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September 2, 2010 at 2:03 am #1285
Be interesting to get feedback on this topic, but there are a number of well based restrictions on network access at McMurdo and other Ice sites but as mainstream technology evolves, how will it play out down South?
External bandwidth is still limited, but what about heavier utilization of local traffic like a local SMS server or IM functionality, maybe even supporting Apple’s new video conferencing over wifi (Facetime), or other digital networking communication tools. Maybe something along the lines of a local cell tower or the CB radio like functionality some cell carriers advertise.
Not having been there yet, I can’t speak to any existing communication solutions, but todays news made me think again about where things are going and how to use existing connectivity better.September 2, 2010 at 2:22 pm #10592
I’m not an IT person, so what I’m about to say may not be true. When I read the IT guidelines, it sounds to me like the concern is mostly bandwith over the satelites and that things like gaming over the local net might be allowable. Skype is banned entirely for what I believe is a security concern. I think it uses some type of peer to peer computing that leaves a hole in firewalls.
The kicker is you need fast connections and the only people who get that with wireless in the summer are the science groups. Select people can get a dial up in their room, but it is incredibly slow. I don’t think it would do much. I tried a slow speed computer game once. My frozen image on the screen looked peaceful and fine, but everybody else was shooting me. I never even knew it.
I think you can interconnect laptops for gaming somehow. You would know better than me. I think one needs to be the server and the rest connect in somehow.
The other gaming problem at MCM is nobody has the same game unless you arrainge it before deploying.
I’ve asked about putting a standard game like battlefield or Halo on the net, but nobody could agree on a game and almost nobody else was remotely interested. It’s like who has time to play video games. He’s right, I don’t. Every minute of my life in MCM is already taken.September 2, 2010 at 4:01 pm #10593
Games certainly come into play in regards to the local network, but I was more thinking of different approved ways to utilize the local resources.
I get spoiled here with instant email and text messages in my pocket and the ability to login to servers remotely all from my phone. There are plenty of tools that don’t need cell coverage but can utilize wifi.
More just curious as to what direction McM is headed in regards to what the modern digital replacement for the handheld radio will be.September 3, 2010 at 2:21 am #10594
It’s a small community Pete. Why do a video chat, when you open the door and talk face to face? Most people that need them have pagers with text receive capability. Most carry a radio as well, If you cant call them your self, you get on the radio and ask somebody else to call. So very old fashioned retro, hey? The down side is once you have a pager, or in your case ability to text back, you are working even more.
I hate it when the pager goes off at three in the morning. I’m expected to be available for emergencies. Texting lowers the bar for what is an emergency. With a pager, you can say you weren’t near a phone and couldn’t call back. With texting you would be expected to reply no matter where you are.
Is that an improvement?September 3, 2010 at 1:17 pm #10595
I imagine in many cases people choose a place to work like Antarctica to escape the technology I mention.
The video chat was more an example, than suggesting you shouldn’t just walk across the hall, but it might make sense at condition 2 to verify you are using the right part, or communicating something visual without having to go outside or make someone come to you.
And as times progress so many people start to take all this communication for granted. You walk down to breakfast and realize you forgot your notebook. You text your roommate to grab it for you.
You can also setup some sort of local data server so you can store drink recipes on it, that way when you are at a party and run out of mixers, you can search for recipes for drinks that can be made with what is left. You also have access to a local extension listing instead of carrying around the phone booklet….
Again, here in the US, you almost forget that it is possible to go without this kind of connectivity, and was curious as to what might make sense or was possible on the infrastructure already in place at McM.September 3, 2010 at 1:59 pm #10596
Everything relates to money….if it isn’t broken and it still works…don’t bother to update the system…spend the money elsewhere. Most of our day to day comms systems seem out of date and they really are, but until there is a huge injection of money to completely revise the way we communicate, we will still be living 20 years behind the times. Some of the pagers are so old that there are no replacement parts and most of the radios use nicad batteries….what can I say?
Every few years there is a discussion about trying cellular type systems and various other systems….but these things never get past discussion because of the lack of money for a test project….the old systems are still working….talk is cheap.
Mapcon is a DOS based inventory system that has everything on station tracked…mapcon is ancient technology and will cost a fortune to change….not really broken, so no money to change it to a modern, off the shelf inventory system…..it is always time and money and the fact that so many of the job positions where real change can happen, have almost 100% turnover every year……next year the wheel gets reinvented!
OK. I’m being a bit hard, but things will reach a critical mass and the systems will become a priority and get changed in a big flurry of activity….it is just the way things happen on the ICE. When you are the support crew and not really SCIENCE, you are the stepchild that gets the hand-me-downs so to speak…..
