Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Introduction to InterTrack Routing Protocols


The lecture hall was full. That wasn’t to last long. After a few lectures it would be down to a quarter of the students here today. On the surface, this subject seemed simple: shunting little trains here and there, what could be easier? Many things actually. 

David got started, “How many of you have taken a train somewhere?”

Everyone raised their hand.

“And how many of you have ridden the InterTrack network?” 

Only a few students raised their hands in response to that one.

“One last question, how many of you have some sort of railrider? Powered, pedaled, or pumped, doesn’t matter.”

Better response this time: maybe three-quarters raised their hands.

Ryan pointed to a student near the front who had raised his hand to all questions and asked, “Where did you access the IT?”

“We’ve got a stub at our house.”

“Must be nice. How’d you arrange that?”

“My dad works at homeRail.”

“Nice. You have tensegrium based rail for your stub?”

“Yeah, with the new Snellsonite alloy.”

“Very nice. Have you taken your railrider through a router?”

“Yeah, once. Sorta weird though.”

“How so?”

“When you show up, punch in the place you’re going to, and you know you’re headed in some direction, you’d think a simple turn would send you the right way, but the router takes you on all kinds of twists and turns before putting you on the right track. It’s weird.”

A wadded up paper ball arced from the back seats and expertly bounced off the front row student’s head. The offended student’s returned glare was met with a casual wave from the back row paper pitcher. 

“Thanks.” Ryan suppressed a smile, straightened up and shifted from addressing that one student to the entire class, “It’s that weirdness we’re going to be untangling in this course. We’ll look into the mathematics and algorithms that govern the switches, turn and transfer tables that make up a router region. We’ll study the protocols, scheduling, prioritization, overload handling, and the other details that routers use to get you to where you want to go.”

Ryan shifted back to addressing the student, “Along the way we’ll see that a lot of router weirdness is simply due to misconfiguration or unsophisticated setups…, “ he shifted his gaze back to the lecture hall, “…you’ll be able to fix. So without further adieu, let’s get started.”

The next instalment can be found here.

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