Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Assessing Server Loads for Proxy Servers

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Of course one of the most important aspects of running a proxy server is speed. However you’re never going to know if your server will be fast enough unless you do some basic load estimating beforehand. No one will want to use your super secure proxy if it runs like a three legged donkey.

So how do you estimate the expected load on your server? Well there are several questions you need to ask yourself of which the most important is simply – how many users?

The important concept here as regarding speed is how many concurrent users. That is how many users will be connected at any one time, this has by far the biggest impact on performance.


Other load impact will be what type of use, what type of content will be downloaded and how many accesses per second, hour or day will be involved. Imagine the impact on a server of a few hundred users browsing text based resources and downloading the odd graphic file. Then contrast this with the same few hundred users streaming or downloading HD quality videos and films. The difference will be phenomenal, the reality is that your users are much likely to be in the second category. People use secure proxies not only for keeping themself safe online but also to bypass geotargeting blocks to watch things like the BBC and US TV channels from other countries. There is an example of such high security services which run against a network of international proxies. This software acts as a front end – for switching between proxies automatically – this video.

Only by asking yourself these sort of questions can you hope to estimate the total load on your proxy and the hardware required to cope with it. The server administrators which rely on simple statistics like the number of users will definitely underestimate the resources required and will end up with a slow and unusable server.

Source: Jim Greenhoff – IT Videos

Netflix has Lost Ermm Lost

Friday, August 30th, 2013

It may be just me, but as I get older I get more and more annoyed with bad service and incompetance. This has led me to returning from a family holiday and having a mojor tantrum with the online streaming service Netflix.  Now although my age is partly to blame, I must insist that Netflix take part of the blame as they have been completely hopeless.   Here’s someone else who has a similar experience and found a way to fix it –

Basically they make available a series like Lost with well over a hundred episodes and then suddenly delete it without warning.  I got to about episode 25 and was really enjoying it when it was pulled, the chap in  the video was only ten from the end!  Now I know that licenses expire, problems arise but surely if you care remotely about your users you don’t suddenly delete something that large without at least giving some warning.  I mean how about – Lost is expiring in two weeks – catch it while you can.  Then at least you’d have the option to stop watching it or stay up late and grab some more before it expired.

But know Netflix just deleted it, no warning, no apology nothing – people are angry and you can’t blame them. Who’s to say they won’t do it again – is it worth starting to watch some new series if Netflix are just going to pull it !!  For me it’s not so bad, I have at least learnt with my experiments and this research about watching British television online that you can access lots of stuff using proxies and VPN software.  Fortunately the US version of Netflix still has the series available, but I’m tempted to just give up on the company and try someone else instead.

Shame on you Netflix !!

Gimme Back My Netflix

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

About a year ago, I started to get into streaming media for a variety of reasons.   My first and probably biggest driver was the cost and overall quality of my cable package, I mean I can live with paying $80 a month for a decent entertainment package, but not one that is filled with rubbish.  So I started to look online for alternatives in both quality and costs.  My first port of call was the cheapest, downloading stuff on my very fast cable connection from the newsgroups, which believe it or not is entirely possible.  If you want to check out this route then buy yourself a decent NAS (Network attached storage) and download big blocks of stuff – some devices can do this automatically. It kinda works but is very fiddly when you start missing one part of the download and the whole thing won’t play, or a file gets deleted or archived half way through your download.  After a while I looked at the private downloads – the services which mirror news sites and give you a dedicated client to download – stuff like Bintube and Usnext all work very well.

The problem with these is not specifically the service, but just the junk that gets uploaded to Usenet groups. Lots of times the files are not what they say, and often they are encrypted with a password.  To get the passwords you need to go through some crappy spam filled advertising pages, which flood your PC with malware (so the uploader gets paid).  To be honest it’s not worth the hassle although if you filtered to trusted uploaders and did batch downloads it’s an option worth considering.  I did this for about 12 months before getting fed up with the various hassles and incorrect files.

