sudorandom - tech blog

Depth-first search into networking, programming, random tech topics

The Internet is used for pretty much everything. There's Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, TikTok, Wikipedia, and I guess the world's economy does some other stuff with it or something. Anyway, it's really important. Billions of people are walking around with easy access to the Internet in their pockets. But, like, how does it work? Let us skip right past WiFi and mobile networks. Assume your amazingly clever tweet magically gets to a nearby cell tower. What happens then? Does it wirelessly connect to another cell tower until it gets to some Twitter server sitting in a room somewhere? Does it go to space and come back? Does it travel through a trans-dimensional wormhole? Does it get attached to a South African Swallow and sent away with love? Nope.

The vast majority of Internet traffic uses fiber optic cables. Fiber optic cables are tiny, hair-sized strands of glass. Why is “optic” in the name? Well, just as electric wires carry electric current, fiber optic cables carry light and the light generator of choice for these cables are lasers! Yep, the modern internet is literally a bunch of lasers shooting pulses light everywhere.

Picture showing a cable with silly lables

There are millions of miles of fiber optic cables that connect every major city in the world together. The path of these cables will typically follow highways and railroads to go from city to city. Within cities fiber optic cable is buried under sidewalks, streets and sometimes strung along power lines.

Remember when I mentioned that the world is connected by fiber optic cables?... Now you're probably saying “But, sudorandom, there's absolutely no way these cables can span across the OCEANS. That'd be crazy!”. I would respond by saying “they are under the oceans! And IT IS INCREDIBLY CRAZY”. It takes a lot of money and engineering effort to lay these down. There are specialized ships for laying submarine cables. When breaks happen (from boat anchors, nation-state sabotage and sharks) there are different kind of ship that can locate and pull this cable from the bottom of the ocean to make repairs. There's even an organization that provides a map that shows every operating underwater cable and it's nuts.

Submarine Cable Map > Image Source: TeleGeography

Let's recap a bit. The Internet is a large global network of hair-sized glass strands that we shoot laser beams into... and is sometimes attacked by sharks. Sometimes knowing how things work makes it much more awesome. Note that I'm glossing over many, many details. In later updates I will dive deeper into the backbone of the Internet. Hopefully you learned a bit more behind what's happening behind the blinking lights on your home router.

Shark Attacking Submarine Cable > Image Source: YouTube snapshot

#internet #backbone #fiber #shark


Many rubber ducks

When you don't have motivation everything is daunting. Small tasks become big. Big tasks become monumental. I’m in the middle of that kind of mindset... but I have to keep reminding myself that small steps progress naturally into a long journey. I didn’t really have a goal when writing this. I just wanted to remind myself that I can make big things happen. I just need to start.

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Have you ever wondered what those two thin pieces of glass that always seem to be in front of politicians when they give speeches to large crowds? I know you've seen them, but in case you've forgotten here's some in front of Trump: Picture of Trump speaking in front of podium with two pieces of glass suspended on either side of him

And Obama: Picture of Obama speaking

So what's the deal? I've heard several theories. Is it something to do with audio to filter out to crowd noise? Is it somehow blocking all the noise? Does it somehow provide security to the high profile speakers... like... do they move to deflect bullets?! Oh! They must interfere with sniper scopes, right?

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Note: This post was originally posted in 2015. I am re-posting it with some small edits and a section at the bottom with an update.


This is a story about how I came to create evepraisal.com, a relatively popular tool for Eve Online that is commonly used to price check cargo scans, contracts, EFT fittings, assets, and more. If none of that means anything to you that's totally fine! I barely know, too.

Eve Online has always been an interesting game to me. For the uninitiated, Eve Online is a space-themed single-sharded MMO game that boasts an incredibly realistic economy and allows players to take high stakes risks. This is the game that has had several extremely large fights over player-controlled territories involving thousands of people. It’s a game where politics, espionage and propaganda are effective weapons against your enemy.

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