World IPv6 Launch Day

World IPv6 Launch

It’s here! World IPv6 Launch begins June 6 2012 00:00:00 UTC. The future of the Internet (and the beginning of the death of NAT).

I’ve started enabling IPv6 on my websites including this one, which is already seeing a few IPv6 hits. I expect to see that climb over time. I’ve noticed Facebook turned on IPv6 recently. Google is expected to at any moment. A handful of bugs limit me from flipping the switch on a few more sites, but I hope to get that resolved soon enough. Still better than my 2010 projections.

If you’re unsure if you’re internet connection supports IPv6 yet, you can find out at:
AmIUsingIPv6.com

How Yahoo Killed Flickr

Gizmodo has a great essay on how Yahoo killed Flickr. I think this excerpt is a pretty good summary:

It was a stunning failure in vision, and more or less the same thing happened at Flickr. All Yahoo cared about was the database its users had built and tagged. It didn’t care about the community that had created it or (more importantly) continuing to grow that community by introducing new features.

It’s worth a read. It’s a textbook example of how not to build/manage a product. Yahoo isn’t in it’s current situation by accident or chance. The upside is there’s a bunch of good lessons for everyone inside and outside of Yahoo here.

Love or hate what Facebook is doing, they are essentially the antithesis. Every decision Facebook makes is seemingly about growing the community and features that increase engagement. There are of course many other ways to fail.

The Internet is a network/community of cooperation. If you forget about the network/community factor, you’ve lost.

QR Codes Suck

WTF QR Codes might be my new favorite blog, at least for the past 2 days it has been.

Anyone who thought QR codes had a chance in hell of catching on meet the following two criteria:

  • Doesn’t understand the very basics on how humans prefer to interact with technology.
  • Is too much of a computer n00b to remember the CueCat.

Oh look, and a cryptic spot of contrasting pigment! Let me take out my phone, browse to an app I’ve pre-downloaded in case I ever ran across such a marking and is specifically for this purpose. Now I’ll point and focus at this spot, universally found in an awkward position and try and take a picture. I’ll likely need to try more than once due to lighting, focus, obstructions (common for billboards, moving trains, cars) and it not being a large enough portion of the picture for my phone to figure it out. Once I succeed at this magic act, I’ll be taken to a mystery site that could just be malware (it does exist for phones), or perhaps a legit site.

Amazingly someone went through this use case, and thought it was a brilliant idea.

Bonus: They did this years ago when cell phone cameras were much worse than they are today.

But seriously, it was a bad idea (or a really good prank). Lets just laugh about it, and move on.

US Authorities Seize Foreign Domain

Via easyDNS, The Domains reports on a foreign gambling domain being seized in the US:

The indictment focuses on the movement of funds from accounts outside the U.S., in Switzerland, England, Malta, and Canada, and the hiring of media resellers and advertisers to promote Internet gambling.

To make that clear: A federal warrant was issued and a foreign company dealing with a domain registrar in Canada was taken off the internet because the company violated the state law of Maryland.

DNS will eventually be succeeded. This is just pushing for it to happen sooner than later. The next system will not be so centralized, and certainly not be based in the US.

It’s also worth noting the Dept. of Justice yet again seems to violate federal law by ignoring Section 508 in this take-down. The blatant disregard for federal law by the Dept. of Justice is ironic. Sad considering the $0 cost to fix it. It’s safe to say it’s not an “oversight” as it’s got presence to the point of it’s own website.

SPDY For iOS

It has come to my attention that work is being done (3rd party) to bring SPDY to iOS. Awesome!

However, I can’t help but think that Apple is already working to bring SPDY to iOS perhaps as soon as iOS 6. I say this simply because it would bring a speed improvement without involving more Tx/Rx or upping CPU power consumption. It just improves network utilization. In fact since it improves utilization it possibly could improve battery life by reducing the radio usage.

I’d also like to see the Nitro JavaScript engine available outside of Safari so UIWebView implementations could take advantage. Supposedly that’s a WebKit2 thing, but I’ve heard/seen little of WebKit2. I suspect SPDY will happen first.

Facebook’s IPO Filing

There’s not really much to say about Facebook’s IPO filing other than we all knew the day would eventually come. People love to look at the number of users as the measure of the company, but the truth is users come and go, all empires eventually fall. They have since the dawn of man. It’s a terrible measure of what a company has done, and is capable of doing. Eventually market saturation will be reached. It’s unsustainable to grow quicker than the world’s population. Everyone but Wall Street and some tech blogs know that.

What really matters is a company’s DNA. For Facebook that’s the willingness to be agile, the willingness to push things, and the willingness to change. That may occasionally backfire, however it’s proven to generally work out quite well. Especially when Facebook is willing to back down and revise as it has in the past. Mark Zuckerberg’s goal is pretty lofty, especially given the world and it’s people are struggling to figure out privacy in a connected world.

To quote him in 2010: “we’ve made great progress over the last year towards making the world more open and connected”. Balancing this mission and not crossing the line will be the challenge Facebook will face for years to come. I’ve criticized them several times in the past for either not doing enough, or not giving enough priority to the right to control privacy. Lately I’ve got less to complain about. I think that’s good for everyone.

Notifications For Better Engagement

One thing I’ve learned repeatedly over the years is that good notification systems create great engagement and encourage habitual users.

The biggest problem with any product/service is getting people to come back. “Drive by” users aren’t terribly difficult. Google will bring you those with a little work. However your business comes from users coming back repeatedly. Those are you’re true “users”. They are the ones who will bring others.

