Monday, June 28, 2010

P802.3ba 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet Standard : great ideas, but

P802.3ba 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet Standard has been ratified. This is great for data centers world wide who need to shove the equivalent of over 2 encyclopaedia Britanica's (which fits on a DVD, so assume 5GB for the E.B.) per second between systems.

So lets assume that the MTU remains at 1500 bytes, we are talking about 8 millions packets a second being processed on each side. The most I have seen a modern machine do for full default MTU sized packets is about 80,000 and that used multiple cpu's on the receive side. Jumbo frames might reduce the number of packets to around 1 million. The thing is that CPU's are not getting that much faster, they are getting far more cores on the processor which leads me to think 2 things will have to happen before 100 gigabit Ethernet become viable :-

  1. Most/all the TCP and IP processing will need to be done in hardware on the NIC
  2. A lot of TCP stacks will have to be re-written to become far more multi-threaded
Network code is fragile and subtle by its nature, so expect this new wave of network stacks to have new security vulnerabilities and reliability anti-features which existing stacks don't have.

It does make me wonder if TCP is the right protocol to be running in the data centre on to of 40 or 100G?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Is Nadin Dorris as mad as the media make out?

Is Nadina Doris as barking as the various forms of media make out?

Nadine Doris is the standing MP for Mid Bedfordshire with a majority of over 15,000. 15,000 is a good margin and she got 52% of the vote, up from the previous election in 2005 by 7%. From that we can take it that she is a popular MP from the voting behaviour.

This does not fit with her media profile. Here are some examples

  • Her expenses record were reported as questionable. Her is an example from the Telegraph
  • Her views and actions around TUC attempts to ban high heels at work.
  • Martin Robbins (an ex-tenant of mine. I can confirm he owes me no money) who writes for the Guardian discusses her appointment to the Health Select Committee.
  • Putting 50 quid in her Bra. This experiment is also associated with her being voted the 2nd least in touch MP in the UK.
  • A supposed quote that a foetus can tear is way out of the womb
  • Web sites like this devoted to the honourable lady where you get the idea they are not big fans.
and a search on Google brings out a web of other media articles which cast her in a less than positive light.

Somehow this does not pass my reality check. For an M.P. who has become an household name with a reputation for being a few receipts short of an expenses claim, trying to take the science out of science, and not being 100% accurate in all she says to get an increased majority there is something else going on. Could it be that
  • mid-Bedfordshire was effected by David Camaron's charm offensive while he parked his battle bus there overnight and Nadine gained votes as a side effect
  • The other candidates were turkeys and the voter thought better the nutter you know than the trash you don't.
  • Voters fancied 5 more years of being able to laugh at the expense of their M.P.
  • mid-Bedforshire voters are also as mad as hats and identified with her.
  • Mid-Bedforshire voters are rational people who see something in her that the rest of the country (and media in particular) does not. In short, the formal and informal media have got her wrong and voters saw through their left wing, subversive lies.
  • something else
I don't have an answer for the divergance, but this is quite important for any party wanting electoral success in future to understand why a stream of events, which are positioned by much of the formal and informal media of being the outpourings of a mad woman, result in an increased majority.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A major obstacle to the Big Society

During my time at the Aberystwyth Citizens Advice Bureau, I had a 30 minute car journey where one of the wise accountants on the trustee board(also a charity auditor). He explained that with the contraction in numbers of middle management and the Civil Service, those who would have been taken off the streets in the 1960's and 70's by keeping busy doing nothing useful at the expense of companies and the tax payer have managed to ensconce themselves into positions in charities as various type of paid management which control the direction of the charities when the screws tightened.

Thanks Jo, understanding this context is important.

Why it is more significant since the David and Nick show started a number of weeks is the "big society" aspiration?

Because any volunteer with enough ability, drive and enthusiasm to be bothered and really useful is going to
  1. be seen as a threat by the incumbent middle class paid management
  2. be frustrated by the lack of ambition of the incumbent middle class paid management
  3. be frustrated by the lack of delivery of results of the incumbent middle class paid management
  4. had enough of pushing a rock up a hill after a few months and devote themselves to the other aspects of their already rather full life
I have a solution which as an aside solves many other problems that we face and it is quite obvious when you think about it.

Introduce a sliding scale for Employers (Secondary Class 1 Contribution) which increases as the manager to head count number decreases. For example a manager to individual contributor ratio of 1:25 might have a lower than current rate. A rate of 1:5 might attract a multipler of 4 times the current rate.

