Elliott C. Back: Internet & Technology

Vote for Google’s Final 10^100 Projects!

Posted in Google by Elliott Back on September 24th, 2009.

Google’s Project 10100 is about gathering the world’s best ideas and sifting them to produce meaningful agents of change. After thousands of people from hundreds of different countries submitted over 150,000 ideas, dedicated Google staffers aggregated them into 16 different “Big Ideas,” up to 5 of which will be funded. Here’s a little more info about the project:

Thanks to ReadWrite Web for pointing out this video.

If you head on over now to the Project 10100 voting page, let your voice be heard! Voting will end on October 8th, so you don’t have much time! Proposals include:

  • Promote health monitoring and data analysis
  • Enhance science and engineering education
  • Create real-world issue reporting system
  • Create genocide monitoring and alert system
  • Help social entrepreneurs drive change
  • Make government more transparent
  • Provide quality education to African students
  • Create real-time natural crisis tracking system
  • Build real-time, user-reported news service
  • Drive innovation in public transport
  • Make educational content available online for free
  • Create more efficient landmine removal programs
  • Work toward socially conscious tax policies
  • Build better banking tools for everyone
  • Collect and organize the world’s urban data
  • Encourage positive media depictions of engineers and scientists

I’ve voted for Work toward socially conscious tax policies. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Benchmarking WordPress with Apache Bench

Posted in Blogging,Performance,Scalability,WP by Elliott Back on January 14th, 2008.

A lot of people talk about WordPress performance, and how to get a webserver to perform as efficiently as possible. However, without a quantifiable methodology to testing website performance, you can’t actually talk about it. ApacheBench (ab) is the solution to the problem of measuring website performance. What is ApacheBench? The man page provides a suitable answer:

ab – Apache HTTP server benchmarking tool

ab is a tool for benchmarking your Apache Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) server. It is designed to give you an impression of how your current Apache installation performs. This especially shows you how many requests per second your Apache installation is capable of serving.

If you have installed apache or apache-devel, you should be to simple invoke ab by typing it on the command line. For example, to benchmark my own site here, I would write:

[root ~]# ab -n 10000 -c 100 elliottback.com/wp/

This says “make 10,000 concurrent requests to host elliottback.com via http and request /wp/ on 100 threads.” The result of this is the following report:

This is ApacheBench, Version 2.0.40-dev < $Revision: 1.146 $> apache-2.0
Copyright 1996 Adam Twiss, Zeus Technology Ltd, www.zeustech.net/
Copyright 2006 The Apache Software Foundation, www.apache.org/

Benchmarking elliottback.com (be patient)
Completed 1000 requests
Completed 2000 requests
Completed 3000 requests
Completed 4000 requests
Completed 5000 requests
Completed 6000 requests
Completed 7000 requests
Completed 8000 requests
Completed 9000 requests
Finished 10000 requests

Server Software: Apache/2.2.6
Server Hostname: elliottback.com
Server Port: 80

Document Path: /wp/
Document Length: 34331 bytes

Concurrency Level: 100
Time taken for tests: 13.596345 seconds
Complete requests: 10000
Failed requests: 0
Write errors: 0
Total transferred: 346230000 bytes
HTML transferred: 343310000 bytes
Requests per second: 735.49 [#/sec] (mean)
Time per request: 135.963 [ms] (mean)
Time per request: 1.360 [ms] (mean, across all concurrent requests)
Transfer rate: 24868.08 [Kbytes/sec] received

Connection Times (ms)
min mean[+/-sd] median max
Connect: 0 0 1.6 0 20
Processing: 8 134 12.7 132 190
Waiting: 4 134 12.7 132 190
Total: 16 134 12.1 132 190

Percentage of the requests served within a certain time (ms)
50% 132
66% 134
75% 136
80% 137
90% 145
95% 160
98% 175
99% 179
100% 190 (longest request)

According to these numbers, my dual core server can do 750 requests per second, fulfilling each within about 150ms each. That’s pretty fast, probably because I know the secrets of WordPress Optimization. If you make every layer as fast as it can be, and cache heavily, you too can see lightening fast WordPress installations!

Mark Cuban’s P2P Ideas Suck

Posted in bit torrent,bittorrent,Celebrities,P2P,Performance,Scalability by Elliott Back on November 25th, 2007.

In a three-part rant about peer-to-peer technologies (1, 2, 3), Mark Cuban demands that peer-to-peer technologies “die a quick death” in order to”speed up [his own] internet connection.” He suggests that “Google Video is a far better solution for audio and video distribution than any P2P solution” and that cable companies “charge for upstream bandwidth usage.”

Guess what–I already get charged for all the bandwidth I use, either up or down. When Verizon strings a fiberoptic cable to my home, I’m getting a certain amount of fixed capacity into the greater internet at large. If I want to trade a little upstream capacity for greater downstream capacity, that’s my call! Have you ever noticed that downloading over http is typically slow because there are 100s of clients and 1 host? If I download the same information over bittorrent, I can sustain 12Mbs because everyone is a server–including me. Distributed protocols, such as the ones powering Amazon Dynamo or bittorrent, are more efficient, cost effective, and fault tolerant than single-server models.

Reactions around the blogosphere indicate that Mark Cuban’s thoughts on P2P are nonsensical rubbish. Mashable calls him “a guy who does not understand how P2P works, and yet he wants it shut down.” Ars Technica notes that “if users who are currently saturating their connections with BitTorrent start saturating their connections with Google Video content, the end result is more or less the same.” And a slashdotter comments, “Just imagine how fast the internet would be if there were no content to view. After P2Ps gone, get rid of all these freeloading websites, emails, etc. and it will be blisteringly fast.”

My guess is that billionaire Mark Cuban has a slow, shared cable internet connection at home, the modern equivalent of a party line. This might lead him to confuse his own slow internet connection with a greater systemic problem. What he should be complaining about is why Verizon hasn’t strung fiber in his area yet.

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