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The Men Who Fix the Internet

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the physical-side-of-things dept.

The Internet 162

An anonymous reader writes "Remember all those undersea cables breaking? PopSci.com introduces John Rennie, who '... has braved the towering waves of the North Atlantic Ocean to keep your e-mail coming to you. As chief submersible engineer aboard the Wave Sentinel, part of the fleet operated by UK-based undersea installation and maintenance firm Global Marine Systems, Rennie — a congenial, 6'4", 57-year-old Scotsman — patrols the seas, dispatching a remotely operated submarine deep below the surface to repair undersea cables.' The article goes on to outline the physical infrastructure of the Internet, including some of its points of vulnerability."

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162 comments

Are you sure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27221163)

How do we know its not actually the women?

Re:Are you sure? (2, Interesting)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221337)

On the internets?

Re:Are you sure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27221341)

What are you? Some kind of feminist?

Re:Are you sure? (1)

davidphogan74 (623610) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221443)

We know it's mammals, at least. Or we can hope...

Re:Are you sure? (2, Funny)

Brickwall (985910) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221765)

Nope, it's sharks - sharks I tell you! With frickin' lasers on their heads.

Nah... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27221167)

Can't be... FP?

Gnaa forever.

Next time they sever their own fibers, (1, Funny)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221173)

I suggest we leave them that way. It will reduce spam, and make Dell hire locally for their call centers.

Re:Next time they sever their own fibers, (0)

davidphogan74 (623610) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221457)

Yeah, they better stop flying in techs from overseas to fix my printers.

Er, wait. They use local techs.

Re:Next time they sever their own fibers, (0)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221945)

Dell techs fix your printers? Wouldn't a printer vendor be a better source?

He was too embarrassed to admit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27221989)

...That Dell techs fix his computer ...

Slashdotters ain't what they used to be.

Re:Next time they sever their own fibers, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27222149)

Dell is a printer vendor. Of course, their printers are pretty much just Lexmarks with a Dell label slapped on them...

Re:Next time they sever their own fibers, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27221505)

Yea, it'll also cut US customers off from The Pirate Bay. Which would suit the rest of the world fine, as the RIAA and MPAA would then once more have a captive market of idiots to sell their monotonous trash to at absurd prices, and leave the rest of us alone.

Re:Next time they sever their own fibers, (1)

tg123 (1409503) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222283)

I suggest we leave them that way. It will reduce spam, and make Dell hire locally for their call centers.

Please mod this last post up please there is insight here.

I would welcome being able to understand what the person on the other end is saying.

Catchy job title... (5, Funny)

Starteck81 (917280) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221199)

Grounds keeper Willie of the undersea cables, at your service.

Re:Catchy job title... (0)

Joebert (946227) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222499)

I'm guessing no Simpsons fans have mod points today.

I thought it was funny.

Re:Catchy job title... (2, Funny)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223007)

Bonjoooour, ya cable-cutting sea monkies!

Re:Catchy job title... (1)

sharperguy (1065162) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223107)

This sounds like a job for internet repair man... But how to change without revealing my secret identity?

Make the damn fisherman get driver's licenses (3, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221217)

The cables regularly fail. On any given day, somewhere in the world there is the nautical equivalent of a hit and run when a cable is torn by fishing nets or sliced by dragging anchors. If the mishap occurs in the Irish Sea, the North Sea or the North Atlantic, Rennie comes in to splice the break together.

WTF are people dragging anchors around for? I would presume (and could be entirely wrong, as usual) that shallow water cable runs wouldn't be located next to anchorages. Do these sea going vessels have to stop for lunch or something?

And why to we even allow fisherman to drag crap along the sea bottom? I thought industrial level trawling went out years ago?

Re:Make the damn fisherman get driver's licenses (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27221249)

First of all, there are a lot of stupid, and possibly drunk, sailors out there. second, this post is totally stupid in that the internet was designed to sustain damage, as such. So, why is this even a post on slashdot.....LAME.

Re:Make the damn fisherman get driver's licenses (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27221313)

Dragging an anchor isn't something you try to do. It's something that happens when the weather is more then the anchor can handle. Better to drag the anchor then to rip the anchor capstan off the boat. Funny how boats and cables both anchor near the shore ... you know, that place where people are.

