« Play | Main | Projects »

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

NBN - What it is Really About

I've been following the debate over recent months about the NBN in Australia, and to be quite frank have found people have a fair bit of misunderstanding about what it means to this country. Arguments for and against seem to blur the real benefit that the NBN will deliver.

To attempt to bring this focus back on track for me at least, I plan on taking a little tour of the average Australian house, and the services that are provided.

  • ELECTRICITY - Electricity powers almost everything in our house, the washing machine, television, air conditioning, heaters, recharges batteries, soon may even power our cars. It even powers the computer I'm creating this blog entry on. Electricity certainly makes our lives interesting.
  • WATER - Can you believe it, it is amazing - we can turn on a tap and water appears IN OUR HOUSE. Kings and Queens of old had water brought to them in buckets - yet we just turn on the tap and wash, drink or water the plants. In Australia, we have of course started to think responsibly about water use, but it is still a miracle.
  • COPPER - Nearing the end of their usefulness, our land lines have created over the last century a world so interconnected that it has shrunk the world to nothing. The copper providing these telephones has been stretched to breaking point to delivery not just phone services, but a shaky but amazing connection via data to the world.

Think about these services that you have taken for granted probably since you were born. How do we talk about these services, we talk about them (for the most part) as essential to our very existence.

I'm going to add a fifth one now, one more recently accessed - and attach to it, how it is currently seen by many people.

  • INTERNET - Download music, download movies, download websites, download pictures, download the news. Be careful not to download too much, in case you run out of Megabytes - and sometimes it is slow because of the low Megabits/second. My router needs a fair bit of fiddling to get it working sometimes, and frequently I have to change the line settings with my ISP to avoid drop outs. When it rains, the speed slows. I have to choose between ADSL, ADSL2+, ADSL Annex M, Cable, Satellite or 3G or sometimes dialup. Depending on which I use, I need different plugs, adapters and I ... <well you get the idea>

I admit, I exaggerated a bit - very few people go through all of those at the same time, but for the general populace - all of that is frequently encountered by someone on a daily basis. In essence the INTERNET is well, immature.

Well, now to share some well kept secrets. There was a time before electricity, home delivered water and copper to the house - when immature systems existed, incompatible systems - systems to choose amoungst. For example, originally you could choose between AC and DC electricity (in the US), in some places in the world you buy your appliances without a plug, and get a plug attached depending on how your electricity is wired.

The key thing here is - that at some point in time within Australia, infrastructure was laid out country wide at great expense to provide these services. These services were not as pervasive then as they are now - but because of that investment, they became pervasive and incredibly useful. Electricity was originally just for powering lights and copper wires for telegraph.

Now comes the big NBN discussion - and the FIRST key point of this blog relates to how we THINK about our services.

People are thinking of the NBN as access to lots of downloads on the Internet, FAST BIG FAT INTERNET. Well, they are wrong. NBN is about far more than that.

Saying the NBN is about fast Internet, is like saying Electricity is about powering your lights.

That's right, people who think of the NBN as being a way of getting those downloads quicker, are thinking EXACTLY as people almost a century ago were - when they thought of Electricity as being about powering your lights.

Why do we need an electricity network just to power our lights brighter - gas powered lights work just fine.

The SECOND key point of this blog relates to how we TALK about our services.

People are talking about there internet in terms of Gigabits/second and Gigabytes/month, that's like talking about your electricity in terms of ohms, volts and amps.

The NBN will have arrived when we hear people talking about the things it does, rather than how it does them.

The NBN in an important infrastructure project - far more important than giving people more downloads, or faster pings. Remote medicine, video conferencing, tele-presence, telephony, Internet. I can't even imagine what it will be used for - just like the people almost 100 years ago couldn't see electricity as more than lighting.

Don't expect to try and guess what these services will be, but be sure - they will be. The fourth service will not be INTERNET - ill will be called CONNECTIVITY.

I prefer to call it - the ACS, "AUSTRALIAN CONNECTIVITY SYSTEM" - maybe then, after we divorce ourselves from terms that remind us too much of where we have been - and suggest to us where we should go - only then will people see past the limits of the past and view the prospects of the future.

Posted by Christopher Burke at 8:34 PM
Categories: Professional

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Password Squares

You probably have hundreds of passwords by now, for Facebook, Twitter, your social club, bank and who knows what else. You are told to use secure passwords for all of these, and you are also told to never use the same password on more than one site. Well, we all know this is just impossible to achieve.

I just started up a website http://www.passwordsquares.com/ to assist in solving this problem. If you think you can help me out, contact me.

