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Original author: 
Lee Aylward


One of Ars Technica's many memcached server graphs. Look at all those misses!

This week, memcached, a piece of software that prevents much of the Internet from melting down, turns 10 years old. Despite its age, memcached is still the go-to solution for many programmers and sysadmins managing heavy workloads. Without memcached, Ars Technica would likely be unable to serve this article to you at all.

Brad Fitzpatrick wrote memcached for LiveJournal way back in 2003 (check out the initial CVS commit here). While waiting for new hardware to help save the site from being overloaded, Fitzpatrick realized that he had plenty of unused RAM spread across LiveJournal's existing servers. He wrote memcached to take advantage of this spare memory and lighten the load on the site.

memcached is a distributed in-memory key-value store that uses a very simple protocol for storing and retrieving arbitrary data from memory instead of from a filesystem. To store a value, a program connects to the memcached server on the default port of 11211 and issues a series of basic commands. (Note: a binary protocol is also supported.)

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Original author: 
(author unknown)


“You look kinda like Ernest Hemingway.”
“And we’re both from Key West.”
“You’re from Key West?”
“Well, I used to smuggle coke out of there.”

Фотографии из проекта 'Humans of New York' американского фотографа Брэндона Стэнтона.


“Anniversary? Birthday?”
“Just because.”


“What’s your favorite thing about him?”
“No matter what, he makes the best of it.”
“What’s your favorite thing about her?”
“Her sense of adventure.”


“I want to draw cartoons.”


“She saved my life.”


“Who’s that on your shirt?”
“My ex-boss. We made these to make fun of him. Because he’s bald.”


“What’s the most romantic thing he’s ever done?”
“Oh God, he’s hopeless. During our first year of marriage, he celebrated our anniversary every single month.”


“If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?”
“Be nice and like people!”


“What was the happiest moment of your life?”
“There are two: when my son was born, and last night.”


“Just sittin’ here contemplatin’ how I’m gonna get home.”


“What’s your favorite thing about your dad?”
“He lets me beat him up and doesn’t cry.”


“My town in Colombia is very beautiful. I don’t travel because I want to leave my home. I travel because I need to know why I’m staying.”


“I’ve been photographed in the same dress as Kim Kardashian. I wore it better, though. She was too short for it.”


“What’s your favorite thing about New York?”
“The women.”


She told me her name was “Edge-E-Sledgehammer,” then she started laying down some spoken word poetry.
“Is this stuff on the internet?” I asked.
“Nah,” she said, “I’m completely underground.”


“People see my buttons and think I’m a radical, but I just stand for peace! Except North Korea. We should handle them.”


“I did a little bit of everything. Was never great at anything… but I survived.”


“What’s the best day you’ve ever spent together?”
“Probably that day on the Ponts des Arts.”
“What’d you do?”
“Just held hands.”


“Back in 1978, she came knocking on my door to yell at me for using up three machines in the laundry room. We’ve been friends ever since.”


“Do what you want. Don’t listen to anyone else. Just do what you want.”


“When I was younger, I spent a lot of time wanting to be like ‘this guy’ or ‘that guy.’ Then at a certain age I realized that I’m probably going to stay me, and I should learn to be OK with that.’”


“When my husband was dying, I said: ‘Moe, how am I supposed to live without you?’ He told me: ‘Take the love you have for me and spread it around.’”


“I drive the truck.”


“You ever try a Vitamin B shot? That’ll get you high!”


When I asked for his photo, he asked for a few bucks to help him get lunch. I thought it was a fair trade. But a few minutes later, he chased me down and begged me to take it back. When I wouldn’t, he gave me a huge hug.


“I don’t understand her. And I love that.”


“What’s the best part about being a grandfather?”
“I get to love her so much.”


“He was training to be a surgeon when we got married. One night he came home from two days straight on the job, and I’d cooked him dinner. Right before he fell asleep in his plate of food, he asked me what movie I’d like to watch. I thought it was so sweet.”


