Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Zipline and single points of failure

Ever heard of a Zipline? Basically, you attach yourself via a harness to a rope and you zip along a line, except the line happens to be 500 to 1000 feet off the ground and your line can be up to 1000 feet long. So, after doing this on my recent vacation out to Western Canada, I occasionally thought to myself, what's the single points of failure on this thing? A little morbid, but I like trying to understand my surroundings, and my instincts tend to lean towards breaking things.

The rope... each "rope" made of steel was comprised of 200 threads of steel. This is the type you use when you're stringing heavy objects to buildings, etc. The harness had at least 5 different points of failure with some redundancy. The zip line harness had two points, with two carabeeners available too. The platform in the trees had redundancy too...It keeps going on and on. A seemingly unsafe ride was probably more safer than walking across a street.

A good lesson from this is that we should take our single points of failure and make sure we fortify them or make them redundant in the systems we build and support. The feeling of being secure made the overall experience quite enjoyable. The fact that it was secure was not the most exciting part, the part where I was going around 120 km/h at around 500-1000 feet off the ground was the enjoyable part. I highly suggest shelling out the money if you want a great ride.

PS: That's a picture of me on the zipline.