[eDebate] Response to Jim Hanson - Technology Tubs, etc.

Aaron Olney aaron.olney
Wed Jul 23 13:05:16 CDT 2008

If everyone just slowed the heck down, there would be no need for file

On Tue, Jul 22, 2008 at 5:01 PM, Jim Hanson <hansonjb at whitman.edu> wrote:

>  all legit issues. this area is not my expertise; I have discussed these
> issues generally with our tech people and will further including going
> through what you have written here.
> the one part I will respond to is the passing of the files and setting up a
> system to deal with that. our debaters have been very adamant that they want
> the files to be passed during the speech in a way that approximates how
> paper files gets passed currently. the files they put together for a speech
> get created during prep time--a tough, time crunched period, something that
> cannot happen before the round starts (only the 1ac and 1nc could do that
> and even the 1nc would be somewhat in doubt). so any solution that followed
> along these lines would need to be able to share these files after they got
> prepared and pretty much immediately after they got presented during a
> speech.
> jim :)
> hansonjb at whitman.edu
>  *From:* James Maritato <james.maritato at gmail.com>
> *Sent:* Tuesday, July 22, 2008 1:13 PM
> *To:* edebate at ndtceda.com
> *Subject:* [eDebate] Response to Jim Hanson - Technology Tubs, etc.
> Jim,
>      I get the merits of the organizational/presentation elements of the
> software you're working on - so no intended disrespect on what I expect will
> be a pretty cool end result :-).
>      In regards to ad-hoc traffic, I think it's difficult to make the
> determination about how Ad-Hoc traffic will create disruption without the
> context of the site in mind.  Granted, at Whitman, the awesome power of
> institutionally funded Cisco routers probably handle this issue just fine --
> but what about those random round robins that happen in hotels where the
> wireless network is literally running off a series of daisy chained linksys
> routers and repeaters - or any of the others that I've taken the liberty to
> log in to with the default user name and password available on the
> manufacturer's webpage?  I don't think the concept is bad inherently, but I
> think the problem here is not knowing where the system will be used.  The
> system can be designed and work at Whitman, but such a system can't
> necessarily account for the WiFi infrastructure at other locations.  At
> Marist, for instance, our WiFi tends to range from awesome to abysmal,
> dependent on your location in buildings and the location of other equipment.
>    A few years ago I did a home networking install for a client and set up
> each of the household computers with wireless access to print and file
> servers for family photos, music, movies, etc.  About a year later the
> client called me and told me that within the last week everything stopped
> working -- print jobs would fail, WiFi access points would disappear, etc.
> It took me a while to figure out what had changed.  The client had gone out
> and replaced all of her telephones in the house with brand new cordless 2.4
> GHz Panasonic phones.  Each time the phones would poll their base station,
> the wireless router would become flooded with traffic and subsequently
> reset.
>    Now I recognize this story is decontextual from debate, or colleges, and
> involves home-user intended hardware -- but the moral of the story I learned
> from a week of tracking down the problem was that WiFi is still
> unpredictable.  The Wireless N standard, for instance, is not even a
> standard -- it's a proposed standard upon which different manufacturers have
> added their own functionality.  The same can be said for many of the early
> 802.11 G cards still circulating in laptops that have never had their
> firmware upgraded.  The big problem here is that it takes several years for
> these standards to actually become standardized, by which time the industry
> has moved on to developing a new standard.
>   So again, I understand why debaters would want an organizational system
> that's easy to use and share with others -- but I'm not inherently sure why
> that system should be WiFi based via AdHoc networks.  At that point, you're
> also asking me to take down my firewalls and give you intimate access to my
> machine (and if you are running any version of Windows with enough savvy I
> can have everything on your hard drive).  Each of our machines must be
> running in both client and server mode (because your set up describes no
> intermediary server), etc.  I'm not saying this sort of set up doesn't work
> in a standardized environment - but at a debate tournament you are likely to
> run into any of the following things:
> 1.  Operating Systems:  Microsoft Windows - in at least 5 Varieties -- XP
> Home Service packs 1-3, XP Professional Service Packs 1-3, Vista (Home, Home
> Premium, Business, Ultimate), Vista SP1 (Home, Home Premium, Business,
> Ultimate), Windows 2000 (in some cases) SP 1-4.  Mind you, each of these
> talks to its fellow brethren in different ways, especially when setting up
> AdHoc networks.  Each also has different capabilities for shared folder
> functionality, etc. (ie.  Windows Home versions come with Simple File
> Sharing enabled, while Professional does not offer the option.  Vista Home
> is incapable of accepting or creating too many connections as its networking
> stack has been crippled to force business users to pay for the more
> expensive version, etc.)  Now also add in the Mac users and the random Linux
> debater.
> 2.  Varying levels of firewall settings and third-party security software.
> In a collegiate environment, IT loads standard builds that have been tested
> for compatibility.  Firewall settings are maintained from centralized
> locations, or provided through hardware solutions.  Just because we are all
> running Windows does not mean someone in the debate isn't also running
> ZoneAlarm or some other firewall program that is going to block that AdHoc
> connection.
> 3.  Varying levels of user competence.  This is self explanatory.
> 4.  Malware.  At the point that there's an Ad-Hoc connection established
> between two windows computers it is very easy for malware designed to jump
> between machines via Windows File Sharing to make the leap.  There is no
> intermediary router - just a few machines connected in a one-to-many
> fashion.  Ad-Hoc networks are like running around in Siberia with no clothes
> on.  You only establish them with other clients whose security you trust.
> 5.  Collision.  Ad-Hoc networks are notorious for packet collision because
> all of the nodes on the network are actively competing with one another for
> access to the network medium (in this case, the 802.11 band).  This is why
> wireless access points and routers are important -- they manage the flow of
> packets to eliminate collision.  Thus Ad-Hoc networks are spottier, slower,
> and less reliable than other WiFi configurations.
> Given all these issues, I am still left hard pressed to understand how
> dealing with this issues in a debate round could be any faster than passing
> a jump drive.  Jim, I am not suggesting you change your project, but if the
> big benefit here is loading the content pre-round and having it organized,
> why couldn't this be done through a Java application (which would be
> platform independent) that loaded the content from jumpdrives or DVD-R
> before the round?  What is more inconvenient -- passing the jumpdrive before
> the judge arrives, or trying to configure Ad-Hoc connections between four
> different computers while determining why this Dell laptop won't talk to
> that HP laptop because their drivers are old and don't conform to standards,
> or trying to figure out why we each need to connect to each other one at a
> time to move the files?  Doesn't this take just as long as passing the jump
> drive, but create even more convolution for someone who lacks the technical
> savvy?
> Again, no disrespect towards your efforts, I just sort of feel like this
> discussion of technology might over emphasize the need for "big tech" when
> some of these problems can be solved in the short term.  The lack of WiFi
> based debate software shouldn't be a reason for people to continue trying to
> travel all those tubs.  There are workarounds available.
> And thanks for the OCR tips -- I've been using this set up with our
> business class HP Scanner/Printer/Fax, but I have been sadly disappointed
> with its ability to OCR without the extra time taken to proofread and fix
> what the computer simply can't read (for instance - debater markup in
> books!) :-)
> Jimbo
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