OpinionIt surprises you that if one more subsea cable breaks, there will be a near-total blackout of internet services to the middle east, also seriously affecting much of Asia. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7792688.stm)
      – George, 2008-12-22 at 01:10:12   (9 comments)

On 2008-12-22 at 01:12:35, George wrote...
It seems that all four cables that provide internet connections to a large area of the world are administered by the same company, and are located right next to each other. Three of them are currently broken. Back in the 1960's wasn't one of the original aims of the network that became the internet to avoid the possibility of this sort of problem?
On 2008-12-22 at 03:28:39, BorgClown wrote...
Continentally the Internet stability is good, the problem is connecting across sea. It's expensive, be it by cable, radio or satellite, so the telecoms have to introduce a few points of failure in order to reduce costs. I wonder if they can access the local sites at full speed.
On 2008-12-22 at 10:49:31, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Fundamentally the Internet routing can handle disruptions, e.g. in time of war, but even in the UK all connections go through a central backbone to London. The exchange there - https://www.linx.net - says that it handles 365 Gb/s... a couple of years ago one of the network switches caught fire and caused major disruption. Whenever you have commercial interests in charge of infrastructure you'll find that they do it in the simplest way - putting all eggs in one basket. The same is true of local power generation, where companies are only interested in what makes a profit, and the government will only be interested when enough people do it to be worth taxing.
On 2008-12-22 at 17:58:25, BorgClown wrote...
The power grid is a great example of fault tolerance, despite having many weak links: it allows rerouting, it can handle peaks and lows and loss of fluid along the way. The fire trial of the power grid are those ridiculous days when entire countries switch off their lights only to switch them all on shortly after.
On 2008-12-22 at 18:03:12, Lee J Haywood wrote...
That's nothing compared with the regular switching on of kettles during commercial breaks in the most popular soap operas - which I'd guess have a bigger audience than the total number of people switching off for Earth Hour.
On 2008-12-22 at 18:06:25, BorgClown wrote...
I start talking about the reliability of the power grid, and the lights start flickering. Resistentialism.
On 2008-12-22 at 18:08:40, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Right, but what about when the east coast of the US goes out? It's not really all that reliable - one plant goes down and it sets off a chain of failures.
On 2008-12-22 at 22:30:02, BorgClown wrote...
That was a power grid fail. IIRC, one of the weak links was the software of one of the power plants (if not all of the involved ones). Years ago I used to think that software can't kill people, but it does.
On 2008-12-24 at 14:57:57, Lee J Haywood wrote...
I'm just watching Aftermath: Population Zero and they make the bold claim that the electricity grid would begin to shut itself down after only 6 hours without human intervention. It's certainly true that the grid relies on constant maintenance and supply. The Northeast blackout in 2003 had multiple causes, apparently including overgrown trees, but the control and monitoring of the system is done by people - the automated systems are there partly to assist them but mainly to shut things down to prevent damage.