The year that was 2015.

2015, like 2014, was a stable year.

I’ve been at Yahoo for over two years. I’ve been living not just in San Francisco, but in the same apartment, for over three. I’ve been working for bay area companies for almost four. This stability for so long makes me fidget.

A lack of travel early in the year exacerbated that feeling: travel was especially light at the start of the year. I had the shortest trip to LA in January, and made it until May until I had (had) to book a last minute nine-day trip to Mexico City. I might go back; the set of reachable, cost-effective destinations from SFO that work as a vacation for me (usually: big cities, culturally removed from my norm) is alarmingly small.

Starting August, I squeezed London (for SIGCOMM and a visa renewal, a short break to Montreal, then finally Tokyo then Yokohama for IMC then RAIM and IETF 94 respectively in November. Upcoming travel? This year I’ve already passed through Portland, and I have another mini trip to Seattle planned. As for later in the year though? I’m not sure. IETF 96 is in Berlin, and SIGCOMM is in Salvador, Brazil (though I’m considering switching it out of my rota), and IMC is in the least exciting of the set so far, Santa Monica.

On running: I logged 1,072km in 2015 (a reasonable 666 miles, if you’re into US measures). Two big things contributed to that total: first, being stationary at the start of the year gave me time to run; second, I set myself the challenge of running a marathon. On the way toward that, I completed Bay to Breakers again, beating last year’s time by 4 minutes 41 seconds. My weekends were then spent gradually working up to distances over 30km in prep for the full 42km effort and, in the end, I came in with a reasonable time of 4 hours, 10 minutes, 23 seconds. I had quietly hoped for a sub-4-hour effort, but this was good by me. Odds of running another marathon any time soon? Slim to none. But I plan to at least run Bay to Breakers again this year, and certainly complete a half marathon race. I’m also planning to ease into cycling after about a decade of regular running, and I’m reading everything about bikes at the moment.

So, 2016, and what it’ll offer, is a bit of a mystery even to me. I have a feeling I’ll have to shake something loose, change something up. What that turns out to be might only be visible in hindsight. Let’s see, shall we?

IPv4 Occupancy, May 2015

Following on from last year’s post on how much of the IPv4 space is advertised in BGP now, an update for 2015.

This time around, I’ve pulled more data; rather than one table per year, I’ve used one table per month. Otherwise, I’m calculating space in the same way as last year: pulling out the prefixes advertised over BGP, counting how many unique addresses are advertised, and tying them to either a RIR or an outright legacy allocation. I’m using the same RIR allocations as last year which is almost completely accurate. Good enough for here, and for comparison.

As before, the way the address space is carved up means there’s a potential maximum of around 3.7 billion IPv4 addresses available. Occupancy as of May 31st 2015 looks like:

RIR /8s available /8s advertised /8s free % advertised delta% 2014
ARIN 79.67 56.93 22.74 71.16% +1.94%
APNIC 51.00 43.63 7.37 85.56% +2.03%
RIPE NCC 39 35.59 3.41 91.25% +0.42%
LACNIC 10 9.30 0.70 93.00% +3.29%
AfriNIC 6 3.46 2.54 57.79% +4.95%
Legacy 35 15.95 19.05 45.59% +3.65%
Total 220.67 164.87 55.80 74.71% +2.21%

That 2.21% increase in advertised space is approximately equivalent to five additional /8s being introduced in the last year, and it’s pretty close to the same rate of change we’ve seen since the middle of 2011 when APNIC started to level out.

Here’s the time series of the actual space advertised by total and by region:

absolute growth of RIR space between May 2002 and May 2015

Here’s the time series of the proportion of space advertised by total, and by region:

relative growth of RIR space between May 2002 and May 2015

For these, I’ve filtered some obviously-bad advertisements; the sort that are probably RIRs checking space prior to putting it into their pool.

There’s a lot these images don’t show: I’m missing a lot of detail in those legacy blocks that might now be better allocated to RIRs. I’m not saying anything about how many of these addresses are or are not being advertised from the same source as previous samples. But really, the basic question I want to answer is: how much space is in use, and where.

What’s interesting is how advertisements in the APNIC region have been less aggressive since around the point APNIC ran out of space to allocate freely, and started rationing allocations. Advertisements in Europe have also been pretty stationary since RIPE ran out in 2012. Same deal with LACNIC space. The suggestion in each case is that addresses are allocated by a RIR and are almost immediately put into use.

I’m curious about who’s hanging onto space and not using it, or if it’s just gone missing; there’ll be address space that folks have forgotten about, possibly as companies have been merged or acquired. Even so, 90%+ in the RIPE and LACNIC regions is extremely full.

ARIN still has a ton of space not in use, and as I write, they’re listing 0.00978 aggregate /8s available to distribute from the last of their rationed space. Given they were at 0.7 only three days ago, I imagine there’ll be an announcement in the next day or two that they’re out.

