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Journal: From an article about the degradation of the Internet

Journal by Frobnicator

You sell a simpler box where security is the primary factor. A lot of grandmas and older people might go for something that only does AOL, mail, web browsing and maybe printing and digital photos.

That might solve part of the problem (consumer side) but not the issue that the article was about. It does not solve the real issue.

Making a grandma-friendly, secure, e-mail and download-only box would not do what the article suggests is happening. It might keep grandma from getting infected with the latest worm, but she will still get progressively less useful bandwidth from her modem. Grandma might have a 256Kbps DSL modem. She might even be fairly lucky and after dropping the malformed packets and garbage already out there, get a 200Kbps rate right now. But next year it might be 150Kbps, then 100Kbps as a few million script-kiddies are scanning for the next generation of BackOrafice trojans. Then she'll go buy a faster connection, because her Internet connection is slower than she wants. Her new connection will give her more visible speed, but would still be dropping a majority of the packets.

I've seen the issue first hand. I'm with a small business, where we have a shared T1 line. Our upstream provider performs some packet filtering, but not much. After we pay for the data through our T1, we filter it. We drop malformed packets, packets from reserved and unassigned addresses, source-routed packets, and so on. We detect and block portscans and other obvious attacks at that point as well. We average a 7-10% packet loss through that filter daily. Next, we run SpamAssassin at a high filter level (15) along with attachment and virus blocking of emails, which collectively drop thousands of e-mail messages daily. Additionally our computers are running ad-filtering programs that save us a lot of bandwidth, but ads still slip through.

If we were to assume that all the ads also got through, that is about 20-25% of our bandwidth wasted in complete junk, and that percentage has been increasing for the past two years that I have been watching it. Next we have a bunch of legitimate, but unwanted, traffic. That includes file sharing and trojan ports, incoming http, mail, telnet, DNS, ftp, rpc, and other assorted ports. We get a few hundred of these each day, and the number is always growing. Some might be people in the company trying to use NetMeeting or something, even though it is against policy. Some may be legitimate errors, while the remaining others are probably probing for systems to attack.

The article says that the problem is this growing collection of junk -- currently about a quarter of our bandwidth -- which will quickly kill the Internet unless there is a change.

Unfortunately, I agree with the author of the article; unless we see some fundamental changes, it will become unusable. There are a number of good ideas already out there as to what that may be.

One idea that I like is to remove the anonymity of end-to-end, while preserving the end-to-end functionality. Every handler of every packet signs the packet, and drops packets from sources they do not trust or with invalid signatures. The sender cannot deny sending the message, each handler signs the packets and cannot deny that they handled it, each handler can state that they directly know who they received it from, and that all end-points can verify the sources. That allows any message not properly signed and not properly addressed to be dropped, and allow for law enforcement or system admins to find out who the attackers are, or exactly which machines have been compromised.

The only significant drawbacks to that system are the resources involved in all the digital signatures and the loss of anonymity. I can only see a few reasons for anonymous speech (whistle-blowers, victims of crime, etc.) but there are other anonymous outlets for them. Online, I think non-repudiation should be built in, so long as you have encryption tools available. Your boss/government/police/mafia could know that you said something, but not know what it was.

Until that level of fundamental infrastructure change spreads across the Internet, making a grandma-friendly Internet console isn't enough. The DDoS attacks on everything from spam blacklists, litigous companies like RIAA and SCO, honest mistakes like U. Wisconson's time servers, and script-kiddie behavior will continue to degrade the Internet. The spammers clogging up mailboxes and usenet will degrade the Internet. Tomorrows worms, along with todays worms on unpached systems, will continue to degrade the Internet. More people with cable-modems downloading movies will degrade Internet performance. In short, continuing our course will be just a little worse until we hit a very-near critical threshold. Then our performance will be like a figher jet slamming into a wall of jello. We need to change course, or face some serious performance losses.

frob

User Journal

Journal: Musings about a Corpus of Truth 1

Journal by Frobnicator
This is just some ramblings based on views.

I've had a problem with the corpus of facts that people are willing to allow in their arguments lately. These in turn lead to stupid arguments, that lead to my compliants. So here are the complaints.

The first is:

Mankind has been wrong about science for all of recorded history, why are some people assuming that the newest theory is the absolute, final, last word?

Science is a progressive refinement of ideas. There was a time when the public believed that that maggots came from rotting meat and that frogs came from mud around lakes and streams or that they came from rain. Given the corpus of facts that they could work with, those were perfect, scientific beliefs.

The corpus of truth, or the accepted facts at that time [through Europe, at least] included only what could be viewed by the naked eye, and what was accepted by the Church. Since the Church probably didn't have much to say about maggots and rotting meat, it was a simple observation that (1) you had rotting meat, (2) maggots appeard, therefore maggots came from rotting meat. Similarly, (1) While at a pond there were no frogs, (2) It started raining, (3) the area got muddy, (4) frogs appeared. Sure, modern science has pretty much cleared up the origin of maggots and frogs, but it doesn't stop there.

