All posts by Shawn

Top Sites

I saw the MPAA’s “Pyramid of Internet Piracy” on Digg this morning, and I’m curious if anyone knows what a “Top Site” is (without reading the PDF file below I mean)? I’ve spent countless hours educating myself on everything related to my MPAA case, and this one is new to me.

…clusters of high speed computers known as “Topsites.” The extraordinary speed and power of a Topsite triggers the avalanche that is global Internet piracy.

{scratching head} All I know is clusters of high speed computers with extraordinary speed and power are f’ing expensive (I happen to have first hand knowledge of this – gets so much traffic that I’m in the process of building out web and database clusters because a couple servers can’t handle the traffic).

Forgetting about the legality of running a “Topsite” for a second, from a pure business standpoint, why in hell would anyone spend what I can only assume is 6 figures on server clusters to distribute something for free? Whoever is running these “Topsites” should find something better to do with their money/resources IMO. Then again, maybe Topsite servers are cheap (but still having extraordinary speed and power). If that’s the case, maybe I should have purchased some Topsite servers and converted them into web/database servers and saved some money. :)

I Googled “Top Site(s)” and “Topsite(s)” and I couldn’t find any information about it.

I always thought “top sites” were those stupid directories that list the top 10 sites for a category or whatever…

According to the MPAA’s pyramid of piracy, (which has partnered with MPAA) is a “Facilitator” (see previous post). Strange.

From this: // (don’t ask me why they insist on using PDFs for everything, including images)

I hope the MPAA won’t sue me for using their image. Oh wait, they already are… my bad. Needs To Clean Up Their Act

So apparently the MPAA and BitTorrent, Inc. are working together to clean up piracy (specifically film piracy in this case [of course since they are the MPAA]).

From Dan Glickman (MPAA Chairman and CEO):

“We are glad that Bram Cohen and his company are working with us to limit access to infringing files on the website,” said Glickman. “They are leading the way for other companies by their example.”

Okay, that sounds like a good first step (and hopefully down the road they will start selling movies for download). But uhm… they seem to be failing miserably at this. If you do a search for a movie using the search function right at the top of, it looks like you can download pretty much anything (and this is the company that the MPAA thinks is “leading the way for other companies by their example”?). I suppose BiTorrent, Inc. could be logging everything that people download and giving it to the MPAA so they can file lawsuits, but wouldn’t that be some sort of entrapment?

All this stuff is very bizarre, but terribly interesting at the same time. We have the MPAA promoting BitTorrent’s site, yet you can download anything illegally right from the site they are promoting. You have Warner Brothers getting ready to distribute movies legally via BitTorrent (and promoting BitTorrent as well), but then at the same time Warner Brothers own message board is full of people helping each other to download Warner Brothers material that is under copyright via BitTorrent (and WB doesn’t currently offer any legal downloads via BitTorrent that I know of).

Either way, if I was the MPAA (or any movie studio like Warner Brothers), I would tell BitTorrent, Inc. to piss off/clean up their crap and at the very LEAST I certainly would stop sending them traffic.

The underlying technology for BitTorrent is nothing short of revolutionary, and if done properly it could change the way any sort of media is distributed (legally), but for some reason they don’t seem to be leveraging what they have. If they can “fix” their issues, I hope they go public, because I would be the first in line to invest in them (the ideas/technology behind it is amazing). BitTorrent, Inc. needs me as a software developer/business consultant I think. :)



It looks like I’m not the only one shares this viewpoint. Mark Cuban is pretty much saying the same thing over here. While the MPAA isn’t going to do anything to him of course, it’s funny to see him admit to copyright infringement on his blog. :)

“Now I did have to go through some interesting chinese porn to get Scary Movie 4, but i got there.”

Alien Cells

Hmmm… alien microbes that fell in India? Odd but (maybe) true…

As bizarre as it may seem, the sample jars brimming with cloudy, reddish rainwater in Godfrey Louis’s laboratory in southern India may hold, well, aliens. In April, Louis, a solid-state physicist at Mahatma Gandhi University, published a paper in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Astrophysics and Space Science in which he hypothesizes that the samples—water taken from the mysterious blood-colored showers that fell sporadically across Louis’s home state of Kerala in the summer of 2001—contain microbes from outer space.

