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Facebook Letting Everyone See How Much Data-Center Power It Consumes

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the looking-at-the-numbers dept.

Facebook 86

Nerval's Lobster writes "Facebook has added real-time dashboards for measuring the efficiency of its data centers' internal power and water use. Two dashboards monitor the company's Prineville, Ore. (here) and Forest City, N.C. data centers (here), measuring both the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) and Water Usage Effectiveness of those facilities, in addition to the ambient temperature and humidity. So far, visitors to the Prineville and Forest City dashboards only see a limited snapshot of the Facebook data: the display only covers 24 hours, and is delayed by 2.5 hours on both sites. Facebook also hasn't disclosed how many servers the data represents, which could conceivably be used by competitors to get a sense of the social network's total computing power. The company said that once its data center in Luleå, Sweden, comes online, Facebook will begin adding data from that location, as well. Although Facebook said it provided the information out of a sense of openness, the data—showing PUEs of about 1.09 for both facilities as of press time—is a bit of a boast, as well; as recently as 2011, Uptime Institute said that the average data center's PUE was approximately 1.8. So far, Facebook hasn't said whether it will provide access to the dashboards via an API, so third parties can get a better sense of how Facebook is managing power and water use over time, and through various seasons of the year."

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Number of Servers (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43489859)

Makes perfect sense they don't wanna disclose the number of servers. They like their privacy

Re:Number of Servers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43489991)

Not like Microsoft, who'll share your data with anyone who pays. Including law enforcement agencies in countries with poor human rights records.

Re:Number of Servers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43491559)

anyone who pays

law enforcement agencies

Oh, come on!

Privacy dashboard (4, Interesting)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about a year ago | (#43489869)

... I'd rather Facebook put up a dashboard that shows how much they have been violating my privacy. I'd like to see a Facebook dashboard that is customized for me that shows, among other things:

.
- what data nuggets have been collected about me over the past 24 hours, week, month

- what third party entities my data has been shared with

I am sure that this community can suggest other items that would be useful on a Facebook Privacy Dashboard.

In the background, I cannot shake the thought that Facebook is putting up this energy consumption dashboard for the purpose to divert attention away from Facebook's ongoing privacy issues.

Re:Privacy dashboard (5, Insightful)

Literaphile (927079) | about a year ago | (#43489871)

Delete your account, stop worrying, and get some sleep.

Will deleting change anything? (2)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year ago | (#43489979)

Delete your account, stop worrying, and get some sleep.

Its off topic (but a more interesting topic) Although having read about it you have to *delete* the account which allegedly will remove it, but deactivate your account and messages you sent, may still be visible to others. they also save your timeline information (ex: friends, photos, interests, etc.)

But even then you have companies like http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/10/software-tracks-social-media-defence [guardian.co.uk] like this one who mine data...and create links. Not sure how you delete their data, or even find out who has it.

...now this stuff is so cool, you can track people who are not on facebook, by the content of others on facebook,, by your family, friends, hell your work/school probably has a few pages, more than enough to create a full profile of you, an estimated one anyway.

Deleting you account is the tip of the iceberg...an illusion of privacy at best.

Re:Will deleting change anything? (4, Interesting)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a year ago | (#43490073)

if you change you age to under 12 facebook nukes you account from orbit or so i am given to understand.

Re:Will deleting change anything? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43491581)

You can't change your Facebook age to below twelve if you never were on Facebook.

Re:Will deleting change anything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43493079)

Shut up you fucking idiot. Nobody cares that you're socially inept.

Re:Will deleting change anything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43494539)

That was a strong point, here is mine: fuck you!

Re:Will deleting change anything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43495287)

There's no need to make a strong point. He only posted because he wanted to feel like a unique snowflake that doesn't have a facebook account, as if anybody but him actually cares.

Essentially this: http://www.theonion.com/articles/area-man-constantly-mentioning-he-doesnt-own-a-tel,429/

Except theonion writes stupid stuff on purpose, unlike the AC.

