Monthly Archives: January 2009

The Top Social Networks

It seems like I get an invitation to join a different social network every day.  Makes me wonder how much traffic these sites get and what the point really is.  Well, let’s break it down real quick.  Statistics first, the ranking by market share for social networks is as follows:

  1. MySpace -39.37%
  2. Facebook – 17.54%
  3. YouTube – 10.39%
  4. Tagged – 1.55%
  5. Yahoo Answers – 1.36%
  6. MyYearBook – 1.09%
  7. Yahoo Groups – .96%
  8. Meebo – .64%
  9. Yahoo Member Directory – .53%
  10. Bebo – .49%
You might notice a few that you would expect to see in the above list, such as LinkedIn, Classmates.com or others.  That would be because forums are included in the above sites.  If you stick with solely social networking sites, then the statistics break down as follows (Sept. 08), including visitors rather than market share:
  1. Myspace.com - 58,581,000
  2. Facebook - 18,090,000
  3. Classmates.com - 13,313,000
  4. LinkedIn - 4,075,000
  5. Windows Live Spaces - 10,275,000
  6. Reunion.com - 4,845,000
  7. Club Penguin - 3,769,000
  8. AOL Hometown - 7,685,000
  9. AOL Community 4,017,000
  10. Tagged.com - 3,857,000

You may be saying, where in tarnations is twitter.  Apparently they’re at about 2,359,000 visitors.  Overall, that’s a lot of web traffic and a lot of advertising banners.  Another network that doesn’t show up in the list so far is ning, which allows organizations to host their own dedicated social networks.  Given their niche in the social networking market this makes them a rising star, but not quite in the top 10.  

The differences between networks seem to be mostly in the realm of what visitors are looking to get out of them.  However, as social networks mature, they are borrowing features from one another and allowing a bit of integration between networks, primarily by leveraging RSS feeds.

Overall, I am impressed the most by Facebook, who has leveraged an API (FBML) to allow for application development, put logic in place to tailor adds to each person, put logic in place to stop visitors from engaging in open networking (for the most part) while also putting in place ways to connect to people you might actually know.  My first exposure to Facebook was at a school and at that time I couldn’t actually sign up because they had not yet opened it up to non-students.  Since they did open it up it has been great to watch them flourish.  At this point they seem to slowly but surely be catching up to MySpace and deservedly so.

Other rising stars seem to be open networking sites, such as ecademy.com, which allow a visitor to link to anyone in the network.  Oddly enough, one of the best features of the top social networking sites is their ability to keep privacy paramount, although it appears to me at least as though there is a divide in site visitors: those who want to network with absolutely anyone and those who want to keep their networks smaller and more targeted.  It’s an interesting market to watch, but to be honest, one I’m glad I’m not directly involved in…  I prefer to just keep my accounts, integrate them all as much as possible (especially with this site), smile when I see friends from back in high school and college appear on my list of friends and think about how great it is that technology is helping to bring us all together.

Business Consulting

Cisco + Postpath = Unified Communications – Clear Strategy

I’m just guessing that there are smarter people than me at Cisco working on this type of stuff.  Cisco has purchased Postpath. If integrated with WebEx it gives them an interesting new perspective on collaboration, but I’m still not sure that the industry is ready to get away from Outlook, Entourage, etc and to get into using something fully in the cloud. I think for a company full of younglings it might make a lot of sense, given they’re already going to be used to this kind of thing, but then I’m also guessing they’re likely looking toward something like Google Apps. Having said this, the good people of Cisco have proven time and time again to give good strategy. So I trust their strategy with this acquisition will become more apparent as time goes on…

Mac OS X

Deja Vu

From xkcd.com, but seemingly the story of my life.

sites WordPress

On the Road: WordPress and Vacation

While this article is updating I’m on a beach somewhere in Mexico. One of the things I love about WordPress is that I can indicate a date to publish an article or just publish it “immediately.” If I indicate the date the article goes live then I don’t necessarily have to hop to the computer to post it. I can just indicate when it will appear and then viola – it’s up, without any intervention from me. So if you’re wondering whether I really am on vacation or not, know this – I am not shoveling snow this week… ;)

Xsan

Xsanity Post on fibreconfig

I posted another article at Xsanity last week, but forgot to mention it here.  You can find the article here. Basically it’s a walkthrough of using the fibreconfig command and how it relates to Xsan. Hope you enjoy!

Mac Security

OSX.Iservic: Malware for Mac OS X

Symantec has posted a writeup of OSX.Iservice:

http://www.symantec.com/security_response/writeup.jsp?docid=2009-012216-4245-99

Windows XP

Windows Steady State

The typical school lab: We want to update an image once a quarter or once a year, deploy it and have nothing change between quarters. In Microsoft Windows, there are about as many ways to go about this as there are IT guys. Some will use Altiris or something like that to reimage the machines every night. Others will use policies to lock everyone out of everything and trust that. But what if you don’t have a dedicated IT staff and honestly don’t really have the time to deal with it in a smaller lab environment. Well, introduce Microsoft’s Steady State (it’s actually been around for awhile, getting renamed every now and then). Steady State is a nifty little product that allows someone with little IT experience to load it onto Windows (yes, including Vista) and essentially freeze every machine to its current state. Each time the box gets rebooted after that it will go right back to the way things were.

But that’s not all Steady State does. It also has a nice management console for policies. There are far less policies than you would have, for example, in the local policy editor, but you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to set them. Best of all, Steady State is free and available for download here to run in your lab, hot spot, etc.

This might have sounded like a commercial for Microsoft. Not at all, Steady State doesn’t seem to work well in my Active Directory environment (we don’t need to change no stinkin’ computer passwords). If I’m using this in my virtual machines is that going to be a problem? Well, no, but it’s likely going to be a bit of overkill since you can just use snapshots. Since the machine goes back to the original state, what does that mean for your user data? Well, that needs to go on a jump drive or something… So overall, Steady State has a time and a place. It’s great for labs, internet cafes, hotels, kiosks and things like that where you have a shared host that will get messed up – and when it does, you won’t care about data, you’ll just want it back to the original “state” as quick as possible. If that’s what you’re after, this is great software for something freely available. Notsomuch otherwise.

Unix

Course on FreeBSD internals

The first hour of Marshall Kirk McKusick’s course on FreeBSD kernel internals.

Articles and Books

Shouting at the Datacenter

The effects of vibration in disk performance. Pretty good stuff.

Mac Security

Botnets and Fast Flux

Ever get the call from an ISP that a host on a network you own (no, not p0wn) is hosting a phishing scam site and you need to fix it? Happens all the time for one reason or another. But if the sites that contain malware and phishing information are quickly repaired (and at this point they are due to some really nice advanced systems for handling this kind of thing that are being employed by universities, ISPs and corporations), why bother? Well, this is where Fast flux comes into play. Fast flux is a DNS technique used to hide compromised hosts behind a rapidly changing (thus the word fast in the name) network of other hosts that help to obfuscate everything about the network itself. Basically, think about it this way, you have a command and control core that moves around, you keep your TTL values very low and everyone proxies their information to a host that updates an A record somewhere (a location BTW that is also obfuscated by the same technique) so other hosts know where to point traffic to.

Seems like a lot of coding… Given the potential value of private information that is harnessed through these types of attacks there is a lot of money to fund this kind of development. But never fear, for each method of hiding hosts, there’s someone working on a way to defeat it. In regards to Fast flux it isn’t an antivirus company (who would honestly rather sell you software to fix it rather than fix the root cause), it’s John Bamanek, from the University of Illinois, who’s trying to get his update to the DNS protocol ratified by the IETF.