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Bird Flu Pandemic Could Choke the Net 364

Posted by kdawson
from the edge-cannot-hold dept.
PetManimal writes "If a pandemic were to occur, many companies and organizations would ask their staffs to work from home. The impact of millions of additional people using the Internet from home might require individuals and companies to voluntarily restrain themselves from surfing to high-bandwidth sites, such as YouTube. If people didn't comply, the government might step in and limit Net usage. The scenario is not far-fetched: last year at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, a group of telecom and government officials conducted a pandemic exercise based on a hypothetical breakout of bird flu in central Europe. The results weren't pretty." From the latter article: "'We assumed total absentees of 30% to 60% trying to work from home, which would have overwhelmed the Internet,' said [one] participant. 'We did not assume that the backbone would be gone, but that the edge of the network... would be overwhelmed... The conclusion [of imminent collapse] was not absolute, and the situation was not digitally simulated, but the idea of everyone working from home appears untenable,' [he] said."
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Bird Flu Pandemic Could Choke the Net

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  • by pifactorial (1000403) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:17AM (#17994512)
    Seriously, I think we need a "speculation" tag...
    • by Instine (963303) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @04:01AM (#17994746)
      And has this reporter ever heard of WEEKENDS!?... Not Speculation - Just plain silly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by neaorin (982388)
      Or an "everybodypanic" tag.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Karganeth (1017580)
      Haven't you heard of the the butterfly effect [wikipedia.org]?
    • by dreamchaser (49529) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @04:39AM (#17994940) Homepage Journal
      It's worse than speculation. It's just a brazen attempt from the telcos to get people to invest in more telco infrastructure.
      • by rucs_hack (784150)
        Or, and far more sinister, a quiet step towards insisting that the Telcos have complete control of the 'tubes' in case of disaster.

        That the net is inherently able to route around problems is obviously ignored here.
        • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @08:13AM (#17995978) Journal

          That the net is inherently able to route around problems is obviously ignored here.

          If that problem is a flood of unanticipated traffic then where it is it going to route to? And most routing works on a shortest path first basis. If that path is congested then the packets start to go into queues. They don't magically take another route (in most routing configurations).

          Anybody remember 9/11? I can't be the only one that found many services to be borderline useless that day. Our backbone wasn't even maxed out and I still issues using VPNs between our offices (which weren't maxed out either). IM, various websites (the news ones), IRC. They were all sluggish and non-responsive at times.

          • by twiddlingbits (707452) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @09:42AM (#17996770)
            The major routers on the Internet are setup to provide many alternative paths based on congestion or other sorts of delays. Yes, they always try shortest path first. But, they don't just try one route and say "I give up, lets queue these packets". Some in fact have very clever algorithms to meet QoS standards via many different alternative routes. Some corporate networks do as well. You also can assume that while most of Europe is relaxing at night (lower-bandwidth) most of North & South America is working, and when the Americas are off-work Asia-Pac is in prime work hours. So there will only be a few times when everyone who is a heavy hitter is online together. Also high bandwidth sites can implement throttling where they don't feed as many users or they feed less packets to users to help bandwidth usage. I'd worry a lot more about the external interfaces to corporate networks choking before I would worry about the entire Internet. Plus the telcos have massive amounts of dark fiber they can turn on within a very few days (left over from the dot bomb build it and they will come days). Worse case the congestion lasts a few weeks, but it won't bring the world to a halt. This article is not well thought out, in fact it may have even been funded by bandwidth providers. Mod post down.
      • And worser, this is extreme shorthandedness of the telcos. They've been false marketing broad band connections for years. Where they have a 1mbps speed, the telcos consistently say that they provide 5mpbs (with the fineprints about bandwidth sharing, actual dedicated availability buried inside). All this is fine when the customer uses the connection for light speed surfing, and for 3 or 4 hours a day - the telcos can absorb the end user expectations without any degradation of performance.