Re:Make the damn fisherman get driver's licenses (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222529)

My local street directory shows the submarine cables. Apparently this information is omitted from sea charts.

Oh Wait... they probably just can't read.

Re:Make the damn fisherman get driver's licenses (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27221329)

You anchor down if it's stormy and you can't escape it. With strong currents or wind you might end up dragging the anchor. That's the only explanation I have.

Re:Make the damn fisherman get driver's licenses (5, Informative)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221605)

You anchor down if it's stormy and you can't escape it.

That's pretty much it. The last thing a skipper enjoys is to be pinned against a lee shore by a gale. If he can't get into the safety of deep water, dropping the hook is sometimes the only option. Sometimes, if his hook is too small or if its chain is too short for the wind/current load, it'll drag. It's not a fun situation to be in; I've been there.

Re:Make the damn fisherman get driver's licenses (1, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221719)

Yes, but. TFA seemed to indicate this was a rather common occurrence. So all of these commercial boats are losing their engines and being driven to shore routinely? Maybe somebody ought to be doing some preventative maintenance.

Re:Make the damn fisherman get driver's licenses (2, Informative)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222147)

preventative maintenance

For God's sake, it's preventive maintenance. Having served in the Navy, I can't count how many times I've seen this mistake.

To address the issue at hand, the maintenance is done properly in the vast majority of maritime cases. Shit still happens, as Mother Nature tends to get rather moody several times a year.

Re:Make the damn fisherman get driver's licenses (5, Informative)

Mr Tall (767172) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222461)

Don't be so harsh. In English it's "preventative" maintenance. I would guess in US English it's "preventive" (I didn't know that, so thanks)

Re:Make the damn fisherman get driver's licenses (3, Insightful)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222559)

Sorry about that; I've been known to be ignorant of regional variations from time to time. I suck :).

Re:Make the damn fisherman get driver's licenses (1)

ChameleonDave (1041178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222649)

Don't be so harsh. In English it's "preventative" maintenance. I would guess in US English it's "preventive" (I didn't know that, so thanks)

I don't think you're right. It's not regional. Both forms are present in standard English, and I bet both exist in the US too.

Re:Make the damn fisherman get driver's licenses (3, Informative)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222497)

O RLY ? [thefreedictionary.com]

Re:Make the damn fisherman get driver's licenses (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222545)

Differences between UK and US usage occasionally ensnare me. My bad :).

Re:Make the damn fisherman get driver's licenses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27223455)

well colour you humble.

Re:Make the damn fisherman get driver's licenses (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222851)

You think loosing an engine is bad? This is much worse: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcU4t6zRAKg [youtube.com]

Re:Make the damn fisherman get driver's licenses (4, Informative)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221817)

> Sometimes, if his hook is too small or if its chain is
> too short for the wind/current load, it'll drag

The interesting thing is that it's the weight of the chain that holds the anchor, not one of the flukes catching on something. A successful anchoring is when the anchor is on the bottom, in mud, and there are xx fathoms of chain piled up on top of it. Leastwise, 'twas so in my day.

Once we were getting underway for a dependent's cruise and the CO was on the bridge and shouted "let's go!" and clapped his hands. An alert bridge talker heard him, misunderstood, and dutifully relayed "let go!" to the foc'sle. So the anchor was dropped about 100 yards off the pier (at 4-5 knots) and fun times ensued. The CO handled it well and had the grace to make a sheepish announcement a few minutes later on the 1MC. Good times.

Re:Make the damn fisherman get driver's licenses (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222161)

That's a good story :). Howdy from a guy who served on an SSBN; I've got some good stories too, but I'd get in trouble with the Feds if I talked about them.

Re:Make the damn fisherman get driver's licenses (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27221563)

Did you never waatch Pirates of the Carribean? I seem to remember the equivalient of a hand-brake turn using anchor.

Perhaps they used an internet cable to stop

Re:Make the damn fisherman get driver's licenses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27222163)

Only used in the most dire of situations, it's the nautical equivalent of "hit the brakes, he'll fly right by!".

Re:Make the damn fisherman get driver's licenses (2, Interesting)

Goffee71 (628501) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222323)

This site - PPC1 covers in detail a new cable project linking Australia to Guam and explains a lot of the hazards and work involved http://www.pipeinternational.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=22&Itemid=66 [pipeinternational.com]

Re:Make the damn fisherman get driver's licenses (1)

alecwood (1235578) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222561)

And why to we even allow fisherman to drag crap along the sea bottom? I thought industrial level trawling went out years ago?

