Greenpeace Southeast Asia

Just how do you get Internet at 82 degrees North? by Chuck Baclagon

… or how we traveled back in time to dial-up connections and email without attachments.
Warning: This is an entry that might interest more the geeks among you than the general public.

The Arctic Sunrise is on top of the world right now, at 82 degrees North, and the difficulties encountered are not just weather related. Because so few people live that far North, satellite cover is almost nonexistent, and staying in touch with the ship is a complicated operation.

We had to install iridium phones on top of the crow’s nest to create a very low bandwidth dial-up connection.

We receive news by email only, every six hours. Photos and videos arrive by very small packages, and block everything else.

In short, imagine the slow dial-up connection you had back in 1997. Make it slower. Then imagine you get five minutes of that every six hours.
The crew has no access to the Internet, and so has almost no idea what’s happening in the rest of the world. I won’t even mention blogging, twittering and going on Facebook. If you see news from the Arctic, it has either gone through me, or been posted by Dave, by email, through Posterous.

We get photos and videos through squasher – how this functions exactly is beyond my technical skills, but the idea is to super-compress all the files and send them to an ftp server.

It is mind boggling to work like this, when you are so used to sending emails and expecting the recipient to read it an answer within two hours. Working slow has its advantages though – you ponder what you’re going to put online, you have the best excuse to give to those who ask for material for the next hour. Even if it must be frustrating for the crew to be cut off from the world, a part of me envies them – the 24 hours news cycle we have become used to doesn’t let you filter the important stuff from the noise. I wrote short headlines for the crew every day (“what’s happening in the unfrozen world”), and it makes me reflect on what happened that really matters in the big picture (answer: not Michael Jackson’s death).


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Comment by hajarwan

I cannot believe this will work!

Comment by Film Dwonloaden

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