Newtonian physics was around for quite some time, and they have been succeeded by similar equations based on Relativity. These are being further refined today. But these refined models will probably be succeeded in a few decades by yet another model that more accurately describes the Universe, and our current views will be considered 'Wrong'. But that won't mean that Newtonian models will suddenly stop working, or that the Einstienien models will stop working, just that there are more accurate models that can be used.

The point is that our current scientific views should never be taken as the absolute fact of the thing, but just as another iteration that is better than what was there before. Each of these 'facts' is added to our corpus of truth, which helps us better understand the things around us.

This leads to my second complaint,

Some people claim "Religion cannot be demonstrated by Science". That is a stupid argument.

This comes back to the corpus of truth. What are you willing to give me in my corpus? If you give me only the things I can observe with my naked eye and bare hands, I'll prove that maggots come from rotting meat and frogs come from either rain or mud. But with only my bare hands and my naked eyes, I cannot prove cellular theory, or astronomy, or even how reproduction works. If you give me only what can be observed with the naked eye and manipulated with bare hands, it becomes difficult to prove religion.

If you take one simple thing from a mathematician's corpus of truth, let's say the definition of equality or the definitions of addition and subtraction, they will lose all ability to operate. Sure, it is possible to prove addition and subtraction with advanced math, but that math cannot be proven without addition and subtraction. Similarly, if I require proof that a number is always equal to itself, but I refuse to allow any definition of equality, I can destroy all of mathematics.

The point here is that all science is based on postulates. Things that cannot be proven for whatever reason but are accepted as fact anyway. For most people, things that can be directly observed are postulates -- you cannot prove that what you saw is actually what happened, or even that you observed it, but you accept that it is what you observed, and that it is correct.

If you give just enough postulates, those can be expanded to a corpus of truth that can demonstrate the existance of a higher power.

Finally, there are the people who never accept into their corpus of truth anything that contradicts their world-view.

These are the people I most feel sorry for. Yes, there are many things out there that I may disagree with, but I am willing to accept as a theory into my corpus of truth. I may not accept it as a fact, but at the least, I will accept that you accept it. But as is the way with science, contradictions in your corpus of truth must be resolved, or at least marked as 'further research required' before being accepted as fact. When enough evidence is collected to resolve the things to fact, Science is content.

So to the people who assert that Aliens are near Earth, that Alien UFO's abduct people and return them after performing whatever experiments they had in mind, I look at the body of observations that counter them. Air traffic controllers around the world would likely detect such a vessel. Millitaries and governments would quite likely have seen them. Their motion would be seen by astronomers of all kinds, those paid for by governments, by corporations, and by schools, the students and private researchers, and arm-chair scientists. Anything trying to cover it up would be improbable (not impossible).

Of course, I DO beleve in UFO's. They are simply that -- unidentified flying objects. Individuals cannot identify them. Governments deny them, and often for good reason. Many people saw classified aircraft and the governments denied their existance until they unveiled them publically. These were UFO's. Many people have been exposed to (in many cases illigal) radition tests or toxicity tests or other experiments that governments have denied, only to admit to decades later. Yet other things are not easily explained by governments, but by bizzare acts of nature. Lakes turn over, and can even explode. Mists of a dense fog, carbon dioxide, can form naturally and flood towns with death.

While these things may not be easily explained, theories can be developed, and they can be enterered into the Corpus of Truth, to be later accepted or denied.

But now I have looked at my watch, and looked at the time. I don't want to accept the consequences that my Corpus of Truth says I will likely face if I spend more time on this article, so I am finished now.

frob

User Journal

Journal: Random Ramblings

Journal by Frobnicator
This is here so I have a journal entry.

For anyone interested, the nick "Frobnicator" is a derivative of "frobnicate", which I haven't heard before. I started using the nick in 2000. I take it to mean 'one who frobnicates'. Here is the dictionary.com definition:

Frobnicate

/frob'ni-kayt/ (Possibly from frobnitz, and usually abbreviated to frob, but "frobnicate" is recognised as the official full form). To manipulate or adjust, to tweak. One frequently frobs bits or other 2-state devices. Thus: "Please frob the light switch" (that is, flip it), but also "Stop frobbing that clasp; you'll break it". One also sees the construction "to frob a frob".

Usage: frob, twiddle, and tweak sometimes connote points along a continuum. "Frob" connotes aimless manipulation; "twiddle" connotes gross manipulation, often a coarse search for a proper setting; "tweak" connotes fine-tuning. If someone is turning a knob on an oscilloscope, then if he's carefully adjusting it, he is probably tweaking it; if he is just turning it but looking at the screen, he is probably twiddling it; but if he's just doing it because turning a knob is fun, he's frobbing it. The variant "frobnosticate" has also been reported.

Between '95 and 2000 I used the nick "Ixion" based on the Greek mythological king who did some pretty nasty things, incluing try to bed a god, and was punished.

Before that I went by "Zug", which I got from my older brother, but had to stop when Warcraft II came out and used "Zugzug" as a quote from one of their characters.

Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft ... and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor. -- Wernher von Braun

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