Hacking VM for peak performance

vm-tweaking

[Cyber Explorer] recently ditched his collection of physical computers acting as servers by virtualizing the lot of them. But with every change there’s a drawback. Although it wasn’t too hard for him to set up the virtual machines, he did end up spending quite a bit of time trying to improve the bandwidth. Luckily he posted an article chronicling all of the VM tweaks he used to improve the system.

The experience involves both a Windows 8 machine, as well as a some Linux boxes meaning there’s something here for everybody. At each step in the process he performs some throughput tests to see how the boxes are performing. Tweaks are numerous, but include trying out different Ethernet drivers, making sure all modules are up to date, squashing at least one bug, and giving jumbo-frames a try.

[Thanks Omri]

Exercise bike actuates your download speeds; messes with music playback

We’re not featuring this project because it involves the tiniest exercise bike in the world. It’s on the front page because the speed-control features which this dynamic duo added are hilarious. They call it the Webcycle and it’s actually two hacks in one.

Way back in 2009 [Matt Gray] and [Tom Scott] slapped an Arduino on the bike and used it to measure the revolutions of the cranks (how fast your feet are going in circles). This was hooked up to the laptop which is fastened to the handlebars. This way you can surf the Internet while you work out, but the bandwidth is directly affected by pedal speed. If you want to watch video you’re going to have to sweat…. a lot. Check it out in the clip after the break.

This March they pulled the Webcycle out of storage so that it may ride again. This time it’s connected to the sound system in their exercise room. A record player motor is the victim in this case. You guessed it — pedal speed dictates the rate of the turntable, modulating the pitch drastically. Make sure the boss isn’t around when you watch this clip because it will be hard not to guffaw.

These guys really have fun with this hacks. It was [Tom's] birthday that prompted that hacktacular mini golf course.

[Read more...]

Measuring home networks with BISMark

The Broadband Internet Service BenchMARK is an open source initiative to put tools in the hands of the common Internet user that will make measurement and analyzation of home network traffic easier. It targets LAN and WAN network utilization by measuring latency, packet loss, jitter, upstream throughput, and downstream throughput. Of course gathering data isn’t worth anything unless you have a way to present it, and to that end the Project BISMark team has been developing a web interface where you can view the usage of anyone who’s running the firmware.

The project builds on top of OpenWRT, which means that you should be able to run it on any router that’s OpenWRT compatible. This includes the ubiquitous WRT54G routers and many others. We remember when DD-WRT added bandwidth monitoring as part of the standard release, which really came in handy when the stories about ISP bandwidth capping started to hit. We’re glad to see even more functionality with this package as it can be hard to really understand what is going on in your network. After the break you’ll find a video detailing the features of BISMark.

[Read more...]

Double the Hertz, Double the Pleasure

[tinhead] has opened up a Tekway DST1102B oscilloscope and doubled its bandwidth to 200MHz, sharing his work in the eevblog forum. This is great news to anyone who is looking for a faster sampling rate but can’t afford the high-end models. Mind you, for a lot of us even these Hanteks and Tekways are hard to afford but there are more appropriate options for the ramen-dependent hacker.

In the hacking guide [tinhead] includes comprehensive information on the different scopes he originally considered (a Rigol, Atten and UniTrend) before settling on the Tekway, as well as links to regional distributors for the hackable scope. Good quality benchtop units are invaluable for development and troubleshooting, and it pays off to understand their inner workings. It’s heartwarming to know that even the tools of hacking can be hacked.

Building a bandwidth meter

Here’s an analog bandwidth meter made to look like an old pressure gauge. It’s actually new, but the paper showing the graduated scale was stained in a bath of black tea, then dried in an oven to give it an aged appearance. We think it’s quite effective.

The dial itself is a volt meter driven by an Arduino in much the same way as the multimeter clock. Bandwidth data is pulled from a Linux router, filtered down to the target data using ‘grep’, and sent over the serial connection by a Perl script. Since the meter itself is just waiting for serial data, alterations to the router’s scripting make it easy to represent a count of unread emails, tweets, or whatever data your code can scrape.

[Thanks Ben]

Fanboys want to take AT&T down

A post about Operation Chokehold popped up on (fake) Steve Jobs’ blog this morning. It seems some folks are just plain tired of AT&T giving excuses about their network. The straw that broke the camel’s back came when AT&T floated the idea of instituting bandwidth limitations for data accounts. Now, someone hatched the idea of organizing enough users to bring the whole network down by maxing their bandwidth at the same time.

We’re not quite sure what to think about this. Our friend Google told us that there’s plenty of press already out there regarding Operation Chokehold so it’s not beyond comprehension that this could have an effect on the network. On the other hand, AT&T already knows about it and we’d wager they’re working on a plan to mitigate any outages that might occur.

As for the effectiveness of the message?  We’d have more sympathy for AT&T if they didn’t have exclusivity contracts for their smart phones (most notably the iPhone). And if you’re selling an “Unlimited Plan” it should be just that. What do you think?

[Thanks Bobbers]

[Headlock photo]

Homing pigeon email

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Yes, you read that correctly: electronic mail carried by birds. [Ferdinand] tipped us off to this story, which involves combining new and old methods in transferring data. The Unlimited Group, a firm in a remote section of South Africa, transfers loads of encrypted documents to a second office 50 miles away. A pricey broadband connection would take between 6 hours and two days to transfer a standard load (4GB) of data between these locations. On the other hand, Winston (seen above) can complete an equivalent flight within 45 minutes. A memory card is strapped to his leg, and using his wit and instinct, Winston finds his way home. For those without their calculators on hand, Winston’s bandwidth is between 7x and 63x faster than what they had before. If his flash card were to be upgraded to 16GB, that would be an instant fourfold increase on top of current gains. As [Mark] pointed out on the Daily Mail website, homing pigeons still need to be taken back to their departure point.

This solution still has its advantages over a courier: they are lower in cost, they work over longer hours, and have potentially faster delivery speeds. Multiple pigeons can be transported back at once, and released with data as needed.

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