TECHNOLOGY & SCIENCE Home internet jammed up? Try these steps before upgrading

TECNOLOGIA Y CIENCIA/ TECHNOLOGY & SCIENCE

Home internet jammed up? Try these steps before upgrading

With so much of the U.S. workforce — and their families — now cooped up at home to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, it’s not a huge surprise that home internet is showing the strain.

If you’ve had a business videoconference stutter while your teenagers play Call of Duty online, or found yourself unable to stream the news while your spouse uploads huge data files for work, you’ll have a good idea of the problem.

IS THERE A BANDWIDTH PROBLEM?

The internet’s core is managing the spike in traffic just fine, experts say. It has massive capacity to handle Netflix, YouTube, Zoom and other streaming services.

True, Netflix has just throttled down its video quality in Europe at the request of authorities there. But the company already stores its programs on servers close to users’ homes already, and there’s no evidence that it’s clogging networks.

IF THE INTERNET IS SO STURDY, WHY DOES MY HOME CONNECTION STUTTER?

The problem partly lies in the so-called “last mile,” the link that connects your home to the ultra-high speed internet backbone.

Most U.S. homes get their internet from cable companies and thus connect to the broader network via coaxial cable, a legacy of the cable TV era. These connections provide faster “downstream” speeds to your home than “upstream” speeds back to the internet. Since videoconferencing sends equal amounts of data both ways, simultaneous sessions can clog the upstream channel and disrupt service for the entire household.

If that happens, one quick solution is to have some family members switch to audio-only, which conserves bandwidth. This also applies to anyone in multiplayer online games, where — per a wag on Twitter — the banter between players often resembles conference calls with occasional shooting.

You could also order a service upgrade, although that might not be strictly necessary. Some providers are temporarily offering more bandwidth, particularly for families with school-age children, in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Others have dropped service caps that charge extra when data usage passes a certain threshold.

The relatively few U.S. households with their own direct fiber-optic connections have the same bandwidth in both directions and shouldn’t experience serious hiccups.

DOES MY HOME NETWORK NEED AN UPGRADE?

It might. Start with your internet modem, the device that most likely has a coax cable connecting it to your wall. Your internet provider often rents the modem to you.

If it’s several years old, it’s probably time to ask your provider if upgrading the modem’s internal software, or replacing the modem entirely, will help. Older modems often can’t deliver the full bandwidth you’re paying for to your household.

Next up is your Wi-Fi router. If you have cable, it may be built into your modem. If you haven’t already, try moving it to a more central location in your home or apartment; that will ensure bandwidth is distributed more equally.

Or you can add more access points and distribute Wi-Fi with a “mesh” network. Newer routers let you add several satellite stations that boost your signal throughout the house, though you might have to arrange that with your provider.

One more possibility: You can connect some devices directly to the router with ethernet cables instead of using Wi-Fi. This may improve the performance of videoconferencing.

El Internet en Estados Unidos esta equipado para manejar el aumento de tráfico

BOSTON (AP) - Internet no se sobrecargará por los picos en el tráfico de los millones de estadounidenses que ahora trabajan desde su casa para desalentar la propagación del nuevo coronavirus, dicen los expertos. Pero las conexiones podrían tropezar para muchos si demasiados miembros de la familia intentan realizar videoconferencias al mismo tiempo.

Algunos pueden tener que conformarse con el audio, que es mucho menos exigente con el ancho de banda.

Por otra parte, el senador Mark Warner, de Virginia, aplaudió el sábado los anuncios de varios proveedores importantes de Internet de EE. UU. Por tomar medidas temporales, incluida la suspensión de límites de datos, Wi-Fi público gratuito y banda ancha gratuita para hogares con niños que carecen de él, diseñados para adaptarse mejor Acceso remoto para estudiantes, trabajadores y funcionarios de salud pública. Él y otros 17 colegas, demócratas e independientes, habían pedido tales medidas en una carta el jueves a los CEO de AT&T, Charter, Comcast, Cox, Verizon, CenturyLink, Sprint y T-Mobile.

El núcleo de la red de los EE. UU. Es más que capaz de manejar el aumento de la demanda relacionado con los virus porque ha evolucionado para poder manejar fácilmente Netflix, YouTube y otros servicios de transmisión.

