Friday, February 16, 2007

Have we crossed the networking Rubicon?

Here's what happened to me the other day: I was happily working in my basement office when my visiting mother-in-law decided to call all the people in her phone book, one by one, from the main floor. She did it from a wireless handset that works on 2.4MHz. My wireless access point works on the same frequency, and in the battle that ensued the access point lost. Without the connectivity, I decided that I cannot do anything useful and chose to continue after lunch, or after my mother-in-law reaches the page 'Z', whichever comes first.

Beside the potential 'Everybody loves Raymond' moment, where am I going with this? The point is that I was not able to do anything useful without the network. This issue came to the head a few days ago when the UA committer Curtis D'Entremont and myself discussed the new remote help feature in Eclipse. It allows you to put all your help content on a remote server and still have the same great experience without the megabytes of documentation on your hard disk. We were trying to work through the scenario of remote help users that lost connectivity.

We came up with some great technical ideas but in the midst of it I remembered the mother-in-law incident. Should we even bother? Can you do anything useful without the connectivity any more? Have we crossed the networking Rubicon?


AlBlue said...

I suspect you mean GHz, not MHz. Also, it depends whether the handset was analogue or digitial; the former will pretty much obliterate any kind of wireless connection.

This is of course why having a wired network at home makes a lot of sense :-) Wireless is all well and good for a laptop on the couch, but you really should have wired backup.

Ian Skerrett said...

Funny, I have the exact same problem with my wifi home network and my IBM laptop. The weired thing is that my wife's Dell has no problems.

As for your initial statement, I still think a lot of people work disconnected from the network. Lots of the world doesn't have reliable high-speed connectivity.

Dejan Glozic said...

I suspect the problem is due to the reception in the basement being at the edge of acceptable. Switching to a newer Linksys Wireless G helped but I still have occasional phone blues.

For Alex: of course, I can go upstairs and use the cable that is dangling from the Linksys. I could also run a cable to my basement and be free from these problems. But then I would not be able to post a humorous blog :-).

Ian, does your claim mean that we should structure help so that there is still something available offline, and more if you are connected?

Chris Aniszczyk (zx) said...

You are a "natural born blogger" Dejan ;)

Chris Aniszczyk (zx) said...

btw, people won't see the value of remote help until you smack them with it (they need to experience it)

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