Networking geeks: Google made a big announcements about BBR this week. Here's a technical deep-dive: http://queue.acm.org/detail.cfm?id=
Someone on Facebook asked me for a "explain it like I'm 5 years old" explanation. Here's my reply:
Short version: Google changed the TCP implementation (their network stack) and now your youtube videos, Google websites, Google Cloud applications, etc. download a lot faster and smoother. Oh, and it doesn't get in the way of other websites that haven't made the switch. (Subtext: another feature of Google Cloud that doesn't exist at AWS or Azure. Nothing to turn on, no extra charge.)
ELI5 version: TCP tries to balance the need to be fast and fair. Fast... transmitting data quickly. Fair... don't hog the internet, share the pipe. Being fair is important. In fact, it is so important that most TCP implementations use a "back off" algorithm that results in you getting about 1/2 the bandwidth of the pipe... even if you are the only person on it. That's TCP's dirty little secret: it under-utilizes your network connection by as much as 50%.
Backoff schemes that use more than 1/2 the pipe tend to crowd out other people, thus are unfair. So, in summary, the current TCP implementations prioritize fairness over good utilization. We're wasting bandwidth.
Could we do better? Yes. There are better backoff algorithms but they are so much work that they are impractical. For years researchers have tried to make better schemes that are easy to compute. (As far back as the 1980s researchers built better and better simulations so they could experiment with different backoff schemes.)
Google is proposing a new backoff algorithm called BBR. It has reached the holy grail: It is more fair than existing schemes. If a network pipe only has one user, they basically use the whole thing. If many users are sharing a pipe, it shares it fairly. You get more download speed over the same network. Not only that, it doesn't require changes to the internet, just the sender.
And here's the real amazing part: it works if you implement BBR on both the client and the server, but it works pretty darn good if only change the sender's software (i.e. Google updated their web frontends and you don't have to upgrade your PC). Wait! Even more amazing is that it doesn't ruin the internet if some people use it and some people use the old methods.
They've been talking about it for nearly a year at conferences and stuff. Now they've implemented it at www.google.com, youtube.com, and so on. You get less "buffering.... buffering..." even on mobile connections. BBR is enabled "for free" for all Google Cloud users.
With that explanation, you can probably read the ACM article a bit easier. Here's the link again: http://queue.acm.org/detail.cfm?id=
Disclaimer: I don't own stock in Google, Amazon or Microsoft. I don't work for any of them. I'm an ex-employee of Google. I use GCP, AWS and Azure about equally (nearly zero).
I'd stopped at Home Depot on the way to work to pick up a plumber's snake, and then used it to unclog the shower drain, which it did nicely, pulling up a ball of hair approximately the size and shape and general appearance of a standard-issue mouse rodent. (It was in fact hair, though, and not a mouse rodent that had somehow crawled into the shower drain, which ew.) Played a good game of Robot Turtles with Q, did Junie's bedtime, and now it's my bedtime.
One week and about ten hours ago, I decided to step away from Twitter for a little bit. The specific details aren’t important, and I suspect that many of you reading this now are already nodding in agreement because you grok why. But I took it off my phone, and I haven’t been to the website on my desktop since. For the first 48 hours, I spent a lot of time wondering if I was making a choice that mattered, and thinking about how I wasn’t habitually looking at Twitter every few minutes to see if I’d missed anything funny, or to see the latest bullshit spewing forth from President Fuckface’s mouthanus. I was, ironically, spending more time thinking about Twitter since I wasn’t using it than I spent thinking about it when I was.
It started out as a 24 hour break, then it was a 48 hour break, then it was the weekend, and here we are one week later and I don’t feel like I’m missing anything important. I feel like I’ve given myself more time to be quiet and alone, more time to reflect on things, and I’ve created space in my life to let my mind wander and get creative.
I’m not creating as much as I want to, and I’m starting to feel like maybe I’ll never be able to create as much as I want to, but I’ve gotten some stuff done this week that probably wouldn’t have gotten done if Twitter had been filling up the space that I needed.
