Part III: The Analogy

Mar 8 08

Part III: The Analogy

Paul Weinstein

This is the continuation of a story begun in “The Move” and “On Two Hours Sleep” in which our heroes battle nefarious network gremlins in order to save zoomshare from imploding under its own weight.

The analogy has become a cliché in a certain genres of television. It is usually found in the second or third act of a Science Fiction or Police Procedural episode. In the scene the wickedly smart boy genius engineer or weird but likable lab technician explains to our hero some important, albeit technically laced, piece of information on which the plot moves on.

Yet, for some unexplained reason the knowledge and experience of 20+ years of service has momentarily escaped the ship’s caption or police detective. Seeing that their technobabble explanation has dazed and confused our hero, the boy genius launches into an analogy, to explain, in a non-technically way, what they just said, which of course in turn clues in the story’s audience. The dialog usually goes something like this:

Boy Genius: “Sir, if we change the matter – antimatter mix ratio in our flux capacitor we might be able to generate enough energy to create a wormhole in the space/time continuum which will get us home in 10 minutes instead of 10,000 years.”

Ship’s Caption: Puzzled Look

Boy Genius: “Sir, if you think of this apple as space/time” picks up an apple from the Caption’s desk and continues “and we are here on the surface” points to near side of apple “and home is here” points to far side of apple “normally we would have to travel the curvature of space/time, the surface of this apple, a long distance to travel at less that light speed, to get home. But, if we can safely overload our engines we might be able to create a hole in space/time, like a worm creating a hole in this apple, and burrow our way, cutting the distance we have to travel by a factor of several billion.”

Ship’s Caption: Contemplates the situation and his options, then rises from his desk to take action “Make it so!”

Our Analogy
The Internet is like a highway, a large bi-directional superhighway. Hmm, that imagery hasn’t been used in a few years. Ok, um, the Internet is like a series of tubes. Wait no that isn’t right, it’s like a pipe. Yeah, an internet connection is like a pipe, a broadband connection is like a big fat pipe, like the water main into one’s home feeding water into smaller pipes that deliver it unto the proper appliance within one’s home.

But in the case of zoomshare one of connecting pipe’s had a pin-size leak. When the “water pressure”, network traffic, was low some droplets of water, network packets, escaped via the leak. Annoying, but manageable. However, when the pressure was turned up the leak started to turn into a flood, more than half of the network packets never made it to their destination.

Alas, analogies eventually breakdown since the logical inferences between the two items is never 100% exact. For example our water main to broadband connection analogy; unlike a water main a network connection is bi-directional. More importantly, dropped network packets, in small or large quantities don’t leave virtual puddles like water can. If you have a pipe dripping water you might not notice or care. But if you have a pipe leaking a large quantity of water, you will notice; in lack of water pressure as well as a large amount of water and water damage that will need taking care of.

So, if we cannot hope to look for a puddle of network packets, then the question becomes can we measure our “water pressure” at different points along the way to our servers to determine where the drop in pressure, the leak might be?

Don’t Miss the Exciting Conclusion in: “All Really is Well”