The ICE is a strange place and things are never what you imagine them to be….usually, the reality is that truth is way stranger than fiction! But we make things happen and keep the equipment running and we support SCIENCE…..that is our job.
Spidey, you are going to have a great time figuring this all out! Remember, if you need something right now on the ICE, you should have ordered it two years ago.
Welcome to the McGyver school of equipment repair. All you need is a Leatherman and some bailing wire….
DavidSeptember 3, 2010 at 4:13 pm #10597
Dave you need more than a leatherman and baling wire to keep a base the size of Mcmurdo running. You also need wd-40 and duct tape.September 3, 2010 at 4:39 pm #10598
I’m quite familiar with the McGyver school of computer repair. Fun old anecdote, but the older Apple ADB keyboard cables were interchangeable with S-video cables. So if you lost your VCR cable, you could borrow the one from your Mac.
Thanks for the insight Dave. The whole don’t fix it if it aint broke, and there are other things using all the funds is still common in corporate America.
I did some house cleaning this week too, being the packrat I am I got rid of boxes of old zip drives, syquest drives, modems, CD burners, SCSI hard drives, monitor adapters to route the sync on green to H/V, Win95 install CDs, you name it. Bet that stuff would be worth its weight in gold down South.
At least when I get down, I have a chance of being one of the last people who know how to use aforementioned items and could be useful.September 3, 2010 at 6:09 pm #10599SciencetechKeymaster
You also need wd-40 and duct tape.
McMurdo is the only place where I’ve seen 5-gallon cans of WD-40.
Some would argue that MAPCON is broke, and has been since the age of the dinosaurs…September 3, 2010 at 6:12 pm #10600
My first real portable computer on the ICE was an Etch-a-Sketch duct taped to an abucus….but I couldn’t get it to boot because the instructions were in Japanese. The screen kept turning silver every time the truck hit a bump…..go figure?
Those who specialize in ARCANE knowledge do well on the ICE……the 1960’s are alive and well in back rooms of McMurdo…
DavidSeptember 3, 2010 at 6:35 pm #10601Been ThereMember
Hey be nice. Some of us made or first trip to the ice in the 60’s. 😀
BTSeptember 3, 2010 at 6:58 pm #10602
The real beauty of the experience is that we are still using some of that 1960’s equipment every day! KISS is alive and well on the ICE….fewer parts to break…simple equipment for toasty minds!
If complexity happens….the place will come crashing to a halt.
DavidSeptember 3, 2010 at 11:38 pm #10603Been ThereMember
No better example than the mighty LGPD-8 CAT. Built in the late 1950’s and still going strong. I remember when the “new” LDB buildings were being moved from near Scott Base to Williams Field. The new D-9 struggled and spun and finally was able to pull one of the buildings when a second tractor helped. The old LGPD-8 hooked up to the second building and just walked away with the load….and the operator (Russ M) had one big smile on his face!
😀 😀 😀September 4, 2010 at 5:57 am #10604m0lochKeymaster
LOVED the stretch 8 saving its own life like that!
RE: the network – one huge thing to remember is the entire network on The Ice is owned by the U.S. government and getting protocols approved to work on that network is a monumental task. Local gaming definitely happens at Pole and Palmer. While the handheld radio might seem ancient and isn’t without its problems, you probably won’t see it replaced as a communication device anytime soon especially while it seems that it remains the default communication tool of emergency response worldwide.
RE: MAPCON – so, currently, I am on another Raytheon contract and am using a newer system to create workorders, manage parts etc and while the interface is certainly easier to navigate i.e. point & click versus memorizing a bunch of keystrokes it really is no better and in fact, I find it far less powerful. During my time at Palmer when I had to be my own workorder scheduler and logistician, I learned a thing or two about MAPCON. It’s damn powerful if you know your way around an SQL type command interface. Either system relies on me spelling windshield the same way as its entered into the system in order for my to find a windshield – or worse yet, if I want a 1 1/2″ long bolt – it has to be entered in the same format so I have to try 1.5″, 1-1/2″ 1 1/2″, 1.5 inch on an on it goes. Point is newer doesn’t necessarily mean better or even more efficient. Newer only means newer.September 4, 2010 at 1:23 pm #10605
Since the program is so universally hated, I usually don’t like to admit that I like MAPCON. Sure you have to remember what Shift F8 does along with 50 other DOS commands, but in the end it has a rather powerful search engine. I have my own way to do searches, I call it fuzzy logic. Term borrowed without permission. Anyway, I search for bolt, Get a hundred possibilites, then look at the synonyms and first 30 characters of the desc and throw out anything obivious. That gets me to 10 or so choices of which one will likely fit the bill.
The training the tradespeople get doesn’t work well at all, but it’s simple and you don’t have to remember much. The supply training is difficult, but if you use it everyday, it’s a breeze.
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