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Explaining Velocix's value proposition for the technically inclined

July 22, 2008 Comments off

I was introduced to uber-smart hacker and phenomenally successful serial entrepreneur Adam Twiss who originally wrote ApacheBench whilst he was at Zeus and subsequently donated to the Apache Foundation.

Adam is the co-founder and CTO of Velocix which was formerly known as CacheLogic.

Velocix is well known for its hybrid P2P based CDN network and I was trying to get a better understanding of how things worked behind the scenes in order to evaluate its suitability for various projects at work.

This is really oversimplifying their value proposition but for a technical person I would say that Velocix basically can provide a constant backfill to a BitTorrent swarm should a client want to use BitTorrent as a content delivery protocol.

Obviously Velocix can do a lot more than the above but it was hard for me to extract the above value proposition which was interesting to me from their website.

Hopefully this blog post can get some Google karma and help prospective Velocix customers

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Categories: General

Firefox 3 and its impact on servers particularly those serving static content

June 18, 2008 Comments off

Firefox 3 has been released and by all accounts there has been enormous uptake of this fine browser.

If you aren’t familiar with the browser, I would encourage you to visit Deb Richardson’s brilliant Field Guide to Firefox 3 which describes a number of key Firefox 3 features in a very accessible manner.

One thing I would like to mention is that Firefox 3 has improved connection parallelism. The default limit for concurrent connections per hostname has been increased from 2 to 6 which is similar to IE8. Details can be found in this bug report here and for the technically inclined these are the new defaults

pref(“network.http.max-connections”, 30);
pref(“network.http.max-connections-per-server”, 15);
pref(“network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-server”, 6);
pref(“network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-proxy”, 8);

Whilst the improved connection parallelism is one factor in improved page load performance, web server administrators who are currently serving content via Apache need to factor in increased concurrent connections from Firefox 3 and tweak their MaxClients setting appropiately.

If they are using Apache to serve static content, maybe they should consider switching to lighttpd and nginx for serving such content.

Google’s Steve Souder has a great roundup on Parallel Connections in this blog entry.

Categories: General, Mozilla

Twitter's use for SMS sending and receiving

June 7, 2008 Comments off

Hong Kong is unique in the sense that whilst we have insane mobile penetration of 154.4 %, there is a huge price difference between voice plans and SMS plans.

Depending on a third party long distance provider, it is actually cheaper to call up somebody and speak for a few minutes (HK-US charges are 7 cents/min and an SMS costs at minimum HK$ 2) and convey more than send a SMS to that person

Thus, I find Twitter’s SMS integration very useful. I tell my family members to sign up to Twitter and then also enable their mobile devices. In India, Twitter has a shortcode 5566511.

In HongKong, wifi access is very ubiquitous via the GovWiFi program as well as efforts by FON as well as PCCW, HongKong’s dominant telco provider so hopefully with the upcoming launch of the iPhone in Hong Kong it can help me by allowing me to have access to Twitter

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Using a La Fonera as a sandbox SSID to provide safer access for visitors in the office

May 2, 2008 Comments off

I was chatting with Ali Ebrahim over IM and mentioned to him that the La Fonera was quite useful as a quick mechanism to provide a sandbox SSID for visitors to his office who wanted to connect to the Internet. I’d like to elaborate on the exact mechanism

Offering access via the office WLAN or even via a wired connection opens up the risk of having an external entity access to an office’s internal network. I’ll leave it to your imagination as to what could possibly go wrong here (virus infection, internal file shares visible etc).

Whilst it is always possible to deny any form of Internet access to a visitor, it is possible via a La Fonera not only to provide access but at the same time be secure.

You may rightfully ask

Won’t it require the visitor/guest to be a fonero , that is run La Fonera/Fonera+ at his/her home/office so that he could connect to our office’s FON Access Point ? This may preclude the majority of visitors to an office

The answer is

  • Use the Friends and Family mechanism available by logging in on the FON User Zone.

The Friends and Family mechanism in the FON User Zone enables a fonero to setup local users on his FON Access Point with an associated password. This username and password is specific to that FON Access Point. You just need to setup one username/password. Multiple users can connect to that FON Hotspot via that username/password. I recommend modify the captive portal page to inform people about the username/password. The La Fonera defaults to having the bandwidth limited to 512 Kbit/sec to the Internet for connections made via its FON_whatever SSID. Connections made to the public SSID FON_whatever are on a separate VLAN and users cannot see any open shares on the office network.

Thus with this mechanism, one could allow access to the Internet to visitors/guests in an office environment by having them connect to the open FON_whatever SSID and still have them separate from the office internal network. You should keep your private SSID secure using WPA2 and use a difficult to guess password. It’s best to change the default password which is the serial number of the La Fonera as well as the default private SSID which is MyPlace

BTW, If you are using FON, I really recommend the Devicescape Connection Manager. It makes connecting to FON Hotspots pretty much a no-brainer. I really wish providers like Y5Zone and PCCW in Hong Kong would work with Devicescape and get their hotspots supported in the system. I’ve seen a number of their customers asking in the forums how to get Devicescape working with such hotspots. I’m also looking forward to a proper iPhone Devicescape app when Apple officially allows it

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Categories: General

A brief interlude with Yahoo Pipes

April 29, 2008 Comments off

Friend and fellow jamaat member Ali Ebrahim recently setup an instance of the Venus RSS aggregator to create Planet Bohra. He had pulled the twitter feed for mumineen.org but my grief was that when I clicked the link from inside Planet Bohra, I would be sent to the twitter page and not to the final destination.

I thought I would have to hack Planet to get around this. Thinking for a few minutes, I realised that maybe I should munge the twitter feed via Yahoo Pipes and started playing around with it (I had never used Yahoo Pipes before).

A short while later, I had something which did the trick and Ali was able to incorporate into Planet Bohra.

I should try and get together with Ali and see if we can do something more interesting via Yahoo Pipes.

Got one year free access to Encyclopedia Britannica

April 22, 2008 Comments off

Found out via this post on Techcrunch, that Encyclopedia Britannica was now free for bloggers and those bloggers accepted into the program can provide direct links to articles within Britannica and its available to their readers in its entirety.

I applied into the program and got accepted and I thought I’d link to what Britannica writes about my community Dawoodi Bohras and compare that to what is available via Wikipedia.

Categories: General

Gaining control of your phone via HongKong's Unsolicited Electronic Messages Ordinance

April 21, 2008 Comments off

It’s been a hassle being interrupted at the most inconvenient time by a tele-marketeer in Hong Kong who calls at every hour conceivable.

A couple of months ago, I came across this page at OFTA’s (Office of the Telecommunications Authority) website which described the procedure for registering a telephone number in the do-not-call registry.

It’s been peaceful ever since. So to all my readers in Hong Kong, if you haven’t done so, register your telephone numbers at the earliest.

Categories: General
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