Today, I think Facebook and Twitter are the perfect example of companies who understand and utilize this strategy in a way that amazes me. Lets look at this:

Facebook

They are the biggest, so I’ll go through it first. The first method of notification is the obvious alerts when logged into the site. You can keep it open and use it as a client, it works great. Facebook also has one of the best email notification systems on the net. You can reply to a comment or message by simply replying to the email. No “app” to install. Even an old Blackberry can participate. Even people where Facebook is restricted but email works can participate (stereotypical corporate office). Email is the worlds greatest API. They take full advantage of it.

On top of that Facebook apps have push notification for smart phone users. Facebook also supports SMS notifications. They additionally support XMPP (Jabber) so you can use a desktop client with their messaging service.

One thing I never understood is why they don’t officially support and continue their desktop notification service. With a trivial amount of work it would be an even better retention method. However the API’s are clearly there for client support (several use it).

Facebook doesn’t exploit this system for marketing or PR. It’s just a useful way to interact with their system. It’s an interface. It’s an API.

Twitter

Twitter is another company that gets notifications. The most obvious again is their website. Secondly their apps support push notifications. Twitter is also pretty good about email notifications however they don’t accept replies over email. They also support SMS (i.e. “Text follow raccettura to 40404”).

Twitter lastly has an open API and even supports desktop apps like Twitter for Mac and TweetDeck. They encourage their users to stay on constantly and keep up. It’s part of what keeps users addicted to the service.

Again, they don’t market. They just keep users interacting.

Google+, Quora, etc.

I won’t judge Google+ just yet, they are pretty new still. Quora does a pretty good job with notifications however the balance between annoying and useful hasn’t quite been met, at least in my opinion.

It’s easy to overlook this “detail”, but for many users, this is the interface, realize it or not.
I won’t

90% Of Web Traffic Is Video

There’s a lot of talk about the prediction from YouTube’s Robert Kyncl that video will be 90% of internet traffic. This sounds shocking until you realize it’s not, and doesn’t really mean much in context of the internet.

This number presumably is at least partially based on a prediction by Cisco who makes routers that carry that internet traffic. They even bought Flip (an unfortunate tale) simply to help drive video on the internet and presumably drive up the need for routers, their main business. They might have a bias.

The reality is video already is, and will continue to be the vast majority of Internet traffic. However that doesn’t mean people are spending as much time on it as the numbers will make you believe. Video per minute of online activity is just insanely high bandwidth and expensive. The percentage of bandwidth is meaningless, what matters is where people spend their time.

Video compresses very poorly in comparison to text and audio (interestingly, speech compresses fairly well these days). Video these days either streaming or progressive download is still a very bandwidth intensive activity.

This webpage is likely under 160 KB for you and loads in about 300 ms. You’ll spend statistically a few minutes reading this, perhaps slightly less if you just skim for the numbers. The takeaway is experiencing: this blog post is about 160 KB over a few minutes assuming you visit the site, and don’t use an RSS reader (go ahead RSS users, try it).

Now lets figure out what video is typically. Most web video these days is still H.264, and generally 640×480 (480p) or 1280×720 (720p). Most laptops today are pretty cheap and just can’t handle 1080p, certainly their displays aren’t good enough to show a measurable difference, not to mention the buffering time annoys people, so we’ll ignore it’s existence.

I want to make this a little realistic, so to figure out a bitrate, we’ll use the standard formula for what Adobe calls ‘ideal’ in the H.264 Primer, and what most seem to use these days:

[image width] x [image height] x [framerate] x [motion rank] x 0.07 = [desired bitrate]

For 1280×720 that means:

1280 x 720 x 24 x 2 x 0.07 = 3,096,576 bps = ~3000 kbps

And for 640×480:

640 x 480 x 24 x 2 x 0.07 = 1,032,192 bps = ~1000 kbps

This sounds about right. As of today, Wikipedia lists the bandwidth range for 720p at 2–2.9 Mbit/sec and for 480p at 0.8–1 Mbit/sec. So we know we’re on track.

That’s all the math we really need to do. Google can do the conversions for us:

For 720p:

3000 kbps = 1,318.35938 Megabytes / hour = 22 MB / min

For 480p:

1000 kbps = 439.453125 Megabytes / hour  = 7.3 MB / min

Going back to the example of this blog permalink, at 160 KB for a few minutes of reading vs. 7,475 KB for one minute of 480p video. That is why video is 90% of traffic.

Video growth is huge, but it’s not nearly as one sided as the stats will lead you to believe.

Improving DNS CDN Performance With edns-client-subnet

Several months ago I wrote about how third party DNS services often slow you down since a DNS query is only one part of the equation and many websites use DNS to help their CDN figure out what servers are closest (and fastest). A few proposals to fix this have floated around, one is finally making headway.

Google, Bitgravity, CDNetworks, DNS.com and Edgecast have deployed support for edns-client-subnet. The idea is pretty simple. It passes part of your IP address (only part as to keep it semi-anonymous) in the request. A server that supports this extension can use it to geotarget and find a CDN node closest to you. Previously the best that could be done was using the location of the DNS server, which in many cases could be far away.

Still missing is support from some heavyweights like Akamai, who is the largest CDN, Limelight Networks and Level3. This is a pretty solid proposal with minimal negative implications. They are only passing part of the origin IP address, so it wouldn’t be a privacy invasion. In theory any website you browse could already harvest the IP you are using, this is just making part of it accessible to a partner who is already serving data on their behalf.