Damn Interesting


I’m killing time at my mother in law’s at the moment, before bussing it back to Sydney (on the way back to the US) tomorrow, and I figured I’d visit Damn Interesting again. Some of the gems from this trip:


Distributed scheduling recommended reading?


Ok, so part of why I’m hating the locking behaviour of MySQL is because I’m playing with scheduling a large distributed job for a personal project. I’ve talked to some folk about Beowulf, and it doesn’t seem to offer me much… Does anyone have any recommended reading on how research clusters solve this sort of problem that they would like to share in the comments?


More reviews


I just got back from a lovely four days in Tasmania, and am just now catching up with the resulting email backlog. There are some new alerts about reviews of the MythTV book in there which are worth pointing out:

I’m surprised and disappointed that the installation of MythTV through pre-built packages or a CD distributions like KnoppMyth or MythDora were not covered deeper than a sentence or two in passing. This is likely to be a turn off for readers who were hoping for a quick and simple method of getting MythTV up and going.

On the whole I consider this a good book that is excellent for the new to intermediate MythTV user, although advanced users may pick a few good pieces of information out of it as well. It was well written and covered most items at just about the right introductory (yes — practical) level. Once it has taught you the basics, you can then go and look up more details online for features you want to get more information about.

I think the comments about installation technique are fair, although the method described in the book is very likely to result in a nicely working MythTV system, which was not true for the MythTV packages that shipped with Ubuntu at the time of writing (they were a quite old version). Additionally, if you already have a Linux system you want to add MythTV to, then the way described in the book is better than the CD distributions because it doesn’t involve a reinstall. I think it’s horses for courses — CD distributions are better for new users, but not for advanced users.

I’ll add coverage of CD distributions to my TODO list of things to cover here sometime in the future.

Another review:

My main concern would be the assumption of prior Linux knowledge. The introduction states you need limited or no experience with Linux or Unix. I think that in this case, some time should have been taken to introduce complete Linux newcomers into the Ubuntu environment, which is something that wasn’t touched on an awful lot. The installation of Ubuntu was well-covered and is generally a very simple process, but after that not much time was given to familiarise the user with the Ubuntu environment used throughout the book.

The rest of the book is extremely well written, clear and is a very good companion to MythTV. True to its name, it takes a practical approach to solving problems and if you’re a Linux user interested in setting up a MythTV installation, it will make a very good resource.

Again, it is fair comment to say that we don’t spend much time introducing Ubuntu apart from the bits needed to get MythTV working (we talk about installing Ubuntu on bare metal, apt, packages, LVM, disk resizing and so forth). Then again, I imagine that most people who build a PVR machine for their living room only run the PVR software on the machine, and don’t tend to use the machine as a general purpose system. After all, who wants to write email on a TV sitting on the couch? Laptops are much better for that. There are also many excellent Ubuntu and Debian books out there already, so it would be a shame to lose focus on our core content and try to be too general. For those needing a more complete Ubuntu introduction I highly recommend Beginning Ubuntu, The Official Ubuntu Book and Ubuntu Hacks.

So, I’m going to chalk that up as two positive reviews, both with useful comments to consider for next time.


Zap2IT shutdown update


I’ve been silent on the Zap2IT shutdown issue for a week or so now, mainly because of travel, and also because I was waiting for something useful to happen. I’ve ready literally hundreds of emails of the users mailing list — many proposing architectures for distribution of data, or placing various demands about how much someone would be willing to pay for the data. I am yet to see someone actually sit down and write some code though.

So hence this update. There isn’t any useful news yet, except for a general reassurance that the developers promise that they are still working on a solution. So, keep on waiting is the plan for now…


On Akamai


Akamai has some interesting pages about their service that I want to be able to find later, so here they are:

  • Visualisation 1 — attacks, latency and traffic maps. During the July 4 holiday in the US, traffic levels were 14% below normal!
  • Visualisation 2 — performance comparison. Save nearly 60 milliseconds between Sydney and Cambridge, MA if you use Akamai.
  • Visualisation 3 — at the time I write this, Akamai is serving 1.9 million hits per second.

Akamai must have some interesting logging to produce this reporting.

Akamai’s technology at its core, applied mathematics and algorithms – has transformed the chaos of the Internet into a predictable, scalable, and secure platform for business and entertainment. The Akamai EdgePlatform comprises 20,000 servers deployed in 71 countries that continually monitor the Internet traffic, trouble spots and overall conditions. We use that information to intelligently optimize routes and replicate content for faster, more reliable delivery. As Akamai handles 20% of total Internet traffic today, our view of the Internet is the most comprehensive and dynamic collected anywhere.

So there you go.