And what made you think? Even scallop dredging is still big business (even in the US), and they're even less selective than trawling

Re:Make the damn fisherman get driver's licenses (1)

bob_jordan (39836) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223353)

I guess the cables have to come ashore somewhere and you can't plan ahead for where ships will be when gales hit.

Come to think of it, I wonder how many cables go straight across the middle of the atlantic. Is it still possible to pick up the internet and slip the earth out?

Bob.

They're nothing short of superheroes of the sea (1)

Haoie (1277294) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221261)

Because anyone can still whoop Aquaman's butt.

Re:They're nothing short of superheroes of the sea (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27221299)

Because anyone can still whoop Aquaman's butt.

No, it's because they keep the flow of pr0n running.

Re:They're nothing short of superheroes of the sea (1)

simcop2387 (703011) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221429)

and just HOW else did you think they whoop Aquaman's butt?

Re:They're nothing short of superheroes of the sea (1)

^me^ (129402) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221511)

and just HOW else did you think they whoop Aquaman's butt?

Godzilla Bukkake?

Seafloorskeeper Rennie (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27221279)

Upon being advised that the North Atlantic cable had been cut by another fishing boat, Rennie exclaimed "I dinna cry when me own father was hung for stealing a pig. But I'll cry now!"

Re:Seafloorskeeper Rennie (4, Informative)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223391)

That would be 'didna'. Dinna means don't. In fact let me fix that for you, Glaswegian style:

I didna baw when ma da was chibbed fur nickin a pig, but am bawlin now :(

Getting chibbed is of course being stabbed with a sharp implement, but it works better since we haven't hung anyone in Scotland for quite some time.

Is it worth it? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27221289)

While there is loads of critical data that goes through these cables, I feel bad when these guys are working their asses off to make sure that 4chan or youtubes of a chimpanzee riding on a segway gets to its proper place.

Re:Is it worth it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27221549)

I agree, and think that the world would be a better place if chimpanzees on segways were working their asses off to make sure that 57 year old Scotsmen got to their proper places.

Re:Is it worth it? (2, Funny)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222165)

Are you suggesting that chimpanzees on segways be sent to the ocean floor to repair cables? Do segways even work underwater? Also, you'd have to design a special SCUBA suit for the chimps.

Re:Is it worth it? (1)

pbhj (607776) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223285)

No clippy I don't think he is.

Re:Is it worth it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27222271)

I feel bad when these guys are working their asses off to make sure that 4chan or youtubes of a chimpanzee riding on a segway gets to its proper place.

Dunno, chimps on Segways maybe not, but an elephant making love to a rhino [animalshump.com] ?

What about satellites? (1)

thaddeusthudpucker (1082657) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221307)

Aren't there enough satellites up that we wouldn't need undersea cables anyway?

I don't know any facts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27221333)

but my gut says your wrong.

My gut says maybe (0, Offtopic)

Fizzl (209397) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221887)

And tell my wife hello if I don't make it.

Re:What about satellites? (4, Insightful)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221355)

Latency is a huge problem with that idea buddy.

Re:What about satellites? (5, Informative)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221361)

There are enough satellites up there that we can get *some* communications without cables. Those satellite links suck at the best of times, though - if nothing else they have horrible latency, and can't approach the huge bandwidth of an undersea cable full of optic fibres. Just like in your own apartment, wireless is cool for convenience and for when you have a kitten (or fishing trawler) messing with your wiring, but cabling is always faster and better for fixed installations.

Re:What about satellites? (4, Funny)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222595)

Obviously the fix would be to pull backup cables to the satellites instead of relying on that crappy wireless.

Since planes don't have anchors, it would be failsafe.

Re:What about satellites? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27221365)

Aren't there enough satellites up that we wouldn't need undersea cables anyway?

Only if you want terrible latency. Think about the time it takes to transmit data to a satellite and then back again. Much, much slower than going through a physical cable.