        But at some point of time reality has to sink in. If people start using the connections in the ways they were promised, ISPs will feel the heat, and a sudden lack of bandwidth. All this FUD should be directed back at them, they should get to fix the problems caused by them. Asking for more funding is a lame excuse - they should not provide something which they don't have in the first place.
        • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @08:17AM (#17996010) Journal

          If people start using the connections in the ways they were promised, ISPs will feel the heat, and a sudden lack of bandwidth

          I made this argument in a net neutrality thread and got ripped to pieces. I dared to suggest that ISPs shouldn't be selling unlimited bandwidth if they don't have the infrastructure to actually provide it. And that it's inherently unfair and deceptive to sell something as unlimited and then start kicking off the power users who violate the fine print. I wouldn't be the biggest fan of metered bandwidth since I use quite a bit -- but it's fair to ask why Grandma down the road who uses her DSL to read e-mail/play Bejeweled is paying the same price as I am when I leave bittorrent running 24/7/365.

          If you sell it as unlimited then no fine print and you damn well better be able to back it up. Otherwise meter it and use the income from the power users to improve the network. And net neutrality should apply -- it's none of my ISPs business if I use my bandwidth on porn, bittorrent, a VPN to the office or even a web server on my home DSL account. It is their business how much bandwidth I use.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by petecarlson (457202)
            Although, to a point, I am also a little irritated at how shared bandwidth is marketed, you know damned well, without having to read the fine print, that you are buying shared bandwidth, if you are paying less then $100 per Mb/s per month. All this crap about ISPs selling best effort bandwidth drives me batty. If we all refused to sell shared bandwidth and made you pay for that 5/1, You would be paying $600 - $1000 per month for the connection and bitching up a storm about it. If we sold it to ten people
            • by Tim C (15259) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @05:01PM (#18003952)
              you know damned well, without having to read the fine print, that you are buying shared bandwidth, if you are paying less then $100 per Mb/s per month

              I know that and you know that and he knows that; we all know that. Aren't we clever?

              My parents don't know that, and they're sold exactly the same package in exactly the same way. My non-techy friends don't know either, and nor do their friends, and so on.

              Just because we know that doesn't mean it's ok; we're in the business, or nearly so. Most people aren't, and can't be expected to know unless you tell them.
      • by msobkow (48369) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @08:43AM (#17996200) Homepage Journal

        I think you're underestimating the potential risk. A pandemic is far more likely than a major terrorist attack or any other such nonsense causing hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people to work from home. Businesses could not just shut down were there a pandemic worse than SARS.

        When SARS hit the GTA, there was a significant increase in remote access to corporate resources from telecommuters. But while this article focuses on the impact on the backbones of the internet and the potential need for data- and site-based traffic shaping, it neglects to consider the far greater risk of individual businesses which flat out do not have the connection capacity to have the majority of their employees working from home.

        Just because risks are low doesn't mean problems cannot happen, and a good business manager needs to allow for those risks. Consider something so simple as a RAID-5 disk array. Most techies consider them virtually fault-tolerant and bullet-proof, yet I personally know an admin who had a second drive fail while replacing a bad drive, losing the whole array.

        That site now uses RAID-6 (two parity stripes instead of one) so that they reduce the chances of losing any of their servers in such a fashion again. Yet even they know it's only a statistical game and that it is theoretically possible to have three drives fail at the same time. There are just limits as to how much you invest in hardware to avoid such problems before one starts looking at full off-site redundancy solutions that cost millions, not thousands of dollars.

        If you want a US-based real world example, take a look at what happened to industry on 9/11 and the subsequent week. I worked for a company that lost people, hardware, and services that had been operating out of the towers. The impact was not small, and if we hadn't had disaster recovery plans in place and tested ahead of time, the impact would have been much worse.

        You're free to stick your head in the sand and ignore risks, but some industries (such as banking) don't have that option.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Aren't disaster contingency plans, by definition, speculative? And of course, if anything happens and they aren't prepared, it'll be the same people whining that they didn't consider the possibility in advance.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MindStalker (22827)
        Thing is its not even honest. Very few people work job that could be carried over the net, whatmore those that do wouldn't be pulling large files. Most likely they assumed that everyone would be using some sorts of video conferencing software a large percentage of the time. This honestly is unlikely.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by noz (253073)

      Seriously, I think we need a "speculation" tag...
      And in other news a meteor struck the earth and people are having trouble using eBay from home...

