Category Archives: Networks

27 January 2014 AT&T UVerse DNS server problems

On the morning of 27 January 2014, AT&T UVerse services appear to be suffering from DNS problems. A graph from Down Detector suggests that the problem is widespread. The observation is that some sites will load but others won’t (like Hulu, New Yorker, Reddit.)


One of the suggestions given was to switch your DNS from the AT&T provided service to a third party, such as Google ( On my Mac, go to System Preferences > Network > Advanced … > DNS and change the DNS server address.


arguments for the elimination of Facebook

Several reasons why I am removing the Facebook from my phone.

Taking it off the screen will reduce my time on site, leaving more room for the rest of the net and the rest of the world.

If I need to write something short there is always Twitter. If I need to write something long there is Evernote for notes to self and this blog for notes to the world.

Facebook’s ads are increasingly intrusive. It is easier to cope with the ads on Twitter.

It is easy to switch identity on the Twitter client so if I temporarily need to take the voice of Arborwiki or of Heikki Lunta it is easy. With Facebook I am expected to be me all the time.

The mobile Android Facebook client is bad at reminders of birthdays, so to do that I need to go to the desktop client anyways.

Time on Facebook generally is time away from blogging. True, the blog has fewer readers and less comments then an equal post on Facebook, but I am not writing this strictly to chase feedback.

It is always worthwhile to experiment with change, especially since it would be easy to change back.

April 29, 2013 Windstream outage

This map, compiled from traffic to this weblog, paints an approximate picture of the distribution of problems from today's Windstream outage. More official news (though sparse) is at the site.

Screen shot 2013-04-29 at 4.25.22 PM
In the news:

From the WindstreamCommunications page on Facebook, about 4 p.m:

Service update: Our technicians continue to troubleshoot the issue in an attempt to resolve. We apologize for the inconvenience and will provide another update in an hour.

From the Charlotte Observer: Windstream customers, company report outage

A number of Windstream Corp. customers in the greater Charlotte area are experiencing service outages affected by what the company is calling “a widespread outage affecting long-distance and toll-free call processing.”
The outage occurred around 11:30 a.m., said company spokesman David Avery.
Though the Arkansas-based company hasn’t stated how far the outage extends, posts on Twitter and Facebook suggest the outage is multi-state.

Twitter API changes cause obvious problems for developers

My Twitter feed is full of worry about the changes to the Twitter API. (Yes, that probably means I should unfollow a few people so that it gets back to the baseline of "I'm eating a sandwich".) Here's some of the notable problems that people see with the new rules, which are going into effect over the next 6 months.

From Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper, "Interpreting some of Twitter's API changes" is a good overview of the challenges for a developer to comply with new rules while still innovating on their core application. His conclusion is stark:

Twitter has left themselves a lot of wiggle-room with the rules. Effectively, Twitter can decide your app is breaking a (potentially vague) rule at any time, or they can add a new rule that your app inadvertently breaks, and revoke your API access at any time. […]

I sure as hell wouldn’t build a business on Twitter, and I don’t think I’ll even build any nontrivial features on it anymore.

And if I were in the Twitter-client business, I’d start working on another product.

The new has grand designs to be a Twitter clone, based on three elements: a solid realtime engine for data, a well defined open API, and a subscription supported model (rather than an advertising supported model) for making the whole thing pay. Dalton Caldwell's manifesto is a worthwhile read, "Announcing an audacious proposal"

I believe so deeply in the importance of having a financially sustainable realtime feed API & service that I am going to refocus to become exactly that. I have the experience, vision, infrastructure and team to do it. Additionally, we already have much of this built: a polished native iOS app, a robust technical infrastructure currently capable of handing ~200MM API calls per day with no code changes, and a developer-facing API provisioning, documentation and analytics system. This isn’t vaporware.

Not surprisingly, the channel is full of want to be superstar application developers figuring out how their new idea could work in this new space.