Re:What about satellites? (4, Informative)

CharlieG (34950) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221467)

One HUGE propblem with satcoms, and why satcom pretty much went away for telephone - latency. A geosync sat orbits at 26200 miles (roughly), making a 2 way trip (up and down) a 52400 mile trip from point A to point B, or making it take a tad over .28 seconds. Now wait for your ACK to come back, another .28 seconds, and think about what you have. A slow, limited bandwith link. Generally, Satcoms have become used in one way "broadcast" type trasmissions (send the 30 minute TV show up, don't worry about the 1/4 second, as they are recording on the toher side) OR "Ad-hoc" communications, where you don't KNOW where the other station will be (a ship on the ocean, a TV news crew that is in Akron today, and Iowa next week, and even then, they try to keep the signals off the birds unless it's breaking news. You try to get it to a local affiliate, and land line it back)

Re:What about satellites? (4, Informative)

Brickwall (985910) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221829)

Iridium puts its satellites in low earth orbits to avoid the latency issue. It's geosynch orbits that are up high. But I do remember making telephone calls that went over geosynch satellite back in the 80's, and the latency is really annoying - you're never quite sure when the other person is finished talking, so you end up talking over each other, and having awkward pauses. When fibre became common, most telcos stopped using satellite.

Re:What about satellites? (4, Informative)

CharlieG (34950) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221925)

Correct. I forgot to bring up the Low Earth Orbit Sat Phones (aka Iridium), which is another kettle of fish. The big problem there is limited channels, again, your not going to have the kind of bandwith you need for serious internet (note, I said serious, like multiple OC3 stuff).

Interestingly, NATO, with all their Sats, and Iridium (Remember, the US Military basically keeps them in business) is re-looking at HF radio comms. Ultra high speed 24 bit DSPs, and other technologies are making them clearer and more reliable (less dependent on operator skill), and they have the advantage of working when you have a limited sky view

Re:What about satellites? (1)

Atario (673917) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222265)

It makes you wonder why TV shows still do live interviews via geosynchronous satellite link. They're constantly running into this egregious delay problem (exacerbated by their processing on either end). Why don't they get with the times and Internet it?

Re:What about satellites? (1)

alecwood (1235578) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222577)

They do. That's why you see such low quality video feeds in a lot of news reports now - they're being sent by webcam/mobile phone standard transmission methods over the net

Re:What about satellites? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27221483)

Oh those kids! Never had to work with a megabit satellite link connected somewhere in Africa and try to send VoIP to America, haven't you?
The latency is not the only problem, there are magnetic storms, other satellites crossing into the sight of yours, bad weather, and so much other crap that I can't even remember.
That is why we need thick undersea cables or all your beautiful iPhones and other gadgets will be rendered totally useless...

Re:What about satellites? (1)

ImYourVirus (1443523) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221623)

Yeah but the lat sucks, don't forget the cost, and the fact that every time it rains you lose your signal, I'll pass on that, kthnx.

Re:What about satellites? (1)

pbhj (607776) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223319)

Aren't there enough satellites up that we wouldn't need undersea cables anyway?

Aren't there enough pigeons that we wouldn't need over-sky satellites anyway?

Why not use Satellites? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27221353)

Delay young padawan... delay.

What's faster: radiowaves or data that travels the speed of light?

Re:Why not use Satellites? (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221393)

I might be walking into a woosh here; but radio waves are (or rather carry) data that travels at the speed of light(plus, the speed of light is higher in a vacuum than in fiber). What really kills you with satellites is the distance.

Re:Why not use Satellites? (2, Interesting)

narcberry (1328009) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221617)

Satellites are cost effective if you are either:
1. Reaching a broad audience with the same transmission.
2. A large government with cryptic and voluminous bookkeeping designed to hide that you are at a loss.

Just ask the satellite phone companies what happens when you have to listen to that broad audience too.

Re:Why not use Satellites? (1)

narcberry (1328009) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221625)

Oh forgot:
3. Have absolutely no other way to accomplish something.

Another underappreciated job (5, Insightful)

dwhitaker (1500855) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221373)

This is yet another example of the jobs which we rely on everyday but don't give much thought to. Also, this make me really think there is a great job out there to fit everyone. (When the economy improves that is.)

Ah yes, Global Marine Systems (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27221381)

Ah yes, Global Marine Systems, another long time CIA proprietary. Nice how they got the contract to "repair" them, very nice.

Re:Ah yes, Global Marine Systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27222073)

Um, it's a UK Company [globalmarinesystems.com] for starters.

57-year-old Scotsman (4, Funny)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221419)

Gimme Terabit factor nine! Kirk to Engineering, I need more downloads, Scotty!

