Another crazy year, both good and bad in so many ways, is coming to an end, so here I go with time honored tradition of looking back to what moved me this year in tech!
In The Wireless Domain
Obviously, there’s been a lot going on in the wireless domain again. While some parts of the 3GPP 5G standard still struggles a bit to see the light of day, there have been very interesting advances in the real world despite of it:
LTE 5-carrier aggregation is now out there in the wild now, and network operators have started to use somewhat less mainstream spectrum and aggregate it. An interesting example was the TDD-TDD carrier aggregation of LTE band 40+40 I noticed in the UK.
Also, cellular coverage along railway lines in Germany has improved quite a bit in recent years, and I’ve written about my experience on a trip from Cologne to Hamburg here.
I’ve known for a long time that LTE has re-introduced a timing advance again, but it was only this year that I actually found out how to get to this value in the tracing tools I use. It’s perhaps a small thing, but it definitely helps to get a general idea how far a cell site is away.
This year, I’ve also been traveling a lot again, and I was delighted that I could use 5G NSA networks in most countries I traveled to. In some countries like Sweden, the Netherlands and Austria, networks were stunning, while in countries like Italy, networks have lost a lot of their luster in recent years.
And while I’m talking about roaming: I’m delighted that some device manufacturers have now also noticed that their network discovery algorithms in manual network selection mode took far to long and changed them to list networks immediately after they are found. This way, one can get online again significantly faster after crossing a border.
One more thing on roaming: While having become a pretty seamless affair in the EU these days, eSIMs for roaming elsewhere have become an interesting option. After having written about the technology many years ago, the technology has finally arrived in the main stream. So while traveling, I used the opportunity to play around a bit with downloading eSIMs for roaming and was surprised on the one hand how easy it has become, and on the other hand just how many different companies are involved in the process.
In The Cloud
A bit away from the radio network, I’ve continued to experiment with the latest and greatest network technology, and have picked-up many things for my private cloud. Kubernetes clusters, service meshs, managed clusters, etc., etc. were a bit over the top for my needs, but it was still interesting to experiment with them. And while some organizations might have gone serverless for some of their applications, I’ve done the exact opposite and have started to rent ‘bare metal’ in the cloud for hosting my virtual machines and containers.
At home, some of my aging computing hardware had to be replaced, and I’ve had a lot of fun trying out Linux on the latest notebook hardware, from cheap to hyper expensive. The biggest surprise: Even a 600 euro Lenovo Thinkpad with a 5th generation AMD Ryzen processor could easily beat the higher end 4th Generation Ryzen CPU that came in a much more expensive Lenovo X13 from just a year earlier.
At home in Paris, I had some problems with the fiber link. Even after several visits by a technician and many weeks of waiting, the provider was unable to bring the line back into service. So in the end, I switched fiber providers to the company that owns the street side fiber cabinet of my line, and service was restored after 3 days. Still, the line behaved strangely, and I’ve chased some significant packet loss, which revealed some very interesting details of how ‘the Internet’ deals with such kinds of problems. Since then, ‘bbr’ has become my best friend!
An interesting topic that came out of nowhere this year was satellite communication. Starlink is a fascinating constellation with over 3000 satellites in orbit today, and I discovered the Garmin InReach service that uses the Iridium satellite constellation as an interesting way for emergency communication.
Physical Things Go, Virtual Things Arrive
And finally, there were two non-network related things I wrote about this year that have moved moved me:
After more than 20 years, I finally had to let go of my hopelessly outdated but trusted car, as repairs would not have been economical anymore. A decade ago, I moved to a big city and for the most part, I didn’t need a car anymore. That was especially true in the last few years, as the ‘sharing economy’ provided lots of alternatives. But still, giving away something that accompanied me for that long was not easy.
After a couple of interesting experiences with virtual reality applications this year, I have picked-up a new hobby: Virtual flying in the simulator. I’ve just started to write about this in December, but it’s a topic that started way earlier this year and continues to fascinate me.
So here we go, this was 2022 in tech for me, and there are so many more topics on my list of things to have a look at, so 2023 that will be no less exciting! Happy New Year!