Here’s a little bit from my blog post that became a short story that grew into a novella that is now a novel, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything:
My mother was leaning against her car, talking with one of the other moms, when we arrived. My sister was throwing a Strawberry Shortcake doll into the air and catching it while they watched. I walked out of the bus and across the blazing hot blacktop to meet her.
“Willow, catch!” My sister cried, sending Strawberry Shortcake in a low arc toward me. I caught her without enthusiasm and handed her back. “You’re supposed to throw her to me!” Amanda said, demonstrating. Her doll floated in a lazy circle, arms and legs pinwheeling, before falling back down into my sister’s waiting arms. The writer in me wants to make a clever reference to how I was feeling at that moment, about how I could relate to Strawberry Fucking Shortcake, spinning out of control in the air above us, but it feels hacky, so I’ll just talk about how I wanted to make the reference without actually making the reference, thereby giving myself permission to do a hacky writer’s trick without actually doing it. See, there’s nothing tricky about writing, it’s just a little trick!
It’s still in the first draft, and I may not keep all or even any of it, but after putting it aside for months while I was depressed about too many things to look at it, it feels so good to be back into this story.
Oh, speaking of writing, I got notes back from the editors on my Star Wars 40th anthology submission. I thought that, for sure, they’d want me to rework a ton of it, but all they asked me to do is change a name! And they told me it was beautiful! So I’ve been feeling like a Capital-W Writer for a few days.
And speaking of feeling happy for a change, Hasbro and Machinima announced that I’m a voice in the next installment of the Transformers animated series, Titans Return. And it feels silly to care about this particular thing, but Daily Variety put my name in the headline, which made me feel really, really good.I’ve always felt like the only thing that should matter is the work, and that the work should be able to stand on its own … but that’s not the reality even a little bit. Daily Variety is the industry’s paper of record, so when it chooses to put you in the headline of a story, people pay attention and it matters in the way that can make the difference between getting called for a meeting, or the last ten years of my life as an actor.
It’s also a good reminder that, even if I’m not getting the opportunities I want to be an on-camera actor, it is entirely within my power to create the space I need to be a writer.
( Approximately weekly diet report )
In the book In Such Good Company Carol Burnett focuses on the eleven years of "The Carol Burnett Show," telling how the show came to be, describing what it was like to make it, answering questions she received often, and talking about the many talented people she worked with.
There's some overlap between this book and her previous book This Time Together, but that's to be expected. Frankly, I'd rather hear her stories twice than not at all. She also spends time describing particular sketches. Some people might not be into that, but I liked it. Specific to the audiobook, there are audio clips of several cast members from interviews, so you get to hear their voices as well.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit and I'm glad I got to listen to it.
A young boy aids in the fight against a mechanized terrorist organization as the sole controller of a prototype giant robot.
I couldn’t sleep, so I wandered into the weird and comforting landscape of UHF television’s modern equivalent, which in this case is a digital antenna station on 56.4 here in Los Angeles, called Comet TV*
For the next half hour, I watched this magnificently bizarre thing called Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot. As far as I can tell, there’s this little kid called Johnny Sokko, and like all the other kids in school were all “Johnny Sokko, you’re a stupid face!” so he was like “h*ck you guys, I’m going to get a giant robot and live on a boat for some reason. Oh, and also, I’m like 8 or whatever, and I’m in charge of a giant flying murder machine. So watch your step, bitches.” Johnny gets this this giant robot who flies, and he controls him by issuing commands into a gold wristwatch. Instead of telling the robot to breakdance for his endless amusement, Johnny cries a lot and makes the robot save the world from a squid guy or something who lives in a sunken spaceship, adjacent to a pineapple under the sea? It’s all a little fuzzy in the translation, I’ll be honest, but I think I got the gist of it.
Anyway, I probably made some of that up, but this is all true: There’s a Flying Robot who is vaguely Egyptian. There’s a Gargoyle Gang, the Emperor Guillotine, a military group of children who are called Team Unicorn and are the only thing between Earth’s survival and intergalactic destruction for some reason, and all the bizarre 1960s Kaiju visual effects you could ever hope for. The music is exactly what you want it to be, and at one point, an entire freeway overpass is destroyed, because who among us hasn’t wanted to do that!