Specifically, Louis has isolated strange, thick-walled, red-tinted cell-like structures about 10 microns in size. Stranger still, dozens of his experiments suggest that the particles may lack DNA yet still reproduce plentifully, even in water superheated to nearly 600ËšF. (The known upper limit for life in water is about 250ËšF.) So how to explain them? Louis speculates that the particles could be extraterrestrial bacteria adapted to the harsh conditions of space and that the microbes hitched a ride on a comet or meteorite that later broke apart in the upper atmosphere and mixed with rain clouds above India. If his theory proves correct, the cells would be the first confirmed evidence of alien life and, as such, could yield tantalizing new clues to the origins of life on Earth.


I’m Not Trying To Save The World

This is just more blah, blah about the whole MPAA vs. me thing.

One thing that I think people are not understanding here is that I’m not trying to change the world with this. I’m not trying to “take down the MPAA”, change any copyright or file sharing laws or anything else as grandiose as that. Hell, I have expensive billing software that I wrote that is pirated every day (I’m just too lazy to sue them… too much hassle and work IMO).

I’m still not 100% certain what the details are for the stuff the MPAA has against me (other than it was downloading “Meet The Fockers”), but I’m sure it will come out in the discovery process. I do think it will be very interesting to check out their methodology for pinpointing users for their John Doe lawsuits. Even if the world jury lost their minds and I was somehow found guilty and had to pay whatever the court sees fit, the whole process would have been a cool story to tell. And maybe I could even learn something in the whole process. I’ve learned a TON about all sorts of interesting stuff already as a result of this case – for example BitTorrent technology is actually pretty amazing from a purely technical standpoint [other companies like Apple, some Linux distributions, etc. seem to think it’s a pretty good technology too]. Even Warner Brothers is going to be distributing movies via BitTorrent (legitimately with DRM intact of course), which I think will be *awesome*. When it comes down to it, it’s all about decentralization and utilizing whatever resources are available. I’m still hoping Apple will do an iTunes Movie Store, and if the backend works with file sharing/swarming technology where users could earn credits for ultimately footing Apple’s bandwidth bills, then all the better.

Anyway, my point is that I’m not trying to save the world… I’ve received countless emails/phone calls from people who treat me like the second coming of you-know-who, and just think people are blowing everything out of proportion (obviously). I’m not interested in writing a book about it or making a movie about it (well, unless maybe someone can somehow slip in a love scene for me with someone like Rachel McAdams… haha!)

Some useful advice from me… “Don’t ever take things at face value if your gut tells you that something is fishy. Ultimately knowledge is power, and the best way to get knowledge is to figure it out on your own. Sometimes you might even come up with a better way of doing things by ‘thinking outside the box’.”

BTW – if Rachel McAdams is reading this… can you call me please, I must have lost your phone number… 😉


OMG dude, I just re-read what I just wrote and I’m an f’ing rambler. Sorry, just ignore me. (but seriously… Rachel – call me.)

SBrain, Inc.

I was having lunch with Tom today and we started blabbing about something kind of funny…

You know how pretty much anything can be “traded” (stocks, bonds, resources, etc.)? It’s just all based on the perceived future value of something. So wouldn’t it be interesting to essentially issue shares of yourself. Shareholders would essentially own a percentage of whatever ideas/patents/products/income, etc. that you generate over your lifetime. Basically they would be buying part of you in the hopes that you do something cool in your life so they get some upside with their investment.

The funniest part would be to watch your stock go down when you leave the country on vacation or get sick, and then come back up when you are in the country and healthy. :)

Who want’s to buy a piece of Shawn’s Brain? We’ll call it SBrain, Inc… 1 employee that can never be fired or quit. :)

Close… But No.

I picked up the plans from plan check today (this is from 2nd submittal), and there were 8 changes needed. This is tiny compared to the 1st submittal.

At least the 3rd (and hopefully final) submittal can be done “over the counter” right there since there are so few changes.


Plans are at the fire department for review while the minor updates are being done. I guess since the changes are over the counter, we can do that. {shrug}

No Sound With Flash

Dude, this issue has been bugging me for months on my Mac… A couple apps would never play any sound (most notably Macromedia Flash). Anyway, I finally was able to find the solution, so hopefully someone searching Google will find this post useful.

Go to Applications -> Utilities -> Apple MIDI Setup

Check the Audio Output Format (somehow mine was set to 96000.0 Hz) and set it to 48000.0 Hz (or lower).