“The only rules of the club are: you’ve got to be over 50, you’ve got to wear red, and you’ve got to like having fun.”


“I’m homeless, and I’m an alcoholic. But I have a dream.”
“What’s that?”
“I wanna go fishing.”


“I had heart surgery in October. Today I’m going to try to get on the train for the first time. Hope I don’t get knocked over!”


“We’ve been best friends since 1967.”


“You want me to hold my boys?”


“The neighbor’s dog got loose!”


After they finished kissing, she took off her blue cape, and laid it over a woman sleeping on a nearby bench. It was such an unbelievably poetic moment, I actually chased them down to fact-check my own eyes.
“Excuse me. Was that your blue blanket?”
“Yes.”
“And you just gave it to her?”
“….Yes, why?”
“Oh nothing.”


“Where are you hiking?”
“The liquor store.”


“We were both involved in the Civil Rights Movement. We met 47 years ago on a picket line.”


“What’s your favorite thing about your wife?”
“She’s sexy.”

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It's been six years since I wrote Discussions: Flat or Threaded? and, despite a bunch of evolution on the web since then, my opinion on this has not fundamentally changed.

If anything, my opinion has strengthened based on the observed data: precious few threaded discussion models survive on the web. Putting aside Usenet as a relic and artifact of the past, it is rare to find threaded discussions of any kind on the web today; for web discussion communities that are more than ten years old, the vast majority are flat as a pancake.

I'm game for trying anything new, I mean, I even tried Google Wave. But the more I've used threaded discussions of any variety, the less I like them. I find precious few redeeming qualities, while threading tends to break crucial parts of discussion like reading and replying in deep, fundamental, unfixable ways. I have yet to discover a threaded discussion design that doesn't eventually make me hate it, and myself.

A part of me says this is software Darwinism in action: threaded discussion is ultimately too complex to survive on the public Internet.

Hacker-news-threading

Before threaded discussion fans bring out their pitchforks and torches, I fully acknowledge that aspects of threading can be useful in certain specific situations. I will get to that. I know I'm probably wasting my time even attempting to say this, but please: keep reading before commenting. Ideally, read the whole article before commenting. Like Parappa, I gotta believe!

Before I defend threaded discussion, let's enumerate the many problems it brings to the table:

  1. It's a tree.

    Poems about trees are indeed lovely, as Joyce Kilmer promised us, but data of any kind represented as a tree … isn't. Rigid hierarchy is generally not how the human mind works, and the strict parent-child relationship it enforces is particularly terrible for fluid human group discussion. Browsing a tree is complicated, because you have to constantly think about what level you're at, what's expanded, what's collapsed … there's always this looming existential crisis of where the heck am I? Discussion trees force me to spend too much time mentally managing that two-dimensional tree more than the underlying discussion.

  2. Where did that reply go?

    In a threaded discussion, replies can arrive any place in the tree at any time. How do you know if there are new replies? Where do you find them? Only if you happen to be browsing the tree at the right place at the right time. It's annoying to follow discussions over time when new posts keep popping up anywhere in the middle of the big reply tree. And God help you if you accidentally reply at the wrong level of the tree; then you're suddenly talking to the wrong person, or maybe nobody at all. For that matter, it absolutely kills me that there might be amazing, insightful responses buried somewhere in the middle of a reply chain that I will never be able to find. Most of all, it just makes me want to leave and never come back.

  3. It pushes discussion off your screen.

    So the first reply is indented under the post. Fair enough; how else would you know that one post is a reply to another post? But this indentation game doesn't ever end. Reply long and hard enough and you've either made the content column impossibly narrow, or you've pushed the content to exit, stage right. That's how endless pedantic responses-to-responses ruin the discussion for everyone. I find that in the "indent everything to the right" game, there are no winners, only losers. It is natural to scroll down on the web, but it is utterly unnatural to scroll right. Indentation takes the discussion in the wrong direction.

