Growth of the early Internet, node by node

Network diagrams are a popular way of visualizing social and corporate relationships. Network theory has been used to model telecommunications performance and especially, the Internet. Communications networks increase in value as the number of connections increases. Metcalfe’s Law attempts to quantify the increased value.


Credibility and the Internet: Queuing Theory

Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet!

This was old news about queues back in 1985. Yet it was written up as a journal article, and received coverage as though a new finding in the June 2010 issue of ScienceDaily, an online publication owned by Reuters.

M/M/1 queues, Kendall notation, and models of balking behavior are certainly useful. However, the concepts, and their accuracy as models, were well-established for at least forty years. This is true whether applying queueing theory to modelling the performance of computer hard-drives e.g. random arrival times for seek requests, or to consumer behavior when switching lanes because of long lines at the supermarket checkout.

The Wiley text book, Fundamentals of Queueing Theory, was published in 1998.

Earlier editions were published in 1983, and explain in detail the theory and application of the concepts presented in the journal article reviewed by ScienceDaily.

A little more about M/G/1

On Math StackExchange, I noticed a rare inquiry. If you’re curious for more about queues, go read my answer to this question, Kendall notation’s “General distribution”, what does that mean?

I found this comment endearing:

Oh I thought that this stuff wasn’t even used in real life jobs… I thought it was merely theoretical, but seems that I’m wrong!

I’m okay with the G general theory [G as the general case when you just don’t know what sort of service time distribution to expect] since I’m not required to study it for now (I’m following an academic course), I just wanted to understand what the G meant and you helped me in that. Do you have any experience with multi-class queues too?


Internet governance and assorted unrelated charts

The Internet Engineering Task Force Trust was created by the Internet Society, the Corporation for National Research Initiatives and the Internet Engineering Task Force on December 15, 2005.

The purposes of the trust include the advancement of educational and public interest by acquiring, holding, maintaining and licensing certain existing and future intellectual property and other property used in connection with the Internet standards process and its administration, for the advancement of the science and technology associated with the Internet.


Google Postini

Google Apps – Use Google Apps for enterprise or small business customer needs.


A hosted continuity solution for your on-premise email server. Ensure rapid email failover in the event of a server outage with complete and constant email replication – all accessible at any time through Gmail…if your on-premise server is down, you can still send and receive up-to-date emails….


If he were a spy

I looked for answers on Quora, a question-and-answer website.

Is Jacob Appelbaum a U.S. government employee?

He gets a huge salary from the Tor Project but mostly jets around the world, more lavishly than celebrities and movie stars. His home is chic, minimalist but opulent according to Rolling Stone. He posed with semi-automatic firearms in Iraq in 2008. He parties ALL the time, based on his flickr photographs. [These photos are no longer visible other than to logged-in flickr users with adult content viewing enabled. I embedded a few as part of my question on the Quora website and question comments.]

Martin StrohmeierThe question doesn’t really seem to follow from the details, Ellie?
Ellie KesselmanGranted, but maybe this will help to explain. Tor is a former US government project. Jacob works, or worked for Tor. I was trying to avoid asking directly whether Jacob were a spy. That would be indiscreet, so I said “US government employee” instead.
Jacob has more fans and cart blanche globally than, well, I don’t even know who to compare with him. He is like the Larry Ellison or Eric Schmidt of crypto fandom, but without any visible means of support. I don’t see his name on the cryptography research server IACR as an author, nor any ACM nor IEEE scholarly journals, not even the Financial Cryptography conference.

ioerror is, well, to make an analogy, like the subversive version of Google’s Jared Cohen. ioerror is the cool kids’ hero, so to speak.

Martin Strohmeier
I saw him speak in front of the cream of the crop of the world’s academic security researchers (and me) last fall at CCS in Berlin. I sure got the impression that he resonated there quite well. I don’t know that much more about him though. He partied like everyone else, just a tad bit more paranoid.
Ellie Kesselman
He speaks all over the world! If there’s a political uprising or controversy, ioerror is boots on the ground, at the scene, but never in the U.S.A. He is like the rock star of crypto, except he isn’t affiliated with a company, nor a university, nor the Berkman Center at Harvard or EFF.

He always has lots of trappings of material success, nice clothes, hordes of women etc. Look at this! “The Sheik, Emir Appelbaum, Doha fashion victim“. That is atypical, for security researchers, isn’t it?
Martin Strohmeier
As for academic papers, many of these independent researchers can’t be bothered to go through the long publishing processes in academia but prefer to present their work at hacker conferences such as Defcon, Black Hat, C3 etc. Looking through Google Scholar such an example would be “MD5 considered harmful today” presented at 25c3. The authors later published at CRYPTO 2009, a top tier security conference.