A quick search on a few of the Internets made it clear to me that I was not just way late to the party on this (the short I saw was originally released in Japan in 1967, as Giant Robo because obviously) but I am also discovering this literally decades after it became popular with the cool kids. So if you’re like OH GREAT WIL WHEATON THANKS FOR WASTING MY TIME WITH SOMETHING I ALREADY KNEW ABOUT now you can feel like a jerk because it’s new to me, Roland. It’s new to me!
It’s weird, and fun, and overflowing with potential audio samples, so I thought I would share it with you today. Here’s what I think is the first episode, in which we meet Johnny Sokko, the Flying Robot, an unsettling sea monster, and more:
There are several collections of Johnny Sokko films at the Internet Archive. I guess you can also buy remastered DVDs if you want to go that route (though I strongly believe that the faded and aged look of the originals at archive.org is a significant contributor to the charm of the thing.)
Good luck. We’re all counting on you.
My new column in ACM Queue is entitled, "Four Ways to Make CS and IT Curricula More Immersive". I rant and rail against the way that CS and IT is taught today and propose 4 ways CS educators can improve the situation.
* Here are some photos of me and Rachel Caine at our signing at Murder by the Book: https://marthawells.tumblr.com/post/
* Here's a post from me on Writers Read: https://whatarewritersreading.blogspot.
* And I'm not in this article but I know all these people: https://www.austinchronicle.com/arts/
(If you've been following my book rec and new book listing posts for a while, you may have noticed this already, but while most book lists emphasize books by popular straight white men, this one emphasizes everybody else. I include books by straight white men, but in about the same percentage that other book lists include everybody else. I also try to highlight books that are less well known.)
(I only link to one retail outlet in the book's listing, but most books are available at multiple outlets, like Kobo, iBooks, international Amazons, Barnes & Noble, etc. The short stories are usually on free online magazines.)
* Short Story: Children of Thorns, Children of Water by Aliette de Bodard
* Stranglehold by Rene Sears
Morgan Tenpenny has retreated from her painful, magical past, choosing to live quietly as a guardian of one of the gates between worlds. But her sister Gwen is married to a lord of the High Court of Faerie-and when Gwen asks her to protect her nieces, it's time for Morgan to emerge from her seclusion. The gates to Faerie have inexplicably closed, and no one knows why...
* Revision by Andrea Phillips
Mira is a trust fund baby playing at making it on her own as a Brooklyn barista. When Benji, her tech startup boyfriend, dumps her out of the blue, she decides a little revenge vandalism is in order. Mira updates his entry on Verity, Benji’s Wikipedia-style news aggregator, to say the two have become engaged. Hours later, he shows up at her place with an engagement ring. Chalk it up to coincidence, right? Soon after, Benji’s long-vanished co-founder Chandra shows up asking for Mira’s help. She claims Verity can nudge unlikely events into really happening — even change someone’s mind. And Chandra insists that Verity — and Mira’s newly minted fiance — can’t be trusted.
* Short Story: Waiting on a Bright Moon by JY Yang
* Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy (Laksa Anthology Series: Speculative Fiction Book 3) edited by Lucas K. Law and Derwin Mak
* All Things Violent by Nikki Dolson
Soon the ambitious Simon introduces her to Frank Joyce, a man who would teach her how to become a stone-cold professional killer. Laura learns her deadly trade and earns her money. Twenty-six years old and she thinks she’s found her happily ever after. Sadly it all falls apart when Simon leaves her for another. Now some other woman, blonde and polished, all shiny and new, is living Laura’s happy life.
* Telling the Map by Christopher Rowe
There are ten stories here including one readers have waited ten long years for: in new novel-la The Border State Rowe revisits the world of his much-lauded story The Voluntary State.
Making rectangular code grids is entirely arbitrary, though it’s a good place to start since it’s easier. However, there’s a range of reasons why one might want to chart code grids as different shapes, from it being impossible to make good lace from any of the rectangular ones, to just plain feeling like it.
