random thoughts to oil the mind

Month: September 2009

Dick Dastardly’s DSL

Interesting little snippet about the current state of South African Internet services. Designed simply to show up the state of South Africa’s Internet options, the test pitted a pigeon against a connection delivered by their largest provider. The pigeon managed to deliver 4GB of data 60 miles in little over an hour, and it took the company another hour to upload the data (one can only assume they were for some reason using an old USB 1.o/1.1 connection). In this time, just 4% of the data had been transferred via ADSL. Humbling though this message might be, I really wonder if services in the UK would fare much better? At a rough estimate, in the total amount of time it took the pigeon, my own connection might have managed around 5% of the total. The average business connection would probably have achieved twice that, but either way, the pigeon method wins hands down. Having said that, I don’t think we’ll be seeing any alternative pigeon networks set up in the UK just yet. ‘Packet loss’ due to hawk attacks would be monumental.

[Via African Politics Portal]

Update 5th October, 2010: Twelve months after this little stunt in South Africa, a similar experiment was repeated in rural Yorkshire. This time 24% of a 300MB video clip had been uploaded by the time the pigeons had covered the 75 miles to Skegness.

Open Source Bridges


Bridge solutions

Many of us have found ourselves in this position. Your business or group make use of an online system, such as a forum, wiki, blog etc., which you then wish to augment or combine with some other system. How you go about doing that, of course, depends entirely on your goals and the systems you’re trying to use together. Design and styling are usually the least of those worries.

The problem which consistently presents itself when attempting such a combination is what to do with the userbase. Whilst this issue can sometimes be simply ignored, in the hope that only a small number of the users of one system will need access to the second, this isn’t always the case. When it comes to one userbase requiring access to two or more systems, the first question that needs to be answered is whether the user information should be shared, enabling a unified login procedure amongst other benefits. Requiring users to sign up to various different pieces of the puzzle is a time-consuming process, and one that many will find confusing and unnecessary. And since different online systems often have conflicting requirements when it comes to usernames and passwords, for example, this can also lead to more lost password checks and work for the system administrator. However, programming such functionality oneself certainly isn’t within the realms of the abilities of all of us, and keeping such modifications functioning across various systems and versions can be a painful procedure.

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