  4. You're talking to everyone.

    You think because you clicked "reply" and your post is indented under the person you're replying to, that your post is talking only to that person? That's so romantic. Maybe the two of you should get a room. A special, private room at the far, far, far, far, far right of that threaded discussion. This illusion that you are talking to one other person ends up harming the discussion for everyone by polluting the tree with these massive narrow branches that are constantly in the way.

    At an absolute minimum you're addressing everyone else in that discussion, but in reality, you're talking to anyone who will listen, for all time. Composing your reply as if it is a reply to just one person is a quaint artifact of a world that doesn't exist any more. Every public post you make on the Internet, reply or not, is actually talking to everyone who will ever read it. It'd be helpful if the systems we used for discussion made that clear, rather than maintaining this harmful pretense of private conversations in a public space.

  5. I just want to scroll down.

    Reddit (and to a lesser extent, Hacker News) are probably the best known examples of threaded comments applied to a large audience. While I find Reddit so much more tolerable than the bad old days of Digg, I can still barely force myself to wade through the discussions there, because it's so much darn work. As a lazy reader, I feel I've already done my part by deciding to enter the thread; after that all I should need to do is scroll or swipe down.

    Take what's on the top of reddit right now. It's a cool picture; who wouldn't want to meet Steve Martin and Morgan Freeman? But what's the context? Who is this kid? How did he get so lucky? To find out, I need to collapse and suppress dozens of random meaningless tangents, and the replies-to-tangents, by clicking the little minus symbol next to each one. So that's what I'm doing: reading a little, deciding that tangent is not useful or interesting, and clicking it to get rid of it. Then I arrive at the end and find out that information wasn't even in the topic, or at least I couldn't find it. I'm OK with scrolling down to find information and/or entertainment, to a point. What I object to is the menial labor of collapsing and expanding threaded portions of the topic as I read. Despite what the people posting them might think, those tangents aren't so terribly important that they're worth making me, and every other reader, act on them.

Full bore, no-holds-barred threading is an unmitigated usability disaster for discussion, everywhere I've encountered it. But what if we didn't commit to this idea of threaded discussion quite so wholeheartedly?

The most important guidance for non-destructive use of threading is to put a hard cap on the level of replies that you allow. Although Stack Exchange is not a discussion system – it's actually the opposite of a discussion system, which we have to explain to people all the time – we did allow, in essence, one level of threading. There are questions and answers, yes, but underneath each of those, in smaller type, are the comments.

Stack-exchange-threading

Now there's a bunch of hard-core discussion sociology here that I don't want to get into, like different rules for comments, special limitations for comments, only showing the top n of comments by default, and so forth. What matters is that we allow one level of replies and that's it. Want to reply to a comment? You can, but it'll be at the same level. You can go no deeper. This is by design, but remember: Stack Exchange is not a discussion system. It's a question and answer system. If you build your Q&A system like a discussion system, it will devolve into Yahoo Answers, or even worse, Quora. Just kidding Quora. You're great.

Would Hacker News be a better place for discussion if they capped reply level? Would Reddit? From my perspective as a poor, harried reader and very occasional participant, absolutely. There are many chronic problems with threaded discussion, but capping reply depth is the easiest way to take a giant step in the right direction.

Another idea is to let posts bring their context with them. This is one of the things that Twitter, the company that always does everything wrong and succeeds anyway, gets … shockingly right out of the gate. When I view one of my tweets, it can stand alone, as it should. But it can also bring some context along with it on demand:

Twitter-threading

Here you can see how my tweet can be expanded with a direct link or click to show the necessary context for the conversation. But it'll only show three levels: the post, my reply to the post, and replies to my post. This idea that tweets – and thus, conversations – should be mostly standalone is not well understood, but it illustrates how Twitter got the original concept so fundamentally right. I guess that's why they can get away with the terrible execution.

I believe selective and judicious use of threading is the only way it can work for discussion. You should be wary of threading as a general purpose solution for human discussions. Always favor simple, flat discussions instead.

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The photos are part of the Ericson Collection, a series of pictures from northwest California from the 1880s through the 1920s by Swedish photographer A.W. Ericson.



