A classic story that bears reposting:

"We're having a problem sending email out of the department."

"What's the problem?" I asked.

"We can't send mail more than 500 miles," the chairman explained.

I choked on my latte. "Come again?"

"We can't send mail farther than 500 miles from here," he repeated. "A little bit more, actually. Call it 520 miles. But no farther."

The Case of the 500-Mile Email:

@noelle It's amazing to me how close to the speed of light we send stuff

Woao... This is pretty fun and amazing. Causes and consequences.

@noelle Oh hey I've actually been looking for this week and couldn't figure out the correct search terms to find it. Thanks!

@noelle It's a fun story, but most of the details stated in there don't make any sense. Personally, i think the author shouldn't have framed a story that has about the scientific accuracy as your average episode of Star Trek in a context that makes it look like a factually correct anecdote.

@tauli I'm interested in which details you believe are incorrect for a story set in 1994.

@noelle from the top of my head:
- the author mixed up travel time for single distance with roundtrip time
- electronic signals don't travel at the speed of light but - depending on the medium, voltage, etc. - significantly slower. as a rule of thumb you can assume half that
- caching by network equipment will typically add significant amounts of time
- context switching done in a multitasking operating system can put processes to sleep several microseconds, increasing delay further.

@noelle don't get me wrong, the story is entertaining. and the morale (as i understand it) to follow evidence wherever it may lead is useful to any engineer. it's just so wrong on so many levels, that is makes me cringe.

@tauli You're nitpicking details; if that's enough to make you cringe, go ahead.

@noelle A true classic of troubleshooting.

I use this story to illustrate "never ignore the evidence, even if it's stupid" to the young 'uns.

unrequested pun 

@noelle "Aand I would mail 500 miles..."

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Elekk: Gameing and Other Delightful Pursuits

The social network of the future: No ads, no corporate surveillance, ethical design, and decentralization! Own your data with Mastodon!