Friday, March 06, 2009

“How quickly the world owes him something that he didn’t know existed ten seconds ago” 

I got a nasty call from a disgruntled patron who lives on the other side of the state (this system issues library cards to every state resident, don’t get me started) outraged over the lag time he experienced when he used the library’s database subscription to Rosetta Stone. The problem lay in the fact that he was trying to access it using a satellite modem. Rosetta Stone is an incredibly data intensive, interactive program, one, by the way, that would cost him almost $500 to subscribe to personally FOR ONE LANGUAGE, while our subscription offers him access to 10. He ended his stern lecture with, "I'm VERY disappointed," like I was his kid who gotten drunk and wrecked the family car on prom night.

The drawbacks of satellite modems are quite well known. Here they are spelled out in Wikipedia.

Satellite Internet also has a high latency problem caused by the signal having to travel 35,000 km (22,000 miles) out into space to the satellite and back to Earth again. The signal delay can be as much as 500 milliseconds to 900 milliseconds, which makes this service unsuitable for applications requiring real-time user input such as certain multiplayer Internet games and first-person shooters played over the connection. Despite this, it is still possible for many games to be played, but the scope is limited to real-time strategy or turn-based games. The functionality of live interactive access to a distant computer can also be subject to the problems caused by high latency. These problems are more than tolerable for just basic email access and web browsing and in most cases are barely noticeable.

There is no simple way to get around this problem. The delay is primarily due to the speed of light being 300,000 km/second (186,000 miles per second). Even if all other signaling delays could be eliminated it still takes the electromagnetic wave 233 milliseconds to travel from ground to the satellite and back to the ground, a total of 70,000 km (44,000 miles) to travel from the user to the satellite company.

My favorite part of this section?
The delay is primarily due to the speed of light being 300,000 km/second (186,000 miles per second).

So, save it for Rosetta Stone, your internet provider, God or whoever else you think created the laws of the universe, you bellyaching crybaby, you ungracious, unreasonable, self-important, malcontented jackass. While you’re doing that, the library will try its best to bend the laws of physics so you can look like a total tool trying to learn conversational Mandarin at the beach on your laptop.

Foxy you are my hero!!!
I recall watching ads for Hughs satellite internet, and there is no mention of this alleged problem with the speed of light. Rosetta though, MWAH! I practice my italian during my lunch breaks at the library
A week ago, I happened to find your blog via an image search for the puss caterpillar. Fascinated, I worked my way through the archives whenever I had a chance. I just wanted you to know that I thoroughly enjoyed myself, so thank you. Hopefully you renew updating, but if not, I wish you all the best.
I'm so tired of Rosetta Stone (our library doesn't offer it). Nine times out of ten, it's men who want the program--I think just because they want to stare at the Rosetta Stone host.
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