Re:Will deleting change anything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43495591)

Except for it was me who implied not to have Facebook account in the first place. Not that I'm really proud of that, that wasn't my point. I don't want a company to make a ghost profile of me, which Google tried to do, I'm not really sure if that is still true, whether my friends want to supply them with that info or not, is irrelevant, because that wasn't my choice.
And I'm posting as an AC because I don't have to have a Slashdot account and that is what I like about Slashdot. However things aren't the same now, I used to read all discussions with the default filter, it's no longer true, nowdays 5 Insightful post is most likely total crap, best posts are below two, because no ones sees them in thread that is several hours old.

Re:Will deleting change anything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43497263)

that wasn't my point.

I hope not, because the only point you made in that post above is that you don't have a Facebook account. Literally nothing else can be implied from it.

Re:Will deleting change anything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43516459)

Online socializing is an oxymoron.

If you want to socialize leave your mother basement and go out.

Re:Will deleting change anything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43516835)

If you're incapable of being social simply because the other person is over the internet, you're the one who needs to go out more.

Re:Will deleting change anything? (2)

kwbauer (1677400) | about a year ago | (#43493605)

If you never opened a Facebook account, then Facebook CANNOT have violated your privacy. There is no way that Facebook is running bots collecting data from everyone's computer and such. That means that if you never told Facebook about yourself, then it was your friends and family that did so and they are the ones that violated your privacy, not Facebook.

Re:Will deleting change anything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43494359)

True. But my friends also didn't create a central source of such data and didn't profit from it.
I'm not into car analogies and as someone above pointed out, socially inept, I'll give you this one. If you recorded a next door girl masturbating that is almost okay, but if you put that online and start making money, that is illegal.
Yeah, technically there are terms of service and privacy policy and no one who is okay with Facebook (except from the ones who profit from it) reads that. If anything in terms of service is okay, they can make you transfer everything you possess to them, you see where I'm going with this Such terms of service are to be made illegal because it allows indirect collection of personal data.

Sorry for my horrible english in advance.

Re:Will deleting change anything? (1)

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Re:Privacy dashboard (0)

houghi (78078) | about a year ago | (#43490255)

They will not stop violating your rights with the data they have already.

Re:Privacy dashboard (0)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#43490263)

Even not having an account in the first place won't stop them. Every time you see a facebook 'like' button on a webpage, Facebook knows where you are. They build web history profiles even of non-users. It doesn't give them nearly so much data to process as someone with an account could, but they do what they can with it.

Re:Privacy dashboard (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43491193)

Use Ghostery [ghostery.com] to escape this.

Re:Privacy dashboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43493023)

Ghostery is great, but it only works with desktop browsers, where I have all Google and Facebook stuff blocked anyway. It's a bit tricky to implement such an extension on mobile platforms.

Re:Privacy dashboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43493157)

Ghostery is a trojan.

Re:Privacy dashboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43494133)

Do you have any proofs on that or just trolling?!

Re:Privacy dashboard (2)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | about a year ago | (#43489891)

I cannot shake the thought that Facebook is putting up this energy consumption dashboard for the purpose to divert attention away from Facebook's ongoing privacy issues

Expect advertisements for psychological counseling the next you log in.

Expect advertisements for psychological counseling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43490271)

...and, if I were you, I would expect English lessons.

Re: Privacy dashboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43491327)

His servers his rules, stop whining or stop using it.

Re: Privacy dashboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43491599)

A lot of people never started using it, but they've still got their data collected.

Re:Privacy dashboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43493381)

Move to Europe, they have to provide that data about you upon your request.

Deceptive metrics (5, Insightful)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43489873)

Of course, "Power Usage Effectiveness" and "Water Usage Effectiveness" are somewhat deceptive metrics, because there's little useful societal "effect" produced by running Facebook's massive spyware operation. No matter how efficiently they churn out clock cycles per kWh or liter, spending those clock cycles on Facebook is an ecologically disastrous misapplication of humankind's resources. There is nothing "effective" about growing the share of the economy devoted to advertising.

