Tuesday, October 23, 2007

transport tunneling: RoHC

Q: what do you get when you ask a computer engineer to take a vehicle from place a to place b using another vehicle?

A: a new transport tunneling protocol.

a couple of weeks ago (yeah, my blog buffer a.k.a. cellphone at work here :D), i was a first-hand witness to the implementation of a new transport tunneling protocol. i call it RoHC, short for rickshaw over hand-cart.

in what was probably a pilot experiment, a set of four men strapped a rickshaw, with it's driver and all, onto a two wheeled handcart and proceeded to transport it along linking road, in the same direction as i was going on my way to work.

i'm yet to think up some intelligent motivation for them doing what they did, but if it was pure humour (geekish or un), they sure succeeded. i so wish i had a camera on my cellphone...the picture was worth remembering, maybe even turning into one of those 'this happens only in india' mails. if only.

on a more computer-related note, this is actually a perfect (though unconventional) example of a transport tunneling protocol. of course, this would be a rather academic example, since the rickshaw did not contain any payload (i.e. passengers), but it's a perfect example nevertheless. the rickshaw just 'hops' onto the underlying transport (i.e. hand-cart), which then takes care of routing it to the tunnel's destination, without the rickshaw bothering about how it got there. once it reaches it's destination, it can 'unhop' onto the road and proceed wherever it intended going in the first place.

i'm waiting for the day this example finds its way into a computer textbook. it will definitely liven up the class for a few minutes, atleast. and it's bound to strike a chord in indians, who are used to seeing absolutely arbitrary things on the roads :P - and the concept isn't entirely new either. tanenbaum gave a similar example when he said:

never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down a highway :D

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