one of the worm’s messages, which claimed to link to instructions on fighting the worm. Later variants use background-color and background parameters. Initial variations downloaded Javascript from mikeyylolz.uuuq.com, since closed down by its hosting company. Later variants download the code from stalkdaily.com, the site that the initial variation spammed about. I wonder whether the 17-year old author of the variants will be able to pay his inevitable legal bills through Google click dollars? (also interesting: Sophos and bdonews)
  2. Visualising Sorting — some beautiful and informative illustrations of how sorting algorithms work. (via @ajtowns)
  3. Art and Code: Obscure or Beautiful?In the presentation called “50 in 50″ you can see Guy Steele rap about APL and later in the video about spelling keywords backwards. The song about God wrote in Lisp code is also a part of the presentation. Among the languages mentioned are APL, Cobol, AP/I, Scheme, IPL-V, AED, Madcap, Piet, SNOBOL, ADA, Algol60, Intercal, Logo, Perligata, Shakespeare, Lucid, Occam, HQ9+, MUMBLE, Rake, Perl and of course Lisp. It kicks in at about 3m20s and is rather a post-modern presentation. (via
  4. Experiences Deploying Large-Scale Infrastructure in Amazon EC2As an aside, I’ve been very impressed with the reliability of EC2. Like many other people, I didn’t know what to expect, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Very rarely does an EC2 instance fail. In fact I haven’t yet seen a total failure, only some instances that were marked as ‘deteriorated’. When this happens, you usually get a heads-up via email, and you have a few days to migrate your instance, or launch a similar one and terminate the defective one. (via Simon Willison)

[Heapsort Illustration]

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AT&T Fiber cuts remind us: Location is a Basket too!

The fiber cuts affecting much of the San Francisco Bay Area this week are similar to the outages in the Middle East last year (radar post), although far more limited in scope and impact.   What I said last year still holds true and is repeated below: From an operations perspective these kinds of outages are nothing new, and underscore why…

Comments: 3