Why are there wires atop a U-Boat, and the 'old' internet.

Random Thought: I realized I haven’t posted some technical-stuff in sometime. :/
I tell myself that I’m trying to be more scholastic about it, and post something that’s more in-depth and unique! Promise it’s coming soon (-ish?) and I hope it will be well-received.





I’ve been reading Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. Amazon says I’ve owned that book since February 2013, but I never actually read past the first chapter; not that I had something against it, life just had its way, like most of the time.

During the Easter holidays I visited my family, and re-discovered it among the (literally) thousands of books owned by the household. It was hard to miss, with its 900-hundreds-plus pages and bright blue cover.

Well, I’m not a book critic, and my 2c would not be of much interest. The book has a couple of witty and good points insofar, and has provided me with a way to wind down and avoid further screen-staring related entertainment for a few days.

One of the chapters depicts two of our protagonists (atop? inside?) a german U-boat, that was beached somewhere in Britain. I’m not really much of a history buff, so I decided to take a break and see what that U-boat thing was.
Two things got my attention; that Germans had built a submarine back in 1851, and some weird wires that run atop these U-boats. Naturally, I set out to find what they’re for and searched for further U-boat related imagery.

The wires were present in almost all images, so there should be a purpose to them. They’re called “jumping wires”, and after searching around the internet, I came across the following links, and a sufficient explanation

  • http://www.subsim.com/radioroom//archive/index.php/t-103494.html
  • https://uboat.net/forums/read.php?20,59618,59619
  • http://www.u-boote-online.de/waffen/torpedos.php?location=uboote
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jumping_wire

Originally these wires were design as anti-submarine net deflectors. If a U-boat ran into a net, it had sharp cutters […] to cut through the net […] these wires would deflect the open net over the surface, so as not to get snagged.
Jumping wires have fallen out of use, as the wire tends to vibrate, […] creating noise that can be detectedby enemy sonar.

But the main thing is that

Yep, radio antenna… We still use them on almost every US Navy ship. The blocks seen are actually insulators and they use the hull as a ground plane.. we call them “Fan Wires”.

Case closed?
Well, yes, but there here’s a couple of stuff that stood out to me.

  • Humans tried to catch submarines using nets.
  • There are multiple online communities, on submarine simulators, but also specifically for U-boats.
  • These communities might or might not be active, but actually have archived data from almost twenty years ago. Someone was kind enough to store and make that data available.
  • There is also a functioning friggin website from 1999, that contains a working Flash animation of a torpedo being loaded into a U-boat.
  • A user named johnno74, posted the following comment.

Next time page johnno74. The definition of an expert is ‘the guy who knows where to look it up’.:up:
Cheers. My l33t google-foo skilz are legendary :up:
Since I’ve started playing SH3 I’ve developed an insatiable hunger for u-boat info. I often find myself wondering stuff like “what sort of food did they eat on long u-boat missions?”
The more I learn, the more in awe I am of those guys, and what they did.

  • There are curious, beautiful minds, with fixations, that talk with excitement about cool, different, original subjects.
  • These people have a “hunger” to find information, and share it with the world. I think most of us recognize and relate with these people like, at some depth. This used to be the kind of people you would encounter on the internet, instead of angry, ‘offended’ mobs.

I stopped and marvelled. All this brought back the beauty of Web 2.0. Being born in 1993, I came in much later than some. But boy, did I fall in love with it. Handcrafted HTML, the creativity of thousands experimenting teenagers, plaintext everywhere, blog rings, manually searching and finding websites (and actually hitting a goldmine), arguing in PHP forums, mIRC, the marvel of email, the emergence of peer-to-peer, and the appearence of (gasp!) actual Multimedia using Flash.

So much seems to have changed since I (and many of us) went online, and at moments like this, I realize that this change might not actually have been for the best. That feeling of the Wild West, new unexplored lands and communication is replaced by overweight platforms that sell ads. I could rant and rant, but I just want to say that

I miss the internet





One final remark : In 2012 the idea for a motion-controlled sword-fighting game named “Clang” was funded via Kickstarter. As the above article states “Neal Stephenson was personally leading the development of [the game]”. Naturally, the effort flopped and was officially announced dead in late 2014. I have many mixed feelings about the whole thing.

Written on April 14, 2018