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(Network World)   Tiny Appalachian grade school can't get Wi-Fi and it's not because it's in Appalachia   (networkworld.com) divider line 51
    More: Interesting, Radio Telescope, Wi-Fi, Appalachia, Radio Astronomy, National Radio Astronomy Observatory, computational complexity theory, radio transmissions, giant  
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4757 clicks; posted to Geek » on 07 Feb 2013 at 10:32 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-02-07 05:52:30 AM
Well good because according to many self-educated people that'd have given those kids cancer and stuff any ways.
 
2013-02-07 06:24:58 AM
"Why y'all need a telescope to look for radios in space?"
 
2013-02-07 06:42:47 AM
How about just hardwiring the computers?  Bluetooth?  Or, sometimes we just need to leave a child behind?
 
2013-02-07 07:23:38 AM
a highly restricted NSA facility nearby to operate their ultra-sensitive gear.

BSDM Level: OVER 9000!
 
2013-02-07 07:47:37 AM

Vodka Zombie: "Why y'all need a telescope to look for radios in space?"


Cause all the radio stations here in Appalachia are country and classic rock.
 
2013-02-07 07:50:31 AM

kid_icarus: Vodka Zombie: "Why y'all need a telescope to look for radios in space?"

Cause all the radio stations here in Appalachia are country and classic rock.


And, by classic rock, you mean Motley Crue, Aerosmith and Kansas 24/7?

I'm familiar with the format.
 
2013-02-07 09:35:03 AM
Maybe the school could coordinate the use o it's network to when the telescope is idle? Or maybe a Faraday screen or build a berm or something
 
2013-02-07 09:50:02 AM

IgG4: Maybe the school could coordinate the use o it's network to when the telescope is idle? Or maybe a Faraday screen or build a berm or something


You do realize that this is Appalachia we're talking about, right?
 
2013-02-07 09:57:45 AM

Vodka Zombie: You do realize that this is Appalachia we're talking about, right?


Riiight. Sorry.

OK Bubba is gonna come down here with his D10 and make a hill of dirt over yonder. and then Clem and the boys are gonna put up a chain link fence along the top of the new hill...
 
2013-02-07 09:59:39 AM

Vodka Zombie: IgG4: Maybe the school could coordinate the use o it's network to when the telescope is idle? Or maybe a Faraday screen or build a berm or something

You do realize that this is Appalachia we're talking about, right?



He didn't realize the Appalachian translation for "Faraday screen" is "a bunch of chicken wire".  But that wouldn't make sense if there were no chickens.  So, what the telescope needs is a bunch of chickens.  Problem solved.
 
2013-02-07 10:09:02 AM

Infobahn: How about just hardwiring the computers?  Bluetooth?  Or, sometimes we just need to leave a child behind?


no radio transitters allowed. people in green bank aren't even supposed to have cordless telephones AFAIK

my father in law is an computer engineer for NRAO.
 
2013-02-07 10:23:26 AM
Radio astronomer here, focusing on RFI flagging, and have several friends who worked out in Green Bank.  It's an interesting community because due to the Radio Quiet Zone they literally do stuff like have a guy go out and purchase a family a new electric blanket for their dog if the old one starts throwing off strange RFI.  Nearby Snowshoe Ski Resort has all sorts of direct relays for chairlifts etc that cost a bundle but make sure signals won't interfere with the telescope.

It's also a funny place because all this RFI shielding means it's a haven for all the crazy people in the US who think said radiation is hurting them.  So basically you have a community with a bunch of intelligent astronomers and new age idiots who don't understand science in addition to the whole being in Appalachia thing.
 
2013-02-07 10:33:06 AM

Andromeda: It's also a funny place because all this RFI shielding means it's a haven for all the crazy people in the US who think said radiation is hurting them.  So basically you have a community with a bunch of intelligent astronomers and new age idiots who don't understand science in addition to the whole being in Appalachia thing.


Sounds like a secret government plot to develop new sitcoms.
 
2013-02-07 10:35:25 AM
From TFA:  The NRAO says the 17 million-pound telescope is the most advanced of its kind in the world

I like how they evaluate the telescope in poundage. I'm pretty sure no one actually cares, but someone just needed fancy-sounding statistic. It makes me imagine a bunch of astronomers bantering about different telescopes and how much they weigh.
 