      Troll me, but this article is not news. We need a bullshit or a snore tag.

      P.S. And probably an angry moderation option.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by OriginalArlen (726444)
      possibly we do need a speculation tag, but it wouldn't apply to this story. It sounds like you could do with a bit of background reading. Might I suggest starting with a google for "cytokine storm". (You might also want to check out the special reports in the 'New England Journal of Medicine' and 'Nature' from 2005 - again, google is your friend.) A mutation in the influenza virus causing a worldwide human pandemic is inevitable; it's only the timing which is unknown. It could happen next week, or it mig
  • FIrst post (Score:5, Funny)

    by killa62 (828317) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:17AM (#17994516)
    no wonder i got it, everyone else's net is choked
  • Bah! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:18AM (#17994518) Homepage Journal
    I thought it was a serious exercise, but perusing the second article:

    ...war game, held in January in Davos, Switzerland, by the World Economic Forum and management consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.
    [emp mine] Double bah!

    A bunch of telco management consultants, playing a "war game" (yeesh) to drum up business (Oh wow, lets recommend investments in Telco infrastructure!)

    In fact, the second page of the second article even states the obvious:

    "You can see the Internet as a self-regulating supply-and-demand mechanism," Froutan said. "The more people use it, the slower it gets, so the less people use it. If 10,000 people go to a site that normally supports 100 users, 9,000 will give up, while the other thousand will get very slow connectivity but will keep going until they get the job done."
    Better to bury it on the second page hey? Might spoil the sensationalist headlines a little.

    What the hell is this doing in slashdot's science section?
    • Re:Bah! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hittite Creosote (535397) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @05:06AM (#17995056)
      "War Games" can be very serious exercises indeed - e.g. the US carried out a number of War Games in 1999 called Desert Crossing [gwu.edu] to simulate the invasion of Iraq.

      Note also that the current US Director of National Intelligence, John McConnell, was previously Senior Vice President with Booz Allen Hamilton. They aren't just telco management consultants, they're government management consultants (this doesn't mean they're not bozos, but it does mean that if they are bozos, they're very dangerous bozos)

      • "War Games" can be very serious exercises indeed

        Indeed. I was calling into question using such a serious term for a simulation / group mental exercise.

        As for the management consultants having been govt. management consultants, color me unsurprised. They'd know exactly how to 'lobby' for investment to be made in infrastructure.
      • by guruevi (827432)
        Look up ABLE ARCHER 83, a little more serious and we would all be dead now (or mutated).
  • Absolute nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:21AM (#17994532)
    ISPs are already well able to throttle usage so as to manage demand in excess of capacity. In the listed scenario all that would be needed would be management to limit the use of p2p, usenet and certain kinds of streaming and the problem.

    The real problem in such a scenario is that most workers would simply not be able to work from home - they and their employers wont be ready or equiped to do so.
    • by tverbeek (457094) *
      Even if their scenario occurred, I fail to see why government intervention would be needed. If large portions of the internet were swamped, that by itself would be sufficient to limit frivolous use of high-bandwidth services. Imagine if the best throughput you could get was dial-up-equivalent: would you even bother trying to play Lonelyfake15 videos on BoobTube or keep your bitpirate swarms going?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by diablomonic (754193)
        I dont really get it anyway. are they assuming everyone will be constantly in teleconference mode with everyone else at their work or something? what exactly about working from home is going to be so much of a bandwidth hog? couple of emails, an instant messenger connection, few documents passed back and forth? is this even going to be noticeable against the normal "background" bittorrent noise?

        I see this as one (or both) of two things:

        1) as suggested, a blatant attempt to get investment in their own indu

        • by fabs64 (657132)
          About the b/width, most work-from-home solutions that I've seen use some form of server based terminal applications. ie Citrix.
          A lot cheaper than giving every employee a license for all your apps and sending tech supp. to their homes to install them.
          • Surely most people who have something like that installed, will be those already working from home regularly.

