While looking around on Digg this afternoon I found a neat application called Packet Garden. The applications builds a world that has plants and terrestrial formations on it. These represent the network traffic of your computer. Different colored plants represent different types of applications that access the network. For example instant messaging and VoIP programs will create a light blue flower while surfing the web will make a normal green colored plant.
You can create a world each day, every 5 minutes, every month, etc…I think it would be interesting to look at and compare worlds daily. Just to see how much data you’re moving from your computer out through the network, and to see the different types of data in this unusual visual display!
After you make an initial world you can view it and stats about it. If you have multiple worlds you can change between the two to see their stats. Double clicking on the world will bring you into a larger view of the world where you can see the plants and their types and the IP addresses connected to them. You can navigate through the world.
The stats your see when viewing the world outside of full-screen mode are the amount of computers you’ve connected with (both upload and download), the number of times you’ve securely exchanged data with another computer, the amount of mail you’ve sent or received, the number of computers you’ve shared files with, the numbers of games you’ve played online (it seems Unreal and Quake 4 are the only supported games right now), the amount of computers you’ve sent or received instant messages with, and the countries you’ve visited.
I noticed I had a crater in my world, not sure if that’s good or not. 99% of my plants were also pink which has to be false. I tried viewing all my open sockets to see if they were using this ‘Mule’ protocol but nothing came up so I assumed the program needed some work. Of course this program is in the beta stage so it was to be expected to have some bugs and issues.
You will need to download and install Python (link is available on application’s website) to use this program. I also recommend a decent computer because it really makes use of the processor and graphics card when rendering your “world”.’
Download a copy of Packet Garden here!