Search This Blog

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Comcast Revisited

A bit ago I wrote a Mac Chaos-inspired parody of the Comcast board room, explaining how they'd gotten into this P2P bandwidth crisis they're in, and proposing that the true cause of their crisis is that they'd signed up massively too many users for their old infrastructure while steadily increasing speeds offered to subscribers. A post on P2PNet today lends strong support for that conclusion.
There really is a problem on (at least some) cable upstreams today, based on what I hear from people I respect who have the data. My hope - which won’t be tested until 2009 - is that the DOCSIS 3.0 upstream will resolve most or all of the problems for the next few years. Full DOCSIS 3.0 has a minimum of 120 megabits upstream (shared) among typically 300 homes, something like 400K per subscriber. Current cable modems typically have 8 to 30K per subscriber. This is a huge difference.

While those 'K' don't indicate whether those are kilobits or kilobytes, a bit of quick math tells us that those are kilobit counts. In other words, currently Comcast is allocating a minimum of 1 to 4 KBps for each subscriber. As well, IIRC, Comcast sells 384 to 768 Kbps upstream connections. That puts the overselling ratio between 13 and 100.

Another section is also interesting, for comparison with DSL and FIOS:
Verizon, AT&T, and are strongly on the record they do not have significant congestion problems. They do not have a shared local loop, and have allocated much more bandwidth per customer. I’ve sat at the network console of a large ISP and seen they had essentially no congestion amongst the millions of subscribers they served. They allocate 250K per subscriber, much more than current cable.

It's not clear who these figures are for. I believe AT&T DSL doesn't offer more than like 768 Kbps upstream, in which case this would be an overselling ratio of 3. If this is Verizon FIOS (let's say at 5 Mbps, which is their faster speed), that's an overselling ratio of 20. Suddenly it seems very unsurprising that Comcast is having problems and AT&T/Verizon are not. It also shows you who's been investing in their network over the last decade and who hasn't.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

& Other Strange Ocurrences

As it turns out, the earthquake this morning was actually the second highly unusual thing to happen today. The first occurred late last night, as I was going into the bathroom one last time before going to sleep. A couple steps into the bathroom and I stepped into something wet. While having the floor of your bathroom wet for no apparent reason is unusual enough, I was more concerned with the smell: a faint smell of ammonia, and another smell I knew I had encountered before, though I couldn't think exactly what it was.

After I confirmed that the liquid was what was producing the smell, I hobbled back to my room (trying to avoid getting whatever it was on the floor as much as possible) to grab my glasses, and had another look. A fair amount of the floor was wet with several ounces or so of a liquid that was in some places clear, in other places milky white.

After tracing it under the sink, I found what seemed to be the cause: a can of insecticide. The entire can was wet, though not much that wasn't right near where it was, so it didn't look like an explosion (though there sure was a lot of the stuff on the floor). I didn't try removing the cap (for obvious reasons), but I'm thinking the spray nozzle might have exploded and the cap prevented the stuff from getting all over the cabinet under the sink. Ultimately, I wrapped it in a couple plastic bags and threw it in the trash, and wiped up all the stuff on the floor (probably wouldn't hurt to mop the floor with soap and water, either).

& Shaking

Just had an earthquake here, about an hour ago. The epicenter was 15 or 20 miles from here, and it was a 5.8, which is a pretty good size earthquake. Watching TV news for 20 mins or so, there have not been any reports of injuries, though cell phones and (less commonly) land lines are still out in some areas; I've heard some about damage to streets and one water line. Amusingly, lots of people e-mailed the news station to say that their phone lines or cell phones are out, so apparently it didn't do much for internet connectivity. I heard that there's a 5% chance of it being a foreshock to an even bigger earthquake.