2013-02-07 10:48:05 AM
OK, why is a Faraday cage not the answer?
 
2013-02-07 10:51:13 AM

loki see loki do: OK, why is a Faraday cage not the answer?


You'd have to wrap the whole school in it: not an insurmountable obstacle, but I'm not sure they've got the funds.
 
2013-02-07 10:51:36 AM
Tiny? The Greenbank School is not smaller than what an average elementary or middle school used to be in this country 20 years ago. It's also got one of the most beautiful settings I've ever seen.

/Lived on the other side of Cheat Mountain from there.
//Did a nice Japanese tea ceremony exhibit for their "gifted" students one year.
///Would move back in a heartbeat WiFi be damned!
 
2013-02-07 10:51:57 AM
it's not because it's in Appalachia

Actually, subby, it IS because it's in Appalachia, just not for the reasons people would think. The USNRQZ is in Appalachia because of the properties of the area make it ideal for isolation of radio frequencies.
 
2013-02-07 10:52:02 AM

Fubini: From TFA:  The NRAO says the 17 million-pound telescope is the most advanced of its kind in the world

I like how they evaluate the telescope in poundage. I'm pretty sure no one actually cares, but someone just needed fancy-sounding statistic. It makes me imagine a bunch of astronomers bantering about different telescopes and how much they weigh.


Yep.  A more fun fact: it's 100 meters in diameter so it's the largest fully steerable telescope in the world, and is actually twice as big as they planned because when Robert C. Byrd's name got on it he thought they should be asking for money, or something.  And we know how that illustrious Senator worked!

Not so fun fact, IRC it's currently on the cutting board.  Radio astronomy funding in the US is currently atrocious and there's a reason I fled to Europe.
 
2013-02-07 10:52:23 AM
CSB

I think I visited this town as a youngster,  I remember riding an old diesel bus to the telescopes and the tour guide explaining that no gasoline engines were allowed on or near the site because the radio telescopes could pick up the discharges from spark plugs and it would mess with their data.

/CSB
 
2013-02-07 11:02:05 AM
"Short of wiring every classroom to have at least 25 drops and a laptop for every student, we will have a very difficult time providing digital textbooks or access to take the testing. The drops will require quite a number of switches and miles of cabling. All very costly," she says.

Then later in the article:

Green Bank Elementary/Middle has a strong and long-standing relationship with the scientific facility up the road - the NRAO installed Cat-5 cable throughout the school years ago, and Beaudet says the organization provides as much support as possible.

If you have Cat5 to every room you have what you need.  I really doubt online tests and the like suddenly are overloading your network.  Sounds like a lot of whining to go hit the feds up for a new internal network.
 
2013-02-07 11:03:30 AM
This is an interesting problem. According to the article the school is trying to move to digital textbooks and digital testing for some reason. The telescope is impeding their efforts because without WiFi they would need need to get the students laptops and wire them to the wall. The thing is , if they get digital textbooks they will need laptops for all the students anyway. The only additional cost would be wires for all the students and I've actually seen that done before. At my University some rooms had Ethernet ports attached to the desks. Set up a system like that and make all the students carry Ethernet wires with their laptops, it can't be that much more expensive then WiFi.
 
2013-02-07 11:03:45 AM
Think of the opportunities for mischief that this radio telescope creates.
 
2013-02-07 11:03:59 AM
Fun to see fellow astro folks in here.  I used to work there, and even had a hand in designing the wired LAN system for that school about 15 years ago.  They take RFI very seriously there, and the school is actually closer to the telescope than the main lab building.  The control room and even the exhibit hall in the tour center are completely shielded. Big vault-like door and copper cladding on all the walls, wire mesh on the windows, etc.  They even did extensive testing on the flourescent light bulbs they use around the site to make sure they wouldn't cause RFI.  There is only one microwave oven on the entire site and it's in a big metal box and doesn't get used very often.  And it's funny that people move to the area to avoid all radio transmissions because they're "allergic".  There is still a large amount of RF in the air, like police/fire radios, CB radios, all kinds of stuff transmitted from satellites like GPS, DishNetwork, satellite internet, and of course local AM/FM broadcast radios.  Heck, there are even staff members who live on site who have high power amateur radios in their houses and cars.  All these types of transmissions are known to the interference monitoring team and they usually don't cause a problem for the telescope.  Wi-fi on the other hand is in the range of frequencies that the telescope was built for, so that's what the uproar is about.  But people who live there thinking they are free of all electromagnetic waves are just fooling themselves.  The only place they can get away from all radio waves would be the far side of the moon.
 