Besides those, he got his name on a USENIX Security Workshop paper and a Communications of the ACM article (Lest we remember), solid outlets.
Ellie Kesselman
Matthew Green, Mikko Hypponen and IBMer Craig Gentry, who figured out homomorphic encryption, aren’t feted like ioerror.
Martin Strohmeier
Hypponen had a talk at that same CCS last fall, he’s quite prolific, too. There are bigger security superstars still, Bruce Schneier comes to mind. It’s never totally clear to me what makes someone an Internet superstar in any field, to be honest. Especially those Social Media gurus.

One thing I know though: Appelbaum is an extremely good orator (haven’t really followed his Internet activity but if he’s everywhere that’s surely explaining his popularity). Speaking engagements are something that brings in quite some money for many people. At the very least you’re being paid the travel cost to quite often pretty amazing destinations…


Adrián Lamo responded to my question Quora. His answer puzzles me.

“Jacob Raven Appelbaum isn’t a USG employee, though I have no idea whether or not he may have technically been/contracted at some point in Tor’s early Naval Research Laboratory funding.

This question reads more like a love-letter-by-proxy to Appelbaum than a sincere desire for information, and I’m not the only person in the security community who sees this trend in public palaverous platitudes.

No political climate lasts forever. Jens Karney once believed Berlin would protect him indefinitely. I guess Jake figures he should have fun while the opportunity remains available.”

Adrián seems to infer that I am praising Jacob. That isn’t true at all though! The inline link to Jens Karney is a melancholy Der Spiegel Online news story about an American who became a spy for East Germany during the last decade of the Soviet Union.
In the end, I am left with more questions, but no answers.



he date was March 1998. The Internet was at a critical decision point, as the U.S. government considered what infrastructure should be privatized, how to share or cede responsibility to other nations and how to transition to an e-commerce based future over the following decades. 
IANA (the Internet Assigned Names Authority) was a U.S. government run entity at that time. The following are some of the more interesting portions of Robert E. Kahn’s testimony to the House Science Subcommittee on Basic Research on the subject of Internet Domain Names, on 28 March 1998.


Compressed data for prayer, anagrams and digital rights management

I found an oddly contemporary-looking New York Times article that is in fact, quite vintage for the Internet. It begins with a review of a most peculiar e-commerce company:

doing business with may require a leap of faith.

– Compressed Data: Beaming Prayers to God’s Last Known Residence
via The New York Times Online, 31 August 1999.

The Internet Fraud Watch for the National Consumers League was deluged with complaints about fraud on the Net, having received 7,700 last year and 6,000 through the first six months of 1999.

If they only knew what was to follow, in less than ten short years.

Digital rights management

The next article was about a new “pact” between Adobe and Xerox, to address the needs of companies

…seeking a way to prevent the rampant piracy that has plagued the digital music industry from overtaking digital publishing. The technology, called Content Guard, is to be announced at the Seybold 21st Century Publishing Conference in San Francisco.

When was the last Seybold 21st Century Publishing Conference, I wonder? Not for awhile. The proposed approach seems so straightforward! It would be

integrated… with Adobe’s existing PDF format for distributing documents on line… publishers that have agreed to adopt the technology, include Thomson Learning, the National Music Publishers Association, and Haymarket Publications, a European business publisher.


Content Guard was expected to be superior as a form of digital rights management software, as it was

based on an industry standard: Java, an Internet programming language developed by Sun Microsystems.

I just received my n-th zero day patch for Java last week. Yet Java lived up to this part of its promise, and still does:

The flexibility of Java would allow users to read Xerox protected documents [and non-Xerox protected documents too] on various types of software operating systems using any of the standard Web browser programs.

I don’t think Adobe had fully enabled the following functionality in PDF’s viewed with Adobe Reader until much later; I have rarely seen it used, even though it is available:

Publishers, corporations or individuals could specify who had access to the document, set a time frame for protection and even designate the type of authentication (like a password or a fingerprint) needed to read the document.

Adobe introduced these features in 2009, with the exception of fingerprint authentication for most of us, for digital signatory and general purpose security rather than digital rights management purposes.

Anagrams for free

I’ll end on a more positive note, rather than gloomy nostalgia. The wonders of natural language processing were just emerging into the larger population.

The letters that form the name Boeing can be rearranged to spell “big one.” Time Warner can be converted to “mean writer.” And the title of Rupert Murdoch’s sexy London tabloid The News of the World is an anagram for “tender, hot flesh — wow.” These are just a few of the possibilities in business anagrams, a game being played by office workers throughout the English-speaking world.

The language in the following paragraph caught my attention for several reasons. First, the exact and accurate wording, to “contact the server”, would be uncommon now in a daily newspaper.

To play, contact the Internet Anagram Server at, which provides immediate answers, or another site called Anagram Genius Server at, which gives a more considered response and replies by e-mail after a few minutes or hours, depending on traffic volume.