            In a crisis a lot of the extra people working form how will either have taken a work laptop home, or be doing the work on their own PCs (not ideal, but we are talking about a crisis situation).
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by diablomonic (754193)
            IF, and this is a big if in my opinion, there was a bandwidth problem from this, the solution is very simple: stop fricken overselling bandwidth so much. if 100 people are on "unlimited" accounts when there is really only bandwidth for 5 then your problem is not people using the bandwidth they paid for, its you (isp's) being lying tight asses
  • by MSRedfox (1043112) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:23AM (#17994544)
    Thankfully Linux is immune to Bird viruses.
  • by fruey (563914) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:25AM (#17994558) Homepage Journal
    I remember you couldn't get anywhere on news sites during the 9/11 attacks on the WTC; even Google was horrendously slow. Non news sites all started relaying the news so that people could get hold of information.

    Working from home in times past relied on dialling direct to a modem pool at the office. The telephone network could probably handle a fair amount of teleworking like that, particularly if the old school model of connecting, uploading and downloading email & files, and then disconnecting was adopted.

    If there were a pandemic, I doubt that people would necessarily be surfing YouTube. It'd be no loss to me to not have that kind of site available anyway :-).

    Sounds a lot like scaremongering to me. In the event of a pandemic, net habits would change beyond recognition, so mentioning high bandwidth leisuretime sites seems a bit strange. It's not out of the question that certain services could be restricted though... but you can't analyse current surfing habits and apply them to bandwidth use when teleworking. If I'm working from home I'm not on YouTube, and use very little bandwidth.
    • by Yaztromo (655250) <yaztromo@mac. c o m> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:50AM (#17994698) Homepage Journal

      I remember you couldn't get anywhere on news sites during the 9/11 attacks on the WTC; even Google was horrendously slow. Non news sites all started relaying the news so that people could get hold of information.

      This sort of experience could have a lot to do with where you are in the world, and your ISP.

      I was in at my place of work in Toronto on 9/11, and remember rather vividly how hard it was to get to CNN's website. The CBC's website was fairly slow as well (we have to recall, not only were there attacks on the WTC, the Pentagon, and the plane that crashed, but thousands of inbound US flights were redirected to Canada, and people world-wide were trying to track down loved-ones who had flights re-routed here). Being the smart sort of guy I am, I was one of the few in the office to be able to get reliable, up-to-date information, because I reasoned that the BBC's website probably wouldn't be heavily flooded with North American traffic, and that it would be the middle of the night on that side of the pond. Sure, enough, I was correct -- while it was difficult to get to many news websites inside North America, several very respectable European sites were no problem to bring up in those very early hours after the first jet hit the WTC. It wasn't traffic on the Internet that was a problem -- it was specific websites being very heavily congested. There was still a lot of bandwidth available to go around -- just not for specific popular North American news websites (many of which have hopefully learned a lesson from that day, and have done some upgrading of their services to better handle traffic during serious emergencies).

      Yaz.

      • by Phil246 (803464)
        Although the BBC is british, international requests do not go to their servers in london.
        According to http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4606719.stm [bbc.co.uk] , international requests go to their server farm in new york.
        • by Yaztromo (655250)

          Thanks for that -- it's an interesting (albeit brief) view of how the BBC serves up pages world-wide. The article is, however, from 2005 -- it doesn't necessarily follow that this was the same setup back in 2001.

          I found this bit interesting (emphasis mine):

          We have a number of web servers ("server farms") in London and New York. These two cities are both excellent hubs connecting many different networks on the internet, and they are far enough apart so that if there were a major disaster in either city we

      • by Bastard of Subhumani (827601) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @05:04AM (#17995044) Journal

        I reasoned that the BBC's website probably wouldn't be heavily flooded with North American traffic, and that it would be the middle of the night on that side of the pond.
        The 9/11 attacks happened in the morning (local time), which is early afternoon in the UK.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by locofungus (179280)
        WTC stuff: because I reasoned that the BBC's website probably wouldn't be heavily flooded with North American traffic, and that it would be the middle of the night on that side of the pond.