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Detroit, MI 1981


Detroit, MI 1969


Detroit, MI 1977


Ann Arbor, MI 1977


Detroit, MI 1982


Ann Arbor, MI 1977


Detroit, MI 1980


Hamtramck, MI 1981


Detroit, MI 1980


Detroit, MI 1981


South Lyon, MI 1980


Ann Arbor, MI 1979


Detroit, MI 1977


Near Dexter, MI 1978


Farmington, MI 1978


Ann Arbor, MI 1977


Hamtramck, MI 1981


Detroit, MI 1981


Detroit, MI 1980


Whitmore Lake, MI 1979


Detroit, MI 1978


Whitmore Lake, MI 1978


Saline, MI 1978


Saline, MI 1979


Detroit, MI 1981


Plymouth, MI 1978


Somewhere along the Rhine, Germany 1975


South Lyon, MI 1981


Ann Arbor, MI 1978


Ann Arbor, MI 1979


Near Dexter, MI 1978


Pinckney, MI 1978


Detroit, MI 1973


Detroit, MI 1980

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About a year and a half ago, I researched the state of routers: about as unsexy as it gets but essential to the stability, reliability, and security of your Internet connection. My conclusion?

This is boring old plain vanilla commodity router hardware, but when combined with an open source firmware, it is a massive improvement over my three year old, proprietary high(ish) end router. The magic router formula these days is a combination of commodity hardware and open-source firmware. I'm so enamored of this one-two punch combo, in fact, I might even say it represents the future. Not just of the everyday workhorse routers we all need to access the Internet – but the future of all commodity hardware.

I felt a little bad about that post, because I quickly migrated from the DD-WRT open source firmware to OpenWRT and then finally settled on Tomato. I guess that's open source, too many choices with nobody to really tell you what's going to work reliably on your particular hardware. But the good news is that I've been running Tomato quite happily with total stability for about a year now – primarily because it is gloriously simple, but also because it has the most functional quality of service (QoS) implementation.

Tomato-qos

Why does functional Quality of Service matter so very much in a router? Unless you have an Internet connection that's only used by your grandmother to visit her church's website on Sundays, QoS is the difference between a responsive Internet and one that's brutally dog slow.

Ever sat in an internet shop, a hotel room or lobby, a local hotspot, and wondered why you can't access your email? Unknown to you, the guy in the next room or at the next table is hogging the internet bandwidth to download the Lord Of The Rings Special Extended Edition in 1080p HDTV format. You're screwed - because the hotspot router does not have an effective QoS system. In fact, I haven't come across a shop or an apartment block locally that has any QoS system in use at all. Most residents are not particularly happy with the service they [usually] pay for.

When I switched from DD-WRT and OpenWRT to Tomato, I had to buy a different router, because Tomato only supports certain router hardware, primarily Broadcom. The almost universal recommendation was the Asus RT-N16, so that's what I went with.


Asus RT-N16

And it is still an excellent choice. If you just want a modern, workhorse single band wireless N router that won't break the bank, but has plenty of power and memory to run Tomato, definitely try the Asus RT-N16. It's currently available for under $80 (after $10 rebate). Once you get Tomato on there, you've got a fine combination of hardware and software. Take it from this SmallNetBuilder user review:

I'm a semigeek. Some of the stuff on this site confuses me. But I figured out enough to get this router and install Tomato USB. Great combination. Have not had any problems with the router. Love all the features that Tomato gives me. Like blocking my son's iPod after 7 PM. Blocking certain websites. Yeah, I know you can do that with other routers but Tomato made it easy. Also love the QoS features. Netflix devices get highest bandwidth while my wife's bittorrent gets low.

Review was too heavily slanted against the Asus software, which I agree is crap. I bought the router for its hardware specs. Large memory. Fast processor. Gigabyte lan. 2 USB ports.

What's not to love? Well, the dual band thing, mainly. If you want a truly top of the line router with incredible range, and simultaneous dual band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz performance bragging rights, fortunately there's the Asus RT-N66U.