Re:Deceptive metrics (4, Insightful)

PSXer (854386) | about a year ago | (#43489893)

And spending time on Slashdot is a good use of humankind's resources? What is the point of even being human if we can't have a little fun every once in a while?

Re:Deceptive metrics (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43489899)

I like having fun, and consider it a worthwhile use of power and water --- but I'm pretty sure there are more "effective" ways to have fun with less burden of "creepy stalker megacorporation inserting themselves into the entire fabric of your life."

Re:Deceptive metrics (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43489993)

I'm pretty sure there are more "effective" ways to have fun with less burden of "creepy stalker megacorporation inserting themselves into the entire fabric of your life."

Sent from your iPhone...

Re:Deceptive metrics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43490075)

Problem solved. Don't use it.

Re:Deceptive metrics (4, Interesting)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#43489905)

We havent even begun to understand the positive or negative effects of the communication level Facebook allows. Like it or not, it s a HUGE hive of human activity engaging more people then any other service before. It represents hopes and fears and dreams and thoughts and loves and hates. You might hate how Facebook does things, but the actual events occurring inside are meaningful and useful to the human race.

Re:Deceptive metrics (4, Insightful)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43489925)

Like you say, I might hate how Facebook does things, which is exactly what I'm doing here. New forms for fluid interpersonal communications via network channels? A-OK with me. Monetizing and commoditizing the "social network connectivity graph" to further entrench corporate power at the fundamental level of interpersonal interactions? DIAF.

Re:Deceptive metrics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43493667)

I'm okay with paying for letting me to communicate with people on Facebook and not let them use my personal data. Not even collect it. I suppose it makes the date collected from everyone else less useful, but that is not really my problem.
That should be an option.

Re:Deceptive metrics (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#43490251)

We havent even begun to understand the positive or negative effects of the communication level Facebook allows. Like it or not, it s a HUGE hive of human activity engaging more people then any other service before. It represents hopes and fears and dreams and thoughts and loves and hates. You might hate how Facebook does things, but the actual events occurring inside are meaningful and useful to the human race.

I've got to problem with facebook. I don't use them though, because If anyone's monetizing my data, I want a cut. Also, every service they provide I've been using since before the Internet. Hell, my BBS had packet radio via my HAM setup -- That's country-wide mesh networking without wires. Facebook is simply the AOL of websites. It's popular and helps grandma use high tech non-features, but it's still shite to anyone with a clue.

Re:Deceptive metrics (1)

hjf (703092) | about a year ago | (#43492811)

Protests against the government of Argentina last night, largely organized via Facebook and other social networks:

http://clarincomhd.tumblr.com/image/48316699321 [tumblr.com]

Does this give you a sense of scale, about the level of communication people can have on Facebook?

Re:Deceptive metrics (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43493179)

Strangely, mass protests are documented to have existed in history well before Facebook arrived --- however did they do it? Indeed, Facebook served as a communication channel for facilitating this protest. However, Facebook's ability to track, record, analyze, and sell the participants' data did not help. Nor would a profiteering megacorporation (with its own friendly FBI ties) be an advantageous ally in organizing protests against the powers closer to Facebook's empire.

Re:Deceptive metrics (1)

hjf (703092) | about a year ago | (#43494919)

I think mass protests were largely local events. The 19 and 20 of december of 2001 we had massive protests (much smaller than the current ones) that ended with then-president De La Rua resigning. Those protests were held in Buenos Aires and only 1 channel was showing them until people called the other news networks about how big it was and they were shit because they weren't showing them. Hours later all channels were covering these events. Once that happened, the protests replicated all over the country, but at a much smaller scale.

This is different now: people are able to communicate directly, without the media filters. The protests started all over the country at the same time. 12 years ago that would have been just impossible since much less people had internet access back then.

