A couple of years later people bought their 10Mb Ethernet cards and coax cables and started the LAN party craze.
I remember the days of doing 4 player games using serial ports (you had to have guys with 2 serial port machines in the middle) using some third party utility that I've long forgotten the name of. In college we used the ROLM phones to dial two computers together, and NULL modem cables to connect the roomates up for 4 player games without having to lug any machines around, it was glorious, unless we were connecting to that jerk with the 25Mhz 486 Packard Bell with the flaky UART.
The issue is, you deal with the system you're with, not the situation you wish you had.
We can't change a transmission protocol or route data over arbitrary connections. This is a collection of everything from very old hardware to brand new, protocols from very old to brand new, in every country in the world, and you can't just arbitrarily rework them. It's the same in the air, too. And when new protocols are made, they're generally in addition to existing ones, not replacing them. I'm not aware of any with error correcting codes or the like (there could be, I just haven't worked with them), but some of them (not all) use checksums (though that's a whole 'nother story... the documentation on how one common type of checksum, that used in datalink messages, is a big fat lie, caused by a screwup in whoever implmented the code the first time that everyone else now has to imitate... but it works, so...).
In the long run, the goal is to move as much traffic as possible to the more automated, more reliable newer protocols. But this is something that's invariably going to happen at a snail's pace.
As I've never messed with them directly, I can't decribe to you the protocols used for physical data transmission at every point over the FARICE and DANICE links - just the message layer on top of them, which is plaintext except for the header marker characters. I've never worked at anything more than the endpoints. But I can tell you this, there's no way we could just go in and replace all of the hardware along the way (you should see the graph of all of the hardware that exists just between Iceland and Britain). It would be an expensive long-term international effort with major potential for disruption in its own right. And it would only help for that particular link anyway. What you really want is how all of air traffic control messages are transmitted - aircraft, atc, tower, etc - everywhere in the world to be switched over to a single, reliable mechanism and a standardized set of international routing hardware. Well, great, join the club, I'd love that too! But it's just not going to happen any time soon without a massive funding surge.
You work with the systems that you have, not the systems you wish you had. Yes, we're working to modernize everything, just like everyone else. For example, in the past year I've spent a good bit of time working on adding in capabilities to one system to help take a sort of "middleman" server that it talks to out of the loop to improve reliability and error logging. But these things don't happen fast. And how many programmers / hardware engineers do you think we have, really? We're no Microsoft here.
Oh, and I forgot to mention the voice communication systems problem. That one didn't affect me directly but I did get a memo about it.
It's just an unfortunate incident.
British Telecom has had an issue (which has happened a number of times) which led to a minor timing glitch in one of their systems. When this happens, the data reliability on the FARICE line to Iceland drops and you start getting corrupted flight messages. Shanwick was alerted to the problem and both sides consulted and decided that the best solution in the interrim would be something that had been done previously, disconnecting FARICE and thus forcing all connections through the backup line, DANICE, which appeared to be operating normally.
Unfortunately, the problem was even worse on DANICE. What appeared to be normal operation was only normal up to the data logger. Once it actually got to the flight tracking software, the messages were being refused, and corrupted messages being sent in the other direction. So while BT was working on getting their system fixed, flight control managers were being forced to basically manually dig up ATC messages and copy-paste them off to the air traffic controllers (as much was handled through voice as possible as well).
But it got even worse. A totally unrelated communications network, Datalink, decided to misbehave during all of this, which may or may not have been due to the Shanwick problems. On the Iceland side, the general solution is to force a switchover to the backup system. Which was done... except a critical component on the backup system immediately crashed. Repeated attempts to switch and ultimately switch back caused even more problems for the air traffic controllers.
Eventually the fixed FARICE line was brought back up, Datalink back online (with the switchover-crash problem postponed to be investigated during a low-traffic timeperiod)
It's terrible that there were so many delays, but these are extremely complicated systems with a challenging task, built up over decades with tons of computer components, protocols, lines, routers, radar systems, transmitters, and on and on, scattered all over the world. On a weekend. Everyone was scrambling and doing their damndest to fix it as soon as possible. It should also be noted that it was never a safety issue - even in the absolute worst case, air traffic control could go all the way back to the old paper-and-pencil method. What the systems give is, primarily, speed, and thus when there's big problems, there's delays.
And that was my weekend, how was yours?
“Get her on an airplane and get her here,” Judge Alsup responded. “She’s a U.S. citizen. She doesn’t need a visa. I’m not going to believe that she can’t get on a plane until she tries again. ”
Um, isn't this kind of the point of a No-Fly list? It doesn't matter if you are a US Citizen, if you're on the list you don't get to fly. The alternatives are either finding a boat or chartering a private flight I think. I suspect that she will be able to board the plane if she tries again however, I can't imagine the government attorneys are going to let that much egg hit them right in the face.
I know some guy making $0.30/day in China isn't going to take a credit card and insure a perfectly smooth and even coating of thermal paste before carefully applying the cooler, but there must be a better way than blorting it on like a 3 year old with a tube of oil paint.
I don't know, maybe the situation is better today, but if I'm put in charge of a RAID array, I'm always going to shave off a few sectors out of distrust of drive manufacturers.
I had a buddy who was always complaining that hard drives were crap and they always failed way too quickly. He actually used the warranty on his drives regularly it was so bad. One time I was over at his place when he was pulling yet another drive for replacement. He turned his machine off, took off the cover and stopped. After waiting for a bit I asked him what he was doing, and he explained that he had to wait a bit before removing the drive so he didn't get burnt. That was probably an exaggeration, but it was too hot to hold in your hand apparently. The drive was sandwiched in between two other drives in an unventilated bay with big fat ribbon cables behind them blocking any possible airflow. He eventually got a new case that had fans mounted in the front of each drive bay and suddenly his drives started seeing their first birthday.