Then there’s the reminder of the absence of web apps, as the requested anagram is sent by e-mail, in minutes. Or hours.

At no charge, these sites will attempt to create anagrams from any word or phrase, not just company names. But somehow there’s a special mischievous thrill…

Emphasis mine. If you want to find out what that thrill is, read the New York Times article, linked above. I only hope that the New York Times will remain extant, rather than joining so many worthwhile news and information services, preserved for us only through Internet archives.

I’m sorry. I tried. Gloom won.


Cryptome sampler

ia website, a nice handy ASCII graph of all tables and their default chains:

         { network }   <---------------------- packets enter your computer via a
              |                                physical or virtual interface
              | (PREROUTING)                   *nom nom nom nom*
 { kernel decides which table should be used }   <---- if the packet has destination equals to any
             /        \                                of the computers own IP-addresses, it will
(FORWARD) /          \  (INPUT)                    be sent to the INPUT table. Otherwise it is
        mangle         mangle                          sent to the FORWARD table, assuming that
          |              |                             net.ipv4.conf.*.forwarding = 1, otherwise
        filter         filter                          it should be dropped.
          |              |
          |         { program }   <----------- Programs that run on the computer AND is listening on
          |              |                     the destination protocol AND port of arriving packets
          |             raw  (OUTPUT)        from the INPUT chain will be fed with them. Programs
          |              |                     running on your computer poops their packets out at
          |            mangle                  the OUTPUT table.
          |              |
          |             nat                    
          |              |                     
          |            filter                    Legend:
           \             /                          (X) -> X is a table
            \           /                           {X} -> X is something obvious
  { the packet is put in POSTROUTING }               X  -> X is a chain
              mangle (POSTROUTING)
               nat                              The packet is ejected by some network interface. It could mean
                |                               that the packet is put on a physical network or that it is
           { network }   <--------------------- sent by a virtual networkinterface to a real network interface,
                                                in which case it could *again* enter the PREROUTING table.

Additional links of a similar nature, all from the same website


Internet Infrastructure

Regional Internet Registries
APNIC – Asia Pacific Network Information Centre. Internet resource distribution in the Asia/Pacific region.

ARIN – American Registry for Internet Numbers. Administration and registration of Internet Protocol (IP) numbers for the Americas & sub Saharan Africa.

LACNIC – The Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry. An the organization that administrates IP addresses space, Autonomous System Numbers (ASN), reverse resolution and other resources of the Latin American and Caribbean region (LAC), on behalf of the Internet community.

RIPE – Reseaux IP Europeens. Performs activities primarily for the benefit of the membership in Europe and the surrounding areas (including the Middle-East and parts of Africa)

Other links
IETF – The Internet Engineering Task Force. Community of network designers, operators, vendors, and researchers concerned with the evolution of the Internet architecture.

ICANN – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Responsible for the IP address space allocation, protocol parameter assignment, domain name system management, and root server system management functions.

IANA – Internet Assigned Numbers Authority.

IOS – International Organization for Standardization. A worldwide federation of national standards bodies from some 130 countries, one from each country.

EU – European Union. The European Union’s mission is to organize relations between the Member States and between their peoples in a coherent manner and on the basis of solidarity.

IRTF – Internet Research Task Force. Promoting research of importance to the evolution of the future Internet.

Exchange Point Information – A comprehensive listing of exchange points in Europe and around the world.

Internet Exchange Points in Africa – A comprehensive listing of exchange points in Africa that has been compiled by NSRC.

European Internet Exchange Association


Progress or Merely the Illusion of Such

Are we realizing any real gains, or merely running in place?

As of 2010, we have much better internet infrastructure, but the World Wide Web has become so bloated with extraneous information and poor design that it chews it all up. ReadWriteWeb offers an insightful article  on the matter of technological innovation. The mysterious “Guest Writer” describes, in quantitative terms, citing multiple data sources, that a faster internet speed hasn’t translated into any real gains for end-users, particularly in page load times.

Why not? Because of the vast preponderance of excessive CRUD that is loaded on web pages: links placed as much for SEO (search engine optimization) as elucidation, videos, related stories from the past, possibly related stories in the future, content-based advertising that is oddly prescient and so forth.

ReadWriteWeb uses the Official White House website in 1996 versus the current White House site as an example. Screen shots are included, and as always, make the point most eloquently.

Please be aware, this is no thinly veiled (nor blatantly obvious) partisan commentary. The trend is not associated with political party, nor with any Presidential Administration.

“We have the ability to deliver more content in the same amount of time as 1996, but we’re doing it very inefficiently. End users haven’t experienced any true acceleration in [page] load times”.

For more, see the full story via ReadWriteWeb: It’s Not About the Network Anymore.