THAT is the power of people communicating with each other. Regardless of FBI nosiness or not.

Re:Deceptive metrics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43493211)

...via Facebook and other social networks...

Other social networks, which means that the people organized using many diverse forms of communication. Yet you use it to defend Facebook?

Re:Deceptive metrics (1)

hjf (703092) | about a year ago | (#43494843)

Nice troll, but most people here are familiar only with facebook, and the odd one who uses Twitter.

Re:Deceptive metrics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43495055)

You mean no one here used dating sites before. Oh, now I see why Facebook is cool. You mean it's like this "Cloud" thing?

Re:Deceptive metrics (1)

hjf (703092) | about a year ago | (#43500911)

No, they haven't. Very few people used a dating site called "badoo", and the first relevant social network was Facebook. Myspace wasn't even a thing over here.

Re:Deceptive metrics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43490047)

They have lots of people interested in their service who use it happily to track what their friends are doing, post stupid duckface photos and surrender a good chunk of information for them to advertise to you based on.

There is nothing wrong with facebook doing this. You are giving them your data. If you have a complaint, just don't use their service.

Re:Deceptive metrics (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#43490269)

Advertising keeps the economy running. If everyone stopped buying pointless crap they don't really need or want, we'd see mass-unemployment in a year.

Re:Deceptive metrics (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43493399)

People don't need 20% of the entire economy (rough estimate, hard to make precise; there is more cost to advertising than direct TV/radio/Facebook expenditures; there is also wasteful effort put into packaging, just-for-selling-points R&D, higher prices for inferior goods with better advertising, monopolization and barrier to entry in markets, etc.) dedicated to "making them buy shiny new stuff" --- they'd still buy plenty if they could. We already see mass unemployment, because the middle class doesn't have as much money left to buy stuff after wealth has been accumulating upwards for several decades (not because they've become less needy/wanty). Advertising is an "arms race" situation: every company needs more and more bigger advertising to keep ahead of their competitors, not to assure that people will buy something with their money. The result is massive economic inefficiency, disguised in plain sight.

Re:Deceptive metrics (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | about a year ago | (#43493691)

Which companies are "making" you buy their products?

I know mine is an unpopular opinion, but corporations are groups of people united for the purpose of producing and selling. People have the right (at least in the US) to speak freely and that includes enticing others to buy their products. We generally refer to that as advertising.

Would you rather the government controlled every bit of information you are allowed to see?

Re:Deceptive metrics (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43493889)

Pay attention to the thread above; my statement about "making you buy stuff" wasn't a complaint that some company is forcing me to buy stuff through advertising --- it was a response to the parent poster above claiming people would magically stop wanting to buy things if advertising was cut back. Thus, my point was that companies don't make people buy things with advertising --- they'd be buying things anyway.

As for corporate free speech in advertising: I support free speech. That doesn't mean I support what everyone is saying, and won't speak out counter to people who are saying things I think are wrong and harmful to society. I think the massive allocation of resources to marketing is wrong and harmful; I speak out against it. I think that while folks should have free speech to talk about whatever they like, that corporate advertising gets unequal and unfair access to the "microphone" at the expense of everyone else: the megacorporate voice, representing the interests of the fraction-of-1% at the top, controls an overwhelming share of the public's "platforms for speech" (the media, the airwaves, the internet) because they've got money. Level the playing field and let the 1% have their 1% of the shouting, and the 99% their 99%.

And where the heck did you get the idea that I'd "rather the government controlled every bit of information you are allowed to see"?

Re:Deceptive metrics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43493769)

It's even worse. They don't show "how efficiently they churn out clock cycles per kWh", PUE shows the ratio of total power usage of the facility to the power dissipated by all the servers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_usage_effectiveness), so this metrics is not meaningful at all...

