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Friday, January 6, 2012

Inside Information

Thankfully it is Friday, and the end of the workweek for me.  Even though work started on Tuesday, a four day week, I kind of feel beat up.  La Scala lunch with the guys from work, Ruben, Khary, and Swami was really good.  We have not been there in a really long time, and I was in the mood for some chicken parm, and there spinach with oil and garlic.  Getting out of the office instead of working thru lunch as usual was priceless.

Dinner at home was a fan favorite, baked chicken wings adobe, half with seasoned breadcrumbs, half plain.  Hot Wing Sauce and Blue Cheese dressing optional.  Those little round smiley faced Mcain potatoes, corn and green beans rounded out the meal.  Will have some wings leftover for a snack tomorrow.

This day in history is a good one “On this day in 1838, Samuel Morse's telegraph system is demonstrated for the first time at the Speedwell Iron Works in Morristown, New Jersey. The telegraph, a device which used electric impulses to transmit encoded messages over a wire, would eventually revolutionize long-distance communication, reaching the height of its popularity in the 1920s and 1930s.”
Over the course of the 20th century, telegraph messages were largely replaced by cheap long-distance phone service, faxes and email. Western Union delivered its final telegram in January 2006.

What makes this so interesting is how I can relate to this piece of history.  It’s my blog, so I will typically find a way to twist things the way I want…I have been working for Reuters for almost 21 years, and most of that time in the Editorial, News and Media side of things.  Technical operations implementation and support have provided me the opportunity to see how fast technology changes. 

In 1851, the German-born Paul Julius Reuter opened an office in the City of London which transmitted stock market quotations between London and Paris via the new Calais to Dover cable. Reuter had previously used pigeons to fly stock prices between Aachen and Brussels, a service that operated for a year until a gap in the telegraph link was closed.[5]
In its earliest incarnation, his Reuters News Agency used carrier pigeons to send dispatches, but soon, combining journalism with his familiarity with the telegraph, it became a "news-wire service", using the telegraph to send news stories to subscribing newspapers. Over the following decades, his agency became the leading source for breaking news across Europe, with wire connections to Asia and North and South America by 1874. He retired in 1878, handing the business to his son, and died at his Villa Reuter mansion in 1899. Still a leader in journalism, the syndicate founded by Reuter is now known as Thomson Reuters. In a 1940 film based on his life, A Dispatch from Reuters, Reuter was played by Edward G. Robinson.

Yes , you read that correctly, the founder of one of the greatest information companies used telegraph, but also used pigeons to fly stock prices across the channel from England to France.  Now we take wireless, wifi, 3G, 4G…what the hell is 4G anyway, cell towers, satellites, GPS, fiber optic (fios) and other forms of cable or broadband communications for granted.  In the US and many other countries, the level of service and bandwidth is so good, that most communications don’t start their journey any longer on the copper wires that carried telegraph in the past.

Would you believe that pigeons are still used to carry information and data in a world filled with so much technology?

 A South African information technology company recently proved it was faster for them to transmit data with a carrier pigeon than to send it using Telkom , the country's leading internet service provider. Internet speed and connectivity in Africa's largest economy are poor because of a bandwidth shortage. It is also expensive.  Local news agency SAPA reported the 11-month-old pigeon, Winston, took one hour and eight minutes to fly the 80 km (50 miles) from Unlimited IT's offices near Pietermaritzburg to the coastal city of Durban with a data card was strapped to his leg.
Including downloading, the transfer took two hours, six minutes and 57 seconds -- the time it took for only four percent of the data to be transferred using a Telkom line.

SAPA said Unlimited IT performed the stunt after becoming frustrated with slow internet transmission times.

In my present day job, I manage a team that supports the systems and infrastructure that produces, collects, and distributes News and information products to 191 countries in the world.  

No bird feed or coops anymore in the data center.

Photo of the day “Inside Information”

1 comment:

  1. The interesting about communications in general
    is, the more things change, the more they will stay the same,some of early digital communications protocols are more popular today
    then they were when first introduced, for example
    Heilshriber a digital protocol developed by the
    German military for use in transmitting RTTY over the low to high freq. range right before WW2.
    In fact many individuals use it today, hard to believe right, all of the internet protcols are nothing more than offshoots of the original baudot, and then later ASCII codes for radio
    teletype, whats interesting is not many people know this fact, Im sure in your earlier days
    at Reuters in the information room their was a large RTTY typewriter banging out characters on
    large paper rolls, this probably stopped in the late 90s as the advent of the internet took over,
    but make no mistake the networks at the AP and Reuters and any other news organization were just
    as sophisticated as what they use today!