Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Serious problems can occur as a result of too much traffic on a network. If there is only one cable that interconnects all of the devices on a network, the possibility of conflicts with more than one user sending data at the same time is very high. ... If more than one node attempts to transmit at the same time, a collision occurs, and the data from each device suffers damage (more).

Melina and Zed often sit at the computer talking on the phone while at the same time playing Snood or Minesweeper, knitting (well, Zed doesn't knit), doing homework, and "talking" to several kids via IM.

When they're in my house and I'm watching this, I think: "I'm glad I'm not that person on the phone."

Often, though, I am that person on the phone and I can tell - by the loooong pauses between responses and the somewhat absent quality of the discourse - that I am being multi-tasked. My "packets" are in queue.

During the busiest times of Internet usage, you probably notice some slowing in Web page loading or file downloading. One explanation is the routers are receiving requests to move packets faster than they can handle them, causing some packets to be lost. When a packet is lost, it must be re-sent, causing additional traffic and additional delays (more).

"Wait, did you ask me something? What was it again?"

Yes, everything (including me) gets a turn, just like the Internet, packets of each task get put in rotation with other little packets and most eventually reach their destination. But as a human I notice the, uh, lacunae on the receiving end.

Snood doesn't care but I do.

In a multi-protocol Internet, it may be desired to prevent one protocol family from overloading the link and excluding the other families. This is important because different families may have different methods of detecting and responding to congestion, and some methods may be more "aggressive" than others. This could lead to a situation in which one protocol backs off more rapidly than another under congestion, and ends up getting no bandwidth.

I'm for mono-tasking when it comes to people. Get rid of call-waiting. Don't leave your cellphone on when you're having lunch with a friend. Don't do a crossword puzzle when you're on the phone. Hang up when someone puts you on hold to see if the other call coming in is going to be more advantageous.

Has the architecture of the human brain changed? Am I, once again, revealed to be in the wrong millennium?

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At 6:12 AM, Blogger Waterfall said...

You know, multi-tasking with people is one of my pet peeves, but I'm guilty of doing the same exact thing, particularly when I'm at work and my husband or mom calls to say hello. After I've hung up with them, I realize that I have not clue as to what we talked about.

I hafta stop being so rude. Thanks for the reminder!

At 6:53 AM, Blogger kenju said...

I needed a reminder too, Melinama. I am guilty of the crossword while on the phone, much to my children's dismay.

We don't have call-waiting anymore though, and if I am left hanging for more than 1 minute, I do hang up (so rude).

At 7:55 AM, Blogger Mirty said...

To me, the worst is calling someone on the cell phone while you are driving. Not only rude, but very dangerous!

Sometimes, it's helpful to multitask a bit when dealing with people. I work on a Help Desk and sometimes there is so much intense anger coming at me from the caller, that I find it helpful to play a little Solitaire on the computer while I let them vent. They are, after all, complete strangers to me and I just need to let them air their feelings so we can begin to actually solve the computer problem. All I really need to say in that case is "umm hmmm" while they slowly wind down.

At 8:11 AM, Blogger Badaunt said...

The answering the cellphone while having lunch with a friend thing REALLY bothers me. Why does the person on the phone get priority over the person who took the trouble to actually meet you?


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