        We're five hours ahead of you, not behind you. It was early afternoon here when the first plane hit.

        Tim.
        • by Yaztromo (655250)

          We're five hours ahead of you, not behind you. It was early afternoon here when the first plane hit.

          Thanks to everyone for the correction. I feel quite the idiot now, and rightfully so :).

          The point, however, stands -- where it was very difficult to get information from the websites of North American-based news services in those crucial first few hours, the BBC's website came through.

          Yaz.

    • by David Off (101038) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @04:02AM (#17994750) Homepage
      > If there were a pandemic, I doubt that people would necessarily be surfing YouTube.

      course you would, it would be the only way to get non-censored information, you know, cell phone footage of food riots or nuclear plants melting down due to lack of workers, people dying in their beds, zombies at the shopping mall, that kind of thing, the next pandemic will be live on YouTube.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by foobsr (693224) *
        people dying in their beds

        Worse, if like the Spanish flu they will probably be dying in the street - as a friend who has learned it from his father who was an eye-witness told me - and is also mentioned here [historysociety.ca], quote: "Victims were dying in the street, in stores, in offices, in military barracks, turning blue and struggling for air as they suffocated in bloody froth.".

        Reason enough for people to use youtube just for the sensation.

        CC.
      • by Telvin_3d (855514)
        YouTube IS the next pandemic. I swear, if that site went down, productivity would go up so much the net effect would be positive, flu or no flu :)
    • by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @05:57AM (#17995276) Homepage
      I remember it too. The Internet held up remarkably well. And did indeed route-around damage, in the sense that when channels failed, they where made up for by literally thousands and thousands of mirrors and alternative routes.

      • Thousands of people spontaneously decided to mirror important sites that experienced problems.
      • IRC-channels got hooked up to major news-sources (even those normally only for subscribers)
      • Email surged trough the tubes (Hah!), for a few hours the majority of email in the world was *NOT* spam.
      • Hell, even MUDs and MMORPGs spontaneously converted into information-exchange centres.

      Internet was severly strained in some areas of the USA. So people routed around it. I personally helped getting 3 people living in NY get a decent net-connection, by *modem* to a Norwegian modem-pool. Yes, sure it was 28.8. Yes sure it cost $0.10/minute. There's some situations where youre honestly *happy* to pay $6/hour for surfing the net at modem-speed. (I know, in some areas phone-service was also spotty)

      It was impressive. I think, on that day I realized the net had grown up. When disasters strike, and people go turn on their laptops, you realize this thing ain't just a toy anymore.

    • i was at my friends on that day, websurfing at the time, everything was fine. then the daughter of that friend came up and said that some airplane crashed into the wtc.

      i just shrugged and went on websurfing. nothing was slower than usual at all.
  • computer viruses (Score:4, Interesting)

    by siddesu (698447) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:26AM (#17994564)
    are by far a larger and more present danger than a flood caused
    by a human epidemic. just remember the mssql virus from a few
    years ago ... it chocked a few networks.

    come on, with all the downloads and botnets running from a home PC,
    will ANYONE AT ALL notice the few extra clicks from the humans?
  • Restraint? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pashdown (124942) <pashdown@xmission.com> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:26AM (#17994566) Homepage
    What makes these people think that workers don't waste time on YouTube when they're at work?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mobby_6kl (668092)
      >What makes these people think that workers don't waste time on YouTube when they're at work?

      The fact that it's blocked by the firewall?
  • by User 956 (568564) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:32AM (#17994604) Homepage
    Bird Flu Pandemic Could Choke the Net

    None of those birds have a deadly flu. They're just pining for the fjords.
  • Oh Noes! (Score:5, Funny)

    by DevelopersDevelopers (1027018) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:36AM (#17994618)
    Yes, this could really be a pandemic for all those of us currently connected to the internet only by IP over Avian Carriers. [ietf.org]
  • Surely very few companies are actually set up to enable any large % of their workforce to work from home? You're far more likely to be told to go home and wait.
    • by tftp (111690)
      Yes, very few - because it is far more practical (and cheaper) to just send people home in a highly improbable situation like that. Besides, most people in businesses don't use computers (or use more than computers) and can not work from home anyway. If even all banks will close the store will still accept your cash - provided that someone is still alive in the store to service you (and if not then you don't need to worry about paying.)

