WMM Slowdown

I turned on Wireless Multimedia (WMM) support the other day on my wireless network, figuring QoS for a wireless network would pretty much be a slam dunk. For those who don’t know, the four access categories it uses are:

  • voice
  • video
  • best effort
  • background

I was surprised to find, at least with the Netopia box that this actually resulted in a significant slowdown in http traffic, even when there was no other services being used. To put some numbers out there, we’re talking 10000 kbps with it enabled vs. 17400 kbps when disabled (these aren’t scientific, they are just bandwidth tests). I think the performance hit negated any real benefit, at least in this case. The box doesn’t handle much VoIP, so it really doesn’t do much. Video is more about raw bandwidth these days than latency thanks to CDN’s becoming more common and reducing the bulk of the latency issue. Also interesting is that the CPU hit seems pretty minimal. Daily average increased from 2% to about 4%, it’s double but really nothing serious. With it enabled it never spiked past 50%, and that was only one time.

So after a few days testing, WWM is turned off. Seems QoS at least in this case doesn’t pay. I can’t complain, wireless performance (20Mbps+) and signal strength are fantastic (when the microwave isn’t on) for an 802.11g network. Despite that, there’s always the desire to find ways to make it even better. Next step would be 802.11n, but I have a thing against uncertified gear. Once it’s standardized, I’d strongly consider it, especially if I can find a device that supports Linux firmware.

Experiment complete.

It’s 2008 And I Can’t Find A Keyboard

I’ve complained before about the lack of good keyboards on the market. Why is it that in 2008 I can’t find one worth spending money on? This drives me absolutely nuts that I can’t find what I’m looking for:

  • Cross Platform – Yes Virginia, I want it to work with any computer I hook it up to, no questions asked.
  • Rechargable – I am tired of AA batteries dying when I’m in the middle of something. Let me be green and recharge my devices.
  • KVM Friendly – Like most professionals, I use a KVM switch. I would like my keyboard/mouse combo to be KVM friendly. I’m crazy.
  • Comfortable – This really is why I’m so selfish. Most newer keyboards are much more comfortable than the Logitech Cordless Navigator Duo (circa 2002) that I have. I know that. I want something more comfortable. Not to mention my wrist pad is falling apart (glued together too many times) and it’s becoming squeaky and annoying.

Is this really outlandish? I think not, but maybe I’ve completely lost it. Every keyboard I’ve found doesn’t seem to meet all those requirements. In particular the use of bluetooth to be cordless seems to have made them very KVM unfriendly.

My current mouse massively sucks. I have a cordless one but gave up on it eating batteries. My corded one is a $15 Logitech Wheel mouse (one of the earlier optical ones Logitech came up with). The most basic laser mouse of all. What annoys me is that it’s tracking lately has become sub par and it sometimes skips just enough to be really irritating. My keyboard is showing the early signs of falling apart. It’s even starting to squeak when I type.

The MX 5500 and MX 5000 look nice, but that bluetooth hookup is notorious for being flaky with KVM switches. My setup adds cross platform so that’s too much money to find out it doesn’t work. The MX 3200 fixes that problem but it’s not rechargeable. I know I’m going to hate that. Then you have the Wave which will annoy me since I hate stupid keyboard designs. It’s not rechargeable either. I like my keyboards to bare at least a faint resemblance to the Model M.

Microsoft has two candidates, the Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 and 7000. Both Bluetooth. Both us that stupid Microsoft mouse design (the gold standard is the Logitech MX Revolution in my humble opinion). Not to mention they aren’t cheap either.

As a result, it’s 2008, and I hope my current keyboard and mouse hold out a little longer until someone can deliver a keyboard/mouse combo that doesn’t suck.

It’s 2008, and I can’t find a keyboard (and mouse). I’ve got 2 old Apple Extended Keyboard II’s, which are fantastic keyboards. I’m somewhat tempted to find and ADB->USB adapter and take those for a spin. Go retro.

Opera’s Evangelism

Opera is said to be sending evangelism emails to websites that have compatibility problems with their browser. What’s interesting is that they are customizing the emails with actual fixes for the problems. This is pretty clever. In theory it will improve the problems regarding compatibility and make the web more standards compliant (which is where Opera excels).