2013-02-07 11:25:55 AM

Millennium: loki see loki do: OK, why is a Faraday cage not the answer?

You'd have to wrap the whole school in it: not an insurmountable obstacle, but I'm not sure they've got the funds.



25 - 30 NAT5 drops per classroom would probably achieve just that.

/probably more like one 48-port switch per classroom.
 
2013-02-07 11:26:10 AM

Marshall Willenholly: Fun to see fellow astro folks in here.  I used to work there, and even had a hand in designing the wired LAN system for that school about 15 years ago.  They take RFI very seriously there, and the school is actually closer to the telescope than the main lab building.  The control room and even the exhibit hall in the tour center are completely shielded. Big vault-like door and copper cladding on all the walls, wire mesh on the windows, etc.  They even did extensive testing on the flourescent light bulbs they use around the site to make sure they wouldn't cause RFI.  There is only one microwave oven on the entire site and it's in a big metal box and doesn't get used very often.  And it's funny that people move to the area to avoid all radio transmissions because they're "allergic".  There is still a large amount of RF in the air, like police/fire radios, CB radios, all kinds of stuff transmitted from satellites like GPS, DishNetwork, satellite internet, and of course local AM/FM broadcast radios.  Heck, there are even staff members who live on site who have high power amateur radios in their houses and cars.  All these types of transmissions are known to the interference monitoring team and they usually don't cause a problem for the telescope.  Wi-fi on the other hand is in the range of frequencies that the telescope was built for, so that's what the uproar is about.  But people who live there thinking they are free of all electromagnetic waves are just fooling themselves.  The only place they can get away from all radio waves would be the far side of the moon.


What you have to realize, though, is that these people are intensely stupid.
 
2013-02-07 11:45:07 AM
There's an NSA facility there, too?

Yeah, this school has no chance whatsoever of getting permission to have WiFi. They might as well not even try. Just build a wired network.
 
2013-02-07 12:01:50 PM

Alexei Novikov: There's an NSA facility there, too?

Yeah, this school has no chance whatsoever of getting permission to have WiFi. They might as well not even try. Just build a wired network.


The NSA facility is an hour away, they just use the close proximity of two sites (NRAO and the NSA site) as justification for the radio quiet zone.  I don't think there's ever been an issue of people causing interference to the NSA (formerly was a US Navy installation).
 
2013-02-07 12:03:07 PM
ModernLuddite:
What you have to realize, though, is that these people are intensely stupid.

But, but, they get itchy skin when people use cell phones near them, or they get "irritated" when in the same room as a wireless router.  Surely that's legitimate, right?
 
2013-02-07 12:15:57 PM

kid_icarus: Vodka Zombie: "Why y'all need a telescope to look for radios in space?"

Cause all the radio stations here in Appalachia are country and classic rock.



You left out gospel and Jesus-shouting.
 
2013-02-07 12:18:05 PM

KRSESQ: Millennium: loki see loki do: OK, why is a Faraday cage not the answer?

You'd have to wrap the whole school in it: not an insurmountable obstacle, but I'm not sure they've got the funds.


25 - 30 NAT5 drops per classroom would probably achieve just that.

/probably more like one 48-port switch per classroom.


Wouldn't that be even more expensive than wireless, though?
 
2013-02-07 12:32:49 PM

Marshall Willenholly: Alexei Novikov: There's an NSA facility there, too?

Yeah, this school has no chance whatsoever of getting permission to have WiFi. They might as well not even try. Just build a wired network.

The NSA facility is an hour away, they just use the close proximity of two sites (NRAO and the NSA site) as justification for the radio quiet zone.  I don't think there's ever been an issue of people causing interference to the NSA (formerly was a US Navy installation).