      Another reason may be that many businesses are insured against natura

  • Botnets and malware hog more than 50% upstream bandwidth, the rest is taken by Windows Updates and Adobe updates. From the release of XP to date, more than 1GB of service packs and critical updates are needed to keep it going in home PCs. Why not simply ban Windows then?

    I suggest we go the whole way and return to VT-100 terminals... they only need 9.6K baud rate to work. No Youtube. Problem solved.
  • So shouldn't gaia or other "environmentalists" be protecting the viruses ? That 50% or so of humans die every 10 years is "natural" for humans.

    Besides, sooner or later it's going to happen anyway. (oh and btw people would work from home to avoid getting infected)
  • by WIAKywbfatw (307557) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:59AM (#17994730) Journal
    If the H5N1 strain of avian flu was to jump species and become highly contagious in humans to the point where a pandemic was reached, then internet traffic will be the least of our worries.

    I think we'd collectively be more concerned with, you know, people dropping like flies in huge numbers than we would about telecommuting or browsing YouTube, or at least I like to think that we would.

    Seriously, the health and safety of my loved ones and society as a whole would be paramount in my mind, and everything else would be a distant second. This story reminds me of those Starbucks managers selling water to injured and shocked people and the idiots quoting SLAs while the World Trade Center's twin towers were falling.

    What next? People posting articles about how a human H5N1 pandemic would mean more server queues for WOW players as the servers would be swamped by people skipping work for the safety of home and looking to get a few more quests done while they were off?
    • First, sensible post I've seen on the topic here.

      If a large percentage of the population came down with the virus and it was even 10% fatal, instead of the 60% of bird flu, no one would give a shit about youtube ... if it was still up it would be closed if it presented a problem.

    • by jonoton (804262) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @04:49AM (#17994992)
      Believe it.....

      The institute I work for will be sequestered by the government in the event of a pandemic.

      We've ring fenced large quantities of diskspace, and other resources to cope with the demands that are likely to be put on us in this event. However the one resource that's going to be vital we have no control over - the ability for our staff to work from home. The last few months I've been asked repeatedly if our remote access solutions will cope with 90% of the staff working from home, the answer has been 'if the internet copes'.

      It doesn't take much contention on a DSL circuit to make video conferencing or IP telephony unusable, theses are the sorts of collaboration tool that will be required in this event.

      It's only sensible for people to be planning for this scenario, it's something that can only be controlled by the telcos, and they won't do anything unless it is mandated by government.
  • Not if (Score:3, Funny)

    by pembo13 (770295) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @04:04AM (#17994764) Homepage
    Not if all the spammers die first.
    • by tekrat (242117)
      Nah, the spammers would sell "Bird Flu Cure" via spam.

      Or you'd find out via thousands of spam messages that the Prime Minister of Nigeria has declared that enlarging the size of your penis protects you from Bird Flu. And if you just send him the number to your bank account, so he can use it transfer his monies, you'll recieve a FREE SAMPLE plus a 10% gratuitiy from all samples sold.

      I can see it now...

      Subject: Re:
      Hey Dude;
      Be a batter bird flu lover by incresing the sise of your one eyed monster....

      I don't th
  • Riiight. (Score:4, Funny)

    by MythMoth (73648) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @04:17AM (#17994826) Homepage
    "the situation was not digitally simulated" = "we guessed"

    And at that I think I'm being generous about their motives.
  • by misleb (129952) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @04:18AM (#17994834)
    Wait, so they are assuming that people won't actually work from home and instead watch YouTube all day long? How exactly would it be different than 6pm when everyone really watch YouTube and download Bittorrent virtually all at once? Why does working from home suddenly equal unsustainable 'net where other peak usage times work out just fine?