So to celebrate that I have Flash audio again, I’m glad to present you with a newly released Denny “Blazen” Hazen video (the funny thing about this video is it’s actually 100x better than his previous ones)…

Memory Is Here

Finally got the last (physical) piece for the blade servers (120GB RAM [60 x 2GB DIMMs]). I’m a swell counter because I counted them 5 or 6 times, and each time I counted them, I came up with 40, so I thought they shorted me 20 DIMMs for a 10 minutes or so. :)

So I was messing around with init.d, and wrote a script for it to automatically start the memcached daemon on boot. No biggie there, but this is a newer init.d than I had worked with in the past, and you can put comments in your script to easily enable/disable it for various run-levels. For example insserv -d memcached will configure init.d for the default run-levels defined within the script. Sweet, that’s pretty handy. I also got rsyncd (along with it’s init.d setup) up and running, so keeping the servers in sync should be cake.

Oh yeah… I had an interesting idea last night when doing all this stuff… why not configure all 10 blade servers identically (for example database servers have Apache and web content locally and web servers have database server processes installed). Then set an environment variable within /etc/profile.local along the lines of SYSTEM_TYPE = "database" (for database server). Then when the server boots, have it automatically configure itself as needed based on the SYSTEM_TYPE. That would make it super easy to change the job of a server on the fly. Just change the SYSTEM_TYPE variable and viola!, a database server could become a web server and added to the web cluster instantly. It would be even more interesting if the servers all monitored themselves, and if they were under heavy web load (but light on database), have one of the database servers automatically reset it’s SYSTEM_TYPE variable. Basically it would be automatic reallocation of servers/resources to whatever was needed at the time. Could be cool…

I’m an f’ing dork BTW. :)

A Server Configuration Day

I spent most of the day getting crap installed on the first blade as well as learning about little quirks with SuSE Linux Enterprise 9.3.

MySQL 5.0.21 was an easy install (a nice little RPM for SuSE Linux comes from MySQL).

Memcached was a pretty easy compile/install… just needed to compile/install eventlib first.

The big bitch was getting PHP 5.1.4 compiled and working properly with all the options I wanted (had to install all sorts of secondary stuff that PHP had dependencies on [and then a lot of those things had their own dependencies that needed to be resolved]) and compiled a couple dynamic extensions for it (eAccelerator and Memcache). Most of the problems with the configure script not being able to find libraries it needed was solved with the –with-libdir=lib64 parameter.

I really hope that once the first blade is setup exactly how I want it, I can use the hardware RAID mirroring to just swap out one of the drives into another blade and rebuild the mirrors (and repeat for each blade)… then just set a unique IP address and hostname for each blade/server.

I still need to code some stuff to keep some of the files in sync properly (for example each web server should mirror content on each blade), but I’ll do that next week I guess.

Once the blades are all configured and ready to go, I can do some of the more fun stuff… like setting up the load balancers. I think I’m going to use the load balancers for both web and database connections for both load balancing and fault tolerance. So much good dorky fun!

My Car Is Gone

Well awesome… came home from playing poker last night at around 12:30 am, parked in my “secure” gated parking structure, and went to run some errands at 11:00 am this morning, and my car is gone.

That’s rad.

Early Neutral Evaluation Conference

Just got back from the Early Neutral Evaluation Conference with Judge William McCurine, Jr. (who was a remarkably nice and likable guy). Overall it was a waste of time (as expected) though because they really just want the two opposing sides to figure out a way they can settle without going to a full trial. Judge McCurine asked ██ â–ˆ █████ ██ ██████████ ██ ████████ ███ ████ (not that the MPAA/Universal offered that)… which of course â–ˆ ████ ██ █████ â–ˆ ████ ██ ████████ ██ ███ ██ ███ ███████████ ███ â–ˆ ███ ███████ ██ █████ ███ ██████ ██ ████ ██ █████ █████ ██████ ████ ████ ████ ████████ ██████ ███████ they asked for it. I guess he isn’t a regular reader of my blog, because if he was, he would have known that already (heh.. that’s a joke BTW).

I almost was late for the whole thing because I forgot how to tie a tie. hahaha!

Their lawyers were blabbing about ███ ██ ███ █████ ██ ████ â–ˆ ████ ████ █████████ ██ ███████ ████ ████████████. Hahaha… that’s a weird argument for a court, eh? Thanks for the compliment… I would pay to hear that argument in court. :)

Since I have no interest whatsoever in their extortion settlement offer, we will be going for a trial. Judge McCurine did say ██ ███ █████ ██ ███ ██ ████ ██ ██ █████ ████ ████ (█████ â–ˆ █████ ██ â–ˆ █████ ██████), so that’s cool.

I guess next up is a mutual discovery plan which is due in 3 weeks.