Where? (1)

PSXer (854386) | about a year ago | (#43489885)

The amount of data center power consumed would sure be an interesting statistic, but it isn't anywhere in the link. The only two metrics listed other than the publicly available weather are PUE = [Total Building Load (kWh)] / [IT Load (kWh)] and WUE = [Volume of water required to condition data hall air (liters)] / [IT load (kWh)].

Not real time (2)

theduk3 (2598409) | about a year ago | (#43489887)

The dashboard is not actually in real-time, but carries a 2.5 hour delay.

Re:Not real time (1)

rvw (755107) | about a year ago | (#43491321)

The dashboard is not actually in real-time, but carries a 2.5 hour delay.

That's it! I want my money back!!!

is very healthy. (-1)

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What a strange world we live in... (5, Insightful)

fearofcarpet (654438) | about a year ago | (#43489955)

...where a giant company worth billions--just because people in suits say so--is building state-of-the-art data centers around the globe to store crappy photos of mundane activities and asinine conversations about nothing in order to collect data on consumers for advertisers so they can sell them more gadgets to take even crappier photos of even more mundane activities. (And yes, I'm aware of the irony of appearing on television in order to decry it, so don't bother pointing that out.) Meanwhile the funding agencies that drive the creation of all this technology are being gutted to shave a few fractions of a percent off of the federal budget, Wikipedia is begging users for cash, and NASA had to scrap its shuttle program. Our priorities are a joke.

Re:What a strange world we live in... (2)

tyrione (134248) | about a year ago | (#43489967)

...where a giant company worth billions--just because people in suits say so--is building state-of-the-art data centers around the globe to store crappy photos of mundane activities and asinine conversations about nothing in order to collect data on consumers for advertisers so they can sell them more gadgets to take even crappier photos of even more mundane activities. (And yes, I'm aware of the irony of appearing on television in order to decry it, so don't bother pointing that out.) Meanwhile the funding agencies that drive the creation of all this technology are being gutted to shave a few fractions of a percent off of the federal budget, Wikipedia is begging users for cash, and NASA had to scrap its shuttle program. Our priorities are a joke.

Spot on.

Re:What a strange world we live in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43490077)

I'm aware of the irony of appearing on television in order to decry it

This is not television.

Re:What a strange world we live in... (1)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year ago | (#43490129)

This is not television.

Well I'm certainly not going to pay enough for it to be HBO.

Re:What a strange world we live in... (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year ago | (#43490541)

Gosh, it's almost like people can do anything they want. Even if you (for various values of "you") find that it's wrong. Hey, buck up, a good tyranny would erase all these negative things and we can go back to presenting people with only "positive" (for various values of positive) options.

Re:What a strange world we live in... (2)

Meneth (872868) | about a year ago | (#43490771)

This is a world where we have finally become rich enough to be able to do these things. Still silly, from the perspective of us who do not care for the frivolous things, but since the majority of the population do care for them, we should not be surprised.

Re:What a strange world we live in... (1)

hjf (703092) | about a year ago | (#43492857)

the majority of people in the WORLD doesn't use facebook (alleged: 1 billion people out of 7 billion)

Re:What a strange world we live in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43491953)

Well stated, without vulgarity. Maybe others will take note...ah, who am I kidding?

Facebook: a Network Effect virus (1)

justthinkit (954982) | about a year ago | (#43492375)

The Network Effect was heralded. Everyone on /. benefited from it for years, even decades. Little did we know there would come a time when a virus would ruin everything. The Facebook virus.
.

[In the middle of writing this post, my SO wanted me to "unfriend" some supreme PoS. No visible way to do this. Search Google. Go to this Facebook help page [facebook.com] , appropriately called "How do I unfriend or remove a friend?". In attempting to follow the 3 simple steps, I go to that person's Facebook page and attempt to hover over their FRIENDS button. Of course they are not showing one. Back to Google. Follow this new link [wikihow.com] ...interesting how Facebook says it is a 3 step process (that doesn't work, and requires *#&%^ Javascript) and the wikihow page says it is an 8-step process that involves finding the person on _your_ FRIENDS list. Not easy to find the FRIENDS list, even on your own page. Turns out it is under "Edit your profile". Bring up my SO's list of friends. Un-frigging-sorted! Can you believe that?! Captain A-hole is not there. Walk away furious...]