Asus RT-N66U

This is, currently at least, the state of the art in routers. It has a faster CPU and twice the memory (256 MB) of the RT-N16. But at $190 it is also over twice the price. Judge for yourself in the SmallNetBuilder review:

As good as the RT-66U is, our wireless performance results once again show that no router is good in every mode that we test. But that said, the Dark Knight clearly outperformed both the NETGEAR WNDR4500 and Cisco Linksys E4200V2 in most of our two and three-stream tests. And it's the only router in recent memory able to reach to our worst-case/lowest-signal test location on the 5 GHz band, albeit with barely-usable throughput. Still, this is an accomplishment in itself.

If you're going to spend close to $200 for a wireless router, you should get a lot for your money. The Dark Knight seems to deliver wireless performance to justify its high price and has routing speed fast enough to handle any service a consumer is likely to have, even our friends in Europe and Asia.

Its only weakness? Take a guess. Oh wait, no need to guess, it's the same "weakness" the RT-N16 shared, the sketchy Asus firmware it ships with out of the box. That's why we get our Tomato on, people! There is complete and mature support for the RT-N66U in Tomato; for a walkthrough on how to get it installed (don't be shy, it's not hard) Check out Shadow Andy's TomatoUSB firmware flashing guide.

Does having nice router hardware with a current open source firmware matter? Well, if your livelihood depends on the Internet like mine does, then I certainly think so.

Internet-serious-business

At the very least, if you or someone you love is also an Internet fan and hasn't given any particular thought to what router they use, maybe it's time to start checking into that. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go donate to the Tomato project.

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About

All Right, Gentlemen! (also known as “Alright Gentlemen”) is an exploitable comic series illustrating three business men’s reaction to various proposals. The comic begins with the announcement of a brainstorm session on a videogame-related topic, followed by a panel showing an incomplete idea which is met by unimpressed silence and concludes with a panel depicting a slightly improved version of the previous idea that is met with enthusiasm, similar to the format of Reaction Guys comics. The comics are often used to criticize the business practices of video game and tech companies.

Origin

The exploitable panels come from a comic published on the Livejournal webcomic blog Hiimdaisy[2] on April 6th, 2009. The comic mocks the unoriginality of the boss characters’ names “Boss” and “Big Boss" featured in the video game Metal Gear Solid.

Spread

On June 4th, 2012, GamerRage[6] forum member Vynstein submitted a thread titled “All right, gentlemen! We need…”, which included a template for others to create edited variations of the comic. On the following day, Redditor Callan-J posted a comic titled “Pretty much sums it up”[7], which mocked the repetitive gameplay in the Call of Duty video game franchise. Within two weeks, the post received over 9,800 up votes and 490 comments.

The same day, Redditor theidlecapitalist[8] posted another example criticizing the frequency of Call of Duty posts on the /r/gaming subreddit (shown below, left) and Redditor Jazzminkey[9] submitted an example parodying new champion characters in the online strategy game League of Legends (shown below, right).

Also on June 5th, FunnyJunk[4] user kleip submitted a comic titled “All right, gentlemen!”, which featured the three businessmen reacting to themselves becoming a new meme (shown below). Within 13 days, the post received over 3,200 up votes and 145 comments. On June 7th, the Call of Duty comic was submitted to the Something Awful Forums[10] by user MailboxFullOfBombs.

Notable Examples


Templates

Search Interest

External References

[1]Live Journal – Hiimdaisy

[2]Live Journal – Hiimdaisy – Metal Gear Solid 3: Comics 13 – 21 (Note: all image links are now broken)

[3]Tumblr – alright gentlemen

[4]FunnyJunk – All right, gentlemen!

[5]FunnyJunk – All Right Gentlemen!

[6]Gamer Rage – All right, gentlemen! We need…

[7]Reddit – Pretty much sums it up

[8]Reddit – Pretty much sums it up as well

[9]Reddit – How Riot came up with Draven after Darius

[10]Something Awful – PYF image macros/memes: gooby pls i can haz cheezeburger?

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