I then moved to a couple of subscription services which were completely legitimate – LoveFilm from Amazon and Netflix from someone else.  Both these give a free months trial to test out.  You can stream direct to your computer or any net enabled device like an Xbox 360, Wii or one of the many dedicated media streamers.  I tested for a month on my laptop and chose Netflix, best value and biggest choice I thought.  I even shelled out on a great little streamer called the Roku which connects to your TV and streams to that directly.  Works like a dream for a few bucks a month as long as you have a decent 5mb+ internet connection.

I was happy, and with technology that’s quite unusual for me.  Until I went abroad, I packed up my laptop and Roku and went to live in London for 12 months.  I had to do some work there , so I figured I could enjoy my Netflix account from there as I had a good internet connection.  That’s when  I discovered that all Netflix accounts are not equal, the American one is the best by far, the UK version of Netflix is hopeless and that’s what you get connecting from London.  Fortunately I discovered how you could get American Netflix outside the US, but it took me a while.  So then I got the best of both worlds – I could access BBC iPlayer without having to use a proxy like this and could use the American versions when I needed.

Anyway hope this post has helped, check the link above if you’re having problems with International versions of rubbish media sites.

Next Generation GPS – US Army

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

When GPS was first developed it revolutionised many areas of life.  Like many technologies it was the battlefield and more specifically the US army who brought this into our lives.  The first GPS systems required an enormous box to be transported in order to register the signal.  Today GPS transmitters and receivers are built into all sorts of devices from mobile phones, cars to individual weapons.

Of course the Global Positioning System of the 1980s was a very different technology than it is today, but the reserach group who helped pioneer it’s use is now looking for a successor.  The reality is that armed forces around the world are so dependent on GPS that it’s now looking like a vulnerability more than an asset.  GPS relies on a signal and it’s very possible that this can be intercepted or scrambled.  In fact there is some evidence that this has happened in South Korea recently.

The scares have meant that DARPA the research group who developed the system are now trying to create a system which is not reliant on satellites and a signal being sent and received from them.  There is also funding from other sources including the Government, US law enforcement agencies and corporate sponsors.  Obviously we can’t return to the era of huge boxes to make these systems work and the target is a small computer chip.

The system being developed actually contains three gyroscopes, three accelerometers and an atomic clock which combined together should create a 21st Century autonomous navigation systems.  That is a GPS system which works independantly of satellites and needs no signals or outside connectivity of any sorts.

As such this technology has not been created and it may be that we see an entirely different technology superceding GPS.  There is talk about boosting existing signals like radio or even light waves to act as a back up to standard GPS systems when needed.

If  you want to learn more about the new developments it’s worth checking out the various online technology sites.  Recommended is the BBCs technology site and the show – Byte which helps anyone keep up with new technological updates.  Unfortunately  this isn’t possible outside the UK unless you follow these instructions – how to watch BBC Iplayer abroad – This explains how you can change your IP address in order to access the wonderful BBC Iplayer application.  It’s also useful for other sites with restrictions like Hulu outside the US.


Does Africa Need Charity or Infrastructure

Friday, August 10th, 2012

There are some great development across the African continent bringing in well needed technological infrastructure. In fact there is a growing feeling that Africa’s many active charities would do better investing in ICT projects than traditional aid.  Information technologies have the power to achieve a huge level of social impact for a very low cost.

The potential for digitial entrepreneurs in Africa is staggering, there will be over 735 million mobile phone users by the end of this year.  Across the continent big telecoms companies like Tigo are investing heavily in infrastructure.  All these offer the chance to create, share and access information on a multitude of levels.  They also offer the possibility to start small online and traditional business using  the technology.

There are many, many promising initiatives – take for example the Technological Innovation hubs like RLab in Somaliland and iLab in Liberia.  Countries previously only known for war and famine have the chance to innovate and create real social change.  There is nothing to stop African entrepreneurs, expanding beyond their continent too – you can use vpns and proxy servers to bypass technology barriers.  Take this post on using a proxy server to watch BBC Iplayer on the Nintendo Wii, these can also be used to access US and European markets as well as watching the TV!  For those interested the same process allows you to watch any country restricted content, so yes you can watch Coronation Street on ITV Player abroad too.