Brief History of Undersea Cables

In a previous post from 2008 regarding the large scale (albeit temporary) loss of Internet connectivity in the Middle East and India, I discovered a great map of the world’s undersea cables. This map came up in discussion again recently and more specifically, how and when did all of the cables get there?

This reminded me of a related article from earlier this year which talked about the World’s Critical Infrastructure and which included a basic time line of some of the word’s undersea cables:

  • 1850: First international telegraph link, England-France, later cables joined other European countries & USA with Canada.
  • 1858: First trans-Atlantic cable laid between Ireland & Newfoundland; failed after 26 days & new cable was laid in 1866.
  • 1866: First trans-Atlantic (copper) cable carried telegraph messages at 12 words a minute. These cables were promoted as the eighth wonder of the world emphasizing cooperation between UK and the United States.
  • 1884: First underwater telephone cable service from San Francisco to Oakland.
  • 1920: Short-wave radio superseded cables for voice, picture & telex traffic.
  • 1956: First trans-Atlantic (TAT-1) telephone cable initially had a capacity of 36 telephone calls at a time; calls cost $12 for the first 3 minutes. Invention of repeaters (1940s) & their use in TAT-1.
  • 1961: Beginning of high quality, global network.
  • 1986: First international fiber-optic cable joins Belgium & UK.
  • 1988: First Atlantic fiber-optic cable, TAT-8, had a capacity for 40,000 simultaneous phone calls, 10 times that of the last copper cable. This is when submarine cables started to outperform satellites in terms of the volume.
  • Today: Each fiber pair within a cable has the capacity to carry information including video that is equivalent to 150,000,000 simultaneous phone calls. Almost all transoceanic telecommunications are now routed via the submarine cable network instead of satellite.

The failure after just 26 days of the first cable to be laid from Ireland made me smile.

Source: CircleID, 26 April 2010

Firefox 3 upgrade complete

Well I did my bit for Mozilla’s World Record attempt by downloading the latest release of the Firefox browser this evening. However, I’d have to say that Mozilla did rather a poor job at managing the launch of this new version.

They’ve been banging on about it for weeks and then when the big day finally arrived, there wasn’t a download button to be seen on the Mozilla site all day, with no obvious explanation that I could see. I fully expected to see some sort of imaginative countdown timer that would tell me when I should check back but no, I had to delve really deep into their website to discover that the launch wouldn’t actually take place until 6pm Irish time.

Of course, once the release did finally get under way, their websites fell over under the strain, which impressed me even less. I eventually managed to get a copy from one of their FTP sites thanks to Michele Neylon’s post.

All in all, I’m a big fan of Firefox and will stick with it but Mozilla annoyed me quite a bit with this one.

Beware of AIB Phishing attempts

For the second morning in a row, I received a bogus email claiming to be from AIB (Allied Irish Bank) which told me that my account has been locked. This is of course a fraudulent attempt to lure me to a bogus website where I might blindly enter my banking details only to have them stolen by those behind this scam. This technique is commonly known in Internet circles as Phishing.

The reasons I know this is a scam include:

  1. I’m not that stupid!
  2. I do not have an account with AIB
  3. I know that banks don’t communicate this way
  4. My bank does not have my email address
  5. Some of the terminology used in the message doesn’t quite read correctly

If (and when) you receive emails like this, ask yourself the above questions before binning the message.

The full text of the email reads as follows:

Dear Customer,

AIB Group is constantly working to increase security for all online banking users. To ensure the integrity of our online payment system, we periodically review accounts. Your account have been placed on hold due possible errors dectected with your AIB code card. Restricted accounts will not be able to receive payments, send payments or withdraw funds. All restricted accounts have their billing information unconfirmed, until updated on file.

To initiate the update confirmation process, you are now required to follow the link below and fill in the necessary fields. Kindly click on the link below to continue with the verification process and ensure the security of your account.

Account Re-activation

Important Notice: You are strictly advised to match your information rightly to avoid service suspension.

Thank you for your co-operation.