Also… in the last week, I’ve done a couple different interviews regarding this case, so I’ll post links to them when they are published. :)


I guess these conferences are confidential, so I wasn’t supposed to post all that, oops. :)

Google’s Quantum Warping?

I was getting a map to the courthouse for my Early Neutral Evaluation Conference this afternoon, and I noticed something… Broadway Avenue in downtown San Diego seems to have some sort of quantum warping going on. The buildings on the north side of the street appear to be leaning on the buildings on the south side of the street.

I’ve been down there myself, and that certainly doesn’t appear to be the case when you are up close, but obviously it *is* happening, as you can see when viewed from outer space…


It’s actually pretty interesting how Google splices the images together, because obviously it’s not done in a straight line…

Save Your Switch Info!

Yesterday I spent about 2 hours configuring all sorts of crap in the new network switch… port assignments/names, QoS, SNMP crap, etc.

I forgot that even though changes you make are applied right away, they are lost if you power cycle the equipment. Hahaha… whoops!

Don’t forget this, I know I won’t ever forget it again. :)

Console# copy running-config startup-config

3 Point Deduction For Racisim

FIFA’s new rule about racist soccer fans will go into affect next month for the 2006 World Cup. Basically if fans are judged to be racist against an opposing team, the fan’s team will lose 3 points.

Should be interesting to see how they control that. Soccer fans are crazy enough that they would probably just be racist against their own team to make the opposing team loose 3 points. :)

New Equipment Is Here

The blade chassis arrived on a palette today (and boy, was that an awesome time getting it upstairs), so that means all the new server equipment is here (except for additional RAM).

We got 1 blade chassis, 10 loaded blades (except for RAM right now), 2 load balancers (1 is a hot spare) and a managed 48-port gigabit switch (along with redundant power supply).

Now I need to go to Home Depot and get an extension cord and plug adapter so I can plug the chassis into a 220V outlet.

Until the equipment is ready to be installed in the data center, we have Yashi (and his camera shy brother, Wiggly) standing guard over it all.


Just so I don’t forget, the chassis has an L6-30P NEMA plug and the drier has a 14-30R NEMA receptacle (for my adventure to Home Depot later).

Tanya Andersen vs. RIAA

I know this is old news for people that have been following the RIAA and MPAA lawsuits, but it’s new to me (now that I’ve been dragged into it, I’ve been reading all I can find). This entry is more of a bookmark entry for myself.


Some interesting stuff that I may find useful for my suit.

I’m sure they are going to want to go diving into my computers, which is fine with me as long as I have assurances they destroy everything afterwards. I’m certainly not going to let them take clones of every computer I own if I can help it. I have enough source code and trade secrets on my computers that I’m sure millions of people would love to get at it.

A judge ruled Andersen could name her own investigator who’d search only for specific files.

And the RIAA will have to pay his or her bill.

But the most interesting part to me is that she brought forth RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization) allegations against the RIAA about 6 months ago. Since they haven’t been thrown out of of court yet, I’m assuming the counterclaim has enough merit that it will be forced to go to a full trial. I’m thinking I may be able to do the same thing, considering they “offered” a settlement of $2,500 based on no valid information (a random IP address they could have pulled out of thin air). Then when I refused, they flat out threatened me saying that if I didn’t pay, they would take me to court, and my costs incurred would be much more than $2,500 even if I beat their charges.

If they really believe they have a case against me, why are they “letting me off” for $2,500? They have much more to gain by going the court route. Oh wait… maybe because they are extorting money from people.

I’m not a lawyer (so someone please correct me if I’m wrong), but if I’m able to file a counterclaim that doesn’t get thrown out in court, would this prevent them from dropping their original suit against me (forcing it to go to trial and final judgement)?

Map Of Digg Traffic

At the beginning of last November, I had the idea to do an automatic geolocation system for blog/website owners called Geo Visitors.

This blog got quite a bit of traffic in the last 24 hours (because of a front-page digg). Anyway, check out what the maps look like for visitors to this blog in the last 24 hours… It’s crazy how much traffic digg can bring you in a short amount of time. Thankfully my quick little caching mechanism I did for WordPress last time I had something in digg, held up (last time WordPress was thrashing my servers because of the traffic).

The World


United States

New York area

If you want to check out the map in realtime (or use it for your own blog/site), click here.

Random Email #19

Here’s one I got (in it’s entirety like always)…


Okay… I can understand someone hating my site… I’m sure he/she isn’t the only one. But This dude hates my site so much that he’s going to go milk his cow. Huh? That really will show me I guess. {shrug}

Preparing For Early Neutral Evaluation Conference

It’s amazing how no matter how many times you tell someone something, they don’t seem to “get it”. Someone called me letting me know they are preparing whatever paperwork they have to file for next weeks Early Neutral Evaluation Conference. They keep letting me know they are working on getting the issue settled.

