More information is better

Let’s do a thought experiment.

Imagine an automatic coffee-maker with its pot. Your job is to keep the coffee pot full.

Well, you certainly don’t want to have to get up all the time to check it. So you invent a device — a sensor — that can send you a signal when coffee is touching the sensor.

You put that sensor in the pot near the top. When the coffee reaches the same level as that sensor, the sensor sends you a signal that says “pot is full.” Cool!

But when the coffee level calls below that sensor, the sensor sends you a signal that means “pot empty.”

Not very accurate — sometimes you’ll wander over to make more coffee only to find as much as three-quarters of a pot (or more) left.

How can you improve this system?

Well, you could add another sensor half-way between the bottom of the pot and the sensor at the top. Let’s call this “the middle-sensor” and the one at the top, the “top-sensor.”

Now if the coffee-level is at the top-sensor, the pot is full. If the coffee-level is between the top-sensor and the middle-sensor, the pot is at least “half-full.” But if the coffee-level falls below the middle-sensor…uh-oh — you need to add another sensor near the bottom.

Here’s the thing: the more sensors you add, the more information you get. And the more information you get, the better you can manage what you do next.

More information is better.

But — darn it! — sensors are expensive. You’re on a budget. So you decide to stick with just one sensor. You put it near the bottom of the pot instead of the top. You figure when the coffee falls below the level of that “bottom-sensor,” you’ll go make a new pot.

So the next day, that “bottom-sensor” sends you a signal that says “full…full….full….EMPTY!” In other words, no warning. One minute it’s full — the next minute, it’s empty. And you failed your one mission: to keep the pot full.

Hey — what if you had the same system in your car’s gas tank? Imagine how often you’d get stranded!

No way around it — you have to have more sensors. Not only that: they have to be evenly spaced along the inside of the pot, from top to bottom. That way you can tell how quickly the pot is being emptied out.

More information is better.

In a later post, I’ll explain how this relates to your computer’s ability to send and receive information over a network.

Here's A Few More Related Posts:
  1. Router - Denial Of Service Attacks
  2. Consequences of data loss and Why should Offsite Backup be used
  3. Router - Tracing Your Packets
  4. Free Firewall Software Guide

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