Nah, Sugar Grove never had any issues (nor do they now from what I understand) Of course, they were working within defined bandwidths versus the NRAO which is operating in a much wider spectrum where close in RF interference would potentially cause issues. Mind you, the zone isn't as quiet as you'd think. You can still get cell service, broadcast radio on AM & FM stations, CB radios, etc. I think the issue with the wireless is that the school is just so damned close to the NRAO itself that it could cause issues.
 
2013-02-07 12:51:47 PM

Brass_Robo: This is an interesting problem. According to the article the school is trying to move to digital textbooks and digital testing for some reason. The telescope is impeding their efforts because without WiFi they would need need to get the students laptops and wire them to the wall. The thing is , if they get digital textbooks they will need laptops for all the students anyway. The only additional cost would be wires for all the students and I've actually seen that done before. At my University some rooms had Ethernet ports attached to the desks. Set up a system like that and make all the students carry Ethernet wires with their laptops, it can't be that much more expensive then WiFi.


These days, digital textbooks are likely to be on an iPad. My brother-in-law has a class like that. I don't think there are any adapters for the iPad but I also wouldn't be surprised if there were.
 
2013-02-07 01:05:40 PM
Putting on my tinfoil hat, realize that this move to digital textbooks and increased testing is being driven by people who sell digital textbooks and conduct standardized testing.  Schools think they love the model because it gives a predictable textbook budget every year and they never get surprised by the single big year.  Instead, they pay $20 / year for each copy instead of $100 / 5 years for a physical textbook.  But at the end of 5 years, the school would have a textbook that is probably still good, but the digital copy is worth nothing.  And no paper has been produced, so the printing cost is out.  However, Apple has also sold you 1000 iPads that now won't work because the batteries are farked, or because someone dropped it and broke the screen, or Apple decided it doesn't support the new OS anymore and the new OS is required to run the textbook app.  And little Johnny lost his, and little Susie never remembers to plug hers in so the battery is always dead, or they accidentally deleted their homework... yup, this is a great idea.
 
2013-02-07 01:26:36 PM
I seem to recall someone had developed a wallpaper specifically for keeping WIFI signals inside the building...

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2404219,00.asp
 
2013-02-07 01:41:03 PM

give me doughnuts: kid_icarus: Vodka Zombie: "Why y'all need a telescope to look for radios in space?"

Cause all the radio stations here in Appalachia are country and classic rock.


You left out gospel and Jesus-shouting.


Ah...I forgot to include AM radio, you're right.
 
2013-02-07 02:59:37 PM
Schemes to keep the wifi away from the telescope are pretty much all doomed to failure.  Even if you built an anechoic chambner around the building and shielded the windows, all it takes is for someone to open a door.  A single partiion wall is certainly not going to do it.  Despite high frequency signals usually being thought of as line of sight, it isn't exactly like that in practice.   Several times while doing EMC testing in our own anechoic chamber or out at other laboratory facilities I will find myself talking on the cell phone and then I absent mindedly wander into a chamber to make some connection or something and....no, I don't always lose my signal.  I can be in a 10 meter shielded room that knocks everything down a hundred DB and with the door open I may or may not be able to still use my cell phone.  To shield an entire school, even only to the level of an anechoic chamber with the door open, is going to be really hard and at least 1000 times as expensive as wiring the school for ethernet.  Maybe even eleventy thousand times as expensive
 
2013-02-07 03:53:24 PM
If only there were extremely long thin strands of conductive metal they could use to solve this problem!
 
2013-02-07 03:55:44 PM

Andromeda: Radio astronomy funding in the US is currently atrocious and there's a reason I fled to Europe.


Two gold stars for typing that sentence and using those words.
Good for you. Really.
 