Last word from me on the subject, for today: Facebook needs to shrivel up and die.

Weird... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43489981)

I cant imagine giving a fuck how much power facebook uses...

Tagged "whocares" (2)

philip.paradis (2580427) | about a year ago | (#43490179)

I take an extremely accepting view of what might qualify as "news for nerds," but this absolutely fails the "stuff that matters" test. Honestly, who the hell cares about this? It's a cheap stunt, and nothing more.

Re:Tagged "whocares" (2)

Kawahee (901497) | about a year ago | (#43490195)

I take an extremely accepting view of what might qualify as "news for nerds," but this absolutely fails the "stuff that matters" test.

As some other commentator noted, those phrases appear to be being removed from the Slashdot site. Hit CTRL+F and try and find them.

Re:Tagged "whocares" (1)

philip.paradis (2580427) | about a year ago | (#43490321)

Fair enough. I suppose I've just become so accustomed to the presence of those words (since about 2000 I guess) that I missed their absence. I'll continue to lower my expectations accordingly.

Re:Tagged "whocares" (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#43490333)

I heard from a recent Dice meeting that the proposed new slogan is "random shit 4 u, yo".

Re:Tagged "whocares" (1)

l_bratch (865693) | about a year ago | (#43490565)

The text persists in the head within a link title:

<link rel="top" title="News for nerds, stuff that matters" href="//slashdot.org/" >

But it does indeed seem to be gone from any normally viewable place, sadly.

Re:Tagged "whocares" (1)

eastlight_jim (1070084) | about a year ago | (#43492833)

It's also still there in the title tags:

  <title>Slashdot: News for nerds, stuff that matters</title>

However, since many browsers, especially those on Windows, dropped the title bar for more viewable screen area, it's often not shown. It does flash up for a few hundred milliseconds in the tab text in FF on Windows but is rapidly replaced with "Slashdot".

Re:Tagged "whocares" (1)

l_bratch (865693) | about a year ago | (#43493891)

You're quite right. I was only looking in the HTML for this thread, but it's still in the title for the the main homepage.

So timely! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43490185)

I, for one, was up ALL NIGHT worrying about how much power they were consuming, and how efficient they were. I was just getting ready to write my congressman about it. Facebook really anticipated my concern here! it's like they read my mind, or my email!

Uh oh.

Here's wondering... (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#43490319)

How much extra power is this going to use?

Here (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#43490325)

Two dashboards monitor the company's Prineville, Ore. (here [facebook.com] ) and Forest City, N.C. data centers (here [facebook.com] )

Why add a separate word "here" just for the link? That part could have been written like:

Two dashboards monitor the company's Prineville, Ore. [facebook.com] and Forest City, N.C. [facebook.com] data centers

Much neater.

Doesn't show power consumption (3, Informative)

gnu-sucks (561404) | about a year ago | (#43490341)

This doesn't show power consumption. It only shows ratios that are considered a sort of measure of efficiency.

It's like showing "miles per gallon" instead of "gallons used". In the case of facebook, they may be driving at 40 MPG, but they drive a million miles a day and that's a lot of fuel!

U.K. National Grid Status (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | about a year ago | (#43490493)

Bah! Just the power consumption of some uninteresting company, here is the real time power consumption of an entire country [templar.co.uk] .

Re:U.K. National Grid Status (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43491043)

Now that... is pretty fucking cool.

hey everyone in the uk.. go turn on the stove... lets see what we can make happen!

Terrible Visualization (2)

necro81 (917438) | about a year ago | (#43491941)

I wonder what Edward Tufte would have to say about these graphs. Instead of nice orderly graphs with a straightline X and Y axis, they implemented them as circular graphs, on polar axes, where amplitude is radial and time is angle. There is something to be said for "now" always being up at 12 o'clock. Then again, it might have been nice for the "now" to sweep across the face in time with the local hour. The appearance mimics the circular pen plots you might see on old temperature and humidity monitors.