Aye Captain, but I don't know if my poor cables will take more.

Women? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27221461)

And what about the women you putzes?!

As a lover of women of all shapes and sizes (mostly the smaller ones) I find this article title deeply offensive.

the web != the internet (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27221507)

... and the article couldn't even get that right.

Blech. For much more interesting reading, check out this classic:

Mother Earth Mother Board [wired.com]

Re:the web != the internet (1)

Brickwall (985910) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221789)

You beat me to it, but I agree that Stephenson's piece is fascinating reading. Someone with points please mod parent up.

Re:the web != the internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27221893)

Who cares that the web != internet, its the part that matters for most people.

Stevens was right all along (5, Funny)

Clancie (678344) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221555)

Holy crap! The Internet *is* a series of tubes! Evidence:Image from TFA [popsci.com]

Re:Stevens was right all along (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27221847)

Holy crap! The Internet *is* a series of tubes!

No, the Internet is an insanely complex series of coper(cat5, cat5e, cat6, cable, telephone lines), glass(Fiber), and wireless(qpsk, 128qam 256qam, 802.16, 2.4Ghz, 5.8GHz, 900Mhz, licensed freq, etc).

Recently I experienced a UDP flood based DOS that was 20MBps from a server in LA. It went over most of the distance via fiber, but I know it went over 40 miles via wireless(Dragonwave[256QAM], 802.11a, and 802.11b), 500 feet of fiber(single mode at 100MBps), and about 200 feet of cat5

Re:Stevens was right all along (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27223239)

lol... I'm so bitter--I gave up mod points earlier in the week to say something similar and *you* got the mod points. Guess that'll teach me to bI'll have to stop trying to be a kharma whore.

If you haven't read this already ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27221565)

Just in case some of you haven't yet read Neal Stephensons article "Mother Earth Mother Board" - you can read it here in the archives of Wired: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/4.12/ffglass.html [wired.com]

It is one huge mother of an article - more like a smallish novel - dealing with the laying of the then longest undersea-cable and the history of cable-laying from the very beginning to 1996, when it was written. It is also a hugely enjoyable and highly fascinating read featuring, among others, some "Supreme Ninja Hacker Mage Lords of global telecommunications" (i.e., Kelvin and Graham Bell), a by now slightly nostalgic seeming hacker attitude and lingo and locales ranging from Malaysia to Egypt to Cornwall with general local weirdness included. Plus it answers just about any questions you might have about this whole business mentioned in the original post.

Re:If you haven't read this already ... (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221791)

That article is a classic well worth reading.

I actually subscribed to Wired at the time based on that article. Sadly, their regular content was nowhere near as good.

Neal Stephenson's Mother Earth, Motherboard (4, Interesting)

trawg (308495) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221815)

...is a cool article up on Wired [wired.com] (look for the printable link option so it's all on one page) detailing an interesting adventure around the world and some of the history of undersea cables. Definitely worth a read.

Re:Neal Stephenson's Mother Earth, Motherboard (1)

Slashcrap (869349) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222837)

...is a cool article up on Wired (look for the printable link option so it's all on one page) detailing an interesting adventure around the world and some of the history of undersea cables. Definitely worth a read.

Getting a bit old now, but it is an awesome article. In fact it almost makes up for Anathem. Just add a few years of genital torture and we'll call it even.

Re:Neal Stephenson's Mother Earth, Motherboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27222931)

Anathem rocked. Always reminds me of Abbott's Flatland for some reason.

Re:Neal Stephenson's Mother Earth, Motherboard (2, Informative)

ockegheim (808089) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223425)

This article [wikipedia.org] details the building of the first transatlantic cables in the 1850s & 1860s. Definitely trickier to repair back then (lay another one)...

Vulnerability? (2, Interesting)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221821)

"The article goes on to outline the physical infrastructure of the Internet, including some of its points of vulnerability"

Sean Gorman mapped out the US fiber-optic telco fiefdoms.
Parts of his dissertation where "removed".
http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2006/01/70040?currentPage=2 [wired.com]
Getting back to the popsci 'news'
The part I find interesting is the use of 'hubs'
Are hubs (fiber locations?) for cost savings, lazy design, best design for a shareholder when burning tax payers re nation building, collusion between telcos, easy NSA access ?
What do other parts of the world do ?