2013-02-07 05:06:32 PM

ModernLuddite: Marshall Willenholly: Fun to see fellow astro folks in here.  I used to work there, and even had a hand in designing the wired LAN system for that school about 15 years ago.  They take RFI very seriously there, and the school is actually closer to the telescope than the main lab building.  The control room and even the exhibit hall in the tour center are completely shielded. Big vault-like door and copper cladding on all the walls, wire mesh on the windows, etc.  They even did extensive testing on the flourescent light bulbs they use around the site to make sure they wouldn't cause RFI.  There is only one microwave oven on the entire site and it's in a big metal box and doesn't get used very often.  And it's funny that people move to the area to avoid all radio transmissions because they're "allergic".  There is still a large amount of RF in the air, like police/fire radios, CB radios, all kinds of stuff transmitted from satellites like GPS, DishNetwork, satellite internet, and of course local AM/FM broadcast radios.  Heck, there are even staff members who live on site who have high power amateur radios in their houses and cars.  All these types of transmissions are known to the interference monitoring team and they usually don't cause a problem for the telescope.  Wi-fi on the other hand is in the range of frequencies that the telescope was built for, so that's what the uproar is about.  But people who live there thinking they are free of all electromagnetic waves are just fooling themselves.  The only place they can get away from all radio waves would be the far side of the moon.

What you have to realize, though, is that these people are intensely stupid.


Combined with your handle, that was magnificent.
 
2013-02-07 05:06:45 PM
Are both Wi-Fi bands out, or could they set everything to 5 GHz only to avoid interference in the 2.4 GHz band?
 
2013-02-07 06:10:00 PM
Why does a grade school need wifi, anyway? Can't they just use network cables like we used 10 years ago?
 
2013-02-07 07:30:17 PM
How about using books....

and teachers actually teaching. Tests done with paper...


like them olden days
 
2013-02-07 07:36:04 PM
"Short of wiring every classroom to have at least 25 drops and a laptop for every student, we will have a very difficult time providing digital textbooks or access to take the testing. The drops will require quite a number of switches and miles of cabling. All very costly," she says.

They make this sound so cumbersome. The biggest hassle is the switching which is still technically simple though it involves more man hours.

This isn't like 15 years ago where network switches were expensive. You can get enterprise level switches for a few hundred a pop. To blanket a school with wifi you'd need to spend money on APs and provisioning and testing. Wired switch set up is pretty easy and easier to manage expectations.
 
2013-02-07 09:44:32 PM

IC Stars: I seem to recall someone had developed a wallpaper specifically for keeping WIFI signals inside the building...

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2404219,00.asp


You're not recalling!!! YOU'RE CITING!!!!

HERESY!!!!!
 
2013-02-08 01:59:10 AM

Mrbogey: You can get enterprise level switches for a few hundred a pop. To


where the hell are you buying yours at?
 
2013-02-08 02:16:07 AM

Kazan: Infobahn: How about just hardwiring the computers?  Bluetooth?  Or, sometimes we just need to leave a child behind?

no radio transitters allowed. people in green bank aren't even supposed to have cordless telephones AFAIK

my father in law is an computer engineer for NRAO.


This--figured that this was a place in the National Quiet Zone for NRAO, and wasn't surprised.  (It's literally the one area in the US where amateur radio--hell, just about ALL radio or radio-emitting devices--are illegal because they CAN interfere with the NRAO.  It's also (interestingly) the reason there is a channel 37 but no stations are assigned to it--primary use for the frequency for TV channel 37 is radio astronomy which trumps everything.  Pretty much even governmental users have to basically get permission from NRAO and the NSA to have so much as a handie-talkie unit...)
 
2013-02-08 08:47:25 PM
Solution: Giant Faraday Cage.
 
2013-02-08 11:39:37 PM

mr lawson: Mrbogey: You can get enterprise level switches for a few hundred a pop. To

where the hell are you buying yours at?


Some of those are discontinued products. Some are modules. When I look for current managed products I'm still seeing a few hundred.

I suppose you could frankenstein the network with off the shelf switches hobbled together since it's only a school. Just hope they have their own people doing upkeep on it.
 
2013-02-09 06:17:37 PM

wambu: Solution: Giant Faraday Cage.


Difficulty--Giant Faraday Cage surrounding large school and making sure you had no gaps in coverage, especially in school which is so close to facility that special authorisation has to be given for MOST RF-emitting devices.  (Unfortunately, in schools you have doors, which would tend to let out RF when opened.  Realistically, you'd need a whole series of Faraday cages, one for the school itself, one for each individual classroom and auxillary building like gymnasiums.  Engineering an ACTUAL radio shield would be harder than it looks, trust me.)

Even if they sealed the whole damn school off in copper, the costs involved are such that it'd be easier and cheaper just to run CAT5 or CAT6 and install a wired hub in each classroom. :P
 
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