On the other hand, they failed at one of the axioms of data presentation: they didn't provide scale for their axes. The human eye/brain isn't that good at judging radial amplitude, just like it isn't good at discerning logarithmic amplitude (which is why we have log plots: to linearize it). Down in the corner they mention that the circle represents the past 24 hours, but they aren't any graduations on the graph (e.g., 1-hour tick marks). Because the graph represents 24 hours instead of 12, our usual sense of time:angle from analog clocks is off by a factor of two. If you look at it long enough, you can work it out, but a good data representation shouldn't require that. If you hover over a particular measure (e.g., PUE), it'll hide the other traces (a nice touch, perhaps), and will show you the scale minimum and maximum. But, again, because it is a polar plot without gridlines, it's damn near impossible to read and figure out, say, what the PUE was 5 hours ago.

Oh, but wait, they added a cursor, so that you can roll it back to a certain time and get the values. How very clever! I'll bet the 20-year old intern that implemented that got an awesome pat on the back and course credit for industrial design. But it doesn't negate the fact that a good data visualization should be self-evident: you look at it and immediate see what's going on. You shouldn't need to "query" the graph by interacting with it; it should stand alone.

Would an ordinary X-Y plot, with gridlines, really have been that difficult, or cramped their precious design that much?

Re:Terrible Visualization (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43492867)

blah blah blah. it's a really cool graph methinks.
also on a x-y graph it would be very convenient to move cursor to a spot to see the exact values, duh.
what however, would maybe have been even more "logical" is if the top would always be 12 o'clock, but that means
you only see last 12 hours; not more hours can fit : P
anyways nice graph!
i guess, somethings you have to LEARN to understand, maybe?

Re:Terrible Visualization (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about a year ago | (#43494283)

Actually, I thought it was quite clever.

You must be a senior, or at least act like you're a senior because you can't stand anything thats different.

It took me about 3.2 seconds to understand how it works.

Re:Terrible Visualization (1)

Cramer (69040) | about a year ago | (#43495377)

I guess you've never seen a chart recorder? There was one on the wall in the lab where I worked (many a year ago) at NCSU -- used to be a thermal test lab. We also had them all over the place in the hatchery my grandparents ran (many decades ago.) The rotating chart is a very efficient means of recording one or more readings continuously without using a huge roll of paper.

(google "temperature chart recorder")

Re:Terrible Visualization (1)

necro81 (917438) | about a year ago | (#43496025)

The rotating chart is a very efficient means of recording one or more readings continuously without using a huge roll of paper

I am familiar with those (see the last sentence of my first paragraph). Yes, they are efficient in terms of the resulting record (a disc of paper with lots of data on it) and the mechanism (a pair of motors), but few would claim they are all that good in terms of readability. And, I'll note, they all have gridlines printed on them, so that you can actually read the data afterwards. For a dashboard such as Facebook is trying to implement, you don't have those same constraints: you can produce a very readable display just as easily as a crap one.

Re:Terrible Visualization (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43505475)

I wonder what Edward Tufte would have to say about these graphs. Instead of nice orderly graphs with a straightline X and Y axis, they implemented them as circular graphs, on polar axes, where amplitude is radial and time is angle. There is something to be said for "now" always being up at 12 o'clock. Then again, it might have been nice for the "now" to sweep across the face in time with the local hour. The appearance mimics the circular pen plots you might see on old temperature and humidity monitors.