"El núcleo de la red está excesivamente sobreaprovisionado", dijo Paul Vixie, CEO de Farsight Security y pionero de Internet que ayudó a diseñar su sistema de nombres de dominio.

Pero si los padres realizan videoconferencias para trabajar al mismo tiempo que los estudiantes de la universidad y la escuela secundaria intentan ingresar a la escuela, podrían experimentar congestión. Calcule un umbral de caída de paquetes de cinco o más usuarios. Esto se debe a que la llamada última milla es para la mayoría de los estadounidenses aprovisionados para cable: la capacidad de descarga es sólida pero la carga es limitada. Las conexiones de fibra óptica no tienen los mismos problemas y funcionarán bien.

La Internet de Italia experimentó un aumento del 30% en el tráfico de las horas pico a principios de la semana pasada después de que el gobierno envió a todos a sus hogares en aislamiento, dijo Matthew Prince, CEO de Cloudflare, que da forma y asegura el tráfico de Internet para los sitios web, más del 10% de los cuales se sientan detrás su red

Prince dijo en una entrevista el viernes que Cloudflare no vio evidencia, sin embargo, de que el internet italiano se haya vuelto más lento. Los partidos de fútbol de la Copa Mundial han supuesto una carga mayor.

Los tiempos pico de uso de Internet en países donde el trabajo se ha desplazado de la oficina al hogar debido a COVID-19 también ha cambiado, desde aproximadamente la hora de la cena hasta las 11 de la mañana. Prince dice que sucedió en Italia y Corea del Sur y espera lo mismo en los EE. UU.

El tráfico ha aumentado de 10% a 20% durante las horas pico desde la primera semana de febrero en el gran Seattle, la región metropolitana de EE. UU. Más afectada por COVID-19, según Cloudflare.

El repentino aumento inesperado de millones de trabajadores remotos ha obligado a las empresas a luchar para aumentar su capacidad de conexiones seguras a través de redes privadas virtuales, dijo Patrick Sullivan, director técnico de seguridad de Akamai, un importante proveedor de TI para empresas y gobiernos.

El aumento está creando algunos cuellos de botella temporales. Pero debido a que gran parte de la informática se ha trasladado a los servicios en la nube, el cambio no representa una gran carga in situ para las empresas, dijo Sullivan, con los cuellos de botella que generalmente se eliminan en minutos u horas.

 

Computer-graphics pioneers win tech’s Turing prize

 

The technology that animated movies like “Toy Story” and enabled a variety of special effects is the focus of this year’s Turing Award, the technology industry’s version of the Nobel Prize.

Patrick Hanrahan and Edwin Catmull won the prize for their contributions to 3-D computer graphics used in movies and video games.

Edwin Catmull was hired by legendary filmmaker George Lucas to head the computer-technology division that became Pixar when Apple founder Steve Jobs bought it. Patrick Hanrahan was one of Catmull’s early hires at Pixar, now part of Disney.

Together, the two worked on techniques that made graphics in movies like “Toy Story” look more lifelike, even though Hanrahan left Pixar years before the studio released that film. Catmull is the former president of Pixar and worked there for more than three decades.

“What makes skin look like skin? What makes a tree look like a tree? You have to understand the structure of material and how light interacts with it,” Hanrahan said in an interview with The Associated Press. Only then is it possible to translate that understanding of how the physics of curved surfaces — our hands, our noses — works with light into the 100,00-plus frames that make up a movie.

Hanrahan’s “RenderMan” software helped produce “Toy Story” in 1995 and then a string of Pixar films like “Up,” “Monsters Inc.,” “Finding Nemo” and “Wall-E.” It was also the backbone of CGI special effects in live-action movies such as “Titanic” and the “Lord of the Rings” films.

The Association for Computing Machinery, which awards the prize, says filmmakers used RenderMan software in nearly all of the last 47 movies nominated for a visual effects Academy Award.

The technology has also indirectly helped the artificial-intelligence field. The chips that were developed for video-game graphics were so powerful that they could then be used to train AI algorithms.

Panorama Hispano is the regional news and information newspaper for Hispanic and other diverse communities.

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