Sit Long And Prosper

Sit Long And Prosper

I had hooked up the scanner (along with the cassette tape player and the VCR deck) so I could digitize some of the goods / pictures / videos that my mom had collected / taken / performed in…

Things like, oh,
Duke Ellington Program
a Duke Ellington Program from 1966, or a video of her doing karaoke from 1991, or some of the 100s of thousands (yes, at least 6 figures of pictures) she took.

I took the time to resort some of the things she had kept for me, I found my ticket from the Star Trek 25th Anniversary Marathon… Sit Long and Propsper!

Picking a streaming media device

Picking a streaming media device

For the past couple of years, I’ve been patiently sitting on the sideline with regards to choosing a streaming media player. Yes, I know I can build my own HTPC and join the DIY crowd, however building and maintaining an HTPC is not something I want to spend my spare time doing; I’d rather pay someone to do so by buying a commercial product.

The commercial streaming market has matured and settled down in the past 2 years. Previously you had to have faith in unknown manufacturers with wonky GUIs and questionable reliability, and now you have the big internet players involved on most fronts: Google, Apple, Netflix, Western Digital, etc.

My reticence to get into the market is that my requirements haven’t changed, but have been difficulty to find in a single solution:

  1. Network File Sharing: I already have a server PC with a Raid-5 array that I use for archiving the growing amount of DSLR RAW files, as well as 720p HD video taken with my Nikon D90. Whatever device must have the ability to use a network file sharing protocol that is not HTTP and does not use UPNP for file streaming.
  2. Netflix: Device must be able to stream Netflix.
  3. Hulu/Hulu Plus: Should be able to stream Hulu.
  4. Amazon Video on Demand: My wife has gotten hooked on AVoD, and since we are now Prime members, it’s free to stream.
  5. Codec Support: The device should handle AVI/MPEG/MKV/DIVX/XVID/MP3/etc. It should not be a one-trick pony that requires re-encoding on the fly.

So I set out to gather the true information to make my decision…

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The Spotify Catch

The Spotify Catch

So Spotify.. the web’s new hotness. It’s basically the old Rhapsody or old or napster; a streaming media library but for free and with some nice social media integration.

Had a bit of an argument with a friend as to why he thought it was better… All he had was “It’s Free.” I also pointed out that Pandora was free, and limited you to an amount of hours per month…

So once I finally got my invite, I got to see what the catch was:

“The Spotify Service can be accessed (i) as an ad-supported free-to-the-user service having no monthly cap on listening hours or a cap on number of plays of a unique track during the first 6 months following creation of your Spotify account but thereafter a cap of 10 listening hours per month and a cap of 5 plays per unique track (the “Free Service”), ”

Pandora allows for 40 hours per month, however you cannot request / play specific songs. Yes, you can create an artist channel, but Pandora’s pricing paid thru to ASCAP and BMI is based on their non-specificity of playback.

Napster is $5 a month ($10 if you mobile streaming), Rhapsody is $10 a month ($15 for more than 1 mobile player). Both non-direct station-based streaming services and Pandora both charge $3 a month, but as stated, you can’t listen to specific songs directly. If you want mobile playing, Spotify is $10 a month. So much for Free. Napster and Rhapsody have a 14 day trial; Spotify’s is basically 180 days.

So I’m less impressed by Spotify the more I find out about it. Just not “Social” enough to care what people think about my music selection.

Clear DNS Cache in Windows and Linux

Clear DNS Cache in Windows and Linux

As a reminder to myself, the proper way to clear the DNS cache on a windows machine (be it Windows 7, Vista, or XP) is to do:

ipconfig /flushdns

In some versions of Linux (Centos 5.6 confirmed), usually the name service cache daemon is installed to manage DNS cache. To clear NSCD do

/etc/init.d/nscd restart

And… If you happen to have installed bind9 as a caching name server, use:
rndc flush

IPv6 Feature Equality.

IPv6 Feature Equality.

I decided that the next big thing is IPv6. Good time to get ahead of the curve; in 18 months the crap is going to hit the fan; I will have highly marketable skills as I will be a precision instrument of speed and aeromatics…

The biggest problem I’ve been running into is Feature Equality, i.e. things may work for IPv4, but most programs really don’t have any or full IPv6 feature equality.

