How Does LTE Work?

There is no one-size-fits-all cellular network used across the world, and trying to understand how cellular technology works across all the different uses cases is difficult, if not impossible, in a short blog post. So, rather than trying to understand every possible standard, this article will focus solely on LTE networks. Fortunately, competing standards and implementations are roughly similar and we can extrapolate any lessons learned about LTE to other cellular networks without much difficulty. [Read More]

How Does WiFi Work?

WiFi, technically specified in the IEEE 802.11 set of standards, is one of the most widely deployed wireless standards in the world. Chance are the device you are using to read this article has is WiFi enabled. WiFi is a straightforward extension of Ethernet, with some slight adaptations for using radio instead of copper wire as the communication channel. Like Ethernet, WiFi has no central process that controls which device is allowed to transmit data at any point in time. [Read More]

How Does Ethernet Work?

Ethernet is a technology developed a Xerox PARC in 1973 and 1974 to support local area networking. It has since been expanded to include a whole family of technologies that support various network architectures and topologies as part of the IEEE 802.3 working group dedicated to supporting networking using physical connections and devices (i.e. not wireless). Ethernet was built with the assumption that all computers on a network use a shared communication channel. [Read More]

Wireless Networks and Shannon’s Law

All wireless networks (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3G, LTE, etc.) operate using radio signals. Because they operate over the radio, all communication methods have a maximum channel capacity, regardless of technology. This maximum capacity was which is determined by the same underlying principles of information theory developed by Claude Shannon during World War II, known as Shannon-Hartley theorem or Shannon’s Law. Shannon’s Law states that This capacity relationship can be stated as: [Read More]

Curate Don’t Dictate

Inspiration for software architecture often comes from the world of building architecture. In building architecture, the architect takes in local building codes to understand construction requirements. They analyze various building components like ductwork and furnaces, windows and doors, and figure out where and when to use standard components and when to build custom. They provide cost estimates for each of the components and for the whole, and then build out a blueprint providing upfront design and specification. [Read More]

Principles of Architectural Leadership

Software is core to the operation of our business, and as architects, we are the key conduit between business and technology. Being technical leaders within this intertwined relationship means that we have a responsiblity to make sure that our business decisions and our technology decisions stay aligned. Being in this position demands leadership skills that are equal or better than our technical skills, so that we can effectively align business strategy with technical strategy, communicate that strategy to teams, motivate both teams and individuals, and influence outcomes. [Read More]

How Does UDP Work?

The User Datagram Protocol (UDP), first described in 1980 by RFC 768, offers a minimal set of functionality: there is no guarantee of message delivery, no guarantee of message order, no congestion avoidance, and no tracking of connection state. In fact, UDP is often referred to as the null protocol, because it offers little functionality not already included in the IP layer.

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Innovation with Constraints

One of the many paradoxes of human creativity is that it seems to benefit from constraints. Although we [perceive] the imagination as requiring total freedom, the reality of the creative process is that it’s often entangled with strict conventions and formal requirements. Pop songs have choruses and refrains; symphonies have four movements; plays have five acts; painters still rely on the tropes of portraiture. Jonah Lehrer Constraints can seem like the last thing you’d want for a creative project, but they’re actually beneficial when it comes to doing good work. [Read More]

How Does TCP Work?

The transmission control protocol (TCP) does one job very well — it creates an abstraction that makes an unreliable channel look like a reliable network. For applications built over an unreliable network like the Internet, TCP is a godsend that hides a lot of the inherent complexity in building networked applications. A laundry list of TCP features that application developers rely on every day includes: retransmission of lost data, in-order data delivery, data integrity, and congestion control. This article provides an introduction TCP, describing the structure of TCP segments, how TCP connections are established, and the algorithms that govern the flow of data between senders and receivers.

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