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Unreliable Connection
NEGATIVE REVIEWS MENTION: Unreliable internet. POSITIVE REVIEWS MENTION: Unreliable internet.
Title text: NEGATIVE REVIEWS MENTION: Unreliable internet. POSITIVE REVIEWS MENTION: Unreliable internet.

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by ROUND TRIP LATENCY BACKOFF. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

In today's world, the Internet, pervasive mobile technology and the COVID pandemic have all caused an implicit expectation for employees to be available all hours of the day. One of these expectations is for said employees to be required to attend virtual meetings.

this comic, Randall solves this issue with a deliberately suboptimal internet device that drops Internet connectivity temporarily, thereby causing activities they require a constant, uninterrupted connection to be unusable. The device appears to be an automated version of a Galton board or Jin Akiyama's mathematical pachinko machine[1] with a series of eleven "on" and one "off" switches at the bottom to be pressed by falling balls.

An added source of humour is that Randall could likely achieve the same effect by looking through the router's settings - which most modern ones have a feature to turn on and off at scheduled times - or via purchasing a smart power strip. It's not clear whether the switches merely interrupt the connection momentarily or control power to the modem, which would involve a much longer booting sequence.

The "unreliable" connection provides an excuse to be unavailable for work or social calls, and thus free to enjoy one's vacation. However the device also allows the user to have a fast internet connection most of the time, enabling them to use it for leisure purposes, such as downloading movies for entertainment, or to connect with others on one's own terms. It thus retains most of the benefit of a good connection.

The probability of a ball hitting the "off" switch is 165/2048, or about 8%, assuming the machine is ordinary.[2] We don't know the frequency with which new balls are dropped, so we can't estimate the frequency with which the device is likely to trigger Session Initiation Protocol, Transmission Control Protocol, or similar timeout conditions that would likely close synchronous VOIP, video conferencing, and e.g. VRChat connections. Even if such connections were to survive the induced service interruptions, the application layer call or teleconference quality would suffer during them. The device may cause interruptions rarely enough that the connection is usable for casual purposes, but the user can still reasonably claim that it's unreliable to get out of online obligations.

The title text reflects on today's increasingly always-connected world, where emphasis may be changing from finding rare vacation spots that have reliable internet, to show off the local facilities, to now actually finding somewhere worthwhile to go that still doesn't have it, as a humble-brag about the remoteness of the destination. It could also be a comment on the mild paradox that a nominally unreliable internet connection has advantages for those whose communication schedules, volume, or style preferences make synchronous teleconferencing less desirable. The reviews for the new vacation spot indicate that the 'unfortunate' disconnections are found to be both desirable and undesirable, possibly even by the same person.

Transcript

Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
[There are twelve switches under an automated Galton board or pachinko machine, eleven of which are linked to a large item marked "on" but the ninth of which is linked to one marked "off", apparently controlling the operation of a modem connected to a gigabit data-cable and also connected onwards to a WiFi router. There is a supply of balls in a hopper above the board, with the triangular configuration of pins directing the balls chaotically to one or other of the switches, as shown by a single released ball and a motion path partially showing how it had rebounded from around half-way down until after hitting and rebounding away off a bottom-layer switch.]
[Caption below the panel]:
My new vacation spot has very fast internet that turns off randomly every now and then, just so you can tell people you'll be staying somewhere without a reliable connection.


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