For example, I have a Juniper firewall as a home CPE device. However, running the latest JunOS on it, I cannot enter an IPv6 address on a Vlan. But, I can via the GUI. Wacky. But when I’m talking about Feature Equality, you can configure the firewall to do DHCP using IPv4, but it won’t allow you to configure DHCPv6 on the device; I guess Juniper believes SLAAC or static IP address assignment is the way of the future. And, you can’t even setup an address name on the CLI, it doesn’t know what an IPv6 address looks like:

[edit security zones security-zone trust]
admin@firewall# set address-book address foobar 2001:470:8986:1::10/128
invalid ip address or hostname: 2001:470:8986:1::10/128 at '2001:470:8986:1::10/128'

Oh and lord knows DHCPv6 doesn’t have problems. There’s no ipv6 routers option. None. Been talked about, but there’s no way to specifically tell an IPv6 client what its gateway is. Because we all know that it just needs to be told it’s IP subnet, it can figure out the rest… I’d hate to be on a network with Windows XP/Vista set up for Internet Access Sharing; each Windows box will announce itself as a router (i.e. Router Announcement) and you may end up with your entire LAN routing thru a tunnel on someone’s Windows desktop instead of that Juniper Firewall (Yea, I can’t set Router Announcement priority on the SRX either).

Once you get past that, and have a dual-stack or native desktop, good luck getting full featured IPv6 out of your applications.

If I want to connect to my internal CPE device to manage its configuration, I connect to https://2001:470:8986:1::1. I do not want however, want to search for information about https://2001:470:8986:1::1…

But at least you’re not the only one; Firefox doesn’t work either…

And yes, IPv6 is working:

Oh, btw: I can hit the Forward resolving host (i.e. but can’t hit the IP address in Chrome either.

I’m in the Wrong Business.

I’m in the Wrong Business.

This isn’t from the point of view of a furious subscriber to a service, but that of a peer in a similar industry.

From Lord Of The Rings Online:

As the final stage of our datacenter move, all Turbine games will be offline on Tuesday February 23, from 4:00AM – 4:00PM Eastern Time (-5 GMT). Websites, including, forums, wikis, and social networks will be available, but players may be unable to log in or access their account information during this time. We thank you for your patience while we complete the move!

If I went to my boss and told her that “We need to do a datacenter move, which, in my consulting with every other operations team, will require a 12 hour downtime,” I think she’d laugh in my face and go talk to HR about my further employment.

I’ve worked in providing internet access, either to the business traveler, in a dial-up ISP, a web-hosting ISP, the worlds largest Tier1 network provider (at the time), and now providing internet-based services. I’m amazed when a business can provide this type of inept service to their customer base.

It just goes to show you that the real players in the internet-services space know how to build in redundancy, scale, and resilience into their product.

Redundancy: How about multiple datacenters guys? I understand the need to have centralized shards and back end database servers, but when your entire product goes offline because you’ve got a single point of failure somewhere shows that you need to push the data closer to the front-end servers.

Scale: If you’ve got at least 11 shards, that’s probably 10 too many. I understand the need to lower latency, really, I completely understand; jitter is my enemy. However, if none of these survives because your login server or front-end access servers can’t scale beyond a certain number of concurrent logged in users, you need to look at doing it differently, especially when all the graphics and all the maps and all the physics and all the etc is handled on the 11 Gig client installed on your users’ computers, essentially at the core of your shards is a long term storage database, a short term storage database, and tens of thousands of UDP updates that can be highly localized so that only the information the character would ever see will be sent their way. Maybe look at different hardware (Sun has some highly threaded servers now that can handle the amazing amount of UDP packets required should you need to handle 20,000 users with 20ms update packetization) to break out of the norm.

Resiliency: If you have single points of failure that take down your entire system, then you need to look at developing a system that allows for diminished running should that single point go down. For example, if your huge honking 32 processor Sun/Oracle database server dies, can your customers still subscribe to your service, and use your service in a normal or degraded state? Yes, somewhere something has to track that these 6 characters defeated Kranluk, but does that need to be stored centrally or can it make its way to the central DB eventually?

I interviewed for a job which had the complete change management and maintenance mode one in any operations group would dream for; at 5pm on Friday night, they shut down their service. From that time until 8am on Sunday morning, they had full reign to re-install servers, update router software, make firewall changes, etc. But it had to be up at 5pm on Sunday or millions of dollars in transactions would be lost per minute. As much as the cellphone industry has allowed other companies to provide the same level of poor service, the Financial Industry knows no such lack of service. I think Turbine should aspire more towards the loftier goal of a no outage service like those who run financial companies than be like those who manage cellular networks.

Network Musings, Feb 12, 2010

Network Musings, Feb 12, 2010

Microsoft QA approved patch that causes XP BSODs. Patch meant to fix 17 year old but recently discovered issue.

“After installing today’s update 02/09/10 I now get the BSoD PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA 0x00000050,” said one user, who goes by the screen name Sacdan69. “This has happened to both my wife’s computer and my nephew’s.”

AMD to bring new chips to the plate to compete with Intel i5/i7.

