Month: July 2010

Tetris wall

Dear wife,

I agree to have the decoration you want everywhere in our new home. You can have all the furniture and appliances you want in the kitchen. I’m OK if all the shelves with my computer books are in the basement. OK too if you don’t want to see the file server in the living room. Agreed: I’ll put back Windows on your laptop. But …

But I absolutely want one wall painted like these:

Tetris wall 1

Tetris wall 2

Jean-Etienne 😉

Photos found on (without original credit). Other walls with Tetris can be found on Flickr.

Bittorrent used to deploy updates

I just watched a video from Larry Gadea working at Twitter: Twitter – Murder Bittorrent Deploy System (speaking at CUSEC 2010).

Briefly, the problem Twitter was facing was the deployment of updates to thousands of servers in a short amount of time and dealing with errors (broken servers, e.g.). A nice, simple, cool and free way of solving this issue was to use the Bittorrent protocol (via Python and a stack of other free software) to actually deploy updates. In summary, you go from a unique repository facing thousands requests approximately at the same time:

And you end up with a nice “distribution chain”:

The beautiful thing is that they now go 75 times faster than before!

And now, the video:

The Murder software is hosted on Github (Apache 2 license).

Why do I blog this? First, I like to see simple ideas no one had before implemented like this. I also wonder how other companies facing the same problems are doing ( for example ; I don’t think it could be useful for Forban). Finally, you see, Bittorrent is sometimes about good stuff too!

Cognitive Surplus visualised

In the 300-and-more RSS items in my aggregator this week, there are 2 great ones from Information is Beautiful, a blog gathering (and publishing its own) nice ways to visualise data.

The first one is based on a talk by Clay Shirky who, in turn, was referencing his book Cognitive Surplus. In Cognitive Surplus visualized, David McCandless just represented one of Shirky’s ideas: 200 billion hours are spent each year by US adults just watching TV whereas only 100 million hours were necessary to create Wikipedia (I guess the platform + the content) …

Cognitive Surplus visualised from Information Is Beautiful

It makes you think about either the waste television helps to produce either the potential of human brain(s) if relieved from the burden of television.

The second interesting post appeared in fact in information aesthetics, a blog where form follows data (referencing Information is Beautiful but I can’t find this post). In Top Secret America: Visualizing the National Security Buildup in the U.S., Andrew Vande Moere relates “an extensive investigative project of the Washington Post that describes the huge national security buildup in the United States after the September 11 attacks”. The project website contains all the ingredients for a well-documented investigation with the addition of interactive maps and flash-based interfaces allowing the user to build his/her own view on the project.

Top Secret America from the Washington Post

It’s nice to see investigative journalism combined with beautiful data visualisation and handling!