    If we assume that they will, for the most part, actually be, WORKING at home, how much bandwidth do people need? Copy a couple Word documents over the VPN? POP their email ever 2 minutes? These things are are NOTHING compared to things like Bittorrent during peak hours.

    Worst case scenero is that ISPs are forced to throttle certain types of traffic that is labeled superfluous so as to provide accceptable service for other things. I know it isn't an ideal situation, but geez, the 'net'll survive! What is this talk about governments stepping in?

    -matthew
    • by shird (566377)
      The world consists of more than just the USA.

      Peak time in Australia would co-incide with "work time" in parts of the USA etc. If "work time" becomes as bandwidth intensive as peak time, then at Australian peak time, bandwidth would double (or at least greatly increase) on a global scale.
  • Oh well (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cochonou (576531) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @04:20AM (#17994844) Homepage
    If a pandemic flu were really to occur, I think we would have to worry about other things than the net slowing down.
  • Bird flu could choke your chicken.

  • Imminent Death of the Internet Predicted, Film at 11.
  • by L4m3rthanyou (1015323) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @04:43AM (#17994962)
    ...And we're worried about the state of the Internet. Welcome to Slashdot.
  • Ironic... (Score:5, Funny)

    by evilviper (135110) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @04:58AM (#17995020) Journal
    Wow... How's that for ironic?

    A chicken is going to choke the internet...

    Must... not... make... "In Soviet Russia..." joke...
  • Sort of ironic (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pgfuller (797997)

    Wait a minute - the network designed to be distributed in order to survive a massive nuclear attack couldn't survive a pandemic flu virus - because it is distributed?

    Of course the whole thing is a fantasy in the minds of telco executives. There would be much more important things to worry about such as the direct deaths, illness and 'secondary' effects like the failure of electricity generation, water supplies, food distribution, trade etc. In fact you could pretty much see the failure of human civilis

  • by dangitman (862676) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @05:28AM (#17995142)

    If a pandemic were to occur, many companies and organizations would ask their staffs to work from home.

    "Staff" is already plural. Why would they ask their "staffs" to work from home, unless they were wizards who employed an especially large number of magical sticks?

  • There's no telling what this damn bird flu could do. Big deal if it chokes the net for a few weeks even and annoys a few slashdotters.
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @06:17AM (#17995386) Journal

    Just consider stuff like hosepipe-bans, rolling black-outs and travelleing advisories.

    Is internet access/trafic just another resource with an ultimately finite supply that may at times to be to limited so its distribution would have to be regulated?

    We know this is true for other resources. In areas with droughts and insufficient reserves the goverment will regulate what you can and cannot do with the available water. Sure, sometimes the lack of water is because off extremely poor management often by that same goverment BUT that doesn't change the fact that when the reservoirs are low and there is no sign of rain the goverment first ASKS people not to waste water and finally orders them too.

    You would have to be a liberal to an extremely silly degree to object to that.

    Same with say electricity. Thanks to the believe that private companies run things better we in holland now get problems as well as private companies don't invest enough to cope with extreme situations and foila, nature always throws up extreme situations, often with a general helping of unfortunate coincedences. Who would have thought that in a hot summer, the temperature would be hot, water supplies would be reduced and demand for electricity would go up.

    The goverment then first asks people to reduce their electricity consumption and finally just plain orders the consumption to stop, although over here by shutting down industrial users. In the US rolling blackouts seem to be favored.

    Bad weather? Well, over he we get advice not to travel because of 5 centimeter snowfall. But that is because nothing ever happens here and we need an excuse to have a nice crisis now and then. "And NOW we go LIVE to our reporter on the street, what is happening Dave?" "Well Alan I can honestly report that right now, LIVE from an average street in Holland, absolutly NOTHING is happening BUT it might and I will here to report it, the MOMENT it happens, LIVE!"

    So why is it so silly to presume that internet access through a combination of mismanagement and high demand could also find itself either having to deal with the results of extreme use (blackouts) or restrictions.

    In fact, we have already seen this. Ever been in an office were the main pipe has gone down and now 1000 people are on a ISDN link? You bet your ass there is going to be some restrictions on the kind of sites visited.