AT&T stays with a well worn relationship with Alcatel/Lucent and Ericsson (Remember EDGE – Ericsson’s technology) to move forward with LTE. Though I think WIMAX is a better technology for delivering high speed internet access over wireless, LTE will leverage already existing infrastructure. And really now it’s just Sprint/Intel/Clear to deliver WIMAX.

Cisco and Juniper start diving in on the Cellular Data bandwagon. Not that any of this is really all that hard; it’s just a matter of how close do you put your internet peers to the towers, and how to QoS the voice (because at that point it really is VoIP) over the Data traffic.

Not sure what to think about Google wanting to deploy a single community’s fiber for 1Gbps to the home. I’d imagine you’d have to (i.e. the community) sign away users’ privacy and allow certain behavioral monitoring to happen.

Level3 continues to lose money. If the company weren’t so important to carriers and government alike, it would have been out of business a long time ago.

The Broomfield-Colo.-based service provider lost $182 million in the three months ending Dec. 31 – that’s compared to a year-earlier profit of $43 million. The number also outpaced 2009’s third-quarter losses of $170 million. Revenue fell, too, by 12 percent to $921 million. On the whole, the losses were higher than analysts expected.

A key VoIP patent will get further scrutiny by the USPTO after significant prior art is provided.

According to a statement released by the EFF on Friday, the VoIP patent — which covers systems where the internet is used to route and maintain voice calls made between analogue phones — should not have been granted because “both a prior patent and published reference materials described the underlying technology” long before the applicant, Acceris, made its claim in 1995.

It’s one thing to require physical access to a chip and special acid to dissolve parts of said chip to effect a hack, it’s another when enough simple hardware concealed in a backpack could be used. You know it’s a good hack when the response from the vendor (in this case it’s the Chip and PIN and the Payment Card Industry) is:

“We never said chip-and-PIN was completely infallible,” a spokeswoman said Friday. “We firmly believe it [the attack] is not really plausible in a day-to-day environment. They’ve created a convoluted way of committing this fraud.”

The demise of Veoh shows that copyright and patent law in the United States is anti-innovation and anti-competitive. But as long as Disney owns Congress, the copyright laws will always be written so that Steamboat Willie will never be out of Disney’s copyright. Since Disney died in 1966, this won’t be a problem until 2041.

Sagem Orga builds WiFi hotspot capability straight into the GSM Sim. No need for a MiFi device.

Network Musings, Feb 08, 2010

Network Musings, Feb 08, 2010

Ars Technica has a round up of the future CPU architecture. More cores and threads in more places. IBM is also retuning their POWER architecture.

When I read articles touting an tech certification earning more money than another, I often wonder if the reason for the income differential isn’t some self-serving in-industry backscratch to promote the certification (through government regulations, laws, etc) rather than provide some real return on investment.

In a follow-up article, Brodkin reported on a survey carried out for the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, (ISC)^2, which showed “that holders of the CISSP, SSCP or CAP certifications who work in the Americas and have at least five years experience earn [an average of] $102,376 per year – more than $21,000 higher than IT pros who also have five years experience but lack the certifications.”

Juniper gets interviewed about their focus for next year. Though I’m having a hard time believing that reducing tiers in datacenters will reduce complexity. It’s more like it increases a company’s reliance upon a single vendor; and when you start making your layers do more, it definitely becomes more complicated requiring higher paid engineers with certifications.

When you reduce a tier, a layer, by definition you save in cost, you save in power and you have better latency that translates to better performance. So this is why we’re winning a number of data center deals — including the New York Stock Exchange — with our two-tier approach, the fixed configuration EX3200 and EX4200 in the front, and the modular EX 8200 switches in the back. And very frequently, MX will become part of the equation when the customer looks at edge routing.

Google Mystery Domain ( takes up a lot of internet traffic. Doing 3 minutes of analysis, I’m of the opinion this is for non-search (i.e. non interfacing traffic, like that from chrome, apps, etc.

Teen Blogging is in decline. It’s the closed feedback loop coupled with ADHD. Why blog if no one reads? Why write if no one reads? Twitter thought it had cornered the market on blogs, because everyone liked SMS at 140 characters, why not microblogs. Now if you have no followers, whats the point of Tweeting? Twitter quickly de-evolving into a secondary market channel for Celebrities / Famous People / And Businesses.

“Teenagers do not use Twitter,” he wrote. “Most have signed up to the service, but then just leave it as they realise that they are not going to update it (mostly because texting Twitter uses up credit, and they would rather text friends with that credit). They realise that no one is viewing their profile, so their tweets are pointless.”

DECT Phone encryption broken by cryptographers. Key takeaway is public algorithm review:

“It relied on the fact that the encryption was unknown and hence could not be broken. This is a case where something that has some potential for being strong is broken by just this one design decision that in any public review would have been spotted immediately.”

ZeuStracker turns 1. Happy Birthday!