You do need some management in any organisation. Supporting good governance is important. However, too many people writing documents, preparing statistics and reporting, will damages an organisation and how much it can deliver. Just look at the Police.

A positive social engineering side effect of this would be to assign less importance to the act of management and more to the role of individual contributors. About time things were balanced up.

I am sure there would be some title flipping and tax avoidance by claiming a different job role which makes a direct contribution, but in reality still does manager stuff [at that point a job role certification manager is employed (not)].

I struggle to think of a public organisation I have interacted with which would become less efficient from reducing the number of managers(or people doing management) by at least 1/3 unless of course they kept the least capable 1/3.

BTW, mentoring is not necessarily management.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Could this be spam?

How obvious can you get. This is not even trying.

From: Facebook
Subject: Reset your Facebook password
Date: 15 June 2010 10:28:46 GMT+01:00

Because of the measures taken to provide safety to our clients, your password has been changed.
You can find your new password in attached document.


>with html attachment<
Not obvious at all. I wonder how many people actually follow this. Be tempting to set up a sandbox system and follow what the link does, but I have other things to do.

Must be quite new or the Oracle spam firewall would have fished it out.

A different perspective on how to do Research

My view of the world of research method goes along the line of the integration of at least 3 of

  • Reading the literature to see what has been done before
  • Building or creating something (may be software, may be tangible, may be a survey)
  • Running some type of experiments
  • Performing analysis of the data
  • Get some constructive/destructive feedback from your peers
  • Drawing conclusions and writing them up
At my children's sports day yesterday, I was talking to a lecturer from Law (at Aberystwyth University). Lots of free time while the children who are not in your children's age group have their races to have a chat. His approach to research went along the lines of

  • Read the literature
  • Draw conclusions and write them up
In summary, he spent a huge amount of time reading and then a lot of thinking trying to pick out patterns and then writing it up as a paper or book.

While alien to me, I am sure it works for his discipline and was an interesting perspective. Deep thinking required indeed.

The all important question on your mind which I shall answer now is that the King family managed a 1st, a 2nd and 2 x 3rd's. A poor showing in the egg and spoon was made up by a win in the sack race, a 2nd and 3rd in the obstacle race and a 3rd in the sprint.

They don't hold parents races any more for insurance reasons (how bloody sad), but give that I am unlikely to do well on any race under 2 1/2 hours in length I am not that worried.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Book Review : Brian Moore, Beware of the Dog

I like watching Rugby, I also used to really enjoy playing it. Both at University ( 3 team sub to 1st team in a season [ some students dynamics also at play there ] ) and when I worked in the Computer Science Department at Aberystwyth annual staff student war which ceased after 5 or 6 years when the current Head of Department broke some ribs (I also broke a rib and a toe in that game). I also played a few games for Broughton Park 3rd (or might have been 4th) team as hooker, so I share some real but limited experience of playing in the position that Brian Moore describes so well.

I don't really remember Brian Moore as a player or commentator other than in passing, but this is a really interesting book and not just for rugby reasons. His career as a solicitor, juggling demands of an obsession, work, family and a fight against his Gollum, the name he now calls the voice in his head which attempts to cast doubt and fear of failure on every endeavour.

Gollum and how it drove him to train harder, juggle career and representing his country at the highest level is really the interesting part of the book. The other interesting part of the standing members of the RFU which are get in the way of the best interests of the game by trying to hold back the inevitable, in Brian's case the impending professionalism of the game. Like it or not it was going to happen. The evils of politics with a small "p" in a different setting.

Language aside, right at the end of the book exists a useful sound bite for dealing with that voice of doubt (I think I am fortunate in that voice in Clive's head is quieter and pipes up less often than his)
To Gollum: thank you for you helpful and kind observations on my present predicament. Now FUCK OFF!

Stuart Cable rest in noise

As would be only appropriate for a rock drummer.

3 or 4 years ago I was standing in the queue with my bank manager mate for "pick up tickets and guest list" outside Cardiff Students Union for our annual trip to see Motorhead. Stuart Cable wondered up and stood behind us. I commented to Bank Manager that we should "claim one of us was Start Cable and that we were on the guest list, no one will know". Stuart smiled, acknowledged the joke and then one of his mates turned up who he started talking to.

For that reason/encounter rather than his career with a band in early 2000's and on Radio Wales, I am sad for Stuart's passing. It suggests he was a genuinely nice and down to earth guy and I am sure that those who knew him will be poorer for his passing. In some very small way I am richer for having stood in front of him in queue. Not because he was a rock star, but because he had a 10 second laugh with some strangers.