There are two applications that I use that could be affected by this set of changes. One is Pinboard, which is a bookmarking tool that (among other things) reads and archives my Twitter stream. Pinboard's developer Maciej Ceglowski has a very funny, no holds barred Twitter account for Pinboard, where he among other things promotes his own service by retweeting posts from the accounts of his competitor Delicious. Here's his take on 7

I'd be sad if my Twitter backups didn't work.

The unusual Twitter client that I use which is most likely to run up against the new look-and-feel guidelines of the Twitter API is ttytter, a command line client written in Perl by Cameron Kaiser. It looks nothing like the official Twitter apps of any kind.

Picture 8
It's hard enough to insist on API and look-and-feel rules with applications that are user configurable; imagine what it must be like to enforce those rules when the application is delivered as relatively easy to modify source code. How can you make sure people don't break the rules if they can change their own code?

Twitter has some reasonable reasons to want to narrow the scope of what third parties can do with their service, but it's not going to come without a fight. Expect a tug of war between innovation and conformity, and it's safe to say that some of that innovation that comes at a high cost and low value to Twitter will be squashed out. I'll be particularly interested in the delicate balance between value provided by Twitter to advertisers (who pay directly) and social media marketers (who often ride for free) on the service.

Walking Around, a new urban walking game

I'm inventing a new urban game called Walking Around. I'm sure that someone else has invented it already, but reinvention is part of the process of creativity. Here's how it's played.

First, you play with a pedometer, which tells you how far you've walked during the day. There are a number of systems already for tracking your pedometer usage, including Walker Tracker, Steps, and a bunch of others. Use whatever system that gives you, or just a spreadsheet, to take care of the basic structure of making certain that you count steps daily.

Second – and here is what is novel, at least to me – is that there's a bonus structure in the game designed to award bonuses for when you have accomplished tasks. The first bonus award that I'm awarding myself looks at constructing a walk so that you make an orbit around the biggest possible chunk of territory; that is to say, repeated walks along the same path will get you zero bonus, but going out of your way on a detour will add to your score, and trekking through unfamiliar territory in a big loop is the best.

So far this is a pen and paper game and I haven't fully worked out the point structure. I have a notion that you capture territory every time you orbit it, so that you might win a park by going all the way around it, and you might win a political ward or precinct by capturing a loop around it. To simplify greatly, since I am trying to keep record of this in a small book, I'm just drawing a graph with destinations rather than tracking every street.

Some idea sources:

Riverwalks Ann Arbor is a book of walking loops along the Huron River, written by Brenda E. Bentley.

Lake Trek is the weblog for   who wrote A 1000-Mile Walk on the Beach about her circumnavigation on foot of Lake Michigan. I don't think I'm going to beat that top score.

Tom Graham wrote about Walking The World, and his quest to walk every street in San Francisco, in 2005 for SF Gate; his web site is SF Walking Man.

The AADL Summer Reading Game has points for reading books and badges for doing various other tasks, and the gamers there know how to make a game that will make you read. There should therefore be points in my Walking Around game every time you complete part of a circuit that connects to a library.

All City New York is the work of Moses Gates, whose game board includes the challenge of visiting all of the census tracts of New York City. Thanks to Ruth Kraut for the link. 

In Tacoma, Brian Kerr is getting bonus points in his version of the game for elevation.

Now pardon me while I connect some dots in my game map.


Mark Segal, National Security Agency, 3/30/2011, noon, at University of Michigan School of Information

Open to the public, lunch provided. From the news release:

Mark E. Segal, deputy director, Laboratory for Telecommunications Sciences at the National Security Agency, will present a talk on “Computer Science Research at the National Security Agency” on Wednesday, March 30 at noon in the Ehrlicher Room, 3100 North Quad.

Prior to joining NSA in 2007, Segal worked in the telecommunications industry for 18 years. He has conducted research in the areas of distributed computing, dependable systems, information assurance, and multimedia systems. He holds B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in computer and communications sciences from the University of Michigan.



Edward Vielmetti's grandmother's cousin, Katharine Swift, worked for the National Security Agency.