Posted by Christopher Burke at 7:30 AM
Categories: Professional, Projects

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Whirlpool.net.au - The Statistics of Aura

Well, I finally decided - mainly because I like statistics and data analysis as well as studying language and human interaction to do some analysis of the new Aura system on the Broadband community site.

I also figured, that it would be my chance to show how screwed the system was.

Well in a word... I was wrong, the system is far from all pervasive and you really need to make an impact to alter it. Whilst doing the analysis, I came up with some interesting observations.

Out of the sample of over 30,000 user ids, the majority of users are just Plain Regulars or Participants.

Invalid 3.00%
In the penalty box 1.57%
I'm new here, please be nice 3.88%
Participant 18.05%
Forum Regular 70.19%
ISP Staff 0.18%
Whirlpool Enthusiast 2.26%
Whirlpool Forums Addict 0.87%

In addition, the all pervasive Aura which has brought much critisicm (including from me), is a small speck of impact on the whole. The following demonstrates how few members are affected.

Indeterminate 94.55%
Low 2.12%
Normal 0.87%
Light 1.24%
Bright 0.77%
Luminescent 0.32%
Incandescent 0.13%

Notice that 95% of Whirlpool is entirely unnaffected by Aura, and 98% are not 'adversely' affected by Aura. Not also the larger slice that 'Low' has got due to the politically correct dropping of the 'Dark' and 'Dim' Auras.

The following further divides those members with Aura by the 'strength' of the vote. It seems that whilst it is easy to annoy a few people, it's a pure talent (a talent I have it seems), to annoy enough people to actually become pervasively anything. Notice also that the easy at which you move from Tentative, through Normal to Pervasive seems somewhat independent of the aura you are on.

I thought it would also be a bit of fun to see where the boorish brutes live, and where the enlightened few live. Well, it's official, Darwin is the home of the lowest over all Aura, and the city with the highest proportion of Low aura people. Canberra has the highest overall aura, but Perth boasts the highest proportion of very enlightened persons. This table includes only persons with a valid aura (not Indeterminate).

Adelaide 34.90% 20.13% 22.15% 15.44% 4.03% 3.36% 2.4
Brisbane 35.03% 18.37% 21.09% 15.99% 6.46% 3.06% 2.5
Canberra 32.65% 6.12% 32.65% 12.24% 14.29% 2.04% 2.8
Darwin 45.45% 9.09% 45.45% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 2.0
Hobart 39.29% 21.43% 21.43% 10.71% 7.14% 0.00% 2.3
Melbourne 40.83% 13.96% 25.00% 13.13% 5.63% 1.46% 2.3
Perth 36.97% 15.76% 20.61% 12.12% 6.67% 7.88% 2.6
Sydney 41.45% 16.58% 20.21% 15.03% 5.35% 1.38% 2.3

The final bit of statistics for now debunks the long held belief that people with high post counts, generate low auras. Well, I analysed the posts/day for all the persons with a valid aura (not indeterminite), and low and behold .... it isn't how much you say, it's what you say. The values are calculated based on the number of posts divided by the number of days from joining to last activity (the best I could come up with).


The following graph (added 27th September 2006), has a little bit of a disturbing future in its lines:

The information is a little busy, but fundamentally the red lines (and red axis) are numbers of members and the green lines are average durations of a members stay (before they leave for the long run). Now obviously, as the graph gets to the end, distinguishing between members that have left for good, and those away for a month is somewhat difficult. However, the over all trend is that Whirlpool is becoming less of a community and more of a news site (like news.com etc). The red lines demonstrate this significantly, whilst more and more people are joining, more and more of them are joining for very short durations and moving on. The rest of the graph, I'll leave for your digestion.

If there is any more information, or particular stats you would like to see, e-mail me by clicking on the contact me button up top, I will be adding to this page as time goes on (there is another 10 or more graphs/tables I have in the pipeline).

Posted by Christopher Burke at 6:10 AM
Categories: Professional, Projects

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Traffic vs Data Tutorial

Traffic vs Data Tutorial

Think of the internet as a road carrying cargo, vehicles are ‘packets’ and the cargo is your ‘data’. The entire group of vehicles and packets is ‘traffic’.

Traffic vs Data

Some vehicles like the semi-trailer carry large amounts of data, with a small percentage overhead, others like the small truck carry little data with a larger percentage overhead. Yet others like the police car carry no data – and are there for special purposes.

Most traffic metering systems will measure the traffic that passes through the system, others (especially proxies and mirrors) will measure the cargo. This is why sometimes the two systems can have vastly different values.

Posted by Christopher Burke at 6:10 AM
Categories: Professional, Projects