Twitter distributes software 75 times faster using BitTorrent

December 30, 2011 · Posted in innovation ·  

BitTornadoMy business associate developed the BitTornado software Twitter is using to solve their server update problem. It’s the same type of problem Apple had when I worked there in 1992. The solution approach similar.

A single distribution server is a bottleneck both for efficiency and reliability. A single server slows down as more clients are accessing it. If the single server fails the entire process stops.

Predictive Innovation defines 15 Alternatives for any problem. The 15 Alternatives are arranged into two dimensions of 3 scales and 5 directions. The 3 scales are Single, Multiple and Continuous (see “Predicting the Next Disruptive Innovation” for more details).

When I was at Apple we solved the problem by moving from a Single mainframe to multiple servers and clients. This spread the bandwidth across more computers and provided more flexibility for doing ad-hoc reports.

BitTorrent is a Continuous solution. It doesn’t just spread the bandwidth over more computers, it spreads it over all the computers using the torrent. It produces the maximum bandwidth with the least vulnerability. It also flips the concept of speed on its head. Instead of getting slower as more computers download a file, it gets faster. Any computer connected to the torrent can share pieces with any other computer connected to the torrent. This is also how it reduces vulnerability. There are multiple sources for the pieces of the file, even if none of them have a complete copy of the file.

I’m a Sci-Fi Character

November 29, 2006 · Posted in innovation, mindset, productivity, sharing ·  

Some times I forget how unusual my life is. My friend and business partner, The Shad0w, creator of BitTornado, and I were recently talking about copyrights, the RIAA, abuses of the legal system and methods for fixing the problem. Mind you I have only seen Shad0w face to face once when we happened to be traveling through the same city at the same time. Anyways we were talking about a way for small down trodden people to do a little legal judo to stop the abusive lawsuits of the RIAA. The solution I came up with was an automated system of filing legal proceedings to tie up the RIAA and cause them to loose a bunch of money attacking unemployed people, grandmothers and 12 year old girls. We could make the whole thing free to access by anyone that needed it and create the legal equivalent of a distributed denial of service attack. Yes, that is the type of stuff we idly chat about.

Anyways, Shad0w said that the idea wasn’t new and that science fiction author Charles Stross invented the concept in his book Accelerando. You can buy the book on Amazon.com or just download a copy because it is published under a Creative Commons license. Shad0w Instant Messaged me a link, I download a copy and start listening to it using a text to speech program then tap the keystrokes to switch to a different computer to continue writing software for one of my clients, again who is in another state and for whom I do all my work remotely.

As I bounce between online chats, software I’m writing on one computer and 25 different browser windows and checking the movie I downloaded because it was out of print and none of the rental places had a copy when I realized this book could have been written about me. This book is suppose to be science fiction and the character is suppose to be fanciful yet I am doing much of what the character in the book is doing. Wow, I didn’t realize my life could be the basis for a science fiction novel. But maybe the “truth is stranger than fiction” adage is true.

I live in a house that I basically got for free by using my credit cards to buy it in a repossession auction and renting out the other two apartments of the triplex. I exist in a virtual world having several Instant Messenger accounts, blogs, websites and a cell phone. My physical mail goes to one of 3 addresses and is forwarded to where I happen to be at the time. I create at least one new business model or invention everyday and file them away because I don’t have time to pursue them. I hang out with models, movie stars and talk with technology luminaries such as Eric S. Raymond and Bruce Schnerier on a daily basis. A lot of this happens because I structured my life so that I didn’t have to be in one particular place at a particular time. If someone invited me to do something I would say yes and do it.

What I have done is escape the limits of time and space. That is very sci-fi.

I don’t exactly recommend my life style for everyone. There are lots of advantages and disadvantages, but that is the nature of beta software. Pick and choose elements that work for you. The big concept to grasp is there are lots of other ways of doing things. Even what you might believe is out of the realm of possibility could be normal for someone else, and for you if you choose.

Action Items:

  • Download a podcast of an NPR program and while listening to the show Google for topics mentioned and read about details not covered.
  • Try pausing the audio while reading, or rewinding if you miss something, and try just keeping up.
  • Make a list of things you have done or could do that benefit the world as a whole and you can’t easily sell.

I'm a Sci-Fi Character

November 29, 2006 · Posted in innovation, sharing ·  

Some times I forget how unusual my life is. My friend and business partner, The Shad0w, creator of BitTornado, and I were recently talking about copyrights, the RIAA, abuses of the legal system and methods for fixing the problem. Mind you I have only seen Shad0w face to face once when we happened to be traveling through the same city at the same time. Anyways we were talking about a way for small down trodden people to do a little legal judo to stop the abusive lawsuits of the RIAA. The solution I came up with was an automated system of filing legal proceedings to tie up the RIAA and cause them to loose a bunch of money attacking unemployed people, grandmothers and 12 year old girls. We could make the whole thing free to access by anyone that needed it and create the legal equivalent of a distributed denial of service attack. Yes, that is the type of stuff we idly chat about.

Anyways, Shad0w said that the idea wasn’t new and that science fiction author Charles Stross invented the concept in his book Accelerando. You can buy the book on Amazon.com or just download a copy because it is published under a Creative Commons license. Shad0w Instant Messaged me a link, I download a copy and start listening to it using a text to speech program then tap the keystrokes to switch to a different computer to continue writing software for one of my clients, again who is in another state and for whom I do all my work remotely.

As I bounce between online chats, software I’m writing on one computer and 25 different browser windows and checking the movie I downloaded because it was out of print and none of the rental places had a copy when I realized this book could have been written about me. This book is suppose to be science fiction and the character is suppose to be fanciful yet I am doing much of what the character in the book is doing. Wow, I didn’t realize my life could be the basis for a science fiction novel. But maybe the “truth is stranger than fiction” adage is true.

I live in a house that I basically got for free by using my credit cards to buy it in a repossession auction and renting out the other two apartments of the triplex. I exist in a virtual world having several Instant Messenger accounts, blogs, websites and a cell phone. My physical mail goes to one of 3 addresses and is forwarded to where I happen to be at the time. I create at least one new business model or invention everyday and file them away because I don’t have time to pursue them. I hang out with models, movie stars and talk with technology luminaries such as Eric S. Raymond and Bruce Schnerier on a daily basis. A lot of this happens because I structured my life so that I didn’t have to be in one particular place at a particular time. If someone invited me to do something I would say yes and do it.

What I have done is escape the limits of time and space. That is very sci-fi.

I don’t exactly recommend my life style for everyone. There are lots of advantages and disadvantages, but that is the nature of beta software. Pick and choose elements that work for you. The big concept to grasp is there are lots of other ways of doing things. Even what you might believe is out of the realm of possibility could be normal for someone else, and for you if you choose.

Action Items:

  • Download a podcast of an NPR program and while listening to the show Google for topics mentioned and read about details not covered.
  • Try pausing the audio while reading, or rewinding if you miss something, and try just keeping up.
  • Make a list of things you have done or could do that benefit the world as a whole and you can’t easily sell.