There are many shapes that can be tiled across a flat surface; the only limitation for code grid purposes is that you be able to figure out how to turn it into graph paper squares. So far I’ve designed stitches with diamonds with three different ratios: 1:1 (square), 1:2 (half as wide as it is tall), and 3:2 (the number of stitches is half again as big as the number of rows.) In all cases, the ratio is based on the number of stitches in proportion to the number of right side rows. I’ve also done a six-sided shape (not an exact hexagon). Many other shapes would be possible, but I’ll leave them up to you.
Here’s how it works.
I usually work with a diamond that’s been cut in half vertically (because I like to mirror my stitch patterns). I mark off the end of each row of the diamond with a square to help mark the outline of the diamond. While this isn’t really going to be decipherable as code, I still like to do this where possible, at least during the encoding process. It also helps me tile the final stitch pattern.
The only one of my charting methods that works non-rectangular shapes is Method 4. I start at the bottom, and count as usual, but the end of the row comes in a different place for each line.
Here’s Peace again (I’m using the telephone keypad numbers again: 73223), laid out on three different diamonds, and also on a deformed hexagon. In each case I show the half version, and then mirrored, and then tiled into a rectangular stitch pattern. (Click on any of them to enlarge.)
After doing the layout, the colored squares (that aren’t black) get deleted before turning the whole thing into a stitch pattern.
Note: this particular method is one of the versions of my technique where this becomes not really a secret code anymore, as it becomes less and less reasonable to expect someone to decode the results. But it does make an interesting basis for creativity.
This month's NYCDevOps meetup speaker will be Martín Beauchamp talking about "Clos Networks for Datacenters". You don't want to miss this!
- Date: Tuesday, July 18, 2017
- Time: 6:30 PM
- Location: Stack Overflow HQ, 110 William St, 28th floor, NY, NY
Space is limited! RSVP soon!
Have you heard of Walmart? Of course you have. What are they known for? Providing lots and lots of cheap shit. Also for bullying local governments and squeezing suppliers, but that's not the point here, which is: cheap shit. They have nicer competitors: Target, Kmart, Dollar Stores.
Plane seats are jammed and humiliating but also cheaper than they ever have been, modulo gas prices.
You can spend thousands of dollars on a fancy bicycle, or less than $100 on a cheap one.
Stores are full of cheap, if sometimes unhealthy, food.
You can spend under $13,000, or maybe $12,000 on a new car, or over $100,000 on a luxury sports car.
Many of us wear cheap clothes, "from Third World sweatshops"; others spend $thousands on elite designer clothing.
You can get a watch for $15, or $1500. They'll tell time about the same.
Our economy is full of selling cheap stuff to the masses and expensive stuff to the rich, and various things in between, (sometimes including selling cheap stuff for higher prices, if you can pull off price discrimination.) Because that's how you make the most profit, not by only making luxury stuff.
But in housing, particularly in some markets, it's said that developers are only building luxury housing. If true, why would that be? Why would housing be unlike every other part of the economy?
"Everyone needs housing, so they can extort you." Nope, that won't fly. Everyone needs food and clothing, and in the US lots of people need cars.
"They're just chasing profit." But the point of my examples is that there's tons of profit in non-luxury goods and services. Walmart is *huge*, with its founder's children inheriting $20 billion each of accumulated profit.
And in fact, if you look around the world, you do see cheap(er) housing options. Mobile and manufactured homes for the individual, pre-fab housing for soulless but cheap developer tracts, microapartments that cut living space to 100 square feet, SRO hotels that go further by making you share bathroom and kitchen (if any), granny apartments. In cheap land markets (prefab housing in surbuban developments) and expensive ones (microapartments in Tokyo and Hong Kong.)
But not in Boston, or San Francisco. Why not? Is there something about those places that makes developers spontaneously ignore non-luxury demand? Or is something, like zoning laws and permitting processes, preventing them from doing so?
If you know me, you probably know my answer: the latter. But if you don't like that answer, what's your alternative? Why don't we see Walmarts, Spirit Airlines, $15 watches, and $13,000 cars of modern urban housing?