OT: Need better hardware vs need better software.

Alex Tweedly alex at tweedly.net
Mon Aug 1 17:10:28 EDT 2016


I recently listened to an episode of BBC Radio 4's "Peter Day's World of 
Business" (A podcast series I highly recommend), about Chattanooga

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03wxx6w

Chattanooga is a US city which used to be very much a heavy industry and 
transport city, and has suffered job losses and economic hard times; it 
has a (not unusual for the US) public (i.e. city-owned) utility company, 
which has recently installed Gigabit Fibre Internet throughout the city.

One of the items on the program discussed the benefits of Gig Internet 
(as in "is it actually important ?"). The example given was a 
radiographer's office; each radiographer needs to download and examine 
multiple high-res images. Because it's the US, these are typically NOT 
in-house or on-campus downloads, they are from separate businesses 
(hospitals, clinics, ...) and hence they are downloaded and viewed over 
the Internet; other countries might have different contexts :-)  They 
are definitely high-res, and cannot (by law) be compressed (*), so each 
examination will require multiple 10-40 Mbyte images to be transferred.

The discussion of the saving from Gig-Internet (versus "ultrafast 
Internet" - say 20 - 40 Mbit rates) was interesting. For a typical 
examination, download times are cut from 6-7 seconds to 1/2 second; and 
both image sizes and the number of images per examination are increasing 
constantly.

Since a typical radiographer does 20,000 exams per year, this gives a 
time saving of one man-week per year - and hence easily justifies the 
cost of using / installing Gig-Internet. And the hard-to-quantify but 
definitely important saving is in decreasing the distraction or 
loss-of-focus from those small delays.


So - this is all sounding good, and everyone should try to get a Gig 
Internet connection. As a Cisco shareholder, I like that idea :-)

However, part of me knows that this is the wrong conclusion. "It's a 
software problem, Jim"

It's well known that a radiographer will examine multiple sets of images 
per day or per hour - there's no reason why they shouldn't be pre-loaded 
or  pre-cached on site, or even on the individual PC being used - or 
indeed directly within the app being used, so that they are *instantly* 
available. Very, very occasionally there might be a last-minute 
emergency scan to be examined - but the 99.999% case is predictable and 
cachable.

So - if you are developing apps of any kind - think about whether or how 
or when you can predict users' needs and actions, and make full use of 
the new async features of Livecode Indy/Business to do this as needed :-)

-- Alex.

(*) they can be compressed - but they cannot be compressed with any 
lossy algorithm (e.g. JPG images). The original version of the laws said 
"cannot be compressed in any way"; it took a LONG time and lots of 
effort to convince US lawmakers that there was a difference between 
loss-free compression (e.g. ZIP, RLE encoding) and lossy compression 
(e.g. JPEG, MP3).







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