"infrastructure" entries

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…

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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…

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It's Really Just a Series of Tubes

Molly Wright Steenson hit the Ignite jackpot at Etech this year with her explanation of the steam powered network of pneumatic tubes of the 1800s. If you’re someone that, like me, has a [somewhat obsessive relationship with Internet Infrastructure](http://conferences.oreilly.com/velocity), you must watch this talk.

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Four short links: 30 Jan 2009

Four short links: 30 Jan 2009

Two serious links and two fun today, thanks to Waxy and BoingBoing:

  1. EveryBlock Business Model Brainstorming — Adrian Holovaty’s project was funded by a Knight Foundation grant that’s about to run out. The software will be open sourced but he’s inviting suggestions of business models that would enable the project team to continue working on it full-time. Having used and created open source to show newspaper companies how to do journalism online, will he now work on an open source way for them to make money?
  2. Infrastructure for Modern Web Sites — Leonard Lin lays out what’s required in systems and platforms for modern web sites. Perl succeeded in part because its data types were the things you had to deal with (files, text, sockets). Will the next gen of tools (the ‘Rails killer’ if you will) offer users, taggable objects, social objects, etc. as primitives?
  3. Academic Earth — takes open courseware from different universities and integrates them into a coherent UI. Transcripts. Slurp.
  4. Love2D — a Lua-based 2D game engine. I’m looking at it to see whether it works for me as the next step for 9 year-old kids interesting in programming games in my computer club.
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Service Monitoring Dashboards are mandatory for production services!

Google App Engine went down earlier today. GAE is still a developer preview release, and currently lacks a public monitoring dashboard. Unfortunately this means that many people either found out from their app and/or admin consoles being unavailable or from Mike Arrington's post on TechCrunch. Google has a strong Web Operations culture, and there are numerous internal monitoring tools in…

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Automated Infrastructure Podcast on IT Conversations

Adam Jacob and I did an IT Conversations podcast with Phil Windley last week, which I really enjoyed. We started with a summary of Adam's excellent Web2.0 Expo session, covered the phases of startup growth using virtual infrastructures like EC2 and 3tera, and discussed how Puppet shifts us to "Infrastructure as Code". We even got into the challenges and opportunities…

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Structure and Velocity

Several people have asked me about the differences between Om Malik’s Structure conference and our Velocity Web Performance & Operations conference.  Velocity is on June 23 & 24th at the SFO Mariott, and Structure follows on June 25th in San Francisco.  The conferences are complementary: Structure discusses what is changing in internet infrastructure, and Velocity teaches how to make that…

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What is Web Operations?

Theo Schlossnagle wrote a brilliant summary of one of the biggest challenges we discussed at the Velocity Summit in January:What is this Velocity Summit thing? It was a bunch of web architects from highly trafficked sites sitting around talkin' smack. It was operated in Foo style. However, one thing that made me really appreciate this meet-up was the lack of…

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Amazon improves EC2 (by embracing failure)

Amazon just announced two big improvements to EC2: Multiple LocationsAmazon EC2 now provides the ability to place instances in multiple locations. Amazon EC2 locations are composed of regions and Availability Zones. Regions are geographically dispersed and will be in separate geographic areas or countries. Currently, Amazon EC2 exposes only a single region. Availability Zones are distinct locations that are engineered…

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