The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Random snippets…

Posted By on November 26, 2013

So, for years I’ve sent myself emails saying “blog about this” and a link. I’m trying to get through them and actually do that, so here are a collection of links in that vein. Some of them are quite old, but I don’t think that they are particularly time-critical – the world hasn’t changed that much since they were published, so they are still interesting to me.

  • Dirty Harry Potter – Not dirty in the not safe for work sense, dirty in the Clint Eastwood sense. It’s a surprisingly interesting examination of the distribution of force in the Harry Potter universe (and, realistically, how their world would have been different had more folks carried guns, not wands)

  • Bufferbloat – This is a very interesting series of articles which, if you deal at all with networks, you should really read. Essentially, what it comes down to is this: internet protocols are designed to compensate for unreliable networks, lossy links, etc. When you add large buffers along the chain, it masks underlying transport problems and can actually lead to worse performance than if you just let the end-devices set their data rate “naturally”. Once again, KISS triumphs.

  • Is the bandwidth hog a myth? – The interesting part from this article is here:

The fact is that what most telcos call hogs are simply people who overall and on average download more than others. Blaming them for network congestion is actually an admission that telcos are uncomfortable with the ‘all you can eat’ broadband schemes that they themselves introduced on the market to get people to subscribe. In other words, the marketing push to get people to subscribe to broadband worked, but now the telcos see a missed opportunity at price discrimination

  • Not only are they uncomfortable with it, but the reason that they may be so is that they’re so overprovisioned that if everyone started using their capacity, they might gasp have to upgrade to a proper level of provisioning, which would cut into profit margins. Think about how many people in urban areas subscribe to cable internet and get surprisingly slow speeds because everyone is on it. If you couldn’t get phone service because “all circuits were busy”, you’d raise all manner of a ruckus, and when was the last time we had rolling blackouts in the US in major metropolitan areas as a matter of course? However, it’s perfectly normal to pay for 25Mbps and get 5Mbps, and when you complain, the cable company says that they have no guarantee of service. Now, in rural areas, it’s much better, because, assuming you have access, it’s NOT generally overprovisioned. Indeed, I typically get better network speed than everyone in my engineering group at work, except, perhaps, the guy with FIOS.


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