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The weakest link in Information Technology

By Jean-Claude Elias - Jan 26,2017 - Last updated at Jan 26,2017

Like in all fields, the weakest link principle applies all the time in Information Technology.

You may be enthusiastic about your recent Internet subscription that brings you 40 Mbps in download and 4 Mbps in upload. How exactly is it going to impact on your daily interaction with the technology?

It is certainly a thrill to buy a top of the line DSLR camera with a 50 MB resolution like Canon’s 5DS or a high-end scanner like Epson’s V600 that is able of scanning at 6400x9600 dpi (dots per inch) and at 48-bit colour depth, but how does the rest of the operations go? That is after you’ve taken the photo or done the scan?

Actual work, performance and end result of any of the above is significantly slowed down or hampered by the weakest link in the chain of software, hardware, accessories, devices or tools you may be have to use throughout the process. Sometimes the constraints can be frustrating.

Take the otherwise excellent Dropbox cloud storage. Professional subscriptions to the service give you as much as 1TB (terabyte) of storage. And if your Internet’s speed is fast you may think that life will be great with these two services combined.

Unfortunately Dropbox has an inherent speed limitation when you upload your file to its servers. It typically caps at an average 200 KB/s, which is but a fraction of what your Internet subscription is able to achieve in terms of speed, and it makes the 1TB of storage space that Dropbox grants you not as useful as you think it is. Indeed, uploading to it 1TB of data this way would take… six weeks. That’s a weak link here you got here with the upload speed limitation.

The same goes for very high resolution photos or scans as the ones mentioned above. Canon’s 5DS or Epson’s V600, if used at their highest settings, will generate a photo file which size would range between a minimum of 100 MB and a whopping maximum of 2 TB. And this is for just one photo! How then do you copy, open and process such a file? In the overwhelming number of cases your computer will not be up to the job. In the best case the machine will “take it” alright, but everything will seem like crawling, including just opening the file to view the picture. The current processing power of consumers’ computers constitutes a very weak link in such context.

In a manner perhaps less obvious, less than dramatic than the above examples, smartphones’ batteries appear as another technology weak link. When you think of all the functionality packed in these devices, of how dependent on them we have become, on the countless applications we install and run using them all the time, having a battery that typically needs to be recharged on a daily basis if not more frequently, is a characteristic that is certainly not a par with the rest of the handsets’ features. What good is all the power and functions if you run out of battery at a critical moment?

Fortunately in the case of smartphones the portable battery banks that are now commonly found in the market and are rather inexpensive, easily compensate for the devices internal batteries. A nice way to bypass a weak link here. 

Those who are not deterred by any kind of weak link may consider Hasselblad’s H4D-200MS beauty. The 200-megapixels camera made by the famous Victor Hasselblad AB in Sweden takes photos that are 600 MB big each. It is, however, reasonable to assume that those who have the money to buy the superb $45,000 camera can also afford a $7,500 Dell Alienware laptop that comes with monster specs and that can show the photos taken with the Hasselblad in all their glory – and in a snap of course.

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