On Saturday, a ship waiting to enter the Kenyan port city of Mombasa wandered into a restricted area and dropped its anchor, inadvertently severing a major undersea Internet and phone link to East Africa. This kind of thing happens from time to time, but Saturday's incident represents a particular stroke of bad timing. The cable severed was already overworked, rerouting data from three other cables that were accidentally severed a week prior in the Red Sea. All said, these fiber-optic channels are the backbone of East Africa's telecommunications infrastructure. Now one single undersea fiber-optic link is left to carry the entire load for all of East Africa, slowing internet connections in Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and South Sudan by 20 percent until repairs are made, a process that could take weeks.
Before plugging into the high-capacity subsea fiber optic network three years ago, most Internet traffic in East Africa moved through expensive satellite connections or painfully slow telephone lines. Since then economies in the region have come to rely on their increased connectivity, so this weekend's incident comes dangerously close to spelling a small economic disaster. It also raises a larger question: Why, when global economies and day-to-day life are so reliant on access to the Internet, are we still relying on these seemingly vulnerable undersea cables, these accident-prone physical "tubes" connecting continents across the oceans? Why, in a world that's increasingly wireless, are we still so wired? Isn't there a better way to connect the globe?
By Stewart WolpinPosted 02.23.2012 at 11:20 am 7 Comments
In late 2010, Verizon rolled out its 4G LTE network, which offers data speeds 10 times as fast as 3G networks. But as mobile data traffic continues to grow—experts anticipate that it will increase 26-fold in the next three years—it's unlikely that any network will be able to keep up. Fortunately, something else is set to happen over the next three years: Wi-Fi could become as ubiquitous and easy to access as cellular is now.
There’s more than one way to stick it to The Man. There’s civil disobedience, subversive propaganda, political art, outright violent revolt--each possessing its own degree of difficulty and consequence. In a decidedly 21st-century twist, team of German hackers bent on fighting the powers that be has chosen a rather ambitious means of taking the power back: building a hacker-owned and -operated space program, complete with a constellation of communications satellites beaming uncensored Internet to users on the ground.
OnLive has been around for a little while now, but it's no less improbable than it was when it was announced (at which time some gaming blogs called it a technically impossible scam): a service that streams full games, from major publishers, right to your TV or computer, no console necessary. This week, the company will release mobile apps for smartphones and tablets.
Do we really gain anything from the ceaseless profusion of data?
By Lawrence WeschlerPosted 11.04.2011 at 4:57 pm 11 Comments
I should perhaps begin by saying that I am as big a fan of the Net and the Web and the whole expanding “information universe” as anyone you are likely to meet. I find myself online all the time, mining for data, merrily skipping from one site to the next, passing the time of day after day (and night after night) in scattershot dalliances (sampling this and sampling that in a virtual delirium of free association), deploying my trove of finds in ever more elaborate collages of discovery (or is it recovery?) of my own. And yet... and yet...
Within the vast, undifferentiated torrent of data that courses through the Internet, there hides an intricate topology of information. Decision makers with millions of dollars on the line need a much more detailed map of that information texture than mass-market engines like Google can provide. For bespoke, targeted data curation, corporations and governments turn to a young company called Quid to find hidden connections in the maelstrom of data that can make fortunes or save lives.
This morning the news came over the internet: Dennis Ritchie has died.
Dr. Ritchie doesn't have the mainstream adoring following of Steve Jobs, but he can take considerably more credit for the creation, and even the aesthetics, of the computer world we live in. It's almost impossible to find a personal computing product or paradigm that doesn't owe a direct debt to Ritchie.
Just as they promised almost a year ago, Google, in partnership with the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, has photographed the Dead Sea Scrolls for the first time since the 1950s, and made them available online for those who can't make the trek to see them in person.
The options for streaming music over the Internet have increased so dramatically lately that I’ve found my FM radio has become totally irrelevant. Still, I like to be able to listen to a lot of different types of music throughout the day, and I love radios too much to give up on them completely. Now that several music services, such as Last.fm, have released their programming interfaces to the public, I decided to build a custom Wi-Fi radio that can stream my favorite stations and ensure that I’ll always hear music I like.
By Lucas PollockPosted 07.30.2011 at 3:04 pm 0 Comments
When Jacob Appelbaum spoke at a workshop for Arab bloggers in Beirut in 2009, he knew his audience would pay special attention. The 26-year-old American programmer had spent the previous year in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Tunisia and Hong Kong training communities and activists how to use an increasingly popular program called Tor to evade government attempts to track their movements online.