AIB and AIB Group are registered business names of Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. is regulated by the Financial Regulator. Registered Office: Bankcentre, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. Tel: + 353 1 6600311 Registered in Ireland : Registered No. 24173. Copyright © Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. 1995

How to add a favicon to a WordPress Blog

I have a number of WordPress Blogs hosted from my domain and until recently hadn’t realised that I could have a different favicon for each one. In case you are unfamiliar with a favicon, it’s the little icon that appears beside the site name/address in your browser when you visit that site. For this site, that is a miniature picture of me!

Anyway, here is how to use a specific icon for any given blog (WordPress only):

  1. Place a copy of the icon file (favicon.ico) in the top level area where your WordPress blog has been installed.
  2. Edit the header.php file for the theme you are using. This is usually located in wp-content/themes/<themename> for WordPress blogs).
  3. Add the following line and save the file.
  4. <link rel="shortcut icon" href="favicon.ico" />

  5. Refresh the site from your browser and you’re all done!

Source: Amos Wong

World’s Longest Domain Name

On a recent visit to Wales, Joe Cashin took a great photograph of a Volvo Car Sales showroom in the town with the longest name in Britain


Whilst I had heard of this town before, I did not realise that it holds the record for the longest Internet domain name in the world, which is:

Upon visiting this site I learned that the longest domain name supported by the Internet (excluding the suffix) is 63 characters and amazingly the above domain name has exactly this many letters. However, if you look closely you will see that the domain name above actually contains and additional 5 letters (uchaf). This is because the domain represents the upper/older part of the village and “uchaf” is the Welsh for “higher” or “upper”.

It’s just a shame that they didn’t put a little more effort into the website.

IPv6 Here We Come

The IPv6 debate has been rolling on now for several years with no definitive end in sight. However, for my money, the addition of several IPv6 addresses to a number of the root DNS servers earlier this week is another significant step in the right direction for IPv6.

For those of you fortunate enough not to be involved in the debate, this report by the BBC Technology website includes a simple (and brief) overview of what IPv6 is and why it is required. It’s well worth 2 minutes of your time if you have a passing interest in computing or technology generally.

Source: SlashDot

75 million lose their Internet connection

The Guardian have posted a good summary of the circumstances surrounding the loss of Internet connectivity in the Middle East and India last week. Apparently, the best part of 75 million users were affected, all because of a ship’s attempt to moor off the coast of Egypt in bad weather.

More interestingly, they also posted a link to a map entitled The Internet’s Undersea World (by that illustrates the mass of undersea submarine cables that deliver the global connectivity enjoyed by the millions of us oblivious Internet users every day. The speeds of some of those cables are just phenomenal!

Source: The Guardian

Q&A Session with Bruce Schneier

For those of you who that have not heard of Bruce Schneier, he is an world renowned cryptographer and computer security specialist and has authored loads of books on these subjects.

This recent Questions & Answers Session with Freakonomics makes for fascinating reading, even to the most basic of computer users. All of the questions were created by subscribers to the Freakonomics Blog over the course of the previous week.

Source: SlashDot

Register365 finally drop their prices

I see that Register365 (a.k.a. Hosting365) have finally reduced the cost of registering a .ie domain with them. Until recently, they were charging €69.95 (per year) for a .ie domain name but have now reduced this to a more reasonable €25.95, just in time for the October 31st opening of personal .ie domains by the IEDR. They have also reduced the cost of registering a .com .net and .org from €9.95 to €5.95.

I wonder what their friends over at Blacknight Solutions will make of this?

Interesting Map of the Internet

Chris Harrison, a doctoral student from Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute has produced a series of interesting maps depicting the geographical structure and distribution of the Internet.

Here are some interesting observations I made:

  1. The coverage in the southern hemisphere is surprisingly low
  2. The coverage in India and (to a lesser extent) China is much lower than I expected
  3. The coverage in Australia reflects the location of most of the major cities in the south-eastern region of the country.
  4. Less well-developed continents like Africa and South America have poor coverage
  5. Whilst Ireland seems to fare reasonably well in Europe, if you zoom in on Ireland, you could argue that Waterford appears to be among the least well-served.

What do you think?

Source: SlashDot