Friday, April 01, 2016

Speed is relative

During Boulder's recent heavy snow storms, I worked at home.  I work with geophysical data sets, which can be large.

My home connection speed seemed soooo sluggish so I ran speed tests with a few websites.  The results were all similar.
50 Mbps down and 6 Mbps up is a fast home connection speed.
According to Geeksquad, this is about as fast as you can expect at a residence. Why did it seem so slow?

I reran the tests at work.

1 Gbps up or down!

I know now why 50 Mbps seems slow.  ;-)

Speed is relative.

Happy belated April Fools' Day.

This was my favorite 2016 April Fools' prank, but it's actually deadly serious.

Desert tortoise militia occupies Bundy Ranch: Endangered reptiles stage heavily armored takeover of cattleman’s property.


Do you remember the pre-internet days?  When only a few non-military (ARPANET & MILNET) sites in the country were networked together through NSFNET?  56 Kbps was blazing fast, and you had to sit at one of 6 supercomputing centers to get that.
The network expanded and so did bandwidth in 1991.  Palo Alto was an upstart compared to Boulder.

NSF decided to allow anyone who wanted a connection to hook up to their network through NCAR.  (This was before the internet and ISPs.)  Boulder might have become a tech hub anyway, but this decision certainly accelerated that development.

The network was reconfigured with even faster speeds in 1992.  Notice that the major nodes were moved to population centers, with spurs to universities and national labs.

Weather data was one of the original Big Data use cases. And we need a pretty fat pipe to push data out to the world.

Working at home, on a standard connection, is a pretty humbling reality check. I need to experience what users outside of major universities and national labs experience.

I have helped climate researchers in Madagascar and east Africa, who work within the constraints of very slow network connection speeds outside their local regions. I've also helped researchers studying pollution in countries where questioning the effects of development puts them in personal peril. They are my heroes.

Who are your heroes?

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