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Sunday, 25 September 2011

Look to the stars....

Not too long ago, I retweeted some info about the comparison of time it takes to send a data transmission off-planet or back to earth vs what us non-NASA humans have to put up with from telcos on planet earth. Then, coincidentally, there was a film on this evening that showed the moon landing during the opening credits and I remembered being dragged next door - we didn't have a TV till I was in my teens - and then the garden, to comprehend a) the TV and b) who was walking where that night. I was, as I recall, more impressed by the red and gold furry flock wallpaper than the box in the corner or the moon.....

This blog post can be read at

It seems NASA have reached the limits of their data technology as it now takes 90 mins to send an HD photo from Mars to Earth. Obviously, my heart bleeds for them as it took me all weekend to send a few non HD photos to Flickr after Fibrewalk and as for being able to upload a video - Pah!

So, they are upping the ante.

However, maybe this is a lesson we can share with those who need to comprehend why higher capacity Internet is required. When my grandparents were born and started work at 14, there were few cars around, no tractors, and definitely no computers. For many, getting to market was an arduous task that did not involve Chelsea Tractors or the luxury of private travel. Working from home meant taking in menial sewing tasks and ironing. (Men could not work from home, as I recall from both my grandmothers, and had to be seen to be out there: earning, or fighting.)

NASA is going for 10Gbps between earth and a distant planet because that is what is required to do its job. Whilst you or I may not feel entitled to such speeds, the reality is that 10Gbps is feasible today on earth. To anyone. It's just that the telcos don't want to offer it or invest in it.

Far be it for me to once again suggest that our telcos are preventing each of us of achieving our dreams of becoming astronauts (or interior designers with aspirations for expensive wall paper, or...or....or.....), but whatever NASA (think bigger: science, R&D, research, academia etc) does, inevitably works its way back into our lives.

I'm sure Velcro was treated with the same "You'll never need it, no-one will ever use it" etc approach that gigabit broadband for the masses is now.......................Meanwhile, I don't feel that reaching for the stars for community and rural broadband is any less attainable than a furry, 3D wallpaper.

P.S. My next door neighbour was, and remains, one of the best lace designers in Europe. Nottingham has almost completely lost the distinction it previously held for the manufacture of lace, and the trade has been altered hugely from my childhood where colouring in her patterns was the highlight of every single day. Altair and every other colouring book had nothing on being part of Nottingham's lace industry 'waste' that I, as the only girl in the street, had full and unfettered access to with my crayons.

So, next time you buy lingerie or a lace tablecloth, look at the lace and see it as I do! An absolutely integral part of my childhood. What made you who you are? What are your childhood dreams? How will *you* reach the stars?


PhilT said...

I really don't understand this uploading photos thing - the cheapest option broadband most people choose uploads at 40 kbytes/s so that's a 4MB photo in 100 seconds. 30 photos an hour - hardly "all weekend to upload a few photos"

My phone uploads all the photos it takes to Google+ in the background without an issue.

Cybersavvy UK said...

@philT my connection isn't stable enough, as you know, to do more than a few at a time. And quite often, the connection drops out entirely and the router etc needs to be rebooted before connection is restored. However, sometimes I have to wait for the gnomes in the exchange to realign their pickaxes or whatever they do to get a DSL connection again.

I have never successfully uploaded a batch of 30 photos in one hour and only risk 5-10 at a time now as I generally need to repeat the process multiple times if I go over that.

That is the problem and why it is so time-consuming - which is as much about quality of connection as it is about speed of connection. However, not having to spend a weekend uploading a mere 150 photos would make a huge difference to me and thousands like me.

And as for uploading them to Google+ - never tried before now as it was a field trial until this week!

Anonymous said...

The above comments demonstrate the difference between theoretical (e.g. perhaps marketing speak) and practical reality of the technology design, it's actual implementation and the commercial and regulatory arrangements together with actual operational staff involved.

You only have to look at the machinations of the hideous mess that Bald Eagle finds himself in at,9726.0.html

to realise some of the difficulties supposedly co-operating ISP, the wholesale supplier with their equipment running over questionable communications paths operated by the "independent maintainer" actually produce.

As another practical example, I'm compiling a set of performance data from known FTTC services across the UK that I'm aware of. Starting with 4 local FTTC examples there are quite wide variations and, by design, none of them can achieve the marketing figure of 40 Mbps. The figures are in pairs starting with the estimated line distance and the bRAS figure obtained, which in itself will never be achieved in throughput speeds.

150 m 38,717 Kbps (underground)
200 m 26,907 Kbps (overhead)
800 m 24,376 Kbps
1000 m 18,650 Kbps

PhilT said...

Last Connect:
2011-09-25 20:18:22

so >12 hours overnight without dropping, if you enabled WAN ping I could monitor it a bit more.

Sounds like you need a better upload technology if failing on the 30th photo means redoing all 30 ?