One thing I do question is if webmasters will read it, at least where it matters. Most large companies have a contact form, or an email address, but it’s often forwarded to customer support, or sometimes just into a giant bin where a handful get processed. Will the information get to the people who need it? I suspect it will for small companies who read all the email they get from the web. For large companies, I doubt it, and that’s where I think it matters the most. The bigger sites that the majority of the web visit.

Regardless, it’s interesting to see, for me in particular since I wrote reporter. I suspect the best efforts are still to encourage the industry as a whole to adopt best practice. Considering the move to go mobile, and be more flexible on the front-end, using standards is just becoming more of a requirement. I think that will ultimately end up being the winning effort. It’s already winning as newer sites are generally pretty good when it comes to standards. The old ones will take time.

With Safari 3 and Opera 9.5 out, Firefox 3 taking off, IE 8 coming soon, it’s pretty obvious that standards are the future.

George Carlin Dead

George Carlin - 7 Dirty Words

I titled this post simply “George Carlin Dead” since he wasn’t fond of the softening of the English language (“passed away”, etc.). I would have posted this the other day, but I’ve been fighting a bad cold for a few days now and just wasn’t up to putting together an appropriate blog post.

I was there for “Complaints and Grievances” (Nov 17, 2001), and have the ticket stub.

His ability to see through dense bullshit will be sorely missed.

Image links to the infamous “7 dirty words” routine. Obviously not safe for a work environment unless your using headphones. You’ve been warned.

It Must Be Ice

Phoenix has found ice on Mars:

June 19, 2008 — Dice-size crumbs of bright material have vanished from inside a trench where they were photographed by NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander four days ago, convincing scientists that the material was frozen water that vaporized after digging exposed it.

“It must be ice,” said Phoenix Principal Investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona, Tucson. “These little clumps completely disappearing over the course of a few days, that is perfect evidence that it’s ice. There had been some question whether the bright material was salt. Salt can’t do that.”

You can see an image here. Awesome.

This is pretty historic. The US has hopes of putting a man on Mars sometime in the 2030 time frame (well after a return to the moon). Water on Mars will likely have an impact on how that mission is designed, and possibly it’s success.

Mars has ice caps, that’s been known for a long time. Subterranean ice was suspected, and now confirmed.

AT&T’s Pogo Browser

You may or may not have heard about AT&T’s Pogo Browser. It’s a “3D Visual Web Browser” (make of that what you will). TechCrunch reviewed it a little while back. It’s based on Firefox (2.0.0.14 to be exact). It has some interesting UI for bookmarking, but other than that, I’m going to have to agree with TechCrunch. I’m really not very impressed.

The impression I’m left with is simply: why wasn’t this created as an extension?

Zero Day Vulnerability

This really isn’t very accurate. I don’t know the details of the vulnerability or even if there actually is one, but I question the marketing around the Zero Day Initiatives vulnerability report. The big news seems to be “only 5 hours” after the release.

This isn’t really accurate if you think about it. It would be if Firefox 3 were a tightly controlled product that nobody could see a final version of. Reality is that the entire source code lives in cvs, there are nightly builds, and formal release candidates posted. Could someone have downloaded it after release and found a security issue? Absolutely. Is the timing a little suspicious considering everything was done out in the open? Yes.

It wouldn’t have made any waves if a vulnerability was found in a release candidate. It would have just been patched and a new candidate posted.

The advantage to the open source development process is the transparency through the entire process. The code in the release build isn’t remotely new or surprising. Many people had been running it for days prior to the actual release.

Again, it’s possible it all happened in 5 hours. But I doubt someone discovered a security hole, documented it, then it was verified and confirmed in just 5 hours. Especially considering the open nature of the development process and how easy it is to check things out in advance.

8 Million Downloads In 24 Hours

It was a ton of fun to watch, absolutely addictive. 83 terabytes of data served just for downloads over 24 hours. There’s still a ton of people to update as the auto-update functionality has yet to be triggered. You can now see the scale of what’s involved. John Lilly’s got some great statistics on what just happened.

According to Arbor Networks, yesterday’s U.S. Open played at Torrey Pines (featuring Tiger Woods and a bunch of guys pretty much nobody cares about) generated so much traffic some ISP’s thought it was a DDoS attack. There was a huge spike on TCP/1935. Ironically this was about the same time Firefox 3 was unleashed. I wonder if that had any effect. Maybe next time, rather than a “world record” it should simply be “reek havoc on your ISP”.