Once the RIRs run out of free space to allocate, they’ll be able to issue space only from space returned to them or by managing transfers. I’d imagine that the removal of the top of the food chain will encourage the nascent v4 address market; one less supply source as demand continues to increase.

There’ll be enough spare in that address space to shake out for a while yet: fragmenting of larger blocks into /24s as companies put up real money just to buy space and stay connected to the old network will see us through for a time, but it won’t be cheap or pretty. IPv6 growth is still increasing rapidly, but I’m still not willing to guess which year we’ll see advertised IPv4 space start to go back down.

Who wins?

I sat up and watched the UK general election last night. That’s easy when you sit 8 hours behind the UK. In fact, leisurely compared to coffee or whisky fuelled all-nighters.

There were two big takeaways, one surprising and one not: the Conservative party mustered an outright seat majority (surprising, if you follow the polls), and the Scottish National Party almost took all of the Scottish seats (not surprising, if you follow the polls).

The map looks different. But the map always looks weird because population density isn’t uniform. Let’s look at the numbers. I trawled numbers back to the 70s because the franchise hasn’t changed significantly since that election. Here’s the UK pattern, showing the share of the votes (upper plot) and the share of the seats (lower plot):

I’ve stuck the SNP in here because they’re a current feature of last night’s outcome and attracting a lot of attention right now. I’ll focus on them in a bit.

A primer: the electoral system is simple. In a UK general election, people vote in their constituency to elect their member of parliament (MP) who they think will best represent their interests. Candidates can be independent, but usually represent a party. Constituencies are won on a first-past-the-post, a.k.a. winner takes all, basis, and the party blocs that form then go on to form a government. Being constituency based, it’s an inherently local way to determine national government. Because constituency winners take everything, the system has no real notion of a broader proportional representation in the final seat distribution. Local, rather than global, optimisation on the selection process.

So. Going back to the 70s, none of the parties attain a majority of the popular vote in any of these elections, but their seat share almost always produces a majority. The two largest parties, combined, squeezed only around two thirds of the vote in 2005, 2010, and 2015. This time around, the Conservatives have squeezed a majority seat share just over the line, much like Major in ‘92. The Lib Dems have consistently polled well, and have never taken as many seats as their vote would imply. It’s as non-proportional as we all know it is. The “feature” of the process, in the eyes of some, is that it produces “strong government”, which is kind of a pain if you’re in the majority that didn’t vote for the current party. And there’s always a majority that didn’t vote for the current party.

Looking specifically at the disparity between vote share and seat share:

What these plots show is quite simple: %-seats minus %-vote, as an indication of how far from proportional the seat distribution is for each party. A positive value indicates the number of seats is higher than the vote, and vice-versa for a negative value.

It’s pretty clear that Labour wins out of this system, every single time. Even last night, where the consensus is that they had a terrible night. The Conservatives win out of this system most of the time. The success of these two parties under this system is, usually, to the detriment of the other parties. The Lib Dems lose, every time. The SNP have finally won out from this setup.

Each of the 650 constituencies represents, approximately, the same number of people. In aggregate that gives Scotland 59 of the current 650 seats, or a 9% seat share. Looking at those seats over the same time period:

From 1970 and until last night, no party attained a majority of the vote. The SNP managed to grab one across the Scottish seats last night. For clarity: the SNP only run in Scottish seats, so they don’t poll at all elsewhere.

Traditionally Labour have polled consistently well. But post-referendum and post-coalition, the table has been flipped. It’s led to a very different vote share and, because it’s not a proportional system, an extremely different seat distribution: only three seats aren’t SNP, one each for the three other parties shown.

The way the electoral system behaves means the difference between vote share and seat share in Scotland is pretty dramatic:

Labour, again, have almost always won out of this system, and by very clear margins. And they’ve lost the most heavily. The Conservatives have the same number of seats as 2010, largely due to the overwhelming dominance of the Labour party. This time around it’s the dominance of the SNP.

Commentators during the count were pretty fixated on the SNP surge, but because the SNP only fields candidates in Scotland it’s worth bearing that first plot in mind. It’s still a parliament filled with Conservatives and Labour and while the Conservatives didn’t gain any seats in Scotland, they managed to soak up Lib Dem seats elsewhere. And while attention is being paid to the SNP result, the Conservatives are also the party least interested in electoral reform. That’ll be hard for them if they feel compelled to react but, given they have an overall majority, they could actually do whatever they like, including ignore the result. A more proportional voting system would see the SNP take approximately half the seats they took last night, but would have cut the Conservatives to around 240, and handed UKIP over 80 seats. (Assuming the voting patterns don’t change, which is a bad assumption.) In this sense, perhaps the Conservatives aren’t interested in committing electoral suicide. I guess the broader question is whether Cameron is equipped to handle the UK’s political landscape, or whether he cares.


Posted by Stephen Strowes on . You can follow me, @sdstrowes, on twitter.

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