Re:Vulnerability? (4, Informative)

tqft (619476) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222365)

"What do other parts of the world do ?"
The same thing

"Are hubs (fiber locations?) for cost savings, lazy design, best design for a shareholder when burning tax payers re nation building, collusion between telcos, easy NSA access ?"
All of the above
At some point you need to connect network E from Elbonia to network P from PHiliBelphia and also networks a through z. This starts to get expensive real fast no matter how you do it. Doing it in one place lowers cost (hub) but focuses for a point of failure. As the article said - you can't get away from this. I like how they said the best way to prevent cascading network damage is to shutdown the "nearest" hub connections to the failed point to minimize the damage - like they do when the electricity transmission network or a generator goes off somewhere. It isn't optional and can't really be worked around - if you want random person E to get stuff from P then you need interconnects somewhere. Yeah you could do it with a lot (a real lot) of little interconnects all over the place - just don't and service them as your staff will always be in the field.

Shhh! (1)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221855)

Fixed? Isn't the internet perpetually broken and therefore needing more investment in hardware and expertise?

Cool job (1)

hdparm (575302) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221991)

I'd swap with this man if job is somewhere in South Pacific. Present location is a bit too cool.

So this is the guy I need to send my users to (5, Funny)

ItaliaMatt (581886) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222155)

Everytime we have a connectivity hiccup I am flooded with calls from our users asking "Is the Internet broken?"

It takes everything in my power not to say "Yes. The Internet is, in fact, broken"

Raw Shark (1)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222195)

As I looked at the photo in the article of this brave warrior-engineer, I thought "So this is the man who keeps the porn flowing."

And I couldn't help but notice his underwater robot seems to have a mech penis. He even calls it "The Beast".

Your doing it wrong (5, Interesting)

FridgeFreezer (1352537) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222825)

From TFA:

"If terrorists managed to gain remote access to a facility's command-and-control system, they could, for example, cause the generators to overheat and explode."

If you can make a generator explode on command, you really are doing it wrong. Backup generators may be able to be remotely started, stopped, switched in/out and checked but you should not be able to do the equivalent of burnouts with them.

Additionally, the article states that catastrophic failures would start to creep in after ~2 days of no human maintenance. WTF? Most exchanges and data centres I've been in are ghost ships 350 days a year aside from upgrades and config changes, how is it that such critical hardware can't tick over by itself for a month or so without going nipples skyward?

Hell, the average telephone exchange, if you nuked everything around it, would be giving dialtone and DSL to the skeletons for at least a week, probably more depending on how much diesel is in the tanks.

fZuqcker (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27222831)

core team. They One common goal - If you answered dying. Everyone addresses will my caaling. Now I Has brought upon

Awesomeness (1)

grodzix (1235802) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222941)

Really cool article. I wish there were more ones like this one instead of "What features would you like in new Apple toilet brush" or "Microsoft is still being ghey".

I find it pretty amazing that it is possible to manage such complicated, global structure without any serious problems (yet). However, I still don't quite get it how they find where the cable got broken and how they fix it in the first place.

Re:Awesomeness (1)

u38cg (607297) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223073)

IIRC correctly they just bounce a signal up the wires (I forget the details) and can measure to within a few miles where the break is that way. I imagine whoever caused the break will propbably 'fess up quite regularly as well.

Have the crew got NSA clearances? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27222945)

Just wondering.

Mayvbe they don't need them if they just install the 'upgraded' repeaters at suitable points.

Shortwave anyone? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27223303)

I have a shortwave radio, I use it.. sometimes.

Trouble is, BBC, radio netherlands, etc.. have pretty much stopped broadcasting to the the US, which means there are fewer english programs. (still a few) but I do get HAM operators, who, I trust, will relay anthing important.

If something critical should happen, I'll still be informed, shortwave works when cables AND satelites are down. (albeit, I won't be able to watch "youtube")

Indeed, 8 years ago, I had no tv or internet (hard times..) shortwave saved me from a lot of boring nights.. at least WBCQ, CBC (Canada) and the VOA are still on.

I guess this is why spies still use it, it's reliable. (and yes, I've heard a few spy transmissions.)

We depend too much on frail technology.

My Girlfriend... (2, Funny)

Twide (1142927) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223369)

Makes me Fix the internet twice a week.
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