More info on Yahoo and CNN.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Epic Fail

So, on Friday I got a new computer. The computer consists of a quad-core Core 2 CPU, 4 gigs of memory, and a Radeon HD 4850 based video card. Although there are some known techniques for getting an existing Windows installation to work in a new computer, this install simply refused to work with the USB ports on this computer (the computer freezes up several seconds after Windows has booted; disabling the USB ports in the BIOS allows it to work, but is not an acceptable solution). So, I ultimately ended up reinstalling Windows.

I had quite a few options when it came to choosing a version of Windows. Thanks to my obsessive downloading of everything on MSDN Academic Alliance, I have legal copies of Windows 2000, Windows XP x86, Windows XP x64, Vista x86 & x64, two copies of Windows Server 2003, and Windows Server 2008 x86 & x64. For those not familiar with the Servers, 2003 is an updated server version of XP, and 2008 is an updated server version of Vista.

As Server 2008 is an updated version of Vista with additional features (and the newest of any version), I figured I'd use that, and that's what I'm writing on right now. However, this install may be short-lived. As it turns out, just about nothing works on Server 2008. In the last three hours I've encountered the following:
- The Asus motherboard driver installer for Vista x64 will not run. When run, it says "Does not support this Operating System: WNT_6.0I_64". If I understand this correctly, it's saying it doesn't support Windows NT 6.0 x64. This is curious, as this is exactly what Vista x64 is, suggesting that the installer does not run on the system it was made for. Furthermore, several pieces of motherboard hardware do not have drivers included with Server 2008, and so appear as Unknown Devices and PCI Devices (there are still a couple unknown devices left if you manually install each driver). Epic Asus fail.
- The other major driver I needed was the 4850 driver. This was especially important because the 4850 has a known issue where the fan speed stays too low, resulting in hot temperatures. So, I downloaded the latest version of the drivers and ATI Catalyst programs from the video card manufacturer (as best I can tell the ATI web site doesn't list drivers for the 4850) and installed the driver and program. Installation had no problems; running the Catalyst Control Center, however, resulted in the message "The Catalyst Control Center is not supported by the driver version of your enabled graphics adapter.". Very curious, considering that driver and the Control Center came bundled in the same ZIP file. Epic ATI fail.
- One of the programs I use most of all (by far) is Windows Live Messenger. Naturally I soon needed to install it on this computer. The Windows installer even helpfully created a Windows Live Messenger Download link in my start menu. Unfortunately, following the link, downloading the program, and double-clicking it (I'm not even mentioning the UAC and IE annoyances) brought up the error message "Sorry, Windows Live programs cannot be installed on Windows Server, Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, or Windows operating systems earlier than Windows XP Service Pack 2". By process of elimination, this appears to say that only supports XP x86 SP2+, Vista x86, and Vista x64; curious, given the fact that Microsoft advertises support for Server 2008. Epic Microsoft fail.
- The other program I use most often is FireFox. So, that was next on the list. Download, install, so far so good. Launching FireFox, however, is a completely different story: instant crash. Epic FireFox fail.
- And just for good measure, this install has blue-screened once so far (in about 3 hours), with the PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA bugcheck. I'm not sure exactly whose failure this is, but the Asus driver problems seem the most likely suspect. Epic fail.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

& Fun with Turkish

Just saw this amusing segment in the Wikipedia page for Turkish grammar:

Avrupa (Europe)
Avrupalı (European)
Avrupalılaş (become European)
Avrupalılaştır (Europeanize)
Avrupalılaştırama (cannot Europeanize)
Avrupalılaştıramadık (whom [someone] could not Europeanize)
Avrupalılaştıramadıklar (those whom [someone] could not Europeanize)
Avrupalılaştıramadıklarımız (those whom we could not Europeanize)
Avrupalılaştıramadıklarımızdan (one of those whom we could not Europeanize)
Avrupalılaştıramadıklarımızdan mı? (one of those whom we could not Europeanize?)
Avrupalılaştıramadıklarımızdan mısınız? (Are you one of those whom we could not Europeanize?)

You now know the meaning of 'highly agglutinative language'.