Superyacht owner wants the internet and he wants it now The Register

on duty In this week’s episode of our On Call column, an exasperated Register reader almost walks the board after failing to break the laws of physics.

Our story comes from “Rob” (not his name) and is about when he worked for an ISP that sold satellite connectivity to the super-rich on their super-yachts.

He had a problem with a customer over questionable service at sea. “It was an ongoing matter which had resulted in the replacement of many expensive hardware for stabilized satellite platforms and DVB-S modems over the past two weeks,” Rob recalled.

The problems persisted, and eventually the customer demanded that someone be sent to fix things in person. The support fee was exorbitant, so Rob’s boss agreed. Rob was thrilled to diagnose and treat the problem.

The yacht, fortunately, had been moored somewhere warm and sunny, which meant a flight and a short journey from the dock was necessary.

Loaded with equipment, Rob got to work. “I started ripping the guts out of the platform. Testing every leg, every router, switch, and server I could get my hands on. Nothing. Not a jolt. Service showed no lag, no congestion. They were on a clean transponder frequency so there should be no upstream congestion.

“The boat was anchored in the right direction so the chimney stack wouldn’t get in the way etc. All of those things were checked.”

Rob had not yet met the owner of the yacht. Instead, he spoke to the crew and tentatively asked if they knew if the issue was happening right now. The answer was a resounding “YES” and the customer was very, very upset that Rob was unable to find, let alone fix, the problem.

“I was puzzled. I had taken the whole setup apart and tested everything…and it was working to exact specifications.”

He should see the problem in action. Which meant meeting the owner.

Being very important and very rich, the owner could not spare a minute to demonstrate the problem to a lowly computer engineer. There would be no opening in the schedule until the next day. And so, with his tail between his legs, Rob returned to shore and checked into a hotel for a few hours sleep.

He returned to the superyacht the next day, deprived of much sleep or breakfast. Brought face to face with the owner, he put on his best customer service smile and asked to be guided through the problem.

Browser open, owner clicked on a link, “and in a millisecond, he’s pointing to his browser bar where Internet Explorer is doing the ‘I got a response, now I’m waiting for data.’

The crux of the complaint was that it took about a second from clicking on a link to receiving the content.

Rob fought off the urge to facepalm and instead explained how things worked (at least then). TCP handshakes were detailed, session timeouts were described, and we bet the word “latency” might have cropped up when discussing round trips to satellites.

“No sooner had I finished my calm description of a fairly tedious but very cool technology for the time, than I got the words ‘But that’s not happening to me, why can’t you do as my connection to the House? ‘”

Lack of sleep and the frustration of weeks trying to figure out what was going on suddenly caught up with Rob. His calm evaporated.

“Before I could collect my thoughts, compose myself, and filter them through Customer Service Face, my brain and mouth spoke the words: ‘We can bend the laws of physics for you, but we can’t break them’ .

“There was maybe a little more ‘clarity’ in my tone of voice than maybe Customer Service Face would have liked,” he added.

There was a long silence, thankfully not punctuated by a “You don’t know who I am?” of the owner.

“I didn’t really get thrown overboard,” Rob recalled, “but I imagine if the owner could have gotten away with having one walk on the board, that would have been a very option. real.”

He was instead sent back to dry land, very politely, but very quickly.

“Oddly enough, I haven’t been called back by this customer again,” he said. “All the routine work was provided for my co-workers…which I’m grateful for.”

Have you ever found yourself explaining the laws of physics in words that are one less syllable? Or did you manage to break them? Tell us, with an email to On Call. ®