    For that matter have you seen the effects on the net during high profile events like the various terrorist attacks of the last decade? I do know that during the london bombings the dutch 3G (mobile phone) network had troubles dealing with all the demands for live video. So did newswebsites.

    BUT is FLU likely to do this?

    Ah, well that is the question. You see, the during the 9/11 attack at least the world I was in grinded to a halt. I worked at an ISP at the time (we hosted several of the newswebsites that saw their demand soar) and we didn't get any regular work done that day. We watched the news. So while one demand on the network increased it also lowered and in any case was of to short a duration.

    But now imagine a prolonged sudden increase in the demand on traffic. Could it be delivered or would you find that working from home has become impossible. Well, I have my doubts but then, so did those people who thought our various other infra structures would be able to deal with extreme situations.

    Is working from home really such a gigantic demand on the work? Especially if you consider that a person like me would for instance first shutdown his constantly running P2P program if the network was to slow. I already do so now.

    I suppose it also greatly depends on the type of work. Say a creator like a programmer/writer could just literally work at home and only need the net to send his finished work to the office and get new instructions. A bit of code up and loads of gibberish emails down. More important, no immidiate demand. So an email takes an hour to get through. *sorry email junkies, t

  • Question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @06:21AM (#17995398) Homepage

    If I can work from home during an HN51 epidemic, why can't I work from home today?

    Anyone?

  • Hype as hype can (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @07:55AM (#17995880)
    First of all, in a bird flu pandemic, my LAST concern, right after whether I have enough hairspray, is whether I can work from home! What does a country come to if its first concern is not whether its citicens survive but whether they can work 'til they croak?

    Second, what bird flu? Who has been affected? People who have very close contact with infected birds. People living and working with them, having contact with the blood and droppings from infected birds. There has been no single confirmed transfer from human to human, and the only infections affected people who have almost intimate contact with those birds.

    The biggest threat we're actually facing is the hype around it. Sure, a few pharmacy corps are making big bucks out of it 'cause every government on this planet is trying to rake together as much antidote as possible, generally, though, the biggest problem we could face is people going bonkers over the alleged 'danger' of the bird flu. I don't plan to kiss my parrot good night and I don't spend my weekends with the girls in the hen den, so I guess I should be fairly safe.

    And so is about 99% of the population. Unless we let that hype catch up.
    • by jotaeleemeese (303437) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @09:45AM (#17996812) Homepage Journal
      That is part of the problem, people thinking they know what they are talking about, but that know squat about the topic.

      1.-A responsible government does multitasking. It will have to worry about the citizens' health, but also about the economy keep moving. The amount of people dying would not justify a complete shutdown of all productive activities.

      2.- Bird flu is dangerous because it has proben to infect humans, generally with high index of mortality. This by itself is not a problem. The problem is that virus mutate (don't believe idiotic creationists and the like), and eventually one will find a mutation that will allow infection from human to human. I hope you have not forgotten that this virus is highly lethal.

      3.- Your cavalier attitude parades your ignorance. You will not need your parrot to get infected, any person infected could infect you in case a pandemic takes place.

      4.- If you think all is hype you clearly need to broaden your education, it is sorely lacking.

  • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot@@@keirstead...org> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @07:56AM (#17995890) Homepage
    I, like I imagine most people on here (and anyone who has the ability to "work from home"), am connected to the Internet all day at work as well.

    Why would people using the web at home cause it to go down faster than people using it at work?

    If anything, some people's crappy ISPs that over-allocate their bandwidth would be clogged - not "the Internet", whatever that is supposed to mean.

    The main pipes would not be seeing much more traffic than usual. Sure, people's VPN would use a bit more, but do you really think most VPN traffic uses more bandwidth than bittorrent/WOW/etc, all of which would have to be turned off since the traffic would be booted off of their VPN?
  • by Gerocrack (979018) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @08:48AM (#17996234)
    What they forgot to mention is that for 30% to 60% of central europeans, working from home means having sex on a webcam.

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