On the other hand, they failed at one of the axioms of data presentation: they didn't provide scale for their axes. The human eye/brain isn't that good at judging radial amplitude, just like it isn't good at discerning logarithmic amplitude (which is why we have log plots: to linearize it). Down in the corner they mention that the circle represents the past 24 hours, but they aren't any graduations on the graph (e.g., 1-hour tick marks). Because the graph represents 24 hours instead of 12, our usual sense of time:angle from analog clocks is off by a factor of two. If you look at it long enough, you can work it out, but a good data representation shouldn't require that. If you hover over a particular measure (e.g., PUE), it'll hide the other traces (a nice touch, perhaps), and will show you the scale minimum and maximum. But, again, because it is a polar plot without gridlines, it's damn near impossible to read and figure out, say, what the PUE was 5 hours ago.

Oh, but wait, they added a cursor, so that you can roll it back to a certain time and get the values. How very clever! I'll bet the 20-year old intern that implemented that got an awesome pat on the back and course credit for industrial design. But it doesn't negate the fact that a good data visualization should be self-evident: you look at it and immediate see what's going on. You shouldn't need to "query" the graph by interacting with it; it should stand alone.

Would an ordinary X-Y plot, with gridlines, really have been that difficult, or cramped their precious design that much?

Bravo, you said exactly what I was thinking. This visualization is awful. But hey, if it looks cute, who cares how hard it is to interrogate the data or understand it?

Huge companies can be just at bad at visualisation as small ones, it seems. Shame.

They have more than 2 datacenters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43493987)

Facebook also has (or had, as of May 2012) a large presence in a datacenter owned by BAIS [bayarea.net] , located at the border of Sunnyvale/Santa Clara, called "SC2". It's a fantastic datacenter [bayarea.net] , to be honest: I used to rent 24U of rack of space (secured cage, not shared rack) + bandwidth (3.0mbit 95th-percentile) + power for about US$750/month, plus insurance costs (around US$500/year). Most of the expense was the physical rack space.

Let me be clear: the datacenter is amazing, is engineered Mostly Right(tm), and is very large (83,000 square feet) when compared to their previous DC (called "SC1", which consisted of the classic chicken-wire-esque fencing model, crappy AC (floor blowers were brought in but couldn't solve the situation) and tons upon tons of customers who did crap like this [postimg.org] . Those idiot customers were "siphoned out" as a result of the SC2 migration (given new requirements/etc.) and I was honestly glad to see those customers go. There were a few in SC2 who continued to operate like this (devices/wiring literally being crammed into a secure cage, to the point where it blocked 90% of airflow), but no where near the number as in SC1).

At a networking level the services offered were done "mostly" right (there were a couple router or switch failures during the years I was there, where redundancy kicking in required manual intervention -- Tom Wye (CEO) would always respond personally in Email about such incidents, which was positive), though I imagine Facebook's network was separate from the BAIS network. My point is that the DC as a whole was done really, really well.

So when I say "large presence", what do I mean? Quite literally: half the datacenter (41,500 sqft) was just for Facebook, and that half was cordoned off (extra set of fencing and separate badge readers) too.

How did I know it's Facebook? Because there were multiple (not a couple, but 5 or 6) gigantic Facebook banners/stickers/labels all over the equipment, visible from behind the fencing, and because I ran into other customers who seemed to know that fact (conversations implied they knew people who worked at Facebook, who recommended BAIS, and that's why they themselves were getting rack space there).

The downside to Facebook owning half the DC is that BAIS stopped caring as much about smaller customers, since half their revenue was coming from Facebook. This manifested itself negatively in a couple of different ways, which I can itemize if people are interested in knowing. The short version is that very selective rules were applied to only the "smaller" customers, while the big boy a thousand feet away wasn't given the same degree of scrutiny, including being allowed to violate "hazardous material" requirements for several months (possibly indefinitely).

I have no idea what Facebook does at SC2, but given its size, I'm surprised it wasn't mentioned. No, it's not a full-fledged ground-up facility like the one at Prineville or Google's The Dalles datacenter, but it's worth pointing out that it's a good size and still located in Silicon Valley.

I agree with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43497789)

Facebook just made confortable our life.
alarmas [slashdot.org]

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