But here’s the problem… It’s not about the money for me, it never was. I’ve already spent more in legal fees than what I could have settled for.

I will never sign any sort of admission that I did anything (since I didn’t) in exchange for them to drop it. There is nothing the MPAA/Universal Studios could say or do that will make me settle (I wouldn’t settle for $1). I know technically I can’t prevent them from dropping the case, but if I could, I would force it to go to a full trial with final judgement. As far as I’ve been able to research, out of the tens of thousands of RIAA and MPAA lawsuits, not a single one has gone to a final judgement. Does that seem odd to anyone else? (If anyone knows differently, please let me know.)

The bottom line is I would gladly prefer to spend whatever it takes out of my own pocket, rather than just hand over the $2,500 in extortion money they wanted. Regardless of the money spent, there is always a way to indirectly recoup the costs. For example paid advertising displayed to people reading about my case (which at this point is well over 100,000 people, and we haven’t even really begun). Another idea I had was why not put together a website where people could use it to defend themselves from the RIAA and MPAA lawsuits. The only reason people settle with them is because they can’t afford the cost of going to court. Maybe put together a site that generates all the filings/forms they need to defend themselves for a couple hundred bucks or something. BTW, if any lawyer(s) want to do a joint venture on something like that, please let me know.

More info on this whole case can be found over here.


For everyone asking how to contact me in the comments, my email is shawn at this domain. Please put MPAA in the subject so I know I will see it (I get way too much email).

Dell Blade Servers Are Here

The new blade servers were delivered this morning (10 of them). Hopefully should get the chassis tomorrow (it shipped separately), and the new switch and load balancers later in the week.

Wiggly (one of my cats) is terrified of change, and now he won’t leave my office because there are big boxes in the hallway. heh


I just remembered the chassis runs at 220V instead of 120V. I know that’s fine for the data center, but I just realized I don’t have 220V in my place to configure them (maybe my drier or stove is 220V… I better check).

Multiple Instances Of mysqld

My primary MySQL server has been VERY overloaded lately (which is the main reason new blades are on the way), but today I decided to see what I can do about it in the meantime (the parameters have already been tuned as much as possible).

First I toyed around with a single node MySQL Cluster… it didn’t work terribly well. I think you really need 2 or 4 nodes for it to be effective.

Then I decided to run two different copies of mysqld on the same machine. Dude, this works *so* well under a high load that it’s almost unbelievable. While the memory fragmentation issues are still there, it’s 20x better (really). I should have done this a long time ago… :)

The Wrong Guy Kewney

The BBC was doing a news piece on the Apple music vs. Apple Computer case and they were trying to do an interview with Guy Kewney, but instead they accidentally pulled his cab driver into the interview. :)

“I am very surprised to see…this verdict to come on me because I was not expecting that. When I came they told me something else and I am coming. So a big surprise anyway.”


Okay, it turns out the dude wasn’t a cab driver, but instead someone named “Guy” who was at the BBC for a job interview for an IT position. Still funny though.

Light Can Travel Backwards

Some interesting stuff here… light traveling at speeds other than the speed of light (slower, faster and backwards)…

Boyd, along with Rochester graduate students George M. Gehring and Aaron Schweinsberg, and undergraduates Christopher Barsi of Manhattan College and Natalie Kostinski of the University of Michigan, sent a burst of laser light through an optical fiber that had been laced with the element erbium. As the pulse exited the laser, it was split into two. One pulse went into the erbium fiber and the second traveled along undisturbed as a reference. The peak of the pulse emerged from the other end of the fiber before the peak entered the front of the fiber, and well ahead of the peak of the reference pulse.

But to find out if the pulse was truly traveling backward within the fiber, Boyd and his students had to cut back the fiber every few inches and re-measure the pulse peaks when they exited each pared-back section of the fiber. By arranging that data and playing it back in a time sequence, Boyd was able to depict, for the first time, that the pulse of light was moving backward within the fiber.


Random Email #18

I really would like to meet some of the people that are on the sending end of these emails. :)

Iwon’t sex film

That’s the whole email… I don’t know why this dude (maybe a girl, I dunno) feels like they need to email me telling me they are not going to “have sex with a film”. I never asked them to, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it. Would probably cause chaffing anyway, especially if it was VHS vs. DVD.