Saturday, 29 September 2012

Internet of Schools in the Jungle


Another computer company had sent me another letter regarding their offer. I have to decline as being in the States requires me to leave behind my family, friends and my students. I did inquire them regarding the offer as I would like to serve within Malaysia. I am yet to receive news on the issue.

Internet connection had worsened day by day as I cannot update my blog as well as carrying out my role as one of the developers on **a. Most of the time, I would engage myself in standalone programming or development.

BTW, this time I am going to blog about satellite internet in schools in the jungle. Currently, the schools are using Schoolnet which uses a satellite dish to upload and download data. After carrying out research, test and analysis on the system, I have found out a few issues that have constantly being misinterpreted by those using it. Some issues are basically raised due to lack of knowledge in the field and it is believed that by following the norm, one will be able to solve the riddle. But it is not easy to change the norm that has taken place for a long time.

Internet Speed
"I'm having full bars on my laptop yet I couldn't surf the net."
Well, being said that, there's not much you can do. Many factors contribute to the speed of satellite connection. Some would be the humidity level around the satellite dish, alignment of the satellite, which way the dish is facing, server limitations by the ISP and so on. Therefore, it is better to be patient as in the jungle; internet (or maybe satellite phone) is your only mean of communication. Getting full bars on the laptop basically means that you’re near the router. It’s very simple yet most would prefer to believe that the server is having problem.

Using cable or wireless
"A colleague is using LAN cables to get connected. It is unfair for us who uses wireless. He's definitely getting better connection than any of us!"
The statement is wrong on so many levels. There's numerous explanation for this issue. It is believed (and not proven) that those using CAT5 or CAT6 cables will end up having better connection than those using wireless. To clarify things up, here is the explanations as well as results of the test. Routers will divide the connection evenly across all connected device be it laptop or mobile phones (even tablets). From the table below, we can see that the upload and download speed remains nearly the same between all connected device be it connected using cables or wirelessly.

CAT5 Cable (UL/DL)
Wireless (UL/DL)
Laptop 1
10.5kbps / 73.4kbps
10.1kbps / 72.1kbps
Laptop 2
11.1kbps / 80.5kbps
10.9kbps / 76.7kbps
Laptop 3
10.1kbps / 70.1kbps
9.8kbps / 70.5kbps
Mobile Phone 1
9.6kbps / 72.2kbps
Mobile Phone 2
9.5kbps / 73.1kbps
*Results are based on the average within 30 minutes connected time.

Other variables that need to consider is range and whether it will affect the connection. But after the test, I find it unreliable as the result is the same except when you are situated at the long end of the range where connection will drop to 40% - 20% of normal speed.

Therefore, it is unacceptable for those who know nothing about computer and networking to brag something beyond his or her knowledge. The one thing that differentiates between the two methods is consistency. As we are all know that wireless devices would allow us to move around within the range of the router to get connected. Some would even bring along their device to the toilet and still get connected to the internet. However, those using cables are not allowed to do so as they have to remain still in one spot. The most they can move around while still getting connected is a small fraction of what others can do.

Turning on/off to get connected
"I couldn't connect to the internet. Its time to turn it off."
This is true for the satellite receiving server and not the router. Most of us believe that by turning it off, it will solve the situation but it is strictly for the satellite receiving server. The one that couldn't connect you is the router. So, the router is at fault, not the server. Therefore, it would be wise to turn off the router and not the server. The router might have reached the limit of maximum client allowed. When the satellite receiving server's alarm (red light) is not blinking, it means that the internet connection is present. It would be unwise to turn the server off because it is practically very difficult to get connected again to the ISP server due to the environment such as humidity and temperature level. So, once you get connected, it’s better to leave it as it is. Turn off the router only and not the whole system. I used to tell this to my colleagues but none of them really believe in what I've said. Maybe it’s because I'm new here and they thought I know nothing about it.

The router’s so-called antennae
I think this is the most foolish thing to be taken into account as one of the internet connection issue. You know that on some routers, there are so called “antennae” sticking out of them. For me, it is unbelievably ridiculous to assume that by moving the antennae towards your direction, you will get a better signal. I found that incident to be very childish in the networking world. The antennae will spread the signal in the form of sphere and not direct. If it really does, nobody would get internet connection when the antenna is facing the sky. So it will be clever if we stop assuming what we see is what we perceive. In science, there are a lot of things you cannot see like atoms, wireless signals and even your own fart.

These are some issues that I'm addressing regarding internet connection of schools in the jungle. I may not be socially good person but as an expert on this, I'm talking based on hard evidence and research and its definitely not some empty talk to boast about my ability. I did not take on programming or any networking courses but guess why companies would pay a lot just to have me in their team? I would love to work with them but going overseas again? Not in a million years. It’s nice to spend a holiday abroad but definitely not staying there.

I hope that my post this time would help clear things up for everyone using satellite internet. Such issues should not be brought up as it would portray one inability to analyze the situation critically. I hope that this post would not offend those who don’t know anything about networking. My intention of posting about this is to inform as well as to educate those who don’t know.

I will carry out further research and study on this matter to improve the situation as well as giving a clearer picture to everyone.

That's all for now. Thank you for reading.